Nation set to re-explore as National Trust reopens sites

Sunday, May 31st, 2020

National Trust phased reopening sells out in hours as the public get ready to re-explore further afield

The nation’s muddy appetite for a breath of fresh air out in the countryside has been invigorated during lockdown.

The crisscrossing network of public footpaths, bridleways and country lanes have been awash with more people of all background and lifestyle, out and about enjoying their one piece of exercise daily whilst practising social distancing.

This, rightly, has unearthed noteworthy quibbles about the countryside code having not always been followed nor the health considerations of farmers being taken into account – especially during the sensitive lambing season – by those rediscovering the open space on their doorstep, but to see people putting themselves out there has been, on the whole, a welcome one in recent weeks.

The pressures on rural communities from increased use will be relieved somewhat however with news that the National Trust will reopen a small number of gardens and parklands for the public to explore (in pre-booked slots) from 3 June.

The sites, so often the ‘go to’ for families and hobby walkers looking for green space, will reclaim those with a fondness to head down more frequently trodden, familiar paths than those explored during lockdown.

39 sites – from the Killerton Estate in Devon to the rolling hills on the Wallington estate in Northumberland – have been given the green light to welcome visitors from next week on reduced visitor capacity with staggered entry times, following the government’s easing of lockdown restrictions and an emphasis on re-opening outdoor space.

It is a decision that has been well received with all but two sites in England having sold out for the upcoming week’s slots within 100 minutes of becoming available.

Tickets for future weeks will be released each Friday and are expected to be in high demand.

The advance booking move is in place to manage visitor numbers in line with government guidance and with the implementation of social distancing protocols in mind.

The National Trust have already opened more than 200 coast and countryside car parks nationwide but confirm that houses and stately homes will remain closed for the foreseeable future. All sites in Wales will remain closed due to government guidance.

A message on the National Trust website reads “We want to make it easy as possible for you to visit the places you love, and enjoy the landscapes and nature we’ve all missed.”