70 places for 70 birthdays

Linda and Chris in the garden on St Michael’s Mount, Cornwall

Last year, Linda and Chris Burrowes marked milestone birthdays with a challenge – to visit the same number of Trust places as the birthdays they were celebrating.

When did you become Trust members?

We became members 20 years ago, and we had no idea then that the Trust would become such an important part of our lives. Fast-forward 10 years and we both had plenty of free time due to unexpected early retirements. We like the scenery, the open spaces and the unexpected history of visiting Trust places.

How did you get the idea to visit 70 places for your 70th birthdays?

In January 2017 we made our regular visit to Mottisfont, Hampshire, to see the winter garden, and had the idea to try and visit 70 places during the year as a way of marking our 70th birthdays. Once the thought took hold there was no stopping us. Gardening and housework had to be set aside, and we have had real fun from realising our self-imposed challenge. It soon became obvious that there was more to see close by than we had ever realised.

Mottisfont winter garden, where the idea first came to us to visit 70 places
A frosty path winds through colourful shrubs in the winter garden at Mottisfont, Hampshire
Mottisfont winter garden, where the idea first came to us to visit 70 places

Why does the Trust matter to you?

We have three granddaughters, aged seven, 11 and 14. We often use our membership to take them to local places, like Basildon Park in Berkshire. We’ve taken the two oldest ones to Brownsea Island, Dorset, and they found it exciting to go by boat across to the island and follow the trails to find the red squirrels. The Trust helps preserve places like this for them and their children.

Linda checking the restoration progress at Clandon Park, Surrey
Clandon Park, Surrey
Linda checking the restoration progress at Clandon Park, Surrey

What will be your lasting memories from your year of visiting Trust places?

Before 2017 we never thought much about the smaller, more unusual places like Frensham Little Pond in Surrey. It made us realise that there is a lot more to the Trust than the big houses. The story of Shalford Mill in Surrey, rescued by Ferguson’s Gang during the 1930s, captured our imagination.

Frensham Little Pond in Surrey, an unexpected discovery for Linda and Chris
Bench near the cafe and pond
Frensham Little Pond in Surrey, an unexpected discovery for Linda and Chris

As well as lots of day trips, we’ve enjoyed a four-day trip by helicopter to stay on Lundy Island, Devon, and a birthday treat from our family to stay at a Trust-owned bed and breakfast near Dunster Watermill, Somerset. We completed our quest at Coughton Court in Warwickshire, our 70th destination.

Coughton Court, Warwickshire, our 70th destination
Front of Coughton Court in spring
Coughton Court, Warwickshire, our 70th destination

What's on your wish list to visit by your 80th birthdays?

Top of the list is Buckland Abbey in Devon, as we had planned it to be our final 70th place last year. We were going to visit on our way back from Scilly, but the fog meant we couldn't - and we missed the surprise cream tea our son and wife had secretly arranged for us!

Otherwise, I want to visit Mr Straw's House in Worksop, and Chris has Kedleston Hall, Calke Abbey and Croome on his hit list. So I think a trip north is on the cards.

This article has been adapted from the National Trust Summer 2018 Magazine, where it was first published.