The heritage body aims to welcome the public back to some properties within weeks.
The National Trust for Scotland has revealed its plan to begin re-opening properties as and when allowed by the Scottish Government’s route map out of lockdown.
The Trust is already beginning to remove barriers to access at some of its key countryside properties, such as Corrieshalloch Gorge and Ben Lawers, for local access purposes.
With access to other types of properties and travel from further afield expected to be permitted under stage three of the route map, staff are making sure processes are in place to ensure the safety of staff and visitors and to uphold social distancing, particularly in enclosed grounds and gardens.
It is hoped that if sufficient progress is made in tackling Covid-19, enclosed grounds and gardens can be re-opened in late June or early July, with access to built heritage properties to follow in mid-August.
However, a number of properties are likely to be closed until 2021, either because they cannot be adequately adapted to ongoing social distancing restrictions or simply because of a lack of resources. The coronavirus pandemic has placed significant strain on the organisation’s finances, with over 400 staff at risk of redundancy.
Sir Mark Jones, the Trust’s Chairman, said he was “delighted and encouraged” to see the Scottish Government’s proposals to ease the country out of lockdown.
He said: “Initially visitors will be returning to our natural heritage sites, and I hope people will abide by the Scottish Government’s restrictions that enable local travel only. In other words, stay local, stay safe and please don’t travel more than five miles to reach our properties. This is not just a civic duty but also for the wellbeing of rural communities.
“I must also point out that local travel excludes Canna and Fair Isle and sea-borne visitors should stay away in order to protect island residents.
“Notwithstanding the acute problems we are working though due to the loss of half of our income, our dedicated teams are now making places ready and safe for the return of visitors. Although it seems self-evident that nature takes care of itself, that isn’t strictly true. Landscapes do need to be managed, habitats need to be guarded, footpaths need to be repaired and gardens and woodlands need to be tended, and we’ve been doing as much as we can during lockdown.
“Even though our magnificent countryside belongs to us all, and we revel in Scotland’s unique ‘right to roam’, the reality is that our stewardship of the natural environment in our care costs money. That’s why in our hour of need, we’re asking for help so that we can keep doing what we do to safeguard our unrivalled landscapes.”