South Downs self catering rural cottage, England

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Responsible tourism

Responsible tourism: South Downs self catering rural cottage, England

Environment

We know our wildlife, are committed to conserving it and encourage guests to follow our lead.
We ask our guests to use our recycling facilities and kitchen waste composter if they would like to. We harvest much of our rainwater and re-use it on our many trees and shrubs which are home to a variety of wildlife (thatís not us!)

We use low energy light bulbs and each room is thermostatically controlled giving guests the opportunity to conserve energy wherever possible.

All our horse manure (we have 2 ponies grazing in the paddock) is composted and returned to our flower beds or delivered to local gardeners in exchange for their wonderful produce. We provide a starter pack for our guests and where possible we try to use local providers.

In developing our holiday cottages we have tried to retain the local style and look, using sympathetic local materials where possible (flint garden walls) and local craftsmen to do the work. The cottages were built in the 1940s and we have renovated them completely since then. There are exposed oak beams and local Sussex Keymer hung tiles.

Over the years we have planted many trees in the grounds such as White Beam, Cherry, Copper Beech, Hawthorn and Silver Birch, which all provide a natural habitat for our local owls and other birdlife. Deer, badgers and foxes roam free in the woods and fields and we are very protective of these wonderful creatures, and are often called to guide visitors to good viewing sites.

Community

We are committed to using local produce, local labour and recommend local stores and restaurants to all our guests. The cottage has a guide that we give to all of our guests with recommendations for the best local providers. Village life depends on everyone helping and supporting each other, something we practice and preach. Where we are unable to provide accommodation we are in constant contact with our fellow local holiday providers to try and keep the business in the local area.

There are several local providers that we recommend to guests. The village farm shop and pick your own in Funtington (4 miles) sells homegrown fruit, vegetables and freshly baked bread along with lots of other items many of which are from the area (both our sons have worked there). In Compton (1 mile) the village shop and tea room there has won awards for its produce and service (one of our sons used to help in the shop). The cakes are delicious but you have to get there early as they sell like.... well... hot cakes!

Almost all our guests visit the local pub for a drink and good home cooked pub grub (guess what .... both our sons have also worked there!) as indeed we do.

We have campaigned to keep the local bus running to support those in the community who do not have access to a car.

At West Dean which is only a few miles away there is the rare opportunity to learn from nationally renowned experts skills such as tapestry, painting, jewelry making and other crafts. We had a guest stay here recently who was learning how to make Oak framed buildings there, and have a neighbour who is now a master clockmaker graduate of West Dean.

Landscape

We are very proud and protective of the countryside we live in and are keen to show it off to interested guests. We have folders of walks for keen walkers and often guide guests to local viewing points above the house for the wonderful views down the valley to the coast. We have binoculars for guest use and guides to the local open air museum and other attractions available for guests. One of the most popular routes to walk comes right by the house and allows guests to take a leisurely walk to Compton (and the tea rooms to refill on tea and cakes) without coming across a road. This always proves popular. A few miles away (a great bike ride) there is the Kingley Vale nature reserve which is famous for its very old yew trees and atmospheric walks through the woods. For visitors in April the bluebell woods are stunning.

For those who like to really know their surroundings Stable Annexe is located in a smoothly rounded U shaped chalk valley. It is thoughts that part of the River Ems would probably have run through the valley but now it dry- thankfully or the cottage might have rather more than a pond in the garden! It has particularly steep valley sides which support large areas of hanger woodland which we mentioned earlier, very popular with all of our guests. The majority of woodland nearby is of ancient origin and of significant ecological importance e.g. West Marden copse is a Site of Importance for Nature Conservation and Kingley Vale which is a hugely important National Nature Reserve.

There are many local places of interest such as the Weald and Downland Open Air Museum and the Queen Elizabeth Country Park with huge areas to walk and discover between them. The QE Park has a great Mountain bike trail and we can help organise bike hire if needed.

At the bottom of our garden there is a wood where a variety of trees, birds and animals can be found, and crossing the sheep field takes you to a dew pond and vantage point looking down the valley. It is hard to stay here and not see deer or the local Buzzards. If you're lucky and observant you will see the red kites, foxes and maybe a badger or two that we share this beautiful area with. Come in August and the sights of the harvest will be on your doorstep

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