Home Food & Shopping Britain’s 100 best picnic spots spanning every single county

Britain’s 100 best picnic spots spanning every single county

5
0


Tuck into your sarnies and drink in the glorious views: Britain’s 100 best picnic spots spanning every single county so there’s one near you!

Advertisement

It is the finest of British traditions: the summer picnic, where the simplest food tastes even more delicious and special when eaten outdoors.

Whether you want to linger over a family feast or just stop to drink in the landscape, we’ve found 100 perfect picnic spots. 

Many of these stunning locations are known only to locals and each one offers a spectacular view. We’ve covered the whole country, so let us inspire you to make the most of summer in Britain’s glorious countryside…

St Mary’s, in Bedfordshire, is an eerily abandoned hilltop parish church with views. Picnic-goers can relax on the grassy slopes

St Mary’s, in Bedfordshire, is an eerily abandoned hilltop parish church with views. Picnic-goers can relax on the grassy slopes 

In Bedfordshire’s Flit Valley, find Clophill’s leafy main street and take a ten-minute walk up Old Church Path.

An eerily abandoned hilltop parish church with views. Relax on the grassy slope under nearby trees.

Atmospheric, roofless, windowless country church – or climb the tower during weekend openings to enjoy impressive country views.

Romantics who gaze at rural horizons, mystery-lovers revel in dark ghost stories: watch out for the legendary ‘hooded monk’.

From Vicarage Lane, Waterford Heath, take the picnic basket back under the bridge, along the footpath between houses.

Eat alfresco on the banks of a lovely protected stretch of the River Beane.

English rural classic: wildflower meadows along a dark river overhung by weeping willows.

Wild swimmers who can brave deep river pools. The less energetic will enjoy a wildlife hunt: can you spot the rare ‘Grizzled Skipper’ butterfly?

Just six miles from Trafalgar Square, find a secret overgrown world just off the south bank river path. The entrance is in trees between Barnes railway bridge and Hammersmith Bridge – a short path leads to the metal gate.

Settle down under over-hanging trees on the sloping man-made banks of this hidden Leg o’ Mutton reservoir nature reserve (which is also called Lonsdale Road Reservoir).

You’re near the heart of the capital, but all sorts of wildlife call this surprisingly wild overgrown Victorian reservoir home.

Jungle-lovers as nature has taken over here, with trees breaking through concrete, reeds filling shallows and herons nesting on rafts. Locals opposed any housing redevelopment and now happily say everything from tawny owls to terrapins lives here.

Amid Chiltern foothills, head south from Butler’s Cross. Lodge Hill leads to a small car park among trees. Carry your picnic uphill on an easy footpath.

Green slopes looking west to left of hilltop monument. Locals say you can see 50 miles to the Cotswolds.

Rolling fields of Aylesbury Vale from 850ft hill or close-up of Coombe Hill’s impressive Boer War memorial.

Nature-lovers seek rare butterflies and unique wildflowers, celebrity-spotters peer into Chequers, the Prime Minister’s country mansion. Coombe Hill was once part of its garden.

Find room to relax in this 250-acre North Downs beauty spot. It’s four miles east of Guildford, with parking in woods off the A25.

Walk west for best views or east, across the road, for more seclusion.

Rolling panoramas of Surrey hills from the natural grandstand of this prominent chalk ridge. The luckiest picnickers spot roe deer and tawny owls.

Picnic sleuths ponder the unsolved case of The Newlands Disappearance. In 1926, author Agatha Christie’s car was found crashed here.

After 15,000 volunteers scoured woods in vain, she was found… staying 200 miles away in Harrogate under a false name. No one knows why.

Set baskets down on green slopes looking right along the centre of The Devil’s Kneading Trough, pictured above

Set baskets down on green slopes looking right along the centre of The Devil’s Kneading Trough, pictured above 

In the Kent hills. Head north-east from Ashford to a leafy car park on the south side of Coldharbour Lane. Take a five-minute walk south.

Set baskets down on green slopes looking right along the centre of The Devil’s Kneading Trough.

The No 1 view in the Kent Downs: spectacular steep natural canyon brimming with orchids and butterflies leading off to hazy views of a distant sea.

Picnickers don’t have to drive: this is easy for cyclists (on Route 18 of National Cycle Network) and walkers, too (on the North Downs Way footpath from Surrey to Dover).

 

South of the Thames turn into Ferry Lane by the Flower Pot pub in Ashton. Park under trees by tiny river jetty at the end. Carry picnic for a few minutes north along river path.

Dangle your feet from the bank with views of frothing weir, historic lock and tiny paddling beach.

Colourful barges, overhanging trees and islands create one of the prettiest (but least well-known) Thames beauty spots.

Literary types discover Dickens used this as a location, history buffs spot 1,000-year-old Domesday mill on the far bank. And in 1829, this was where the first University Boat Race started.

Follow the path through trees, or take a longer stroll along the Essex Way coast path from Wrabness (above)

Follow the path through trees, or take a longer stroll along the Essex Way coast path from Wrabness (above)

Either leave cars at Stour Wood, just off the B1352, and follow the path through trees, or take a longer stroll along the Essex Way coast path from Wrabness.

Discover a secluded grassy bank under overhanging trees.

Photogenic expanse of River Stour, with moody saltmarshes, sandflats and swaying reeds.

Anyone who likes surprises: this hidden bay is just round a headland from Harwich’s busy port. Quiz fans will love asking: ‘What was the copperas industry?’ The grisly answer involves 18th Century children collecting stones to make sulphuric acid.

In the New Forest lanes, drive south from East End and follow a traditional black-and- white signpost to ‘Tanners Lane’. Park right on the beach or, if worried about the tide, use verges in the lane.

50 yards to the right (west) there’s a grassy bank under wind-shaped trees at back of beach.

The beach, the Isle of Wight… and all the boats in between.

Not for swimmers but muddy beach keeps crowds away. It’s a popular spot instead with crabs, swans and New Forest ponies wandering along the water’s edge.

Enjoy the rare sight of a quiet, pretty South Coast beach that’s free of cars and amusements. Pictured above is Steephill Cove's lighthouse

Enjoy the rare sight of a quiet, pretty South Coast beach that’s free of cars and amusements. Pictured above is Steephill Cove’s lighthouse

A ‘secret’ cove hidden off the road in the south-east corner of the island. Best approach is from Ventnor, walking south on the coast path.

Instantly lovable sandy bay with no roads, backed by a handful of old cottages and steep, wooded cliffs. Find best views on cliff next to modern wooden home called The Lighthouse.

Enjoy the rare sight of a quiet, pretty South Coast beach that’s free of cars and amusements.

Children love rockpools and a safe, sheltered beach, while parents note that fishermen arrive to supply the seafood cafe. If the picnic runs out, try the delicious takeaway crab pasties.

From the bridge at Lacys Hill in Glynde village, take a 20-minute walk on the uphill footpath.

Find soft grass slopes near the south side of the hilltop – but don’t sit on the rare orchids!

Epic South Downs panorama includes a view along the Ouse Valley to the sea at Newhaven, and the rooftops of Lewes.

Classical music fans will prefer to face north – towards Glyndebourne opera house just beneath the hill. If you tell adventure sports enthusiasts to take a run and jump, they just might – it’s a popular hang-gliding launch site.

Unpack the boot in the South Downs village of Pyecombe. Find paths next to the church leading up a chalky hill.

This ancient hill fort, nature reserve and natural viewpoint is a rare secluded beauty spot near Brighton because it’s not accessible by car.

Look south to the twinkling sea or north to Elizabethan Danny House, site of David Lloyd George’s romance with his secretary, the world’s oldest cricket pitch (more than 300 years old) and Churchill’s War Cabinet meetings, which adjourned for walks up this very hill.

Foodies in need of extra picnic flavour. Lots of wild garlic, but don’t pick the rare orchids.

