National Trust statement: Car parking at our countryside and coastal locations

Our 4.7 million members continue to park for free.  Non-members have been charged to park at many of our countryside and coastal locations for some time. 


Over the past two years we have been gradually introducing pay and display machines at car parks with over 25 spaces, replacing the ‘person in a hut’ and donation box models.


The money we raise helps us look after the coast, countryside and footpaths that we would otherwise not be able to do.


Special arrangements have been made at Levant for the descendants of people killed in the mine disaster to park for free.


Funds raised from car parking will be used to maintain and improve car park facilities, help with footpath repairs, marking out new pathways to improve access and further aid visitor enjoyment and funding conservation projects to encourage wildlife. 


Charges will vary depending on location and the average car park fee will be £1 an hour and up to £5 for a whole day. 


We want people to visit and enjoy the special places in our care and we need to get the basics right in terms of providing good facilities while balancing this with caring for the surrounding countryside and wildlife, and in the face of rising conservation costs. 


As Britain’s largest conservation charity, the National Trust cares for over 250,000 hectares of countryside and 775 miles of coastline around England, Wales and Northern Ireland.  Over 200 million visits are made every year to our countryside and coastline putting increasing pressure on the landscape and facilities. 

Hundreds of trees planted in 24 hours in bid to reduce Lake District flooding

Hundreds of trees will be planted across the Lake District today (Friday 10 February) in the first mass tree planting event ever attempted by the National Trust in the national park.

The trees will help reduce the impacts of future flooding and restore wood pasture habitats that have been lost, National Trust rangers say.

More than 90 people will plant a total of 1,400 trees at five sites in the Lake District National Park, including the shores of Lake Windermere and the approach to Scafell Pike, England’s highest mountain.


Saplings planted in the shadow of flood damage in the Coledale valley, near Keswick. Credit: John Malley / National Trust

As they mature, it is expected that the trees will help to trap rainwater and mitigate the effects of flooding. In late 2015 Storm Desmond brought record rainfall to parts of the Lake District, with 34.1cm of rain falling on Honister Pass, Borrowdale, over just 24 hours. Storm Desmond left the National Trust facing a £1million clean-up bill.

Mike Innerdale, assistant director of operations for the National Trust, said: “This is a real community effort, with dozens of volunteers helping to plant trees – restoring important wood pasture habitats and slow the flow of storm water off the fells.

“The Lake District is visited by millions of people every year. But the recent floods show just how fragile a landscape it is.

“The 2015 floods caused millions of pounds worth of damage, leaving scars on the landscape that are yet to heal.


Planting trees in Coledale, near Keswick. Credit: National Trust

“With major storms occurring more frequently, we’re working with farmers and local residents to look at ways of making the Lakes more resilient to flooding.”

At Braithwaite, near Keswick, rangers, residents and volunteers from the Woodland Trust will plant 500 native broadleaf trees over two hectares of pasture in the Coledale valley. In 2015 flooding caused a major landslide in the valley that lead to the village of Braithwaite being inundated with silt, boulders and other debris.

Emily Brooks, who lives in Braithwaite, said: “I’m really pleased to be planting trees above Braithwaite to help to reduce the impact that extreme rainfall has had on our village. It feels like important work now, to better protect our homes from future flooding.”

By planting the trees, Rangers and volunteers plan to restore areas of ancient woodland, create wood pasture and plant new hedgerows. These will offer a welcome home for birds like warblers, flycatchers and redstarts.

All of the 1,400 saplings that will be planted are native woodland species, including oak, birch, hazel, rowan and crab apple.

National Trust statement on the government’s Housing White Paper

Ingrid Samuel, historic environment director at the National Trust, said: “We hope this White Paper is a sign that the Government is shifting away from blaming the planning system for the shortage of new housing, and is getting more resources into over-stretched council planning teams.

“Indeed, planning permission has been granted on land for more than a million new homes in the last five years, yet 600,000 new builds have been delivered over the same period. There is a clear need for the Government to change its focus to assist developers in building these homes, and to come up with new models if the industry cannot deliver.

