Top Five Early Spring Picnic Spots
By Sam Wass, Medium Well
Lovers of the British countryside are happy for any excuse to get out and explore, and if we can enjoy great British food at the same time then we’re in hog heaven, never poo-pooing a picnic proposal.
Chefs will tell you that eating in different environments affects the dining experience, so why not seek out the scenery to enjoy some fantastic food.
Britain is bursting with beauty spots, so while the fresh weather might put a lot of people off exploring, we say take advantage of the space and solitude – pack a thermos of hot tea and wrap the ham sandwiches and have the snacks at the ready, because here’s our top five early spring picnic spots for you to enjoy:
The Souter Lighthouse and the Leas, Tyne and Wear
The North East of England has a lot to offer when it comes to great scenery and picnic locations, but one of our favourites is the Souter Lighthouse and the Leas. An iconic landmark of the Tyne and Wear county, the lighthouse sits on 2.5miles of chocolate-box coastline and has its own wildlife garden with ponds, wild flowers, trees and more.
If you manage to catch a rare sunny day, this location makes for a perfect lazy beach stroll followed by a picnic in the gardens. But, if the wintry weather does decide to dampen the day, there’s the Galley Coffee Shop to provide shelter and local food with a hot coffee to defrost the fingers.
Mottisfont Abbey, Hampshire
Surrounded by trees, flowers, rolling lawns and plenty of the typical South coast wildlife, the Mottisfont Abbey provides a beautiful backdrop to any picnic. The abbey itself was crafted from a 13th Century medieval priory, and its ancient walls provide more than shelter from wintery winds, with the ability to transport you back to a time of grandeur.
A picnic on the lawns with the view of the abbey calls for a picnic with traditional favourites – like the no-fuss finger foods like sausage rolls and scotch eggs always go down well. After, the Mottisfont winter garden with meandering flowered paths provides the perfect wind-down from a full stomach. And there’s a cosy tea room nearby in case the winter wind starts to bite.
Lydford Gorge, Devon
With plenty of hidden picnic areas along the scenic walks of Lydford Gorge, the South-West’s deepest gorge has plenty of scenery, including its remarkable 30m waterfall, meaning it is a great place to visit any time of year for those who aren’t afraid of getting a little mucky – remember to take some waterproof shoes!
The roaring river Lyd provides brisk revitalising short and long walks to the White Lady waterfall, and with tearooms nearby you can warm up with a hot drink if the cold air and splashing water gets a little too chilly.
Rievaulx Abbey, North Yorkshire
A series of romantic buildings and developments from the 12th and 15th centuries lies hidden in the deep river Rye valley in the form of Rievaulx Abbey ruins, where it feels as though time truly stands still.
The romantic grounds around the ruins provide a poetic picnic spot, where writers, painters and scholars once visited for inspiration. Peaceful walks wander through the area much as the gentile monks of the ages once did as they consulted their spirits, providing a very tranquil setting to walk away a full stomach. And if shelter is needed from a rainy or dull day, the café provides a warm refuge and delicious locally produced food.
Derwentwater’s Islands, Cumbria
The views available at Cumbria’s lake district are definitely worth braving the cold temperatures for, and a walk followed by a picnic in this idyllic setting is unlikely to disappoint.
Derwentwater is the largest of the lakes in the district, baring four islands within it which allow public access if you have a boat to hand, or there’s the option to skydive onto the islands for the bravest among us, before relaxing with a picnic and heading back to the mainland for shelter and warmth in the local shops and cafés.
No matter where the location is, a winter picnic is not to be sniffed at (although you made need tissues for runny noses). The beautiful British scenery, from woodlands to lakes, feels a little more magical when covered in a light dusting of frost, and nothing feels better than eating quality British food in a fantastic British setting, so there’s no need to wait for the summer to get the paisley blankets out.