Protecting coastal wildlife on North Cornwall’s cliffs

The cliff-tops, locally known as Glebe Cliffs, at Tintagel have been designated as a ‘Site of Special Scientific Interest by English Nature because of their importance in terms of their botanical and geological features. 

This area of theNorth Cornwallcoast has also been designated a ‘Special Area of Conservation’ and needs to be maintained by the traditional and well practised method of animal grazing.  Grazing will reduce aggressive course grasses and encroachment of scrub, thereby allowing wild flowers to thrive. 

Some flowers here are nationally scarce, such as hairy birds-foot trefoil, wild chives and autumn squill. One insect, the brown carder bee, is on theUK’s Biodiversity Action Plan’s priority list. These species, amongst others, are under threat from lack of grazing management.

The Trust’s new tenant, along with the governments statutory conservation body Natural England, will be starting a 10 year Higher Level Stewardship Scheme (HLS) here this year which will provide a funding package that supports the farmer in ensuring that this site is managed in an environmentally sensitive way.  Rare breed sheep and cattle will be used for part of the autumn and winter months only to graze the cliff land and pasture. This will allow an undisturbed summer period for ground nesting birds like the skylark, and for the flowering of the maritime grassland species. The emphasis will be firmly on sensitive, low key management for nature conservation rather than farming the land for any commercial return.

Mike Simmonds, the Trust’s Head Ranger for the area says: ‘We are thrilled that Natural England has been able to offer an HLS Scheme that will support this work for the next 10 years. Schemes have become increasingly difficult to attract in the current financial climate, so this commitment is an indication of the importance of the site’

He added: ‘We recognise fully that introducing new management may have impacts on local users, dog walkers and visitors as well as the landscape. As ever the Trust has to try and balance all these things against the value of nature conservation. The fencing required to confine grazing to specific areas of the site has been carefully thought about. Obviously the safety and welfare of the grazing animals is important, but, crucially it is also important to minimise the visual impact on the landscape and continue to allow free public access as far as possible. It will be essential that some control over dogs is observed during periods when there are grazing animals on site’ he added Mike.

The site works should commence in the early part of summer, with the first grazing period over the winter of 2012 – 13.

The Trust is holding an ‘open day’ on Friday 27th April from 10 am to share our and plans with the Parish and any interested parties. A marquee and display will be set up at Glebe Cliff main car park, near the church, where several Trust representatives will be on hand all day to answer any queries and concerns.

After a false start our gardens are blooming despite fortnight of sub zero temperatures

Healthy numbers of flowering plants and bulbs in bloom indicate that many gardens across the country will experience a bumper and longer blooming spring despite the recent cold snap, says the National Trust.

Gardeners at over 50 National Trust properties across the country have taken part in the annual Valentine’s Day flower count which has been conducted by gardeners and volunteers in Devon andCornwalleach February since 2006.

Many properties, particularly across the South West experienced a spring ‘preview’, prior to the recent frost which destroyed many of the very early blooms. However, there are a plethora of buds ready to open once the temperatures rise, indicating spring is just around the corner.

Due to the unseasonable warm winter spring had arrived early in some parts of the country with daffodils blooming in December at Dunham Massey inCheshireand Knightshayes in Devon and Lanhydrock inCornwallrecorded its earliest flowering magnolia on New Year’s Day.

But, recent sub-zero temperatures despite slowing things down slightly, appears to have had little affect with many gardens set to burst into life, particularly in the South West which escaped the worst of the recent harsh weather. All the indications are that our true spring is still to come and when it does it will be a longer blooming one.

The Trust’s annual flower count has been conducted by National Trust gardeners and volunteers in Devon & Cornwall each February since 2006 to provide an annual snapshot of the heralding of spring [1]

1972 plants were recorded in flower this year across 26 gardens in the South West. 1745 plants were recorded in flower this year across 18 gardens in Devon and Cornwall this year compared to 1395 plants last year and 1,115 the previous year and 3,335 in 2008, when the highest count was recorded, giving a 75% increase in plants in bloom.

