Join us for a green day out

Croft Castle's sustainable woodland provides heat for most of the buildings on the Herefordshire estate

We all want to do our bit to protect the environment, so here are some places you can go for a day out that won't cost the earth.

Whether you're a walker enjoying a rest at a cosy pub powered by water that flows from the surrounding mountains or a history lover who likes to explore majestic castles, you'll discover some inspiring stories about sustainability at the places we care for.

When you visit the countryside we look after, you'll see how we capture the energy from mountain streams and flowing rivers; carefully hide hydros in beautiful landscapes; use sustainable woodland to heat historic houses; and bring green power to a 19th-century mill hidden in a wooded valley. 

As Europe's largest conservation charity, we're working in groundbreaking ways to reduce the impact we have on the environment. We already have 100 renewable energy projects up and running and by 2021, we aim to generate 50% of our energy needs from renewable sources. 

What's more, the money we save by being more energy efficient goes towards vital conservation work that protects the countryside and the wildlife that depends on it. This means we can make sure the places you love to escape to remain beautiful and full of life. 

Working with BMW i

Not only are we working hard to make the places we care for sustainable, we're also able to expand our network of charging points thanks to the support we get from BMW i. Like us, BMW i is inspired by nature, and is championing innovation with their range of electrified cars to make travel more sustainable. Their support means there will be even more places for drivers to plug in their vehicles. This means you can come and see the work we're doing to become more sustainable while also doing your bit to protect the environment. Find out where you can charge your car at a beautiful place near you.

Inside the turbine house at Castle Drogo, Devon. The hydro system used to supply the electricity to light and power the castle.
Inside the turbine house at Castle Drogo, Devon. The hydro system used to supply the electricity to light and power the castle.
Inside the turbine house at Castle Drogo, Devon. The hydro system used to supply the electricity to light and power the castle.

Castle Drogo: a long history of innovation

Making special places sustainable doesn’t always require modern engineering methods and new technology. At some of the places in our care, we harness the power of the rivers in the same way we did at the beginning of the last century.

The restored and reinstated historic hydro turbine at Castle Drogo was first installed in 1929, and produced enough energy to power 332 plug sockets used for the many gadgets in the unusual home of businessman, Julius Drewe. The energy it generates now powers the visitor centre and heats the house.

Discover a place full of innovation and find out how we brought this historic landmark back to life. During your visit, explore the winding paths across the estate, take in the dramatic landscape of the Teign Gorge, and experience the roar of the fast-flowing river that powers the turbine.

The north west corner of Castle Drogo, Devon
The north west corner of Castle Drogo, Devon
The north west corner of Castle Drogo, Devon
Discover a history of innovation Visit Castle Drogo
" Whether we're working in the grounds of a historic building or on a wild hillside, we have to make sure we preserve a sense of place and protect the wildlife. Often, you wouldn’t even know we’d been there. "

Our green energy facts

  • 100 renewable energy projects at places we care for
  • 50% of energy needs we aim to meet with renewable sources
  • 43 National Trust places with charging points for electric cars
Visitors at Penrhyn Castle and Garden, Gwynedd, Wales
Visitors at Penrhyn Castle and Garden, Gwynedd, Wales
Visitors at Penrhyn Castle and Garden, Gwynedd, Wales

Penrhyn Castle – a place where elaborate architecture meets sustainable energy

In the 18th century Penrhyn Castle was known for its eccentric design features, including a fishtank that ran through the dining tables in its conservatory. Today you can explore the castle's elaborate interiors, knowing that each of its 100 rooms are heated by green energy.

In fact nearly 70% of the site’s energy needs are met by solar panels and a biomass boiler. The £3,000 a year we save on heating bills goes towards vital conservation work. 

Staying true to the spirit of invention and creativity at Penrhyn Castle, we’re also working with scientists from Bangor University and Trinity College Dublin to trial a heat capturing system that reuses heat from waste water being flushed down the drains. 

Step inside a world of luxury and intrigue and stroll around glorious gardens with views of Conwy Bay and Snowdonia. 
 

Discover a history of creativity and invention Visit Penrhyn Castle

Enjoy a hydro-powered pint at Sticklebarn 

Sticklebarn's dramatic landscapes, forged by fire and ice, are not only beautiful to look at; they also have an important role to play in the creation of renewable energy. 

The Stickle Ghyll hydro, which was installed in 2015 and uses fast flowing water that falls down the hills in the Langdale Valley, powers the nearby pub. This means you can enjoy one of the greenest pints of beer in the UK – the perfect refreshment after an invigorating walk in the surrounding countryside. 

Enjoy a green day out Visit Sticklebarn
Gibson Mill in Hardcastle Crags, West Yorkshire, has a rich history of reinvention
Gibson Mill in Hardcastle Crags, West Yorkshire, has a rich history of reinvention
Gibson Mill in Hardcastle Crags, West Yorkshire, has a rich history of reinvention


Gibson Mill stands at the heart of the green revolution

Gibson Mill, which is at the heart of Hardcastle Crags, was one of the UK’s first mills to power the Industrial Revolution. The mill was built around 1800 and driven by a water wheel to produce cotton cloth.

Fast forward 200 years and it now stands as the first renewable place in our care that’s completely off the grid. 

The mill’s roof-mounted solar panels and the water turbines, which harness energy from the river, provide almost all of the power for the mill and the cafe. 

With no connection to the National Grid, this energy is stored in batteries for when it's needed most. A boiler that uses sustainably-sourced logs from the surrounding woodland heats water for the café. Food waste is composted on site and worms are used to compost waste from the toilets. 

Discover a rich history of reinvention at the mill and explore the surrounding countryside. 

Walk through parkland to see the Iron Age hill fort at Croft Castle
Walk through parkland to see the Iron Age hill fort at Croft Castle
Walk through parkland to see the Iron Age hill fort at Croft Castle

Keeping warm at Croft Castle 


Once at the forefront of politics and power, Croft Castle in Herefordshire is now flying the flag for green energy.

Rangers carefully manage the surrounding woodland to create a sustainable supply of wood chip to feed the on-site biomass boiler. This, in turn, heats most of the buildings on the estate, including the farm and the mansion.

Learn about our work to make Croft Castle self-sustainable, as it would have been during its heyday in the 20th century. Discover stories older than the Doomsday book, admire ancient trees and walk through parkland to an Iron Age hill fort. 

Explore sustainable woodland Visit Croft Castle
Video

Sustainable woodland at Croft Castle

Watch the video and find out how we look after the woodland at Croft Castle and create a sustainable fuel source for our biomass boiler. Where possible we leave the woodland to replenish itself but sometimes we give nature a helping hand by planting trees from local seeds.