National Trust reopens parks and gardens - but bookings sell out within hours

National Trust properties have been closed to the public since March (Richard Heathcote/Getty Images)

The National Trust is to begin opening gardens and parkland properties in England and Northern Ireland for people who have booked in advance as coronavirus lockdown restrictions are eased - and tickets have already sold out.

Boris Johnson announced that groups of up to six people from separate households will be allowed to meet outdoors from Monday in his daily briefing on Thursday evening, and many will be keen to head to the beauty spots.

The Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) is also reopening its four gardens around England with a pre-booked tickets system as rules around lockdown begin to ease.

The moves come after the UK government amended regulations to confirm that people in England could visit gardens and land maintained for public use, while in Northern Ireland the Executive permitted the reopening of outdoor spaces.

National Trust sites have sold out for visitors just hour after announcing they are opening on June 3 (National Trust)

However the charities have urged people to ‘stay local’ after Matt Hancock warned that whole towns could be forced into lockdown if coronavirus outbreaks emerge in specific areas.

The water garden at Cliveden in Buckinghamshire will be open for visitors from June 3rd

The National Trust warned that all properties and car parks in Wales remain closed in line with Welsh Government rules.

The phased reopening will begin with around 29 gardens and park properties opening from June 3, with only visitors who have booked in advance allowed entry to limit numbers and keep the public safe, the Trust said.

More sites will open over the coming weeks for properties where social distancing can be observed, and with only around a third of the normal number of visitors permitted.

All National Trust houses and shops will remain closed, along with holiday cottages and campsites, and, while coastal and countryside car parks are mostly open, some busier ones may need to be closed or pre-booked, the charity said.

Booking for parks and gardens opened on Friday morning and will be free for Trust members, while other visitors will pay an admission fee.

The charity, which said sites will be displaying information on how to stay safe and socially distanced, is also urging people to limit how many visits they book, stay local if they can, and avoid busy hot-spots.

Sheffield Park House gardens in East Sussex will reopen, but all properties, shops and cafes will remain closed

Director-general Hilary McGrady said: “We want to provide safe, local, welcoming spaces for people, and, wherever possible, we will open our gardens and parks, and coast and countryside car parks.

“The fresh air, bird song, big skies and open spaces people have missed will be there, but things will be very different, particularly at first.

“We want to thank people for their patience and support while we gradually begin reopening and welcoming our visitors.”

The Royal Horticultural Society is also reopening its gardens as part of the easing of lockdown, with strictly limited numbers of pre-booked tickets available each day for members and visitors at its four properties.

Safety measures will be brought in, including limiting numbers allowed in the garden centres at any one time and floor markings to help customers queue safely, separate entry and exit points where possible, hand sanitiser points, and card transactions only.

The gardens at Kingston Lacyin Dorset will reopen from June 3 (Loop Images/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)

RHS director-general Sue Biggs said: “We are delighted that the Government has said it is safe to reopen our RHS gardens because it is proven that spending time outside in green open spaces surrounded by plants has an immensely positive effect on our health.

“We look forward to welcoming our members and visitors safely back from June 1st and to bringing the joy of plants, flowers, trees and nature back into people’s lives, which for so many will be a much-needed tonic.”

Biggs added that it is “imperative” that a timed slot ticket is booked in advance on the RHS website for every visitor, warning that those without tickets would be turned away.

RHS Hyde Hall Gardens in Chelmsford, Essex, opens on June 1 but visitors must book in advance (Steve Parsons/PA Images via Getty Images)

Here are all National Trust locations that will reopen from June 3rd:

South West:

Corfe Castle, Dorset

Kingston Lacy, Dorset

Killerton, Devon

Lacock, Wiltshire

Midlands:

Attingham Park, Shropshire

Belton House, Lincolnshire

Clumber Park, Nottinghamshire

Calke Abbey, Derbyshire

Hardwick, Derbyshire

London and the South East:

Cliveden, Buckinghamshire

Hinton Ampner, Hampshire

Mottisfont, Hampshire

Polesden Lacey, Surrey

Stowe, Buckinghamshire

Scotney Castle, Kent

Sissinghurst Castle Garden, Kent

Standen House and Garden, West Sussex

Sheffield Park and Garden, East Sussex

The Vyne, Hampshire

North:

Beningbrough Hall, North Yorkshire

Gibside, Tyne & Wear

Dunham Massey, Greater Manchester

Lyme, Cheshire

Quarry Bank, Cheshire

Wallington, Northumberland

East of England:

Anglesey Abbey, Gardens and Lode Mill, Cambridgeshire

Ickworth, Suffolk

Sutton Hoo, Suffolk

Wimpole Estate, Cambridgeshire

Northern Ireland:

Castle Coole, County Fermanagh

Castle Ward, County Down

Downhill Demesne and Hezlett House, County Londonderry

Florence Court, County Fermanagh

Mount Stewart, County Down

Portstewart Strand, County Londonderry

Rowallane Garden, County Down

The Argory, County Armagh

How to book a National Trust visit

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Booking is also required for some car parks. For more information and to book see www.nationaltrust.org.uk

The Royal Horticultural Society has also announced the opening of its gardens from June 1 for visitors with pre-booked tickets only, with booking opening from 10am on Friday May 29 for:

Harlow Carr, North Yorkshire

Hyde Hall, Essex

Rosemoor, Devon

Wisley, Surrey

For information and to book see www.rhs.org.uk/gardens

You can also purchase a National Trust membership to gain free entry into over 500 properties and gardens for 12 months. Individual adult memberships cost £6 per month, while a family membership starts from £6.50 per month. 

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