The highest number of flowers recorded in Devon this year was at Saltram with 133 blooms (down from 163 last year) and at Lanhydrock inCornwallwith 248 (up from 142 recorded last year) and Kingston Lacy with 44 plants in bloom. Cotehele inCornwallsaw the biggest increase in blooms, 228 (up from 45 in 2011). This leap in numbers is largely due to its location in a mild Cornish valley which helps drain cold air out to sea allowing the upper slopes to warm up quickly, promoting earlier flowering.

Ian Wright, National Trust South West Gardens Advisor said: ‘Our annual flower count is a simple and fun way of recording how our garden plants react and adapt to changes in weather patterns, a kind ‘floral barometer’, its not a scientific exercise but it is a simple indicator of the weather we have experienced and the season ahead. This fun and slightly competitive count is something you can try in your own garden. Our gardens are just beginning to burst into life; unfortunately many of them have suffered from the recent frost but luckily for us that almost means we are getting two springs, what could be better than that?”

“InCornwallwe have noted many out of sync flowering before the cold snap with Agapanthus, which usually flowers in June, out already at Trengwainton. The great snowdrop spectaculars at many of our gardens are also well underway. Many plants were continuing to grow until last week, including Hydrangeas and it remains to be seen if they have survived this cold weather unscathed.

“Spring was a little too fast of the starting blocks, but nature is a great healer so we hope many plants and bulbs affected by the cold snap will go on to flower when the temperatures start to rise”.

“Last year was particularly good for rhododendrons, and this year should hopefully be a good year for camellias and other plants which have tighter buds that would have stood a better chance of surviving the cold snap”, he added.

Octavia Awards to honour our green heroes’

Our green spaces have been making the news headlines for all of the wrong reasons in the last year. Though on the plus sides it’s become clear how much we really care about them.

First there were the proposals, in January last year, to sell off Forestry Commission land. This created a huge public outcry and the Government had to abandon its plans, setting up a panel of experts to map out their future.

Then we had the proposed changes to the planning system. Critics, including the National Trust, saw this as a threat to the green places that lack real protection but people value.

None of this reaction would have come as a surprise to Octavia Hill.  A social reformer, pioneering environmental campaigner and founder of the National, she championed our green spaces during the period of rapid industrialisation and huge change that gripped Victorian Britain.

This ‘growth at all costs’ model threatened to gobble up vast swathes of land putting profit before people.  Octavia Hill and her fellow campaigners saw a clear threat and wanted to protect these ‘green lungs’ in our towns and cities as places to enjoy the benefits of being in the outdoors, whether urban or rural.

Out of this vision the National Trust was born as an organisation to acquire places of ‘historic interest and natural beauty’.

It’s this campaigning spirit that has been the inspiration for setting up the Octavia Hill Awards.  We want to celebrate her life and legacy – she died in August 1912 – and recognise today’s ‘unsung heroes’ of the environmental movement, who make such a difference to our lives.

Octavia Hill had the foresight to see a clear link between our human need for access to green spaces and its connection to the benefits for our health and wellbeing. Her vision was a prediction of today’s increasing recognition by society that being closer to nature, wherever you are, has real benefits.

Across the UK there is an army of people that have been at the forefront of campaigns to save allotments from development or have helped to set up a community woodland. Without these volunteers the places we take for granted could vanish and our townscapes and countryside would be much poorer for that.

The huge demand for allotment plots is just one example. Waiting lists are long and yet the supply barely changes or is more likely to shrink.  Community growing places – whether in parks or on National Trust land – have begun to spring up.  The Landshare project has successfully matched people waiting with available plots.

For these new awards we want to hear about the ‘growing heroes’ that keep these places ticking over and reaching out to that appetite and basic instinct to grow our own food.

One of the categories in the awards focuses on the people that are inspiring the next generation of outdoors and nature enthusiasts.

