The daily constitutional came back in vogue pretty hard during lockdown – the one bit of the day where you could mix things up by venturing outside and retracing the exact same steps as the previous day. Pretty wild! It got even more limited as parks and gardens closed to prevent overcrowding, National Trust sites included. But as lockdown eases and the rules around outdoor exercise and travelling to spots of nature get a bit more adventurous, the National Trust and its glorious green spaces are springing back to life.
As of next week, the National Trust will begin a ‘phased reopening of its gardens and parklands in England and Northern Ireland’. A number of these will open as early as Wednesday June 3, but with a new pre-booking system in place to ensure crowds are restricted and social distancing can be upheld. And guess what? That booking system is now live.
Visitors will have to pay a fee unless they’re National Trust members. That’s despite a brief period at the start of the epidemic when the National Trust made its sites available for free so people in the UK could make the most of the great outdoors during a time of rising anxiety. But the crisis evolved, so sites had to close to the public on March 21 in line with the UK’s lockdown.
From Wednesday – when a pleasing number of gardens and grounds reopen, including Cliveden, Stowe and Sissinghurst Castle Garden – those arriving by car will present their tickets to staff through closed windows, while those on foot will have to follow social-distancing measures to gain access with their pre-booked tickets.
People are asked to stay local if they can and to limit the number of times they visit. More than 200 coast and countryside car parks will reopen next week, too. But all National Trust houses remain closed, as do all sites in Wales.
Director general Hilary McGrady said: ‘Like so many other organisations, the Trust has been badly affected by the coronavirus lockdown, not least our vital conservation work and our finances. Reopening is the first phase of our recovery, and we need our members and supporters to help us make this gradual transition a success so we can get back to offering nature, beauty and history for everyone.’
The move follows guidelines issued on May 23 by the government on accessing green spaces as lockdown eases.
Visit the National Trust’s website to see which sites are opening next week and to pre-book tickets.
Check out these awesome walks near London great for a socially distanced wander.