The best picnic spots in the Cotswolds
PUBLISHED: 12:16 22 June 2015 | UPDATED: 15:52 26 October 2015
There are many beautiful spots in and around the Cotswolds to lay your blanket down and enjoy a good old fashioned picnic! Here’s our pick of the best.
Forest of Dean (Gloucestershire)
Most ponds in the Forest of Dean were made to supply water wheels that powered mills and iron forges, but Mallards Pike Lake was made by the Forestry Commission for the community’s pleasure. It’s an ideal spot for a picnic, and there are plenty of trails for you to walk or cycle too. It was voted the best place to picnic in the South West in the Warburton’s Picnic Awards 2010.
Bourton-on-the-Water is the archetypical Cotswold village, with its honey-coloured stone and location nestled amongst the rolling green hills in Gloucestershire. Bourton boasts many pretty picnic spots, especially along the River Windrush, and because of the village’s size, it’s easy to navigate all of its most charming features during a single family outing. There’s the model village and railway, Birdland Park & Gardens, Dragonfly Maze and the Cotswold Motoring Museum which Brum calls home. There are also great lake-side picnic spots at the Cotswold Carp Farm campsite a mile from the village centre.
Originally the grounds of Evesham Abbey, the park is a perfect picnic spot in the midst of the market town of Evesham. It plays host to a variety of events throughout the year, including a hot air balloon festival, river festival and fishing festival. There’s a pretty lily pond, traversable by a little bridge, plenty of wide open green spaces and an adventure play area to keep the kids happy.
Leckhampton Hill overlooks the regency town of Cheltenham and provides beautiful panoramic views of the surrounding Cotswolds, especially during sunrise and sunset. But beware! Legend has it that evil lies deep underground beneath The Devil’s Chimney, a quirky limestone rock formation that peaks over the hill. Visitors used to leave a coin on top of the rocks as payment to keep the Devil underground. Still, putting aside the folklore, Leckhampton is one of the prettiest picnic spots on Cheltenham’s landscape.
A short stroll from the city centre of Bath lies the 57 acres of Royal Victoria Park. The 19th Century ex-arboretum is a popular picnic spot, and features everything from tennis courts to mini golf; botanical gardens to an adventure playground. There’s a pond often busy with ducks, and a bandstand playing host to local musicians throughout the year. You can even watch hot air balloons launch from the grounds of Royal Victoria Park and float off over Bath if you time your visit well!
The impressive Blenheim Palace is surrounded by 2000 acres of parkland, some of which is freely accessible to the public for walks or picnics. You can enjoy the wide open fields, the grand oaks, the great lake and the classical bridge which straddles it, as well as views of the historic palace of course.
Up on Folly Hill in Faringdon sits a 4-acre woodland of Scots Pine and broadleaf trees, some over two hundred years old. Nestled in the centre and just visible above the trees is the 100ft Folly Tower, an ornamental construction arranged by the eccentric Lord Berners in the 1930s - more to tease neighbours than anything! The tower itself can be climbed for a small fee, but the pretty woodland, with its quirky sculptures, and surrounding fields often peppered with vibrant red poppies, don’t cost a penny to enter. The hill, which slopes gently to an elevation of 300ft , provides views of five counties and is an idyllic spot to have a picnic.
This beautiful 18th Century landscape garden offers exclusive views over the city of Bath and idyllic surrounds for a picnic. You can enjoy traversing the grand Palladian Bridge, one of only four in the world, and wander along one of the woodland paths. During the summer months when Bath is abuzz with tourists, the entry fee means Prior Park will be one of the only picnic spots you won’t be desperately competing for, so it may be worth the admission price.
The iconic chalk horse, cut deeply into the side of the White Horse Hill in Uffington, is a fascinating relic of British history dating back to the Bronze Age. Though the White Horse is best seen from above, the hill and its picturesque surrounds offer a great picnic spot, and a perfect point from which to visit the remains of nearby Uffington Castle and the ridged formation known as the Giant’s Stair. So, for a family outing with a slice of ancient history, White Horse Hill should fit the bill.
