Information for outdoor experience providers
We would like to work with outdoor providers to enable experiences in the outdoors while sharing responsibility for looking after the places in our care.
Nature knows no boundaries or public rights of way, but by sharing information through our Responsible Experience Providers Scheme we can get the right balance of impact whilst ensuring great experiences for everyone.
The Responsible Experience Providers Scheme replaces our existing Active Outdoors Providers Scheme and has been designed to encompass the breadth of experiences and activities happening at our places, from theatre to forest schools to walk, run and biking experiences.
If you're looking to run an experience on our land, either with us or for your own participants, you should first contact the local property to discuss this.
We also suggest you take a look at the following documents:
The more we know about experiences happening on our land, the better we're able to work with you and support you to ensure participants have the best experience they can. Even if your activity is happening on public rights of way, we may need to know about it – especially if you think you need space for shelter or a water station off the right of way.
We protect many areas of land which may be part of a mansion house parkland, attached to a car park or anything in between. In some areas, public rights of way (PRoW) allow anyone to access routes but may have additional designations which let you know how you can use these routes, such as bridleways, which allow pedestrians and horses. An OS map could be a good place to check this information.
Some areas may have additional designations, this could be for nature such as Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and use of these areas will need additional external consent which we'll facilitate. This consent may incur a fee from any statutory body involved in the consent process, can take up to six months and may not always be granted. The final decision on whether to allow the experience will still remain with the landowner irrespective of the consent decision. Additionally, some of our land is tenanted and therefore may not be accessible.
There are several ways we can work together, often via an agreement which enables all our expectations to be met for the landscape and participants alike and depending on the impact at our places, a value may be attached to this. There are several types of agreement we can offer. We'll initially send you our Expression of Interest (EOI) form to gather some information about the experience or activity you would like to run whilst providing you with any relevant information about our site. Once the EOI is completed, we can decide the best way to handle your request.
We'll firstly consider the impact of the experience or activity you're suggesting. If an agreement is required, this can either be a Licence agreement (typically where you as the third party only require space or infrastructure) or a contract (typically where we're sharing the audience, a skill, equipment or ticket sales.) At this point we'll discuss the Impact Value of your experience at a National Trust place and what that may mean to you and your participants.
Both types of agreement will require you to produce and share a risk assessment around your experience and evidence (copy of a valid certificate or online link) of Public Liability Insurance and Employers Liability Insurance, applicable for both employees and volunteers involved in delivering an experience as part of your team.
Frequently asked questions
You should always seek the landowner’s permission and share what you're doing (or would like to do) as any number of things can affect the area you're intending to use for your experience. Conservation work, natural occurrences or other providers delivering an experience can take place at any time and would have an impact on the success of your experience if participants have to navigate alternative routes or high numbers of other visitors.
You should therefore contact the landowner if you want to:
use a Public Right of Way (PRoW)
occupy a piece of land that is off a PRoW e.g. for a drink or support station, or take up space(s) in a car park
access a piece of land or water without a right of access
do an activity within a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) that isn’t on a Right of Way
do some activities on common land which also require permissions due to local by-laws.
Depending on the nature of the experience and if a landowner needs to apply on your behalf for any statutory body consent, you should talk to the landowner as early as possible and at least nine months ahead of the planned date. This allows everyone sufficient time to manage your request and obtain any permissions or work through the detail. We do not suggest you promote or market your experience on any media until you have permission from the landowners.
It's not always easy to find out who owns the land your planned route may want to follow, especially for Public Rights of Way in the countryside. OS maps can provide details of access land and in the range/scale of 1:50,000, there's a symbol for ownership for many NT places. Some of our land may be linked to the local mansion house site so it's worth contacting the closest property or place who will always do their best to direct your enquiry.
If you're struggling to know where to direct your enquiry, you can email REPS@nationaltrust.org.uk and we'll try to get back to you as soon as we can.
You're also welcome to contact us by post or in person via the NT place. You can use the search button at the top of this page to search for the place name and find the contact details in the contact us drop down on their home page.
You may not think that the experience you're delivering for your participants has an impact. However, some impact cannot be seen and is often cumulative having both a short- and long-term effect on the places we look after. Weather can play a huge part in how the environment responds to increased footfall or biking. Read the documents below to find out more about your impact:
Not at all. We welcome and encourage providers – from independent instructors to large-scale experience organisers, social groups, charities and commercial organisations. These experiences enable more people to enjoy the places in our care. It’s why we’re here and is a key part of our strategy. But our primary role is to protect the land while providing access for everyone. Impact and conservation are our priorities when we’re considering and setting up relationships and agreements with providers and many of you are already on this journey with environmental pledges.
We are for everyone, for ever, so everyone is welcome. Many of our places will already have facilities and processes in place to support visitors including accessible facilities, spaces to pray or seek a quiet area. You should be able to find details through the property page or speak to the property directly and if we’re not offering something you need, please come and talk to us.
We are a charity that looks after nature, beauty and history for everyone to enjoy and to help nature and people thrive. Therefore, anything we or any third party does may have an impact on place, landscape, infrastructure, nature, visitors, volunteers or staff. Weighing these considerations up and getting the right balance for all the components is crucial in determining how an enquiry for a third party experience becomes a reality.
Impact Value is a term we developed to enable teams to encompass and balance internal components as well as external components, by which we mean the type of experience the provider wants to deliver, the audience they may be working with and the legacy beyond. The ‘value from the nature of the impact at a National Trust place’ (Impact Value) will then be decided by the property team. The Impact Value may be part of any experience licence or contract agreement or an additional memorandum of understanding or supply agreement.
The Impact Value may appear in the form of the third party being an advocate for the National Trust, an opportunity for fundraising and support from the participants or a financial transaction which may be a fee or percentage per participant. All of these options may mitigate or offset impact at the places in our care and enable an experience to go ahead without contradicting our strategy or charitable cause.
It's also worth noting that, as no two places or landscape is alike, there's not a one-size fits all Impact Value, with each place having a specific approach based on the needs of the landscape and community it's part of. You might therefore find that where an experience goes across multiple places in our care such as the Coast Path, you may have several agreements in place.
Hopefully, they have explained the reasons behind this decision, and have been clear about the impact and risk of the experience to the place and/or wildlife. For some experiences, we also seek the advice of external organisations or National Governing Bodies to provide the technical knowledge around more specialist experiences. In these cases, e.g. climbing, this may inform our decision and we may decline your request based on this opinion which may be related. We hope you understand this and can either reimagine the experience you had in mind mitigating or removing the element of risk and/or through discussion with the local team there may other opportunities where the experience could happen.