Start at the free Forehill car park in historic Ely, then take a short walk along Broad Street, through grand metal gates to the park.

On the north side of Castle Mound spread the blanket under the trees.

A classic British image, hardly changed for centuries: uninterrupted views across wildflower meadows to one of our most distinctive, decorative Gothic cathedrals known as The Ship of The Fens.

History-lovers, who can discover how the castle mound was built 1,000 years ago by William the Conqueror to subdue fenland rebel Hereward the Wake. And if children are mischievous, tell them the legend that William installed a witch to shout curses at any rebels.

Follow the North Norfolk coast road to Brancaster, then take lane inland up the hill to Common.

Walk through bushes to a long bench in a clearing overlooking coast.

Wide, flat Norfolk farmland runs down to inlets dotted with sailing boats.

Children and history buffs who’ll find intact wartime radar buildings between gorse bushes where 80 men once provided early warning of German attacks.

Take picnics to the pretty mouth of the River Blyth. It doesn’t matter which side you arrive – there’s a ferry between Ferry Road in Walberswick and Southwold Harbour Road.

Choose between old wooden benches or tufty grass on either bank overlooking bobbing boats, sleepy river and busy ducks.

Watch a traditional Suffolk punt rowing boat operating its busy passenger ferry.

Boat-lovers who like a ferry ride. It runs daily until September 27 and half-terms, then at weekends. It costs just £1. Beach-lovers have appealing long sandy choices either side of the river, too.

 

Head for the car park near Draynes Bridge, then walk alongside the River Fowey in the National Nature Reserve of Golitha Falls

Head for the car park near Draynes Bridge, then walk alongside the River Fowey in the National Nature Reserve of Golitha Falls

TIME FOR A PINT?  

If you’re in Southwold (No 15), Adnams Brewery has been making beer since 1345 – today it makes gin as well and offers daily tours. 

Head for the car park near Draynes Bridge, then walk alongside the River Fowey in the National Nature Reserve of Golitha Falls.

A series of cascades that descend 300ft in a steep valley with ancient woods, Golitha Falls offers an idyllic riverside picnic spot that provides respite from the heat and crowds of a Cornish summer.

Dappled sunlight, the River Fowey, babbling and rushing water, fantastic flora, lush glades and, if you’re lucky, otters.

Pals who like to potter, paddle and picnic. Nature-lovers may spot fish and birds.

Park in the village of Langton Matravers, follow the sign post on the South West Coast Path through walled and hedgerow fields down towards the sea.

The flat rock at base of a small cliff – undulating, uninterrupted coastline to left and right. Rockpool but no beach access.

Dramatic cliffs, ‘dancing sea’ as it hits the rock and soaring gulls.

Romantic moments and birthday treats – though a head for rocky paths is needed, and flat shoes are best.

See Westbury White Horse for miles around. It’s the symbol of Wiltshire. But what about a picnic on the hilltop right next to the chalk figure?

Walk past the chalk horse’s head, around ancient hill fort ramparts and lay blankets facing north.

Alluring patchwork of Avon valley farmland beneath you, sometimes with hang-gliders above and distant views of two other Wiltshire white horses.

Intrepid picnic-carriers who can charge up steep slopes re-enacting Alfred the Great’s victory over the Vikings here 1,141 years ago. Less energetic picnickers simply drive up winding lanes to a free car park and ice-cream van.

In west Bristol, walk over Brunel Way bridge, or use the Portway cycle track to reach the south bank of the River Avon.

A lone bench under trees in a little-used riverside park to the west of Brunel Way offers the ultimate Bristol view.

Capture the tidal river as it curves under Clifton suspension bridge into Avon Gorge, framed by elegant Georgian mansions and the steep slopes of Leigh Woods.

On foot only – so ideal for riverside walkers or cyclists from the city centre.

Walk to the sea from Porlock village or park by the harbour and follow the grassy ridge at the back of a steep, pebbly beach for five minutes.

Nestle into grass just where the coastal path turns inland, underneath a cluster of sheltering trees. Look for driftwood log ‘benches’.

Fairytale bleached white petrified trees in marshes alongside or at the deserted water’s edge looking across the Bristol Channel as far as the Welsh hills.

The frazzled who can de-stress to the rhythm of waves on pebbles. Artists are inspired by the soft, watery light, while poets reach for notebooks in Coleridge’s footsteps, and explorers find England’s smallest church.

Vast ‘South’ Park is actually in East Oxford, so head to any entrance gates around Headington Hill.

Find the comfiest grass under trees on a slope at the centre of the city’s largest park.

This is where postcard photographers always come to catch the classic view of Oxford’s ‘dreaming spires’.

Beer gourmets who can toast the memory of a local brewery family that used to own South Park, with products of the nearby Oxford Craft Beer company.

Explore the banks of the Severn between Sharpness and Slimbridge by parking after the swing bridge in Lower Purton. Follow the towpath west towards the Severn for ten minutes, then walk from canal to estuary shore.

In long grass amid Purton Ships’ Graveyard – being careful not to go too far toward the muddy edges.

Eerie image of decayed ghostly hulks of 80 overgrown ships and barges along banks of mile-wide river.

All ages who’ll be fascinated by this little-known sight: more than 80 boats deliberately grounded here as reinforcement after a riverbank collapsed between the Severn Estuary and Gloucester and Sharpness Canal.

West of Regency Cheltenham, take the tiny lane south from the B4632 to the public ‘quarry’ car park, then walk across the crest of the hill.

Face west on this massive ridge next to bent, windswept trees.

Glorious panorama over turrets and spires of Cheltenham with the River Severn twinkling in the distance and dark Welsh hills beyond. Prepare for incredible sunsets.

 Bring binoculars. At more than 1,000ft, Cleeve is the Cotswolds’ highest point. Locals say you can see Exmoor – and that’s 90 miles away!

Sit anywhere on this silver-sand Portheras Cove in Cornwall, a locals' favourite that feels wild, remote, stumbled-upon and magical

Sit anywhere on this silver-sand Portheras Cove in Cornwall, a locals’ favourite that feels wild, remote, stumbled-upon and magical

There are two ways down to the cove: park at Pendeen Watch or Lower Chypraze and walk along the coastal path. Both routes involve a bit of effort so are unsuitable for the less agile.

Sit anywhere on this silver-sand cove, a locals’ favourite that feels wild, remote, stumbled-upon and magical. Or choose a grassy knoll above for a gorgeous view.

Gin-clear waves, brooding granite cliffs, glistening rocks, seals and the occasional pod of dolphins.

Chums who can lug a rucksack and hold your hand while clambering down a steep path. And don’t forget the dog.

The actual bridge is rather small and straddles the River Plym but is a good starting point for walks. You don’t need to go far to find your own space on Dartmoor.

Peaceful moorland with plenty of rocks and tors to climb. Listen out for skylarks and the squeals of children paddling near the bridge.

Ponies and sheep grazing among the gorse and stubbly grass. From Shell Top, enjoy clear views of South Devon.

Walkers who want to climb Trowlesworthy or Calveslake tors nearby. Great for families and groups who don’t want to carry chairs and picnics too far.

Five miles from Plymouth, this pretty, sheltered sandy bay is flanked by cliffs and loved by locals. Car parks at the top, with steps down to beach.

Flat, soft sand as far as the eye can see when the tide is out, making it easy to plant an umbrella and lay out a picnic.

Clear, warm lapping waves, children skipping in the shallows and views over to Plymouth sound.

Swimming, snorkelling and little ones who like to paddle. No dogs from May 1 to September 30.

Once you’ve parked at this National Trust property near Truro, rather than head for the country house, take your hamper, follow the ‘Woodland Walks’ sign and stroll across the grass towards the little beach.

