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Breath of fresh air: National Trust taking bookings as NI outdoor sites reopen gates

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Reopening: Castle Ward, Co Down

Reopening: Castle Ward, Co Down

Reopening: Castle Ward, Co Down

There's a breath of fresh air coming for activity-starved families as the National Trust begins reopening its gardens and parklands in Northern Ireland next week.

The charity said bookings will be taken from tomorrow, with the sites open from June 3 to only those who have booked in advance.

The sites opening are:

  • Castle Coole, Co Fermanagh;
  • Castle Ward, Co Down;
  • Downhill Demesne and Hezlett House, Co Londonderry;
  • Florence Court, Co Fermanagh;
  • Mount Stewart, Co Down;
  • Portstewart Strand, Co Londonderry;
  • Rowallane Garden, Co Down;
  • The Argory, Co Armagh.

The announcement comes after the Executive permitted the reopening of outdoor spaces as part of step one in its Pathway to Recovery Plan.

Over the coming weeks more places will begin reopening. People will be able to book their tickets in advance on property websites. They will be free for trust members, and other visitors will pay an admission fee.

However, all the trust's houses, shops, holiday cottages and campsites remain closed in line with Government guidelines.

The charity will begin to reopen gardens and open spaces where social distancing can be observed and will open to around a third of their normal capacity at any one time. Visitors arriving at reopening properties by car will be asked to show pre-booked tickets through their vehicle window before parking.

Those arriving on foot will have bookings checked by a small team of staff who will adhere to social distancing.

Most of the trust's countryside and coastal car parks are now open, but car parks with a risk of high demand may need to be closed, and parking on Portstewart Strand must be booked in advance.

The booking system will be available on the individual web pages of the properties via www.nationaltrust.org.uk.

Belfast Telegraph