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“If you’re tired of virtue signalling and green-washing about the environment, and are after a staycation with a genuinely ultra-low carbon footprint” look no further…
Erin Baker, Editorial Director at Auto Trader, gives us an exclusive look into the best sustainable road trips.
Alesund, Norway in a Jaguar I-Pace
Norway boasts the world’s highest proportion of electric cars on its roads, at 65 per cent take-up, thanks to Government incentives and a good charging network. But it’s more than that: electric just suits the vibes on these beautiful mountainous roads that zigzag in and out of the fjords, linked by countless electric ferries that glide silently across the glassy waters. The transport system in Norway works in harmony with the landscape, which makes a road trip in an electric car so satisfying.
We took a Jaguar I-Pace on a three-day adventure from Alesund, driving up the coast to experience the stunning Atlantic Road, with its swooping bridge that featured in the Bond No Time to Die Bond film. The waves up here on the roof of the world lap countless rocky outcrops covered in lichens and sea grasses, sending seagulls into the wind and seals below the surface.
Stay at one of 62 Nord’s perfect hotels in the area for a truly luxe trip: Hotel Brosundet in Alesund itself is a chic base on the water. Storfjord Hotel in the hills is a clutch of blackened timber cabins with moss roofs and open fires, and newly renovated Hotel Union Oye celebrates the romance of hiking and exploration, and a history of visitors including Karen Blixen and Kaiser Wilhelm. You can create a lovely circular route to link all three, with plenty of rapid chargers en route.
Wilderley, Suffolk in a Skoda Enyaq iV
If you’re tired of virtue signalling and green-washing about the environment, and are after a staycation with a genuinely ultra-low carbon footprint, book in to the treehouse, yurt, shepherd’s hut or railway cabin at Wilderley, a smallholding with a difference near Beccles, Suffolk. The big surprise here is at the back of the farm: a grassy airstrip and hangar housing the world’s only electric planes. You can take a short flight to experience the silence among the clouds, or settle into a yoga class, plant a tree in the pretty arboretum in the top field, or pet one of the many surprising rescue animals on the farm including rheas, alpacas, meerkats and goats.
Make no mistake: Wilderley is true to its ethos, so expect dim lighting due to the solar energy, a vegetarian menu thanks to ultra local sourcing of food (four-mile radius) and the farm’s love of animals, and compost toilets.
The one thing currently lacking is an electric charging point for cars: we drove up in the remarkable Skoda Enyaq iV (Skoda supports the enterprise and has planted a tree on site) and had to make do with local charging points. The drive through Suffolk is a tranquil mixture of lanes and fast flowing roads that lead to the watery Broads, and the Enyaq iV, a large, pure electric family SUV, proved perfect: it is silent, smooth and oh so comfy.
Our car was black with a cognac-coloured leather taken from Skoda’s eco suite – the leather is tanned using olive-leaf extract instead of the more harmful traditional method. The Enyaq iV is amazing value for money, unsurprisingly – electric cars are, on average, 37 per cent more expensive than their petrol counterparts but the Enyaq iV costs the same as a fossil-fuelled medium SUV.
Galvin Green Man in a Ford Mustang Mach-e
Essex isn’t known for the natural beauty of its landscape but venture beyond Chelmsford and there are some excellent, back-to-nature driving routes. And what better electric car for some dynamic, involving driving than Ford’s Mustang Mach-E? It maintains the legendary handling of Fords, but with sexier styling, fake engine growl and “Untamed” mode, which eats into the battery’s range but is a hell of a lot of fun.
You also won’t mind depleting the range when you’ve got Gridserve’s jaw-dropping supercharging hub nearby, at Braintree. It looks like a huge fuel station, but houses multiple rapid chargers which can recharge a Mustang Mach-E in under half an hour while you have a coffee, book one of the office pods or even peddle away on the exercise bike, with your energy pouring straight into the power reserves at the station.
We drove a surprisingly pretty route through ancient villages between Chelmsford and Colchester including Coggeshall and Maldon, and ended up at Galvin Green Man for dinner, an excellent pub run by the Michelin-starred Galvin brothers. We eschewed red meat, given the huge carbon footprint of beef, and ended the day on a high note, with fresh fish, vegetables and a brilliant drive home.
Thirsk in a Twisted Land Rover
Think sustainable motoring and you don’t think of 4x4s or Land Rovers. However, a car with a low carbon footprint does not merely involve tailpipe emissions and something with a plug. If you really want to reduce the carbon footprint of your driving, you need to consider the lifespan of the vehicle, from its manufacture to its recycling, or second-life application. This is where brands like Twisted come in. Twisted takes old Land Rover Defenders and breathes new life into them. It rebuilds, re-engineers, re-upholsters and recommissions the cars for customers who want an old Defender but one that feels and drives like new.
So rather than mining yet more minerals and soldering yet more metal to build yet more new cars, with all the energy that requires, Twisted is part of the circular economy, refusing to give up on tired old Defenders. Even its HQ in Thirsk, Yorkshire, is an old cinema which has had new life breathed into it by the brand.
We drove a Twisted Defender from Thirsk into the surrounding Yorkshire landscape, with a little bit of green-laning thrown in (the practise of driving on approved tracks over rough ground; a sort of semi-off roading). The steep, rambling lanes criss-crossing the north Yorkshire moors provide cinematic views of countryside and sky, punctured every now and then by the squared-off bonnet of the Twisted Defender as it chugs merrily up, over and down the contours of God’s own country. There are few more quintessentially British experiences.