Set amid 300 acres of countryside, much of Trelissick is free to access so you’re spoilt for choice. Plonk yourself down on beach or grass, or find a spot in one of the plentiful shaded wooded areas.

Glorious views across the Fal estuary, picturesque harbours, pretty woodland with natural chiaroscuro, plus the stately pile itself.

Grandparents, grandchildren, grand dukes. There’s something for everyone. And if it rains, you’re close to a cheering National Trust cafe.

Head to the Bristol Channel 'resort' of Clevedon and stroll west to a signed path called Poet's Walk. Pictured is the Lookout in Clevedon

Head to the Bristol Channel ‘resort’ of Clevedon and stroll west to a signed path called Poet’s Walk. Pictured is the Lookout in Clevedon

Head to the Bristol Channel ‘resort’ of Clevedon. From the graveyard in the Old Church Road, stroll west to a signed path called Poet’s Walk.

Plant your picnic on Wain’s Hill clifftop meadow as Poet’s Walk loops around the headland.

Wide tidal estuary where the River Yeo joins, and Steep Holm and Flat Holm islands look like stepping stones between Somerset and Wales.

Poets: Coleridge and Tennyson were inspired by this coastal view. Coleridge wrote about ‘the stilly murmur of the distant sea’ after a visit (sounds as if the tide was out that day).

Pay to park at Porthgwarra Cove Cafe, grab your rucksack and join the coastal path heading for Land’s End.

For more expansive views and knolls and rocks for perching, avoid the temptations of beach and bench and do the climb towards Gwennap Head Lookout Station.

Porthgwarra is now as famous for Poldark’s skinny-dipping as for its gorgeous cove, but the vista from above adds drama: spectacular views, forbidding cliffs and crashing waves at one of the UK’s most treacherous stretches of water.

Sensible shoes only: you’re high up, close to cliff edges, and it can be windy. You’ll meet walkers, twitchers (seeking choughs) and cows.

Porthgwarra, which is now as famous for Poldark's skinny-dipping as for its gorgeous cove, is also the perfect place for a picnic

Porthgwarra, which is now as famous for Poldark’s skinny-dipping as for its gorgeous cove, is also the perfect place for a picnic

OFF THE RAILS 

The iron rails holding Clevedon Pier (No 28) together were originally made for a never-built rail line designed by Brunel. 

Fancy a picnic on the extreme edge of the UK? Take the water taxi from St Mary’s to Bryher, the most westerly and smallest inhabited Scilly Isle. It’s a ten-minute stroll to the west coast bay facing the Atlantic.

In the middle of an unspoilt semi-circle of sand is a rocky outcrop with soft grass patches: a perfect viewing platform for a spectacular seascape.

West across wave-crashed rocks – with no land between you and New York.

 Those in search of a clear horizon. The hungry can always restock at the island’s lone tiny shop.

Amid quiet Fosse Way farmland south of Leamington Spa, drive to Windmill Hill Lane near Chesterton Green. It’s easy to park in lay-bys, then walk uphill across the field.

On a slight grassy summit, alongside a spectacular 350-year-old stone windmill overlooking fields and woods.

One of our oldest windmills has a unique design: it stands on six grand arches so you can walk and take pictures underneath.

Children – it’s a super spot for flying kites – and if it gets too windy or wet, you can shelter under the arches.

Frankley Green village is just over the hill from Birmingham but is a chance for a real rural escape from the city. Head out to Frankley Hill and the lay-by with big city views to the north. Cross the road to wood opposite instead.

Take the signed footpath through a thick clump of old beech trees for a secluded picnic on the far side.

From 800ft up, you’ll overlook a surprising rolling rural panorama bisected by a busy motorway just below. On the clearest days you can see to the Cotswolds and even when you can’t, the M5 has never seemed so scenic.

Motorway regulars who only know Frankley as an M5 service station and have gazed at the hilltop beeches from many boring jams. Here’s their chance to enjoy the view the other way round.

 

The Cosgrove Viaduct near Milton Keynes crosses the Grand Union Canal. It is the perfect place to learn about industrial history and watch riverside nature

The Cosgrove Viaduct near Milton Keynes crosses the Grand Union Canal. It is the perfect place to learn about industrial history and watch riverside nature 

Find the Grand Union Canal on Old Wolverton Road in Wolverton. There’s a path across fields behind The Galleon Pub down to the River Ouse (five minutes).

Sit in the clearing on the riverbank, 40ft beneath spectacular ‘Iron Trunk’ Aqueduct.

Enjoy the contrast: a green, tranquil, timeless river under a brightly painted cast-iron canal aqueduct – a 200-year-old symbol of the industrial revolution.

Everyone. From industrial history to riverside nature watch.

The bad news first: you’ll have to unpack the picnic from the car at a free park at the south end of Worcestershire Beacon. The good news: you can ignore the steep path to the Beacon and take the gentler path to Summer Hill.

A much lower hill – but with better views! Use a rock slab as picnic table with an epic view along the line of Malvern hills heading south.

Like a row of green waves trotting off toward Herefordshire, with mesmerising patterns of paths and clearings between wooded slopes.

For views this good you need to walk uphill so it’s best for those who don’t mind the effort (and perhaps leave table, chairs, and sunshade at home this time).

Only locals know this beautiful hidden valley south-west of Louth. Park by the bridge over the River Ludd on Halfpenny Lane and go through the gate into woods.

Follow the path through trees to a grassy bend in the river.

The pretty mock classical ‘temple’ is a memorial to a wealthy landowner’s wife deep in this steep wooded valley.

Romantics, who’ll savour the story of this Edwardian ‘natural pleasure park’ bequeathed to locals in memory of an inseparable wealthy romantic couple.

An idyllic grass patch under the trees next to a junction on the Foxton Locks, pictured, is a stunning spot for a sarnie

An idyllic grass patch under the trees next to a junction on the Foxton Locks, pictured, is a stunning spot for a sarnie

Gumley Road leads from Foxton village to the ‘Lower Car Park’ at the foot of the locks. Walk over the little swing footbridge to the towpath on the far bank.

Idyllic grass patch under trees next to canal junction.

Colourful barges negotiate the busy canal at a flight of ten 200-year-old locks that are Britain’s largest.

Restless souls get a canal museum, riverside food and a drink. Those seeking quiet have overgrown countryside on the other bank – and even more secluded fields are a few minutes along the towpath.

 

Located in the hills just east of Shrewsbury, Haughmond Abbey ruins is best-known for its views but also its privacy

Located in the hills just east of Shrewsbury, Haughmond Abbey ruins is best-known for its views but also its privacy 

In hills just east of Shrewsbury, turn off B5062 into a small free car park in woods.

Abbey ruins are great for picnics, but a soft slope overlooking the ruins to the right of the path is bestfor views and privacy.

Romantic arches and turrets of medieval abbey ruins with a backdrop of distant country views.

Heritage-lovers, who get plenty of information boards to study while restless walkers can enjoy scenic strolls along the Shropshire Way.

You’re heading for the best spot on one of Europe’s largest man-made lakes. Park in Hambleton on its narrow peninsula and take the north shore path.

From a distance you’ll see the distinctive group of trees right at the water’s edge at the north-east corner of the peninsula. Settle down here for a glorious picnic.

A near-360-degree lake view from the end of promontory.

Bird-watchers who look for everything from ospreys to rare ducks, and anglers who target a wide range from eels to catfish (you’ll need a day permit).

In unspoilt rural North Herefordshire called ‘Mortimer Country’, head for Aymestrey, then take the footpath by a bridge that loops east to the River Lugg.

Wind through trees to emerge on a grassy riverbank and claim a spot under overhanging trees on a pretty river bend.

Water bubbling and splashing over rocks with a chance of jumping fish or kingfishers.

If you need more than home-made sandwiches, there’s an award-winning gastro pub across the bridge.