“We’re also pleased that Ministers have put to bed rumours about a weakening of Green Belt protections, and are prioritising brownfield development. This should take place alongside a strengthened focus on heritage and good design, and continued protections for nature and valued landscapes from insensitive development. Good planning is key to finding the best places for new homes, pushing up housing quality, and securing community support.

“We will, however, be looking carefully at the Government’s formula for calculating housing needs. It would be a backwards step if it forces councils to allocate land in sensitive landscapes, and doesn’t make the most of more appropriate sites for housing elsewhere in the region.”


National Trust launches £250k fundraising campaign to fix paths in Snowdonia

A quarter of a million pounds is urgently needed to repair paths and restore wildlife habitats in Snowdonia, the National Trust has said.

The conservation charity, which looks after almost 23,500 hectares (58,000 acres) of mountain and farmland in Snowdonia [1], is hoping to raise the shortfall from a fundraising campaign launched today (6 February).


Snow covered peaks of Glyderau. Credit: Joe Cornish/National Trust Images

The National Trust already spends hundreds of thousands of pounds annually on conservation work in Snowdonia. But a recent review of the paths has revealed the scale of footpath erosion, with urgent repairs needed to more than two and half miles of path.

Rangers have urged the public to get behind the campaign in order to be able to get to work immediately, restoring much-needed paths for visitors and protecting rare wildlife like the endangered Snowdon beetle.


Surveying eroding footpaths i

Rhys Thomas, National Trust ranger in Snowdonia, said: “Thousands of people come from all around the world to enjoy Snowdonia’s rugged beauty. But Snowdonia isn’t as tough as it first appears.

More and more people are coming to enjoy the beautiful scenery in Snowdonia. On Snowdon, Wales’ highest mountain, we’ve seen the number of walkers double since 2007.

“Now, broken paths are putting Snowdonia’s nature in danger. When they break up and turn into mud it can be incredibly difficult to know where to step.

“Delicate upland habitats are being flattened, making it impossible for ring ouzels nesting on the ground along Snowdon’s Watkin Path to find insects to feed their chicks.

“I’ve been building and rebuilding paths in the area for eight years. It’s tiring, time-consuming work – involving tens of volunteers shifting tonnes of stone by hand, vehicle and helicopter.

“But it’s vital to repair paths if we’re serious about protecting creatures like the Snowdon beetle that in Britain are only found in Snowdonia.”

The National Trust’s appeal is being supported by Hollywood actor Matthew Rhys.

The Americans and Edge of Love star, who was born in Cardiff and has strong connections to the area, said: “I still get swallowed up by the scenery and sounds of Snowdonia. I have a profound love for this place, from the legendary Llyn Dinas lake to the great Snowdon summit across one of the most dramatic valleys in Wales, Nant Gwynant.

“Seeing the joy these unique wonders bring for so many people, I desperately want to complete this vital repair work so fellow nature enthusiasts can enjoy Snowdonia for generations to come.

“But I know there’s a delicate balance to be struck between man and nature. Preserving that balance inevitably needs resources that allow organisations like National Trust to do such an amazing job in making these areas of outstanding natural beauty more resilient for all to enjoy.”


Actor Matthew Rhys, pictured at Llyn Dinas, is backing the campaign. Credit: National Trust

More than four million people visit Snowdonia every year, with 450,000 walking up Snowdon alone.

The £250,000 appeal will enable National Trust rangers and volunteers to repair and create two and a half miles of paths in Snowdonia. On average it costs £180 to build just one metre of footpath.

The appeal, which is the latest in the National Trust’s long-running Snowdonia Appeal, will run until the end of 2017.

To donate visit or call 034 800 1895.

Northumberland’s Sycamore Gap in running for European Tree of the Year

A Northumberland tree made famous by Hollywood is going head-to-head in an international poll to be crowned Europe’s favourite tree.

Sycamore Gap in Northumberland National Park won the Woodland Trust’s search for England’s Tree of the Year in December last year.

Visitors at Hadrian's Wall and Housesteads Fort, Northumberland.

