Reopening and coronavirus FAQs

Spring reflections at Sheffield Park, East Sussex

We want to keep you updated about how we are responding to the coronavirus situation. Below are answers to some of your most frequently asked questions in the light of current guidance.

In these FAQs:

1. How do I get in touch if I have an urgent query?

Our Supporter Services call centre is available for urgent calls, with a reduced team, so please bear with us. We're working hard to keep our website up to date so please do use it to keep informed. If your query can't wait, please call us on 0344 800 1895 or email enquiries@nationaltrust.org.uk and we'll do our very best to help you.

What's open?

2. Which places are you opening first?

Our free-to-enter coast and countryside places remain open.

More than 200 of our coast and countryside car parks in England and Northern Ireland are now open.

From 3 June we've started to open some gardens and parklands in England and Northern Ireland through advance bookings. ​We're opening these places at a reduced capacity to ensure the safety of our visitors and staff. Visitors to our gardens and parks must book beforehand. New tickets are released every Friday and we'll continue to open more places over the coming weeks.

We will only open places where we are able to maintain social distancing. Our reopening will be phased and gradual. For now, houses remain closed.

All car parks and places in Wales remain closed following Welsh government advice.

We ask all visitors to visit property web pages ahead of travelling for the latest information about what facilities are open and whether you need to book. 

3. What’s happening to your places in Wales and Northern Ireland?

Car parks in Northern Ireland began opening from 27 May. From 3 June we started to open some gardens and parklands in Northern Ireland.

All car parks and places in Wales remain closed. We await further updates from the Welsh government to determine what we’re able to reopen. 

4. Can I see a list of places you’re opening?

For our open gardens and parklands and bookable car parks we have included a list on our website.

5. How are you cleaning your places?

We have implemented enhanced cleaning regimes in line with government guidance. 

6. Will children’s play areas and play trails be open?

Our natural play trails which encourage people to explore and allow for social distancing will be open, however formal playgrounds and play areas will remain closed in line with government advice. Please check the property web page before you visit and follow all signage on site and instructions from staff. 

7. Will walking trails be open?

Many of our walking trails will be open but please check the property web page before you visit and follow all signage on site and instructions from staff. 

8. Are people allowed to bring picnics? 

Yes, as long as people follow government guidelines on social distancing and take their litter home with them.

Barbecues are a fire risk and aren't permitted at the vast majority of our places. Please don't bring a barbecue when you visit.

9. Will you have picnic tables? 

Benches and picnic tables will be available where they are dispersed and allow for social distancing.  

10. How many places are you hoping to open initially?

Our reopening will be phased and gradual. Over the coming weeks more of our places will open.  

11. Will the physical buildings at your places be open?

No, only our open spaces that allow us to maintain public safety will be opened. Our gardens and parks will only be available to those who book tickets in advance. 

12. When will houses open? 

Timescales for opening houses will depend on government advice and on how well visitors are maintaining social distancing.  

13. What is happening at smaller places?

Smaller places where social distancing cannot be maintained will remain closed. 

14. How will you enforce social distancing?

The safety of our staff and visitors is our main priority. Our estates and gardens that are reopening will have a strictly limited capacity and anyone wishing to visit must have booked before arriving at the site. 

At the gates, we will have a system in place to organise the flow of vehicle and foot traffic, minimise the need for person-to-person interaction and maintain a safe flow of people coming onto the property. 

Your tickets and membership card will be checked through your car window. Please wait patiently and show your documents through the window when asked.  

Once on site we’ll have set up the best routes for you to follow to avoid crowds or queuing. 
If you’re visiting one of coastal or countryside places and don't find a parking space please leave and return later.

15. Why have some places opened over others? What was your criteria for deciding which places should open?

Local managers have taken into consideration a number of factors when deciding whether to open and which areas of their places should open, including whether it is large enough to maintain social distancing so we can protect public safety. 

16. Will there be hand sanitiser on site?

Some places may have hand sanitiser available but you are strongly advised to bring your own. 

Car parks

17. Are your car parks open?

Many of them are, and some require you to book in advance. Please check the property web page to find out what is open and if you need to book.

18. Why haven't you opened all your car parks at the same time following government advice

Some of our car parks have facilities and require staff. Getting staff back from furlough, to manage our car parks and facilities, and ensuring we maintain their safety, has to be carefully planned in line with government guidance. Initially we plan to start opening some of our car parks that don’t require staff. Car parks, which are staffed and with facilities, will take longer to reopen.

19. Are you charging for car parks

Members can park for free. Non-members will need to pay where there are pay machines.

20. Do I need to book to use a National Trust car park?

To manage numbers at some of our busiest car parks we have introduced a booking system. There are also a number of other car parks which don’t need to booked. These tend to be smaller car parks which don’t have facilities or require staff.