From Errwood Reservoir, follow the path west to the ruins of a Victorian mansion owned by the Grimshaw family. Then look for a conical building, a shrine to Miss Dolores, their old governess.

Find a grass clearing above the 19th Century shrine.

Views across the thick Goyt valley woods, with the mysterious memorial included.

Treasure-hunters, as they say the Grimshaw family buried gold in the woods. Some visitors peep inside the shrine and leave offerings to the old nanny.

Head for a clearing behind the footpath alongside a beautiful large pond near Creswell Crags for the best spot to have a picnic

Head for a clearing behind the footpath alongside a beautiful large pond near Creswell Crags for the best spot to have a picnic

Discover this hidden gorge, a ten-minute walk from lay-bys at the western end of Crags Road in Fox Green.

Head for a clearing behind the footpath alongside a beautiful large pond.

Look across still water to the gnarled rock face of limestone gorge honeycombed with caves, some with Iron Age cave art.

Foodies who can stock up at the award-winning Welbeck Estate’s Farm Shop on the other side of the A60. Walkers can explore the estate’s trails, while culture vultures can visit an art gallery.

Ravenscar in North Yorkshire is a wide bay that is criss-crossed with lanes, trails and viewpoints

Ravenscar in North Yorkshire is a wide bay that is criss-crossed with lanes, trails and viewpoints

This wide bay is criss-crossed with lanes, trails and viewpoints. For one of the best, take Bridge Holm Lane near Fylingdales, then a sharp left signed ‘Unsuitable for long vehicles’. Your path is up wooden steps to right.

Five minutes along here you’ll find a grass bank by a curved dry stone wall inscribed ‘In loving memory, Ingrid’.

Sit back to enjoy one of England’s great views – across Robin Hood’s Bay to the village and cliffs beyond.

Those who don’t mind a stroll. Parking is limited – try lay-bys or wide verges, or use spaces half a mile down Bridge Holm Lane.

Three Shires Head, pictured, is at least a 20-minute hike from the road - so make sure you take a picnic that can be carried easily

Three Shires Head, pictured, is at least a 20-minute hike from the road – so make sure you take a picnic that can be carried easily

ART IN A BOX

Take turns visiting ‘the smallest art gallery in the world’ in Settle (No 44) – it’s an old red phone box reopened as Gallery on the Green. 

Pack a Peak District picnic that can be carried, because you can’t drive to the Three Shires Head. You’ll need a map of trails and at least 20 minutes to hike from lay-bys in moorland lanes between the A53 and A54.

Big flat rocks form perfect picnic tables among heather and wildflowers at this remote, peaceful beauty spot alongside the babbling River Dane.

The borders of Staffordshire, Derbyshire and Cheshire meet at an idyllic series of waterfalls under an ancient stone packhorse bridge.

Brave picnickers who can try deep, skinny-dipping pools or clamber up surrounding hills, while relaxers doze to the sound of a moorland stream splashing over rocks.

Escape the tourist bustle of Settle’s Market Square up on the craggy cliffs looming over the pretty old Dales town. Take the easy signed zig-zag path – not the short cut that requires ropes and helmets.

Next to a fluttering flag in the former Georgian ‘pleasure garden’ at the top. But not too close to the edge.

Stone cottages around Market Square with Dales moorland rolling away to horizon.

Fit walkers who’ll like the challenge of a short, steep path, so ask them to carry the basket.

The picnic adventure starts in a humble lay-by in Mill Lane south of Sprotborough Bridge. Find the path by the bridge (it’s next to the ‘Warmsworth’ sign). Walk between trees to the River Don.

Splashing froth of Sprotborough Falls (actually a man-made weir) is a River Don highlight. Get the best views from a clearing under bowing trees or follow the path on to the island.

Leafy banks frame impressive white-water drama. Who would guess that it’s a prime example of industrial landscape returned to nature?

Salmon, trout and anglers love newly clean water after years of pollution. Wildlife spotters can see rare birds such as bitterns and grebes, too.

In the pretty Wolds village information boards reveal hidden paths through what locals call ‘The Wilderness’ behind the church.

Emerge from trees and undergrowth on to a dishevelled former grand terrace of a demolished stately home, Londesborough Hall.

Picnic like latter-day aristo-owners the Duke and Duchess of Devonshire, among relics such as huge overgrown urns and columns, overlooking what was once their private lakes and deer park.

Bon viveurs. It’s an excellent spot for a romantic, luxury picnic. Bottle of bubbly and prawn salad? The property was flattened 200 years ago – but you can still enjoy picnicking in style in its overgrown gardens.

The familiar Wearside landmark of Penshaw Monument. The best place to picnic is on the undulating slope on the edge of woods to the south-east of the monument

The familiar Wearside landmark of Penshaw Monument. The best place to picnic is on the undulating slope on the edge of woods to the south-east of the monument

It’s a familiar Wearside landmark – from a distance. But up close, the Penshaw Monument makes a great picnic site. There’s free parking off the A183. Just walk up the hill for a few minutes.

Best place for blankets is an undulating slope on the edge of woods to the south-east of the monument.

Look up at this incongruous folly or enjoy views south across the country park and its lake, with Durham hills in distance.

Architecture buffs who’ll discover that Penshaw is a replica of a classical Athenian temple, while historians will find out it was built as a memorial to a Victorian mining tycoon. Penshaw also features on the badge of Sunderland Football Club.

Drive round the southern side of Kielder Water in the Northumberland National Park. Then drive up a rough track signposted ‘Elf Kirk’ or walk up (about ten minutes).

Pick through bracken and heather to find rocky ‘Elf Kirk’ tor overlooking the lake.

Iconic lake view over forest, craggy peninsula, boat moorings and the moors beyond. Scotland is visible on the clearest days.

Those who don’t need to rush back. If you stay after dark you’ll experience one of the UK’s official ‘Dark Sky Discovery’ sites. It’s one of our best places for star-gazing with no light pollution.

Just beyond the old Egglestone Abbey Bridge, limestone platforms jut into the river, like perfect picnic grandstands

Just beyond the old Egglestone Abbey Bridge, limestone platforms jut into the river, like perfect picnic grandstands

By abbey ruins, use free parking, then follow a quaint path downhill, over a stile to River Tees, under overhanging trees to Abbey Bridge.

Just beyond the old stone toll bridge, limestone platforms jut into the river, like perfect picnic grandstands.

Who will dare roll up trousers to paddle in cold, peaty water babbling down from the Pennines? The view hasn’t changed in 200 years.

Brave wild swimmers recommend this stretch; less energetic amateur artists can sit where Turner once sketched..

Potter down winding lanes heading west from Ambleside to Elterwater hamlet. There’s a handy car park by a bridge, then stroll along the flat path on the north riverbank for 15 minutes to reach a secluded lake.

Amazingly there’s a lone bench in this remote spot, among rocks on a small beach with a view guaranteed a surge in social media likes.

Use picnic crumbs to encourage ducks and geese to pose with shimmering Elterwater lake and imposing Langdale Pikes behind.

Lakeland crowd-dodgers, while rain-worriers have the ultimate Lake District insurance policy: if it pours, there’s real ale and open fires at the Britannia Inn on Elterwater village green.

Wick's Wood is a five-minute walk from the north end of Spruce Way in Formby, pictured. There is a huge, empty, unspoilt sandy beach

Wick’s Wood is a five-minute walk from the north end of Spruce Way in Formby, pictured. There is a huge, empty, unspoilt sandy beach

STILL HUNGRY 

Picnics in Lancashire (No 52) should be tasty. As well as hot pot, there are Morecambe Bay shrimps and Eccles and Chorley cakes. 

Take path at the north end of Spruce Way in Formby, then suddenly you’re in a sandy wilderness. It’s a five-minute walk to Wick’s Wood.

Walk through the wood to a summit of a tall sand dune ‘mountain’ overlooking the beach below.

