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Free days out in Surrey, Sussex and Kent

By This is Surrey  |  Posted: April 21, 2009

  • ADVENTURE: Explore Alice Holt Woodland Adventure Park. Photo: Crown Copyright/Forestry Commission

  • OH DEER: Ashdown Forest is home to deer and Winnie the Pooh

  • PARKLAND: Walk, cycle and discover the flora and fauna of Norbury Park

  • VIEWS: Gaze across the valley towards the South Downs from atop Box Hill

  • VIEWS: Gaze across the valley towards the South Downs from atop Box Hill.

  • ADVENTURE: Explore among the trees and tackle the mini assault course at Alice Holt Woodland Adventure Park at Bucks Horn Oak, Farnham. Photo: Crown Copyright/Forestry Commission

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A recent survey suggested more than half of us will stay in the UK this year.

Staycation might be the buzzword in holidays as we watch our money but that doesn't mean we have to stay at home all the time.

And neither does having a day out with the family mean spending a fortune in admission fees.

In a two-part series we bring you a selection of ideas for places to visit in Surrey, Sussex, Kent and on the fringes of London which have free entry.

For this first week we look at educational and adventurous days out.

EDUCATIONAL

The Bourne Hall Museum, Spring Street, Ewell, Surrey, 0208 394 1734, www.epsom.townpage.co.uk/bhmuseum.htm

In this interesting, modern building you can see an old fire engine and a Hansom cab used by a prime minister as well as memorabilia that recreates the Epsom and Ewell of yesteryear.

Reigate Priory Museum, Bell Street, Reigate, Surrey, 01737 222550 (afternoons), www.reigatepriorymuseum.org.uk

The museum in the Grade I listed Priory which is home to Reigate Priory School, re-opens on Saturday, May 2 with a new exhibition called From Rationing to Rock 'n' Roll - Life in Post-War Britain.

Royal Logistics Corps Museum, The Princess Royal Barracks, Blackdown Road, Deepcut, Camberley, Surrey, 01252 833371, www.army.mod.uk

Learn about the RLC from 1336 to today. See exhibitions showing the life of a soldier in difficult wartime situations.

Chertsey Museum, The Cedars, Windsor Street, Chertsey, Surrey, 01932 565764, www.chertseymuseum.org.uk

There are more than 15,000 objects to discover, including ancient relics and fashions together with interactive fun for children, events and activities.

The Museum of Farnham, West Street, Farnham, Surrey, 01252 715094, www.waverley.gov.uk

This award winning museum has attractive and interesting displays based on local history. See the On the Road exhibition as well as the famous Farnham Greenware. There is an 18th century walled garden and children's activities.

The Booth Museum of Natural History, Dyke Road, Brighton, East Sussex, 01273 292777, www.booth.virtualmuseum.info

Exhibits include birds, butterflies, skeletons, dinosaur bones, fossils and geology, with a variety of interactive displays in the hands-on gallery.

Gunnersbury Park and Museum, Popes Lane, London, 0208 992 1612, www.museumoflondon.org.uk

The park began life as a walled garden around a 17th century Palladian Mansion. The mansion now houses the museum, which has a wealth of history on display relating to the area. There are regularly changing exhibitions and events.

Leatherhead Museum of Local History, Church Street, Leatherhead, Surrey, 01372 386348,www.leatherheadlocalhistory.org.uk

Hampton Cottage has an interesting Victorian kitchen and the museum has a good collection of Anglo Saxon finds, as well as industrial and trade history exhibits.

Biddenden Vineyards and Cider Works, Gribble Bridge Lane, Biddenden, Ashford, Kent, 01580 291726 www.biddendenvineyards.com

Explore the extensive vineyards and see the presses and bottling line, followed by a visit to the tasting room to try the wine, cider and apple juice for free. Harvesting takes place in September.

ADVENTUROUS

The North Downs Way, www.nationaltrail.co.uk

This is a trail passing through Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, with some spectacular views to the South Downs. From its start at Farnham station to its finish in Kent, the path passes many historical sights and much of it follows the Pilgrims Way.

Coldrum Long Barrow, off Pinesfield Lane, Trottiscliffe, Kent, www.nationaltrust.org.uk

Take your wellies for the path to the 15 sarsen stones which form the remains of a burial chamber. Overlooking the Medway Valley and said to be more than 3,000 years old, it is one of the best preserved megalithic tombs in Kent.

Box Hill, approach from A24 or A25, near Dorking, Surrey, 01306 888793, main Surrey Hills office 01372 220640, www.nationaltrust.org.uk

Visit this wonderful area of mature woodland and chalk downland with amazing views to the South Downs. The information centre has leaflets for nature walks, runs guided walks and organises children's activities. The new Discovery Zone has just opened, featuring games and activities and even a bird box camera.

There are lots more National Trust sites in the area to explore on foot – try Denbies Hillside, Abinger Roughs and Leith Hill near Dorking, and Gatton Park, Reigate. See website or call main office for information.

Alice Holt Woodland Park, Bucks Horn Oak, Farnham, Surrey, 01420 23666 www.forestry.gov.uk

This ancient forest has a playground, the Timberline Trail mini assault course, the Habitat Trail with a series of play structures and an Easy Access Trail. Take part in holiday activities such as den building and crafts, or go on the wildlife walks to see the deer, nightjar, bats and fungi. There are also outdoor programmes for mums and toddlers.

Norbury Park, Mickleham, near Leatherhead, Surrey, www.surreywildlifetrust.co.uk

This historic parkland has the River Mole running through it. There is a self guided family trail, a family off road cycle route, lots of flora and fauna to spot as well as lovely picnic sites made with wood from the sawmill. On a clear day see the London skyline.

The Wandle Trail, Croydon, www.sustrans.org.uk

Enjoy part or all of this 13 mile walk, with interesting sculptures, bridges and historical sights along the length of the River Wandle. It starts at Waddon Ponds, Mill Lane in Croydon, and continues to its entry at the River Thames. The walking and cycling trail uses shared paths and is clearly way-marked.

Ashdown Forest, East Sussex 01342 823583 www.ashdownforest.org

The home of Winnie the Pooh. Acres of heath and woodland with footpaths and viewpoints.

Admission to these places is free but in some cases there may be a charge for things such as organised activities and parking – please check with the attraction for full details.

For more ideas on days out this summer - both free and with a charge - check out the Let's Go with the Children series of guide books (Boomerang Family Ltd., £3.75). They cover 14 areas of England, including editions for Surrey, Sussex and Kent. For more information log on to www.letsgowiththechildren.co.uk , telephone 01252 368325.

Next week: Historical and nature days out

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