Kirkennan Estate Holiday Cottages Green Tourism Policy
We believe that addressing Climate Change is the issue of our time and that it is essential that governments, businesses and individuals all do their part. We were pleased to join Green Tourism in 2017 and to receive support and advice from them on how to improve the sustainability of Kirkennan. In March 2019 we were proud to be awarded a Gold Green Tourism Award.
Reducing our carbon footprint and water usage
When we moved to Kirkennan in 2013 it was clear that much needed to be done to reduce the carbon footprint of the Estate. This has been a top priority ever since and we are steadily making improvements whenever we have the resources available:
- We replaced the double glazing windows in the upstairs of The Mews where the seal between the layers had failed (2013)
- We installed a district heating biomass system which supplies The Mews, Woodsedge, The Yard and Kirkennan House with hot water and central heating (2014). This runs off logs of wood which we season for a year on site and then get a mobile chipper in to chip them directly into the hopper of the biomass. The wood is mainly sourced from poles rejected by the sawmil in Dalbeattie and is grown locally - Dumfries and Galloway is the major timber growing area in the whole of the UK.
- We put thermostatic valves all radiators (2014). We turn down the temperature in bedrooms that are not being used and explain to guests how to adjust the temperature in the cottages.
- We sought and received advice from Resource Efficient Scotland to help us plan next steps in improving energy efficiency (2018).
- We replaced all lighting in the holiday cottages and Kirkennan House with LED lighting. LED light bulbs use less than 20% of the electricity of a conventional lightbulb. We also installed motion sensitive outdoor lights in both The Mews and Woodsedge as we were finding some guests would turn them on on arrival then forget to turn them off again (2018).
- We added under floor insulation under the sitting room and double bedroom of The Lodge and a thick layer of foam under new carpets in The Lodge (2017), The Mews and Woodsedge (2018) and added wall insulation when carrying out repairs in The Mews (2018).
- We replaced the energy inefficient fridge-freezer in The Mews with a more efficient one and replaced the washing machine in the central laundry with a larger more efficient one rated A+++. We replaced thermostatic control to the water tank at The Lodge (2018).
- We had the Energy Peformance Certificate of The Lodge redone (2018). This cottage, which was rated F before we purchased Kirkennan, is now rated D (this was before we put in solar power).
- We installed solar panels on the roof of Woodsedge to provide power to the biomass district heating system and in the field adjacent to The Lodge to provide electricity there (2019). Between them these are estimated to save over 1700 Kg of CO2 emission per year.
- We moved electricity supplier in The Mews and Woodsedge to Bulb and the biomass electricity supply to Scottish Power, both of which provide electricity produced by 100% renewable means (2019). We intend to move The Lodge and the house to similar suppliers in the future.
- We replaced the open fire in The Lodge with a DEFRA approved 81% efficient stove (2019). Open fires achieve only 15% efficiency and furthermore even when the fire is not being used the open chimney makes the central heating of the cottage less efficient. Modern efficient stoves are estimated to reduce particulate emissions by 90% compared to an open fire and are virtually carbon neutral when used correctly with dry wood.
- We put out cards to encourage guests to indicate whether or not beds and towels need washing and line dry all our laundry the vast majority of the time.
- We monitor all equipment on a regular basis to ensure it is working efficiently and take action when it is needed.
- All cottages have showers installed with flow of less than 8 litres per minute.
- We collect rain water for use in the green-house.
- In 2019 we estimated the carbon footprint of the cottages using Green Tourism's Carbon calculator and intend to do this on an annual basis to track progress in reducing CO2 emmissions and energy consumption.
Future plans include working to move The Lodge off oil, adding solar panels to The House, moving the open fire at Woodsedge to a stove, getting the Energy Performance Certificates redone for The Mews and Woodsedge and extending our rain water collection.
Supporting biodiversity and nature
Kirkennan is a wonderful place with many mature trees, a range of habitats and is rich in birds and wildlife. We are actively working to enhance its potential to support biodiversity and nature and encourage our guests to appreciate the environment.
- We manage the gardens and woodlands organically as we believe that biodiversity starts with micro-organisms and soil health. We compost our own organic waste and encourage guests to add theirs to our compost heaps.
- We leave standing deadwood and branch cuttings in the woodlands to provide habitat for insects and ground nesting birds.
- Every year we put up additional bird boxes and ensure they are cleaned out. We now have a barn owl box (used to date by wood pigeons); and kestrel box (used to date by crows), a swift box and 8 boxes for small birds such as tits.
- We planted a new woodland of 5000 native broadleaved trees selected to encourage wildlife. The new wood is predominately willow, alder and oak but also contains bird cherry, downy birch, holly, hawthorn, guelder rose, elderflower, rowan and blackthorn. In 2019 we cut paths through this new wood so it can be enjoyed by guests.
- We consider pollinators when purchasing new plants, particularly trying to ensure we have flowers that are blooming at difficult times for these insects. We have moved to only buying peat free compost.
- We keep bees in the walled garden.
- We have sown wildflowers in two sections of the Arboretum including yellow rattle and intend to expand this section year by year (2017 & 2019)
- We encourage the enjoyment of nature and wildlife by guests visiting Kirkennan. We have bird feeders outside all the cottages, three red squirrel feeders and have built a photography hide in the woodland made from our own wind felled timber preserved with pine tar, a non toxic wood preservative. All cottages and the riverside hut contain a bird identification book and there is an identification poster and log book for recording nature sightings in the hide. [In 2019 the squirrel feeders have been temporarily removed at the recommendation of Saving Scotland's Red Squirrels to help counter an outbreak of Squirrel Pox]
- We liaise with Saving Scotland's Red Squirrels to protect Kirkennan's red squirrel population and work to inform our guests of the issues involved.
