Here’s to another 125 – and many more!
This week, the National Trust unveiled one of the UK’s biggest woodland expansion and tree planting projects in an ambitious plan to become carbon net zero by 2030 as the charity celebrates its 125th anniversary. Read more here.
One of the UK’s largest independent charities and membership organisations, the National Trust was founded on 12 January 1895 by Octavia Hill, Sir Robert Hunter and Hardwicke Rawnsley. The aim of the Trust was to care for historic properties and areas of beautiful countryside. The organisation now has special powers to ‘preserve and protect’ over 500 historical places in Britain (excluding Scotland which has its own trust).
This includes many historic houses and gardens, industrial monuments, and social history sites. Many of the properties are open to the public, whilst others are leased to tenants. The Trust owns over 900 square miles of land, much of which is open to the public so that everyone can get benefit of the green and open space.
Whilst heading up AccessTOG, I have had the good fortune to visit several National Trust properties and estates to enjoy exploring many of their gardens and walks.
Here are just some the National Trust places I have visited in 2019.
Fountains Abbey, near Ripon
Fountains Abbey and Studley Royal Water Gardens are located approximately three miles south-west of Ripon in North Yorkshire, near to the village of Aldfield. It is one of the largest Cistercian houses in England and, together with Studley Royal Park, has been awarded UNESCO World Heritage Status. Although in ruins, the abbey is still one of the largest and best-preserved Cistercian houses in England and is a Grade I listed building.
The first time I saw Fountains Abbey I was blown away by its beauty. Fountains Abbey is a very popular place to visit as the grounds are extensive and there is so much to see. It makes for a great family day out. Our visit was on a weekday, very early in February and it was bitterly cold. There was hardly anyone around.
The abbey was so peaceful and so atmospheric that you could feel the history. Close your eyes and you could imagine the peal of the bells, calling the monks to prayer. The grounds of the estate were covered in a carpet of snowdrops – an awesome sight to see. It was simply stunning.
So much thought and planning has gone into making Fountains Abbey accessible to all, with free hire of several all-terrain wheelchairs for people with limited mobility, available from the information centre. We have a YouTube video for you to watch which we filmed when the snowdrops were in full bloom.
This area of the Yorkshire Dales National Park will always have a special place in my heart as it was the first place in the park to purchase an all-terrain wheelchair for public use. People with limited mobility can now take out the Tramper on the 5-mile route around the Malham Tarn Estate and breathe in the beauty of this spectacular limestone country. Though there are no facilities up at the tarn, the nearby village of Malham is only a short drive away, where there are accessible loos and plenty of places for something to eat and drink. Please visit our YouTube channel to watch our video of the walk
Felbrigg Hall, Norfolk
Felbrigg Hall is a National Trust property located in the village of Felbrigg near Cromer in Norfolk. It’s a beautiful old hall with a shop, café and walled garden. Felbrigg Hall is a perfect place for wheelchair users to visit as the National Trust recently purchased an all-terrain wheelchair that can be hired out, free of charge, so that people with mobility impairment are able explore the magnificent woodlands.
We visited in October when the woodlands were ablaze with mixed hues of reds, oranges and browns. There’s just something quite special to wander amongst the falling leaves and to collect chestnuts that have dropped from the trees. It’s the perfect way to spend an afternoon. Dogs are welcome in the grounds of the estate, and there is plenty of open space for children to enjoy the freedom. And after a walk there’s the orangery to visit which serves up delicious cake and, of course, that perfect cup of tea. There are accessible loos here too (always useful to know!).
The film of our visit can be viewed on YouTube.
Last year, I was lucky enough to be able to visit Devon and, boy, oh boy, was I impressed with the wonderful Devon coastline.
Sidmouth is a very popular tourist town with a long, flat promenade and miles of golden beaches. But the absolute splendour is the clifftop views over the wide expanse of the big blue sea. It’s worth taking the short drive out to Salcombe Hill to get the best views of the Jurassic coastline.
A gentle ramble begins at the National Trust car park at Salcombe Hill, near Sidmouth. It is an easy route on well-defined and level paths, making it an ideal walk for all buggies and wheelchairs. The walk begins in woodland but the views over the Devon Jurassic Coast soon open up. The Toposcope, which is located on the cliff top, provides information about the landscape across the English Channel as well as landmarks along the coast.
We filmed our visit which we share with you on YouTube. Enjoy!
Ten miles from the market town of Harrogate in North Yorkshire is the National Trust spectacle of Brimham Rocks. This is another honey pot for visitors as it’s a great place for exploring the magnificent rock formations that were formed over 320 million years ago. Time it right though, when it isn’t as busy, and you may be lucky to have the whole area to yourself.
When my children were growing up, Brimham Rocks was a very popular location for us to visit as they loved climbing up the boulders and playing hide and seek amongst the rocks. A path has been laid which leads from the car park and meanders through the rocks, making it suitable for wheelchairs and pushchairs. There is a small café at the visitor centre and when nature calls there are accessible loos.
Fell Foot Park
Fell Foot Park is situated on the south end of Lake Windermere, near Newby Bridge, and is owned by the National Trust. The attractive seven-hectare grounds are open throughout the year for you to enjoy. There is an all-terrain wheelchair which can be borrowed and the Trust recently installed changing place facilities, making this estate accessible for all. You can have a trip up the lake too, with Windermere Lake Cruises, which calls at Fell Foot Park. For those who wish to take part in watersports, Anyone Can UK offers canoeing and sailing courses for people of all abilities.
The Stepping Stones at Dovedale and IIam Park
A walk along Dovedale to the famous stepping stones is a must when visiting the Peak District. This National Nature Reserve is rich with wild flowers and beautiful trees. Dovedale’s famous stepping stones are less than half a mile from the main car park. It’s a short but awesome walk along the River Dove and, in my opinion, the prettiest of the Derbyshire Dales.
There are accessible loos in the main car park and the nearby Ilam Park is a great stop spot for that perfect afternoon cup of tea. The park itself has extensive grounds to explore and it is so beautiful down by the river. It’s the perfect picnic spot. The film of our visit can be viewed on YouTube.
These are just a handful of National Trust places to visit and there are so many more to explore and enjoy. The National Trust has a membership scheme which offers individual, joint, family and life membership. It is worth joining up so that you can enjoy free entry to over 500 special place and free parking at most National Trust car parks. You also receive the National Trust Magazine three times a year which is packed with inspiration, interview and news from around the UK.
Are you inspired to go National Trust bagging?
Which of the National Trust places will you be visiting this year?