Huge, empty, unspoilt sandy beach, blue sea and sky beyond. Post this online and followers will think you’re abroad.

Private picnickers. So remote that there are no facilities, so take water and all the supplies you’ll need.

In the Forest of Bowland, take the B2643 country road to the River Hodder bridge. A path next to the bridge leads along tree-lined riverbanks.

You’ll soon come across another bridge – this one much older and quirkier. Settle bankside or on the stony beach.

Some call this ancient packhorse bridge ‘Brandywine Bridge’ because J. R. R. Tolkien visited it. Was he inspired to create the Shire’s bridge in Lord Of The Rings?

Historians who’ll love discovering the bridge’s history. Locals call it ‘Cromwell’s Bridge’. Oliver somehow marched 8,000 men and horses across the narrow bridge to win the Battle of Preston in 1648.

Near Dovestone Reservoir, choose to have your picnic on the gentle green slope sheltered between two forest plantations

Near Dovestone Reservoir, choose to have your picnic on the gentle green slope sheltered between two forest plantations

Head west from the city to Saddleworth Moor. Aim for Bank Lane car park. Then walk west on Bradbury’s Lane before branching off uphill. Walk to the gap between trees.

Choose the gentle green slope sheltered between two forest plantations looking down on the reservoir and wild moor beyond.

Timeless sailing boats on sparkling water, framed by dark trees with a backdrop of rugged hills.

Hardy walkers (and kids), who can trek further up for a rock scramble on Wimberry Crag.

Hidden at the end of Banks Road is a small car park so it’s easy to carry everything past the tiny harbour and follow the riverbank north. If it’s too muddy, take a short inland detour via Heswall Fields.

Waterside bench overlooking a small beach.

Moody fishing boats, wading birds and tufty vegetation on the Dee’s under-rated tidal inlets, pools and sandbanks. It’s west-facing, for great sunset photos.

Bird-watchers, photographers and painters rather than swimmers. 

Tegg's Nose in East Cheshire is close to Old Buxton Road in the hills east of Macclesfield. Amid rocky outcrops, settle down to enjoy a vista of forests, fields and dry-stone walls

Tegg’s Nose in East Cheshire is close to Old Buxton Road in the hills east of Macclesfield. Amid rocky outcrops, settle down to enjoy a vista of forests, fields and dry-stone walls

Follow scenic Old Buxton Road into hills east of Macclesfield, looking for a small brown sign to Tegg’s Nose. Take the easy path through kissing gate to crest of this little-known hill.

Walk south to promontory called ‘The Nose’. Amid rocky outcrops, settle down to enjoy a vista of forests, fields and dry-stone walls from a 1,247ft-high vantage point.

Vivid swathes of heather to the east or distant Macclesfield rooftops to west. Clear day? Look for Liverpool Cathedral on the northern horizon. Misty day? Get moody with two reservoirs at the southern foot of the hill.

Plein-air painters and butterfly-spotters, as well as practising fellrunners and rock-climbers (in the old millstone quarry).

Urchin's Kitchen is a magical, mysterious and much meandering mini-gorge. Children can play hide-and-seek in lots of nearby caves and explore the cliffs, boulders and towering trees

Urchin’s Kitchen is a magical, mysterious and much meandering mini-gorge. Children can play hide-and-seek in lots of nearby caves and explore the cliffs, boulders and towering trees

Take ‘The Sandstone Trail’ through Primrosehill Wood (as beautiful as it sounds) just west of Kelsall. You should spot some small signs to ‘Urchin’s Kitchen’ through all the ferns and fungi that surround the main path.

Deep within trees you will discover a genuine geological oddity. It’s a magical, mysterious and much meandering mini-gorge – and you can walk right into it.

Look up for drama and the most memorable photos. The rugged, 30ft rock walls of the canyon are a lot closer together at the top than at the bottom, so you’ll feel as if you’re in a long-forgotten cave.

Everyone. Children can play hide-and-seek in lots of nearby caves and explore the cliffs, boulders and towering trees. Adults can ponder the back story and try to remember their school geology lessons: the chasm was gouged by water melting from a giant Ice Age glacier.

Tucked behind the David Lloyd health club. Free parking on the road outside the gym entrance. Look for a kissing gate to enter.

Former landfill site transformed into a tranquil 13-hectare nature reserve just 1½ miles from Cardiff city centre. Follow the path past a babbling stream over a hidden waterfall to secluded woodland. Use tree stumps for picnic perching.

Meadows of blooming wildflowers, five types of orchid, mysterious wetland and more than 500 species of wildlife.

Nature-lovers, city-dwellers desperate for respite and young children going on a bear hunt.

Leave the city centre on Oystermouth Road. Turn right at the Woodman pub, then right into the car park or park on-road at Westport Avenue.

Landscaped 19th Century gardens with 50 acres of wooded valleys, roaring streams, hidden walkways and wildflower meadows. Hike to the top of the park and grab a bench overlooking Swansea Bay and Port Talbot.

Vibrant rhododendrons, magical bluebell woods, and a romantic Japanese kissing bridge.

The whole family. Views, flowers and free easy parking for adults; hide-and-seek heaven for children.

Drive down a narrow lane next to the Plough and Harrow pub south of Monknash village. Use the honesty box to pay to park in a farmer’s field. Follow a brook down a tree-lined track past an old mill to the beach.

Amber sand protected by imposing cliffs. Crystal-clear rock pools to keep drinks cool. Bear left if the tide’s in to picnic on large flat rocks instead.

Waves crashing on cliffs, diving peregrine falcons, brook surging over rock formations. Stay for fiery sunsets over the Bristol Channel.

Large groups of friends for lazy, lingering outing.

Follow satnav to SA3 1JB for Broughton car park. Take the coastal path signed ‘Bluepool’ for a mile or two, and then scramble down steep rocks to a sandy cove.

Relax on clean, golden sand, sheltered by dramatic cliffs. Treasure hunters should head south to Three Chimneys rock arch, where gold doubloons from an 18th Century shipwreck have been found.

Sparkling water in huge tub-shaped natural rock pool that is said to be bottomless. Cliff ledges above for daring dives.

Strong swimmers only as rip tides can be powerful. Know tide times and wear shoes suitable for cliff clambering.

Between Newgale and Broad Haven, park on the eastern side of coastal road. Take ten-minute walk down stony hill path to beach.

Spread out across flat rocks at the cliff base for ready-made ‘picnic tables’ which overlook a long stretch of fine sand only visible when the tide is out. Rockpools for crabbing, dramatic caves for shelter.

Hidden waterfall cascades down rocks to the left of the cove. Take the cliff path for gorgeous sunset views over an uninterrupted Celtic Sea.

Plenty of space, so a dog-walker’s dream. Great spot for large family gatherings and perfect for sandy kickabouts/rounders.

Pick your spot from secret coves along the beach, rural feasting among wild ponies on the coastal path or choose the 19th Century lighthouse (above) for breathtaking Snowdonia views

Pick your spot from secret coves along the beach, rural feasting among wild ponies on the coastal path or choose the 19th Century lighthouse (above) for breathtaking Snowdonia views

EAT A DRAGON 

Traditional Welsh cakes are perfect picnic food. Spice yours up by choosing an ‘Apple Dragon’ with grated apple peel in the mix. 

In Newborough Forest, climb dunes to a wide golden beach. Walk for just over a mile along the sand to Llanddwyn.

Secret coves along the beach, rural feasting among wild ponies on the coastal path or choose the 19th Century lighthouse for breathtaking Snowdonia views.

Deserted beaches overlook statuesque mountains of the Llyn Peninsula, a romantic ruined chapel dedicated to the Welsh patron saint of lovers, St Dwynwen. See seals and dolphins if you’re lucky.

