We’ve just had a wonderful long weekend glamping in Great Langadale and on the Saturday we hiked up the Stickle Tarn. It is a lovely National Trust path which leads to breath-taking views of Langdale and Lake Windermere beyond. You can find more details of the route here. It is a challenging climb in places but with perfect scenery all the way up there’s plenty of opportunity to stop and take it all in.
We were lucky to have perfect weather for the hike – blue skies and sunshine without it being too hot. We set off from our campsite with Kitty on my back and Rick carrying the supplies. The campsite was just ten minutes up the road from where the route starts. The path, which has been repaired in recent years leads up along side a stunning waterfall. We shared it with some of the local Herdwick sheep which entertained Kitty no-end!
It heads onward to a bridge which crosses over the hydro-electric turbine. The National Trust is aiming to reduced the carbon footprint of all of it’s sites by 45% by 2020 and this is part of that goal. Definitely something we support!
At this point, around 30 minutes into the hike, Kitty realises she’s DROPPED HER BABY. Her baby is the affectionate term for her much loved comforter she’s had since she was a baby. Parent fail. Luckily this was a perfect place to stop an throw stones into the water and jump across the stones to the other side of the waterfall whilst daddy went back to rescue the baby. Poor Rick – it was at the very bottom!
Re-united with baby we regrouped and headed up the steepening path. It was starting to get busier which is to be expected on many of the Lake District walks on a sunny day. We saw people from every walk of life climbing, families like ours with little (some very little) ones in carriers, some young families with children aged 7 and up walking themselves, students, adult walking groups and even an elderly couple well into their 80s. That is the beauty of the countryside, it is for all and you can take it at what ever pace you like. Some families and the elderly couple didn’t make it all the way to the tarn but that didn’t matter, the views on the ascent made every step worth it.
It got pretty tough going with Kitty on my back just before the tarn so Rick took over the Kitty-carrying. We were trying to preserve Rick’s energy where possible as he was set to do a 70 mile cycle with 10,000ft of climbing the next day!
Over the top and we made it to the beautiful tarn with a backdrop of Harrison Stickle and Pavey Ark. According to the National Trust these summits combined with the Pike O’Stickle once formed the outer rim of a volcano.
It makes for dramatic scenery and the view fro the little hill adjacent to the tarn speaks for itself.
We stayed a while at the top eating snacks, feeding ducks and hunting for the Gruffalo, currently Kitty’s favourite thing to do on walks since our Gruffalo Trail. Some walkers opted to head up to Harrison Pike after the tarn but we could tell Kitty was getting tried and no-one wants to risk the wrath of a grumpy toddler half way up a mountain! We took our time coming down, picking up litter which sadly accumulates as we went. There were also several dog poo bags sealed along the walk- not quite sure why anyone would go to the effort of bagging it then not taking it away. We drew the line at picking those up as some had been there long enough to have holes in!
Once at the bottom we had a well deserved beer for the adults and ice cream for Kitty a the Stickle Barn pub whist sitting around the outdoor fire in the sunshine. A perfect day! Do you hike with children either in carriers or on foot? Have you found any challenges hiking with children? We’d really like to inspire more families to get out there and give it a go and sharing experiences will certainly help with that. Please use the comments box below to share your experiences.
Tap Water to Rain Water
I like big butts and I cannot lie…big waterbutts to harvest all the lovely rain we get in the UK!
Since moving house a little over a year ago we hadn’t done much in way of making our garden and space more eco-friendly. Now we have settled and have specific ideas about what to do with our garden, it’s all systems go. We have created a raised bed which we have planted herbs, potatoes and a blackberry bush into and we are having another large growing area created this month.
We also found a great spot for a waterbutt (Spoiler alert, there are no pretty photos here!). I picked up a 210ltr butt from Aldi for £28.99. The butt is made from recycled materials so that’s an immediate tick and it was fairly simple to set up. Our down pipe coming from the roof gutter is square in shape and the attachment provided was for a round pipe, but I connected it anyway and hoped it would work.
Then it didn’t rain for a week, great for road cycling, not great to test your butt out.
