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Action stations for holiday fun; Jo Ind offers ideas for where to take the family this Easter.

Byline: Jo Ind

Planning the family holidays this year could present some exciting challenges.

The economic downturn means when you do have the chance to take a break, you feel like you still need to save money.

A recent survey suggested that more than half of us will stay in the UK this year and whilst this may not initially seem like the most appealing prospect, for families with children there is a world of adventure and hidden gems to be found on English soil - and a great many of them are free! The new Let's Go with the Children guide books cover 14 regional areas of England and offer endless ideas on places to go and things to do with the family this Easter.

Here are a few suggestions on how to nurture your child's hidden passions or talents, whilst ensuring the whole family has hours of fun for less this summer, whatever the weather and whatever the budget.

Biddulph Grange Country Park www.staffsmoorlands.gov.uk Enjoy a walk through woodlands, meadows and on the 'Hydroelectric walk' to the lake. A 73-acre site with woodland, meadows, lake and ponds.

Rosliston Forestry Centre 01283 563483 www.roslistonforestrycentre.co.uk A wealth of wildlife on National Forest trails. The centre has indoor soft play, adventure playground, laser games, cycle hire and birds of prey.

Brown End Quarry 01889 880100 www.staffordshirewildlife.org.uk Find fossils amongst the rocks as you walk the trails. Small former quarry on the boundary of the Peak District National Park now managed as a geological nature reserve.

Doxey Marshes 01889 880100 www.staffordshirewildlife.org.uk Many birds can be seen in these 290-acres of grassland, reed-beds and open water. Visit in autumn or early winter to view the site in flood, with wading birds such as snipe and redshank.

Watch out for wildfowl like tufted duck, wigeon, shoveler and goosander.

STAFFORDSHIRE

Amerton Farm 01889 270294 Railway 01785 850965 www.amertonfarm.co.uk Feed the farmyard animals and visit poorly ones in the rescue centre. Jump and play in Windmill Playbarn, and take a steam train on Sundays (charges).

Children are free to feed and pet the animals in the farmyard. Animal food is available from the Farm Shop.

Cheddleton Flint Mill 01782 502907 www.waterscape.com See two water powered flint mills, visit a miller's cottage and museum.

Mill Meece Pumping Station 01785 617171 www.millmeecepumpingstation.co.uk Step back in time to see two huge steam engines..

Samuel Johnson's Birthplace 01543 264972 www.lichfielddc.gov.uk Discover the house and handle a copy of Johnson's famous dictionary.

Stafford Castle 01785 257698 www.staffordbc.gov.uk Hands-on history. Discover how heavy an iron sword is, try helmets and armour. School groups can mint peace pennies.

Potteries Museum and Art Gallery 01782 232323 www.stoke.gov.uk Discover the tree house and the cowcreamers or try the quiz trails. Travel back in time and discover the history of the Potteries, including the world's greatest collection of Staffordshire ceramics..

Redwings Rescue Centre 0870 040 0033 On the A422 between Stratford-upon- Avon and Banbury, a home to rescued horses, ponies and donkeys.

Burton Dassett Hills www.warwickshire.gov.uk Located between Warwick and Banbury, climb up the beacon for fantastic views. Superb for kite flying.

The Stratford Greenway www.warwickshire.gov.uk Use the five-mile disused railway track for traffic-free cycling or walking.

Visit an unusual railway carriage caf open in summer at Milcote carpark.

National Herb Centre, Warmington 01295 690999 www.herbcentre.co.uk See a variety of herbs and learn about their uses.

Hatton Locks 01926 626100 www.britishwaterways.co.uk Watch the boats rise up a flight of 21 locks on the Grand Union Canal known as 'The Stairway to Heaven'.

Roman Alcester Heritage Centre 01789 762216 Learn how the Romans built their roads, touch ancient remains or try on Roman tunics and togas.

Leamington Art Gallery and Museum 01926 742700 Discover history of spa treatments, see a spectacular Turkish bath and have fun at special children's events and in the interactive gallery.

Pooley Fields Heritage Centre 01827 897438 Find out about the area's mining history at this one-time colliery.

