Super Easy and Fun Ways to Be an Ecotourist in Slane, Ireland

Kermit the Frog once said, it’s not easy being green. While I can’t speak for frogs, I do concur that many ecotourists feel the same. Fortunately Rock Farm Slane, located in the historic Boyne Valley makes being green not only easy, but also fun!

how to be an ecotourist in Slane, Ireland

Greenwashing, is a practice when a company or organization spends more time and money claiming to be “green” through advertising and marketing than actually implementing business practices that minimize environmental impact, according to the Greenwashing Index. It abounds in the tourism industry, especially in the hospitality industry. We’ve all seen the signs in hotel rooms about reusing our towels – which I’m all in favour for, but when that’s all a hotel is doing and then pretends it’s green, it’s a bit of a stretch.

Rescue horses are part of the ecotourism efforts at Rock Farm Slane in the Boyne Valley, Ireland.

Rescue horses at Rock Farm Slane.

These efforts seem downright measly after a visit to Rock Farm Slane. They offer Gold-Certified Ecotourism luxury camping, also known as glamping between April and November. You choose between staying in one of the five yurts (see top photo if you don’t know what a yurt looks like) or one of the 2 shepherds huts.

Everything about the accommodation is eco-friendly. The soap is handmade locally, the communal toilets are compost toilets, in which pee and poo is separated and treated through ecological waste processing. Later, it gets spread on the hazel bushes as fertilizer! Trust me, this is one toilet bowl that you actually want to look into, to see how it works!

Much of the food is grown locally on the farm and what can’t be grown is sourced from nearby.

piglets and raising/growing as much of the food as possible on site is part of the ecotourism strategy at Rock Farm Slane in the Boyne Valley, Ireland

Piglets at Rock Farm Slane.

Instead of electricity in the huts and yurts, guests are given a lantern as a light source.

One of the most impressive aspects though was how Rock Farm Slane harvests grey water. You’ll see large cells which look like weed beds. The discharge is absorbed by the plants and after ~15 years, it’s scraped off and used as compost.

Rain water, naturally abundant in Ireland,  also plays an important role in the ecological operations. It’s collected and used in the toilets! Most recently, the owner Carina, who holds a Masters degree in Environmental Technology,  has created a natural swimming pool strictly by harvesting rain water! And yes, it’s a completely separate system from the gray water pools, so there’s no chance of contamination!

Natural swimming pool made entirely from rain water is an ecotourism attraction at Rock Farm Slane.

A natural swimming pool made entirely from rain water.

The other really cool aspect of Rock Farm Slane is the community aspect. They participate in the WWOOF (World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms) program, in which volunteers work in exchange for room and board. There’s also a large communal kitchen and lounge area, where guests can prepare their own food and hang out with each other!

One of the communal areas where guests can mingle with each other while glamping at Rock Farm Slane in Ireland.

One of the communal areas where guests can mingle with each other while glamping at Rock Farm Slane.

Despite, all the ecological innovations at Rock Farm Slane, you will never feel preached to. I hung out with the owner Carina for most of the day and throughly enjoyed her company! She’s incredibly welcoming and while very passionate about ecotourism, she doesn’t push it on you.

What’s an ecotourist not to love? Did I mention the views of the nearby Rock Farm Slane Castle that you can see from some of the yurts!

View of Slane Castle from Rock Farm Slane in the Boyne Valley, Ireland

View of Slane Castle from Rock Farm Slane

E-Biking Through the Boyne Valley

It’s not just the accommodation that’s eco-friendly, the activities are also designed with the ecotourist in mind. Rock Farm Slane is located in the Boyne Valley, an area filled with 9000 years of history and historical sites. Traditionally, people have explored the sites by car, driving from site to site, even though many of them are not very far from each other. At Rock Farm Slane, you can rent an e-bike. An e-bike has different levels you can adjust to get more help, which is especially useful on hills. You can either explore the sights with a guide or on your own. You can spend as little as a half day or several days exploring the famous sights like the UNESCO World Heritage Site Brú na Bóinne Newgrange and Knowth ancient monuments, the famous Slane Castle (where Vikings is also filled), and the Hill of Slane,

I went with Carina and we explored a few of these, on an e-bike of course:

 

 

Me e-biking through the entrance to the grounds of Slane Castle.

Me e-biking through the entrance to the grounds of Slane Castle.

 

The front of Slane Castle is a short e-bike ride away from Rock Farm Slane.

The front of Slane Castle is a short e-bike ride away from Rock Farm Slane.

You may recognize the back of Slane Castle from the TV show "Vikings".

You may recognize the back of Slane Castle from the TV show “Vikings”.

The surrounding buildings around Slane Castle are being converted into an eco-friendly Irish Whiskey Distillery, where whisky tours will also be available.

The surrounding buildings around Slane Castle are being converted into an eco-friendly Irish Whiskey Distillery, where whisky tours will also be available.

The village of Slane in Country Meath, is just a few minutes from Rock Farm Slane by e-bike.

The village of Slane in Country Meath, is just a few minutes from Rock Farm Slane by e-bike.

While e-biking to Slane, you'll want to stop to observe the four Georgian houses at a crossroads.

While e-biking to Slane, you’ll want to stop to observe the four Georgian houses at a crossroads.

Far stretching views from Slane Hill. Fortunately it's a relatively easy climb on your e-bike.

Far stretching views from Slane Hill. Fortunately it’s a relatively easy climb on your e-bike.

16th Century Monastery at Slane Hill, Ireland which I reached via e-bike.

16th Century Monastery at Slane Hill, which I reached via e-bike.

Cemetery of the 16th Century Monastery at Slane Hill, Ireland which I reached via e-bike.

Cemetery of the 16th Century Monastery at Slane Hill.

Tree Climbing

When is the last time you climbed a tree? For me, it was probably when I was a kid, which is why I was so excited for this activity! An instructor teaches you the ropes, and the very important knots to keep you from falling. You will slowly  work your way up a stunning mature oak tree. It’s hard work, and it takes a few minutes to find your rhythm, but once you do, your feet are off the ground and you’re climbing a tree!

Me tree climbing for the first time since I was a kid at Rock Farm Slane.

Me tree climbing for the first time since I was a kid at Rock Farm Slane.

Your reward for getting to the top is stunning views of Slane Castle and the Boyne Valley! Not to mention re-connecting with nature in a way that you probably haven’t done since you were a kid! At the time of writing, Rock Farm Slane was the only place offering this tree climbing activity in all of Ireland, so it’s a special treat!

Corina showing off the rope and harness system used to keep tree climbers safe.

Corina showing off the rope and harness system used to keep tree climbers safe.

I think even Kermit the Frog may agree that at Rock Farm Slane it is not only easy being green, it’s also a lot of fun!

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Note: Thank you to Rock Farm Slane, EcoTourism Ireland and Tourism Ireland for making my visit possible. As always, all opinions expressed are my own.

Laurel Robbins is the founder of Monkeys and Mountains, an adventure travel blog and company that helps people plan their active holidays in a sustainable way. Although Canadian, she lives in Germany. You can find her in the mountains on most weekends.

2017-09-25T14:34:35+00:00

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