When it did rain it drizzled mostly and that turned into a heavy downpour for about 5 minutes. The following day it rained again. When I checked the butt I was blown away; it was overflowing, I grabbed a 25ltr water canister which was in the garage and filled that directly from the waterbutt tap. Amazing! Almost 250 litres of water harvested over a couple of days of not torrential rain.
All this water will be used to water our indoor plants (ah-ha! they make pretty pictures!) and water our entire garden, wash my road bike, wash the car, fill the birdbath, and use it for drinking water if the zombie apocalypse happens, you could even use it to wash the windows.
FACT NOT FICTION: The average house roof collects enough water every year to fill 450 water-butts. That works out at 94,500 litres of water. For scale an average 4 person household uses approximately 164,000 litres of water per year.
Why save water when there’s plenty coming from the tap I hear you cry… well it’s not quite as simple as that. According to Water Wise only 3% of the world’s water is fresh water and less than 1/3 of 1% of this is available for human use. Or if 100 litres represents the world’s water, about half a tablespoon of it is fresh water available for our use. The UK has less available water than most other European countries, so we need to be careful with it.
So, there you have it! Do all you can to harvest what the UK weather gives us. Doing so might make you throw the rain a tiny bit of appreciation, lower your water bill during the warm summer months, and give you an appreciation for the importance of water and how privileged we are to have clean water in the UK, and it might make you think twice about wasting water.
This Saturday 22nd April is Earth Day, a day in which we need to take action to fight climate change and appreciate the beauty of our planet. The official Earth Day Newtork set out to help make 1 billion acts of green when it started out. It has been so successful they’re now trying to hit 3 billion! You can find out your ecological footprint, donate to plant a tree or find out more about climate change here. We’ve come up with ten acts of green that you can do this Earth day as a family.
You can choose to do one thing or a few on the list to help our lovely planet Earth on its special day. Who knows maybe you will feel inspired to make more changes after realising how easy it is and join us in our Eco-Exchange Challenge.
So here goes our ten acts of green suggestions for Earth Day 2017:
For one day this is possible. Need to go to the shop? Jump on your bike or walk. Maybe catch a bus or train, who knows you might find a nice person to chat to on the way!
Meat production has a massive ecological footprint meaning that it has a bigger carbon footprint and uses more water than plant based food. Meat and dairy also use up a vast amount of space compared to plant based food as the further up the food chain you go, the more energy is lost thus more space needed for the equivalent level of nutrition from animals. You might find amazing new recipes and really enjoy what you discover. Perhaps you could have a meat free Monday or plant based Wednesday?
We all know that trees take in CO2 and put out oxygen thus fighting the greenhouse effect. Is there a spot in your garden where you could plant a tree? If this isn’t possible then maybe you could donate to the re-forestation project, more details here.
The average person’s shower uses 62 litres of hot water with baths using an average of 80 litres. Imagine the amount of water and heating that could be saved if everyone skipped their shower for just one day. You can still have a wash with a sink full of water (about 2 litres) I promise you won’t come to any harm as a result!
This could be great fun for the whole family. If you’re short on space you could plant some strawberries into some hanging baskets- plant them now and you’ll have juicy strawberries by the summer. No plastic packaging and no carbon footprint in transportation – even sweeter! Or if like us you fancy yourself a bit of a Monty Don you could set up a whole vegetable patch. So far we’ve planted herbs, potatoes, an olive tree and a blackberry bush. We will be planting more in the coming weeks.
Palm oil is bad news for the environment and it appears in many of our foods and cosmetics. According to the World Wildlife Fund it’s production is responsible for the deforestation of 300 football fields of rainforest EVERY HOUR. You can find out more about the stuff here. If you need to go out and buy anything this Earth day have a look at the ingredients list. Palm oil is in many biscuits, chocolate, breads, cosmetics and confectionary. There are alternatives you can buy you just have to take a little time to find them. Once you know what you like t’s easy next time you shop. Even easier you can look out for the green frog (below). The green frog is the Rainforest Alliance logo and means that a farm, forest, or tourism enterprise has been audited to meet standards that require environmental, social, and economic sustainability without the destruction of rainforests.
