National Trust opens parks and gardens for free during coronavirus social distancing

The National Trust will allow access to its open spaces free of charge, after the government advised residents to avoid unnecessary contact with others amid the coronavirus outbreak. 

Despite The National Trust’s closing its houses, cafés and shops by March 20, the trust says they will remove all pay barriers from their parks and gardens, for those who need t take time out in nature for their mental wellbeing. 

Visitors crossing stepping stones at Hardcastle Crags, West Yorkshire. Hardcastle Crags is a beautiful wooded valley with deep ravines, tumbling streams and glorious waterfalls.

Visitors crossing stepping stones at Hardcastle Crags, West Yorkshire. Hardcastle Crags is a beautiful wooded valley with deep ravines, tumbling streams and glorious waterfalls.

A spokesperson for the trust said: “The National Trust will, where possible, open as many of its gardens and parks for free, but close its houses, cafes and shops to help the nation fight the spread of the coronavirus.”

Following the Prime Minister’s briefing yesterday, Director General Hilary McGrady announced that the National Trust’s pay-for-entry sites including houses, cafes and shops, would close by this Friday (March 20).

McGrady said the charity would work hard to keep as many of the Trust’s gardens and parklands open, free of charge, alongside coast and countryside, to encourage the nation to enjoy open space, if appropriate, during the pandemic, while adhering to the government’s social distancing guidance.

Hilary McGrady said: “The National Trust was founded 125 years ago for the benefit of the entire nation. We want to honour our mission – to enable people and nature to thrive. Over the coming weeks we will do all that we can to keep on providing public benefit through caring for places and giving people access wherever possible.

“While we will close our indoor areas to help fight the spread of coronavirus, we recognise that people are likely to need access to open space and to nature, beauty and history."

This follows the UK government’s advice to stop non-essential contact with other people and avoid all unnecessary travel, known as social distancing.

People should work from home when possible, spend less time in public places, and avoid social venues.

This is different to self-isolating, where people should avoid leaving the house at all, even to buy food or essentials.