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Our Green Story: Kirkennan Estate Holiday Cottages

05/11/2020

Kirkennan is an historic Estate in the heart of Dumfries and Galloway, with 3 self-catering cottages set within 74 acres of gardens, woodland, and fields alongside the River Urr.

When we bought the Estate in 2013, we took on an old cold house, which we now live in, and the 3 stone-built cottages which had old heating systems.  From the very beginning it was clear to us that much needed to be done to reduce the carbon footprint of the Estate, as 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 had, and still have, many motivations to improve heating efficiency and reduce our carbon footprint at Kirkennan. And these motivations have impacted on the choices we have made. Firstly, we want our guests to be comfortable and have a wonderful stay with us in beautiful surroundings. We also want to be more sustainable, attract green tourists and educate our guests about the climate crisis.

Reducing our Carbon Footprint

The first step we took was to install thermostatic valves on all radiators in the house and the holiday cottages so we could manage the heating more efficiently.  We also installed a district heating biomass boiler to serve two cottages and our house and then planted a 5,000 native broadleaved woodland to encourage wildlife and to offset the trees we burn in the biomass.

In 2018 we worked with Zero Waste Scotland to make our holiday cottages more sustainable. As a result, we have now installed 3 sets of solar PVs, one linked to an Air Source Heat Pump in the cottage not served by the biomass and changed all our lights to LED. Similarly, we have moved to motion sensitive outdoor lights and replaced an old energy inefficient fridge/freezer as well as a washing machine with a larger more efficient one rated A+++ which saves on water use.  We have also added underfloor insulation in The Lodge.

In addition to this we have changed our electricity suppliers to renewable sources and replaced the open fires in the holiday cottages with woodburning stoves, which are much more efficient and prevent draughts. And, as we do our regular maintenance, we continue to add insulation and make other energy saving choices and monitor all equipment to ensure it is working efficiently.  We also encourage our guests to follow our ethos by turning off lights when they are not in use, to let us know when their beds or towels do not need changing and to use the eco-setting on washing machines and dishwashers.

Working with Nature

We are actively working to enhance the Estate to support biodiversity. We have bird feeders outside the cottages, and in Jock’s Wood, a 14 acre woodland, which is a wonderful place to spot wildlife, we have installed red squirrel feeders and built a photography hide made from our own wind felled timber. We put up more bird boxes every year and all the cottages and our riverside hut contain a bird identification book.  There is also an identification poster and logbook for recording nature sightings in the hide. We have several bat boxes built by our son to support the 5 species of bat we have on the estate and liaise with ‘Saving Scotland's Red Squirrels’ to help to protect Kirkennan's red squirrel population.

We manage the gardens and woodlands of the Estate organically, as we believe that biodiversity starts with micro-organisms and soil health. We collect rainwater for use in the greenhouse and compost our own organic waste.  We also leave standing deadwood and branch cuttings to provide habitats for insects and ground nesting birds.  

Similarly, to support insect populations, we plant for pollinators and ty to ensure we have flowers that bloom at different times.  There is a wildflower area in two sections of the Arboretum which we are adding to and we keep Honeybees in the walled garden.

Sustainability

When obtaining items for the holiday cottages we consider their sustainability and look to reduce waste, support local businesses, purchase ethically, and encourage our guests to do the same. 

Where appropriate we re-use or upcycle items and since 2020 all new pillows and duvets are made from recycled bottles.  Consumable items such as coffee (which is Fair Trade), hand soap, washing up liquid, washing powder and cleaning fluids (all from ethically sourced ingredients or eco-friendly) are bought in bulk and refill containers with the aim to cut down on the use of plastics. 

We were delighted to be awarded a Gold Green Tourism rating in 2019 in recognition of all the work that we have done since 2013 and you can read more about how are continuing to cut down on the use of single use plastics in our blog and find out how we work to be more sustainable on our website.

If you would like to support us in our continued journey to becoming more eco-friendly why not book a holiday at one of our holiday cottages or share our details with your friends and family.