There’s no better way to celebrate summer than packing a picnic and catching up with friends and family. With miles of coastline and acres of countryside, the National Trust has some of the best places in the country for eating al fresco.
A recent National Trust survey revealed 34% of families preferred to spread out a blanket and have a picnic next to a river or lake, with the seaside coming in at a very close second with 20% of the vote.
For those whose picnic preparation isn’t quite up to scratch, there are also plenty of ways to make it extra-special with the delicious seasonal food on offer at National Trust cafes and shops.
Here are some of the top National Trust picnic spots for a family day out:
Aberdulais Falls, Neath Port Talbot
There's a wealth of wonderful things for families to discover and enjoy while exploring Aberdulais Tinworks and Waterfall. Some things hold surprises and some you can even take home. Pick up a tracker pack, let the kids hunt for bugs and beasts or just lay out a blanket and lie in the sun.
50 things to do before you're 11 and ¾, 20-21 and 27-28 July, 3-4, 10-11, 17-18, 24-25 and 31 August and 1 September, 11am-4pm
Do something different as a family every weekend throughout the summer holidays and see just how many of the ’50 things’ activities you can complete. From making homes for a small animal (27-28 July) to building a den (17-18 August), Aberdulais has all you need to enjoy some time with the family.
Normal admission charges apply. Booking is not required.
For more information, please call 01639 636674.
Blickling Estate, Norfolk
Blickling Hall is one of England's great Jacobean houses, widely believed to be the home to Henry VIII’s second wife, Anne Boleyn. The beautiful parkland houses a glorious lake and woodland, offering plenty of picnicking spots. After tucking in, let the kids discover the secret garden, ancient temple and smell the wonderful citrus trees in the orangery. The whole family can also hire bikes to explore the park or even play a game of croquet on the lawns.
Get hooked on fishing, 23 August, 11am-4pm
Tick off an adventure on your '50 things' activity list with this day for families around Blicking’s great lake. Bring your own equipment and let the children try their hand at catching a fish. Volunteers will be on hand to give hints and tips.
Ticket charge £5 per child. Booking is advisable, please call 0844 2491895.
Make a weekend of it: There are seven holiday cottages on the estate, including the magnificent ‘Tower’ converted from the second Earl of Buckinghamshire’s race stand. The ‘Tower’ sleeps four.
Clumber Park, Nottinghamshire
“My favourite spot for a picnic in Clumber Park is on the opposite side of the lake with views of Clumber chapel. On a warm day the sound of the country, the noise of grasshoppers in the grass and the call of swifts as they screech through the air makes it a great place to just sit and watch the world go by.’
– Gareth Jones, ranger
Whether it is cycling, orienteering or a gentle stroll in this spacious park, there are plenty of opportunities to have fun with all the family followed by a relaxing picnic by the lake. The kids can also hang out on the climbing forest in the play park, complete some of the ’50 things’ activity list or pick up a family tracker pack to see what they can find.
Cycleabout clumber, 15 June, 20 July and 17 August, 10.30am-11.30am or walkabout Clumber, 16 June and 21 July, 10am-12pm
Suitable for all ages, why not find a perfect place to stop and have a picnic with the family either by following a cycle route that takes about 1 hour or a walk from 1-8 miles with a trained walk leader.
Normal admission charges apply. Booking is not required for either event.
For more information, please call 01909 544917.
“My perfect spot for a picnic at Croome is sitting on the bank of the lake or in the Island Pavilion as you can listen to birds and wildlife and just relax in the tranquillity.”
-Katherine Alker, garden and park manager
Croome is the ideal place to relax, unwind and let the kids run off all their energy. With plenty of activities to keep the children entertained and exciting walking trails to explore, Croome is great for a family day out and a lovely place to enjoy a picnic next to the beautiful lake.
Save the Children midsummer picnic and family walk, 21 June, 6pm-9pm
Join the team from Save the Children for a charitable fundraising midsummer picnic and family walk at Croome. There will be either 3km or 5km ambles on offer, with a chance to stop off and have a relaxing evening picnic along with lots of family entertainment.
Ticket charge, £7 per adult and £3 per child.
Booking is advisable, please call 01584 881 615.
Fell Foot Park, Cumbria
Enjoy a scenic picnic on the shores of Lake Windermere in the surroundings of Fell Foot Park. With views of the Lakeland fells, an adventure playground for the kids and rowing boats to hire and splash about in, Fell Foot is a fun place to relax with the family and doesn’t cost a penny to visit.
