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Working holidays

If you’re passionate about conservation, getting outdoors, or simply enjoy getting your hands dirty – you could make a real difference to Scotland’s natural heritage.

Thank you for visiting our working holiday webpage, we are currently developing a new programme of residential camp experiences for young people and adults, which means that we will be limited to what can be offered to participants during 2021. Our application process for all residential conservation volunteering camps is also being refreshed so to allow us to do that we will not be accepting any applications until our new systems are introduced.

What are working holidays?

A working holiday may sound like an odd idea, but you’d be surprised – the National Trust for Scotland’s Thistle and Trailblazer Camps offer more fun, excitement and achievement than you’d ever have on the average week off. On top of all that, you’ll be helping us to look after the special places in our care.

Thistle Camps

These residential working holidays for over 18s are based at National Trust for Scotland properties, allowing you to live and work in some of Scotland’s most remarkable and remote places. Groups stay in a variety of accommodation types, from basic to modestly luxurious, but everyone is expected to help in cooking and cleaning up during the week.

Escape for the week at our Thistle Camps and travel to stunning locations for archaeological, wildlife and woodland projects.


If you’re too young to join a Thistle Camp, a Trailblazer may be just what you’re looking for. Run especially for 16 and 17 year-olds, these projects provide the opportunity for you to learn new skills and get involved in practical conservation work under the guidance of qualified rangers and leaders. You’ll also learn about the local environment and its wildlife as you explore your surroundings, earning a John Muir Award by the end of the project. It’s not all work though, Trailblazers also include a day of adventure activities. This can include anything from gorge walking to sea kayaking on some of Scotland’s most spectacular stretches of coastline.

If you’re working towards your Duke of Edinburgh Award, all our working holidays meet the requirements for the residential section of the scheme.

St Kilda Work Parties

St Kilda Conservation Work Parties take place during the summer and are working holidays where volunteers carry out essential maintenance work and help the Trust with the day-to-day running of the island. Volunteers must be aged 18 or over. Find out more about St Kilda Work Parties.