There has been a lot of airtime and column inches devoted to our lack of connection with nature but there are people bucking this trend and making a huge difference.  It could be a teacher that runs a forest school or set up a wildlife garden; or perhaps a ranger whose work is passing on their knowledge and passion.

People power has shown in the last year that when we come together we can make a difference. The Octavia Hill Awards is also looking for the organisations or groups that have successfully campaigned on an environmental issue, big or small, and made policy makers and people, sit up and take note.

It will often take a well known public figure to champion a cause for it to find its way into the national consciousness. We’ve seen this with school dinners and the debate around overfishing.  We want to find out who the public thinks has shown determination and commitment to get an issue firmly on to the agenda.

It’s not until something is lost or under threat that we realise how much we value it.  Octavia Hill had the vision that seeing green and being green is good for people and community.  And it’s not just the spectacular that matters but the local field where kids have a kick about or a patch of woodland where bluebells flourish.

These awards want to show how inspiring individuals can bring about change or communities can come together to create a collective voice for a better way of doing things. At a time of great uncertainty it’s the places that we value the most that can give us the confidence in the future.

Nominations for the six categories of the awards close on 31st January 2012. More information can be found at www.nationaltrust.org.uk/octaviaawards

 

We want your silliest walk

What might you get if you cross a classic British comedy sketch and a national conservation organisation with lots of members of the public and an independent theatre company?

The answer: the UK’s largest ever display of ‘silly walking’

Inspired by 1970s comedy troupe Monty Python – whose ‘Ministry of Silly Walking’ sketch is recognised as one of the most hilarious in the British comedy archives – the National Trust South West has launched an online campaign to find the nation’s ‘silliest walkers’. Over the next few weeks, people of all ages and backgrounds are being encouraged to record themselves ‘silly walking’, ideally in National Trust-managed landscapes around the country, and upload their videos to www.ntsouthwest.co.uk or pictures to www.facebook.com/nationaltrustsouthwest 

The most ridiculous ‘silly walking’ will win a weekend in a National Trust holiday cottage and ten runners-up will win family day entry tickets to any National Trust property or grounds.  The campaign will culminate with an event at 2pm at Studland Beach, Purbeck, Dorset on October 23rd in which students from Bournemouth University, members of the public and families, led by actors and actresses from acclaimed South West-based theatre company Rogue Theatre, will congregate for a special celebration of ‘silly walking’ in true Pythonesque fashion. Everyone is welcome and fancy dress is optional – just bring your silliest walk and leave your inhibitions in the car park!

The ‘National Trust Silly Walking’ initiative forms part of ‘National Trust One’ – a new set of 101 downloadable, regional mile-long walks. The National Trust is also launching a new Walking Festival and between October 22 and October 30, and events will be happening across the country to co-incide with both concepts.  More information on all elements is available at www.nationaltrust.org.uk/walkingfestival.  

Designed by experts on everything from animal and plantlife to history and architecture, the short trails can be followed at your leisure or as part of a guided stomp. Whether you fancy a quick stroll after lunch, a burst of exercise for the kids, a romantic wander, an informative back-to-nature jaunt, or, of course, a setting for your silly walk, ‘National Trust One’ has a one-mile walk for everyone regardless of age, ability, shape or size.

Rachael Johnston, Head of Marketing, National Trust South West says: “The silly walking campaign is all about putting a little bit of fun back into walking and getting people out into the landscape. There are so many amazing places to explore and experience and we want people to find their own personal walking wonderlands and get a little silly. We can’t wait to see the films people will make of themselves doing silly walks. Some of our rangers have already done theirs so check them out online and get involved!”

More information is available on:

www.nationaltrust.org.uk/walkingfestival and https://www.ntsouthwest.co.uk/sillywalks

 

4 million members

Membership of the National Trust has grown to over four million people for the first time in the charity’s history.

That’s twice as many as have seen Take That’s recent Progress Live Tour and nearly half a million more than go to the cinema each week.

The support members give helps look after more than 300 historic houses, 250,000 hectares of land and 700 miles of coastline.

