National Trust for Scotland

From Academic Kids

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The standard of the NTS

The National Trust for Scotland, or NTS, describes itself as "The conservation charity that protects and promotes Scotland's natural and cultural heritage for present and future generations to enjoy."

It was established in 1931 and (as of 2004) had 500 employees, 266,000 members, and 1.7 million recorded visitors. It is similar in function to the National Trust which covers England, Wales, and Northern Ireland and other National Trusts worldwide.

The NTS owns and manages over 120 properties and 760 square kilometres of land: castles, ancient small dwellings, historic sites, gardens and remote rural areas. Most grounds and open spaces are open throughout the year but buildings may generally only be visited from Easter to October, sometimes only in the afternoons.

Originally, the NTS owned properties rather than "wilderness" areas. When the Trust took on the management of rural estates there was controversy concerning the siting of visitor centres, placing of signposts, etc. However, the Trust has learned to adopt a more sensitive approach, even to the extent of removing some intrusive facilities such as the original Glen Coe Visitor Centre. There was some controversy when the first manager of the new Centre was a Campbell, seen by some as inappropriate, given past events.

Annual membership of the NTS allows free entry to properties and "Discovery Tickets" are available for shorter term visitors. NTS membership also provides free entry to (English) National Trust properties and vice versa.

A typical visit to a castle

A typical castle property, for example Crathes Castle, will have grounds that may be visited without charge (or with an honesty box donation). A charge is likely to be made for car parking, visiting a walled garden, or touring the castle itself. There are usually waymarked paths in the grounds and a children's playground.

Generally visitors tour inside a castle at whatever speed they prefer, reading information from display boards. There are staff and volunteers in many rooms to answer questions. At quiet times (mid-week, out of holidays) conducted tours are more likely to be available. The guide might be a long-time employee of the castle (from before it became an NTS property) in which case he will be very knowledgeable. The Trust attempts to show a property not as museum, but as the castle actually was at one time. Even so, there are inevitably closed-off areas and modern display cases. There is likely to be a tea room and gift shop.

Some properties offer activities for children such as quiz-sheets and workshops.

A selection of NTS properties

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