No 21. Majorca off-grid near Deia[/caption]From a private island to a lakeside cabin, via a Majorcan mountaintop with a spring water fed hot shower. From Finland in the North to Corsica in the South – here are 21 options that will make a great break. We save the best to last.
1 Domaine de Murtoli Southwest Corsica
Set amid 5,000 acres (20 sq km) on a private estate in the southwest of Corsica, this is a collection of 16 restored shepherds’ dwellings. Each has 3ft-thick stone walls and its own garden and pool. There’s a two-mile (3km) stretch of private beach to cavort on, although a couple of the houses — sleeping between two and 13 people — have their own private bays and saunas. Breakfast is left on the doorstep in a wicker basket, and the guests are encouraged to help themselves to the fruit, vegetables and herbs from the kitchen garden to use in the well-appointed kitchens. Groceries are also delivered daily, but as back-up you can take advantage of the two restaurants on site.
Helping out at an African nursery or digging trenches in rural India has become a fashionable – rite of passage for a generation of young Britons.
But many volunteers end up doing more harm than good – and the gap year trend is even being blamed for potentially fuelling child abuse in the host communities.
Mounting concern that the growing numbers of tourists keen to work in orphanages in countries such as Cambodia and Nepal could be leading to local children being abandoned or abducted to meet the demand has led to calls for a radical rethink on the ethics of so-called voluntourism.
YOU know you are way off-grid when people view WiFi as a question.
“Why Fi? Why indeed,” came the response when I asked about about internet connection upon realising I had no phone signal.
As if that wasn’t bad enough, the kids went white when we arrived at our cottage to find there was no TV signal. What the hell were we going to do for three days?
The only SKY was the big boring blue stuff outside.
But it doesn’t take long after arriving on the fantastically remote and beautiful island of Tiree to adopt a similar view to the locals.
It’s a cliche but Malta’s little sister island really is one of the Med’s best-kept secrets. Its ancient citadels, sun-baked terraces and Byzantine churches are a gift for location scouts (see Gladiator, Troy, Game of Thrones), but for the rest of us, the red-sand beaches and impossibly blue waters are the real stars of the show. At the end of February the low-key islanders go nuts for Carnival (28 February to 4 March).
What to do If you see only one sight ? Make it the Ggantija Temples at Xaghra – the oldest freestanding structures in the world, dating back to 3600BC. Swim in the “Inland Sea”, a lagoon surrounded by cliffs and connected to the sea by a narrow limestone archway. Relax on the gorgeous sandy beaches at Ramla Bay and San Blas. Gozo’s crystal-clear waters offer some of the best dive spots in the Med – you can book dive and snorkelling trips in the harbour town of Marsalforn.
Chances are that unless you belong to the very specific social circle of water sports enthusiasts, you will never have heard of the activity known as coasteering. Little did you know that you were missing out on some of the best fun to be had by the seaside. Coasteering means travelling along the coastline either on foot or in the water.
Having started out in north and west Wales, the activity has now spread to every corner of the kingdom, gaining popularity in notable surf destinations such as Cornwall and Dorset as well as the highlands and isles of Scotland.
While most aqua-thrill seekers might decide to book a surfing lesson, or rent a body board or kayak; those in the know will be keeping an eye out for the ever-increasing numbers of commercial coasteering tours.
It was one of the last islands on Earth to be discovered.
It bears no trace of indigenous settlement and Europeans and Polynesians didn’t show up until more than a century after the publication of Daniel Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe.
Savvy Aussies slip away to this tiny speck in the Pacific, governed from New South Wales. Judy Davis, the Emmy award-winning actress who appeared in A Passage to India and Woody Allen’s Husbands and Wives, has visited its golden sands, as has Eric Bana of Hulk fame, who came with his kids, and George Miller, the director of Happy Feet and Mad Max.
But the islanders are too busy milking their cows or minding their honey bees to pay much attention and, as for visitors (numbers are capped at 394 at a time), why would you bother ogling stars when you can spend the time paddling with exotic fish in more colours than a rainbow?
Four miles from Aviemore, in the Cairngorms national park, is a cabin specifically designed for visitors seeking isolation and a self-sufficient, back-to-nature experience in the great Scottish outdoors.
A one-room hut with a platform bed, table, bench seat, sofa, sink and stove, the corrugated iron bothy crouches like a minimalist doll’s house in a secluded birch- and bracken-speckled dell.
Stoking the fire and lighting candle lanterns in the all-but-silent gloaming, you feel miles from civilisation. But the dell is in a far corner of the grounds of Inshriach House,
From innovations in technology, to good ways of running a business, quality design and style, here are two handfuls of superb places to get away to. They range from places to stay to transport initiatives, festivals, and adventure and conservation holidays. All are pushing the boundaries of what green travel means.
Places to stay
At the edge of Bodmin Moor, Tregulland is a renovated self-catering pad, one of a new breed of eco-friendly
Goglamping.net is a web site about glamour-camping – or luxury camping but mainly about Yurt-camping. We tested some of their best picks in the UK. Here they are in order of preference
Broad Oak, East Sussex, 01424 883057, barefoot-yurts.co.uk
The Yurt Retreat
07773 505671, theyurtretreat.co.uk
Click to see Eight more retreats
Off-road opportunities abound
Cycling in Majorca is a beautiful way to keep fit and enjoy nature. In the cooler months, the mountainous roads and pure air attract world champion cyclists as well as other top sportsmen and women.
One of the best places to base yourself is Read’s Hotel between Santa Maria and Alaro, set amongst Olive and Almond groves, with views of the nearby mountain range. While many of the top country house hotels on the island are closed in the winter months, Reads is one of the few to open all year round.
The island is at its best in the uncrowded off-season, and biking is safer with less traffic about. The hotel also offers boat hire and hot air ballooning.
It has a spa, two pools, two restaurants, and yet is a personal, intimate, family-owned boutique hotel.