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10 Things to do This Summer, For Free!

A timely round-up of ten top things to do this summer, for free.

1. Visit Occombe Farm in Paignton, Devon. Promoting healthy eating and sustainable farming, Occombe Farm is also free of charge to visit. Spread over 150 acres, it features a Farm Shop, Café, Bakery, Butchers and Study Centre, as well as a 2km long nature-trail around a Site of Special Scientific Interest. Its aim is to reconnect people with farming, food and the countryside, and to create a working demonstration organic farm which is a leader in the educational field and a centre of excellence. http://www.occombe.org.uk/

2. Potteries Museum & Art Gallery, Stoke-on-Trent. Plenty of fun for all the family. And home to the amazing Staffordshire Hoard. http://www.stokemuseums.org.uk/pmag

3. The Shropshire Hills Discovery Centre in Craven Arms, Shropshire, manages to explain to its visitors the historical, geological and inspirational significance of the magical Shropshire Hills - but in a fun and enjoyable way. Much of it can be accessed entirely free of charge including the café, gallery, shop and surrounding Onny Meadows with its many walks and trails. http://www.shropshire.gov.uk/shropshirehills.nsf

4. Arts centre QUAD, in Derby, was the first venue outside of London to host a BFI Mediatheque. Put simply - it's a jukebox featuring the best of the BFI archive. Sit back, watch, enjoy! http://www.derbyquad.co.uk/bfi-mediatheque

5. Go rock-pooling on The English Riviera. Especially at Goodrington Sands, near Paignton. http://www.torbay-online.co.uk/paignton/paignton-beaches.htm

6. Westons Cider Visitor Centre, Much Marcle, Herefordshire. Deep in the Herefordshire countryside 'Westons' is situated in the old village of Much Marcle. Nestling on a gentle hillside amongst apple and pear orchards 'The Bounds' with its 400 year old farmhouse is the centre piece to a unique day out for all the family. Join a tour around the cider mill and museum, see one of the world's largest bottle collections, then relax in The Henry Westons Edwardian garden. http://www.westons-cider.co.uk/

7. Enjoy a safe, way-marked family stroll through Queenswood Country Park and Arboretum, near Leominster, Herefordshire. A 67 acre collection of rare and exotic trees in an attractive natural woodland. Way-marked trails, easy access paths. http://www.visitherefordshire.co.uk/thedms.aspx?dms=13&GroupId=2&venue=1420188

8. Have a picnic under the iron bridge, at Ironbridge, in Shropshire. (But first treat yourself to a cup cake each from the queen of cup cake shops). Afterwards, follow the town trails which tell the story of the birthplace of the industrial revolution. http://www.queeniescupcakery.co.uk/

9. RAF Aerospace Museum, in Cosford, Shropshire. Is this the best free family attraction in the UK? http://www.rafmuseum.org.uk/cosford/

10. Enjoy The Royal Forest of Dean's childrens' playground, designed by the sculptor Andy Frost. Frost drew inspiration from the history of the Dean as a working forest to provide the play furniture adjacent to Beechenhurst Lodge. His sculptures provide a stimulating experience for youngsters up to 12 years old. Various play structures represent aspects of timber production – children can clamber over an oak tree, an old wooden ship under construction, a man and horse leading an old cartload of logs, and woodmen with a crosscut saw, modern lumberjack with chainsaw. The history of mining in the Dean is also portrayed; swings and a ropeway are overlooked by a pithead cage tower, a sliding pole is incorporated into a beam engine used to pump mine water (the original is in the Dean Heritage Museum). And if you have enough energy after all that, stroll round the majestic Sculpture Trail which starts and ends at the rear of Beechenhurst Lodge picnic site. http://www.forestofdean-sculpture.org.uk/visit/


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