But times have changed. Although the hazards remain – the collapsing camping chairs, unseen cow pats, aggressive wasps, unexpected thunder and lightning etc – more of us like to picnic in style. Book a break at nice country house hotel and they might provide a splendid portable lunch and suggest where to enjoy it.
The 300-acre Humphrey Repton-designed parkland grounds at Rudding Park in Harrogate provide plenty of appealing spots for a picnic. The collection of rhododendrons and azaleas – many dating back to Victorian times – is recognised as one of the best in the north of England. The hotel provides guests with a picnic, complete with rug and a Frisbee for some gentle post-picnic exercise.
The timeless, unspoilt Shropshire landscapes which inspired Tolkein’s descriptions of Middle Earth in The Hobbit can be admired over a picnic from Fishmore Hall, on the outskirts of Ludlow. The hotel suggests guests unpack their traditional wicker hamper in the glorious countryside of The Wrekin and follow former resident Tolkein’s footsteps through its hills and valleys on the border with Wales.
A one-night Hobbit Hideaway break includes dinner in Fishmore’s three AA-rosette restaurant, breakfast and a picnic comprising sandwiches, home-made quiche, cake, pork pie, tarts and fruit.
Escape to a secluded Scottish coastal hotel for three nights and enjoy a champagne picnic. Knockinaam Lodge, on Scotland’s south-west tip in Galloway, is located in 40-acre grounds which sweep down to a private beach with views across to Ireland on a clear day. If you’re worried about sand in your sandwiches, the hotel suggests other places for picturesque picnicking, such as the harbour village of Portpatrick (a cliff-top walk away), the otter pool in Galloway Forest Park and Culzean Castle. Alternatively, guests can follow the nearby Red Kite Trail where there are viewing stations for spotting the protected birds of prey.
The former hunting lodge has a three-night stay between July 15-September 8 which includes traditional Scottish breakfast and five-course tasting menu dinner in its Michelin-star restaurant, plus the picnic with home-made shortbread and scones and champagne. Free entrance to one of the many fine local gardens is also included.
Guests at the Wordsworth Hotel and Spa in the Lake District are free to tuck into their picnic spread in the hotel’s lovely riverside gardens, or in any of the other beautiful locations around Grasmere, described by poet William Wordsworth as ‘the loveliest spot that man hath ever found’.
A two-night Picnic Paradise package from June to August includes a picnic lunch consisting of sandwiches, cold pie, fruit, fruitcake and Grasmere gingerbread. Also included is a four-course dinner in the hotel’s two AA-rosette restaurant and breakfast both days, plus a sparkling cream tea one afternoon.
An active family summer break enjoying the great outdoors in Teesdale is offered by Headlam Hall near Durham. The three-night Summer Special includes dinner and breakfast every day, free use of the hotel’s spa, bikes and tennis court, a 50% discount on golf at its challenging nine-hole course and a complimentary picnic hamper for a day out exploring the countryside.« View all blog articles.