Britain's best picnic spots

Longer summer days and warmer weather marks the start of picnic season. Unroll the blankets and dust-off the hampers, and head to one of the 20 best picnic spots in Britain

6th June 2018
Coastal Picnic

Picnicking is a great excuse to explore the countryside - grab your sandwiches and explore 20 of our favourite picnic spots in the UK

1. Corfe Castle, Dorset

Corfe Castle, Dorset
Sun rises over the ruins of Corfe Castle, Dorset/Credit: Getty Images

There is far more to Corfe than just the Castle which governs the Purbeck Hills, although it makes a wonderful landscape for a picnic as you surround yourself with history. Turn a picnic into a day out by visiting the Model Village, the Animal Rescue Centre and the Parish Church. You can also stroll around the village, explore the Purbeck Hills and, if you have time, ride a steam train to Swanage.

    2. Castlerigg Stone Circle, Keswick

    Castlerigg Stone Circles sits beneath a starry sky
    Castlerigg Stone Circles sits beneath a starry sky/Credit: Getty Images

    Relish the moment as you enjoy your picnic surrounded by an ancient stone circle, named as one of Britain’s most impressive prehistoric sites. You will also be able to look onto four of the tallest peaks in the Lake District.

    3. Barafundle Bay, Pembrokshire

    Barafundle Beach
    Barafundle Beach on the Stackpole Estate, Pembrokeshire/Credit: Getty Images

    A picnic will enhance any visit to this award-winning beach, particularly as all facilities are at least half a mile away over the cliff. Expect golden sands and crystal clear water at Barafundle Beach, one of Britain’s best beaches. Whether you decide to dip in the sea, explore the sand dunes, rock pools and caves or just take in the stunning natural views, the tranquil atmosphere is a perfect picnic setting.

    4. Tatton Park, Knutsford, Cheshire

    Deer relax in Tatton Park, Cheshire
    Deer relax in Tatton Park, Cheshire/Credit: Getty Images

    Revel at the beauty of this estate in the company of the park’s wildlife whilst also participating in various activities. Tatton Park hosts various events ranging from workshops and demonstrations to headline concerts and fireworks.

    The parkland is owned by the National Trust and managed by East Cheshire Countryside. There are endless opportunities for exploration, beginning with the elegant neo-classical Georgian mansion itself, with breathtaking furnishings and artworks including works by Canaletto, Van Dyck and furniture from Gillow.

    5. Bowlees Picnic Area, Durham

    High Force waterfall
    Eat your lunch after a walk to the stunning High Force waterfall/Credit: Getty Image

    Look on in awe at the four waterfalls which act as the backdrop to this picnic site. Take a walk along the riverside and venture the short distance to the High Force waterfall, a spectacle not to be missed. High Force is England’s largest waterfall with a drop of 21 metres.

    6. Devil’s Dyke, West Sussex

    Devil's Dyke, West Sussex
    Devil's Dyke offers incredible views of the South Downs/Credit: Getty Images

    Discover Britain’s longest, deepest and widest dry valley whilst surrounded by breathtaking panoramas and colourful wildlife. Its raised position allows for fantastic views over the English Channel and South Downs and is a perfect location for kite-flying and hill-rolling. A perfect spot for a picnic which combines beautiful scenery with a fun day out.

    7. Upper Wharfedale, Yorkshire Dales, Yorkshire

    Upper Wharfedale
    Sunrise over Upper Wharfedale, Yorkshire Dales/Credit: Getty Images

    The countryside around the Yorkshire Dales village of Grassington is dotted with pools and falls, making it an idyllic location for a spot of wild swimming – followed, of course, by a riverside picnic. In the meadows south of Grassington, families mess about in rubber dinghies, skip over stepping-stones and throw themselves down natural water chutes.

    Nearby Ghaistrill’s Strid offers exhilarating rapids, while Loup Scar tempts the more intrepid with a high jump and plunge pool. Further north, between Grassington and Conistone, steer your picnic gang towards Grass Wood, a delightful ancient woodland carpeted with wild flowers.

