With summer upon us, there’s nothing like a family picnic to soak up the sunshine and explore the nation’s green spaces while you do it. London and the Home Counties are filled with perfect picnic spots, so you won’t have to travel far to take in some spectacular landscapes.
[words by Tabitha Syrett]
From babbling brooks to quaint open heathland and lofty crags, find a lunch spot unlike any other as you pack up your picnic rug and sandwiches, leave your BBQ at home and choose from one of our top picnic spots from the nation’s forests, parks and green spaces.
Top Family Picnic Spots in & Around London for This Summer
Lodge Pond Trail, Alice Holt Forest, Hampshire
Get away from the hustle and bustle and enjoy a peaceful picnic at Lodge Pond, where you can explore Lodge Pond Trail as it passes through beautiful mixed broadleaf woodland and open mature pine forest.
There is an abundance of wildlife to spot, from moorhens and great crested grebes to roe deer, dragonflies and butterflies, plus picnic tables are available. And, for those amateur historians out there, Lodge Pond also has a fascinating history. It is believed to have been created as one of a series of fisheries by Medieval monks to breed carp which formed an important part of their diet.
National Pinetum, Bedgebury, Kent
Whether you choose to picnic under a giant redwood or in a grassy open glade, you will undoubtedly marvel at the beauty of Bedgebury Pinetum in all its summer glory. There is a grouping of giant redwoods just a short walk from the visitor centre, which would make for a perfect picnic spot on a hot sunny day.
The view from below of the trees’ spiralling branches is sure to fill any viewer with wonder. You can also step off the waymarked Pinetum Trail to explore the meandering pathways cut through the long grass. And it isn’t just any old grassland but acid grassland, a rare habitat with an array of wildflowers including golden rod, devil’s bit scabious and common spotted orchid.
Richmond Park, Richmond, South West London
With its expansive grasslands, wide open spaces, ancient trees and herds of grazing deer, a picnic at Richmond Park will make you feel like you’re in the middle of the countryside – while you’re still just a short trip away from central London.
The park plays host to an impressive collection of rare animals, insects, grasses, wildflowers and fungi; you can also keep yourself and your party entertained with horse riding, golf, and off-road cycling on the park’s Tamsin Trail, or enjoy a leisurely pit-stop at the Pembroke Lodge tea rooms, and take in the magnificent view of St Paul’s Cathedral from King Henry’s Mound.
Hampstead Heath, Hampstead, North London
Located in North London, the rolling meadows, fabulous views, luscious plant life and ancient woodland of Hampstead Heath make it a must-visit for anyone hoping to soak up the summer sun in the metropolis.
The Heath is rife with stellar picnic spots (try out Parliament Hill for an extraordinary view of the London skyline), or you can hit up one of its many cafes for a quick refuel (such as Golders Hill Park Refreshment). You could even go for a refreshing swim in one of the park’s many public swimming ponds.
Primrose Hill, Camden, North London
Famed for its breathtaking views across London, this is the perfect picnic spot for any sleepy summer afternoon.
It’s also easily accessible, with the top of the hill only a short walk from Abbey Road, Camden, London Zoo and Regent’s Canal. Paddington was even filmed here – and we can see why!
Brockwell Park, Herne/Tulse Hill, South West London
Brockwell Park is home to the magnificent Grade II-listed Brockwell Hall, around which stretches acres of rolling grassland ideally suited to a picnic hamper and blanket in the sunshine.
If you’re short of supplies, stock up at the Lido Café or Brockwell Park Café, and there is a sweet playground for any restless kiddies. Don’t forget to bring along some bread crusts for its many ducks!
More Top UK Picnic Spots
If you’re heading further afield on a family UK staycation, check out these fabulous picnic spots to soak up the sunshine and explore some of the nation’s most beautiful forests.
Whinlatter Forest, Cumbria
While picnicking at Whinlatter – England’s only mountain forest – you can explore a range of meandering paths that pass into the trees, until finding the perfect spot to stop and take in the nature that surrounds you.
Keep an eye out for local wildlife (such as red squirrels) or climb to Bob’s seat; a stunning viewpoint along forest roads from which to enjoy views across to Grizedale Pike, the town of Keswick and beyond.
The Blue Walk, Lynford Arboretum, Norfolk
Lynford Arboretum near Thetford is noted for its variety of summer flowers, bird life and its important collection of over 200 species of trees. You really couldn’t find a better place to soak up some peace and quiet.
Starting from the Lakes carpark, the Blue Walk passes through one of the area’s most unique features: Sequoia Avenue. This consists of a double-rowed avenue of sequoias planted in the 1800s to honour the Duke of Wellington.
Staindale Lake, Dalby Forest, North Yorkshire
Set in the heart of Dalby Forest, Staindale Lake is a wonderful spring or summer picnic spot. It boasts the Lakeside Walk – an accessible trail with plenty of summer sights and sounds to enjoy, such as the returning migration of birds from their winter sojourns abroad.
Mortimer Forest, Hereforshire/Shropshire
Straddling the border of Herefordshire and Shropshire, Mortimer Forest is an ideal spot to visit in the summer. Open spaces within the forest provide warm spots for butterflies and reptiles to bask in the sun, and the spectacular goshawk can also be seen hunting here.
Keep an eye out for the unique long-haired fallow deer, as Mortimer is the only place in the world where they can be found. There are three car parks for the forest, each one offering a perfect picnic setting.
The Elephant Trail, Salcey Forest, Northamptonshire
This ancient woodland between Northampton and Milton Keynes is ideally suited to an al-fresco feast. Work up an appetite with a stroll along the Elephant Trail, named after the circus animals that helped in the war effort moving timber in the forest during World War Two.
Better still, the on-site Grounds Cafe can offer a range of food and drinks, so no need to worry if you forget to bring part of the all-important picnic.
Victory Glade, Westonbirt, The National Arboretum, Gloucestershire
In a secluded clearing, between Main Drive and Loop Walk, discover the picturesque Victory Glade and the famous felled Douglas fir that rests in its middle. In fact, the Douglas fir holds the secret behind the glade’s name.
If you count the rings on the tree’s trunk from when it was felled, it confirms that it was planted in 1856 – the end of the Crimean war. The clearing is a perfect place to pause for a picnic and spot some wildlife. It’s not unusual to see a roe deer walk by!