All who seek sunsets, swimming and silence. No dogs during summer but tide timings are essential if you want to avoid being cut off.

Part of the largest active sand-dune system in Europe, Kenfig Nature Reserve in Bridgend has windswept dunes and undulating grasslands

Part of the largest active sand-dune system in Europe, Kenfig Nature Reserve in Bridgend has windswept dunes and undulating grasslands 

From the M4, head to Porthcawl and North Cornelly. Look for brown duck signs between Bridgend and Port Talbot for reserve car park.

Part of largest active sand-dune system in Europe. Follow sandy paths to long, deserted beach facing Swansea Bay and glinting Bristol Channel. Or climb grassy dunes with Port Talbot ahead and motorway on the far right. Work left from railway line to discover remains of haunting Norman castle buried under sand and ivy.

Windswept dunes, undulating grasslands, serene freshwater pool. Only place in Britain where rare fen orchid grows.

Botanist heaven – and for dog-walkers.

Magical: Expect whirling rapids, thundering cascades, shimmering pools and enchanting woodland at Fairy Glen

Magical: Expect whirling rapids, thundering cascades, shimmering pools and enchanting woodland at Fairy Glen

Just off the A470 south of Betws. Turn left after the Fairy Glen Hotel but not into the hotel car park. There’s a small fee to park at the start of the trail.

Rumoured home of mythical sprites. Tranquil rural path then steep slate steps through woodland to a peaceful gorge along the River Conwy. Cool in summer, sheltered in winter. Large rocks to sit on upstream, rushing water, idyllic wild swimming.

Whirling rapids, thundering cascades, shimmering pools. Enchanting woodland with wild garlic, tawny owls, bats and otters.

Sturdy- shoed fairy-followers, photographers and romantic wanderers.

The best spot in Black Covert wood, pictured, is a sheltered picnic table under majestic ash and birch trees on the banks of the gurgling River Ystwyth

The best spot in Black Covert wood, pictured, is a sheltered picnic table under majestic ash and birch trees on the banks of the gurgling River Ystwyth

Half a mile south of Abermagwr on the B4340. Turn right over a bridge signed ‘Llanilar’, then take an immediate left. A free car park is left again.

Sheltered picnic table under majestic ash and birch trees on the banks of the gurgling River Ystwyth. Work up an appetite with a challenging forest walk past a glassy lake and the 2,000-year-old hill fort of Allt-Fedw. You get stunning views over the Ystwyth valley.

Sunlight dancing on the rushing river. Wild flowers, vivid green forest, swooping red kites.

Dog-walkers, hikers and history-lovers.

Swathes of grass are shaded by the dramatic stone archways of the magnificent ruined 12th Century llanthony Priory

Swathes of grass are shaded by the dramatic stone archways of the magnificent ruined 12th Century llanthony Priory

Take the A465 north from Abergavenny. Turn left at the sign to Llanthony and Priory, then left again in the village. Continue to Llanthony, and the car park on the left.

Swathes of grass shaded by dramatic stone archways of the magnificent ruined 12th Century Augustinian priory. Rolling Black Mountains beyond.

Take the path to left to climb Hatterall Hill for a bird’s-eye view of haunting priory, wildly rugged Vale of Ewyas and the glittering Bristol Channel on a clear day.

All the family: from youngest knight-in-waiting to oldest history buff. Head for heights needed to conquer the hill above.

Follow signs east from a free forestry car park through a pine forest. Bear right past waterfall and continue on a narrow, steep path to the mountain top.

Flat-topped summit on Rhondda’s own Table Mountain for sweeping views of forests and villages below. Spot crumbling Iron Age settlement, old colliery and disused railway tunnel on way down.

Soaring hills of Rhondda Fawr Valley scrape the clouds above, blankets of fir trees and the village of Treherbert in the patchwork valley below.

Bird-watchers, sure-footed ramblers and anyone seeking peace.

Park in Llandeilo town then turn right down a lane before the River Tywi bridge. Cross kissing gate and follow a path through picturesque Castle Woods.

Secluded medieval ruins said to be the site of a Roman temple tucked behind bushes in Dinefwr Park nature reserve. Continue across fields and steep woodland to Dinefwr castle for spectacular views over lush Tywi valley.

Fields carpeted in bluebells, sun-dappled glades cloistered by ancient oak trees. Stay quiet to spy woodpeckers and deer.

Artists needing inspiration and nature-loving couples. Muddy paths require decent shoes – no flip-flops.

Take the B4413 from Aberdaron then left, signed to Whistling Sands. After one mile, turn right at a crossroads and left at the next junction. Turn right and a farm lane is 500 yards on the left. Pay to park in Ty Mawr farmyard, then take a short, steep path to a beach below.

Stunning protected cove backed by a grassy bank. Flop on to fine white sand lapped by clear blue water of the Irish Sea. Rocks to the north are a fisherman’s paradise.

Quiet, picture-perfect beach, with smooth grassy headlands tumbling into the translucent sea.

The calm, clean water suits families, paddle-boarders and swimmers.

Free parking along the B4393 to Llanwddyn. Cross the dam and follow the lake for best views.

Originally a reservoir built to supply Liverpool with water, now it’s a remote fairytale lake. Picnickers are spoilt for choice with 12 miles of meandering forest pathways overlooked by heather-topped Berwyn Mountains and dense, verdant Dyfnant Forest.

Clouds reflected in the glossy expansive lake, bewitching waterfalls, distinctive neo-Gothic straining tower fit for a princess.

Cyclists, bird-watchers and energetic families. Lack of light pollution makes it one of UK’s best stargazing spots.

Pull into the lay-by on the B5429 near Bueno’s Huts, half a mile south of Tremeirchion, five minutes’ walk to the entrance.

Limestone hill with jaw-dropping views for miles over Clwydian Range and the Dee Valley Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Head further into woods for a fantastic secret tree swing and towards Bodfari village for an ancient hill fort.

Rolling clouds graze sunlit hills of the Vale of Clwyd, limestone crags, wild, unspoilt moorland, darting butterflies.

A frazzled friend yearning for peace and quiet. Who will push you on the tree swing?

From Castle Douglas, drive into Galloway Forest and head to Raider’s Road, ten miles of woodland alongside the River Dee. Although walkers and cyclists can use it all year round, it’s open to motorists only between April and October.

After four miles, find a small car park, a gradual stepped waterfall, surrounded by trees and grassy banks.

Light playing on the water and if you’re really lucky you may spot an otter, too.

Swimmers. Bring gear and waterproof shoes; there’s nowhere more fun for a dip in good weather.

From Blairgowrie, famous for its raspberries, head to Craigisla Bridge on the B954.

Head through the woods and clamber above the waterfall for the best views. There are a few places you can sit and soak up the vista. Or head to the banks of the river; it’s a more peaceful – and drier – place to eat.

You’ll never get the same shot of this 24ft-drop waterfall. Sometimes there are two waterfalls, but after heavy rains, it becomes one ferocious cascade of water sending a misty spray into the air.

The young and the fit. Pack sensible shoes and a waterproof (just in case).

From the village of Taynuilt, take the A85 and then the B845 for two miles until a turning on your right takes you to a car park.

An ancient forest with ash and hazel trees alongside conifers and small burns leading down to the River Nant.

Through the woodland towards the majestic Ben Cruachan, the top of which is often tipped in snow well into spring. Capture red squirrels, deer and butterflies in this peaceful nature reserve.

Big families with children, who’ll love it here. If you shy away from strong sun you’ll appreciate a special picnic area on the River Nant with a shaded wooded area after your walk.

: This corner of Scotland may make you feel as if you’re on the edge of the world, but it’s in Borders country, just above Eyemouth. From the A1, take the A1107, signposted as the Berwickshire Coastal Trail. A three-mile walk takes you towards a lighthouse built in 1862.

A series of cliffs and gullies that belong to the National Trust for Scotland.

