When will National Trust properties re-open to visitors?

The National Trust has been forced to close all of its properties during lockdown — inside and out — but now the end is in sight, at least for the gardens and other open spaces.

While the National Trust is some time away from re-opening the interior of the country houses and other properties they manage, the open spaces and gardens will be open soon.

A number of unstaffed car parks in England will be opened straight away, but not those which are manned or have facilities. The gardens of the great houses will soon be open too, as an online booking system is being hastily put together to ensure the safety of all visitors.

An email was sent out to National Trust members on Wednesday outlining the plans, with similar information now posted on the website:

Keeping visitors, staff, volunteers and local communities safe as lockdown restrictions ease means we need to maintain social distancing, and so we will have to avoid creating hotspots and discourage gatherings.

We know this means that when we reopen we’ll need to carefully manage visitor numbers. And we know the safest way to do this is through an online pre-booking system. This is new for us and we’ve had to work fast to get it in place. We’ll write to you as soon as we can to let you know how it will work and what to expect.

Many of our staff are furloughed and our places have been ‘put to bed’, so it will take us a little while to wake them all up again. We’re prioritising opening our gates and offering beautiful outdoor spaces first, and always in line with Government guidance in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Many of the National Trust’s wilder spaces, where they have neither gates nor charges, have been open to walkers doing their daily exercise throughout, but car parks at many of those venues will now be open:

From Wednesday 13 May, we’ll start opening some car parks in England, so people can access fresh air, open space and nature. Car parks which are staffed and have facilities, will take longer. All car parks in Wales and Northern Ireland will remain closed. Members can park for free at our reopened car parks.

One thing more to remember: if you go down to the car park today, you’re sure of a big surprise… (maybe):

We’re also finding that without our usual visitors, wildlife has moved into some car parks and open spaces, so we’ll be asking you to be on the lookout for unexpected fellow-guests in some places when you return.

Our cafés, shops, gardens and houses will follow in time, but only where and when it’s safe. The safety of our staff, volunteers, visitors and local communities remains our priority so any reopening will need to be phased and gradual.

Before travelling (safely) to any of the National Trust’s places, please check the website at www.nationaltrust.org.uk for the latest information.