A historical water-meadow known for being the location where the Magna Carta was signed, Runnymede sits alongside the River Thames, and is framed by rolling hills and open meadows. In the summer, it’s bursting with colourful wildflowers, making it an idyllic spot for a summer's afternoon spent butterfly spotting.
Hughenden Manor Gardens, High Wycombe
National Trust-owned Hughenden Manor was once home to Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli. Part of the North Wessex Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, the vast parkland and forest surrounding the manor are the perfect place for a picnic – especially as such activities aren't permitted in the formal gardens. Choose from one of the pretty, secluded spots and roll out your blanket.
Bookham Common, Surrey
This designated Site of Special Scientific Interest was mentioned in the Domesday Book and is now looked after by the National Trust. Framed by ancient oak woods, grassy plains, and serene ponds, it’s home to an abundance of wildlife, including herons, dragonflies and the rare purple emperor butterfly. The best picnic spots can be found next to the oak woods by Kelsey’s Pond or in the Eastern Plain area.
The Great Park, Windsor
On a good day, the journey from London to Windsor takes just 45 minutes. Once there, the Great Park is the place to head. Owned by the Crown Estate, the Grade I listed area comprises over 5,000 acres, which once made up the private hunting grounds of Windsor Castle. Cloaked in royal history, wander down the impressive tree-lined Long Walk, before stopping off to enjoy your feast. If you’re lucky, you might spot some of the resident deer, too.
Aylesford Riverbank, Kent
Aylesford is a pretty riverside village in Kent perched on the river Medway. Once you arrive, head for the Medieval bridge to secure a picnic spot on the grassy riverbank. The Medway Towpath is an ideal cycle route for those keen to work up an appetite before lunch, while the wooden footbridge leads to a leisurely riverside walk.
Riverhill Himalayan Gardens, Sevenoaks
This beautiful and historic 12 acre garden offers expansive views across the Weald of Kent. With five different gardens to choose from, you’re guaranteed some peace and quiet. Take advantage of the picnic benches and tables dotted around the gardens, or borrow a rug from the on-site cafe, which is currently serving lunches, hot drinks, ice cream and homemade cakes on a takeaway basis.
Ayot St Lawrence Church & Grounds, Ayot St Lawrence
Ayot St Lawrence is a tiny village in Hertfordshire, formerly home to playwright George Bernard Shaw. An eerie graveyard now lies in ruin in the centre of the village, while a neoclassical style church sits among the neighbouring fields and meadows. Visitors can drink in the history of the village before following the path into the rural open fields to enjoy a picnic in true serenity.
Mill Meadows, Henley On Thames
Henley On Thames is known for its annual regatta, but it also offers some idyllic picnic spots within easy reach of the capital. An Area Of Natural Beauty near to the town centre, Mill Meadows is framed by large willow trees running adjacent to the Thames. The nearby Marsh Lock is accessible via a wooden walkway – a favourite spot for boat watching.
Verulamium Park, St Albans
Commuter city St Albans sits right on the London border. Once a Roman settlement, the city’s Verlanium park is a large open space which circles a vast lake. Home to more than 100 acres of greenery, the park is split into three areas, so there’s plenty of space to spread yourself out. Wonder around the Roman ruins or have a turn on the model boating lake before tucking into your supplies.
Box Hill, Surrey Hills
Classed as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, Surrey Hills makes for a great day out for the whole family. Box Hill is one of the most popular spots, offering spectacular views, woodland walks and plenty of areas for children to play in. Sit by Surrey’s Stepping Stones at the base of the hill or hike up to the top to enjoy the striking vistas before enjoying a pre-packed al fresco supper.
Wanstead Park, Epping Forest
At over 6,000 acres, this former royal forest – which straddles the border between the capital and neighbouring Essex – is the largest open space in the London area. Wanstead Park is one of the forest’s prettier spots, with a bluebell wood, three ponds and a child-friendly cycling trail. Easy to reach, head here for an afternoon away from the hustle and bustle of city life.
Hatfield House & Grounds, Hatfield
Once the home of Henry VIII, Hatfield House is a Jacobean manor complete with five immaculately kept gardens, a private park and forestland. Embark on one of the woodland walks or tackle the garden maze before rewarding yourself with some pre-packed treats. Left your hamper at home? The on-site Coach House Kitchen offers a deli-style menu available for takeaway. Romantic and evocative of fairy-tales, it’s the perfect choice for an afternoon date.
Berkhamsted Canal, Berkhamsted
Journey an hour out of London to reach pretty Berkhamsted, a historic market town in Hertfordshire. Offering plenty of picnicking opportunities, a canal runs through the centre of the town, feeding back to the River Thames. One side of the water is tree-lined and shaded, while the other gives way to large patches of grass and meadowland. Pick your spot and set up on the riverbank, enjoying a glass or two while watching the canal boats drift by.
*DISCLAIMER: As of the time of writing, people residing in England and Wales are urged to stay at home as much as possible, and limit contact with people outside of their immediate household. If you do meet up with people from another household (only in groups of up to six), it is imperative to maintain a 2m social distance and wash your hands regularly. If you do travel to any of these spots, please respect other visitors, book in advance where necessary and abide by social distancing guidelines. Do not visit any of these spots if you or someone in your household is showing Covid-19 symptoms. For more information on current guidelines click here.