Responsible travel: Lake District holiday cottages, England
Manesty is a haven for birds: a recent guest counted 33 species on site and 58 within a mile of Manesty, including a peregrine. We have bird feeders around the property and leave wild areas for them in the wood and have replanted hedges on the farm. But our favourite regular visitors are the endangered native red squirrels - as well as nut feeders, we've also planted a hazel thicket on the fell for them (unlike greys, they don't eat acorns!) and they also like our big old beech trees. Sharp-eyed guests can also spot deer (red and roe), stoats, slow worms and badgers.
There are recycling facilities for paper, metal and glass and guests are encouraged to contribute to our compost heap too. Our business limits the use of paper and we are proud to furnish our cottages with antiques and reclaimed pieces.
We're lucky enough to have our own water supply which is treated by UV light so is chemical-free. We understand the value of water and water the garden only using a separate supply from an ancient dam on the fell. We also collect rainwater run-off. Our own septic system means we have to very responsible about what we put down our drains. We so our best to use as limit the use phosphates to keep our lakes clean.
We've recently re-insulated the cottages with insulation made from recycled plastic bottles. We're constantly trying to improve the heating systems which run on electricity, and our next plan is to restore an old hydro-electric system. Our hot tub is unique - it's heated by wood collected from the property, and we are always replanting trees.
All the work on the cottages uses local labour and materials. For example, the new kitchens have local slate and oak worktops, and flooring made from sustainably grown solid oak from a Cumbrian sawmill. We develop the properties in the local style. For example, we've made a feature of the old stone walls in the Byre and re-used beams, old infant school desks and local roofing slate.
We've written a guide on holidaying at Manesty without a car and provide lots of walking suggestions and help on local bus and boat routes.
We support Cumbrian farms and business, by recommending local restaurants, farm meat and milk suppliers and even locally made and sourced 'ready' meals made by a young company, Cumbrian Way Foods. These provisions can be delivered to the cottage for guests so that they experience some local produce.
We also recommend local activity providers, from heritage mine tours to boat hire and we suggest public transport itineraries that take in attractions such as the local forestry commission centre.
We're closely involved with our local community, having lived here for 6 generations. We are proud to support our valley school (Alan is a governor) and we have sold raffle tickets in aid of the school from the gate every summer for 20 years, in the time collecting thousands of pounds for the Charitable Trust. We're also involved in the Borrowdale Shepherd's Meet, our local agricultural show (Alan and Cheryl were joint Presidents last year).