Members enjoy being able to discover these amazing places and a total of more than 90 million people visit the National Trust each year – 17 million to houses and gardens and around 75 million to coast and countryside.

Fiona Reynolds, Director General at the National Trust, said: “We have an amazing four million members but I’m sure each and every one of them has a different reason for joining.”

Members such as Colleen O’Keefe and four-year-old daughter Roisin, who recently visited Dinefwr Park and Castle: “We joined as members at Dinefwr in August last year,” said Colleen. “We enjoy the history and the walks. We like nature and being out and about. It is nice to see new things.”

Fiona Reynolds continued: “Whether it’s a love for their local place, a passion for anything from surfing to fine art, or simply the joy of spending family time together – there’s clearly a growing hunger for what we have to offer.

“We were set up 116 years ago to look after special places so that they could be enjoyed by all. Clearly that founding aim remains as relevant today as it was then.”

Some National Trust membership statistics:

  • Families now make up over a third of the total membership base with the fastest growing family membership category increasing by 55 per cent since 2009.
  • Dorset is the county with highest proportion of National Trust members with 19 per cent of the population (more than 57,000) a member.
  • Surrey has more than 180,000 members making it the county with the most Trust members outside of London, which has more than 300,000.
  • The 67 members on the Shetland Islands who are just less than 12 hours away from their nearest National Trust place, Lindisfarne Castle off the Northumberland coast.
  • Outside of the UK there are 42,571 members some based as far a field as Japan.

In 1895, when the Trust was founded, there were 100 members, paying an annual subscription of 10s; life membership cost £20, and honorary membership was given to those who donated £100 or more.

Membership in the first few years grew steadily with 260 members in 1900, 450 in 1905, 630 in 1910 and 670 at the outbreak of the First World War.

Since then membership grew steadily to reach one million in 1981, two million in 1990 and three million in 2002.

Last financial year membership provided the charity with £120m which was ploughed back into thousands of conservation projects throughout England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Fiona Reynolds added: “We owe a massive thank you to our members. Their support helps fund the vital conservation work.

“In England you are never more than 40 minutes away from somewhere looked after by the National Trust.

‘From the smallest sculleries and garden grottos to towering castle turrets and the wild expanses of Lake District countryside the National Trust enables everyone to enjoy these beautiful, intriguing and exciting places for ever.”

To celebrate the milestone the National Trust is inviting visitors on the weekend of 15 and 16 October to share their experiences in order to create a virtual time capsule of the occasion.

Visitors can share their comments and photos through the National Trust’s Facebook group at facebook.com/nationaltrust and Twitter feed at twitter.com/nationaltrust.

South West producers win coveted National Trust award

Eight producers from across the South West have just been awarded one of this year’s Fine Farm Produce Awards, from the National Trust.

Locally produced cider, beef, honey, chutney, charcoal, flour and apple juice all receive awards and will now be able to use the coveted Fine Farm Produce Award logo on their products.  The winning products were chosen from a very high standard of 47 separate entries.

The following National Trust tenants and in-hand producers in the South West have received a Fine Farm Produce Award for 2011.

  • Barrington Court Estate, Medium Farmhouse Cider, Somerset
  • Big Red Cow, Red Devon Beef, Somerset – first time entrant and winner
  • Burrow Farm, Red Devon Beef Devon – first time entrant and winner
  • Clyston Mill, Stoneground Flour, Devon
  • Home Farm, Red Devon Beef Topside and Mince, Cornwallfirst time entrant and winner
  • Killerton Estate, Traditional Medium Dry Cider, Honey, Charcoal, Devon
  • Parke Farm, Apple Juice, Devon first time entrant and winner
  • Stourhead Farm Shop, Organic Angus Cross Beefburgers, Wiltshire – Burgers win for the first time

The awards, now in their sixth year celebrate the breadth and quality of produce farmed, grown or processed on land owned or managed by the National Trust, including tenant farms, orchards and gardens.

