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Travel and retreats: Going green

30 January 2015

Alison MacTier suggests some eco-friendly retreats

Renewable energy sources: Hacienda Los Olivos is a carbon-neutral centre

Renewable energy sources: Hacienda Los Olivos is a carbon-neutral centre

Retreat houses

WOODBROOKE Quaker Study Centre, in Birmingham, encourages a programme of sustainability which is rooted in Quaker values of simplicity and care of the earth. A culture of energy efficiency, recycling, and supporting overseas projects that help to sustain communities is encouraged.

The centre has a community-based staff and volunteer team, and the core of its work is through education.

Holland House, in Worcestershire, describes itself as a retreat centre "in harmony with creation", which includes the use of fresh, local organic products in the kitchen, and ensuring that the centre's land is a protected environment.

The Sheldon Community, in Devon, has a holistic approach to the environment and the 45 acres of land that it occupies. A commitment to sustainability includes buildings designed to run on efficient energy sources, such as solar hot water, underfloor heating, and low-energy light bulbs. Guests can enjoy woodland and field walks, sustained partly through the help of volunteers.

Ffald-y-Brenin Christian Retreat Centre, in Pembrokeshire, has won many awards for its contribution to ecology, including planting a wood and maintaining a wildflower meadow. Hilfield Friary, in Dorset, also has an ancient wildflower meadow, and an organic kitchen garden.

Hacienda Los Olivos, in Andalucia, is a carbon-neutral centre, generating all its heating and power from renewable energy sources. Central to its vision is a clear commitment to green issues which combines careful environmental management with minimal ecological impact.

Green retreats

IF YOU are looking for a retreat focusing on green issues this year, Ringsfield Hall, in Suffolk, is planning a "Green Christian Gathering", 29-31 May; Minsteracres Retreat Centre, Co. Durham, is organising a "Big Green Sunday" on 31 August; Wistaston Hall, Cheshire, is holding an Ecology Retreat, 9-11 October. Other centres offering regular "green" events include the Rosmini Centre, Leicestershire; the Fellowship of St Ethelwold, Oxfordshire; and Elsie Briggs House of Prayer, Bristol.

Alison MacTier is executive director of the Retreat Association. For more information on any of these centres, contact the Retreat Association: phone 01494 569056; email info@retreats.org.uk; or visit the website www.retreats.org.uk.

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