Thursday 9 July 2020

Visiting National Trust Properties (Dorset) in Summer 2020 with Phased Re-openings

Over the last few weeks, the UK has started to lift restrictions and more of our favourite places are becoming accessible again. National Trust has opened more than 100 of their parklands and gardens but visits need to be pre-booked so they can limit the number of visitors.

Tickets can be pre-booked each Friday via their website and you can pick a slot which suits you. The more popular locations such as Stourhead are getting fully booked almost immediately but we have managed to book tickets for Corfe Castle and Kingston Lacy here in Dorset without any problems. Members and non-members can pre-book but non-members will have to pay in advance. For us as members, we just had to enter our membership number and our spaces were booked. When booking you have to pick a 30 minute arrival time but there are no restrictions on how long you stay, although they cannot guarantee entry if you're late for your slot.

Kingston Lacy

Our first place we visited was Kingston Lacy (we've been twice recently) and we love it here, the grounds are so pretty and the kids love the space to run around! When we arrived in the car park there was a member of staff who ticked our name off the list and that was it, we didn't need to show our membership card.

Our timeslot was 2pm and it was very quiet, although there were cars in the overflow too. We followed the path in and there were clear signs regarding the walks around the garden and woodland trail. There was a one-way system in place which worked well. There were lots of families enjoying the sunshine but it was very easy to maintain a distance, even on the paths.

The Kitchen Garden is currently closed but we still had a pleasant walk around, passing the Japanese Garden and the beautiful meadow area. I've never actually seen the meadow in bloom like this, the daisys were so pretty.

The children enjoyed climbing trees, rolling down the hill on the front lawn, and best of all, playing hide and seek in the long grass!

The cafe was open on both our visits but just as a takeaway, there is no seating in the stables and the picnic tables have been moved onto the grassy area near the entrance. The toilets were also open and there was extra sanitiser available.

Corfe Castle

Corfe Castle is another favourite of ours and we were so excited to visit again. We arranged to meet some friends there and we both booked our tickets on the Friday before with no issues.

When we arrived in Corfe, I did notice that the carpark was very quiet and I assume this was because of restricted numbers in the castle. The visitors centre and toilets were also closed.

It's a really pleasant walk from the carpark, the path takes you around the foot of the castle and it's away from the road so alot safer for the children. There's a great little trim trail to climb along too which my kids love!

Once at the castle, we gave our names to the member of staff at the ticket tent and we were ticked off the list. Like Kingston Lacy, we didn't need to show our tickets or membership number. 

Our visit to the castle was much like previous visits however there is a one way route to follow around certain parts. This worked well and due to the low number of visitors, we didn't feel rushed. The children were able to explore and have as much fun as normal!

If you fancy a treat after your visit, the National Trust tearooms are open (public toilets too!), We decided to order fish & chips from The Greyhound pub which is right outside the entrance to Corfe Castle. We weren't able to sit in the beer garden as there were still restrictions in place when we visited, but we were allowed to take our food back into the Castle grounds where there were tables and chairs available.

Lunch with a view! 

It's fantastic that the National Trust have put all these measures in place so visitors can still enjoy a day out at their many properties. If you are thinking about booking a visit then I would definitely recommend going online as early as possible on a Friday morning to give you more chance of getting tickets.

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