This summer I found some Bargain Berths for the Caledonion Sleeper Train. Staying at family run B&B’s and hostels and hiking to Inverness seemed like a low carbon, ethical way to travel. It was certainly enjoyable. I guess Sleeper Trains are higher carbon than normal trains and that passenger trains are higher carbon than full buses; so we could have done better. Passenger trains are less efficient than buses due to the weight built into the trains to ensure safety. I’d hate to be the engineer that has to justify the designs for an efficient passenger train, if it means that more passengers would be injured or killed in a crash. The Great Glen Way uses a lot of Forestry Commission roads. Views of the various lochs were not that frequent and depended upon where the trees had been felled recently. The Loch Ness monster still draws the visitors to the loch and especially Drumnadrochit. Fort Augustus has the biggest choice of accommodation between Inverness and Fort William. There is also a good choice of shops, restaurants and Takeaways. When staying at the various B&B’s and hostels, the question went through my mind that how ethical did the various family source their supplies? The hotel chains are now looking at this issue. In the old days it didn’t matter so much as most produce was local, but now it is easy for a B&B owner to pop into a supermarket and source some goods with a high carbon footprint or buy linen produced in a sweat shop somewhere. All questions that got me thinking. How do you address these subjects? The Caledonian canal is now busy with holiday traffic. It never really fullfilled its expectations for commercial traffic. The views improve as you hike towards Fort William. Originally built to subjugate the Scots. General Wade’s Military roads were used effectively by the Jacobites in the uprisings at the start of the 18 th century. This is just the type of path that the Scottish midges love. Fortunately I had a net over my cowboy hat and furthermore the weather was either too windy, too sunny or too wet to suit the midges. I was using a Deet based repellent purely because we have a supply to use up. Future expeditions will probably use Mozzy Off made from bog myrtle or will research the Avon Skin So soft that also receives a lot of praise. Other options include visiting in May or September. At least by visiting Scotland twice in August we know that we can get by comfortably. After hiking down the paths on the far side of Loch Oich we back tracked up to Invergarry to stay at the Invergarry Lodge, easily the best hostel we stayed at on our week hiking the Great Glen Way. Most of my photographs have rain clouds and we had a fair share of rain on our journey. Not sure who said it originally, but the saying “No such thing as bad weather; only inappropriate clothing” held true.
Shawbost Norse Mill and Kiln, Lewis, Scotland
This site was walking distance from the cottage I stayed at for a week on the Isle of Lewis. There were hundreds of these in existence in earlier times but now only a few remain. This one was restored by the local schoolchildren. It enabled corn to be milled, using only a small stream as the power source.
Another amazing example of living sustainably, using the sparse energy resources available, in an efficient manner. They knew a lot about practical eco living over a hundred years ago!
This week is World Water Week a cause very close to my heart as WaterAid is my favourite charity. It is a sad fact that 884 million people in developing countries have no access to clean water. Many walk miles for a container of dirty unsafe water each day. Every 17 seconds a child dies of a water borne disease. While about 70% of the Earth is covered by water only 3% is in the form of fresh water and the majority of this is in the polar ice caps. WaterAid works on projects to bring safe water and sanitation to communities. it along with other organisations is making slow headway as there was closer to 1 billion people without safe water 10 years ago.
There is a long way to but as populations increase there can be no corresponding increase in fresh water on this small planet.
Tourism can also put strains on water supplies. It is a fact for example that the average water consumption by a French person is 140 litres of water per person per day while at home. When travelling this rockets to 300 litres per person per day! A typical occupied hotel room in the USA consumes 825 litres of water per day! A modern toilet flush will only produce 4.6 litres of water, so that’s an awful lot of flushes. These rates of consumption put tremendous strains on water supplies in some parts of the world. So how can we be more frugal with our use of water while travelling (or at home for that matter)?
Do some research before your travel. Will you be staying in accommodation that has considered sustainability. Do they have measures in place for conserving drinking water such as dual flush toilets, aerated shower heads and tap faucets, do they make use of rainwater or grey water? You might also want to consider energy reduction measures and waste minimisation measures adopted as well.
Obvious really but short showers consume less water than long deep baths.
Finally as it is World Water Week consider supporting a water charity such as WaterAid.