National Trust for Scotland publishes its reopening proposals

09 June 2020
National Trust for Scotland has today (9 June) released details of which of its properties it proposes to reopen in a roll out from summer 2020 through to 2022-23.

Conservation charity the National Trust for Scotland has revealed its proposals to begin re-opening properties as and when allowed by the Scottish Government’s ‘route map’ away from Coronavirus lockdown. 

However, in line with previous revelations about the charity’s loss of income resulting from the pandemic, the charity is also listing those properties, primarily buildings, that it is proposing to delay opening until at least 2021, either due to lack of resources or because they cannot be adequately adapted to ongoing social distancing restrictions.

In early May, when the Trust first announced its financial challenges and resultant emergency measures, the charity confirmed that it did not anticipate opening more than half of its built heritage properties again this year due to a number of factors. It has now shared the list of such properties it hopes to re-open this year, possibly in mid-August, those that are likely to stay closed until Easter 2021 and a few that may have to stay closed until 2022.

What will the reopening look like?

The Trust is already beginning to remove barriers to access at some of its key countryside properties, such as Corrieshalloch Gorge and Ben Lawers (pictured below), albeit that this is for local access (from within five miles) as per government advice.  

Ben Lawers, copyright Scottholland

With access to other types of properties and travel from further afield expected to be permitted under stage three of the route map, Trust staff are also beginning to prepare for this, making sure processes are in place to ensure the safety of staff and visitors and to uphold social distancing, particularly in enclosed grounds and gardens.  

It is hoped that if sufficient progress is made in tackling Covid-19, enclosed grounds and gardens can be re-opened in late June or early July. It is also hoped that some built heritage properties may begin opening in mid-August.

Reopening proposals

The below lists summarise NTS reopening proposals for the coming seasons, showing those properties due to reopen imminently and those that will remain closed until 2021-22. The full list of NTS properties and opening arrangements is available on their website.

Countryside Properties re-opening imminently (local access only until Stage 3 of Scottish Government Route Map)

  • Ben Lawers
  • Burg
  • Corrieshalloch
  • Iona
  • Kintail
  • Mingualay, Pabbay & Bereneray
  • Staffa
  • Toriddon
  • Unst (pictured above)
  • West Affric
  • Ben Lomond
  • Goatfell
  • The Pend
  • Rockliffe
  • St Abbs Head 
  • The Pineapple

The below properties are expected to be the last to reopen, currently scheduled for 2021/22

  • Leith Hall
  • Holmwood
  • Souter Johnnie's Cottage
  • Bannockburn Visitor Centre
  • Hill of Tarvit
  • House of the Binns
  • Kippen Smiddy

Statement from NTS statement Sir Mark Jones:  “Our core purpose is to protect Scotland’s heritage for the benefit of everyone; we exist to ensure that people can access and enjoy the places we care for.

“I’m therefore delighted and encouraged to see that the Scottish Government has laid out the conditions and stages that now begin the process of allowing us to start welcoming our members and visitors again. I know from the many messages we have received that people are sorely missing our wonderful landscapes.

“Initially visitors will be returning to our natural heritage sites and I hope people will abide by the Scottish Government’s restrictions that enable local travel only. In other words, stay local, stay safe and please don’t travel more than five miles to reach our properties. This is not just a civic duty but also for the wellbeing of rural communities.

“I must also point out that local travel excludes Canna and Fair Isle and sea-borne visitors should stay away in order to protect island residents.

“Notwithstanding, the acute problems we are working though due to the loss of half of our income, our dedicated teams are now making places ready and safe for the return of visitors. Although it seems self-evident that nature takes care of itself, that isn’t strictly true.  Landscapes do need to be managed, habitats need to be guarded, footpaths need to be repaired and gardens and woodlands need to be tended, and we’ve been doing as much as we can during lockdown. 

“Even though our magnificent countryside belongs to us all, and we revel in Scotland’s unique ‘right to roam’, the reality is that our stewardship of the natural environment in our care costs money.

“That’s why in our hour of need, we’re asking for help so that we can keep doing what we do to safeguard our unrivalled landscapes.”

You can donate to the NTS Save Our Scotland emergency Coronavirus appeal here.

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