Practically Perfect Picnics…

National Picnic Week, this year running from 18 to 26 June, always offers a great excuse to find your perfect spot for an outdoor feast.

But 2022 – with thousands taking part in their own Big Jubilee Lunch over the extra-long Bank Holiday weekend 2-5 June – seems set to launch a whole summer of picnicking.

So, whether it’s for the Jubilee event, National Picnic week, or anytime else, dig out that blanket, and enjoy a fresh air feast with this round-up of top picnic spots from the destinations we work with.

And, better still, most are free to enter…

Get social in a medieval castle

For almost 1,000 years Lincoln Castle has dominated the skyline of this heritage-rich city. Step inside the imposing stone walls of this Norman gem and the free-to-enter grounds offer plenty of open grassy areas, perfect for a picnic at any time. But this summer, Picnic Social – a new gathering celebrating food, culture and community – aims to offer a little extra between 23 July and 7 August. By day, people can gather, discover and indulge in the region’s finest produce from a county that produces nearly 20% of all the food eaten in the UK. By night, there’s a chance to kick back to a summer soundtrack with craft beers and artisan spirits ( Plus, this summer visitors can also meet Lucy, a giant mythical dragon sculpture ‘breaking’ through the medieval walls.

Savour a free stately spectacle

On the edge of the Georgian stone town of Stamford, Lincolnshire, lies one of England’s greatest Elizabethan houses – and unlike many historic properties, the parkland is free to enter, all year round, except for special event days. Largely designed by ’Capability’ Brown in the 18th century, the sweeping parkland offers a spectacular space for picnics – as well as being home to a herd of fallow deer. With the Tudor mansion as the backdrop, there’s plenty of space to find a perfect spot amongst the trees, with stunning vistas towards Burghley in one direction and the spires of Stamford in the other. For those who want to see more, House and Garden admission tickets cost £20 per adult and £9 per child.

A heavenly view

On the edge of the Yorkshire Wolds, and under the shadow of its 13th century Minster, Beverley is a popular tourist destination with its narrow streets, antique shops and traditional tearooms. But perhaps one of this East Yorkshire gem’s less well-known attractions is Beverley Westwood, a huge expanse of greenery on the town’s edge. With heavenly views of the Minster in the distance, share a picnic with family and friends… and free-roaming cows. A link to the bygone days of common pastureland – and overseen by the Pasture Masters, elected from the Freemen of Beverley – the land is grazed by cows and sheep, adding to its charm. The Westwood is also home to Beverley racecourse.

A date with history

Within walking distance of the city centre of Derby, a powerhouse of creativity and manufacturing for over 300 years, the sweeping open spaces of Darley Park offer a great spot for a picnic. Beside the River Derwent, the park stretches from the edge of the city centre and the award-winning Museum of Making at The Silk Mill – thought to be the site of the world’s first factory – to Darley Abbey Mills, the most complete 18th century mill complex in the world, now home to cafes and restaurants. This picturesque park, part of the Derwent Valley Mills World Heritage Site, was donated to the people of Derby in 1929 by the Evans family who founded Darley Abbey’s cotton mills. The park also boasts The Hydrangea Collection, the largest in Britain and the third largest in the world.

There’s nothing common about this seaside stunner

It’s not hard to see why Hampshire’s Southsea Common was once awarded Warburton’s Best Picnic Spot in the South East for three years running. Fronting Southsea’s popular seafront promenade, it’s picture perfect for picnics, with views across The Solent. Stretching for around one and a half miles, the Common was used for assembling armies before battles, so was left as a large open space. Facilities include a children’s play area, beach volleyball courts, tennis, pitch and putt and a skate park. Nestled on the southern side of Portsmouth – with views across to the Isle of Wight – Southsea has a cool coastal culture combined with a rich seafaring history. Southsea Castle, built by Henry VIII is where the King witnessed his flagship, the Mary Rose, sink in 1545, while more history – and great views – can be discovered along the two-mile long Millennium Promenade.

Pause and reflect…

There can be fewer more apt places to pause and take some time out with friends and family than the UK’s year-round centre of remembrance. The huge National Memorial Arboretum site in Staffordshire has plenty of room for picnics, with one popular spot at Watersmeet, a riverside wood beside the River Tame, home to scores of silver birch, black poplar and willow trees. But with 150 acres to explore – all nestled amongst around 25,000 trees – picnickers are spoilt for choice. And after a spot of al fresco lunch, visit some of the 400 thought-provoking memorials, each telling an incredible story of bravery and honour, or wander the dog-friendly and wheelchair-accessible pathways. And it’s free to enter too, although there is a small charge for parking.

Bridge the gap with a trip to the ‘Swiss Alps’

How about this for outdoor dining with a view – a country park overlooking what was once the world’s longest single-span suspension bridge, along with white cliffs dubbed ‘Little Switzerland’? It’s all possible, in Hull. The Humber Bridge Country Park overlooking the iconic Humber Bridge –-still the longest in the world that can be crossed on foot or by cycle – is a 48-acre wood with open meadows and wildlife ponds, plus picnic areas. While some meadows are mown for games and picnics, others are only cut once a year to encourage wild flowers and butterflies, with various short trails around this reserve taking-visitors from woodland to grassland to poolside habitats. Created from an old chalk quarry, the park’s local nickname of ‘Little Switzerland’ comes courtesy of the distinctive chalk cliffs surrounding it on three sides, resembling miniature snow-covered Alps.

Race your way to a picnic in the forest

It may be home to thrilling world-class mountain bike routes, but Staffordshire’s Cannock Chase Country Park – hosting the Commonwealth Games race event in August – also offers a chance to experience the same glorious scenery at a more sedate pace. With more than 3,000 acres, there are plenty of leisurely walking trails (and family cycling routes), plus picnic areas, including Pingle Slade, a large open area within the pine forest. Birches Valley Forest Centre is a great starting point for a day out on Cannock Chase, from mountain bike trails to woodland walks and adventure play. There is also a café and bike hire. The Visitor Centre and Café at Marquis Drive also offers self-guided walking and family cycling trails.

Take your little monkeys for a ‘fairy’ good picnic treat

Trentham Gardens, on the edge of Stoke-on-Trent, has long been a firm family favourite for good reason – and not just because of the fairies who live there. One of the UK’s most diverse days out, the 725-acre Trentham Estate is home to award-winning gardens, ancient woodland, a mile-long lake, adventure play area, fairy sculptures… and even offers the chance to get up close and personal with 140 free-roaming Barbary macaques at Trentham Monkey Forest ( The gardens have plenty of benches and grassy areas to sit, as well as picnic tables near the Adventure Play Area and amongst the Meadows of Grass. Once you’ve finished your picnic, explore everything the Estate has to offer, including the ever-popular Trentham Fairy Trail around the lake, woodland, maze and gardens. Separate admission to the Gardens and Monkey Forest.

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    Lincoln Castle

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    Beverley Westwood, East Yorkshire

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    Burghley House

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    Southsea Common, Hampshire

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    Humber Bridge, Hull

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    Trentham Gardens, near Stoke-on-Trent