How do we approach trying to have a green holiday after all we are not in the office all the time. My hobby is climbing and often aim to climb on holiday. There is a new approach to reduce the impact this is called “Green Pointing”.
So what is Green Pointing and can you apply it? (Also know as EcoPointing for esoteric reasons)
We have been minimising flying for the last 20 years, perhaps a flight every 10 years over this period, the last one was to Sardinia in 2014 when the boat from Italy wasn’t running and we would have missed out on the “team trip” without a flight. With family, the journey involved Eurostar and sleeper to Barcelona, Malaga or Venice. These were great starts to climbing trips, some family time and a shared novel before launching into a frenetic week of climbing with a bunch of teenagers, and grownups. In those days we squeezed the children into the smallest hire car for the last leg.
Offspring are long gone but the urge to climb in Europe stays and in early 2020 we invested in electric Brompton bikes so we could get to the destination without a car at all. Then COVID struck and we had to wait until summer 2022 to try them out with our gear. We had a great trip to the Arriege returning to the lovely accommodation of John Arran (Chez Arran) and all his new routes.
This year as the Climate emergency becomes the focus of much of our spare time, we still need a climbing break. In Conversations with our daughter Flo and the Lattice team we have become aware of “Green Pointing” or as they call it “Ecopointing“. So, our trip to Orpierre is just that!
Breakfast at home. A 7-mile spin on the bikes to Newark. Train to London and lunch and then Eurostar to Paris for dinner. Cycling through Paris cycles routes gets better each time and we stayed in a very tiny but perfect flat in an Airbnb before catching the morning train to Grenoble. A coach through an Alpine pass to Eyguians and the final leg back on the Bromptons for 5 miles to Orpierre.
Unfortunately, the precise moment we set off from Eyguians the weather broke and we had one of our wettest rides ever accompanied by hailstones, thunder and lightning. We dripped into our chalet and sorted ourselves out, snuggled down ready for our first sunny days climbing.
We had 2 weeks to rack up a long list of redpoints, flashes and on-sights (All climbing jargon for ascending rock faces.) before we reversed the trip home with a night in Grenoble rather than Paris. And for the really keen climbers who read this…Notable climbs achieved were: Caroline 7b *** redpoint, La Fin Justifie les Moyens 7a+ redpoint and Misere 7a Onsight. All the stars were absolutely spot on. Many more lower grade routs were very worthwhile but often the lower the grade the more the polish. It’s becoming a popular sport!
Green pointing the trip is part of the adventure and although it will still be carbon heavy its much less so than flying. It will almost certainly have cost more than flying depending on how far in advance you book and there is lots of embodied energy in our bikes but they are a long term investment. We have have to change our behaviour in some way in thee face of the climate crises. To all the conscientious climbers out there we can and should do what we can to reduce our impact whilst we do what we do! How can the non climbers reading this apply it? Well that’s up to you … perhaps consider reducing you impact by taking more local holidays , stopping flying and getting into active transport. And may be give it a name! Happy Green Pointing!
Hints and tips:
I booked the Eurostar and internal French trains via the Rail Europe app.
If you book your UK trains in person in a station showing your Eurostar ticket you can get it as part of the CIV scheme which means if the UK train is late and you miss the connection you can hop on the next Eurostar without paying… just a hint.
Brompton electric folding bikes are the bees’ knees but do bear in mind if you want to take them on the Eurostar you need to put them in a bag. I used our rope ground sheet with elastic in the corners to wrap around mine to make it look like it’s in a bag. Seemed to pass muster. I think it’s to protect other bags from oily chains etc.
The bus from Grenoble was the 51 to Nice, runs once a day and we could only reserve a place via the Zou web site. We could only buy the ticket on the bus which was fine as there was plenty of space. I could not get the Zou app to work to buy a ticket in the UK!
The camp site in Orpierre, Koawa is great and very close to the climbs, we looked out over most of the cliffs! Most of the campers seemed to be climbers when we went in May. Walking up to the crag… fifteen minutes to the closest and may be 60 minutes to the very furthest towards the North-eastern sectors via Adrech parking. We cycled up to this car park and walked from there.
Sadly Le Puy sector is currently closed as the locals fear rock falls.
The France Haute Provence Rockfax guide is good but the local guide has most of the new routes in which are numerous – plenty of un-polished routes. Available in the tourist information centre in Orpierre.
There is a market on Sundays in Orpierre and a good small supermarket with very friendly staff. Check out the opening times when you get there.
Hockerton Housing Project is excited to announce it has released its own housing standard fit for the future world of zero carbon houses. It is called the Hockerton House Performance Standard and outlines the requirements that houses will need to be built to in order to achieve a sustainable low impact world. Unlike the Passivhaus standards these are free to use and go far beyond what Passivhaus can achieve. They are there to inspire!
Minister for Housing Nick Raynsford visiting Hockerton Housing Project
Since the visit of the Minister for Housing Nick Raynsford at our opening we have been pushing the boundaries of construction. Our latest development of nine houses is taking shape with the walls going up in Howgate Close, Eakring with a predicted SAP score of 142! Jerry Harrall is delivery the project and writing Howgate Close, blog.
Howgate close foundations
The UK is facing a crisis in housing which requires a dramatic change in how houses are designed and built to achieve the carbon reductions necessary to meet our climate change targets. With this in mind we are proposing standards of construction to inspire people to construct very high-performance houses factoring in embodied energy and within sustainable communities. The lifestyle of the people living in houses affects emissions of carbon significantly so cannot be ignored. A well-engineered house and designed community space will help inspire them to reduce their carbon emissions. Inspiration can lead to action given the right environment.