Some of our car parks, which specifically cater for our houses, gardens and parklands will remain closed.

We ask that you visit the property web page ahead of travelling for the latest information about what facilities are open and whether you need to book.

21. When does the booking system open for car parks?

It opened on Monday 18 May.

22. How will I know which car parks I need to book in advance?

Before you set off on your journey, please check the property web page for the latest information.

23. Will I need to pay to book a space?

Members won’t need to pay but do need to book, but non-members will pay at the point of booking their space. 

24. What facilities will you have open at car parks?

This will differ from place to place dependent on a number of factors. However, where we can, we will try to publish available facilities, such as toilets, on property web pages, but please be aware these can change from time to time.

25. How long can I park for?

The length of stay will depend on the car park you are booking. The booking form will specify how long you can park for.

26. How do I know which car parks are open, do you have a list?

The process of opening our car parks will be gradual from 13 May and decisions on what will open will be made by local judgement to avoid hotspots for the safety of visitors and local communities. This means some car parks may not open at all. Where car parks feature on our web pages we will update information. However, it’s worth noting that we have a wide range of car parks in a number of locations which don’t necessarily feature on web pages.

Our booking system

27. Is car parking included in my booked ticket price? 

Members always receive free parking, and in many cases parking is included for paying visitors, however we advise that they check parking machines when they arrive as this may differ from place to place. 

28. Do I need to book one ticket per car or per head?

It depends. If it is just a car park, there’s a per car ticket. For most of our places, you need a ticket per person. Details about what you need to book and how to do it can be found on property web pages.

29. How can I book a visit?

By visiting property web pages.

30. But I/a family member doesn’t have access to the internet

For those who are unable to book online you can call our booking team on 0344 249 1895. 

31. Will I have to print out my tickets or can I show them on my phone?

Visitors should show their tickets on their phone, and at some places they may be asked to share their name and booking number. To maintain social distancing, we’re asking visitors not to pass anything to our staff.   

32. How many people are you going to let in each day?

To ensure we open safely we are initially capping our visitor numbers at 30% of capacity. This will be reviewed on a place by place basis going forward. 

33. Do I need to book if I’m arriving on foot or by bike? 

Yes, the booking system is in place to allow us to manage numbers so we can maintain social distancing. 

34. How will your booking system work?

Half-hour arrival time slots will be available. The last slot will be one hour before usual closing. Properties can choose their own opening hours, which will be advertised on their web page. 

One week of booking will be opened at a time. The following week’s booking will open at a fixed point the week before. Booking closes at 3pm the day before the visit. 

Visitors arriving at gardens and parklands by car will be asked to show booked tickets through their vehicle window before parking. Those arriving on foot will be checked by a small team of staff who will adhere to social distancing. 

35. Will key workers/NHS have priority for booking?

To say thank you to our nation's key workers and all they have done for us, we're encouraging visitors to keep the first and last slots of each day free for key workers to use.

While we are unable to 'reserve' these slots exclusively for key workers, we hope you will join us in thanking them by leaving these times free. If you or someone in your group are a key worker, please take the opportunity to book these early and late timeslots.

36. How can I book with an essential companion?

To book a visit with an essential companion, please call our booking team on 0344 249 1895. 

37. How will people have to show their booking?

Visitors arriving at gardens and parklands by car will be asked to show booked tickets through their vehicle window before parking. Those arriving on foot will be checked by a small team of staff who will adhere to social distancing. 

38. Will anyone be allowed in?

No, we are introducing a booking system so we’re able to control numbers to maintain public safety. However, the booking system will be open to members and non-members. Charity tax law means our places must be available to everyone – not just members. 

39. What happens if people turn up on the day?

They will politely be turned away. It is important that any visitor wanting to use one of our bookable car parks, or gardens and parkland must book in advance. 

40. How long can I stay? 

Some busier places and those with limited space may introduce a two-hour stay limit. This information will be on the booking system before you book a ticket as well as on your ticket itself. Please check property web pages for the latest information and to book a ticket.  

41. Why can’t we stay longer? 

To maintain social distancing and protect public safety we have had to limit numbers which is why we’ve introduced a booking system. To make this system fair and to ensure as many people as possible get a chance to enjoy our places, some of our places are introducing a time limit. Details of time limits will be highlighted on property web pages, which you will need to visit to book a ticket and to find out what is open.  

42. How will I know what is open?

Check the National Trust website. Please do not assume your local property is open or simply turn up – you’ll be politely asked to turn around. Entry will be to those who have booked tickets in advance 

43. How often can I visit?

We are looking forward to our members and visitors returning, but in order to keep everyone safe, we’ve had to significantly restrict capacity.