For an entire day go plastic free. That means not buying anything which comes in plastic packaging- no pre-packaged food, no plastic bags at the supermarket, no plastic lids on your coffee cup and absolutely no plastic bottles. You can fill reusable bottles with tap water before you leave the house, take a reusable coffee cup to your favourite coffee shop and take your reusable shopping bags out with you just in case. Not only will this help you to realise just how much plastic we’re using, it’ll perhaps help you to choose plastic free alternatives in the future when you see how easy it can be.
Sadly there is litter everywhere, it’s unsightly and it is not good for wildlife. Head out for a walk with your family some gloves and a rubbish bag and pick up some litter. We do this frequently where we live. Below is what we collected after just minutes at the top of Pendle Hill one evening.
We are part of a consumerist society where we don’t think twice about buying things we might not necessarily need. With the advent of Amazon Prime it’s all to easy to click on something you may like in that moment and know it is with you the next day. Stop and think do I really need this? Would my life be more difficult without it? If no then don’t buy it. You’ll save yourself some money, save the petrol from the delivery truck and the tonne of packaging that things come in these days. Not only that but you’ll save on landfill that said product may end up in further down the line when you realised you didn’t need it.
Earth day is incredibly important but not everyone knows about it. Tell your friends and family about the day and why it is important to go green. Think Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, or even (shock horror) speak to people face to face- awareness helps people to think green and therefore be green.
There we have it our ten acts of green. We’ll be doing all ten of these this Earth Day. Which are you tempted to try? Are you doing anything this Earth Day to celebrate planet Earth?
This week we’ve turned our attention to what we are throwing out. We already recycle our paper, plastic, cans and glass thanks to our local council making it pretty easy with separate collections for all of these. What we noticed is that we were throwing out a lot of food waste every week i.e. peelings, skins, teabags, cores. Rick and I eat a vegetarian diet which means there is a decent amount of vegetable waste produced in our house each week. Kitty is obsessed with mangos currently which has a fair bit of waste when you consider the peel and the stone .The waste goes into our general waste bin which means it’s going into landfill. The average household produces about 100kg of this sort of waste per year.
We wondered whether this was a problem- food is biodegradable right? It turns out that food waste in landfill is a problem and here’s why; anaerobic degradation. Stay with me I’m not about to go into a Biology lesson but it is relevant. Food such as the peel of fruit, broccoli stalks and carrot tops do degrade well but in landfill sites this occurs through anaerobic degradation. This anaerobic breaking down causes production of landfill gas that is rich in methane and carbon dioxide i.e. greenhouse gases. Anaerobic degradation is also much slower than aerobic degradation meaning the waste is around for longer.
In a well maintained compost heap the breakdown is aerobic. This works faster and more efficiently (less gases) than anaerobic breakdown. To achieve this the air supply must be good so that either the compost heap must be open to the surroundings or, if you’re not keen on the aesthetics of this, a well ventilated container. The waste also need to be turned regularly so that oxygen can get to the bottom as the bacteria breaking down the waste use up the oxygen pretty quickly.
Luckily clever inventors have designed composters with drums inside which you can turn every few days which does the hard work for you. We however, have an old school compost bin. The main reason for this being it was already in the garden when we moved in but we’ve never used it until now! We keep it at the back of the garden in an area left deliberately unkempt for bees and other insects so it fits right in!
We’ve carried out some research about maintaining a compost heap so to save you the effort here’s our five tips for a healthy heap:
As covered above we want aerobic fast decomposition of our waste with less greenhouse gases. Aim to turn the heap at least once a week, we do our every couple of times we add some scraps of food. We’ve also poked a few wholes into our old bin to let air in. You can make this even easier with a bin that contains built in rotating drums. There are aerator tools available to make this job easier. You can find out more about this here.