    8. Marsden Bay, South Tyneside

    Marsden Bay, South Tyneside
    Limestone cliff of Marsden Bay, South Tyneside/Credit: Getty Images

    Combine a picnic with a trip to the beach, particularly on a sunny day as Marsden Bay acts as a sun-trap and wind-shelter. Explore the caves hidden beneath the limestone cliffs and observe the skies as the location is renowned for its seabird colonies.

    9. Burton Dasset Hills Country Park, Warwickshire

    Burton Dassett. Warwickshire
    The rolling hills of Burton Dassett, Warwickshire

    Wade through a sea of sheep and perch your picnic blanket on an ironstone hill beside 'The Beacon'. A Grade II Listed Building that is thought to have been built as a tower mill but was later used as a lookout tower in the English Civil War. The view is truly spectacular, according to a hilltop toposcope, you can see Coventry Cathedral on a clear day, over 20 miles away. 

    10. Wimpole Estate, Cambridgeshire

    Wimpole Estate
    Lakeside autumn reflection at Wimpole Estate, Cambridgeshire/Credit: Getty Images

    This National Trust property comprises of an impressive mansion and a working country estate. Visitors are invited to peruse the beautiful Georgian interiors, of which the iconic Yellow Drawing Room is perhaps the most impressive.

    There is just as much, if not more, on offer outdoors. Take a stroll through the pleasant gardens and explore the bustling farmyard. You can also venture further across the landscaped park, through woodlands, lakes and fields. A variety of different family-friendly events are hosted throughout the year, from outdoor theatre to wild camping.

    11. Lydford Gorge, Devon

    Lydford Gorge
    Lydford Gorge was naturally formed thousands of years ago/Credit: Getty Images

    This is the deepest gorge in south-west England and includes beautiful ancient oak woodland; the trees’ fresh green leaves newly unfurled. A series of spectacular potholes line the gorge, the largest of which is Devil’s Cauldron.

    12. Dunstable Downs, Bedfordshire

    Dunstable Downs lie in the Chilterns, Bedfordshire
    Dunstable Downs lie in the Chilterns, Bedfordshire/Credit: Getty Images

    As the highest point in the East of England, Dunstable Downs offers spectacular views across the Vale of Aylesbury and along the Chiltern Ridge. The chalky grasslands are buzzing with wildlife for young nature enthusiasts to discover, whilst the vast open space makes the downs an ideal spot for kite-flying, even home to an annual kite festival. Watch colourful gliders soar overhead, and visit the family-friendly visitor’s centre to learn about the local archaeology.

    13. Lyndhurst, New Forest

    Lyndhurst, New Forest
    Untamed New Forest moorland/Credit: Getty Images

    After 1,000 years, Lyndhurst still retains much of the beauty and protection it used to enjoy as a hunting paradise for kings. Take a trip and picnic in the heart of the New Forest.

    14. Avebury Stone Circle, Wiltshire

    Avebury Stone Circle
    Avenue of Neolithic stones, Avebury, Wiltshire

    The magnificent man-made monuments of Avebury provide a spectacular and mysterious backdrop for a picnic with the past. The largest stone circle (also the biggest in the world) wraps itself around half of Avebury village, which is home to the Keiller Museum - complete with hands-on exhibits to keep the little ones happy. Unlike the restrictions of Stonehenge, Avebury can be freely explored, and the historic landscape is perfect for re-enacting battle scenes.

    15. Mussenden Temple, Londonderry, Northern Ireland

    Mussenden Temple
    Mussenden Temple sits atop Castlerock, Northern Ireland

    Perching precariously on a cliff-top, the Italianate Mussenden Temple, on the National Trust’s Downhill Estate in County Londonderry, offers one of Northern Ireland’s most awe-inspiring coastal views. Part of the eccentric Frederick Augustus Hervey’s 18th-century estate, the temple was built as a summer library. It’s certainly a dramatic spot to recline with a book as the waves roll in from the Atlantic and views stretch westwards towards Magilligan Point and County Donegal. An inscription on the building reads: “Tis pleasant, safely to behold from shore. The rolling ship, and hear the tempest roar.” A picnic here gives you the opportunity to do just that.

