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Five-star eco luxury; Justine Halifax enjoys a family-friendly 'green' holiday adventure in the Lake District.

Byline: Justine Halifax

It's not often that you find a happy marriage borne out of the words luxurious, comfortable and ecofriendly.

But at Southwaite Green in the western Lake District, property developer Marna Milna has managed to successfully combine all these elements to a five-star standard.

Set in spectacular scenery, my family was fortunate enough to stay in one of four impressive, no smoking, eco-cottages on this peaceful ten-acre site.

Marketed as "five-star holiday luxury with deep green principles", our twobedroomed cottage was nestled amongst young trees, organic fruit beds, wild flower meadows, a beck and damson orchard, and was spotlessly clean.

It was also finished to the highest specification - in fact nothing could be faulted.

So what's environmentally friendly about these cottages? Well, it's more a case of what isn't - but for the most part you wouldn't know as everything has been done discreetly.

Solar panels are used for hot water, underfloor heating is from ground source, there's an air source heat pump with a reed bed to deal with waste water and all properties have energy efficient bulbs. Two cottages also feature log burning stoves.

Organic and Fairtrade also featured in our cottage, which had two bedrooms on the ground floor, one with twin beds and in the other, a super king bed.

All beds were made up with organic sheets and duvet covers and both bedrooms had en-suite bathrooms, each with a toilet, sink and fabulous showers with organic towels, soap and toilet rolls all provided.

An oak staircase led to an impressive, large, open plan oak-floored lounge and dining room with a good sized kitchen, equipped with cooker, dishwasher, fridge freezer, microwave, toaster and eco kettle.

Kitchen towels, all cleaning materials and Fairtrade tea and coffee were also provided at no extra charge.

Designed to mould into beautiful surroundings, large windows make you feel very much a part of the outside world.

And in the dining room patio doors opened out onto a decked patio, with a picnic table and chairs - from here we had a picturesque view of wildflowers, a herd of cows and just one farmstead in sight to call a neighbour.

There were also lots of little touches to make the cottage even more homely.

We arrived to find fresh flowers on the dining table, an organic box of salad and vegetables from a nearby farm, two bottles of Jennings Cumberland Ale and a pair of Fairtrade chocolate bars.

While owner Marna doesn't force holidaymakers to abide by her admirable green principles, there's a handbook in each cottage explaining how you can reduce your carbon footprint during your stay and there are also recycling facilities on site and in each cottage.

But when you see how much Marna - who donates ten per cent of profits to support sustainable developments in poorer countries - has achieved at Southwaite Green, it's hard not to be inspired to follow her impressive lead.

The cottages were also perfectly located and a great springboard to explore the natural beauty of the Lakes. One family-friendly spot we had great fun at was Nichol End Marina at Portinscale, where you can hire boats, canoes, kayaks, windsurfers and motor boats. In just one hour my husband was able to get to grips with sailing after expert, tuition while my two children and I sat back and enjoyed an adventure on Derwent water. It also had a cosy cafe serving delicious homemade cakes.

If you'd prefer an adventure on land, Country Lanes Cycles in Windermere, at Windermere railway station, you can hire bikes, including trailers for the little ones, and head out to explore the area. There's a lakeshore route - maps from hire centre - to follow that's good for families, which includes a trip on a ferry, that we can recommend.

Other family-friendly places to visit include Ravenglass and Eskdale Railway train. This is a very picturesque route, which takes you seven miles up Scarfell Pike on a steam train and you can opt to travel in an open carriage, which we thoroughly enjoyed.

Whinlatter Forest Park is also a very pretty site with lovely picnic spots.

TRAVEL FACTS Justine Halifax stayed at Southwaite Green, Lorton, Cumbria, CA13 ORF. For more information visit www.southwaitegreen.

co.uk, email info@southwaitegreen.co.uk or telephone 01900 821055 The trip was hosted by Cumbria Tourism. For more information visit www.golakes.co.uk or telephone 015398 22222.

For more information on Ravenglass and Eskdale Railway telephone 01229 717171 visit www.www.ravenglass-railway. co.uk Country Lanes Cycles telephone 015394 44544 or visit www.

countrylaneslakedistrict.co.uk Nichol End Marine telephone 017687 73082 or visit www.nicholendmarine.co.uk

CAPTION(S):

The Lake District offers unparalled scenery for cyclists. Below: The interior of one of the luxury cottages at Southwaite Green
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:The Birmingham Post (England)
Date:May 27, 2010
Words:795
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