The National Trust Working Holiday program offers working holidays and tours of National Trust properties. More than 100,000 people have taken a working vacation since 1967.
What are working holidays?
Working holiday volunteers help wardens, gardeners and property managers with National Trust conservation projects that would not be completed without their work. People of all ages and abilities can participate. Each working vacation is run by a volunteer leader and assistant, who work with National Trust staff to allocate and supervise the volunteers' projects.
Completed working holiday projects include construction of five miles of footpaths at Cragside in Northumberland, the discovery of nationally-scarce species of wildlife at Orford Ness, the re-cobbling of Gunby Hall's courtyard and the unearthing of Roman remains in Carmarthenshire.
Cost of working vacations, hours and group size
Prices for working holidays include accommodations and meals. Volunteers usually stay in base camps, including farmhouses, stone cottages, converted barns, mills, granaries and stable yards. A former Ministry of Defence (MoD) radar station, located in beautiful countryside, has also lodged volunteers. Groups prepare their evening meals, using local and seasonal produce, except on Premium holidays. (See below.)
Working holidays start at 6 pm on the first day and end at 10 am on the last day. There are short breaks daily. The number of participants can range from five to 15 people, depending on the project and the accommodations, but the average working holiday has 10 volunteers.
Types of working holidays
There are 13 categories of working vacations. All are for volunteers 18 and older, unless specified. Acorn holidays involve conservation projects. Construction working holidays include dry stone walling and laying foot paths. A skilled instructor explains tasks to volunteers. Participants require steel toe-capped boots. Youth Discovery holidays are similar to Acorn holidays but are designed for 16 to 18 year olds.
On Gardening Working Holidays, volunteers help maintain and restore England's most magnificent gardens. On Events Holidays, volunteers help set up and run the National Trust's open air theatre, pop and classical concerts performances.
The Oak category features outdoor conservation holidays for people over 40 years old. Couples must stay in separate dormitories. Volunteers on Premium working holidays stay in superior twin lodgings with en-suites. Short Breaks allow volunteers to sample conservation holidays before booking a whole week.
On Touchwood working holidays, volunteers help people with physical, sensory or intellectual disabilities to understand nature through conservation tasks. Trust Active Working Holidays mix cycling, sailing, mountain biking, rock climbing and pony trekking with countryside conservation. On 21 Plus outdoor conservation holidays, 21 to 40-year-old volunteers perform jobs that require more accuracy and perseverance than Acorn holidays.
Archaeology working holidays involve digging and clearing, but no technical skills. On Wildtrack working holidays, biology students, wildflower lovers, amateur naturalists and botanists survey, record and map species in regions monitored by the National Trust. Experts help with identification.
Examples of working vacations available
This year, volunteers can dig for archaeological remains at an Iron Age hill fort in Herefordshire, clean candlesticks and choir stalls in the Clumber Park chapel in Nottinghamshire and set up and run Cornwall's biggest rock-meets-blues music event.
In Shropshire, working holiday participants build and erect bat boxes and monitor nocturnal bat activity, catalog fashion plates and dress patterns at Killerton House in Devon and monitor harlequin ladybirds on Orford Ness Nature Reserve.
On Exmoor, volunteers map the food plants of Fritillary butterflies. In Dorset, they organize the Neptune Coastal campaign's archives. And in Warwickshire, they excavate an 18th-century barn site.
On other working holidays, volunteers uncover a lost pool at Biddulph Grange in Staffordshire, manage the woodlands around Stonehenge, round up goats on the Isle of Wight, plant rare ornamental trees at Winkworth Arboretum in Surrey and build a yurt campsite in Snowdonia.