Webb Ellis Rugby Football Museum 01788 567777 Visit the workshop where James Gilbert made the first ball in 1842 and learn about the history of the game.

Collegiate Church of St Mary 01926 403940 Learn about the history of the church dating from the 12th century.

Parkridge Centre & Brueton Park 0121 704 0768 www.warwickshire-wildlife-trust.org.uk See the bird box camera at the education centre within the five-acre Nature WARWICKSHIRE WEST MIDLANDS

Reserve or have fun in the play area.

Kinver Edge & Holy Rock Houses 01384 872553 www.nationaltrust.org.uk Dramatic views from the sandstone cliffs. Find some of the country's oldest cave dwellings (entry charge).

Forge Mill Modern Dairy Farm and Visitor Centre 0121 538 7210 Watch the cows being milked or feed the hens and goats. There is a picnic area and children's play area. Forge Mill Farm is owned and run by Sandwell Metropolitan Council as a modern dairy farm and visitor centre.

Sandwell Valley Country Park 0121 553 0220 www.laws.sandwell.gov.uk Explore on foot or mountain bike on woodland paths. Watch water sports, visit the play areas and RSPB centre.

Smestow Valley Nature Reserve 01902 552351 www.wolverhampton.gov.uk Plenty of wildlife to see on foot or cycle along the disused railway line in this wooded country park.

Lapworth Museum of the School of Earth Sciences 0121 414 7294 Budding geologists will love the minerals, fossils, rocks and dinosaur displays.

Pen Room 0121 236 9834 www.penroom.co.uk Doodle using quills and dipping pens and discover the history of pens.

Sarehole Mill 0121 777 6612 www.birmingham.gov.uk Explore this restored 18th century water mill and find out the links to Tolkien. Check opening times.

Weoley Castle 0121 464 2193 www.bmag.org.uk See the ruins of a moated medieval manor house.

Red House Glass Cone 01384 812750 www.dudley.gov.uk Peer down from the top or explore the underground tunnels at this huge cone where glass used to be made. The Cone was used for the manufacture of glass until 1936. It's now a busy heritage site hosting exhibitions, events, children's activities, tours, live glass-making (not on Wednesdays) and craft studios.

The Locksmith's House 01902 634542 www.bclm.co.uk Enter a time warp on a visit to this gas-lit Victorian lock-maker's house.

Wyre Forest Visitor Centre 01299 266944 Follow a foot or cycle path through the forest, climb the woodpecker tree in the adventure playground, spot wildlife from the hide.

Fish Hill Picnic Place 01905 766493 malvern.whub.org.uk A lovely spot for a picnic and fantastic views of the Cotswolds.

Clent Hills www.nationaltrust.org.uk Fly a kite or stretch your legs to see The Four Stones. Wildlife-rich woodland and heath rising to over 1,000 ft Tank Quarry www.worcestershire.gov.uk Enjoy the picnic area and walking trails, look out for nesting kestrels and jackdaws and a variety of butterflies.

Clives Fruit Farm WORCESTERSHIRE 01684 592664 www.clivesfruitfarm.co.uk Feed the chickens and pigs or ride on a mini tractor course, play in the play area or walk the farm trail.

Arrow Valley Country Park and Visitor Centre 01527 464000 Join the children's craft club or a workshop. There are trails, cycle paths, a children's play area.

Pump House Environment Centre 01905 734934 www.dwt.org.uk Learn about sustaining our environment through innovative technologies.

Worcester City Museum and Art Gallery 01905 25371 Visit the museum's modern art gallery and activity area for children.

Learn from the 'Worcestershire Soldier' section and about 'Worcester' sauce.

n Let's Go with the Children Guide Books are published by Boomerang Family Ltd. Costing pounds 3.75 they are available from Morrisons, Waitrose, Asda, Tesco, Sainsbury's, Co-op, Martin McColl, WH Smith and Waterstones www.letsgowiththechildren.co.uk

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Explore the 18th century Sarehole Mill which inspired writer JRR Tolkien Visit the heritage centre at the Red House Glass Cone in Wordsley
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Publication:The Birmingham Post (England)
Date:Apr 10, 2009
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