ANCIENT houses crammed with history colourful parties in fascinating destinations this Easter will be a cracking time to take a break, say the country's top leisure and tour operators.

English Heritage, for example, are profiling a wide and diverse range of egg-citing family options.

The home of Charles Darwin, just off the M25 at Orpington, Kent, offers a remarkable insight into the famous scientist, who lived there for 40 years and wrote his controversial On the Origin of the Species, that rocked the Victorian world.

At 10am and 2pm each day between Tuesday, March 29 and Tuesday, April 5, children take part in an intimate Victorian Treasure Hunt , collecting clues and solving riddles with prizes. All children must be accompanied by a paying adult.

Visit Darwin's ground-floor study, packed with around 3,500 authentic objects, including the original bound manuscript of the journal of his epic voyage to South America on HMS Beagle.

Normal admission prices apply for the Victorian Treasure Hunt - £6.60 adults, £5 concessions and children. English Heritage members adults free, children £1.70.Call 01689 859119

For memorable picnics, woodland walks, a pretty waterfall and lake, the grounds of Witley Court, near Worcester, make an ideal place to visit.

As its centrepiece, the soaring Perseus and Andromeda fountain, recently restored by English Heritage, is breathtaking, firing plumes of water 90ft into the sky.

From 11am to 5pm every day between Good Friday and Bank Holiday Monday, there's a children's Easter Egg Hunt with a small prize for every child.

Normal admission prices apply for the Easter Egg Hunt - £4.95 adults, £3.70 concessions, £2.50 children, and family ticket £12.40. English Heritage members free. Call: 01299 896636.

Brodsworth Hall, near Doncaster, offers visitors a unique opportunity to share the "upstairs and down stairs" life of the Victorians.

The faded grandeur of the original interiors of this country house has rich decorative schemes, grand reception rooms and private quarters reflecting the opulence of life for the landed gentry.

But the highlight is the cluttered kitchen, with huge dressers bursting with pots and pans and the mighty cooking ranges showing just how life was for the army of servants "downstairs".

A rare survival from the Victorian age, the gardens have been returned to their heyday and are full of spectacular spring bulbs.

From noon on Easter Sunday and Bank Holiday Monday, youngsters can enjoy a Fairy Trail, finding Victorian fairies concealed in the enchanting gardens with promises chocolate rewards

Call: 01305 722598 Admission prices to the event are £4.60 adults, £3.50 concessions, £2.30 children. English Heritage members free. Extra admission for the hall.

Coach to seaside resorts, historic towns, Ireland and the Continent, are on offer over Easter with more than 100 coach company members of the Coach Tourism Council.

Visit the English Riviera, Dartmoor, the Lake District or enjoy the craic and a taste of Ireland. Roll off to the colourful spectacle of the Dutch Bulbfields or the romance of Paris in the spring.

Or take a flight-connected coach holiday of Florence, Venice and Tuscany or discover Prague, Vienna and Budapest. For details of coach operators across the UK, visit or call 01227 762200.