A coastal walk will make you sleep longer and feel happier

  • UK coast walkers sleep an average of 47 minutes longer after a walk by the sea
  • Coastal walking boosts feelings of calm and happiness and provides walkers with a sense of escape
  • Coastal walks offer a distraction from the stresses of everyday life (63 per cent) and make people feel positive about their lives in general (55 per cent)
Family walking along the clifftop at Birling Gap, part of the Seven Sisters chalk cliffs range, East Sussex. The Belle Tout Lighthouse (not NT owned) is seen in the distance.

Family walking along the clifftop at Birling Gap, part of the Seven Sisters chalk cliffs range, East Sussex. Credit National Trust.

A walk by the coast will have you sleeping an extra 47 minutes on average as well as providing you with feelings of calm (83 per cent), happiness (82 per cent) and a sense of escapism (62 per cent), according to a national report out today.

Over two thirds (69 per cent) of Brits state they fall into a deeper sleep after being by the coast with one in three (36 per cent) also saying that the thought alone of the sea helps them sleep at night.

The research has been carried out as part of the National Trust’s Great British Walk campaign, run in partnership with Cotswold Outdoor, to look at how walking on the coast really impacts on our wellbeing and to encourage people to explore our UK coastline, of which 775 miles is cared for by the conservation charity.

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Trust welcomes record numbers of visitors

We welcomed record numbers of visitors to our houses and gardens last year (21m), up 4% on the previous year. An estimated 200m visits were also made to our countryside and coast locations. Interest remains as high as ever.

Our latest membership scores also show satisfaction is at an all-time high. And our membership has grown to over 4.2m members.

The overall proportion of visitors rating their experience of the Trust as either ‘enjoyable’ or ‘very enjoyable is 96%. This reflects very high levels of satisfaction and is broadly in line with previous years.

The picture is very positive and we’re proud more people than ever before are visiting our special places and supporting our charity.

But we recognise there is always room for improvement. We’re not complacent and as we outlined in our 10-year strategy earlier this year we know we need to do even more to engage with people and make our places relevant and inspiring to them.

The proportion of people rating their experience as ‘very enjoyable’ has fallen slightly to 60%, which is below the stretching target we set ourselves.

We believe there are a number of reasons for the fall.  We have developed a new system whereby members can provide feedback online . This has nearly doubled the number of visitor surveys we collect (some 170,000) so we now have a much more accurate picture than we have ever had before and know where we need to improve.

At peak times properties can get busy and this can have an impact on attaining the very highest enjoyment scores.

People’s tastes are changing and their expectations continue to grow. We’ll work harder to give our visitors experiences that are emotionally rewarding, intellectually stimulating and inspire them to support our cause. We will invest in major changes at our most visited houses to transform how we tell the story of why they matter.

We’re not standing still. Many properties are already finding new and imaginative ways to refresh their offer, and where we get it right the results have been spectacular both in terms of visitor numbers and enjoyment scores.

Our recreation of a First World War hospital at Dunham Massey made it to the final of this year’s Museum of the Year; our Mr.Turner exhibition at Petworth was a huge hit, and Fan Bay tunnels in Dover have consistently sold out of tickets every day since it opened earlier this year.

And we’re continuing to challenge perceptions and stir up debate, most recently on brutalist architecture.

Making waves around the UK coastline

The coastline around the UK is a very special one. Its full of amazing places that capture our imagination and its a place that many of us spend alot of time daydreaming about.

Fruit machines on piers and seafronts are just one of the vibrant sounds that you an hear on the coastline. Credit: Tim Stubbings

Fruit machines on piers and seafronts are just one of the vibrant sounds that you an hear on the coastline. Credit: Tim Stubbings

This summer the National Trust in collaboration with the British Library and the National Trust for Scotland has been asking people to record the sounds of the coast.  The ‘sounds of our shores’ project is all about capturing sonic postcards from the whole coastline.

Hundreds of people have taken part; recording sounds from remote stretches of coastline where the waves and seabirds are the only sound for miles around, or submittng sound from a classic seaside town or busy seaport.

With only ten days left to add your sounds there is still plenty of time to help populate the sound map, hosted on the British Library website, with more sonic treasures from our coastline. Musician and producer Martyn Ware (Human League and Heaven 17) will be using the sounds submitted as an inspiration to create a new piece of music, out in February 2016.

We’ve identified some of the gaps on the map (see below) and would love people heading to the coast in the next few weeks and weekends or those lucky enought to be living by the sea to help build up a really comprehensive soundscape of the UK coastline.

Martyn Ware on Brighton   beach recording sounds for the sounds of our shores project. Credit: Tim Stubbings

Martyn Ware on Brighton beach recording sounds for the sounds of our shores project. Credit: Tim Stubbings

Its easy to record the sounds via a free audioboom app or via your laptop. Sounds can be up to 5 minutes long and you can use video to submit sounds (audioBoom does a really clever thing, stripping the sound off of the film).

The areas that we’d love to get more sounds from include:

  • South Devon
  • St Austell to Falmouth
  • Padstow to Bideford
  • Minehead to Weston super Mare
  • Cardiff
  • The Pembrokeshire coastline
  • Cardigan to Aberystwyth
  • North West Wales
  • Merseyside
  • The Cumbrian coast
  • South West Scotland
  • North West Scotland
  • Orkney
  • The coast between Inverness and Dundee
  • Sunderland to north Yorkshire
  • The Wash
  • The Kent coastline
  • West Sussex
  • Portsmouth
  • The East coast of Northumberland

If you’d like to add your coastal sounds they need to be submitted by the 21 September via the audioBoom sounds of our shores channel

National Trust 2014/15 Annual Report

The Great Orme, 12/05/15. Photograph Richard Williams richardwilliamsimages@hotmail.com 07901518159

The Great Orme. Photograph Richard Williams

The National Trust has released its 2014/15 Annual Report.

