With a staycation being this year’s holiday of choice for many credit- crunched families, we’re offering a selection of great places to go and things to do to make staying at home as much fun as going away.

This week and next, we’ll be bringing you ideas for a wide range of days out. This week sees suggestions for the best places to go locally, from the natural world to living history, from indoor fun to outdoor activities, and all within easy driving distance.

■ Walking and picnicking in the local countryside

Pack a picnic, lace up your walking boots and put your best foot forward for a day that costs almost nothing, but offers a unique way to experience the beautiful landscape.

Reluctant walkers will be magically transformed into enthusiastic ramblers with the addition of a friend or two. To discover one of the country’s most famous National Trails, visit the Offa’s Dyke Centre in Knighton, half-way along the trail, where you can enjoy an interactive information exhibition before exploring a stretch of the famous Offa’s Dyke.

■ International Centre for Birds of Prey, Eardisland

An opportunity to see and learn about birds you’d never normally see and watch them in flight in one of the regular flying sessions.

International Centre for Birds of Prey: 01531 820286/821581 or icbp.org

■ aMazing Hedge Puzzle/Wye Valley Butterfly Zoo/Wye Valley Miniature Golf

With three great attractions in one place, you’ll find plenty to fill your day at Symonds Yat, with the aMazing Hedge Puzzle and Maze Museum offering fun and excitement, the Wye Valley Butterfly Zoo providing an opportunity to walk among the butterflies and finish off with a round of 12 holes of mini golf. For details, call 01600 890360 or visit mazes.co.uk

■ National Trust properties

Throughout the summer holidays, you’ll find lots of activities at the National Trust’s Berrington Hall, Brockhampton Estate and Croft Castle.

Berrington Hall: August 4, 2pm- 4pm, Berrington Sports Day, try your hand at some traditional lawn games; August, 10, 11 and 17, 2pm- 4pm, Ugly Bug Safari at Berrington Hall, join in the hunt for all those ‘Ugly Bugs’ in the parkland and lake; August 18, 2pm-4pm, Mermaids & Pirates at Berrington Hall, come along dressed as a mermaid or pirate and get in free, with lots of activities, from making hats and jewellery boxes to enjoying a pirate trail; August 25, 2pm-4pm, Teddy Bears' Picnic, bring along your favourite teddy and enjoy a picnic in the grounds before you try some teddy competitions.

Croft Castle and Parkland: Throughout August, follow the family trail treasure hunt between 11am and 4pm; August 5, 12 19 and 26, 1pm to 3pm, Ugly Bug Safari, explore the exciting and fascinating world of mini beasts with the countryside wardens.

Brockhampton Estate: August 2, 12pm-4pm, Fairy Tale Trail, a day of magic for all little wizards and fairies – look for fairies at the bottom of the garden, or trolls under the bridge with prizes for all in fancy dress; August 5, 12, 19 and 26, 2pm- 4pm: Moat Dipping and Bugs & Birds, join the wardens to hunt for mini-beasts and birds, and bring your fishing nets for moat dipping.

■ Go Ballistic, Bridgnorth

Ditch the games console and play for real with a paintballing session. More information: 0870 1417490 or visit goballistic.co.uk

■ Mountain boarding

Take to the hills and discover the exhilaration of the UK’s fastest growing board sport – mountain boarding.

Head for Court Farm in Tillington, the first official Maxtrak centre in the county and a great place for mountain boarders, whether experienced or complete beginners.

Safety kit, boards and tuition for beginners are provided and it doesn’t take long for novices to start hurtling down the gentle nursery slope, while a big hill offers advanced riders two challenging 500-yard downhill runs.

At Out to Grass in Cradley, you’ll also be provided with board, safety kit and instruction before you head off in pursuit of downhill speed.

Call Court Farm Mountain Board Centre on 01432 760271 or visit courtfarmleisure.co.uk. Call Out to Grass on 01886 88099 or visit outtograss.com

■ Go Ape Forest of Dean and Wyre Forest.

Walk tall as you negotiate the treetop walkways of Go Ape, meeting the challenge of highwires, zipwires and cargo nets in a workout for mind and body. Details: goape.co.uk

■ Bowling

Grove Golf and Bowl offers eight state-of-the-art bowling lanes using the latest computer technology, giving accurate scoring and bowling speeds, with fully automated bumpers for the less experienced to ensure that you hit a pin every time. Grove Golf and Bowl: 01568 611777, grovegolfandbowl.co.uk

■ Hampton Court

Beautifully restored gardens, a maze and waterfall and plenty of space to run about in, Hampton Court has something for adults and children alike every day.

August 26 at 5pm – Merlin the Magician comes to Hampton Court.

