Should I buy National Trust Membership?
Is joining the National Trust worth it?
A question I asked myself before joining and the answer is a definite YES!
I had a vision of National Trust places not being very family friendly or not very welcoming – I couldn’t have been more wrong!
They are beautiful places, clean and safe and the staff and volunteers are super friendly and helpful.
The National Trust is as it says… For Everyone, for ever.
Joining National Trust has been life changing for me and my son, having these amazing places that we could visit and enjoy has opened up a whole new world to us.
What is The National Trust?
The National Trust is Europes largest conservation charity, with the help of members, volunteers, staff and donors, they look after Nature, beauty and history for everyone to enjoy.
Founded more than 125 years ago by Octavia Hill, Robert Hunter and Hardwicke Rawnsley, believing that everyone needs nature, beauty and history they set up the trust in 1895, their aim to not only save important sites but to open them up to everyone.
This mission still remains at the heart of The National Trust today.
The National Trust now cares for:
- More than 780 miles of coastline
- More than 250,000 hectares of land
- More than 500 historic houses, castles, parks and gardens
- Nearly a million works of art
What is National Trust Membership?
National Trust membership is a membership you can pay for annually or monthly gaining you free access to over 500 National Trust places, it also gives you free parking at most sites and other benefits such as a free handbook and informative newsletters.
What are the benefits of joining the national trust?
Here are 10 reasons why everyone should join the National Trust:
- Great value for money
- Amazing places
- Over 500 places to visit!
- Family friendly and most are dog friendly too!
- Safe and clean with great facilities
- Have great seasonal activities
- Educational and informative
- A great incentive to get outdoors
- Receive a handbook, newsletters and you can download the app
- Every time you visit – You leave with your head held high and a smile on your face!
1. Great value for money
Everyone wants to know whether something is worth buying and memberships are no different, the biggest question is – Will you use it?
The National Trust has over 500 properties across England, Wales and Northern Ireland, so many to choose from and covering most regions.
There are properties and spaces including Coastal and beach, gardens and parks, houses and buildings, castles and forts and countryside and woodland, so there really is something for everyone to enjoy.
But is there somewhere local to me?
Even if there are only a few sites local to you, don’t let this put you off, the places are so interesting and there are so many seasonal activities, you can go time and time again and thoroughly enjoy your visit.
It is also great if you holiday in the UK as there is usually a National Trust place nearby – the perfect excuse for a ‘free’ day out!
The first year I bought membership I really debated whether I would actually ‘have my moneys worth’, I must say I’ve probably had it ten fold.
For example a visit to Quarry Bank Mill would cost £19 and we have visited here 5 times last year as well as Dunham Massey….Little Morton Hall…..Speke Hall….. the list goes on!
So, if you visit somewhere just 3/4 times a year you are saving money!
Parking is also free at most places with membership and they even sometimes send you a lovely gift of a free pass for family or friends.
How much is National Trust Membership?
Age 26+ currently costs £76.80 per year, you can pay for this annually or by monthly direct debit which is £6.40 per month.
Young persons membership (18 – 25) is £38.40 per year and Junior membership (0-17) is just £10 per year. Junior membership includes free entry and a junior welcome pack. (Car parking, Handbook and magazines are not included)
Family – 2 adults and their children or grandchildren (17 and under) is £133.80 per year or £11.15 per month.
Family – 1 adult and their children or grandchildren is £83.40 or £6.95 per month
Two adults living at the same address is £127.20 per year or £10.60 per month
Under 5’s go free at National Trust places
It really is affordable especially if you pay by monthly direct debit and the option of 1 adult or 2 adult family memberships is great. Under 5’s go free but you can still buy them membership and it comes with a lovely welcome pack with some great info and ideas for outdoor activities.
2. Amazing places to visit
I could talk about this all day (but I promise I won’t!) the National Trust regenerated my love of nature and being outdoors, there is a certain calmness and serenity to their properties, although sometimes busy, the space feels big enough for everybody, they never feel over crowded and there are so many places to explore within their properties you can always be sure of discovering something new.
