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15 Jun 2020

What to expect when visiting our places this summer

A waterfall tumbles down a lush green hillside on a sunny day.
Grey Mare’s Tail
Over the summer we’re looking forward to welcoming you back to as many of our properties as possible after the long lockdown.

As we all know, there is still a threat from COVID-19 and that means we’ve had to make some changes so that we can keep you and our staff safe. Although we’re sure you’ll enjoy your visits to the fabulous places we care for, things will be a bit different for the foreseeable future.

Here are a few hints and tips as well as a guide to what you can expect.

Which places are open? 

In June, we started re-opening car parks and access routes into countryside properties such as St Abb’s Head NNR, Ben Lawers NNR, Grey Mare’s Tail, Kintail and Killiecrankie.

Over July and August, we hope to open as many of our gardens, enclosed grounds, country parks, historic buildings, visitor centres and holiday cottages as we can.

Please check ahead on our website property pages to make sure the property you want to visit is open and which facilities are available during your visit. Our stories about our reopening plans and our gardens and grounds reopening give a helpful overview of which places will open at various stages.

Before you travel

Do you or anyone in your household have any of the following symptoms?

  • A NEW PERSISTENT COUGH
  • FEVER
  • SHORTNESS OF BREATH
  • LOSS OF SMELL OR TASTE

If the answer is YES, please do not travel and, for the sake of others, stay at home for at least 14 days until all symptoms have passed.

We also recommend bringing your own hand sanitiser with you to carry around the property, in case you need to touch parking meters, gates or stiles.

Trees are reflected in the clear water at Killiecrankie on a sunny day.
Killiecrankie

When you arrive

General safety advice

  • Once at the property, please look out for signage and follow any directions given by our staff.
  • Please allow more time for your visit – because of arrangements in place to ensure physical distancing, it may take you a little longer to get around the property.
  • Stay at least 2 metres (6 feet) away from other visitors and staff.
  • Look out for any ground or floor markings to help you maintain a safe distance.
  • If hand sanitiser or soap is provided, please use it.
  • Wherever possible, please take your litter home with you for disposal.
  • Our cleaning teams will be working very hard to keep you safe.

Parking

Wherever we can, we will maintain capacity in our car parks so people can park safely. To maintain social distancing, you might need to wait a few minutes when you arrive before you get out and get your things together. To make sure that people are physically distanced, we may have to restrict entry to car parks from time to time to avoid overcrowding. That could mean us suspending use of some parking bays or closing the car park or the property as a whole altogether, to give time for enough visitors to leave so that we can let you in.

If that does happen, please be patient and respectful towards our staff as they’re only trying to keep everyone safe.

Once you have parked, please look out for the safety signage.

For non-members who’ll have to pay for parking, we’ll try and convert as many of our payment meters to contactless as we can. If that’s not possible, after parking please use spray sanitiser for visitors provided at the property entrance. It’s always best to bring your own hand sanitiser with you, in case none is available at property you’re visiting, especially if it’s unstaffed.

During your visit

Toilets

Most toilet facilities are fairly restricted in space, which means we might have to introduce managed queues to ensure physical distancing. Please don’t wait until the very last second before you decide to spend a penny!

We’ll be providing hand sanitiser at the entrance to toilets and we may close off some cubicles and urinals to avoid overcrowding.

We’ll also be switching off hand-dryers as a precaution and will provide paper towels instead.

Please note that toilets will not be reopening at all our properties – please check ahead on properties’ individual web pages to find out what facilities are available.

Visitor reception areas

You may have to queue here so that we can keep everyone 2 metres apart. We’ll have one-way systems in place. There’ll also be hand sanitiser to use.

All our payment machines will allow contactless payments but will also be fitted with a clear plastic cover over the push-buttons that can be cleaned and replaced regularly.

Also, don’t be surprised if something has come between you and our friendly staff – namely a clear plastic screen!

Gardens

In some properties, as some garden paths are too narrow to allow social distancing, we may have to close off certain areas and also introduce a one-way system. This may involve ‘passing places’ that slower walkers can move into to let speedier visitors get past safely.