You can read about our new strategy, ‘Playing our part’, and our plans for 2015/16. There is also information on our structure, governance and management, and detailed accounts of our financial activities for 2014/15. The report will also share with you some of our achievements and conservation highlights over the year 2014/15 – across England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

2014/15 was a year of great progress for the National Trust. This would not have been possible without the support of our members, donors and other supporters and the wonderful work of our staff and tens of thousands of volunteers.

You can find the full report here: 2014-15 Annual Report

Accolades galore as British Farmers mark 10th Fine Farm Produce Awards at Selfridges

Sixty-two products were bestowed with one of the food and farming industry’s highest honours, a National Trust Fine Farm Produce Award, at a ceremony in London last night.

It was the first time – and fitting for the 10th anniversary – that so many products met or exceeded the strict judging criteria of the conservation charity’s food and farming awards.

Three producers excelled to be crowned overall food and overall drinks winner and a special award, for producer of the decade, was announced.  Continue reading

Fine Farm Produce Awards to be announced this evening

The National Trust’s Fine Farm Produce Award winners will be announced at an exclusive event at Selfridges in London this evening.

This year is the 10th anniversary of these prestigious awards which recognise the very best of the conservation charity’s 1,500 tenant farmers and producers.

We go behind the scenes of the judging process with Helen Beer, deputy editor of the National Trust magazine, who gives a behind the scenes glimpse of what happens during the ‘taste test’ element of the rigorous judging process.

The National Trust's Fine Farm Produce Awards will be held at Selfridges in London tonight

The National Trust’s Fine Farm Produce Awards will be held at Selfridges in London tonight

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New technology saves exquisite Tudor stained glass

Visitors to The Vyne in Hampshire can witness a unique project to conserve beautiful 16th-century stained glass windows in the Tudor Chapel. Having survived Civil War armies and Second World War bombing raids, this precious glass is now under attack from a new enemy.

The Chapel contains the finest stained glass in our care, considered to be among the most beautiful 16th-century glass in Europe. Famous for its jewel-like clarity, it features images of King Henry VIII, who visited The Vyne several times, as well as his sister Margaret and first wife Catherine of Aragon, together with their patron saints.

But condensation is eating away at it, causing pitting and corrosion. Thankfully modern technology is coming to the rescue. The glass is being removed so that it can be re-fitted with state-of-the-art protective glazing by specialists Holy Well Glass.

Stained glass conservator Steve Clare removes Tudow window depicting King Henry VIII, from The Vyne's chapel ©National Trust Images James Dobson

Stained glass conservator Steve Clare removes Tudor window depicting King Henry VIII, from The Vyne’s Chapel ©National Trust Images James Dobson

Scaffold platform offers once-in-a-lifetime view

As the stained glass is removed, the empty window spaces will be temporarily filled with clear glass featuring simple lead tracery that matches the outline of the original imagery. This will offer a previously unseen perspective of the Chapel during the work from a scaffold viewing platform.

‘Our viewing platform will give visitors a fantastic view of the Chapel’s other historic features,’ says house steward Dominique Shembry. ‘These include the incredible detail on the Tudor wooden stalls, which are carved with heraldry, plant motifs and cherubs, and the 18th-century trompe l’oeil artwork on the walls.’

Get up close to superb Tudor craftsmanship

The viewing platform also provides a unique opportunity to study up close the superb workmanship of the Chapel’s central window. This stained glass, depicting the crucifixion of Christ, has already been successfully fitted with new glazing as part of a pilot project and is remaining in place.

The external wire grills currently covering the Chapel windows are also being removed so that the stained glass can be seen in its original 16th-century splendour when it returns later in the year.

The Vyne Chapel - L to R Henry's sister Queen Margaret of Scotland with St Margaret of Antioch, ©National Trust Images, Helen Sanderson

The Vyne Chapel – L to R Henry VIII’s sister Queen Margaret of Scotland with St Margaret of Antioch, ©National Trust Images, Helen Sanderson

Technology captures conservation in action

A new exhibition reveals more about the stories portrayed in the stained glass and the legends surrounding its mysterious past. There’ll also be a chance to examine some of the original glass before it’s reinstated in the Chapel.

Film footage of the conservators working on the glass in their studio will be captured using audio-visual technology supplied by Panasonic, including wearable cameras.

This, together with time-lapse photography of the glass being removed from the Chapel’s windows, will be projected into a new exhibition space, giving visitors a unique opportunity to follow the work as it progresses.

A Tudor power house

The Chapel, together with the Oak Gallery, are the most complete surviving Tudor interiors at The Vyne which was the home of Henry VIII’s Lord Chamberlain, Lord Sandys. Sandys entertained Anne Boleyn at The Vyne, but was later to escort her to her prison in the Tower of London.

The glass itself was made, not for The Vyne’s Chapel, but for the nearby Holy Ghost Chapel. The myths surrounding its survival are many, but it is thought to have been rescued from the Chapel during Civil War hostilities, and hidden, later to appear at The Vyne.