THE National Trust has closed all its parks and gardens to avoid crowding amid the coronavirus crisis.

The charity introduced the measures over the weekend after previously waiving access fees in a bid to encourage more people to exercise during the outbreak of coronavirus.

After closing all houses, shops and cafes, the trust has now advised visitors to stay away.

The news comes as Prof. Chris Whitty, the UK’s chief medical adviser, said it is “very important” that children and adults take exercise, and being outside in the park is a “very good thing to do”.

There were reports of hundreds of people near Sycamore Gap on Saturday, with visitors using overflow car parks as a result of high demand.

National Trust director-general Hilary McGrady said: "Despite our desire to keep our outdoor spaces open, the health and wellbeing of our staff, volunteers and visitors has to be our top priority.

"Having observed the numbers visiting our places today, I am no longer convinced we can maintain social distancing over Mother’s Day when numbers are likely to grow, and beyond.

"Our countryside and coastal locations remain open with parking charges waived, but we encourage people to stay local and observe social distancing measures."

On Friday, the Northumberland National Park issued advice for suggested routes the public can take to stay active.

A statement read: “We are currently encouraging all visitors to Northumberland National Park to follow the government’s guidance on social distancing; reducing our social interaction with other people.

“The current government advice is that if you are walking outdoors, we should stay more than two metres from others.”