Make a weekend of it: There are six cottages on the west shore of Windermere, including a former summerhouse in the gardens of Wray Castle, a 1930s log and stone cottage and a pair of cottages just ten meters from the water’s edge. Cottages sleep between four and five.
Florence Court, Co. Fermanagh
There is something for all the family at this warm and welcoming 18th-century property. The beautiful park, gardens and surrounding forest offer fantastic opportunities for all the family to enjoy. There are miles of glorious walks and cycle trails, a playground for the children and the opportunity to discover more about nature with adventure tracker packs. Take a stroll into the forest to visit the blacksmith’s forge and carpenters workshop or simply relax with a picnic in the peaceful gardens whilst enjoying the views of mountain scenery.
Make a weekend of it: For a country house experience why not stay in the south wing of the house in the Butler’s Apartment. Or for country garden fans there’s Rose Cottage in the heart of the walled garden. Both cottages sleep four.
“Underneath the Great Plane tree is the best place for a picnic. I love it because this ancient tree is always beautiful and shady in summer. The choice of view is fantastic as I can turn and look at the crystal clear River Test. Lunch spots don't get better than this.”
-Louise Govier, staff member at Mottisfont
Ancient trees, bubbling brooks and rolling lawns frame this lovely old house. Crafted from a medieval priory, Mottisfont is full of surprises that the whole family will love to discover, from hidden doors, fun mysteries and a room where nothing is what it seems. Outside you can explore the riverside walks, the National Collection of old-fashioned roses, build dens and bring a picnic to share.
The House at Pooh Corner: A summer of fun at Mottisfont, 13 July- 15 September, 10am-5pm
This summer explore the wonderful world of a boy and his bear. The adventures of Christopher Robin and Pooh in the Hundred Acre wood are the perfect inspiration for all sorts of outdoor fun. Not only will there be an exhibition of 36 beautiful hand-painted Winnie the Pooh illustrations (13 July – 15 September), but your kids can also tick off as many ‘50 things to do before you’re 11 ¾’ activities as they can including making a daisy chain (10 August), building a kite (17 August) and going on a wild bug hunt (24 July).
Normal admission charges apply. Booking is not required.
For more information, please call 01794 340757.
Nostell Priory, West Yorkshire
‘The woodlands at Nostell are an area that I like to come and relax in because it is away from the hustle and bustle of the mansion house and visitor courtyard, making it a very peaceful place to be. I occasionally meet up with colleagues and love to sit with a brew and a sandwich, absorbing the wonderful nature that Nostell has to offer.’
-Mike Dudding, parkland ranger
Seek out your favourite corner of this delightful house and grounds to stop off for a well packed picnic. Surrounded by a large park, let the whole family discover the grounds and have plenty of fun either by following the gardens’ sensory trails or lakeside walks. The kids can also let off some steam in the adventure playground.
Sheffield Park and Garden, East Sussex
This big outdoors estate with four lakes in its centre is a great space for the kids to run around and enjoy days out this summer. Sit down for sandwiches amongst beautiful summer flowers, enjoy cricket matches on the historic pitch or explore the garden with family tracker packs and parkland trails.
Studland Beach, Dorset
“In the early evening, sitting in the long grass on the slope above Old Harry rocks along Studland, looking at all the boats returning to Poole Harbour, is my favourite place to have a picnic and watch the sun set over the harbour and Brownsea Island. The long grass is full of movement as songbirds and seabirds flit up and down and around the cliffs.”
-Emma Wright, staff member at Studland Beach
Take the children for a fabulous day out on this golden sandy beach that stretches four miles from South Haven Point to Old Harry Rocks, with shallow bathing water perfect for the little ones. Be sure to bring buckets, spades and picnics for a blissful day on the sands. You can also visit the nearby ruins of Corfe Castle to discover over 700 years of history and relive childhood memories by seeing the inspiration behind Enid Blyton’s Kirren Castle in the Famous Five.
Fun, friendly and free, 24, 28 and 31 July, 4, 7, 10 and 14 August, 11am-4pm
Drop into the discovery centre at Knoll Beach and have a go at some of the '50 things to do before you're 11 3/4′ activities at Studland over the summer. Each session will focus on one or more of the '50 things' activities from den building and designing a kite to searching for animal tracks with all the family.
This is a free event. Booking is not required.
For more information, please call 01929 450500