Rob Macklin, national agriculture and food adviser at the National Trust, said:  “To even qualify for judging, all products meet strict criteria of provenance and environmental and animal welfare standards, and all primary ingredients must meet high production assurance.

“Products that successfully pass this check are subjected to a vigorous blind taste test by a panel of judges.  The appearance, preparation, colour, aroma, texture and taste all have to be at least as good as a high quality, commercially available alternative, to win an award.  Judging is therefore harsh but fair.”

The National Trust cares for half a million acres of farmland across England, Wales and Northern Ireland.  It works closely with its properties and tenants to help them develop high quality products.

Rob continued: “Since 2006, over 150 products have received a Fine Farm Produce Award and this year’s winners will join a group of some of the very best producers that the country has to offer.”

 

This year’s judging panel included Henrietta Green, food writer, broadcaster and founder of FoodLoversBritain.com; Karen Barnes, editor of delicious magazine and Richard McGeown, chef patron at Couch’s Great House Restaurant in Cornwall.

A full list of the award winners and details of their produce can be found online at https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/finefarmproduceawards

The National Trust is passionate about using local and seasonal food in its 150 tearooms and cafes.  Many of this year’s Fine Farm Produce Award winners sell their produce either through their own farm shop, direct to customers or on-line.

Calling all film makers with a passion for surfing

We’ve launched an exciting competition for budding film makers to create a 30 second trailer to be shown at the London Surf / Film Festival.

The winner will also get a free entrance ticket to the festival and a week’s holiday in a National Trust holiday cottage in the South West.

The competition is a great opportunity for film makers, amateur or professional, to express what the environment and coast means to surfers and how the National Trust impacts on surfers’ daily life as we manage some of the world’s most unique and important habitats in a 760 mile stretch of coastline.

Full details of the 30-second trailer competition, and how to enter, can be found here on your National Trust South West blog just click the ‘Surf film’ link at the top.

All approved trailers will be published here on the blog and the best 5 entries will be judged by a panel to decide the winner. The competition closes on 30 September 2011.

The National Trust, as an environmental partner of the Festival, is presenting ‘The Shorties contest’. This is a short film category that exclusively celebrates and supports home grown filmmaking talent for entries of up to five minutes in length that explore all aspects of surfing and surf culture.  The winning film will be premiered in London, New York and Canada.

‘We’re thrilled to be a part of the London Surf / Film Festival and can’t wait to see some of the entries and see how people link the Trust with surfing.  It’s a great opportunity for any budding film maker to get their work seen by a wide and influential audience’, said Rob Joules, National Trust Watersports Co-Ordinator.

‘We work behind the scenes, to conserve and protect nearly 10 per cent of the UK coastline. The best thing about our own shores is the view looking back to the land from out at sea. It still looks wild and untamed, so different from many other overdeveloped coastlines around the world. It’s thanks to our many supporters and volunteers that we can all enjoy such an unspoilt environment’, added Rob.

Hosted at London’s iconic riverside Studios the first annual London Surf / Film Festival, 13-15 October 2011, is the premier showcase for international surf filmmaking, bringing to the capital three nights of the hottest releases, independent features, short films, and UK premieres. Fusing together film, art, photography and commentary from waveriding’s most exciting creatives, it is a celebration of the cream of contemporary surf culture. For further information, please visit the London Surf Film Festival website

 

 

 

Chasing butterflies

A powerful symbol of freedom and beauty, nothing quite sums up the British spring and summer like the butterfly. This spring, National Trust naturalist Matthew Oates has picked some of his favourite spots to see these colourful creatures as they gently fly through the countryside and gardens in the South West.

Matthew Oates, a butterfly fan for more than 40 years, said: “Butterflies are fascinating in the extreme. They take you to the most captivating of all places – woodlands, mountains, grasslands and the coast – and the more you learn about them, the more you realise there is to be learnt, and the less you know.

“Over the last two decades a minor social revolution has occurred: butterflies have become cool. They have found their way into all aspects of our life from advertising to diaries and notebooks.

