We moved to Burnside Cottage, in October 2018, because we fell in love with the clean, wild open spaces of the far northern highlands. We had, for some time, found it increasingly difficult living in a busy city down south. When we found Burnside Cottage it looked like the ideal place for us to create a new, more sustainable, life & business.
We believe in sustainability, living ethically, and simply being kinder & more natural in our lifestyle…. where possible (we always know there is more we could do and we realise that this is a journey). We believe in recycling, upcycling & donating…..we are lucky to have a number of outbuilding and EVERYTHING is put aside to reuse later instead of being discarded. Stephen is very creative at re-purposing items e.g. old shower doors have been turned into cold frames for our salad leaves. We do anything we can really to minimise our impact. We are lucky to live in an amazing part of the world with a wealth of, often endangered, birds and wildlife….and we want to do everything we can to keep it that way. We’re kind of modern hippies but without compromising on luxury and comfort! Stephen is an artist (photography & wood carving) who is inspired by that nature around us. Kacey & Stephen both now follow a plant based lifestyle who loves growing & cooking food (but don’t worry, she is comfortable cooking ethically reared local meat).
We therefore knew that we would be turning Burnside Cottage into a kinder, more sustainable, business. We are very proud to have achieved the Gold Award from Green Tourism in March 2022. Our journey so far & our plans for the next stage…..
The Property & Energy
Since taking over the property in 2018 we have started to replace our old exterior doors & double glazed windows with more modern and efficient ones in 2021 & 2023. This work is ongoing as we have lots here at Burnside Cottage! We have also sealed more draughts than we can count (Caithness wind will find any holes, and there were plenty here). We have added 2 further layers of insulation to all roof spaces that we can access. We have replaced our hot water tanks with more efficiently insulated ones. We have also replaced ALL lighting with LED lights and have exterior lighting on timers.
We added a solar array to the property in 2022 to enable us to generate much of our electricity and hot water (at least spring to autumn). Our electricity supplier for the rest is Octopus who supply us with 100% green energy from sun, wind, and water. The current main heating in Burnside Cottage unfortunately is via oil, however, we have installed an more eco-efficient boiler & all radiators are now fitted with modern thermostatic valves. We supplement this with additional electric heating when needed.
All white good purchased since the move have a high energy rating and we use induction hobs, and a more efficient airfryers where possible (it is rare for us to use our conventional oven now!).
We try to conserve, collect & use less water around the property. In our bathrooms we have aerated shower heads which use 50% less water whilst giving the same powerful shower experience. We also have dual flush toilets throughout. We are lucky to have excellent drinking water & supply glass bottles of tap water in our guest fridges & with meals. We use all leftovers etc to water our house plants & salad. We have also begun installing butts and tanks to harvest rain water for our salad and herbs…..and we’re always looking to access more. We’ve also planted native rowan trees 12 to date and will continue to add more.
Produce & Food
We believe in organic ethically reared & locally sourced produce, where possible. We are lucky to live where we do as we have a wealth of excellent small scale meat, fish & vegetable producers to choose from. Here are some of our amazing suppliers;
Old Hall Farm – Our outdoor native breed pork comes direct from this local family run farm (GF sausages come from Pipers Farm)
Cairn Hill Farm – A family business in Caithness who rear Organic Dexter Beef provide us with our steak & burgers.
Caithness Smoke House – An award winning cottage industry which provide us with our Smoked Salmon and Trout. All locally sourced from sustainable local supplies.
Fruit, Veg & Eggs – We grow as much of our veg in house but running the b&b & self-catering takes time! So we focus on growing our lettuce, some salad and root crops. We are excited to be working with a small local market garden company ‘Midgey Bites’ from 2024, who have just achieved organic certification, who will supply as much as possible of the rest of our fresh produce and eggs.
Drinks Menu – Our spirits and beers are sourced from our local distilleries & brewery (99% within 35miles) & our wines are all vegan/vegetarian & organic and/or from sustainable producers in Europe. Our soft drinks are from Karma (Organic, Fairtrade & B Corp), HipPop (100% natural) & Mixers from Fever Tree (Carbon Neutral)
Bird & Wild Coffee – Supply us with organic, fairtrade, shade grown, bird friendly coffee. Supporting the RSPB.
Clipper & Kingdom Coffee – This fairtrade supplier provides us with our Tea, Coffee & Sugar all of which are compostable and/or biodegradable (we do source some specialist herbal loose leaf teas from other supplies too).
Cleaning, Toiletries & Extras
BioD – We use Bio D, for our laundry products, toilet cleaner, kitchen sanitiser & washing up liquid. Eco-friendly, ethically sourced, plant based.
MACK – We use MACK for our dishwasher tabs & make up all of our cleaning sprays from their concentrate. Biodegradable, vegan & cruelty free, & eco-friendly.
Who Gives A Crap – Provide our Toilet Paper & Tissues (100% Recycled Toilet Rolls & Forest Friendly Tissues). WGAC donate 50% of their profits, are B Corp certified for environmental impact & provide carbon neutral shipping.
Handmade Eco Soaps – A small company based in Inverness provide our guest soaps & conditioners. These are all handmade eco-friendly, vegan, Palm oil free….. smell delicious and lovely to use.
Vegware – To label our soaps & Conditioners (which we buy in large loaf sizes), along with some of our food items etc we use Vegware labels. Water based & compostable.
Waste & Recycling
We have a private cesspit and as the soak away drains into the burn we are very careful to avoid putting any strong chemicals in them. We asks guests to be mindful and to only flush toilet paper.
We recycle everything possible! It can be complicated for guests to know what should go where…..and we want our guests to be relaxed on holiday. Therefore, we only provide 2 recycling bins but be assured we are sorting it and depositing things appropriately behind the scenes. The council take our cans, paper, and cardboard, we compost some paper and card along with our teas, coffee, eggshells and vegetable scraps etc at the property. We take our glass to a depositing facility.
During autumn 2023 through to 2025 we have the following plans….
On our recently purchased adjacent land we will continue creating/developing our allotment to grow much of our root vegetables.
We will be building further coldframes / polytunnel / greenhouse to grow more of our salad and herbs.
We will be installing further water containers to supply water for the allotment & polytunnel.
We will be further enhancing wild plant and flower spaces around the property.
We will be adding Owl & further bird houses around the property.
We will be adding bat roosting boxes to further support our resident bats.
We will be adding a further solar array to further supplement our energy supply and installing electric intelligent heating to supplement guest areas.
We will continue with our window upgrades, with more planned for 2024
We will be creating a larger composter