Where to park your picnic
We’ll be heading to these Wiltshire beauty spots when the sun’s shining, with Lily Allen's words ringing in our ears. Altogether now, I believe that it's called al fresco…
Picnics are welcome in the grassy grounds of the thirteenth century Abbey, forever a family fave thanks to its cred as a Harry Potter location. There’s a whole world of picturesque here, with river walks and an ancient high street to explore when your sausage rolls have been scoffed. It’s National Trust (their entry fees apply), so booking required at weekends, but you should be OK on weekdays.
Grab a checky blanket and a bottle of pop and head to this Wiltshire icon, for a picnic that is likely to be, erm, stimulating rather than chilled. Bracing and often windy, the views are dramatic, and it’s perfect for kite-flying, hill scrabbling and watching para gliders. 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.
Known locally as Mouton’s – after the bike-inventor that lived here – this Renaissance mansion in whopping grounds is open on Friday afternoons (and occasional Saturdays) for picnics. It feels like a secret garden, and kind of is, as it’s only recently opened to the public. A new period of renovation is underway, so although lovely, it feels relaxed and not (yet) super-manicured. Enthusiastic Moulton Trust volunteers will be around to chat if you’re interested in house or garden history. Parking and train station are a ten-minute walk away. Dogs welcome. (£5 entrance, kids £3).
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.
This vast ancient woodland near Marlborough has acres of picnic potential, and is lovely and shady on a hot day (are we dreaming?). Park in Postern Hill car park and choose a picnic table or a secluded glade to set up your snacks. Last time we were here we saw champagne and birthday cake and wedding photo shoots – 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.
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 what we do for that special occasion party picnic, mainly because the delights of the river are delightfully near the car park and the train station. Gather yourself some folding chairs, a cold bottle of something fizzy, and a Truffle and Thyme grazing box, and you’re all set. It’s a stunning spot, with kids playground and, if/when the weather fails, some top pubs a stone’s throw away. Did someone just feel rain?