Eight of the best spots to rock up and enjoy a picnic in the UK

Is there a more British pastime than heading out in your car lease into the countryside and partaking in a spot of picnicking?

We don’t think so.

There’s something very Enid Blyton or Arthur Ransome about it. Pack your ginger beer, seed cake, bread, cheese, and chocolate with raisins and nuts in it (basically a whole meal in itself, as the Swallows and Amazons would say), and head off for a wholesome day of fresh air and breathtaking views.

If you’re heading off on a UK holiday this summer, or you just fancy exploring our fair isle a little more, we’ve pulled together eight of our favourite picnic spots for you to enjoy.

From beaches to gorges to castles, from the Cornish coast to the Scottish capital, there’s sure to be something for everyone.

All you need to do is pack your sandwiches and make sure the car is ready for a road trip.

We’ll see you there.

Devil's Dyke

Devil's Dyke (image: Ben Collins on Unsplash)

Barafundle Bay, Pembrokeshire

There’s something about the fear of sandy sandwiches that really elevates a picnic experience and takes it to the next level.

And if you are going to get sand in your sandwiches, you might as well do that somewhere like Barafundle Bay in Pembrokeshire, one of Britain’s best beaches. That’s not even us being all hyperbolic – it’s won several awards and is often likened to a Caribbean beach with its long stretch of golden sand and crystal-clear water.

Is there a better place to rock up and enjoy a picnic? You’d be hard-pushed to find one.

The only downside is that Barafundle, as far as beaches go, isn’t very accessible. Though this makes it less spoiled than many of Britain’s other beaches, it does make it harder to get to. Parking is half a mile away, at Stackpole Quay car park, and the walk down to the beach isn’t suitable for wheelchairs or pushchairs.

There are a lot of steps to get up and down, so you’ll want to make sure the trip is suitable for your whole party ahead of time.

But if you can take the trek, it’s worth it to take a dip in the sea and enjoy a bite to eat on the sand. Just remember to take all your rubbish with you, and leave only your footsteps (and a crumbling sandcastle) behind.

Devil’s Dyke, West Sussex

Not a fan of sand? Devil’s Dyke – though just a stone’s throw from Brighton (five miles north, to be precise) – offers breathtaking panoramas, colourful wildlife, and plenty of flora and fauna to admire.

Devil’s Dyke is Britain’s oldest, deepest and wildest dry valley, and its raised position gives you stunning views across the English Channel and South Downs.

It’s said that the dyke was created by the devil himself to drown the Christian parishioners of the Weald, and that the devil and his wife are buried at the bottom of the valley.

However, it’s more likely that Devil’s Dyke was actually formed over 10,000 years ago during the last ice age. 

Devil or ice age, there’s no denying that the dyke makes for a beautiful place to picnic, with plenty of wildlife to admire and historical sites (including an Iron Age hill fort and the remnants of a Victorian funfair) to be found.

Shove some sandwiches in your bag, throw in an apple or two, bring a bottle of water, and you’re firmly on your way to a very nice day out.

Lydford Gorge

Lydford Gorge (image: Andy Goldsby on Unsplash)

Dolbadarn Castle, Snowdonia

Head over to Wales again for this one, and enjoy your picnic in the shadow of Dolbadarn Castle on the edge of the Snowdonia National Park.

The castle itself lies mostly in ruins, but you can climb the steep staircase of the circle tower after you’ve snaffled your snacks – it’s all that now remains of the once formidable fortress, but gives you an idea of what it must have been like to dash up and down during combat.

There’s no definitive record of who built the castle, but it pre-dates the Edwardian conquest and the multiple English fortresses that sprung up during that time. It was likely built by Llywelyn ap Iorwerth (Llywelyn the Great, king of Gwynedd) in the late twelfth century as a stronghold to protect the Llanberis Pass, which was a popular inland route form Caernarfon to Conwy Valley.

It was one in a series of mountain castles thought to be built by Llywelyn, and if you’re a history buff (or you just really like seeing very old things), this is a picnic spot not to be missed.

Combine it with a walk up Snowdonia itself if you’re feeling a bit adventurous, and enjoy some of the best views Britain has to offer.

It’ll make your sausage rolls taste even better, that much we can guarantee.

Lydford Gorge, Devon

We’d be remiss if we didn’t say this is one of our favourite picnic spots ever – but with Carparison HQ being situated in Exeter, we can be a little biased towards Devon.

Bias or no bias, Lydford Gorge is undeniably stunning.

It’s a fantastic day out if you can undertake a moderate hike with plenty of ups and downs, steps and slippery rocks, and it’s the perfect place to end with a picnic.

Lydford is the deepest gorge in the south-west. At every corner the River Lyd greets you as it bubbles, meanders and twirls down the gorge. The gorge itself is designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest because it’s filled with temperate rainforest, a globally rare habitat, which makes it a real treat to explore – especially in the summer months.

There’s a choice of two main walking routes.

One takes you up to the Whitelady Waterfall, where you can go paddling if you so wish, and the other takes you down into the deepest part of the gorge where you can see the Devil’s Cauldron pothole on a platform over the river.

Both are challenging and rewarding in their own way, but you’ll want to make sure you’ve got suitably sturdy footwear on, and plenty of water. But whichever you choose, you’ll have the most magical time.

