Unusual picnic spots

Brownsea Island, Dorset

Miles away from the hustle and bustle of every day life and dramatically located in Poole Harbour, Brownsea Island is the perfect location for a summer picnic. With plenty of history and intrigue, the islands’ story is bound to entertain all who visit- Brownsea acted as decoy to protect Poole and Bournemouth from bombers in the Second World War and the resulting bomb craters are now home to rare wildlife, plus if you believe the rumours, the island is haunted by the ghosts of smugglers. There’s also the chance to spot the island’s most distinctive inhabitant- the rare red squirrel, with its bushy tail and auburn coat.

Corfe Castle, Dorset

The majestic ruins of Corfe Castle in Dorset make a remarkable spot for a picnic, where you can discover over 700 years of turbulent history that includes Civil War, torture, treachery and imprisonment. The ruined castle was also the inspiration for Enid Blyton’s Kirren Castle in the Famous Five, so don’t forget to pack a hamper with lashings of ginger beer! Whether you’re discovering grisly dungeons or chilling out by King John’s medieval tower, a picnic at Corfe Castle is the perfect space to enjoy the longer, lighter days of summer.

Fountains Abbey and Studley Royal Water Garden, North Yorkshire

With over nine centuries of history and the most important 18th century water garden in England, you might have trouble deciding just where to spread your picnic rug at Fountains Abbey. Explore the extensive ruins of the Cistercian abbey and see if you can spot one of the six species of bats that have taken to napping in the gothic arches. Or, discover the Royal Water Garden that contains over 950 million litres of water- which is enough to fill 19 million baths! With canals, moon shaped ponds, elegant temples and neo-classical statues the water garden is guaranteed to capture your imagination.

Gibside, Newcastle upon Tyne

A 400 acre ‘forest garden’ designed in the 18th century, Gibside combines woodland and open spaces with atmospheric buildings making it the ideal place to roll out a rug and enjoy the summer sun. Take time to explore the ruins of the orangery, bathhouse and hall or take a stroll down the oak lined Long Walk and take in the dramatic Column of Liberty that rises above the treetops at over 40 metres high. And if you’re still a little peckish after your picnic then a visit to the Gibside Larder is a must- with the region’s finest award-winning food on sale, including produce from local National Trust estates. You’re sure to find something mouth-watering on offer.

Kedleston Hall, Derbyshire

Designed with the help of Robert Adam in the 1780s, Kedleston Hall’s spectacular garden has been restored to an 18th-century Pleasure Ground. With broad lawns and spectacular views over parkland, the garden is full of fascinating ornaments and buildings- look out for the unusual statue of the young poet Thomas Chatterstone which lies on the ground! Relax in the wider park with your picnic by the charming lakes and cascades and then if you’re looking to work off lunch, embark on the three mile-long ‘Long Walk’ which offers stunning views back to the house over the lakes.

Lyme Park, Cheshire

Lyme, which played a starring role as Jane Austen’s ‘Pemberley’ in the BBC’s adaptation of ‘Pride and Prejudice’, is a breathtaking setting for a picnic. There’s plenty of room to choose a spot in the 1,400 acre park, which contains an early 18th-century hunting tower called ‘The Cage’, woodland and a lantern folly, with breathtaking views. Or take a gentle stroll though the opulent Victorian garden, with its sunken parterre, and enjoy the luxurious Jekyll-style borders and the lake where ‘Darcy and Elizabeth’ famously met.

Petworth, West Sussex

Enjoy a picnic in parkland that inspired Turner. With more than 700 acres, Petworth’s grounds were landscaped over a period of 14 years by ‘Capability’ Brown in the mid 18th century. Remaining intact today, Brown’s park provides pure escapism, so why not make the most of it! Take a wander down the rolling slopes to the magnificent serpentine lake, breathe in the endless open space, and discover the neo-classical buildings in the Pleasure Ground. There’s also the opportunity to observe the largest herd of fallow deer in England which roam right up to the windows of the grand house.

Stourhead, Wiltshire

Celebrated for its beauty across the world Stourhead, near Bath, is a haven of tranquillity. Hidden away in a secluded valley the 18th century landscape garden is the perfect location for a picnic. With over a 100 acres set around a huge lake, scattered with classical and gothic buildings, you might have trouble deciding just where to sit. From discovering the circular temple dedicated to Apollo, to cooling off by the natural spring and grotto, it’s little wonder Stourhead has been attracting visitors for centuries.

Stowe Landscape Garden, Buckinghamshire

An 18th century landscape that continues to amaze today, Stowe is full of mystery and hidden meaning. Discover some of the most famous figures in British history immortalised in the niches of Temple of British Worthies, explore the ruins of theTemple of Friendship (once an important 18th century political hub) or simply unwind with your picnic surrounded by wildflowers in the Grecian Valley. With over 40 ornamental garden monuments, in a landscape that includes wide open spaces and ornamental lakes, there can be few locations as atmospheric as Stowe for a picnic.

Wallington, Northumberland

A garden that has developed over more than two centuries, Wallington has plenty of space for your picnic rug. Lounge on the spacious East Lawn by the line of mysterious griffin’s heads, or under the shade of the tall Golden Yews on the West Lawn. For a cool retreat from the summer heat take time to discover the picturesque China ponds in the East Woods, lined with fragrant shrubs and grassy areas it’s an enchanting spot.