Lead image: Morden Hall Park, Morden (photo: Andrew Butler for National Trust)
UPDATE (21 March): Sadly, due to overwhelming visitor numbers, the National Trust has had to reverse this decision and close its gardens.
National Trust director general Hilary McGrady said: ‘Having observed the numbers visiting our properties today I am no longer convinced we can maintain social distancing over Mother’s Day when numbers are likely to grow, and beyond.
‘We have now sadly taken the decision to close all of our parks and gardens, in addition to our houses, shops and cafes, to avoid crowding that puts social distancing at risk.’
While coronavirus is impacting us all, and Easter plans may be scuppered for many families, the National Trust has vowed to keep as many gardens and parks open as possible during the crisis so that the country can ‘relax’.
‘We’re aiming to open many of our gardens and parks for free during this difficult time, so the nation can use open spaces to relax and refresh, while following the government’s social distancing guidance,’ the trust said in statement on Twitter.
We’re aiming to open many of our gardens and parks for free during this difficult time, so the nation can use open spaces to relax and refresh, while following the government’s social distancing guidance. We will be closing our houses, cafés and shops this week. pic.twitter.com/ETY1oEo8VZ
— National Trust (@nationaltrust) March 17, 2020
‘The National Trust was founded 125 years ago for the benefit of the entire nation,’ said McGrady.
‘We want to honour our mission – to enable people and nature to thrive.
‘Over the coming weeks we will do all that we can to keep on providing public benefit through caring for places and giving people access wherever possible.
‘We want to honour our mission – to enable people and nature to thrive’
‘While we will close our indoor areas to help fight the spread of coronavirus, we recognise that people are likely to need access to open space.’
With many of us spending most of our time at home over the next few weeks, getting out for a breath of fresh air is going to be more important than ever.
Of course, follow government guidelines and stay at least two meters away from others to avoid contracting the virus. And while it may be difficult no to embrace friends and relatives, at least we can all get out and smell the spring blooms.
It’s time to fall in love with nature and our ‘green and pleasant land’ once more.