Aston Rowant B&B, Chilterns, England
Responsible travel: Aston Rowant B&B, Chilterns, England
I consciously aim to lower the environmental impact that the business has through the way that the house and garden is managed. I aim to conserve as much water as possible by collecting rainwater in water butts, and using this around the house and to water plants. My garden is also managed organically with no use of pesticides or harmful chemicals, and I have a pond in the garden which is great for wildlife, with water lilies floating atop. The area around the house is beautiful and we get a lot of wildlife visiting, such as muntjac deer and the fabulous Red Kites can nearly always be spotted overhead.
I aim to reduce to the amount of waste the B&B produces by recycling everything possible and composting food scraps. I also source ingredients for my breakfast locally, with a commitment to keeping food miles low within the area and to supporting local business. The house is around 100 years old now, and when carrying out any work I'm careful to retain the character of the house so that it will be able to tell a story of the area in years to come.
I'd also promote arriving by bicycle as we're reachable from Princes Risborough train station. I can offer secure storage for bikes in the garage and can point people in the right direction if they want to get around by bike during their stay!
I am supportive of other local businesses within Aston Rowant and the surrounding areas, and would always suggest good places to eat or things to see within the area to my guests. I source produce for my breakfasts in one of the local farm shops, including one in nearby Thame and another in Saunderton, Princes Risborough.
I'd absolutely encourage my guests to spend an evening relaxing in a local pub or its garden where they can really experience life as a local in the Chilterns. Guests can visit the Cherry Tree Inn at Stoke Row for a lovely blend of classic and contemporary, with original fireplaces, beams and flagstone floors and traditional food with a modern twist, all made from fresh and local produce. There's also a fantastic atmosphere at the Leathern Bottle, a beautiful countryside pub in Lewknor.
It's important to provide guests with plenty of suggestions to see and do so that they can get the best out of the landscape and also support the businesses that benefit from tourism with their visit. There are a selection of leaflets and other information available to guests in the B&B so that they can pick what activities they'd like to take part in and which areas they wish to visit.
Aston Rowant is a fairly small village and there are local events and things happening in the surrounding villages such as a village fetes and other days that bring the community together. I'm always aware of things going on in the area and can advise our guests of local events that might be happening while they are visiting the area.
Having lived in the area for many years now, I have been an active member of the community when it is necessary to campaign about something that is detrimental to the landscape and the community, and several years ago members of the community worked together to lower the speed limit of a road that leads through the village. Cars were able to go at 60mph, something that was disruptive and dangerous in a rural village area. The community acted and the limit was lowered to 30, making the village a safer place for people to walk and cycle.
The B&B is perfectly located for walkers and mountain bikers, with the Ridgeway just half a mile away. The Ridgeway is England's oldest road, an ancient travelers' route used by prehistoric man. The Ridgeway is a hugely popular place to walk, with stunning views across the Chiltern Hills, running through open down land and through tranquil valleys and silent woodlands, teeming with wildlife. The Red Kites can always be spotted soaring above, and muntjac deer can often be seen in and around the many woodlands near to the B&B and further afield as you journey along the Ridgeway.
The Chilterns Cycleway is also situated just behind the Aston Rowant Nature Reserve, excellent for those wanting to cover a lot of ground and head further into the Chiltern Hills by bike. The Chilterns Cycleway is fantastic designated route designed to make the most of the excellent grounds that the Chilterns has to offer keen cyclists, getting up down and around the Chilterns at your own pace, with the freedom to stop for a great pub lunch or a wander through woodlands whenever you like.
For those wanting a relaxed weekend away from it all, the area offers beautiful village scenery and truly spectacular scenery. I often walk the Phoenix trail, stretching for 7 miles in total between Thame and Princes Risborough. Perfect for those who want to explore the area but are looking for more gentle walks- the Phoenix trail passes through villages and has artworks dotted along the route, a great excuse to stop for a rest and take in the views, or to sit down and enjoy a local pub lunch.
The area is rich in wildlife and the landscape is varied. The Chilterns is known for it's many woodlands and beautiful chalk streams, as well as the River Thames which passes through many Chiltern villages. The Aston Rowant Nature Reserve sits of the west-facing escarpment of the Chiltern Hills, well known for its birds, bugs and blooms! The reserve offers colourful grasslands dotted with flowers, beech woodland and juniper scrub. It makes for a fantastic day of peaceful wildlife watching, and is a great educational and fun day out for families.
I absolutely love the area that I love in and would absolutely recommend getting out of two feet and exploring. It's fantastic to discover new areas of the unspoiled landscape where it's hard to believe any human has ever set foot before!
The story of the provider of Aston Rowant B&B, Chilterns, England
Having lived in the area for 17 years in total, I love the tranquility and beautiful scenery that the Chilterns offers. A friend suggested that opening a B&B would be an great way to leave the city life and work from home, and having sadly lost my husband I knew this would be a better way to spend more time at home with my Son. After 12 years as a B&B, I love welcoming new people at weekends and being a part of their visit to the Chilterns. It's great to be able to give advice from a local perspective about great places to eat and drink and how to get the best from their stay in the area.