Get social! 10 perfect picnic spots (plus food)
From 8 March picnics are THE hottest social event. Dig out your hamper and waterproof blanket, and order a bite before you find a bench with your besties.
An oasis of calm, from the buzz of town, Caversham Court is a grade II public garden on the north bank of the River Thames. Stroll along the paths, watch the boaty people pootle up and down the river and get some gardening inspo – the lavender bank is particularly special.
Picnic pick up: The Collective on Church Road in Caversham is just 100m from the grand stone entrance to the gardens, serving up incredible coffee, milkshakes, pastries, treats and a selection of cold lunches to takeaway.
Lily Hill Park, Bracknell
Lily Hill Park is an under the radar hangout with the largest picnic table in England. You’ll find this 56-acre area if heritage parkland and gardens just outside Bracknell and it’s like a generation game of al fresco loveliness. You’ll find a storytelling throne, amphitheatre, orchard, summer house, playing fields and a ‘ha-ha’. It’s a popular film location too, so keep your celeb-spotting radar on high alert. Free parking.
Picnic pick up: There are not a huge amount of foodie options close to Lily Hill Park, but Ziggy’s has set up their mobile café in the North car park. Come rain, sun or snow, these guys are serving hot drinks, breakfast butties, wraps, jacket potatoes and more.
The Savill Garden, Windsor
Floral fiend? This under-the-radar Berkshire park with its superb seasonal planting and many rare plants from around the world is an absolute belter. This stroll through the park passes the pretty bright flowers before moving onto the ancient woodland found in the Valley Gardens. Its a pretty stroll with plenty of spots to perch and admire botanical bliss.
Picnic pick up: The garden’s much-loved Savill Garden Kitchen is currently closed, but grab a bite to eat and something warm and wet from The Potting Shed, located at the visitor centre.
Dinton Pastures Country Park, Hurst
A 400-acre site, that has something for everyone – big lake, woodland, an award-winning play area and crazy golf course. Dinton Pasture’s Country Park is basically a sanctuary for frazzled parents. Have a saunter around the easy trails and find the perfect spot for lunch – there are plenty of picnic tables and benches to choose from. There’s also plenty of parking and £1.50 for four hours isn’t too bad.
Picnic pick up: If you stop on the hoof sans the picnic, the park has a rather lovely café. The Dragonfly Café offers a takeaway menu of hot pastries and pasties as well as lots of homemade cake.
The Meadows, Pangbourne
You’re in Wind In The Willlows territory, Kenneth Grahame certainly enjoyed the Berkshire waterways, but he loved Pangbourne and lived at Church Cottage. The Meadows has a number of benches facing the water and a flat riverside walk – you may need to have lightening reaction to save your sausage roll from the greedy swans and geese. There’s a small car park nearby, kids play area, and loos.
Picnic pick up: Resist the urge to go to Costa and walk a little further down to Baxters Café Kitchen. They’ve have a takeaway hatch to bring you delicious coffee, teas and hot chocolate, plus cakes, sausage rolls and their famous tartlets. Open Fridays and Saturdays, 10am-3pm.
Runnymede is home to the Magna Carta, the cornerstone of liberty, democracy and freedom. Speaking for all us right now. Head to the ancient Ankerwycke Yew (rumoured to be the spot where Henry VIII courted Anne Boleyn), Hew Locke’s art installation of 12 engraved bronze chairs, The Jurors and the JFK Memorial – set in a acre of land that is officially US soil. History lesson over, it’s an interesting stroll.
Picnic pick up: It started life as a Victorian potting shed, Windsor Farm Shop offers delicious homemade fare that’s perfect to nab for a picnic. Its meat is sourced locally, and prepared into sandwiches epic enough to send egg and cress running for the hills. If you’re not satisfied with a doorstop sarnie, there are also cakes, sausage rolls, and other handheld goodies.
Copper Horse, Windsor
It’s been a while since you’ve spent any time with your besties, so make it count with long walk, down the Long Walk up to the Copper Horse and back again. With the world’s largest occupied castle as a backdrop you’ll have to put your thighs to work to get up the hill before perching at the feet of King George IV for a bite, before heading back down again.
Picnic pick up: Holy crêpe! Do not pass ‘Go’ before a foodie flyby St Leonard’s Road. The deliciously extra Crêperie Club has a takeaway menu with a substantial vegan and gluten-free options. Open Friday-Sunday 10.30-4.30. There’s also Miller’s Eatery offering a selection of picnic perfect sarnies, salads and soups.
Cliveden National Trust, Taplow
Plenty of space to sit and enjoy your own picnic and admire the parterre, formal gardens and woodlands that surround this Italian mansion. If you want to save money on Cliveden’s entrance fee (£10 adults, £5 children, £25 family, £15 one adult family), you can stay near the park entrance and set up camp – it does mean you’ll miss out on takeaway ice-creams and the opportunity to roll down the parterre slope. Open Mon-Sun 10-5.30pm, pre-booking for the grounds essential.
Picnic pick up: The only option here right now is the Walled Garden Kiosk. Although a National Trust cream tea is off right now, you can still grab a cuppa and sweet and savoury snacks.
Reading Abbey Quarter, Reading
Surrounded by the urban sprawl of Reading you’ll find the formal grade II listed Forbury Gardens, its roarsome Maiwand Lion and the Abbey Ruins Reading Abbey was founded by Henry I and later destroyed by Henry VIII. Today it’s a sarnie spot for families and first phase lockdown meet ups.
Picnic pick up: It can only be Picnic Foods on Market Place in Reading. They specialise in ethical coffee and locally produced food, offering a takeaway menu and a more organised picnic hamper, if you have a sense of occasion.
Ray Mill Island, Maidenhead
Play paradise for younger kids, Ray Mill Island has guinea pigs, birds, an adventure play area and a sassy river view. To get to the island, walk over the Boulters Lock pedestrian bridge and go wild on the isle. There’s plenty of picnic tables, toilets and a café. Hunt down the original millstone and the last Salmon Ladder built on the Thames at the northern end of the island. Feed your kids, just don’t fee the squirrels. They’ve been known to bite.
Picnic pick up: Click and collect, laydee. Right next to Ray Mill Island is The Boathouse at Boulters Lock. Slide over to their website and order your grab and go refreshments exactly when you want them – hot and cold drinks, cake or go big before you go home and sink your teeth in you want it. Yum.
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