From harvesting apples and making cider to dry stone walling in Northumberland, the National Trust has more than 280 working holidays that provide the opportunity to get outdoors, have fun and play a part in conserving the nation’s heritage.
With prices starting from just £75 including all food and accommodation, there are weekend breaks or week long holidays available across England, Wales and Northern Ireland. Plus for the first time a small selection of overseas holidays are now available.
“National Trust working holidays, which celebrate their 45 anniversary this year, not only ensure that the National Trust’s special places remain open, relevant and accessible, but they also provide amazing opportunities to get onto the land, to learn new skills, to meet new people and to engage with nature and the historic places cared for by the Trust,” said a spokesman.
So whether you’re a budding Indiana Jones hoping to dig up history, a green fingered enthusiast in search of a gardening challenge, a lover of the great outdoors or simply looking for a new way to spend time as a family, the National Trust’s working holidays are full of activities and experiences to tempt all ages and backgrounds.
Here’s just a few of the great experiences on offer in 2012:
- Dry stone Hadrian’s’ walling, Hadrian’s Wall, Northumberland
Follow in the footsteps of the Romans as you rebuild a dry stone wall along the line of Hadrian’s Wall. Under the careful watch of an archaeologist you will dismantle the dilapidated wall, sort the stone and then rebuild the section with an experienced tutor on hand to teach you walling techniques.
June 2012, seven nights, £145.
- Fix the fells and wild camping, High Wray, Cumbria
Would you like to be on the Lake District fells when everyone has gone home? This working holiday takes place in a remote mountain area, in a wild camp. As part of the ‘Fix the Fells’ partnership you will be working with experienced National Trust staff and you will learn traditional skills to help combat erosion along well-trodden paths.
You will need a high level of fitness to carry your camping equipment over rough and steep terrain to the work site and to be prepared for unpredictable weather conditions. Only natural facilities will be available on site. Camping will be for three nights and for the remaining nights you will be based at High Wray Basecamp.
June and August 2012, seven nights, £145.
- Bike and Build, North Yorkshire
Come and help with essential conservation activities in the glorious Dales countryside. Tasks may include footpath building, fencing or tree guard construction. Bring your mountain bike along and the team will take you for an adventurous ride on the tracks of the high fells, surrounded by far reaching views.
May 2012, four nights, £105.
- Plant a Parterre, Waddesdon Manor, Buckinghamshire
Waddesdon Manor has one of the finest bedding displays in the UK and it is at this time of year that they replace the old with the new, transforming the Parterre in just a few days with thousands of bedding plants. This is gardening on a grand scale but there’s plenty of time to enjoy Waddesdon’s history too with a Manor tour and a well deserved cream tea.
May 2012, seven nights, £145.
- Camera, Action, Snowdonia
Enjoy the beautiful Snowdonia landscape on this holiday as you carry out a range of conservation tasks including two days’ tree planting while learning to capture it all on camera. Led by a professional photographer you’ll learn new skills or improve existing ones to capture that perfect image. You’ll practice a variety of techniques as you look at the importance of lighting, environment and composition.
February 2012, seven nights, 280-£295.
- Revitalising the gardens at Mount Stewart, Mount Stewart, Co. Down
The gardens at Mount Stewart are feeling their age. Developed from an 18th century designed landscape, modified in the mid-Victorian era and finally elaborated by Lady Londonderry in the 1920s, many of the basic structural elements are in need of renewal.
Come along and help with the garden rediscovery digging beds and boarders for new planting, removing scrub and ivy, cleaning stone surfaces and statuary of moss so once again visitors will be delighted by the gardens of Mount Stewart.
June and October 2012, seven nights, £145.
- Archaeological dig and formal gardening, Clumber Park, Lincolnshire
Be part of an archaeological dig to uncover and restore part of an eighteenth century Ha-Ha and also help the archaeologist monitor other sites on the estate. Away from the Ha-Ha help the gardeners look after fourteen hectares of formal gardens and get stuck in with various gardening tasks including pruning trees, cleaning statues and weeding.
July 2012, four nights, £105.
- Family Conservation Challenge, Stackpole, Pembrokeshire
An action packed working holiday for the whole family. This is a great opportunity to bike ride to the local woodland Scrubby Bottoms and take part in conservation tasks whilst having a camp fire. You will then be taking part in other conservation tasks on the beautiful Stackpole estate and ending the week cleaning the famous Freshwater West beach where Harry Potter was filmed. So if your family likes to be active, then get involved.
August 2012, three nights, £485 (price per family, maximum four people).
- Farming today, West Cornwall
Spend a week with the tenant and ranger team getting behind the scenes of Chyvarloe Farm, a mixed livestock and arable holding where quality food production and conservation are working hand in hand. Enjoy hands on experience in all aspects of stock management of cattle, pigs, sheep, chickens and even Emus. Help with some practical tasks too around the farm including gate-hanging and fencing. This is a great chance to get involved and learn about all aspects of farming.
September 2012, seven nights, £145
- Autumn harvest, Attingham Park, Shropshire
Come and give the team at Attingham a helping hand with their autumn harvest. There will be apples as well as vegetables needing to be picked, stored and in some cases juiced or preserved. It’s not just about harvest though, you will also take part in tasks such as weeding, sowing green manures and giving the greenhouses a good clear out in preparation for sowing some tasty winter salads.
September 2012, four nights, £105.
- Surfing and footpath repairs, Exmoor, Devon
Alongside helping to repair the coastal footpaths and enjoying the fantastic views you will spend two days learning to surf with the help of a professional surf instructor. All instructions, wetsuit hire and surf boards will be included so all you have to do is bring yourself.
September 2012, seven nights, £255.
- Cider making, Killerton Estate, Devon
Spend a week harvesting over 50 different varieties of apple from the traditionally managed orchards and help create the South West’s most favourite beverage, cider. Using the early nineteenth century press, see the process from tree to juice. Cider making is very rewarding and interesting, particularly when there’s the opportunity to sample last years batch.
October 2012, seven nights, £145.
- Deck the Halls, Christmas Crafts, Killerton Estate, Devon
Help the staff at this Georgian mansion to prepare for Christmas. Part of the week will be spent working outside with the wardens gathering the raw materials to use as Christmas decorations. You can then use the foliage you have collected to decorate the stable block and house in a traditional style. There will be an opportunity to make a Christmas wreath to take home and to witness visitors enjoying the decorations when the house opens for Christmas.
November/December 2012, seven nights, £145.
Most holidays are based in a Trust basecamp: large, comfortable, basic self-catering accommodation for groups. A few of the holidays spend some nights under canvas or have higher grade facilities.
The facilities are simple but the locations are utterly fantastic. Dormitories and toilet/washing facilities are usually split between males and females. Cooking and cleaning are organised and shared out, with everyone taking part.
For more ideas and to book your holiday visit www.nationaltrust.org.uk/workingholidays or call 0844 8003099.
In collaboration with National Trust sister organisations in other countries, and in the sprit of shared support and interest, the Trust is also able to advertise a small collection of overseas working holidays.
Holidaymakers will be able to discover the equivalents of the National Trust in France, Canada and Slovakia this year, and enjoy new experiences with some great volunteering opportunities. Find out more at www.nationaltrust.org.uk/