A grade 2 listed ornamental park, Pittville is an oasis of green just around the corner from Cheltenham’s busy town centre. Aside from pleasant open fields, two children’s playgrounds and a lake, the park also boasts its own aviary featuring peacocks as well as rabbits, tennis courts and includes the Pittville Pump Room, an 18th Century listed building designed to utilise Cheltenham’s spa waters.
Hidcote Bartrim, (Gloucestershire)
Located in the village of Hidcote Bartrim near Chipping Campden, Hidcote Manor Garden is an immaculately maintained National Trust property designed by Lawrence Johnston and open to the public. The Arts and Crafts garden offers many a pretty corner ideal for a picnic, though the best spot is the Wilderness, an area with plenty of shade and pleasant views to enjoy with whatever edibles you’ve packed.
Robinswood Hill Country Park in Gloucester is a 250 acre area of open countryside with pleasant walks and way-marked nature trails. The summit of the hill provides beautiful views of the Severn Bridge to the South, the Malvern Hills to the North and the Black Mountains to the West, as well as a great perspective of Gloucester city from up high. It’s also a habitat for many creatures, such as badgers, foxes and birds including Red kites. The spot is ideal for a picnic, and includes picnic tables for those averse to picnic blankets.
Near Nympsfield (Gloucestershire)
With panoramic views over the Severn Vale and Forest of Dean, Coaley Peak is an ideal picnic site in rural Gloucestershire with 12 acres of grassland, picnic tables and car parking. It’s incorporated into the Cotswold Way national trail, and features flower-rich grassland that attracts butterflies in the summer months.
Painswick Beacon is an open upland area with fine views across the countryside and is the site of an impressive Iron Age hill fort. The fort is a scheduled ancient monument, with coins and other archaeological objects retrieved from the site. The elevated grassy fields of the Beacon lie a short distance from the town of Painswick, and provide a great location for a rural picnic.
A stone’s throw from the centre of Cheltenham, Montpellier Park is a great spot to take in the regency surrounds of the town whilst tucking into whatever you popped in your hamper. Created in the 19th Century to cater to high society and those ‘taking the waters’ in the spa town, the park remains a popular attraction for tourists and locals alike and is frequently used as a venue for Cheltenham’s annual festivals.
Just around the corner from Coaley Peak, this secluded valley in the small village of Nympsfield features the remains of an 18th and 19th century landscape park, complete with a lake that large carp call home. The valley is covered in thick, lush woodland which hide an old boat house as well as a disused quarry. Within the park grounds lies Woodchester Mansion, an imposing Gothic revival building that was never completed and is now open to the public. Find a quiet spot overlooking the park’s pretty lake and enjoy a picnic in a beautiful and atmospheric location in rural Gloucestershire.
Overlooking the river Avon on the edge of Shakespeare’s Stratford, Charlecote’s park and gardens are open seven days a week for visitors to come and enjoy. Picnickers are welcome and there’s plenty of room to run around or fly a kite, or just watch the swans and ducks on the river. If you’re lucky, you might catch a glimpse of the fallow deer herd that has called Charlecote home for centuries; legend has it that a young William Shakespeare was caught poaching at Charlecote.
Ideal as a place to pause after exploring Tewkesbury – a pretty town filled with quirky Tudor buildings and a rich history - the Victoria Gardens offers a well-kept grassy expanse decorated with vibrant flower displays and bordered by the Abbey Mill, an 18th century building once part of Tewkesbury Abbey and one of the only monastery buildings to escape destruction during the Dissolution of the Monasteries. The Victoria Gardens are particularly pretty in summer and make for a great picnic spot.
Cirencester / Lechlade (Gloucestershire)
With 150 lakes across an area of 40 square miles between Swindon and Cirencester, you’d be forgiven for thinking Cotswold Water Park was only for those looking to enjoy kayaking and windsurfing. However, there are three parks within the site offering ideal picnic locations; Cotswold Country Park includes its own little beach beside a lake and a picnic/barbecue area, Neigh Bridge Country Park offers a secluded country environment with lakeside views and features picnic benches; and Riverside Park in the beautiful Cotswold town of Lechlade has ample grassy space to enjoy a picnic beside the Thames.
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