There are so many places to choose from, here you will find details about all National Trust properties https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/visit where you can search by areas or activity.
Every National Trust place I have visited has one main thing in common – they are cared for.
This stands out from the moment you enter, the staff and volunteers are friendly, passionate and knowledgeable and you feel part of these magnificent surroundings as soon as you arrive.
The facilities are always clean and tidy and accessible (more details about accessibility in individual properties is on the National Trust website …..)
Each site has maps and guidance available (or very knowledgable staff to help) and there are just so many aspects to National Trust places, even the smallest properties have educational information, great places to walk and explore, picnic areas and many have play areas for the kids.
You could quite easily spend a whole day exploring National Trust properties (I often have), it is great to be able to jump in the car and head off with a picnic to somewhere welcoming, interesting and best of all outdoors! If the weather is pretty terrible don’t let this put you off still going, waterproofs are handy but there are lots of indoor areas too.
As well as the historical houses, mills and halls, most have indoor cafe’s or eating areas, shops and preloved bookshops.
3. Over 500 places to visit
National Trust membership allows you free entry into over 500 places, the properties include Coastal, gardens, parks, buildings, castles, countryside and woodland. They are situated around England, Wales and Northern Ireland so you are sure to find somewhere local to you.
The website and app has some great search tools, location, event or activity, which makes it really easy to find details about individual places including opening times, what’s on, accessibility etc.
The website has some fantastic ideas and activities especially for children including outdoor activity, craft and seasonal to name a few – they often update and add new content depending on the season so there is always something to inspire you. https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/discover
Most places have great parking facilities and offer free parking to members, you can scan your card on entry or at the ticket machine.
4. Family friendly and most are dog friendly too!
One thing I probably worried most about before joining was are National Trust properties suitable for children? I was worried I would buy membership, go once, realise it wasn’t for me and never go again. But I was wrong!
My son is prone to the odd meltdown and I’m sure we have all been there (well I’m hoping so?!) and I was so worried we would be ejected during our first visit! But this didn’t happen, my son is at his calmest when being outdoors and although we have had ‘stressful moments’ everyone has always been so kind and friendly, visitors and staff.
They are so family friendly and have so many activities to educate and engage with children, the website and app make it really easy to check details beforehand and to check if there are any events on.
They often have seasonal trails which my son loves, they are sometimes based on popular children’s book characters such as Peter Rabbit, Percy the park keeper and Mog and include various nature based activities, really motivating kids to run and play, finding the next clue.
Most outdoor areas are accessible for prams and pushchairs, pushchairs aren’t usually allowed inside historical buildings but they provide buggy parks (often indoor) which is great.
Most places allow dogs (please check individual places first as dogs may only be allowed in certain areas), there are an abundance of great dog walks within the properties, gardens and woodland so the whole family can have fun together.
5. Safe and clean with great facilities
National Trust places are all so well looked after, the staff and volunteers really care about their environment and their places. This is obvious in how clean, tidy and well maintained the sites are.
There are always members of staff or volunteers around the property ready to help or offer advice,
Sites vary depending on size and location but most sites have:
Parking – Good parking, well signposted and close to property. National trust members also get free parking at most properties or this is included with your admission pass.
Accessable routes and assistance – National Trust are very inclusive and each site states very clearly whether parts of the property are difficult to access. You can also hire wheelchairs or some larger sites have shuttle buggys.
Picnic Areas – There are lots of benches and seating areas at all National Trust places, some have dedicated picnic areas – please check individual places
Food and Drink – Most places have cafes, restaurants or food and drink outlets
Shops – Shops range from site to site but always sell beautiful things, especially children’s books. The larger sites have a National Trust shop, preloved bookshop and a garden shop.
Toilets – The toilets are always clean and tidy, larger sites have several toilets around the property, most have changing facilities.
Visitor Centre – This is where you can get maps, trail sheets, info etc. The staff are always friendly and helpful and are happy to assist if you have any queries.
