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.
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.)
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.
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!
Come rain or shine, don’t spend the May Day bank holiday catching up on boxsets or doing DIY. We’ve found five intriguing things to do over the long weekend…
Learn how to forage
Our woods, fields and hedgerows are a full-on tasting menu ready to be eaten! This one-day foraging course in Denbighshire, North Wales (plenty of others around the UK too) is run by professional foragers who will help you identify wild food including plants and fungi that you can (and can’t) eat, where to find tasty morsels in surprising places, prepping your finds and cooking up some inventive dishes. Fish and game preparation is also covered, with an alternative option for vegetarians/vegans.
At Birdling Gap and the Seven Sisters near Eastbourne, East Sussex, archeologists are exploring the site of the Crowlink coastguard station, established in the nineteenth century. The area was a favourite with smugglers and this dig is attempting to determine how the site was previously used. It’s a National Trust site so visitors (including dogs on leads and children) are welcome to come down for free and take a look.
Little Venice in London will be awash with bunting and boats this bank holiday for the annual Canalway Cavalcade organised by the Inland Waterways Association. Enjoy the festival’s spectacle of pretty narrowboats along the canal, plus the real ale bar, morris dancing (it is May Day afterall!), little shops and tasty food stalls. We also love the sound of the illuminated night-time boat procession from 9.30pm to 10pm. The event is totally free.
When: 2nd – 4th May 2015
Booking/info: No booking required but visit the festival website for full details or follow on Twitter and Instagram @canalcavalcade
Improve your photography skills
This one-day workshop on Landscape and Wildlife Photography is ideal for beginners and those looking to improve their basic skills. Run by expert Mike Allen of the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust, the course will take you through the technical aspects of your camera, through to composition and editing. You’ll be out and about doing practical work and enjoying the beautiful Twyford water meadows.
The UK is pretty good at museums! From the world famous attractions in London, to some of the smallest (and oddest) museums you’ve never heard of – think of a topic and there’s probably a museum dedicated to it somewhere on these isles! We like the Shell Museum in Glandford, North Norfolk, a genuinely intriguing and cute museum housed in a converted chapel full of curiosities and amazing artefacts. But there’s also the Pencil Museum in the Lake District, the Museum of Witchcraft in Boscastle, Cornwall, and museums dedicated to prams, locks and even dog collars (thanks to this Telegraph picture gallery!).
When: Smaller museums are often run only by volunteers so have limited opening times. Always check their website for full details (and don’t forget to support them by supplementing your entry fee with a donation!).
The Gower, Snowdonia National Park, the Brecon Beacons and The Lonely Tree have all made the top ten of ‘Special Places’ in a National Trust Wales poll.
The national competition has seen the public debate and champion the places that mean the most to them. For eight weeks celebrities, politicians, schoolchildren and the general public have been involved in a national conversation and voting in their thousands for their ‘Special Place’ in Wales, part of a major campaign by the National Trust Wales to find the country’s most treasured places.
Penarth Pier, the restored Art Deco pier pavillion, won the conveted top spot but several natural, green spaces made the top ten list. The Powys landmark ‘The Lonely Tree’, an iconic Scots Pine that has surveyed the Llanfyllin landscape for at least 150 years was voted in third – according to local tradition, anyone walking up Green Hall Hill should visit the tree and give it a hug! A recent storm sadly blew the tree down but a special protection programme is now in place to restore the tree and protect it for years to come.
The beautiful bays and beaches of Mwnt and The Gower secured both coastal places a top five place with the walled seaside town of Tenby in eighth place. The stunning mountainous landscapes of Snowdonia National Park and the Brecon Beacons also appealed and made numbers seven and nine respectively.
National Trust Wales’ ‘Special Places’ Top 10:
The Lonely Tree
Dyffryn House and Gardens
Snowdonia National Park
The campaign kicked off in May with celebrities including Julien MacDonald, Matt Johnson, Alex Johnson, Matthew Rhys, Sophie Evans, Wynne Evans and Bryn Terfel getting behind their favourite landmarks and encouraging the public to vote.
TV presenter Alex Jones, who chose the Brecon Beacons as her favourite place, said, “I think the landscape we are lucky enough to have in Wales is what makes places in Wales so special to us, it’s so breathtaking and diverse. We have great coastal areas and some beautiful mountainous parts in the north. It has everything wrapped up in the perfect small parcel!”
Launched following research by the conservation charity which showed that 67 per cent of the Welsh public consider the National Trust as the main trusted protector of Special Places throughout the country, the campaign has aimed to uncover Wales’ most treasured space and award them with support by the Trust and other partners in the coming year – whether this be help with local fundraising, a celebratory event or support to help preserve it for everyone to enjoy.
Research has shown that childhood memories from places where we grew up (44 per cent) is what makes a place truly special. The National Trust campaign has encouraged the public to get behind their own place and celebrate them, from castles to coastlines and countryside.
Summer is finally on the horizon and what better way to spend the free time on this island nation than beside the seaside.
Britain’s coastline is almost 18,000km long dotted with thousands of beaches – and not all littered with amusement arcades, funfairs and fast-food cafes. The country is blessed with a wealth of rugged, wild, secluded or simply tranquil beaches up and down the country – perfect spots for swimmers, walkers, wildlife lovers or those just looking to escape the crowds.
So whether you’re looking for campsites or hotels by the sea, here are just a small selection of Britain’s best ‘wild’ beaches (this is just a few to start you off – if you’ve got a favourite wild/quiet/secluded beach, share it with us!).
Holkham Bay, Norfolk
When the tide is out, this beach looks like it goes on for miles. Surrounding by pine forest and shaped by sand dunes, this expansive beach is the perfect place to take a picnic, lie back in the sea breeze and get lost in the huge Norfolk skies. As a National Trust protected area, you really are in a secluded spot free from tourist traps (the nearest place for a cup of tea will be the small van in the car park, or the fancy Victoria Hotel outside the entrance – which is a long walk from the beach itself!).
Beer Beach, Devon
A bit busier than Holkham, this pebble beach in the little fishing village of Beer has popular beach cafes, deckchairs and walkways. If you’re up for a walk, take the South West Coast Path west to Branscombe beach and enjoy the beautiful views from Beer Head.
The village of Sandsend is quieter than its neighbour Whitby, and arguably prettier. Attracting walkers for its clifftop rambles along an old railway track (part of the Cleveland Way), you can drink in the views of the village and out across to St Mary’s Church in Whitby. Down on the mainly sandy beach, you can while away the time exploring the rock pools before getting a cream tea in one of the beach front cafes.
Achmelvich Bay, Highland
Achmelvich is really a cluster of remote and rugged beaches three miles long stretching from Loch Inver on the west coast of Scotland. It has been awarded a blue flag for 13 consecutive years, as well as being recommended by the Marine Conservation Society and winner of a Green Coast Award.
Marloes Sands, Pembrokeshire
This National Trust managed Welsh beach is full of stunning geology (sandstone cliffs, volcanic rock and fossils), evidence of ancient people (and Iron Age fort overlooks the beach), and wildlife (this birdwatchers’ paradise also attracts seals). Lots of sand, space and safe swimming make this an attractive location to spend an afternoon as you gaze out to sea at the outlying islands and beyond.
Do you have a favourite wild, remote, secluded or quiet beach in Britain? Let us know in the comments below…