The National Trust Touring Pass is one of the UK's best prepaid pass money savers. It allows free entry to all the National Trust's protected properties. That's more than 300 buildings and gardens, 612,000 acres of countryside and 600 miles of outstandingly beautiful coastline.
The Trust , a charity and membership organization has been looking after all of it for more than 100 years. It's non-profit but entrance fees - that help to protect and maintain its special places - can seem a bit steep. Buy one of their prepaid touring passes and you can save a bundle, earning back the cost of the pass by visiting only a few attractions.
What can you visit with this pass?
1. For openers, the pass gives you unlimited entry to some of UK's best stately homes including:
- Petworth to see paintings by Turner, Van Dyke, Reynolds and Blake as well as a carved, paneled room by woodcarver Grinling Gibbons.
- Knole Writer Vita Sackville-West was born here and her friend Virginia Woolf was said to have based her novel Orlando on the history of the Sackvilles in this house. And the 1,000 acre medieval deer park has some of the sweetest, almost tame deer you will ever see.
- Waddesdon Manor - built by Ferdinand de Rothschild to show off his art collection and entertain his friends. And it's within easy reach of London. Every Christmas they put on a light show, outdoor music and decorations, inside and out that is worth marking your calendar for.
- Lyme Park Remember when Lizzie Bennet had her first glimpse of Mr Darcy's house, Pemberly, in Pride and Prejudice? In the film with Colin Firth, it was Lyme Park she actually swooned over. The Library was completely refurbished to display the Sarum Missal, printed By William Caxton in Paris in 1487, It's considered to be the most important book in the National Trust's collection.
- Hardwick Hall - Built by the much-married Elizabethan, Bess of Hardwick. The "It" girl of the 16th century she was actually a competitor of Queen Elizabeth I in the celebrity stakes. Lucky she kept her head. Hardwick Hall has so much glass it looks like a lantern on a hill when it is all lit up. The rhyme about it at the time was "Hardwick Hall, more window than wall."
2. Next, you can see some of England's most spectacular gardens. The National Trust has acres and acres of important gardens in its care. You can visit all of them with the pass, including:
- Hidcote Manor Garden - An Arts & Crafts masterpiece developed by an eccentric American who scoured the world for exotic plants and created a very pretty garden.
- Sissinghurst Castle Garden created in the 1920s, it is one of the most visited and most romantic gardens in England. Its White Garden is world famous.The garden was designed by Vita Sackville West who, in addition to being a member of the free-loving Bloomsbury set, was Virginia Woolf's sometime lover.
- Stowe Landscape Gardens A visitor attraction since the 18th century, Stow covers 750 acres and has 40 listed historic monuments within its grounds. Between 1741 and 1751, the famous Lancelot "Capability" Brown, was head gardener.
- Fountains Abbey and Royal Water Garden A 900 year old Abbey and an astonishing garden that was the life's work of one English eccentric, this is Yorkshire's only UNESCO World Heritage Site.
- Nymans Garden Three generations of the Messel family created this garden including Oliver Messel, a theatrical designer and rival to Cecil Beaton. The garden is suitably theatrical.
- Trelissick Garden - A surprising subtropical Cornish garden with spectacular views of the Fal Estuary, plants you'd never expect to see in England, plus an art gallery and a fabulous collection of Spode.
How to buy the National Trust Touring Pass
The pass is available for seven or 14 days, for:
- One adult
- Two adults traveling together
- Families - including two adults (parents or grandparents) and all children between 5 and 18 years. Children under 5 years go free.
The pass must be purchased in advance online. It cannot be purchased from National Trust properties.
Buy it online, priced in pounds sterling from The National Trust or priced in US dollars from Visit Britain Direct.