Green waste is that which comes from vegetable peel, garden clippings, grass cuttings etc and provides the nitrogen component of the compost. Brown waste, the dry waste, provides the carbon component and consists of dry leaves, straw, paper, woodchips and cardboard. We usually put our kitchen roll in, old loo roll tubes, tea bags and leaves from the garden. The ratio should be at least 50% brown stuff. It is also good for making pockets of air in your heap- important for point 1.
Worms do a great job of composting so should definitely be encouraged. We’ve moved a few from the garden into the composter but have also left some holes in the bottom of the container to let them in or out. The Eden Project also sells composting worms that you can add to your pile, you can find this here.
Certain things will not break down and don’t belong in your wonderful soil making enterprise things such as nappies and plastic, they are not welcome. Also avoid dog waste and cat waste as they bring with them potential pathogens which can contaminate your compost- not great if you want to use it for your veggies. Meat and dairy products are also best avoided as they break down more slowly and tend to attract vermin.
This really encompasses all of the points above. If there’s too much green waste the heap will be too wet and will smell, too much brown and it will dry with no moisture for the all important bacteria and worms to thrive upon. Regular rotation also prevents build up of moisture and bad smells. One source we read suggests the consistency should be of a wrung wet sponge. So add more green (wet) or brown (dry) waste to achieve what you need.
So there you have it, week three of our eco-exchange challenge. Have you found this article helpful? Do you feel inspired to get composting? Please do get in touch! There’s a lot more you can learn about composting so if you’d like to know more we’ve put some links below to some sites we found helpful whilst writing this post.
Last weekend we were incredibly lucky to have beautiful weather, and with a new book full of walks we haven’t yet tried we were champing at the bit to get out and explore. I found this book in Clitheroe Books, a shop in town which sells second hand books. Recycling at its best. It’s written by Paul Hannon and still easy to find online if you can’t find any more in the book shop or in the Oxfam book shop on the high street. We decided to do the Hodder Bridges walk as it was short enough for Kitty to come along without getting bored in her sling and had sections she could join in on.
We started at Higher Hodder Bridge and headed past the houses opposite Hodder Court and through the fields. It takes you so a little bridge and a path along a stream.
We popped out at a road and needed to follow this for about half a mile. It’s the only stretch of road on the walk but does need care with little ones. There’s a grass verge for the most part. We then entered back into open fields. Cue some posing by Rick:
We cut diagonally across a few fields which had amazing views of a hazy Pendle Hill to the left. The photos didn’t do this justice so we left them out and you can go and see for yourself! We eventually dropped down to Lower Hodder Bridge which has views across to Cromwell’s Bridge. If you follow us on Instagram you’ll have seen this. It was built in the 16th Century by the Shireburn family and now has a really organic feel to is as grass and moss have grown over it.
We headed up stream to the river bank for a little snack stop, essential with a toddler. Kitty was ready at this stage to come out and explore. It was brilliant, the river banks had little coves which Kitty loved exploring and looking for the fairy king/Gruffalo/monsters and spiders. It was fabulous seeing how nature inspired her. We threw stones in the river and sat listening to the water flow. It was very relaxing. There was a fisherman further upstream also enjoying the beauty.
The walk then took us past the stunning Hodder Place and up into woodland. We reached some lovely wooden steps which took us further into the woods.
The smell of wild garlic was almost overwhelming! It had completely covered the ground making it look like we were walking on carpet.
The walk then takes you along a very pretty path over lots of little bridges with the Hodder River to the right. This took us a while as Kitty was insistent she wanted to lead the way and walk over every bridge without any help. She is quite the independent explorer!
This was a really lovely walk with really varied terrain and views. Definitely recommended. Have you taken this path before? Feel inspired to have a go? As always we’d love to hear from you!
We used to live in Whalley and this loop was on our doorstep so we walked it frequently. It’s a lovely walk which can take as little as an hour to do if you’re quick. With a toddler in tow and a few stops we took two! It’s a great loop to fit in after work during the longer days. I’d advise against trying it after a lot of rain as it gets pretty muddy and in the height of summer the insects are a bit of a chore. For our crisp spring evening however, it was perfect.
We parked at Mitton Hall and headed right along the road for about half a mile towards Whalley. On the left you come to a footpath sign which takes you into a wooded area.
