Charities to open nature reserves and gardens for free during coronavirus social distancing period

A number of charities and organisations in the UK are closing their visitor centres, shops and cafés, but are keeping nature reserves and gardens open for free.

Ashridge. © David Hughes/Robert Harding/Getty

Updated 22nd March 2020: National Trust gardens and parks now closed. We will continue to update this page

Read the message from the National Trust:

From midnight on 21 March we will close all of our gated gardens and parks to help restrict the spread of the coronavirus.

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The move follows the closure of pubs, restaurants, cafes, gyms and leisure centres announced by the government on Friday, and tightening travel restrictions and public health advice.

We know that people are likely to need space and fresh air in the coming weeks and months and we will do all we can to provide access wherever possible and where it is safe to do so. Our countryside and coastal locations remain open with parking charges waived, but we encourage people to stay local and observe social distancing measures. Full details, nationaltrust.org.uk/features/coronavirus-faqs


Following the increasing numbers of safety measures advised by the government to limit the spread of the new coronavirus, COVID-19, the visitor centres, shops, cafés and historic buildings of charities such as the National Trust, RSPB and the Wildlife Trusts are being closed.

The charities say they will endeavour to keep nature reserves, parklands and gardens open and free of charge so that members of the public are able to visit them.

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

RSPB:

The RSPB’s visitor centres, cafés and shops are all closed to visitors, but the nature reserves remain open with the car parking charge waived.

“We hope that visitors will continue to enjoy these amazing places for wildlife while observing physical distancing measures,” reads the website statement.

“These are difficult and unsettling times for all of us but we hope that nature can provide a welcome respite in whichever form and where ever you may encounter it.”

It is best to check individual reserve pages, in case some are closed.

RSPB Newport Wetlands. © Michael Roberts/Getty
RSPB Newport Wetlands. © Michael Roberts/Getty

National Trust:

Updated 22nd March 2020: National Trust gardens and parks now closed.

Read the message from the National Trust:

From midnight on 21 March we will close all of our gated gardens and parks to help restrict the spread of the coronavirus.

The move follows the closure of pubs, restaurants, cafes, gyms and leisure centres announced by the government on Friday, and tightening travel restrictions and public health advice.

We know that people are likely to need space and fresh air in the coming weeks and months and we will do all we can to provide access wherever possible and where it is safe to do so. Our countryside and coastal locations remain open with parking charges waived, but we encourage people to stay local and observe social distancing measures. Full details, nationaltrust.org.uk/features/coronavirus-faqs

The National Trust is planning to release more information at the end of the week, after members of the public have queried whether the car parks will be free.

Until then, the National Trust advises checking individual properties for information.

Corfe Castle. © Robert Harding/Getty
Corfe Castle. © Robert Harding/Getty

National Trust for Scotland (NTS):

The NTS is closing all of its gardens and car parks, the grounds of properties such as Crathes and Brodie Castles, and Culzean Country Park and Brodick Country Park.

The decision to go ahead with a blanket closure follows in the light of calls by the Scottish Government for people to suspend unnecessary travel, and was also influenced by a busy weekend at some properties where social distancing guidance was not being followed and the potential threat to the wellbeing to both visitors and the Trust’s staff this was causing.

RHS:

Initially the RHS had planned to keep its gardens open, but has now closed them.

English Heritage:

“Following the latest government recommendations, we have taken the decision to close all our staffed historic sites from the end of Wednesday 18th March until 1st May,” says Kate Mavor, CEO of English Heritage.

“Free-to-enter sites will remain open to visitors. These sites have large open spaces in which visitors can maintain social distancing and they are often located in quieter spots away from crowds.”

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

Self-isolating is a different measure, where people need to cut themselves off from the rest of the world, even avoiding leaving the house to buy food or essentials.

Coronavirus: what are social distancing and self isolating? From the BBC News website.


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Main image: Ashridge. © David Hughes/Robert Harding/Getty