Your guide to the National Trust

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The National Trust is one of the UK’s most important heritage institutions.

Essentially, the National Trust specialises in conservation of historic properties in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. In Scotland, a separate body called the National Trust for Scotland performs the same function.

For domestic tourists in the UK, the National Trust can be one of the most important guides of what to see in a given area. But with so many properties to choose from, which attractions really stand out from the crowd?

Highlights of the National Trust collections

If you’re embarking on a tour of the UK for the first time, you’ll find National Trust-protected properties and landmarks everywhere you go. This collection of National Trust highlights from tourist organisation Visit Britain offers just a snapshot of the variety on offer. The places it mentions include the historic battlefield of Culloden in Scotland; Chartwell, Sir Winston Churchill’s family home in Kent; and The Giant’s Causeway, the spectacular rock formation off the coast of Northern Ireland.

But there’s much more on offer too. Book-lovers, for instance, may want to visit one of the many National Trust properties with literary connections. These gems include Greenway, crime writer Agatha Christie’s home in Devon, and Hill Top, Beatrix Potter’s house in the Lake District. Stourhead in Wiltshire is another popular draw, as much for its wonderful gardens as its magnificent house.

But it’s not just buildings and gardens that come under the National Trust’s protection, coasts and monuments are also included in their collection. Sutton Hoo in Suffolk is a great place to learn about Anglo-Saxon heritage, while Dolaucothi Goldmine offers a glimpse into Roman civilisation. Or, for dramatic Hebridean scenery, travel north to the Staffa National Nature Reserve, only accessible by boat off the west coast of Scotland.

Getting a National Trust membership

Some of the National Trust’s most regular patrons are families and retirees. And if you visit several National Trust properties a year, it may be worth your while to become a member. Being a member of the National Trust means that you won’t have to pay for entry when you visit a Trust property; so could save you a significant amount over the course of the year. You can get more details on how to become a National Trust member directly from the organisation’s website, as well as information on how to gift membership to a loved one.

If you’ll be travelling across the UK, it’s important to remember that the National Trust for Scotland is a separate body to the National Trust. However, if you are a National Trust member, you can still get free entry to Scottish properties protected by the NTS – and vice versa. Alternatively, if you’re planning an extended holiday in Scotland, the NTS allows you to become a member for just a month, which may be more cost-effective for infrequent travellers than a whole year’s membership. Take a look at NTS membership options, which include deals for families, individuals, under-25s and seniors, so you’ll certainly find a package that suits you.

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