- We linked with the local bat group who carried out a bat survey in August 2017. We were pleased to find that Kirkennan has at least 5 kinds of bats: Soprano Pipistrelle (Pipistrellus pygmaeus), Common Pipistrelle (Pipistrellus pipistrellus), Noctule (Nyctalus noctula), Myosis (either Whiskered M mystacinus or Natterer’s M nattereri) and Brown Long-eared (Plecotus auritus). The survey concluded that Kirkennan has 'high potential for bats to roost in all buildings. Trees in the policy grounds also provide roost sites in holes and raised bark.
- A local expert has carried out a moth survey in August 2018. This found 28 different species including the Clay Triple-lines which is an unusual moth to be found locally. It was first seen in Scotland (in Dumfries and Galloway) in 2011 and this was only the tenth recorded specimen since then.
- Since 2019 we have started to monitor the wildlife at Kirkennan including with the use of a trail camera.
Future plans include: adding a garden bench in the bluebell wood, making bat boxes, buying a bat detector, and extending the wildflower section in the arboretbum
Social Responsibility & Ethical Sourcing
- When obtaining items for the holiday cottages we consider sustainability and look to reduce waste, to support local businesses and to purchase ethically.
- Where appropriate we re-use or upcycle items for the holiday cottages. For example a number of the upgraded interior doors for the holiday cottages were sourced on Freecycle - an online community with the purpose of reducing usable items going to landfill. When we get rid of items from the holiday cottages that are still usable we likewise offer them first on freecycle. Many other items have been purchased second hand.
- We purchase consumable items such as hand soap, washing up liquid, washing powder and cleaning fluids in bulk and refill containers with the aim to cut down on the use of plastics. We use items from the Bio-D range which uses ethically sourced ingredients and has been rated highly by The Good Shopping Guide in it's ethical rankings. We provide recycled toilet paper. You can read more about how we try to cut down on the use of single use plastics in our blog.
- We use fairtrade coffee beans, tea and sugar which we purchase in bulk to reduce packaging. Some of the bedside lamps, bedcovers, rugs and cushions are also fairtrade.
- Wood used to build the riverside hut, the photographic hide and to edge the vegetable beds is largely sourced from our own wind felled timber which is treated with non-toxic pine tar as a preservative.
- We support local small businesses and artists when we can. We buy our milk from Roan's Dairy; we commissioned a local artist Pamela Grace to do the artwork for our logo, got a local designer to design our leaflet which is printed locally and use a local company to host and design our website. We have commissioned a stained glass window from Auchencairn based Caro Barlow which guests can enjoy in our riverside hut and are awaiting the installation of a mosaic in the walled garden by Scottish artist Helen Miles. We display photos from two photographers with local links in the cottages for sale at no commission: Jack Chapman and Jennifer Walker.
- We both volunteer in Palnackie Village Shop which is run by the community for the community. We have opened Kirkennan's gardens for a shop fundraiser and the house for a charity auction for MacMillan's Nurses.
- We provide guests with a welcome pack of healthy seasonal produce from the Estate and encourage guests to make use of fresh herbs from the gardens. We also highlight the responsible collection and use of wild foods in our blogs. For example recent ones on wild garlic and elderflower cordial.
- Flowers for the cottages are grown organically on the Estate.
Future plans include becoming more systematic about our ethical sourcing and developing a directory of suppliers that we can share.
Encouraging responsible tourism
We wish to attract guests who are interested in green tourism to Kirkennan and also encourage other guests to think about their effect on the environment.
- We encourage guests to turn off lights when not in use, to indicate when beds or towels do not need changing and to use the eco-setting on washing machines and dishwashers. We have cards in place to indicate items that should not be flushed down the toilet.
- We provide information on how to recycle glass, cardboard, plastics, and biodegradable materials locally [kerbside recycling is not yet available in Dumfries and Galloway - we have written to the council about this].
- We provide information on local buses and how to holiday without a car. We provide cycle storage and highlight local walks including ones that can be done straight from the cottage.
- We encourage guests to shop locally: we provide a £4 voucher to use at Palnackie Village Shop to encourage guests to visit it and provide information on local markets and specialities.
- We promote local businesses through our facebook page and blogs - see for example blogs on Mostly Ghostly Tours and Nocturnal Wildlife Experience.
- We provide information on local cultural activities or events related to nature or the environment.
- We ask guests to turn off outside lights when not in use to avoid light pollution. We now provide information on stars and the night sky in the cottages.
Future plans include improving our marketing to green tourists to attract them to Kirkennan.
Tourism for All
We believe that everyone should be able to enjoy a holiday and within the constraints of old buildings have worked to make Kirkennan accessible to those with limited mobility. We welcome dogs to Kirkennan.
- We have worked to make our level access cottage Woodsedge suitable for guests with limited mobility by installing a wetroom with a widened doorway, purchasing an electric armchair and a riser-recliner armchair. Please see our access statement for full details.
- We offer the loan of a mobility scooter for guests to enjoy the landscaped gardens and the use of a portable ramp if required.
- We have made links with the local day care centre where guests can borrow a wheelchair or can visit for a day.
- As we live on site we have been able to take delivery of, and arrange collection of, additional items such as oxygen, air mattresses or hoists to enable guests with particular needs to have these available before arrival so that they can enjoy a holiday at Kirkennan.
- We provide information on accessible local attractions.
Future plans include additional benches around Kirkennan and learning about how we can work to make Kirkennan welcoming to people with other special requirements.