One of the things we missed the most during lockdown was our National Trust days out. We have been National Trust members for a couple of years now and we like to visit as often as possible. So as soon as they announced that they were reopening their parks and gardens, we were over the moon!
We have visited three different National Trust locations over the past few weeks and have really enjoyed the experience. I’ve always posted snippets of our day on Instagram and have received lots of questions about how it all works and if it’s very different to how it was before covid. I thought this would be a good time to write a quick blog post about our experiences and what you can currently expect from a National Trust visit. Including info on toilets, which has been the most popular question!
The first thing to note is that you must book online before your visit. Whether you are a member or not, you cannot just turn up on the day as visitor numbers are now limited. Slots are released on a Friday morning, I’m not sure of the exact time they are released but from our experience it is early hours of the morning, around 5am.
The first couple of weeks after reopening you had to be super quick with booking as slots went very quickly. Things seem to have settled down a little now and it’s much easier to get a booking.
You can book online here.
We have visited three different location recently and each one has had the same process. You must arrive during your arranged time slot and you’ll be greeted by a member of staff who will take your name and may ask to see membership cards (if you are a member). Entrance into the property may be slightly different as one way systems now operate at some locations, but this will be made clear to you when you arrive.
What to expect
All houses and indoor spaces are currently closed but gardens and parks are all open as normal. As visitor numbers are limited we’ve found our days out have been much quieter and actually we have preferred it. You are of course free to explore as you wish once you are there and it’s nice for it to feel so ‘normal’.
A lot of locations are serving snacks and drinks to takeaway, so we were able to grab the kids an ice cream each at both Clumber Park and Hardwick Hall. This isn’t always the case though as everything at Wentworth Castle was closed, this may just be because it is a smaller and not as popular National Trust location.
All playgrounds are currently closed which the kids were a little disappointing about but it is to be expected. This may soon change though as I believe a lot of local councils have reopened their playgrounds over the past week, so the National Trust may follow.
Toilets are open and generally run a one in, one our system. At Wentworth Castle however, the toilets were not manned and we were able to go straight in, again this may just be because it’s a quieter location. At both Clumber and Hardwick we had to queue and once at the front were given a cubicle number to go to. The system at Hardwick worked great and we only had to wait a few seconds. Clumber had a big queue which took a long time to get through, possibly because they were allowing one person or household group into a toilet block at one time, and with only three toilet blocks available it was a very slow process. I hope they will think of a way to make this quicker as I feel for anyone who is desperate for the loo, and for little ones who simply can’t wait.
I hope that sums up how National Trust days out currently work. I know I can’t speak for all locations, but as we have visited three different ones I feel we have a good idea of how things are organised. Overall we’ve found the whole process to be really easy and have enjoyed our days out just as much, if not more than before lockdown.
The only slight issue for me is the toilets. As I mentioned earlier, using the toilet wasn’t an issue at all at two locations. But at Clumber Park the queue was very slow moving, so this may be something to bear in mind.
Have you been to a National Trust property since they reopened? How did you find it?
Thank you for reading.