Picnic feature

Family and outdoor experts reveal where they’ll be setting out their picnic blankets this summer...

Inchcolm Island, Firth of Forth

Nicola Lamond of netmums.com says, ‘Take a ferry to Inchcolm Island in the Firth of Forth; make sure you wave to the seals on Seal Island along the way. Enjoy a picnic on the sandy coves of the island or in the grounds of the historic ruins of Inchcolm Abbey. There’s no more stunning backdrop to a picnic anywhere in the UK.’

Photo credit: ©Crown Copyright reproduced courtesy of Historic Scotland. historicscotlandimages.gov.uk

Arthur’s Seat, Edinburgh

Fiona Mckim of madeformums.com, says, ‘This curiously rural hill fort smack bang in the centre of Edinburgh’s old town offers perfect views over city’s historic architecture all the way out to the Port of Leith. There are plenty of flat knolls on which to sit and rest your spread, while the gentle incline means you really earn your family feast. On a day when the rain stays away there could be no better place to picnic.’
Fiona Mckim, madeformums.com

Nostell Priory and Parkland, Wakefield

Mike Dudding of the National Trust says, ‘Away from the hustle and bustle around the mansion house and visitor courtyard is a peaceful, 300-acre park. I love to come here to relax. It’s a wonderful place to sit and absorb the tranquility and nature that Nostell has to offer.’

Lyme Park, Cheshire

‘Remember that scene in Pride and Prejudice when Colin Firth stripped down for a quick dip in the lake at Pemberley?’ says Rebecca Holloway of Visit England, ‘that took place right here. Of course I wouldn’t recommend you dive in yourself, but you could always bring your own Mr Darcy along for a romantic lunch in the grounds of the 1,400-acre estate.’

River Derwent, Peak District

 ‘My favourite picnic spot is on the River Derwent in the Peak District,’ says Rufus Purdy, editor of Family Traveller.  ‘You park your car by the A625, walk downstream past banks of wild garlic to The Bridge Inn, cross the river and walk back up the other side. The meadows are perfect for spreading out the checked blanket. While you eat you can watch ducks and voles swimming in the glassy water and, if you're lucky, a kingfisher.'

Llangrannog, Ceredigion, west Wales

'Llangrannog is a magical spot,' says Quentin Grimley, Coastal Access Project Officer for Natural Resources Wales. 'Not only are there lovely places with great views to stop for a picnic, but if you decide to go for a walk along some of the 870-mile Wales Coast Path, keep your eyes peeled for any dolphins or seals as they can often be seen playing in the sea or resting in the coves.'

Dunstable Downs, Bedfordshire

‘This is my family’s favourite picnic spot’, says Alison Alexander of madeformums.com, ‘not far from Whipsnade Zoo. We regularly take our two daughters up there to sit and enjoy the glorious views, which include gliders floating past from the local gliding school and brave souls hang gliding off the side of a nearby hill. We take a couple of kites, a picnic and just sit and enjoy the free entertainment.'

Great Wood, Cuffley, Hertfordshire

Emma Daly, madeformums.com says, ‘Some children might know this wood better for its kids' activity centre, Cuffley Camp, but it’s also a great picnic spot. You can have a good tromp through the woods before you settle down to eat  – all the better if you can find a few tree stumps in the sunshine to sit on.’

Wendover Woods, near Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire

‘My secret picnic place is close to London but far enough away to seem like you’re truly away from it all – and not many people know about it,’ says Cathy Court, co-founder of Netmums.com. ‘There are 700 hectares of ancient woodland, so pack a picnic and find your favourite dell deep in the forest.’

Photo credit: ©Forestry Commission.

Alexandra Palace, London

‘The north London hill on which Alexandra Palace sits overlooking London offers a panoramic view of the city,’ says Carol Cooper of madeformums.com. ‘From the grassy hill you can see The Shard, the London Eye, Docklands and more. Nip into the pub behind you for the loo or a drink. There’s also a playground, boating lake and café –everything a family needs, on one spectacular hill.’

Hyde Park, London

Annie Bell, author of The Picnic Cookbook (15.99, Kyle Books) says, ‘No matter how many people are in the park, Hyde Park never seems crowded and there are huge majestic plane trees to laze under on a rug while you gaze at tall London landmarks in the distance. Hard to believe you are in a city.’ Annie Bell’s Baking Bible (£25, Kyle Books), is out now

Ranmore Common, Surrey Hills

Editor of The Ramblers’ Walk magazine Dominic Bates says, ‘This is the perfect spot for a restful picnic lunch after a morning’s walk on the North Downs. On a balmy day, find a bench or a patch of cushioned grass to enjoy your lunch amid the hum of the wildlife-rich meadow, enjoying beautiful views that, on a clear day, reach as far as the Channel.’

Corfe Castle, Dorset

Rebecca Holloway of Visit England says, ‘Perched on a hill overlooking the nearby village, this crumbling Norman fortress dates back a whopping 1,000 years or more and inspired Enid Blyton to write the Famous Five books. So if there’s anywhere to feast on ham sandwiches with lashings of ginger beer, this is clearly it.’

Slapton Sands, South Devon

Julia Bradbury’s book Wainwright Walks Coast To Coast (£14.99, Frances Lincoln)Julia Bradbury, presenter of Countryfile, Secret Britain and The Great British Countryside, says, ‘I’m hopeless at choosing my favourite picnic spot but if you push me for a decision I’m going to drift contentedly along the coastline towards Slapton Sands in South Devon. It might not have a dreamy name but it’s blessed with a beautiful beach. The backdrop of a shaggy green cliff face adds to the beauty of the beach, which makes even the most lacklustre of sandwiches taste good.’
Julia’s book Wainwright Walks Coast To Coast (£14.99, Frances Lincoln) is out now. Personalised signed copies are available from juliabradbury.com.