“Butterflying is now as popular a hobby as it was in the heyday of collecting, back in the 1890s, with the big difference that enthusiast are only armed with cameras.”

A new book by Matthew Oates, Butterflies: Spotting and Identifying British Butterflies will be published this June.  It will help both beginners by explaining the key points and fundamental principles of butterfly spotting, and more experienced butterfly watchers in need of expert tips and sharpening the focus.

Containing lots of identification tips, the book is a guide on how to get yourself into the right frame of mind when looking for and observing butterflies. It includes chapters on the history of butterflying and on the English and scientific names of butterflies together with useful summary chapters on photographing butterflies and gardening for butterflies.

Mathew’s five top tips for spotting butterflies:

  1. Master the easy species first and leave the difficult ones till later. Feel unabashed at lumping Small and Essex skippers together and treating the Large and Small Whites as ‘cabbage whites’ – instead enjoy your easy Marbled Whites and Peacocks.
  2. Concentrate on the brighter, showier and more prominent males. It is wise to ignore the female blues at first, for example, and get to know them through observing the mating pairs.
  3. Learn the habitats, food plants and flight seasons. They will provide general guidance.
  4. Use binoculars. It also makes people think you are a birder, and not a weirdo.
  5. Seek help. Join a wildlife group and attend some field meetings.

Mass south west beach clean

Going to the beach for a walk with my dogs is about the most enjoyable and relaxing thing I do but I was really shocked to discover that there are two pieces of litter for every footstep I and you take on beaches in the south west.

It seems this tide of litter on our beaches is on the increase and not only can it be a  health hazard to us and off putting for our much needed tourists, its estimated that over 100,000 marine animals die every year from entanglement or ingestion of plastics, discarded on our beaches or at sea.

An annual event for us in the Trust and our energetic band of volunteers is our annual spring beach clean, and this year from the 2nd of April, we have 27 beach cleans taking place from Cape Cornwall to the top of Dorset.

Beach cleaning not only helps to improve the coastal habitat for plants and animals but also to ensure beaches that we care for are clean and ready for the first visitors of the season.  But its a big job as we care for over 700 miles of coastline in the south west and each beach costs approximately £400 to clean each time.

If we stood all the skips we fill with beach rubbish side by side, it would stretch as far as three Jumbo jets parked end to end.  If stacked on top of one another it would stand as high as 20 London double-decker buses .

Marine environments are also hugely affected by litter pollution at every level – from tiny microscopic organisms through to the very largest animals such as whales and turtles. Even the most remote beaches are affected by litter blown or brought in on the tide. Litter comes from many sources – the public, fishing activities, sewage pipes and shipping, but it is all preventable.

Previous beach cleans have revealed a number of items from the grounding of the Napoli on Branscombe Beach including BMW parts.  Parts of an old cooking range probably from old cottages washed away in the early 1900’s were discovered at a beach clean on the Roseland Peninsula in Cornwall, a scaffold clamp from a WW2 beach defence barrier an unbroken light bulb and a telegraph pole weighing 1 tonne, were some of the other items.

Rangers in charge of the beach cleans are anticipating that various plastics will form the greatest volume of litter, and these can present some of the greatest hazards to wildlife, both on and offshore. Plastics can be ingested by turtles, seabirds and cetaceans (whales, dolphins etc) and noxious contaminants can also poison wildlife.

All our teams involved will be reporting on the volume of rubbish found on their beaches, and documenting the stranger or more surprising items found!

Below you’ll find details of beach cleans taking place over the next week or so, otherwise contact your local National Trust place for more details of how you can get involved.

