Friends of Nature, or Naturfreunde / Naturefriends / Amis de la Nature in Europe and USA, began in Austria in 1895 as an organisation for those people who loved walking in the countryside and the mountains. They built their own mountain huts and overnight chalets. Gradually the movement spread and today there are around 800 houses in Europe, USA and further afield. National organisations are affiliated to Naturefriends International which has its office in Vienna.
Houses vary considerably in both size and amenities but are predominantly sited in country areas. They range from simple mountain huts to modern purpose built eco hotels. Most self-catering houses have well equipped kitchens. Sleeping accommodation is usually in 2 - 6 bedded rooms, sometimes with en-suite. There is often a large common room or lounge area and outside there is usually a pleasant area with seats and often a simple play area for children. Access is usually available by road or track although sometimes cars must be left a short walk away from the house. In mountain areas such as the Alps, access may only be on foot or even by cable car. Smaller houses can be unattended during the week with key pad entry or access via the local key holder. All the houses are shown on www.friendsofnaturehouses.net with more details available by the individual country associations and increasingly with individual houses having their own dedicated web page .
The houses are often owned by a local group and prior booking is generally advisable. This is often possible by email, phone or post - and increasingly by web booking. In the UK most houses now have web booking engines showing instant availability and booking options. Local groups take great pride in their houses and visitors should respect the few simple rules and look after it as they would their own home.
Friends of Nature UK currently has 8 houses affiliated to NFI with most bookable on-line. Click the Houses link above to see the locations
Our Friends of Nature group is run on a totally voluntary basis with members scattered across the country. A large group in Norwich holds regular social activities. In the North of England and in the Scottish Borders area there are informal groups which meet up occasionally for walks, volunteer wardening and other activities.
Click here firstname.lastname@example.org to email our Secretary for further details of the organisation...