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Preservng the country for future generations
Member Name: Bristolboy
Date: 11/07/08, updated on 12/07/08 (103 review reads)
Advantages: If sufficient sites are visited to make membership worthwhile it is good value for money.
Disadvantages: Can be expensive and sites are often very remote.
The National Trust is an organisation which aims to preserve areas of the UK which are of national importance fo future generations. These areas can be anything from areas of stunning scenery, right through to the childhood homes of The Beatles. The properties are acquired through a variety of means, the most popular being either being given the site by the previous owner, most likely on their death, or by purchasing the site. Once the Trust take over a property, it can only be sold once again if parliament agrees to it, meaning that generally the properties will be held in perpetualility for the nation. Funding comes from a variety of sources, by entrance fees to individual properties, membership fees, which gives a holder free entry to all National Trust properties for a given period of time (usually a year) and commercial activities such as restaurant sales and room/property hire.
As has already been mentioned the National Trust has sites all over the country. It would be impossible to give a view of all of these sites, so instead I am going to concentrate on one or two which I am familiar with, and hopefully my experiences of these properties will give an basic impression of how the organisation runs all of it's properties.
The first property I am very familiar with is the property of Mwnt in West Wales, just north of Cardigan. This property consists predominately of a small sheltered beach and the surrounding coast. Access to the site itself is free, however the National trust do run a car-park which they charge non-members to park in.
As has already been said there is a very sheltered beach, with some of the best sand I have found in the British Isles. The beach is a long way below the level of the cliff top and car-park, and so there is a considerable number of steps. However approximately half way down there is a small shop which sells beach goods and various foodstuffs. I can partciaulrly recommend the sausage rolls, on my last visit there they were some of the best I have ever tasted. Adjacent to the shop there is a small toilet block and similar facilities. Down at beach level there is a small stream, with children have fun trying to block off and divert. Whilst playing in the sea is never without risks, as the beach is sheltered by a large headland, and Mwnt beach itself is very small, it is safer than many other beaches in the UK, although when I last visited there were no lifeguard facilities.
Surrounding the beach there are large cliff areas which are popular with walkers, and a very small church which dates back many centuries. On many occasions I have seen dolphins jumping out in the sea from the cliff top. Another interesting thing of note is Mwnt was the site of one of the last military invasions of the British Isles, by the Flemings.
Tyntesfield House and the surrounding gardens are a National Trust property which were bought relatively recently after there was a national appeal for funds. Situated south of Bristol, it is one of the most visited National Trust properties, this despite the site is still relatively difficult to visit. Whilst I believe the sitaution has now changed, when I first visited, a booking had to be made in advance. It wasn't possible to travel directly to the site, and instead there was a need to get a shuttle bus from a local supermarket car park. The site itself was undergoing a lot of restoration when I visited and so large areas were closed off to the public, however this may have changed. One thing that I did like was the fact that due to it being a new property the work was ongoing, and so the house didn't feel like a typical old stately home that had been opened to the public with a set path and ropes, with all the items in glass cases.
By being a member their is free access to all National Trsut properties, as well as a book which gives a brief outline of every property and a subscription to the magazine service. It is possible to sign up for membership when leaving a property which has been visited, if this is done the National Trust will refund the cost of visiting that property. They often have special deals whereby if you sign up there and then you can get 3 months free or a reduction on the membership cost. This is what I did, and so the from memory the cost for me was about £15, but I qualify for a young person's card and so get it cheaper. However by looking on the National Trsut site now it is possible to get an anuual adult's membership for £34.50 and family membership for £61.50 (two adults and children). There are also many other deals which can be found on the National Trust website.
Overall I have been rather impressed with the National Trust, and would advise anyone who likes to visit such sites to do so, and if sufficient sites would be visited to make membership pay I would urge you to join.
Summary: Would recommend it such properties are the sort of thing which you are interested in.
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