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Plan the Perfect Picnic - Outdoor Eating in the UK

There is nothing more British than a family picnic in the sunshine. You could happily spend a whole day enjoying the country air, eating your fill of sandwiches and cake and playing games with your loved ones.

We’ve put together the ultimate guide to enjoying a family day out this summer – covering three key ingredients: food, location and fun.

Don’t forget your tartan blanket!

What to pack...

The food

Picnic food has to follow certain criteria: it has to be portable, windproof, and filling.

The perfect picnic will include something savoury (sandwiches; meat pies), something sweet (a Victoria sponge; fruit scones), something fruity (strawberries; watermelon), and a few little extras (scotch eggs; bread and cheese; French pastries).

Make sure you wrap everything well, to avoid leakages, and take an extra Tupperware container with you to collect any leftovers.

The Drinks

There is nothing better than a bottle of cloudy lemonade in the sunshine (except, maybe, a bottle of Prosecco…). Make your own by combining two cups of sugar with one cup of hot water. Stir until the sugar has dissolved, then add two cups of freshly squeezed lemon juice, and a gallon of cold water. Chill and serve with a slice of lemon and a sprig of mint.

The utensils

Plastic knives and forks can be handy for eating salads, but when you’re eating al fresco on a blanket on the ground, no one is going to judge you for eating with your hands.

Bring a cutting knife to divvy up any cakes or quiches, and make sure you have a few plastic cups or individual bottles for drinks, paper plates for serving, and a few napkins for spillages. Oh, and a bottle opener might come in handy if you’re packing some wine for the adults.

Finally, make sure you pack some antibacterial wipes or hand-wash to ward off any bugs, and bring a big trash bag with you so that you can dispose of every last scrap of rubbish before you leave.

Where to go...

Every National Trust property has a designated picnic area, so you can dine from the top of Box Hill in Surrey, take in the views at the Tennyson Downs on the Isle of Wight, or underneath the Souter Lighthouse in Tyne and Wear.

However, you don’t need a National Trust membership to find the best picnic sites in Britain. Private property aside, you can lay your blanket just about anywhere, as long as you are prepared to clean up afterwards.


If you like your sandwiches to come with extra ‘sand’, make your way to the coast and enjoy a seaside feast. Choose a blue flag beach so the kids can play in the sea while the picnic is being laid out.

West Wittering Beach in West Sussex is wide enough to be used even during high tide.

Morfa Bychan in Wales allows you to take your car down onto the sand.

The stunning Achmelvich Bay on Stornoway wouldn’t look out of place if it were located in the Caribbean!


More than 12,000 square miles of Britain is covered in forest – and that means there are more than 12,000 hidden glades, river banks and clearings which are just begging to be used for a picnic.

Visit the never-ending Galloway Forest Park in Scotland – the biggest forest in Britain at 300 square miles, and it even boasts its own loch.

Whinlatter Forest Park in Cumbria is one of the few places in Britain where you can spot the elusive red squirrel).

The legendary Sherwood Forest in Nottingham is where the equally legendary Robin Hood once lived. Just make sure you keep an eye on your food, or you might lose it to a naughty squirrel!


The Great British countryside is full of surprising picnic sites that you’ll want to visit again and again.

Dine in the ruins of a medieval castle at Rievaulx Abbey in North Yorkshire.

Find a quiet spot in the Derwent Valley, Derbyshire, which boasts stately homes, manicured gardens, and secret glens where you can swim under your own private waterfall.

For grown-up picnics, try trekking across Cornwall’s Bodmin Moor after reading up on the history of the area (from Lancelot to Treasure Island) – just make sure you avoid the legendary Beast!

What to play...

You can get hours of fun from a tennis set, cricket kit, or a Twister sheet. Or make your own games and keep the kids occupied for hours! Here are a few of our favourites:

Sack race

A classic summer-day game – just bring along enough empty potato sacks (or rice sacks; or old pillowcases) for everyone to use, then watch as kids and adults fall over themselves trying to make it to the finish line.

Ice archaeologists

Freeze some LEGO figures in an ice-tray and let your little ones play ‘ice archaeologists’ as they try and excavate them – a fun, educational activity that’s perfect for cooling the kids off!

Frisbee rounders

Throw the Frisbee as far as you can and try to get round the obstacles before the opposing team retrieve it and get you out.