September is the month when hundreds of venues of historic, cultural or architectural note that are normally closed to the public or charge for admission, open their doors for free access to visitors.
This is all part of the nation-wide Heritage Open Days 2012 scheme, which offers hundreds of different ideas for fun, free days out with the family. We’ve picked out ten from around the country; what’s going on near you?
Heritage Open Days 2012: North
Check out the vintage buses and commercial vehicles belonging to Glasgow’s Vintage Vehicle Trust at Bridgeton Bus Garage in Fordneuk Street. Open 15 September (10am-4pm) and 16 September (11am-4pm). Book your tour in advance (0141 554 0544).
In Titanic centenary year, steam into Belfast’s historic and famous Harland & Wolff shipyard for a Titanic Boat Tour starting at 11.30am on 8 September. Booking is essential (028 9054 3022).
Discover the origins of Jemima Puddle-Duck, Tom Kitten et al on 8 September from 10.30-4pm, when Beatrix Potter’s Cottage near Hawkshead in the Lake District is open to visitors. At Hill Top, every room tells its own tale (015394 36269).
Hoof it down to meet the horses at Stepney Bank Stables, at Ouseburn in Newcastle, open on 6 and 7 September (9.30am-8pm, tour at 6pm) or 8 and 9 September (9.30am-4.30pm, tour at 2pm). Pre-book for the weekend tours (0191 261 5544).
Heritage Open Days 2012: Central
Travel back in time with a visit to the Grade one listed Oystermouth Castle, on a hill overlooking Swansea Bay. Advance booking is required for the hourly tours on 8 September, which run from 11am-5pm (01792 361302).
Learn all about beekeeping, make candles from beeswax and learn all about a community garden at the Birmingham Honey Show at Martineau Gardens in Edgbaston on 8 and 9 September, 10am-4pm (0121 440 7430).
Tread the boards at Chelmsford Theatre when they celebrate their 50th anniversary with an open day on 8 September from 10am-5pm. Enjoy a backstage tour, live music and family-friendly activities (01245 606505).
Heritage Open Days 2012: South
Get on track at the Moseley Toys, Trams and Mines Museum at Redruth where from 6 to 9 September there will be vintage toy train layouts, train rides, coal mine displays and much more. Open 10am-5.30pm (01209 211191).
Explore Dorking’s cellars and caves at South Street, which date back to the 17th century, with an expert guide on 8 September. Tours hourly from 11am-3pm but must be pre-booked (01306 881717).
‘Heritage Hunters’ are invited to the Historic Dockyard Chatham for a look behind the scenes at some of the dockyard’s most admired features. Pre-book for one of the tours which run hourly from 11.30-3.30pm on 8 and 9 September (01634 823800).
Take a look at the hundreds of Heritage Open Days 2012 on offer in Scotland, Northern Ireland, England and Wales. Do check all details ahead of your visit. And please do tell us which ones you’ve enjoyed by adding your comments below!