Follow this path trough the trees, to a bridge over a pretty little stream. Kitty of course wanted to throw stones in as we went over.
You come out into an open field with stunning views of Pendle Hill to the right, it was particularly gorgeous in the evening we went. Continuing through the field you reach a kissing gate and if, like us, you’ve got a child on your back my tip is to reverse in! Following this path onward you come to a wooded area known as Standen Hey Community Woodland. There’s a path throught the grass that takes you to another fence, to the left of this is a path which leads to a step over gate and you enter an open field.
Cue more stunning views of Pendle Hill to the right. There’s often cows in this field so make sure your dog is on a lead here. Go straight on until you get to the farm and follow the path to the left. You’ll come out at the River Ribble. This is a highlight for Kitty who loves nothing more than to throw stones into the river. Sunset is a truly beautiful time to come here.
You then cut diagonally across the field with the farm behind you and you’ll arrive at a bridge crossing a stream. Follow the field ahead and you’ll see the Aspinall Arms Pub come into view to the right. Head down the hill and you can either turn left along the road to get back to Mitton Hall or turn right for some refreshments at the pub!
As you can see from the photos it’s a lovely little walk which has stunning views and is short enough that it’s achievable after work or if you are unable to walk long distances. It’s also great with little ones as longer walks can sometimes be a challenge for them. Do you have any short walks you frequently enjoy? Have you done this loop before? Do you have any suggestions of routes we should write about?
As always we’d love to hear from you.
Welcome to the second week in our 52 week eco-exchange challenge. This week we’ve turned our attentions to household products. There are many possibilities for exchange here and we started with something we do very often with a toddler in the house- laundry. We previously used liquid detergent capsules as they seem to work well with our A++ eco washing machine at 30 degrees.
We carried out some research on detergents and their potential impact on the environment and found a few areas where they cause problems. The list below is by no means exhaustive but gives a flavour of the issues with most detergents;
Ok, time to science…
Production of detergents has a massive carbon footprint due to transport of many of the ingredients and other manufacturing processes. They vary from 0.6kg to 0.9kg per load, which in perspective according to Howstuffworks.com is equivalent to driving your car 1 or 2 miles for every load of washing. This doesn’t include the additional usage for running the machine.
A bit more science here, cast you mind back to GCSE science: There is a process known as hypertrophication (or eutrophication), a process in which there is enrichment of nutrients water systems such as lakes and ponds which causes plants to grow rapidly. The rapid growth of plants and algae uses up the supply of oxygen in the water leading to the death of the aquatic life. The algae also block the sunlight from getting to the bottom of the water thus causing many other photosynthesising plants to die, plants which would normally replenish the oxygen supply. The algae then also die off leaving a stagnant body or water or a bog with no life in it. Eutrophication is almost always induced by pollution with phosphate-containing detergents, fertilizers, or sewage, into an aquatic system and it is estimated that 50-70% (depending on your source) of all phosphates in the water systems come from detergent. A pretty big problem!
Not much we need to explain here- detergents usually come in plastic packaging which uses oil and a lot of water to make, doesn’t biodegrade and is generally an environmental nightmare.
With all of this in mind we sought on an alternative and found it in Soap Nuts. Incredibly they are simply nuts which grow on trees, are dried and ready to go! They help to clean clothes free from dirt and grime due to a naturally occurring chemical called saponin. They are compostable once used up and importantly contain none of those nasty phosphates we’ve been talking about. As they are simply sun dried nuts which grown on trees, their carbon footprint is significantly less than detergents.
We tried the Living Naturally soap nuts which came packaging that was mostly bidegradable but did have a plastic lid. If you buy the bulk packs they come in much more eco-friendly cloth sacks. It was £7.99 for enough nuts for 75 washes, or 108 washes if you make the washing liquid from them, which is pretty comparable to what we spent on detergent.
