Escape the daily grind on a National Trust working holiday

No laptops or business calls from a hotel room – guest blogger Erin Moncur discovers how a working holiday can be a very good thing when the National Trust are involved…

Are you team spirited? Do you enjoy the great outdoors? If you answered ‘yes’ to both of those questions and don’t mind getting your hands dirty, then a National Trust Working Holiday might be the thing for you.

The National Trust runs over 400 volunteering projects a year, giving people the chance to help the environment while escaping the daily grind. The holidays range from two to seven days and with so many options to choose from, there is something for everyone.

work and stay in Dovedale, Peak District (photo by Erin Moncur)
work and stay in Dovedale, Peak District (photo by Erin Moncur)

For families or solo holiday-makers

The National Trust highlight six main categories to choose from, including youth discovery – a chance for teenagers to carry out conservation work while enjoying social activities with others the same age; independent; and family. Most include youth hostel style accommodation, with prices starting at £85 for a short break.

The family option starts at £125 and is aimed at children aged between 6 and 16 and their parents. Fun activities such as pond dipping, survival skills and scavenger hunts make this a great family holiday option. (Find out more about the types of holidays on their website.)

volunteer at Blickling Hall (photo by Erin Moncur)
volunteer at Blickling Hall (photo by Erin Moncur)

Holiday Activities

There are so many activities to chose from, whether you’re a budding archeologist, sports fan, a lover of outdoor activities or a keen gardener, they have got you covered. You can get involved in an existing archaeological project, mix the conservation work with wild swimming and help create a garden masterpiece.

History lovers have a chance to take on a character and walk around a historic building at one of their popular events, or to handle and archive some wonderful, historic collections. Regardless of your interests, you are spoilt for choice.

sheep at National Trust property Felbrigg Hall (photo by Erin Moncur)
sheep at National Trust property Felbrigg Hall (photo by Erin Moncur)

Help Overseas

The National Trust have an expanded selection of holidays abroad. For the last four years they have teamed up with the International National Trusts Organisation (INTO) to send keen volunteers overseas to countries such as Spain and Slovakia. If you fancy helping to restore a historic fountain in the heart of the Czech Republic, or an ancient staircase in a castle in France, look no further.

So, if you are looking for a break with a difference, want to help the environment, like the idea of waking up in a beautiful location and would love the chance to enjoy some exciting conservation activities with great new friends, then a National Trust Working Holiday could be what you’ve been looking for!

For more information, visit the National Trust website at

Email: or call 0344 800 3099


Enjoy spectacular autumn colour at England’s Treasure Houses

Canopies of red and gold, the rustle of leaves underfoot, cool fresh air…a brisk walk in the English countryside is good for the soul during autumn and winter. Here are some grand locations for your next autumn outing…

Woburn Abbey Deer Park (c) His Grace the Duke of Bedford and The Trustees of the Bedford Estates
Woburn Abbey Deer Park (c) His Grace the Duke of Bedford and The Trustees of the Bedford Estates

Woburn Abbey, Bedfordshire

At Woburn Abbey you can stroll through the tranquil Abbey Gardens landscaped by the brilliant Humphry Repton. A walk can take you through approximately 30 acres of serene formal and natural garden environments: from manicured lawns and colourful flower beds, to peaceful woodland glades and ponds teeming with life.

Discover the bog garden, a recent addition with it carnivorous plants, the romance of the Doric Temple which was carefully restored last year and watch the recreation work in progress on the rockery and grotto.

Hatfield House, Hertfordshire

Hatfield House forms the centre-piece of the largest private estate in Hertfordshire, with the woodlands covering an extensive spread across the county.  The woodland ranges from the traditional coppice to areas of conifer broadleaved mixtures. This diverse habitat attracts a rich array of bird, mammal and insect life that you can spot during your stroll.

Holkham Hall, Norfolk

In this grand coastal estate, see the spectacular arboretum with its unusual and rare specimen trees resplendent in their autumn foliage. On 19 October, the estate is running Autumn Tours of the Private Gardens (book in advance, T: 01328 710227).