There’s a café at the entrance/exit where you can buy cakes and lunch if you don’t fancy packing your own picnic, and plenty of grassy areas to enjoy a bite to eat and rest your weary legs after you’ve completed your hike. 

Arthur's Seat

Arthur's Seat (image: Tuna Ekici on Unsplash)

Padley Gorge, Peak District

Another magical gorge – what is it about gorges and their ability to look like they’ve been taken straight out of an actual fairytale – Padley Gorge is well worth the visit if you’re up in the Peak District. 

Twining trees, swirling streams and big boulders make Padley Gorge an enchanting place to visit (you almost think you’ll find a fairy door at the bottom of every tree, or a goblin perched on top of a toadstool). 

It’s the perfect place for the whole family to visit, with plenty of clearings and flat grassy areas to sit and eat a picnic while little explorers dabble their feet in the cool waters.

And there’s stacks of wildlife hanging around for nature lovers of all ages to spot. 

The gorge is home to many species of scientific interest, including rare birds and hairy ants, so you’ll want to pack your binoculars for an up-close look, and your cameras to take your memories – and not the flora – home with you.

There’s even a café close to the car park if you want to pick up food and drink while you’re there. But we’d recommend creating a magical fairytale-inspired picnic – think tiny sandwiches and different varieties of berries and coloured fizzy water and biscuits in fun shapes – to really lean into the vibe of the area.

Holyrood Park, Edinburgh

If you’re taking a trip anywhere close to Edinburgh this year – festival season is just around the corner – then Holyrood Park is an absolute must see.

Especially if you, like us, became obsessed with Netflix’s One Day when it was released earlier this year. If you know the significance of Arthur’s Seat, then you know. We’d recommend packing tissues. At least three packets.

The Park is just one mile east of Edinburgh Castle – itself an excellent place to stop for a picnic – and it encompasses 650 acres of hills, lochs, gorse and cliffs. It’s like a little snapshot of Scotland’s iconic rugged landscapes without having to travel further into the highlands.

Arthur’s Seat, the grassy remains of an old volcano, is really the crowning glory of the whole park. It’s not a huge climb, but it is a steep one. Worth it though, for the view from the top.

If you don’t fancy braving the walk, then the next best spot for your picnic is down near the dramatic ruin of St Anthony’s Chapel, offering views over northern Edinburgh, the River Forth and Leith.

And you’ll really be picnicking in the steps of monarchs past – it was a royal pleasure ground for many years, with notable monarchs including James IV, James V, and Victoria and Albert enjoying the surroundings of Holyrood Park. Soak in the historic atmosphere while you scoff your scotch eggs. Life really doesn’t get better than that. 

Loughrigg Tarn

Loughrigg Tarn (image: Jonny Glos on Unsplash)

Loughrigg Tarn, Lake District

 Really, you could pick any spot in the Lake District and have a picnic there.

It is a very picnicable area. And with the Lakes containing so many little shops and delis and farms selling the most delightful and delectable of treats, you can have the nicest, fanciest picnic ever, surrounded by some of the nicest, fanciest landscapes that the UK has to offer.

But if you are going to pick a picnic spot, then picking a spot on the route from Elterwater to Loughrigg Tarn is a pretty good one.

William Wordsworth himself likened Loughrigg Tarn (a beautiful lake) to ‘Diana’s looking-glass… round and clear and bright as heaven’. And if anyone knew good picnicking spots, it’s got to be one of our best Romantic poets. You too could wander lonely as a cloud and clamber up Loughrigg Fell to work up an appetite before you demolish your picnic.

Or just spread your blanket out by the tarn, and enjoy a picnic with a view if you don’t fancy the walk.

We won’t judge.

Loughrigg Tarn also makes for an excellent wild swimming spot, if that’s your bag, perfect for beginner swimmers and those with more open water experience. It’s fairly exposed though, so definitely one to save for a sunny day.

Portheras Cove, Cornwall

Love a beach, but don’t love crowds? If you’re heading down to Cornwall this summer (do wave when you pass Exeter), then Portheras Cove is as unspoiled as beaches come.

Located on the north coast between Cape Cornwall and St Ives, it’s the definition of a ‘locals’ beach. Secluded sandy cove, stunning clear waters, and even the odd seal bobbing up and down. The sand is golden and the sea is turquoise and you’d be forgiven for thinking you were somewhere a little more exciting than the English coast.

And because it’s so secluded, the craggy cliffs and wildlife make for some stunning views to take in while you’re making the ultimate beach sandwich (crusty baguette, proper ham from the deli counter, cheese slices that are slightly too warm, accidental sand for crunch). 

Bear in mind that Portheras Cove is also a Site of Special Scientific Interest. Respect the wildlife, take everything with you, and keep your distance from any animals or fish that you might see to maintain the integrity of the site. 

Honourable mentions, for those picnic spots that are well worth your time but didn't quite make the top eight:

  • Lower Slaughter, Cotswolds
  • The Malvern Hills, Worcester
  • Corfe Castle, Dorset
  • Bushy Park, Richmond Upon Thames
  • Seven Sisters, East Sussex

A new car is the perfect accompaniment to any good picnic.

Beth Twigg

Beth Twigg

Beth is our Content and Paid Media Specialist, tasked with creating great articles to keep you both entertained and informed. She has two years previous experience, but has been writing and scribbling for much longer.