Sycamore Gap, Northumberland

The tree, which stands beside Hadrian’s Wall, is now up against 16 trees in a bid to be named European Tree of the Year. People have until 28 February to vote for their favourite tree.

Known as the ‘Robin Hood Tree’ following a cameo appearance in Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, Sycamore Gap is cared for by rangers and volunteers from the National Trust.

Andrew Poad, general manager at the National Trust, said: “We would like to say a huge ‘thank you’ to everyone who voted for Sycamore Gap to make it England’s Tree of the Year.

“I was born and brought up along Hadrian’s Wall. I’ve lived here all my life and worked here for the National Trust for 25 years.

“I’ve noticed recently is that we’ve got local plumbers and electricians and they’re driving around and they’ve got Sycamore Gap on the side of their van.

“It’s become such an icon of this part of the world. It’s amazing to see how one tree can have such an impact.

“With the help of members, visitors and donors, the National Trust cares for many fantastic trees for everyone to enjoy.

“Hopefully, everyone who has visited or taken pictures of the tree will vote to make Sycamore Gap European Tree of the Year.”

About Sycamore Gap:

  • It is 36 metres tall – equivalent to the height of seven Routemaster busses stacked on top of each other.
  • The tree featured in 1991’s blockbuster Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, starring Kevin Costner in the title role.
  • It sits within the Northumberland National Park. The area has also been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site and was named England’s first International Dark Sky Park in 2013. The National Trust cares for six miles of Hadrian’s Wall.

Vote for the European Tree of the Year at


Behind BBC’s On Your Farm: farming and blanket bogs on Divis Mountain

With strong winds and low cloud, Belfast’s neighbouring Divis Mountain is an unforgiving landscape in which to farm.

But, as BBC Radio 4’s Ruth Sanderson discovered in On Your Farm, the National Trust-owned moorland is exactly where two farmers have chosen to make their living.

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The view towards Belfast from Divis mountain. Credit: National Trust Images/Nick Meers

Their beef cattle graze the 2,000 acre mountain from spring to autumn – with the grazing helping to maintain the important upland bog habitats. Continue reading

Birdwatchers flock to see short-eared owls at Wicken Fen, Cambridgeshire

Birdwatchers from across the East of England have spent the winter entranced by one of Britain’s most impressive birds.

Around ten short-eared owls have been seen on Burwell Fen, near Ely, Cambridgeshire, by rangers from the National Trust’s Wicken Fen National Nature Reserve.

The sandy-coloured owls, which are one of Britain’s largest and unlike many others thrive in open countryside, arrive on the reserve in October. The birds will leave the reserve, which home to many vulnerable wetland and grassland species, in in March for their breeding grounds in the Scottish uplands or northern Scandinavia.


Short-eared owl at Wicken Fen, near Cambridge. Credit: Prashant Meswani

Birdwatchers have been treated to stunning views of the short-eared owls, capturing the owls performing mid-air acrobatics and skirmishes with other birds of prey.

But behind the pictures is an important conservation story that rangers from the National Trust reserve are keen to tell.

Martin Lester, Countryside Manager at Wicken Fen, said: “The habitat on Burwell Fen is ideal for the short eared owls. Their numbers have increased over recent years since we started grazing the fen with our konick ponies and highland cattle.

“The ponies and cattle help create a mixture of vegetation heights and open spaces that are perfect for voles – the owls’ preferred prey. It also has plenty of posts for the owls to roost. The fen is home to lots of vulnerable grassland and wetland species.

“The owls have been a big draw for birdwatchers and photographers across the region. And if people want the best views of the owls, they should stick to the raised banks or public footpaths. These banks offer panoramic views of the fen – and ensures our visitors to see the owls without disturbing these wonderful birds.”


Short-eared owl hunting at Wicken Fen, near Cambridge. Credit: Prashant Meswani

National Trust rangers added that birdwatchers should not stray onto the fen in search of a better photograph of the owls.

Burwell Fen is a wintering home to a large number of vulnerable grassland and wetland species. Rangers said that by walking onto the fen would risk disturbing the birds and

Wicken’s other rare wildlife – and could lead to the owls looking for alternative wintering sites in the future.