Chatsworth, Derbyshire

Having evolved over more than 450 years, the 105 acre Chatsworth garden continues to change today. There is plenty to discover at every turn, including the ninth installation of Beyond Limits, Sotheby’s annual exhibition of contemporary sculpture in the garden at Chatsworth (until 26 October). The Kitchen Garden is still producing good crops of plums, pears and apples to harvest.

Castle Howard, Yorkshire

One of the Yorkshire’s finest stately homes – take a stroll through Ray Wood to enjoy the season’s striking autumn colour from the many shrubs and trees, and huge array of ripened fruit and berries. Then make your way to the ornamental kitchen garden – Castle Howard Potager – for the autumn vegetable garden harvest.

All of these locations are part of the Treasure Houses of England group – 10 of the country’s most magnificent palaces, houses and castles. Alongside the places mentioned above, the group also includes Beaulieu, Blenheim Palace, Burghley House, Harewood and Leeds Castle.

For more information, including opening hours and contact details for the locations listed, visit

Autumn Colours - Treasure Houses of England


5 of the best wild swimming spots

From hidden rivers, natural pools and secret coves, guest blogger Daniel Start, author of the best-selling book Wild Swimming, shares his five favourite places for a natural outdoor swim… (and if you like this, don’t forget to enter our competition to win all the books!)

There is something slightly naughty, a little bit scary and wonderfully invigorating about wild swimming. We swim regularly in the Avon just upstream of Bath and often see kingfisher and otter tracks. It always feels a bit renegade stripping off in the meadow and plunging in, while walkers look on somewhat startled.

People have been bathing in rivers for eons. From the holy wells and river baptisms of Celtic Pagan and early Christian times, through to Wordsworth and Coleridge frolicking in Lake District waterfalls, there has always been a strong tradition of wild water swimming in Britain. The health and psychological benefits of dipping in natural waters have also been long known. George Bernard Shaw, Benjamin Britten, Charles Darwin and Florence Nightingale were all advocates of regular cold baths to strengthen the mental constitution and physical state.

Bobbing along with a frog-eye view these are places to commune with nature, seek inspiration, and be humbled by the immensity and wonder of the natural world. They are also a place of fun, adventure and good times. So we invite you lay out the picnic rug, jump on the tree swing and plunge in. Welcome to a fresh world of holiday adventures, romantic escapades and family days out.

Best for… skinny dipping: Sharrah Pool, River Dart, Dartmoor

Sharrah is the largest and best pool on this wild and wonderful river stretch in the forested Dart Valley nature reserve. It’s also the birth place of Charles Kingsley, author of The Water Babies, so no better place to return to your natural state. You might also explore Bellpool Island just downstream, and upstream are the Mel Pools, a range of smaller pools, including a few good chutes if you have an inner tube. Descend to river from Holne and bear left along a good path for 40 mins to find this long narrow pool.

Skinny dipping in Sharrah Pool ©
Skinny dipping in Sharrah Pool ©

Best for… picnics: River Waveney, Bungay, Suffolk

The River Waveney was the favourite river of Roger Deakin, forefather of the wild swimming movement. I love the two miles loop around Outney Common, starting and returning from Bungay. This town is one of Suffolk’s most independent little places, with quirky cafes, food stores and craft shops, so it’s the perfect place to stock-up on picnic supplies. It even has its own river meadows at the bottom of Bridge Street, perfect for a picnic and quick dip if you don’t fancy the walk. There’s also a riverside campsite with canoe hire (, T: 01986 892338).

River Waveney (by Daniel Start)
River Waveney (by Daniel Start)

Best for… canoes/boats: Anchor Inn, River Ouse, Sussex

This remote riverside pub, down a dead end lane, is in a bucolic position on the River Ouse. They have a fleet of rowing boats available for hire and you can swim and boat for up to two miles upstream through fields as far as Isfield. Continue to Barcombe village, turn right then right again, (Anchor Inn, BN8 5BS, T: 01273 400414) or walk upstream a mile from Barcombe Mills, another popular swimming spot.

canoeing on River Ouse, Sussex (c)
canoeing on River Ouse, Sussex (c)

Best for… pubs: Galleny Force, Stonethwaite, Lake District

Two sets of pools and cascades, with grassy knolls and ancient rowan trees. Fun for plunging, snorkelling and picnics. Upstream is Blackmoss Pot a brilliant place for jumps. But the best bit is the wonderful Langstrath Country Inn (CA12 5XG, T: 01768 7 77239) where you can warm up with an open fire and superb food. They even have rooms with white linen sheets, what could be more luxurious after a hard days wild swimming?

