From secret nuclear bunkers to gadget museums, we explore the far and wide to bring the best geek days out to you
The Under the Pier Show, Southwold, Suffolk
Nestled beneath Southwold Pier is this fascinating, humorous and very British collection of home-made arcade machines and simulators, most of them built by artist, engineer and TV presenter Tim Hunkin (whom you may remember from Channel 4’s The Secret Life of Machines). Venture inside and you’ll find all sorts of weird and wonderful contraptions, including the Bathyscape (which simulates an sub-aqua adventure), Fly Drive (which lets you view the world through a fly’s eyes) and Pirate Practice, in which you storm a super yacht as a modern-day Blackbeard. The arcade is open every day except Christmas Day, and entry is free.
Photo credit: Duncan Robson
Kelvedon Hatch secret nuclear bunker, Essex
What better way to spend a sunny bank holiday than wandering round a subterranean bunker designed to house key government and military staff in the event of a Soviet nuclear attack? Built in the early 50s, this bunker was intended as a safe emergency home for up to 600 VIPs, who could have lived here completely isolated from the outside world for up to three months. Very Fallout. Now it’s a privately-owned tourist attraction kept very much in its original state, and you can take an atmospheric self-guided audio tour around its offices, storerooms and living quarters. Creepy, fascinating and, at £7 a tour (£5 for children), pretty cheap.
Photo credit: Benji Carter
Seaford Museum, Seaford, East Sussex
Squeezed inside a deceptively spacious Martello tower (built to defend against a Napoleonic invasion), this quirky museum is home to a wide range of exhibits concerning Seaford’s history, all the way from prehistoric times to the present day. There’s a little something for everyone, but we suspect geeks will particularly enjoy the early 20th century domestic appliances, early computers and vintage TV and radio sets. The museum is open Wednesdays, Saturdays, Sundays and Bank Holidays during the summer, and admission is £2 for adults.
Photo credit: Steve Slater
Portmeirion, Gwynedd, North Wales
A little slice of the Mediterranean nestled in the dramatic North Wales countryside, Portmeirion was built between 1925 and 1975 in the style of an Italian village. Its beauty and that of the surrounding area make it a popular tourist destination in its own right, but it holds a special place in the hearts of cult television fanatics due to its use as the location for sinister 1960s series The Prisoner. Show devotees will derive plenty of pleasure from treading the footsteps of Patrick McGoohan’s Number Six. Day tickets are £10 (£8.50 if bought online) for adults.
Photo credit: Sel Felin
Warwick Castle, Warwickshire
Billed as “Britain’s ultimate castle”, Warwick’s 12th century stronghold has been made into a major – and very busy – tourist attraction (run by the Tussauds Group), with a range of medieval-themed attractions including jousting, archery displays, falconry, a delightfully horrific dungeon tour and a giant working trebuchet – the largest siege engine in the world. The 18m tall trebuchet takes four men 30 minutes to load and release, and hurls projectiles hundreds of metres for your viewing pleasure. How’s that for technology? Tickets start at £22.95 for an adult, and are cheaper if you book far in advance. There are discounts for family tickets too.
Photo credit: Dark Dwarf