The imbedded House Performance Standards are performance based to allow individual designers and builders to create their own solutions. This should encourage creativity and enable future solutions to be incorporated in the finished houses.
These performance standards have been inspired by Dr Robert Vale, Professor Brenda Vale, Mr Nick Martin and the practical experience of the members of Hockerton Housing Project since 1993. They have drawn on General Information Report 53 produced for the Department of Environment Transport and the Regions by the Building Research Energy Conservation Support Unit. More recently the Leti “Net Zero Operational Carbon” targets have pushed us!
One of our longest-standing residents reflects on her time at HHP….
This is the 20th year since we joined HHP. We had recently returned from volunteering in Namibia and felt that sustainable development needed to start in the affluent West. We had relocated to Nottingham as I had a medical job there and Simon was looking after our small son Luke and looking for some way of using his engineering skills and doing it sustainably. By chance he came across HHP who were looking for a family to join them and the rest is history!
In those days (1995) I think we were more about sustainable and autonomous housing and climate change was not such an obvious issue but of course that has all changed and Simon now spends a great deal of time thinking about Renewables although our core business of demonstrating and promoting zero energy and sustainable housing continues and has lost none of its relevance today.
We moved into our brand new house in February 1998 after 18 months in a caravan with by then 3 small children. Simon had contributed to the self-build and being on site allowed him to juggle the family and building whilst I went off to a warm comfortable hospital every day! Our neighbours at the time were in a similar position which allowed some complementary childcare and a lot of mutual support!
Over the 20 years the Project has grown in so many ways. We had not realised the amount of interest it would generate with about 30,000 visitors, a significant amount of media interest and a small business that has continued to promote sustainability and provide employment for some of the residents.
Families have come and gone and we are now the last original family. Our children are grown up and Flo who was born when we were in the caravan is doing A levels and considering her future. It is perhaps not surprising that Luke is studying permaculture and small-scale organic horticulture in Leeds and Naomi is down in Falmouth studying Environmental Science. Their childhood in this wonderful site has been spent in the woodland and lake, in a small community of children and adults where they have had the freedom to explore and learn in safety. Parenting them has been easy. It is a pleasure to see other small children growing up and enjoying this space that we have helped to create.
As old families have moved on it is sad to lose that collective memory of the first days and the struggle to get planning permission and the houses built. We will be the last to remember why we did things this way or that and why that particular phrase in the secondary rules was written that way. But new families have brought in fresh energy and ideas and keep the direction of the business gently changing depending on interest, skills and available time.
Simon and I have no plans to leave and this lifestyle and place is perfect for us. The apple trees are in blossom and the new plants in the polytunnel are thriving and ready to go out. As the spring sun floods the conservatory after earlier rain, I am as excited as ever to throw open the doors to the bedrooms and know that the temperature in the house will stay in the low 20s until November.
After 20 years here our lives will change as the children leave and we have a bit more time for ourselves. More time to spend on the land, more time to sort out 20 years of childhood paraphernalia and more time to sit in the kitchen, conservatory, garden or lakeside depending on the weather and the season just enjoying this extraordinary place we helped to create!
We know we’re lucky having access to nature on our doorstep, and the ability to help it thrive, so we’re very keen on The Wildlife Trust’s campaign for a Nature and Wellbeing Act which would give everyone – particularly children – access to nature and improve its status in national and local government decision-making.
The ambition of the Act, and the delivery mechanisms, have been likened to the Climate Change Act, and has its own implications for our response to the climate change – by building our local environment’s resilience.
But we don’t like to just sign a petition if we can also take some personal action.
We’re reviewing our land use, as we’ve recently renewed our agricultural tenancy, and our first job is to start planting hedges to balance our agricultural use of the land with our aim of improving the site’s biodiversity. This balance is core to the land management plan that supported our original planning application and s106, but more than that these wildlife corridors support the natural environment that in turn supports our health and wellbeing.
Woodland Trust has tree-planting packs available for others to develop these natural spaces in their school, community or farm.
We are often asked why we settled on a group of five homes when planning the development at Hockerton. There are practical reasons such as the size of the plot available, and planning requirements such as the need to incorporate street lighting in larger developments. But there is also a social reason. The following excerpt from OpenLearn LabSpace on team dynamics is a helpful summary…
How many people in a team?
Does the task need a lot of people doing the same task (for example, an advice centre) or a small, expert team addressing different parts of the task (for example, writing new information leaflets)? The size of the team needed will be an important consideration. The larger the team, the greater the potential variety of skills and knowledge, but as the size of the team increases each individual will have fewer opportunities to participate and influence proceedings. The size of a team is therefore a trade-off or balance between variety and individual input. A team of between five and seven people is considered best for the effective participation of all members, but to achieve the range of expertise and skills required, the group may need to be larger. This brings with it the challenges of how to manage and supervise a large team. In health and social care, multi-organisational teams may be large given the need to ensure representation from different organisations required to plan and deliver a particular service or address an individual service user’s case.
Homogeneous groups, whose members share similar values and beliefs, may be more satisfying to work in and may experience less conflict, but they tend to be less creative and produce greater pressures for conformity. In contrast, heterogeneous groups, whose members have a wider range of values and beliefs, are likely to experience greater conflict, but they have the potential for greater creativity and innovation.
Our shared values and beliefs certainly deliver less conflict, but we’ll leave it to you to decide whether it also means we are less creative!