A picnic is the perfect way to while away an afternoon in the sunshine. These are our top spots around Britain for a summer’s day feast.
Most of us think of a picnic simply as a meal with friends and family outside, but it used to mean a gathering of people in any location where they would share a meal to which they had all contributed.
The word ‘picnic’ comes from the French term ‘pique-nique’, which was used from the mid-1600s on to describe those who brought their own wine when dining out.
It wasn’t until the early 19th century the word picnic had stronger links to a meal eaten outdoors. Of course the concept of alfresco dining dates back much further to the medieval hunting parties of the 14th century, where they would have enjoyed cold meats and game and celebrated for days rather than just a sunny afternoon.
We may not all have several days to spare, but packing up a feast and heading for one of Britain’s many beautiful open spaces is truly one of summer’s great pleasures.
Ragley Hall, 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. The peaceful picnic area is by the lake, where you might see a few peacocks roaming around.
Barafundle Bay, 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 to explore once the tide has gone out. It’s the perfect picnic spot, and one that will have you returning again and again.
Somerset House, 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, and there’s plenty of space to roam around and duck in and out of the fountains. Once you’ve finished eating, take a look around the spectacular building and the exhibits and collections inside.
Horniman Gardens, London
Situated next to the fabulous Horniman Museum, the Horniman Gardens are a wonderful place for a picnic. Offering spectacular views of London, the 16-acre garden puts on free shows at the bandstand in the summer months. Afterwards, take a look at the museum, where a full range of events and activities.
Brownsea Island, 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. There are scouting exhibitions and a Smuggler’s Trail to the treasure chest, and a new cliff-top walk which has created ideal picnic spots.
Avebury Stone Circle, 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 — a fascinating day out.