Dramatic cliffs with pounding waves and seabirds.

Enthusiastic walkers only. A steep climb means you’re likely to be rewarded with plenty of space to spread out, but put picnic in a backpack; some of the climbs are stiff.

Close to the village of Darvel, a volcanic plug breaks out of the surrounding farmland. Take the A71 to Strathaven; a turning after two miles leads to a small car park, with paths leading to the hill. Two key battles against the English, led by Scottish heroes William Wallace and Robert the Bruce, were fought here.

Climb to the top of Loudoun Hill and you’ll be able to see all the way to the Isle of Arran on a good day.

Richard Price’s sculpture depicts a soldier to commemorate the battles fought here; go for an arty image with a photo of the hill through the sculpture.

All welcome – there’s a great picnic table at the base of the hill, and grassy banks to spread out the rugs and picnic tables.

From Cannich village, follow signposting to Glen Affric to the road end.

Relax on a bench above the river trail. The air is so pure here that trees boast the rarest lichens, a fair trade for no mobile-phone reception.

Look up for breathtaking snowy mountains and birds of prey. Look down into swirling peaty waters tumbling against the rocks as they wend their way through the ancient Caledonian pine forests. The views across the glen are outstanding.

Guests who are reasonably fit – the half-hour river walk covers rocky parts.

 

Tentsmiur is a blend of pine trees and a three-mile golden-sand beach, ridged with dunes. Pack binoculars for seal-spotting

Tentsmiur is a blend of pine trees and a three-mile golden-sand beach, ridged with dunes. Pack binoculars for seal-spotting

SWEET TREAT  

If your picnic starts near Dundee (No 78), pop in to Fisher & Donaldson. Fudge doughnuts are among 400 treats at the 100-year-old family baker. 

Across the Tay river from Dundee, between Tayport and Leuchars on the B945; follow the signs for Kinshaldy Beach.

In the Second World War, Polish soldiers were posted to this 50 square mile part of Fife to protect it from coastal attack, and there’s still something Baltic about Tentsmiur, a blend of pine trees and a three-mile golden-sand beach, ridged with dunes and now part of the Forestry Commission.

It’s a popular spot for horse-riders; you’ll also find wartime lookout posts.

 All the clan – it’s big enough for barbecues and games of rounders. The winning team can reward themselves at the crepe stall there in summer. Pack binoculars for seal-spotting.

  

Martyrs Bay is a crescent sand beach surrounded by cottages, with Iona's abbey – founded in 563 AD – in the distance

Martyrs Bay is a crescent sand beach surrounded by cottages, with Iona’s abbey – founded in 563 AD – in the distance

An island off an island. From Oban on Scotland’s West Coast, take the CalMac ferry to the island of Mull and drive to the village of Fionnphort, where you’ll leave your car. Another CalMac ferry takes ten minutes to cross over to Iona’s three miles of white-sand beaches.

To the right of the ferry, find Martyrs Bay, a crescent sand beach, surrounded by cottages, with Iona’s abbey – founded in 563 AD – in the distance.

A collection of boats bobbing in an azure sea.

As many friends and family as you wish – only about 120 residents live on Iona full-time, and you can top up your supplies at the SPAR shop nearby.

Loch Lomond, an hour's drive from Glasgow, is a 70-mile stretch of photo-friendly inlets and villages

Loch Lomond, an hour’s drive from Glasgow, is a 70-mile stretch of photo-friendly inlets and villages

Loch Lomond, an hour’s drive from Glasgow, is a 70-mile stretch of photo-friendly inlets and villages plus Swallows & Amazons- style islands.

Inchailloch, a pretty 130-acre island with walking trails, ancient burial sites and woodland can be reached by taking a small wooden ferry from the village of Balmaha.

Take the summit path for the best views across the water to Loch Lomond’s other islands.

Those in search of solitude will find it if they head away from the ferry stop to the sandy beach of Port Bawn cove. Camping is allowed but you’ll need to get permission beforehand.

  

Fairy Pounds is one of Skye's most famous spots, see it without crowds with a breakfast picnic. Sunrise is especially magical

Fairy Pounds is one of Skye’s most famous spots, see it without crowds with a breakfast picnic. Sunrise is especially magical

From the village of Carbost on the way to Glenbrittle, a single-track road will take you to a car park.

From here it’s a 40-minute walk on rough paths along the River Brittle that take you past a series of small waterfalls at the foot of the Black Cuillin mountains.

A circle of cascades that lead into a series of vibrant green and blue pools.

It’s all magical. Waterfalls, mountains and glorious volcanic-based scenery abound.

Fans of fairy folk young and old. As this is one of Skye’s most famous spots, see it without crowds with a breakfast picnic. Sunrise is especially magical

 

Park above the beach.

Rocks which can double up as tables – for your spread.

A natural wonder – vast expanses of sky, endless sea bordering an immaculate beach with hardly a soul to be seen.

Hearty families who are happy to paddle in utterly freezing seas (although the rockpools are warmer).

Outside the village of Tomintoul at the junction of the B9008 and A939.

For a night-time picnic put a rug down anywhere you like in the field. All the action is above you. On a clear night, it feels as if you can reach out and run your fingers through the dazzling constellations.

Exceptionally dark skies offer amazing visibility to the horizon on all sides. See the outer planets all year round, inner planets from late winter to early spring and aurora from September to March.

Night-lovers, star-struck romantic couples and budding astronomers.

 

Clachan Sands Beach is a crescent of white sand 'more like the Caribbean', fringed with wildflowers, including orchids

Clachan Sands Beach is a crescent of white sand ‘more like the Caribbean’, fringed with wildflowers, including orchids

In the Outer Hebrides, first you have to get to Skye, then take the ferry; it’ll take one hour 45 minutes to get to Uist’s port at Lochmaddy. After that, you’ll have a 15-minute drive north.

A crescent of white sand more like the Caribbean, fringed with wildflowers, including orchids.

Come here for sunset to get a kaleidoscope of golden and pinktinged clouds.

Adventurous families and romantics.

An easy 30-minute drive from Glasgow city centre to a National Trust property.

Take a walk along the river banks of the Clyde and settle by the rushing waterfall at Mill Pond.

The tranquil and charming 200-year-old walled garden or mini floral maze.

 Young families who can enjoy a game of hide-and- seek. Gardeners can marvel at the giant rhubarb (gunnera) and seasonal produce for sale in the kitchen garden.

 

Built in 1177 and in ruins by the 19th Century, Dundrum Castle isn't one of the province's big sights, but it's one of Northern Ireland's finest

Built in 1177 and in ruins by the 19th Century, Dundrum Castle isn’t one of the province’s big sights, but it’s one of Northern Ireland’s finest

From Belfast, it’s a 40-minute drive south along the A24 and A2 that takes you through Dundrum village to Dundrum Castle.

Built in 1177 and in ruins by the 19th Century, this isn’t one of the province’s big sights, but it’s one of Northern Ireland’s finest Norman castles and full of charm. Entrance is free, access is easy and there are plenty of rocks to clamber over.

Gentle, undulating views across the water and towards the Mourne Mountains.

Young and old in family groups. Pep up your picnic with treats, including fruit and cake, from the nearby Castle Farm shop.

In profile, these rocks that tower over Belfast look like a giant man; Jonathan Swift was so inspired by them that he wrote Gulliver’s Travels. Today, they’re just a 15-minute drive from Belfast on the M2 and the Antrim Road.

The very top of McArt’s Fort – known to locals as Napoleon’s Nose – is a three-mile hike which takes you near the caves, mysterious but natural formations that give the area its name.

Sweeping vistas of Belfast streets and parks, with the Irish Sea beyond. On a clear day you can see Scotland.

The fit. Close to Belfast Zoo – a great reward for children who manage the climb.

