Picnic spots on picturesque trails

Days out, Picnics, Walking

Posted by Courtney on 25th May 2021

Picnic hamper in the park

Lunch just feels that little bit more gourmet when it comes out of a wicker hamper, and the excitement of decadent food and drink on a carpet of grass in the sun is what makes summer splendid. Add into the mix the opportunity to walk it all off surrounded by remarkable scenery, and it’s a wonder that every day isn’t a picnic day.

So, with charming countryside, craggy coastlines and babbling rivers to choose from, the time has come to reconnect with nature this summer and dine alfresco at Britain’s top picnic spots. Pack the snacks, grab the chequered blanket and head out on these walking trails.

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Loch an Eilein - Cairngorms National Park

Loch an Eilein - Cairngorms National Park

Voted Britain’s best picnic spot, Loch an Eilein is a picture-postcard location hidden within the forest of Rothiemurchus. Featured in The Chronicles of Narnia and Monarch of the Glen, its low level walking path is sheltered by ancient pines and the area is peppered with flora with a dramatic backdrop of the Scottish Highlands. Take a stroll around the outside of the loch, before stopping for regional treats, scotch eggs and shortbread that you picked up at Rothiemurchus Farm Shop.

Cairngorms cottages

Rowardennan, Loch Lomond

Rowardennan - Loch Lomond

Said to be one of the most beautiful places in Scotland (and that’s saying something!), Loch Lomond offers tranquil serenity in abundance. Take off your shoes and socks and enjoy a light paddle at Rowardennan, before tucking into your ample picnic that you bought at the Coach House Coffee Shop and Store. Finish the afternoon off with a leisurely walk along the Ben Lomond Memorial Trail or, if you’re feeling up to it, traverse the craggy hill path towards the peak of Ben Lomond to grab unparalleled views across the loch.

Loch Lomond cottages

Other top picnic spots in Scotland

  • Boden Boo, near the Erskine Bridge – enjoy pushchair-friendly walks along 2 miles of unmarked trails and finish with a riverside picnic
  • Fearnoch, near Oban – eat at the picnic tables and look out towards Argyll's tallest peak, Ben Cruachan, before taking to the trails to spot red squirrels
  • Otter Pool, in Galloway Forest Park – a beautifully secluded picnic spot by trickling waters and surrounded by pine trees

North of England

A family walking through the woods

Plankey Mill - Northumberland 

Head to the banks of the River Allen with the kids in tow for a day of fun that’ll live long in the memory. Tiptoe into the water with your net to collect and observe the river life or spend your time collecting the flattest stones to skim across the water with your friends. Pretend you’re in the jungle and run across the wooden suspension bridge, or head into the woods where the river runs deeper and find a popular swimming spot - make sure you check out our guide to wild swimming first. Grab a delicious loaf for your picnic at The Grateful Bread Bakery.

Northumberland cottages

A family enjoy a picnic on the grass

Rising Sun Country Park - North Tyneside

Situated behind a supermarket (perfect for picking up all the deli treats needed for a great picnic), you’ll soon forget you were in aisle three when you take a look at the views across Swallow Pond. Let the kids have a small play in the wooden play park before heading into the woods, picking up a trail that leads you straight to Rising Sun Farm, where the little ones can say hello to the chickens, sheep and pigs.

Newcastle upon Tyne cottages

Other top picnic spots in the North of England

  • Plessey Woods, Bedlington – enjoy a picnic at the suntrap entrance to the woods and let the kids play before setting off for your walk
  • Druridge Bay Country Park, Morpeth – choose a picnic table on the shore of Ladyburn Lake and then embark on the 1.3-mile toddler-friendly walk around said lake and cross the stepping stones
  • Tyne Green Country Park, Hexham – set up next to the River Tyne on the picnic fields, before playing Pooh sticks on the quaint little bridge


Cinderella Castle at Lake Vyrnwy, Powys

Lake Vyrnwy - Powys

Get away from it all and head to Lake Vyrnwy. Wide, open moorlands and meadows are beautifully complemented by dense forestry and a tranquil lake. The children will be excited to see Cinderella Castle as you walk around this reservoir, and the adults will marvel at the waterfalls and wildlife with the backdrop of the Berwyn Mountains in the distance. If you’ve forgotten to pack anything for your picnic, make sure you take the slight detour and head to Gillhams Deli for a wonderful range of fine foods and drinks.

Powys cottages

River Llugwy, Betws-y-Coed

River Llugwy - Betws-y-Coed

River walks in Wales are amongst the best in Britain and Llugwy is no exception. Set your picnic up next to the falls and watch the water cascade into the pool below. The walk here is quite short but it has a maintained walkway making it wheelchair and pushchair-friendly, meaning it’s a great destination if you have accessibility issues. Grab plenty of delicious local produce for your picnic at Iechyd Da Deli before you depart.

