Britain's best picnic spots
Longer evenings mean the start of picnic season – during the day or even after school and work. Here are some of our favourite picnic spots in the UK countryside and coast.
Picnicking is a great excuse to explore the countryside, and with many of us now working from home, there are more opportunities for picnics as the spring weather begins to warm up. No matter where you are in the country, you won't have to travel far to enjoy your food while taking in spectacular views outdoors. Here, we've listed some of our favourite, most inspiring spots for outdoor eating in the UK.
Need some inspiration? Check out our best summer picnic recipes and make sure you've got the right gear with our guides to the most important picnic essentials and the best picnic rucksacks you can buy online.
Best picnic spots in the UK
Corfe Castle, Dorset
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. If you are up for a vintage adventure involving a walk along the coastline that inspired the best-selling children's author Enid Blyton, then look no further.
Castlerigg Stone Circle, Keswick
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. There are plenty of scenic walks in the area suitable for all abilities and check out our comprehensive guide on what to do and where to stay in the Lake District here.
Barafundle Bay, Pembrokshire
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. For the more active, explore some of Pembrokeshire's best coastal walks and discover the most popular places to eat and stay.
Tatton Park, Knutsford, Cheshire
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.
It is worth exploring the affluent town of Knutsford with its wealth of antiques and tearooms, which was the basis of Elizabeth Gaskell's Cranford. Use our handy guideto know what to look out for and where to visit.
Bowlees Picnic Area, Durham
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. There is a riverside footpath leading from the picnic area which takes you to Gibson's Cave, named after an infamous outlaw who hid from the law behind the waterfall.
To discover more spectacular waterfalls, take a look at our guide to waterfalls in the UK.
Devil’s Dyke, West Sussex
Discover Devil's Dyke, 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 (learn to make your own kite here) and hill-rolling. A perfect spot for a picnic which combines beautiful scenery with a fun day out.
Upper Wharfedale, Yorkshire Dales, Yorkshire
Enjoy a peaceful walk through the charming valley of Upper Wharfedale. 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. Use our handy guide to learn how to identify British wild flowers.
Marsden Bay, South Tyneside
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.
Burton Dasset Hills Country Park, 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.
Wimpole Estate, Cambridgeshire
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.
Lydford Gorge, Devon
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. Follow a bubbling stream on this walk along a great ravine and ancient gorge to arrive at some beautiful waterfalls.
Dunstable Downs, Bedfordshire
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. See: https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/dunstable-downs-and-whipsnade-estate
Lyndhurst, New Forest
After 1,000 years, Lyndhurst still retains much of the beauty and protection it used to enjoy as a hunting paradise for kings. Enjoy some our best walks in the New Forest and picnic in the heart of the forest.
Avebury Stone Circle, 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. Use our guide of Avebury to find the best spots to visit.
Mussenden Temple, Londonderry, 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.
Holkham Beach, 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.
Take this 3 hour hike through creaking pinewoods, beside wildlife-rich marshes and along one of Britain's most beautiful beaches on the North Norfolk coast.
Seven Sisters, Seaford, East Sussex
Eat your sandwiches opposite one of the most iconic scenes in the country – the Seven Sisters. Okay, 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, using our 6km route.
Chatsworth House, Peak District
Stroll for seven miles among the ponds and pasture of Chatsworth's parkland on the eastern borders of the Peak District National Park. 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.
Elterwater, Lake District
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.
Kielder Water, Northumberland
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.
Choose which part of the 27 mile-long route you want to explore using our route planner guide.
Padley Gorge, Peak District
Magical twining tree roots, foaming waters and gigantic boulders make Padley Gorge richly enchanting – certainly a spot for fairies and goblins. The peaty streams are perfect for paddlers to search for mythical creatures as parents relax in the earthy aromas under the trees. The fairytale gorge is home to many species of scientific interest, including rare birds and hairy ants, which dwell in the vast woodland and grassy plains. There are heaps of clearings and flat leafy areas, making Padley a popular picnic spot in all seasons.
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