6. Have great seasonal activities
This is what encouraged me to get membership, just coming out of lock down, craving a bit of outdoor space and desperate to get my son running about, I spotted a Percy the Park keeper trail at a National Trust property
Well perfect I thought and off we went and had an absolutely wonderful time.
So I started looking into the National Trust in more depth and I couldn’t believe the wonderful places they had within just a few miles, how family friendly they were, how many events they had on, the seasonal activities……. I was really surprised, I had bought membership for family members in the past but hadn’t ever bought it for myself! So I did!
The seasonal activities are great, they usually involve a trail around the property or grounds, sometimes including a small prize or activity to do at the end. My son just loves these and as soon as I mention going to National Trust he asks ‘what’s the trail’ its just such an amazing way to get kids outdoors and engaging with nature.
Each clue often has small challenges involving nature or the environment but are also fun and engaging. During school holidays the trails are sometimes run alongside other activities such as crafts or outdoor activities. Check the website for more details https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/visit/whats-on
If you are interested in culture and arts, they often have special exhibitions and even have online exhibitions https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/discover/virtual-visit/online-exhibitions
They also have some great activities at Christmas, the houses and buildings are decorated traditionally and special events are held. Father Christmas pays a visit or two and Light trails are held at some locations, tickets sell fast for these events so be sure to buy early!
7. Educational and Informative
From the kids activities to the signs around the estates, the National Trust helps educate about nature and the environment. This is done in a subtle way, you don’t feel overrun with info, its educational but engaging.
Staff and volunteers are so knowledgable and are happy to provide information about the history or landscape of the properties they are so obviously passionate about.
The visitor centres have lots of information about the property, the history of their buildings and the stories behind the generations who have lived there.
The National Trust website is also a great source of information, about the National Trust, its properties, buildings and art but also nature and being outdoors in general. Loads of gardening tips, activity ideas for the kids and fun ways to enjoy the great outdoors.
8. A great incentive to get outdoors
Sometimes its difficult to motivate yourself (and / or) the family to get outdoors and enjoy some time together, the weather mainly is a put off but also the idea of ‘where to go!!!” It can be hard to find somewhere which will suit all ages, be local, be fun….. you can spend so long looking for somewhere to go there’s no time left to go!
Thats where I love the National Trust membership, its so easy, throw a picnic together, grab your membership card, jump in the car and off you go.
You know it will be enjoyable, you will be outdoors, there’s something for everyone.
9. Receive an informative handbook, newsletters and you can download the app
I don’t know about you but I do love a physical book – just the feel of the pages and the images… we spend so much time digital, although it is great, info at your fingertips I just love receiving my National Trust Handbook.
When I have a quiet moment, I sit and decide where I want to go, which is usually everywhere! It comes every year and although I generally refer to the website of the app when looking for ‘what’s on’ or property info I just love that handbook!
You also receive newsletters, digitally and paper form, which is always a great little incentive to get motivated about the seasonal activities or get thinking about fitting in some more days out. My son also loves these newsletters and they become ‘his’
The app is great for finding the nearest property, there is lots of up to date info on there about each property including what’s on etc
10. Every time you visit – You leave with your head held high and a smile on your face
This is so true, it is just so difficult sometimes in our busy lives to find quiet, beauty or space, to have that moment with your own thoughts and be able to breath.
National Trust properties give you that space, beauty and quiet to be able to switch off from everyday stresses and just enjoy spending time with your family, enjoying the outdoors.
Every time I have left a National Trust property I feel invigorated and clear headed. The whole atmosphere of the space and being with nature, watching your kids run and jump and enjoy being outside is motivating and creates a positivity which stays with you.
So, back to the original question: Is the National Trust worth joining?
I’m hoping by reading this you would have made a personal choice whether becoming a member of The National Trust suits you and your family, but I really hope you decide to join.
Being a member of The National Trust makes you feel part of something special – they are a special organisation, the places they care for are of outstanding beauty and they love people visiting these wonderful places.
They are welcoming and friendly and with more than 780 miles of coastline, 250,000 hectares of land, 500 historic houses, castles, parks, and gardens and nearly a million works of art there really is somewhere for everyone to enjoy.