4-5 nuts go into each wash and can be re-used up to four times. They do certainly clean and freshen our clothes but won’t give that bright look to our whites. This is because they don’t contain poorly bio-degradable blue dyes like detergents but we can live with clean but not glowing clothes! We’ve been using them at 30 and are very happy with the results overall. I do find I need to soak some stained garments in a bit of lemon juice and water before hand but this works a treat!
The other important thing we have recognised in researching this article is that we as a society need to wash our clothes less. Sales of detergents are going up every year because we are all washing our clothes more. Not only does this wear them out thus increase waste, it also costs extra energy to do so. So think twice before you put those jeans you’ve worn only once into the wash, or that jumper that still looks and smells fresh, we certainly will.
We’re really happy with this exchange and what we have learned from it. Are you using soap nuts for your laundry? Many people use them for general household cleaning too- have you tried them for this? Do you fancy joining us in become eco-warrior washers? Are we missing something we should have mentioned? Feel free to get in touch with the comments below or on the contacts page.
Hi y’all! I hope you all had a good weekend? This past weekend we were visiting close friends who live in Nottingham. We did some research and found that Rushcliffe Country Park wasn’t very far away at all. Not knowing what to expect apart from drizzle we packed for all eventualities.
Set in the beautiful countryside about half a mile south of Ruddington, Rushcliffe Country Park is an ideal place to get away from it all – With a network of over 8 kilometres of footpaths, grassland, conservation and landscaped areas, the park is excellent for walking, jogging, cycling, spotting wildlife and exercising your dog.
There is a large lake with water fowl of many varieties and an open woodland area to explore. This was really impressive, it was filled with learning opportunities and musical instruments made from junk…I loved the plastic pipes, they made a great sound when given a whack!
This really fits our ethos of being eco friendly and recycling and reusing and whilst the Bear is too young to understand the concept, she loved making a lot of noise with traffic cones, bin lids, pipes, woks, car suspension springs and a whole plethora of noisy goodness. Older kids would be able to understand and appreciate the concept with a little more depth.
The park of course has a very large play area suitable for all ages made up of a large climbing frame with a few slides, swings to suite all size of kids including less able bodied children, a rope climbing frame and a sand covered are with wobbly bridge. There is a coffee hut which also sells snacks and an ice cream hut.
We didn’t voyage as far as the visitor centre as rain stopped play and Kitty was becoming quite worn out.
Overall Rushcliffe Country park is a park which people of all ages can enjoy, there really is something for everyone, and whether you want to sit and watch the world and the birds go by or follow the 10km jogging route around the park, I’m sure you won’t come away disappointed. There was so much more we could have explored and enjoyed if we had more time. I’m sure we will go back one day.
If you have ever been here please tell me what we missed!
Welcome to our very first eco-exchange. You’ll find more detail about the challenge here. We had a good think about what to do for our first challenge and ran through our average day and realised we should start at the beginning with our start to the day- brushing teeth.
If you think about it every bit of plastic you’ll ever use will be around for about 500 years. A toothy issue I’m sure you agree. This means every toothbrush I’ve ever used will end up in landfill for a long time, that’s a lot of plastic.
We wondered if there was a greener alternative, there is. So here it is; our first exchange is plastic toothbrushes for bamboo ones.
Both brushes use MOSO-BAMBOO which is panda friendly. They do have nylon bristles which are made from oil, not perfect but significantly less plastic that the standard toothbrush. There are claims that the nylon6 in the bristles is biodegradable but there is some debate about this!
We bought Kitty the Humble Brush because we love the ethos behind this one- “buy 1 give 1”. For every toothbrush bought the company provides a toothbrush to child in need. The packaging is made from completely recycled materials and is also biodegradable. You can find their website here.
For ourselves we opted for The Original Environmental Toothbrush, their website is here. They are designed by an Australian dentist and are roughly the same price as our current plastic toothbrush (£2.17 each) but with not nearly as much cost to our planet. Again the packaging is biodegradable and the products they use are fair trade.
Could you make this eco-exchange? Join us in our challenge and let’s see how small changes can become big ones! Do you have some exchange ideas? Please do get in touch via the contacts page or using the comments box below.
Join us in brightening our smiles even more!