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Time for a Picnic!

Don’t you love picnics? Eating outside in great British parks, countryside or on the beach has a magic all of its own that has been very much part of our lives since Victorian times, when picnics were a major summer event.

In those days, Victorian picnics were often quite formal affairs, with large tables and chairs and all sorts of paraphernalia. In modern Britain, a picnic is about a fuss free way to enjoy a lovely relaxed meal outside. Spread out a few rugs on the ground, or set up a casual table and chairs in a lovely outdoor location, and the scene is set for a great picnic.

Of course, today with so much in the way of prepared exotic foods and wireless technology, it can be all too easy to turn a simple picnic into a meal to impress accompanied by soft music or other distractions. But that is outdoor entertaining and not in the spirit at all of a traditional British picnic. A proper picnic is a relaxed simple event for everyone to enjoy.


So the first thing is the location. See bottom of this article for Visit Britain’s choice of top picnic spots in Britain. The National Trust also give out details for various great picnic locations, The National Parks has found some lovely picnic locations plus NetMums has some nice ideas as well, for all ages!

But living in this fabulous country, everyone, wherever they live, should be able to find a lovely picnic spot within reach. On a hill top with views; by a flowing river or stream; overlooking cows grazing peacefully; in a forest glade; or simply on cut grass in your local park; the choice of locations is endless.

Keep it simple

Once you have an idea of a location, the main thing then is to keep it simple. Waterbacked rugs are often useful for these sort of events and readily available, a traditional tartan from around £11 from Amazon for instance, or fun family themed rabbit and other designs from John Lewis, £36.

Hampers with china plates and proper glass are just about acceptable if they are designed for picnics, but otherwise, with the fabulous plastic and unbreakable outdoor dinner sets available, it makes sense to go for lightweight and robust glasses and plates. Cool bags are ideal for picnics, offering protection as well as insulation so that you can be sure the food you bring is kept secure and fresh.

Traditional linen or material napkins are one thing that can lift a picnic a little into a special occasion, but good quality thick paper napkins are available these days and come in all sorts of bright colours to add some fun to the event. If you are planning on sitting at set up benches and table, then a small casual tablecloth can be a really good idea as the wooden surfaces can be rough. Wet wipes of course are an essential that our Victorian ancestors had to do without.


And then of course there is the food. There are some fabulous ideas for picnic foods today, who needs spam sandwiches when you can have chicken, sweetcorn and avocado wraps! Don’t be restricted by memories from your youth – check out at local Farmers’ Markets and Farm Shops and go on line; there really are some great ideas for simple but really tasty picnic food out there. But just be aware of including foods that are very sticky or sugary …Britain’s vast insect population also love picnics!


One aspect of British picnics that has improved immensely in recent years is weather forecasting. Thanks to easily accessible weather sites, today you can get a good idea of what you are in store for and if necessary ensure you picnic near a shelter in case some dreaded rain arrives! There are many online services available here; some of the more popular ones include:

Visit Britain

As a great believer in picnics Visit Britain have put together their top ten picnic sites in the UK. Some of these are perfect if you are planning on taking any grandchildren with you.

Avon Valley Country Park

Where : Bristol
Covering 50 acres of beautiful countryside adjoining the River Avon, this country park has plenty to offer both children and adults. Grandchildren will love the adventure park, which has a mile-long junior assault course, but for us, there are peaceful riverside trails to walk with beautiful picnic spots along the way.

Wellington Country Park

Where : Berkshire
Wellington Country Park is set in 350 acres of beautiful Hampshire countryside, making it a perfect picnic spot. Grandchildren and adults too will love the miniature railway, adventure playground, giant snakes and ladders, play trail and crazy golf, and the beautiful nature trails and lakeside walks.

Beecraigs Country Park

Where : West Lothian
Beecraigs Country Park in Scotland is a great place for a day out. Situated in the Bathgate Hills close to the town of Linlithgow, Beecraigs stretches over 913 acres and is an idyllic picnic spot. There is also a beautiful deer farm and fisher.

Ragley Hall

Where : Warwickshire
Visit the splendid Ragley Hall, home to the Marquess and Marchioness of Hertford for nearly 350 years. Set within 400 acres of playground, Ragley Hall is the perfect picnic spot and family day out. There's an adventure playground with a 3D maze, trampoline and climbing frames, and a peaceful picnic area by the lake, where you might see a few peacocks roaming around.

Barafundle Beach

Where : Pembrokeshire
This little-known Welsh beach has been described as the best-kept secret in Pembrokeshire, and has been ranked among the best beaches in the world. This small, clean and quiet beach has sand dunes, a steady drop into the sea, and wonderful rock pools and caves for grandchildren – and adults! - to explore.

Somerset House

Where : London
If you want to escape the hustle and bustle of London for a picnic, Somerset House is the place to go. This 18th century Neoclassical palace has a huge courtyard where you can sit and relax watching the beautiful fountains.

Avebury Stone Circle

Where : Wiltshire
For more unusual picnic spots, go to Avebury, where you can have your picnic in the middle of a 4,000 year old stone circle - the largest in Europe. Avebury Stone Circle encompasses part of the village of Avebury. Visit the museum in the Barn Gallery, where interactive and audio-visual displays bring to life the story of the stones and the people who strove to uncover their past.

Clywedog Valley & Trail

Where : Wrexham
The Clywedog Valley & Trail is a 7-mile walking trail, dotted with picnic spots where you can stop and relax. Stop at the Minera Lead Mines - a testimony to the area's industrial heritage with an engine house, surface workings and small museum. Along the trail you'll find a giant reconstruction of a mole tunnel, complete with worms.

Horniman Gardens

Where : London
Situated next to the fabulous Horniman Museum, the Horniman Gardens are a wonderful place for a family picnic. Offering spectacular views of London, the 16-acre garden puts on free shows for children at the bandstand in the summer months.

Brownsea Island

Where : Dorset
Halfway along the South Coast of England, at Poole in Dorset, is the world's second largest natural harbour. Just inside the entrance to that harbour lies the largest of its five islands, Brownsea Island. This was the birthplace of scouting, and is now a beautiful nature reserve. Grand kids will love the scouting exhibitions and there's a new cliff-top walk which has created ideal picnic spots.

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