Top 10 perfect picnic spots in Wiltshire
When the sun's out, we're eating out - in some of the county's prettiest picnic places. So grab your vintage basket, raid the M&S deli shelves and let's go alfresco!
Grab a fleecy blanket and a bottle of fizz and head to this iconic Wiltshire hillside, for a location that’s likely to put pep in your picnic. Bracing and often windy, the views are dramatic, and it’s perfect for kite-flying, hill scrabbling and watching para gliders – but hold onto your paper plates. Managed by English Heritage, there’s a large, free car park and, if you’re lucky, an ice-cream van. Find it on the B3098 between Westbury and Bratton. Mine’s a 99.
Picnics are welcome in the grassy grounds of the thirteenth century Abbey, forever a family fave thanks to its legacy as a Harry Potter location. There’s a whole world of picturesque here, with river walks and an ancient high street to explore on your watermelon-sugar-high. It’s run by the National Trust (entry fees apply), so check website for booking details.
Work up an appetite at this popular swimming spot on the river Frome on the Wiltshire/Somerset border. Sign-posted off the 3109 between Wingfield and Rode, park with the other cars at the top of the hill, and walk the last ten minutes down to the river. Plonk yourself down and enjoy.
Savernake Forest, near Marlborough
This vast ancient woodland near Marlborough has acres of picnic potential, and is lovely and shady on a hot day. Park in Postern Hill car park and choose a picnic table or a secluded glade to set up your snacks. Last time I was here I spied champagne, a birthday cake and wedding photo shoots, indicating it’s a (justifiably) popular spot, but the glory of it is there is so much room for everyone. This Countryfile piece is useful if you’re interested in playing tree detective and tracking down the famous veteran oaks.
Cley Hill, Corsley
This landmark near Warminster can be seen from miles around, so finding it shouldn’t be a problem (famous last words). It’s a hearty climb to the top, but boy is it worth it – there’s nowhere like it for a picnic tea with a side of Wiltshire sunset . There’s a small, free car park ¼ mile from the base of the hill and is a stone’s throw from Longleat.
Fonthill Lake, Fonthill
This lake on the Fonthill Estate featured in the Johnny Depp film Chocolat, and it’s certainly a sweet spot for a picnic. It can get muddy, so watch those stilettos. Driving from Hindon towards Fonthill Bishop on the 3089, turn right at the road triangle and go through the grand archway, after 0.6 miles there is a small layby on the left to park in.
Barton Farm Country Park Bradford on Avon
This is where I go for that special occasion party picnic, mainly because it’s nestled between the river and canal and is super-near the car park and the train station too. Chuck some folding chairs over your shoulder, pack a cold bottle of something sparkly in your cool bag (plus grazing box if you’re feeling posh), and you’re all set. It’s a stunning spot, with kids playground and, if/when the weather fails, some top cafes, pubs and bars nearby, like Timbrell’s Yard or The Coffee Barn who make up picnic boxes too. Find them in the courtyard of the medieval barn, The Tithe Barn.
Queen Elizabeth Park, Salisbury
Sitting just on the edge the city, this park was built at the end of the 1960’s to honour HRH and it’s a perfect combination of formal planting and a relaxed atmosphere. It’s ideal for families as there is a play area for kids and benches for those who don’t fancy sitting on blankets. But if you’re feeling active, wander through to the Town Path that winds its way to the water meadows of Harnham, made famous by Constable’s romantic paintings of Salisbury.
Lydiard Park, near Swindon
There are 260 acres of parkland to explore on a day out to this 18th Century estate that includes a church, Palladian House and walled garden. And once you’ve finished your rambling, picnics are permitted in the field to the right of the car park off Hook Street. Even more excitingly, between March and October, you can hire a BBQ and plot in advance for up to 15 people!
Bowood House, Calne
This parkland’s ideal for picnics with kids, thanks to the magical adventure playground featuring a giant pirate ship as the centrepiece. So while you can enjoy the Italian-inspired Terrace Garden, the Private Walled Gardens, endless rolling pasture and the famous Capability Brown design, your pint-sized crew can make like Pirates of the Caribbean while you scoff all the rations.
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