The northernmost tip of Northern Ireland; reached by a 25-minute ferry from Ballycastle.

A craggy, much cherished island, six miles long, one mile wide, with a population of 140 and thousands of birds, many migratory, including puffins.

The island’s resident seals hang out at Mill Bay, the cliffs and beaches.

Families on a day trip. Stock up at Ballycastle before heading over; Ursa Minor specialises in sourdough bread and cakes. Pack binoculars. The restless can rent a bicycle to explore and craft beer fans will love McCuaig’s bar on the harbour front

Three miles south of Newcastle on the Kilkeel Road. Park, cross the road and follow the path of the river for a few minutes.

The Mournes are Northern Ireland’s tallest mountain range. Plenty to see from the road, although if you head out on the Brandy Pad walk, named because it was once a smuggling route, you can climb over boulders to sheep-dotted mountains. Picnic tables at the Bloody Bridge car park

Tunnels, footbridges, water rushing through rockpools, the further ones are the nicest; bring swimming costumes.

Families and children, who are guaranteed to find the name hilariously funny.

A 40-minute drive from Derry/Londonderry on the A2 and the Coast Road.

World-class sandy beach runs for seven miles. No rocks. No shingle. Just the sort of sand that lifestyle dreams are made from.

If at the eastern end, include Mussenden Temple from another angle. Porpoises have been known to frolic out at sea here.

A cool crowd who may slope off to Sea Shed cafe/surf shop, which can also arrange lessons (longlinesurfschool.co.uk).

From Downpatrick, a 15-minute drive on the A25, turning left on Park Road brings you to this key Game Of Thrones location.

Built in the 18th Century by an aristocratic couple who couldn’t agree on an architectural style, Castle Ward mixes Georgian and neo-Gothic buildings, surrounded by an estate overlooking Strangford Lough, one of the largest stretches of water in the UK.

Bring your sword for GoT poses. Castle Ward played Winterfell in some episodes.

 Anyone who appreciates a waterside picnic. They’ll love the pretty boathouse and benches.

With woods, hayfields and two beaches, Crawfordsburn Country Park is one of Northern Ireland's gentlest beauty spots

With woods, hayfields and two beaches, Crawfordsburn Country Park is one of Northern Ireland’s gentlest beauty spots

AND TO FINISH…  

Round off your Northern Ireland picnic with a local favourite – the Jammy Joey, a Madeira sponge covered in jelly and coconut. 

Between Bangor and Holywood, a 30-minute drive from Belfast on the A2 along the coast, and there are also buses from the centre.

With woods, hayfields and two beaches, this is one of Northern Ireland’s gentlest beauty spots. In the Second World War, Crawfordsburn was under Army control and a fort built in 1917 is now a museum.

Pretty meadows near the shore brimming with wildflowers throughout the summer.

Romantics, who should head into the woodland to wander peacefully. There are also wheelchair-friendly paths.

From Enniskillen, it’s a 30-minute drive on the A46 to Lough Navar Forest

For seven miles, the road will take you past Ice Age boulders and bog forests – but stop at Aghameelan and a short walk will take you to one of Northern Ireland’s most spectacular sights.

The 60ft waterfall of Blackslee; for full cascade drama, go after a good downpour.

Real nature-lovers will find the woodland a bit dense to picnic in, so head back to the Aghameelan viewpoint to spread out your rug. Romantics will love the vista of Fermanagh countryside.

At the far end of Lough Navar forest road, 14 miles from the border with Donegal, is one of Northern Ireland’s most stunning vistas. It’s a 40-minute drive from Enniskillen on the A46 and three miles from Blackslee.

Awesome viewing spot allows you to see the most encompassing view of Northern Ireland and even into the green hills of Donegal.

Lower Lough Erne, the Bluestack Mountains, Mullaghmore and Slieve League.

 Artists, who will want their sketch pads; it’s remote enough to soothe the soul. Part of Magho’s magic is the lack of facilities. Bring a full hamper of goodies.  

Giant's Causeway, above, is a mesmerising stack of hexagonal rocks, rising from the crashing waves on the Antrim coast

Giant’s Causeway, above, is a mesmerising stack of hexagonal rocks, rising from the crashing waves on the Antrim coast

The trip from Belfast on the M2 takes just over an hour, next to the whiskyproducing village of Bushmills.

A mesmerising stack of hexagonal rocks, rising from the crashing waves on the Antrim coast, created six billion years ago when lava flow forced its way up the rocks.

A World Heritage Site you can clamber on. Made from basalt, one of the world’s hardest rocks – walking shoes aren’t going to make a dent in them. Selfie heaven.

The sociable. A million visit each year. Either join them, or for a quieter picnic head to Portrush, 20 minutes along the coast, a photo-worthy fishing village with sandy beach. 

In the University district of South Belfast and easy to reach by bus, Ulster’s biggest park has been open to the public since 1895.

After a £3.8million facelift, the 28 acres of plants, gardens and greenhouses are even more gorgeous with areas dedicated to rare trees, roses and herbaceous borders.

The Palm House conservatory, a curvaceous glasshouse full of Victorian panache and tropical plants.

 Urban romantics, who will love the Great Lawn by the Palm House, which has a feel of Central Park about it. Rain? Beat a retreat to the Ulster Museum on one side of the gardens.

One of the most famous buildings in Northern Ireland, the clifftop Mussenden Temple was built in the 18th Century as the Earl of Bristol's library

One of the most famous buildings in Northern Ireland, the clifftop Mussenden Temple was built in the 18th Century as the Earl of Bristol’s library

A 40-minute drive from Derry/Londonderry on the A2 ends with a well signposted right turn on the Mussenden Road.

Downhill Demesne is an estate with a ruined mansion, woodland, formal gardens and farmland, run by the National Trust.

One of the most famous buildings in Northern Ireland, the clifftop Mussenden Temple was built in the 18th Century as the Earl of Bristol’s library; the arched windows look down on the Inishowen peninsula.

Relaxed grown-up gatherings in sheltered walled gardens complete with an apple orchard. 

The whitewashed houses surrounding a small harbour at the mouth of the Glendun river in Cushendun, County Antrim

The whitewashed houses surrounding a small harbour at the mouth of the Glendun river in Cushendun, County Antrim

Take a 90-minute drive north of Belfast, on the A42 via Ballymena and park next to the beach after crossing the river.

Whitewashed houses surrounding a small harbour at the mouth of the Glendun river; the prettiest village in Northern Ireland. There’s a cute beach to the left and a patchwork of farmland above.

To the right are Cushendun Caves. In Game Of Thrones, they were used to represent Stormlands. A photo of the waves framed by the entrance of the caves captures the atmosphere nicely.

Groups. If it’s raining, stay in the caves, but in fine weather the beach is perfect. Run out of refreshments? Head to the village tea shop.

A 20-minute drive from Dundalk on the N1, near the ancient burial site of Clontygora.

Ireland’s most beautiful border country; the name Flagstaff comes from the fact that flags used to be raised here when boats arrived back at nearby Carlingford Lough.

Carlingford Lough, framed by mountains, fields and the Irish Sea. The curve of Lough Carlinn and the Cooley Peninsula over in the Republic of Ireland. Switch to panoramic setting.

The hale and hearty, who will appreciate the small extra climb – but there’s a bench to reward yourself at the top.

Just inland on the winding Antrim Coast Road, travelling north from Belfast. Head inland at the village of Waterfoot. It’ll take about two hours but it’s a famously enjoyable drive.

The most well-known of the Glens of Antrim, a series of village-speckled coves, packed with ash, hazel and pine trees.

It’s got to be Glenariff’s waterfalls; there are three of them but Ess Na Laragh has a particular grace.

Groups who want picnic tables and a barbecue area. Picnic top-ups can be found at the famously good tea shop that makes the most of the views across to the Mull of Kintyre.

Advertisement

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here