Betws-y-Coed cottages

Other top picnic spots in Wales

  • Afon Glaslyn Pools, off the Watkin Path, Snowdon – watch the river cascade into pool after pool as you set up your blanket on the pleasant grass
  • Graig Tremeirchion, near Rhuallt, Denbighshire – stunning views, picturesque walks and wooden benches make this a top picnic spot. Try the tree swing in the woods too
  • Waterfalls at Neuadd, Brecon Beacons – head to this waterfall in the Brecon Beacons National Park and just lie back, relax and listen to the water wash your problems away

South West England

Cotswold Way – Cotswolds

Cotswold Way – Cotswolds

Famed for its 102-mile trail, the Cotswolds Way heads from the classic Roman city of Bath to the market town of Chipping Campden. Starting in the north-east town of Painswick, follow the path south to Coaley Peak picnic site, covering a total of 11.5 miles. The trail leads you through woodland tracks, venturing across the Stroudwater Canal, crossing the Commons and around the base of Pen Wood. Arrive at Coaley Peak and see why we love it so much! Before taking advantage of its picnic tables, the picturesque views across the Forest of Dean and its seasonal ice cream vendor, be sure to head to Broadway Deli to pick up all your picnic essentials.

Cotswolds cottages

Landacre Bridge – Exmoor

Landacre – Exmoor

Set within the open moorland of Exmoor, Landacre is an area of the national park which gathers hundreds of visitors yearly. Running alongside the River Barle in Somerset, Landacre’s restored medieval bridge presents a route for exploring the rest of Exmoor, where you can spot rare Exmoor ponies, a breed closely related to primeval horses and now on the endangered list. Perfect for wild swimming, Landacre offers plenty of space to dry off before settling in a sun-catching spot for outdoor dining. Be sure to make a pitstop at Lloyd Maunder Deli for a great selection of local cheeses, pies and charcuterie before setting forth.

Mid and East Devon cottages

The woods on Brownsea Island – Dorset

Brownsea Island – Dorset

Just off the edge of the Poole coast in Dorset sits Brownsea Island. Travel across on the ferry from Sandbanks, to see the Brownsea Castle and, of course, some of the best picnic spots in the UK. Brownsea Island is just under a mile wide and a mile long, making a walk around the island extremely manageable. Lay down the blanket, park yourself on the edge of the lagoon and watch the yachts cascade through the water as you dine alfresco. Don’t forget to spot the elusive sika deer and the endangered red squirrel. Before boarding the ferry, pick up some artisan goods for your hamper at Deli on the Quay.

Poole cottages

Other top picnic spots in the South West of England

  • Mawgan Porth, North Cornwall – with coastal paths aplenty, as well as rock pools and caves to explore, will you even have time for a picnic?
  • Watermouth Bay, North Devon – a secluded bay where you can choose either the South West Coast Path or the beach itself to savour your picnic
  • Teign Valley, South Devon – start off at Castle Drogo and then take off on a lovely circuit walk along Hunter’s Path

South East England

Tranquil stepping stones at Box Hill, Surrey

Box Hill - Surrey

If you’re looking to get out of London for the day, you’ll do far worse than making the short trip to Box Hill. Try the Happy Valley circular walk and discover some of Box Hill’s hidden woodland and Broadwood’s Tower, whilst taking in some scenic views of the Surrey countryside. It’s great for all members of the family, and children and adults alike will no doubt love the Natural Play Trail, where there are lots of trees and structures to climb on. Head to Surrey Hills Delicatessen for all your picnic needs beforehand.

Dorking cottages

Petersfield Heath - South Downs National Park

Petersfield Heath - South Downs National Park

South Downs National Park’s landscapes cover a vast area of the UK, intertwined with a rich tapestry of wildlife and tranquillity, making the area fantastic for walking at your own pace. Awash with history, Petersfield Heath dates back as far as 1500BC and this is apparent when you see the artefacts and burial mounds discovered by local historians and architects. Before you wander the heathland amongst the spot where humans have been sitting since prehistoric times, indulge yourself and pick up some exquisite fare at Madeleine's Kitchen

South Downs cottages

Other top picnic spots in the South East of England

  • Kingley Vale Nature Reserve, South Downs National Park – take the time to climb Kingley Vale Hill for your picnic and you’ll be rewarded with panoramic vistas of Chichester
  • Brockhill Country Park, Saltwood – a Site of Nature Conservation Interest with open meadows and a lake, make sure you traverse the Deer Paddock, The Lake and The Valley before setting up brunch
  • Runnymede, Surrey – let the kids and the dogs run free in the meadows alongside the Thames and eat your lunch where the Magna Carta was signed

Enjoy the great outdoors this summer

No doubt, all this talk of trails and picnics has got you hungry for a summer holiday. If that’s the case, browse our collection of cottages for summer. Whether you’re looking for a family holiday, a romantic break or a dog-friendly getaway, we’ve got you covered.

Browse cottages for summer

Disclaimer: Whilst every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information at the time of writing, please ensure you check carefully before making any decisions based on the contents within this article.