    16. Holkham Beach, Norfolk

    Holkham beach, Norfolk
    Unspoilt sandy beach of Holkham, Norfolk

    Although it’s one of East Anglia’s most popular stretches of sand, Holkham Beach is so vast you won’t have any trouble finding a secluded spot. The three miles of flat, golden sands stretch as far as the eye can see; even the skies seem somehow bigger here. The beach is part of Holkham National Nature Reserve, and the dunes harbour natterjack toads and as well as a beautiful variety of orchids, thistles and sea lavender; offshore, little terns hover and dive for fish. If the northerly winds pick up, pitch up within the pinewoods that back onto the beach.

    17. Seven Sisters, Seaford, East Sussex

    Sheep atop Seven Sisters, looking down on Cuckmere Valley
    Sheep atop Seven Sisters, looking down on Cuckmere Valley/Credit: Getty Images

    Eat your sandwiches opposite one of the most iconic scenes in the country – the Seven Sisters. OK, so the shingle beach doesn’t make for the comfiest of meals, but the views are well worth it. The Sisters is a great place to watch the sun set because of the way the light plays over the white cliffs, and it’s also a location that’s captivated filmmakers for decades. Scenes from Atonement and Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves should ring bells. Behind the famous chalk cliffs you’ll find meandering rivers, flower-rich downland and a rollercoaster path on which you can walk off your sandwiches.

    18. Chatsworth House, Peak District

    Chatsworth House, Derbyshire
    Grazing sheep outside Chatsworth House, Derbyshire/Credit: Getty Images

    Aside from the manicured slopes, beautifully tended gardens and grand estate view that make this such a classic picnic spot, Chatsworth in Derbyshire has one resounding feature that puts it squarely on the picnic spot wish list – the farm shop is simply brilliant. Arrive with an empty basket and spend an hour filling it with a vast array of delicious home-cooked meats, pies, cheese and bread – 60 percent of which are sourced from within the estate – before finding your own patch of deer-nibbled grass on which to recline. There are no ‘keep off the grass’ signs here, so finding your own slice of Chatsworth is easy as pie.

    19. Elterwater, Lake District

    Loughrigg Tarn
    Situated just north of Lake Windermere sits quaint Loughrigg Tarn, Cumbria/Credit: Getty Images

    William Wordsworth likened Loughrigg Tarn, near Elterwater in the Lake District, to “Diana’s looking-glass… round and clear and bright as heaven.” Hidden in a quiet corner of the national park, this almost circular blue pool sits calmly within the ragged beauty of the Langdale Pikes. Water lilies cover its edges in summer and coots bimble around the banks, pecking at the plants and searching for insect larvae to eat. Spread your picnic blanket down beside the shore, or build up an appetite by climbing Loughrigg Fell. At 335m, it’s by no means among Lakeland’s highest peaks, but its isolated position gives it one phenomenal advantage – unhindered views over Ambleside, Windermere and the southern fells.

    20. Kielder Water, Northumberland

    Kielder Water, Northumberland
    Kielder Reservoir nestled in the heart of the Kielder Forest, Northumberland/Credit: Getty Images

    Kielder Water, in Northumberland, is Europe’s largest man-made reservoir and boasts some of the darkest skies in England. According to the Campaign to Protect Rural England, it is the most tranquil place in the country – ideal for an al fresco meal. To lose all sight of the beaten track, seek out the Lewisburn inlet, a cove within the forest’s most secluded valley. Cross the new Lewisburn suspension bridge and walk up the hill to Patterson’s Pause to get the most out of those views. Along the 26-mile trail that circles the lake, a unique collection of art installations provide interesting picnic backdrops, from 500 shiny disks hidden among tree branches to a beehive-shaped camera obscura that projects a moving image of the water into the chamber.

    Main image: Coastal Picnic/Credit: Getty Images

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