Whether or not the garden you visit has these arrangements in place, please maintain a 2-metre distance from other visitors. 

Some facilities may be closed for safety reasons – for example, greenhouses with fan ventilation.

Garden tours will be conducted at some places but everyone must stay 2 metres apart. The tour guide is likely to be wearing a face mask but the talks will be as fascinating as before!

Interiors of historic buildings and visitor centres

The configuration of some buildings makes 2-metre distancing very difficult –that’s one of the reasons why we’ve deferred the opening of a number of our properties for the time being.

Those that are open may be subject to (you’ve guessed it) physically distanced queues and one-way systems between rooms and exhibition spaces.

Where guided tours are provided, people must stay 2 metres apart, and tour guides will be wearing masks.

Hand sanitiser will be provided. Staff will be cleaning audio-guide machines between uses, where we can offer them.

Those properties that permit ‘free flow’ visits may put in place a system to restrict visitor numbers at any one time, for example ‘two-in, two-out’.

Countryside estates and parkland

Some properties will be keeping strict controls on visitor numbers, which may mean a strict ‘two-in, two-out’ policy being put in place. Please help us by abiding by that and please don’t blame our staff if you’re kept waiting for a little while – they’re only trying to keep you safe.

Look for signage about staying safe, physical distancing and washing hands with sanitiser.

Where there are narrow paths, we may have to introduce one-way systems and ‘passing places’ to allow visitors to get by one another safely.

We may also have to create additional paths if they are needed, so layouts may be a bit different from your last visit.

The wild nature of our countryside properties is something we want to protect and preserve, so you won’t necessarily find any signage beyond the car park – so please take care and make sure you keep a distance of at least 2 metres from anyone else you happen to meet while enjoying the upland paths and landscapes we maintain.

If you’re bringing a picnic, please take all your litter home with you.

A view from raised ground, looking across a blue loch to towering mountains. Clouds scuff the peaks on an otherwise clear day.
Torridon

Play parks 

We may not be opening all of our play parks immediately – it’s worth phoning ahead or checking the property page on our website before you travel. 

There may be signage giving guidance about playing safely. We may need to limit numbers in play parks to avoid overcrowding, which means we may have to restrict entry from time to time

Parents may be required to accompany children into the play area and will be counted in the overall numbers.

There may need to be queues and one-way systems set up for particularly popular sites and pieces of play equipment. 

Cafés and catering services 

We’ll be delighted to offer you a selection of takeaway refreshments as best we can – and if Scottish Government advice allows, we’ll reopen outdoor and indoor seated areas. 

There will be physically distanced queues (inevitably) with spacing of 2 metres – look out for floor markings and signage. 

Hand sanitiser will be available. Payments can be made contactlessly or by using machines that are protected with plastic and regularly cleaned. 

We’ll have intensive cleaning regimes to make sure counters, tables and chairs are spotless. 

Tables and chairs will be spaced apart to allow for social distancing and clear routes. 

Shops

We plan to offer you the same kinds of high quality products, gifts and souvenirs as we always have – and every penny we make from them goes back into conserving our properties. 

Similar to the systems you’ve probably seen at supermarkets lately, we’ll have one-way queues in place, and possibly guidance provided through floor markings. 

Hand sanitiser will be available at the entrance/exit to the shop. 

Please keep handling of products on shelves to a minimum. 

Payment can be made contactlessly or by using machines that are protected with plastic and regularly cleaned. 

If you’d like to browse some of our ranges from the comfort of your home, check out our excellent online shop!

Holiday accommodation

Once the restrictions are relaxed, staycations are probably going to be the choice for many of us. We’ll be delighted to welcome you back to our holiday accommodation in impressive and beautiful settings all across Scotland.

To make a booking, see our holiday accommodation pages.

We’ll be doing all we can to ensure that you have a safe, enjoyable stay.

You may find that we’ve removed some items of ornament or furniture to minimise the chance of lurking viruses.

Emergency Appeal

We need your help, more than ever. Please help us protect Scotland’s heritage. 

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