We’re asking everyone to be considerate and only book one visit a week for the time being.

44. Can I sell on my ticket?

Tickets are for your use only and are not available for resale. We will cancel tickets which we believe have been resold.

45. I can no longer make my booked slot; how do I cancel and change?

Members and non-members can cancel themselves online or contact our central booking office on 0344 249 1895. Any monies that have been paid will be refunded. People can then make a different booking if there’s availability either online or through the central booking office.

46. Why are your tickets selling out so fast? 

We’re aware that there continues to be high demand for our places which have reopened. We are gradually reopening our gardens and parklands, and have limited capacity to ensure we can manage social distancing and maintain public safety.

With 5.8million members and limited tickets, we expect our places to book up quickly as demand outstrips ticket availability. Local managers are monitoring visitor numbers and social distancing, and increasing ticket availability where it is safe to do so. We’re also reopening more properties on a weekly basis. We have contacted members, for whom we have email addresses, to make them aware of the booking process, so they have the best chance of booking tickets.

We are so thankful that our members and supporters have stood by us as we work through these unprecedented times, and we ask for their continued support as we make this gradual transition a success so we can get back to offering nature, beauty and history for everyone.

47. Why have I been put in a 'waiting room' for tickets?

We're experiencing exceptionally high demand for tickets at the moment so many people are being placed in a queue to allow Eventbrite to manage the numbers of people booking at one time. Wait times differ depending on the numbers of people trying to access specific places. Thank you for bearing with us, your support as a member is really important.

48. Is it quicker to book if I call your Supporter Services Centre/booking team?

No, our teams act on behalf of visitors who do not have access to the internet or need additional help. Our colleagues on the phone will still need you to join a queue to book. 

Our advice is; if you're online and in the queue it's best to stay there until you get through, otherwise you risk losing your place in the queue. With 5.8million members and about 160,000 tickets available, we expected our places to be booked up quickly, as demand outstrips ticket availability.

We are delighted that well over 90% of those successfully booking are members. It is important that we continue to limit capacity so we can manage social distancing and maintain public safety.

Your visit

49. I’m not a member. Will I have to pay?

Yes, prices will vary across properties and will depend on how much of the property is open.

Like many organisations, we have suffered a significant loss of income during the lockdown, which has resulted in many of our conservation activities being stopped. Your money will help us to continue vital conservation work and keep providing access to nature, beauty and history. 

50. What can I expect from my visit?

Given the unprecedented circumstances, and in order to keep everyone safe, your visit to the National Trust will feel different from normal.  

Firstly, if you’re planning on visiting one of our estates or gardens, you will need to have booked via the National Trust website before arriving. Our places will be free to members. Non-members will need to pay an entrance fee when they book their visit.  

We are urging everyone to stay local, avoid busy places and continue to follow government advice on social distancing. For this reason, not all parts of the property will be open, but we’ll show you the best routes when you arrive.  

You may be asked to follow arrows, follow a one-way system, or slow your pace. It’s vital that you follow these instructions – they’re for everyone’s safety.  

We will offer a limited range of take-away refreshments wherever we can safely do so. Please see our website for details of which of your favourite local places are open, and what facilities are on offer. Shops will remain closed. 

We know how much our visitors are looking forward to returning but are asking everyone to be patient, play their part and not all rush to our places.  

51. Are you giving members priority on booking or giving them exclusive access?

Charity tax law means our places must be available to everyone - not just members so we're unable to offer exclusive access or prioritised booking to anyone. Even if we allowed members priority booking, we would still need to hold back a small number of tickets for non-members so they also have an opportunity to visit. With well over 90% of tickets booked are by our members, priority booking wouldn't results in any more member slots being available.

52. Will you be asking visitors to wear facemasks or other PPE?

Visitors may wear face masks should they wish. In line with government guidance, our staff will not be required to wear face masks, but they are free to do so. 

Food and drink

53. Will your cafés and shops be open? Will there be food and drinks for sale?

Most of our cafés remain closed for now, however we are opening a small number of cafés and food outlets from Monday 8 June, serving a limited range of takeaway hot and cold drinks and some light snacks. We will reopen cafés in a phased approach to ensure that the safety measures we implement are fully embedded

Our online shop is open however physical shops remain closed. 

54. Why are only a few cafés opening initially?

As part of our initial reopening plans, which will focus on the re-opening of those places which have the open space to ensure social distancing is maintained, we are reopening a limited number of cafés and food outlets. This is to ensure we can embed the new processes we’ve introduced for the safety of all staff, volunteers and visitors.

We will look to open more cafés and food outlets as soon as possible.

55. Can I bring my own food and drinks?

Yes, visitors may bring their own food provided that social distancing guidance is followed if sitting down to eat, although all seating areas will be closed. Please don’t leave any litter behind.