Alive with music, dance, comedy and drama,we follow Merlin on his quest to guide King Arthur in his search for the Holy Grail.

Details: 01568 797777 or hampton court.org.uk

■ Horse-riding

Get in the saddle and see the world from a different perspective.

Bryngwyn Riding Centre: Old Rectory, Bryngwyn, Kington Details: 01497 851661 Sue Adams Riding School Hamnish, Leominster, Details: 01568 760267

■ Ludlow Assembly Rooms

Thursday, July 23, 2pm and 3.15pm, Messy Play sessions, three-seven years. Have fun finger painting and making things to take home.

Saturday, July 25, Marches Youth Festival, noon to late. A whole day packed with dynamic acts and entertainment – bands, dance and walkabout acts, buzz bus, cheerleaders, face painting – all free, at Wheeler Road Skate Park, Ludlow.

Register for skateboard competitions by 1.30pm. Battle of Trafalgar with cardboard galleons and waterbomb fun – with £50 prize for best galleon Friday, July 31, 10am-4pm. Create a video /animation to upload to YouTube. Work with Emma Puente to make a short video/animation, ideal for your personal profile or if you are part of a creative group that needs to make an impression. For age 12+ Wednesday, August 12, 10am- 5.30pm (hour-long slots): Computer games on the big screen and medium screen. How often do you get to see huge computer characters zoom about on a huge cinema screen?

Bring your own computer games and book your slot quickly before they sell out. For ages eight+ Tuesday, August 18, 9.30am: Musical Theatre Summer School, eight- 11yrs and 12+. A four-day summer school (Tuesday to Friday, 9.30am- 5pm) to create a show full of hits from the musicals, professionally lit in the auditorium, with experienced choreographer, dancer and voice coach. Performance on Friday at 6.30pm Tuesday, August 25, sessions at 10am, 11am and noon: Sled Kite Making. Make a kite to take home with kite expert Karl Longbottom.

For five-seven years Tuesday, August 25, 1.30pm to 3.30pm: Indian Fighting Kite Making. Make a kite to take home with kite expert Karl Longbottom.

eight+ years Tuesday, August 25, 3.30pm to 5.30pm: Japanese Edo Kite Making.

Make a kite to take home with kite expert Karl Longbottom. Eight+ years Thursday, August 27, Summer Dance Workshop: Dance sessions Ages three-six yrs at 2.45pm-3.30pm and ages seven-11 yrs at 3.45pm- 4.30pm

■ Ludlow Museum

See some of the oldest-known fossil plants and land animals in the world at Ludlow Museum and discover how a Victorian geologist made Ludlow’s rocks famous around the world. The museum also tells the story of the people who have lived and worked in Ludlow, from the Bronze Age farmers through to the present day.

Details: 01694 781306.

■ Go-karting at Herefordshire Raceway

Keeping children of different ages amused can be a challenge in the school holidays, but for the overeights, go-karting offers a brilliant solution. Boys and girls alike love speeding around the track, trying to beat each other and themselves, with every driver given a print-out of their lap times at the end.

Details: 01544 318334 or visit herefordshireraceway.org.uk

■ Nature Trails

Download a family trail sheet from herefordshirewt.org and explore the special nature places and reserves set up by Herefordshire Nature Trust around the county. All you need is the trail sheet, a pencil and yourselves.

There’s a Ross-on-Wye town to river nature trail, a trail on the Lugg Meadows and another in Crow Wood nature reserve on the edge of the Black Mountains. And at Queenswood throughout the summer, Bertie Buzzard and friends challenge you to explore the wonders of the Queenswood Country Park Trail.

Details: 01432 356872 or visit herefordshirewt.org

■ Broomy Hill Miniature Railway

The Hereford Society of Model Engineers run ‘steaming’ days regularly through the summer holidays, allowing visits to see the steam locomotives and take a short ride.

Details: 01432 270143

■ Shortwood Family Farm near Bromyard

Take a two-hour animal feeding tour, see the old-fashioned farmyard and even milk a cow at this working organic dairy farm.

Details: 01885 400205 or visit shortwoodfarm.co.uk

■ The Small Breeds Farm Park and Owl Centre, Kington

All the British owls can be seen at this unique farm park, as well as a wide selection of other animals.

Details: 01544 231109 or visit owlcentre.com

■ Weston’s Cider Visitor Centre and Rare Breeds Farm Park

Take a guided tour and then visit the farm park, which also has a tractor pad with children’s John Deere pedal tractors and a children’s play farm house.

Details: 01531 660223 or visit westons- cider.co.uk

■ The Big Chill

Herefordshire’s favourite familyfriendly festival on the Eastnor estate opens on Thursday, August 6, with a wealth of workshops and activities for children.