Galleny Force, Lake District (by Daniel Start)
Galleny Force, Lake District (by Daniel Start)

Best for… jumping: Faerie Pools, Glen Brittle, Isle of Skye, Scotland

The famous ‘Allt Coir a Mhadaidh’ pools and waterfalls are tinged with jade hues from the volcanic gabbro rocks. The mystical peaks of the Black Cuillin mountains tower over and they are embued with legend and fairy tales. You can swim through the underwater arch between pools and there’s also a high jump into one. The water is so clear you sometimes think there is no water at all, so you better double check first! From Sligachan Hotel (A87) follow A863 / B8009 and turn left (signed Glen Brittle) just before Carbost. After four miles find ‘Fairy Pool’ car park on your left.

Faeire Pools, Isle of Skye (by Daniel Start)
Faeire Pools, Isle of Skye (by Daniel Start)

*WIN the full set of Wild Swimming books*

If that’s whetted your appetite for some outdoor adventures (or if you just like browsing through beautiful books while cosying up indoors!) don’t forget to enter our fantastic competition to win the full set of Wild Things books, worth almost £150. You have until 5pm on 6 October 2014 to be in with a chance of winning nine inspiring books including Wild Swimming (UK, France and Italy editions), Hidden Beaches, Wild Running, Lost Lanes and more – See full details and how to enter

5 wild books

Competition time! Win a set of Wild Things books

Do you love taking a dip in Britain’s lakes and secret coves? Running the fells or cycling along hidden country lanes?

We love refreshing ways to enjoy the wild outdoors which is why we’ve teamed up with one of our favourite book people Wild Things Publishing – the people behind the best-seller Wild Swimming – to offer you the chance to win a full set of their brilliant series, worth almost £150!

5 wild books

Wild Things Publishing have created a series of inspirational books and apps to get people back in the wild, exploring the outdoors, experiencing nature and having amazing adventures. The authors write about and photograph their own experiences, spending their summers outside exploring new places to share and their winters writing it all up to produce beautiful books. Their inspiring and beautiful books are a celebration of the simple pleasures in life and will be just what you need to start your own special adventures!

One lucky winner will receive the entire set of nine Wild Things books:

  • Wild Swimming (UK guide) – by Daniel Start
  • Wild Swimming: France – by Daniel Start
  • Wild Swimming: Italy – by Michele Tameni
  • Wild Running – by Jen and Sim Benson
  • Wild Swimming: Hidden Beaches by Daniel Start
  • Wild Guide to the South West by Daniel Start, Joanna Tinsley, Tania Pascoe
  • Lost Lanes – by Jack Thurston (hidden bike rides off the beaten track)
  • France en Velo – by Hannah Reynolds and John Walsh (a journey across France by bike)
  • Only Planet – by Ed Gillespie (one man’s amazing global adventure by all kinds of transport except flying)


How to enter

To enter, simply sign-up to the brilliant e-newsletters from both Goodtrippers and Wild Things. Click here to enter the competition and subscribe on the Wild Things website before 5pm (BST) on 6 October 2014 to be eligible. All new email subscribers on the list by the closing date will be entered into the draw with one winner chosen at random. If you already subscribe to the Goodtrippers newsletter, you can still enter the competition by signing-up to the Wild Things newsletter on their website. (See full terms and conditions below)

Good luck!

Wild Things new books 2014

Terms & Conditions:

  • Eligibility requires subscription to both the Goodtrippers and Wild Things e-newsletter
  • All sign-ups must include a valid email address
  • One entry per person
  • The winner will receive the full series of printed books from Wild Things publishing
  • No cash alternative is available
  • This competition closes on 6th October 2014 and the winner will be notified by email within 10 days
  • If we do not hear back within a week we reserve the right to choose an alternative winner
  • Your email address will not be shared with any third parties unless express permission is given

GT + Wild Things logos

A log cabin retreat in Fort William, Scotland

Don’t let the rustic exterior of this private log cabin fool you – it hides a contemporary interior complete with state-of-the-art facilities…

Self-catering cottage Acorn Lodge, a bespoke log cabin located on its own site near Fort William, provides a special base for outdoor types wishing to explore the stunning surroundings of the Western Highlands (you’re two miles from Ben Nevis, 16 miles from Glencoe). Created using local timber, you can’t help but feel a sense of adventure when you access the eco-friendly lodge via its own wooden walkway and bridge over the river.