Devon
Ayrmer Cove – Ringmore 2 April, 10am
Woolacombe Beach at Mill Rock 5 April 10am
Mansands 6 April,  10am
Scabbacombe 6 April, (following mansands clean)
Wembury Beach 13 April, 10am
Cornwall
Trelissick 6 April, 9.30am onwards
Turnaware 6 April, 9.30am onwards
North Helford 6 April, 9.30am onwards
Gunwalloe Church Cove 9 April, 10am – 1pm
Cape Cornwall Car Park 9 April, 2pm
Godrevy Beach 2 April, 10am
Porth Curno 9 April, 10am
Penberth Cove 9 April (following beach clean at Porth Curno)
Polzeath 2 April, 10-12 noon
Holywell 6 April, 1-3pm
Crantock 6 April, 10-12
Northcott 10 April, 10-12
Poldhu Beach 2 April, 10am
Porthcurnick 4 April, 10am
Strangles 5 April, 10 – 12
Dorset
Brownsea Island 16th March
Seatown 17 April 11 -1
Burton Bradstock 17 April 11 -1
Cogden 17 April 11 -1
West Bexington 17 April 11 -1
Ringstead 17 April 11 -1
Studland Heath (Poole Harbour side) 13 April, time
Somerset
Porlock Beach Clean up 15 May, 10am
Brean Down 13 April, 9.30 – 3pm

Are daycations the new holiday?

The sun is shining (well it was) and we all need to grab the opportunity of getting away from it all once in a while.  But time and financial constraints mean we can’t always take that two week holiday our parents would have saved all year for.

So in comes a ‘Daycation’, which literally means a day trip where one visits a tourist destination or visitor attraction from his/her home and returns home on the same day.  So you get to return to your cosy bed at the end of the day at least!

Some research we’ve done has revealed that the number of people in the South West taking a two-week holiday has decreased by 22 per cent over the past five years with 54 per cent not planning to take a fortnight’s holiday this year, showing a new trend for us Brits taking multiple single day holidays throughout the year, rather than the traditional two-week break our parents worked towards.

30 per cent of the people we polled in the South West said they are planning to take at least ten single days holiday – or ‘daycations’ – this year and a further 36 per cent will take between five and ten.  53 per cent of those in the South West cite the cost of a fortnight’s holiday as the main reason for not taking two weeks off work, whereas 6 per cent of hard-working employees blame the inability to switch off from the job.

For us time-poor Brits in the South West the growing daycation trend means they can split their time into smaller and more frequent holidays or days off and 49 per cent of those polled cite this as the reason for favouring day trips.  A further 69 per cent said the daycation was a cheaper alternative to the traditional holiday and 58 per cent believe they are a lot more hassle free.

Our research reveals an interesting trend for Brits taking multiple single days off work, making the most of their spare time – and enjoying these daycations, as we’ve coined them.  Our visitor numbers for 2009-2010 also reflect this with over 17.2 million paid-for entries and over 50 million visits to enjoy National Trust places, from houses and gardens to the stunning coastline and countryside we care for.

The research revealed that daycations were not only convenient but time well spent with 84 per cent saying they were relaxing, 52 per cent agreeing that these days were calming and 45 per cent appreciating them as escapism.

With 32 million of us intending to take a day trip this year to help unwind we’re perfectly placed to help the nation enjoy their days off.  With over 300 National Trust places of beauty and interest to visit across Britain we have a huge choice of mental refreshment pit-stops and as you are never more than 40 minutes away from one of our beautiful places there is no excuse not to enjoy a daycation.

Top daycation destinations in the UK:

1. London and South East England (54 per cent) e.g. Petworth House and Park, West Sussex

2. South West England (41 per cent) e.g. Stourhead in Wiltshire or Killerton, Devon

3. Yorkshire and North East England (40 per cent) e.g. Fountains Abbey, Ripon

4. Wales (37 per cent) e.g. Powis Castle, Powys

5. Scotland (32 per cent) e.g. City of Edinburgh

6. East of England (27 per cent) e.g. Wimpole Estate, Cambridgeshire

7. North West England (25 per cent) e.g. Sizergh Castle and Garden, Cumbria

8. Midlands (24 per cent) e.g. Hanbury Hall, Worcestershire

9. Northern Ireland (13 per cent) e.g. Castle Ward, County Down

10. Other (six per cent)