56. How is my safety and that of the staff being managed in the cafés?

The safety of our staff, volunteers and visitors is our priority. To ensure that social distance is maintained we will be implementing the following:

  • Limited takeaway offer, initially focusing on hot and cold drinks and some packaged snacks.
  • One-way queueing system to place orders and to collect orders.
  • Food and drinks will be served via collection points; self-service will be suspended to minimise touchpoints and cross-contamination.
  • Payment by card payment only and contactless payment where possible to reduce physical contact.
  • Staff will have had comprehensive training prior to opening to ensure they operate in the safest way possible.
  • Our seating areas will be closed, to reduce social contact.
  • Till and collection points will be screened.
  • Hand sanitiser will be available and visitors will be encouraged to use it.

57. What food/drink can I expect?

Our initial offer will focus on takeaway food and drink. This will include hot and cold drinks and a limited range of pre-packaged snacks. During this initial phase we will not be serving hot food.

This will ensure that we are still able to provide visitors with refreshments, but by keeping our full café offering (including seating) closed we can limit social interaction and keep everyone safe.

As our initial opening menus will be limited to takeaway snacks, we won’t be serving a specific menu for children. However, some of the drinks and snacks served will be suitable for children. Please be mindful of this when booking a visit and come prepared.

58. Will dietary needs to be catered for?

Our initial opening will focus on a small range of takeaway snacks, therefore our menu may not cater for different dietary needs as widely as it normally does.  If you have specific dietary requirements please speak to a team member, who will do their best to help. However, during the initial re-opening phase we encourage visitors with particular dietary requirements to bring snacks with them to avoid disappointment.

59. Will tap water be provided even if the café isn’t open?

To minimise the possibility for contamination from refillable bottles, we’re asking visitors to come prepared with the water they’ll need for their visit. Bottled water will be available in cafés, where open.

60. Will there be facilities to warm milk for my baby?

To ensure a safe flow of visitors, and that social distance is maintained, cafés will be designed with one-way routes to keep visitors flowing. A bottle warming station could stem the flow of visitors and make it more difficult to maintain social distancing. The warmer itself could also increase chances of cross-contamination, therefore there will not be the facility to warm milk during this time.

61. Can I bring my re-usable cup?

We know our visitors are as passionate about the environment as we are and like to bring their own re-usable cups, but while we are in this unprecedented time we ask that they support our request not to bring re-usable containers, due to possible cross-contamination.  This is for the health and safety of everyone.

Our takeaway containers are made from plants and are compostable and are the best option for everyone’s safety, at this current time.

In light of the necessity to use takeaway containers, we will not be adding the additional 5p charge for the use of disposable takeaway cups.

62. Will there be somewhere to sit and eat?

When we initially reopen, our seating areas will be closed, in line with government restrictions. This is so that we can maintain social distancing and prioritise the safety of all visitors, staff and volunteers. We ask that our visitors are mindful of this prior to booking a visit.

Membership

63. Will you be refunding, extending or pausing payments of memberships while places are closed?

We don't have plans to freeze all memberships, however we're very aware that in the current climate, some of you will be worried about your finances. There are ways that we can help, and you can find out more information on this here.

64. Will members continue to receive benefits, like the National Trust Magazine?

Yes, we are still planning to issue the magazine. Our 125th anniversary special issue is being sent out now and will arrive with members in May and June.

Holidays

65. Will you be taking holiday bookings once you open?

Following government advice on the coronavirus outbreak, we’ve postponed all National Trust holiday cottage and campsite bookings in England until Saturday 4 July 2020. All holiday bookings in Northern Ireland remained postponed until Monday 20 July 2020 and in Wales until Friday 31 July 2020.

Due to social distancing measures and other requirements, we’ve also made the difficult decision to postpone all bunkhouse, bothy and working holidays until Wednesday 30 September 2020.

We appreciate this temporary closure will be disappointing news for those who have been looking forward to their National Trust holiday, and we would like to thank all of our guests for their support and understanding at this time. We’re currently in the process of getting in touch with guests to postpone their stay and we’re regularly reviewing the situation, with the health and wellbeing of our guests and staff as our priority. 
 

Welcome back sign in field

How to book your visit and what to expect 

We've started to open some gardens and parks in England and Northern Ireland. To limit numbers and keep everyone safe, you can only visit by booking tickets in advance. A lot of places are now fully booked up to 14 June, but we release new tickets every Friday, and we’re also opening more gardens and parks every week. More than 200 coastal and countryside car parks are also open. All houses remain closed at the moment, and all places in Wales remain closed in line with Welsh government advice. Read this article to find out what's open and what to expect from your visit.