The lodge is open-plan and all on one floor. The two bedrooms – one double (with a handmade wooden kingsize bed), one with bunkbeds – each have their own external door so guests can come and go as they please. A large balcony allows you to enjoy the stunning natural scenery. A wet room includes a state-of-the-art sauna complete with a CD player and surround-sound!

For winter stays, you can feel cosy thanks to the underfloor heating. You can also expect the usual amenities of a self-catering cottage – kitchen with cooker, washing machine and dishwasher; plus TV and stereo for when you’re not out and about climbing a mountain or two!

Around Fort William

A short 5-min walk from Acorn Lodge and you’re in the small town of Fort William with plenty of shops, pubs and restaurants. The area attracts climbers, hikers and other outdoorsy types so you won’t be stuck for tour operators offering plenty of ways to explore this area around Loch Linnhe. And don’t worry if mountaineering isn’t your thing – you can always discover other Scottish delights such as a tour of the Ben Nevis Whiskey Distillary (hic!).

Recommended for… Hikers, climbers and those who can’t get enough of the stunning Scottish scenery

Be aware that… You can park your car at Acorn Lodge but there is then a short walk over the walkway and bridge to reach the cabin.

For more information, prices, availability and booking, visit Sykes Cottages at


Sponsored video: How to enjoy the great outdoors in Austria

There’s more to Austria than skiing in the Alps. During spring and summer, the fresh air and natural open spaces make this country a great destination for nature lovers and fans of the great outdoors. It’s also a country that is well-ahead of the curve in terms of offering sustainable, eco-friendly options for tourists. Here are Goodtrippers’ tips on enjoying Austria the natural way this summer…

The great outdoors of Austria
The great outdoors of Austria

Go hiking – Think of Austria and thoughts of mountainous Alpine landscapes are never far away. But there’s more to enjoy than your own ‘Sound of Music’ moment (can you resist running up that grassy hillside?) – there are dozens of mountain trails to suit novices and experienced hikers. Visit the region of Bartholomäberg for beautiful flora and fauna, and stunning panoramic views.

Get on your bike – Austria is well-equipped for those on two wheels with a huge choice of clearly-marked routes for easy cycle rides to more challenging mountain bike outings. Many hotels and lodges welcome cyclists and even offer cycle sheds or full service repairs if you come unstuck. And if you’re not so confident in your fitness levels, try an E-Bike – available for hire across Austria these modified battery-powered bikes make light work of uphill rides!

Visit the National Parks – This is where you can really breathe in that unpolluted, fresh Austrian air! Kalkalpern National Park is home to Austria’s largest uninterrupted forest and is home to canyons, waterfalls and lakes. Hohe Tauern National Park contains over 100 peaks of over 3,000m high where you can hike and go gold panning. Gesäuse National Park is the natural habitat of 90 species of breeding birds, marmots, chamois and deer plus around 50 different types of wild orchid. National Park Thayatal offers meadows, cliffs and wooded hillsides that are home to rare animal and plant species including the eagle owl, black stork and coloured iris.

Explore the Danube – One of the world’s most famous rivers winds through Austria and is the scene of many relaxing day trips whether by boat, by bike or on foot. The history of central Europe was born on the banks of the Danube and so you’ll find a fascinating mix of monasteries, castles and palaces in the area. The UNESCO World Heritage Site of Wachau beside the Danube is a beautiful, pastoral site dotted with medieval villages. A cycling holiday along the Danube Cycle Path in upper Austria will take you from Linz to capital city Vienna.

If that has inspired you, take a look at some of the stunning scenery and outdoor pursuits to enjoy in Austria in this video…

For more information on holidays in Austria, visit

This post is sponsored by Werbung Österreich but all words are Goodtrippers’ own.