A low carbon footprint holiday!
All electricity is produced with green renewable energy!
Quite uniquely, we have lived ‘off grid’ at Larkhill for over twenty five years - harnessing wind, solar and water power to create electricity. In 2003 "mains" electricity would have cost us over £30,000 to have installed - so alternative energy seemed the right way to go! We have learned a lot over the years about alternative energy and are quite happy to show you how our system works should you be interested.
We are passionate about recycling here at Larkhill and make it very easy for our guests to recycle while staying here. We compost all food waste (which in turn helps us grow our veg!) and provide designated bins for plastic, glass and non-recyclable waste. We have had many guests over the years praising our efforts towards recycling and we like to think that we inspire others to maintain similar recycling habits when they return home.
Being sustainable in energy we have applied this ethos to every other aspect of our lives and environment. We have planted woodland and hedges, created habitats and ponds, built a compost toilet and created a reed bed system to follow a septic tank.
All cleaning products used are ethically sourced and eco friendly - including toiletries which are provided free of charge.
We currently have six bee hives - and take off the honey which is available to buy - along with fresh eggs (subject to availability) from the many chickens and ducks who are very free range! We also have a flock of rare breed Boreray sheep
As a family we have lived at Larkhill for over twenty five years. We’re in quite an isolated location and the nearest electric supply is over half a mile away! Having made the monumental decision to live here we then had to address our power supply. So – wind, sun, water? We initially ruled out water power as we felt that the supply would have been inadequate, and decided that, living as we do on the top of a hill, wind would be the best option. We erected two small furlmatic wind generators and a few years later installed two solar panels.
Both wind and solar panels are channeled into batteries to supply a 24 volt electrical system. An inverter converts this to 240 v - the normal electricity voltage. This provides both our house and the log cabin with power. We’ve had some hilarious times (and some totally frustrating times) using this system and have managed to live a relatively normal life-style, having all the mod cons from washing machine to computer.
We have since added more solar panels - half the size of the original ones but producing the same amount of power. These are placed on a metal framework which can be manually turned during the day to follow the sun. We have also installed two 1 kw Future Energy wind turbines to replace the two small furlmatic wind generators.
It has taken over 20 years for us to get water power underway but at long last a water wheel is in place. We're not getting a huge amount of power from the system - only when we have a good deluge - but its a constant supply which trickles into the battery system.
We planted four acres of woodland in 1998 of both hardwoods (oak, ash, beech and field maple) and softwoods (spruce and larch). We planted these alternately so that the faster growing softwood trees acted as nurse trees for the hardwoods - protecting them from the worst of the weather. Over the last fifteen years we’ve been removing the softwoods, thus giving the hardwood trees more light/canopy and have also planted different tree species where space has allowed. The timber from the spruce and larch is being used for outside campfires.
But we don’t just ‘cut’ the trees down - and that’s the end of the story! We always leave a nice large stump - for two reasons. One, so that nobody trips over them and secondly because as the wood decays it creates the perfect environment for insects - and insects feed birds… and so the whole environment stays healthy and strong. Numerous nut feeders attract birds of all varieties including woodpeckers, nuthatches, finches etc. And there’s a multitude of nesting boxes placed in trees.
We’ve created lots of ponds - again for more than one reason. Yes - great for wildlife - but also with increased flooding causing havoc in this day and age it helps to retain water. Ditches aren’t dug out - parts of our land are peat and bog - and what a wonderful diversity of plants and insects this attracts! Some of the mosses here are enormous!!
As well as planting woodland we’ve planted hedges - lots of them! Again great for birds and wildlife. And then there’s the bees - we currently have six hives and this year (with such good weather) we’ve had a bumper crop of honey!
We have honey for sale and also eggs.. Tony has quite a variety of chickens - Silkies, Polish Frizzles, Copper Marans (give a lovely brown egg) and Golden Laced Wynadottes. Not forgetting the ducks of course - Call Ducks and Indian Runners... And then there’s the sheep. These are rare breed Boreray sheep, all pedigree and all registered. They all have names (starting with either an A, B, C, D etc - depending on what year they were born in) and respond to ‘Laaadddiiieeesssss’ being yelled across the field - they come running to us at a rapid rate!
We don’t use fertilisers (other than home made compost) or insecticides on the land - so are ‘organic’ - although not registered as such. And on that issue we built a compost toilet fifteen years ago which works brilliantly! So, if you’d like to be environmentally friendly, we recommend you give it a try (flush loo also available). The compost loo is quite quirky - having colourful ladybird toilet seats! Following the septic tank for the flush loo is a reed bed system ensuring that all run off from the tank doesn’t pollute the land in anyway. Grey water from the log cabin and showers runs through a ‘grease trap’ which is emptied on a daily basis and then goes into a soakaway system.