Cotswolds Picnic Spots: Discover the 5 Best Places

Did you know that 18 June 2023 is International Picnic Day?

Picnics have come a long way since their Parisian beginnings. After the French Revolution of the mid-1800s, “pique-niquing” became an enjoyable pastime in France’s parks and gardens. Nowadays this casual outdoor meal is cherished around the globe as people embrace nature with friends and family!

If you’re looking to celebrate International Picnic Day, then the Cotswolds offers the perfect destination.

Known for its picturesque landscapes and charming villages, there are dozens of Cotswolds picnic spots overlooking a patchwork of rolling hills, in admission-free and paid parks and gardens, by the river and in secluded places.

These locations are perfect for spreading out a blanket for a delicious picnic of delicious picnic and soaking up the natural beauty that the best Cotswolds picnic spots have to offer.

The area is rich in plant life, wildflowers and even boasts some fascinating historical sites, making it an ideal destination to unwind and appreciate the wonders of the English countryside. Read on for our top five picnic places, together with some handy picnic tips.

Points To Consider

When it comes to picnicking in the Cotswolds, there are several stunning locations worth considering and it’s hard just to pick five places especially as the entire region is an area of natural beauty.

It’s best to check ahead to see if there are any local regulations and guidelines before heading out to a designated area for a picnic.

Some places have rules about barbecues and fire, time restrictions, entry fees, access limitations, and more. If you are in a town with a tourist information centre, it’s a simple thing to ask.

If you intend to bring your four-legged friend along, note that some farmer’s fields do not have fences separating livestock from public access paths, so you’ll need to keep an eye on Fido.

There are also streams and rivers where ducks, swans, and other wildlife enjoy a peaceful life and rarely like to be disturbed by dogs.

Finding the Perfect Cotswolds Picnic Spots

When searching for the ideal Cotswolds picnic spot, consider the type of scenery that appeals to you most. With an array of landscapes, from lush gardens to open grasslands, and lakeside views, there’s something for everyone.

Do you like the idea of a leisurely walk before settling down for lunch? Look for locations that offer walking trails or are incorporated along the Cotswold Way national trail. This way, you can combine exercise with the pleasure of a picturesque picnic.

Keep an eye on local facilities such as parking, restrooms, and refreshments. While some picnic areas may offer benches, tables, and on-site conveniences, others might be more remote, requiring you to bring your own supplies and plan accordingly.

If you’ve visited the Cotswolds before, you’ll know that public toilets are in short supply and usually only found in larger villages.

Here’s our list of 5 Cotswolds picnic spots:

Lower Slaughter

If you’re looking for a village for a romantic location for a picnic then Lower Slaughter, despite it’s name, is hard to beat.

With the calm River Eye running through the village, quaint stone cottages, an old mill, wild flowers and willow trees, this is the perfect for a spot of romance or to go with friends and family.

When it comes to picturesque villages in the Cotswolds, Lower Slaughter is hard to beat. It’s a peaceful place, with a calm river running through the center of the village and beautiful stone cottages lining the streets.

This is the perfect Cotswold picnic spot, whether you’re looking for a romantic spot for two or a place to relax with family and friends.

There is a road brige crossing the river and a little way along, a smaller bridge with wild flowers either side offering many photo opportunities.

Cotswolds picnic spots: Lower Slaughter
Cotswolds picnic spots: Lower Slaughter

There’s also a footpath running alongside the river with plenty of places to stop and enjoy the view and even some secluded spots where there’s nothing but the sound of water rushing by.

Next to The Slaughter’s Inn car park is a large open field near the river where you can watch ducks and swans. Or, you can try the village green where there are a few benches and picnic tables, some trees with shade, and plenty of room for a game of cricket.

Painswick Rococo Garden

Painswick Rococo Garden is a stunning garden with a unique design and located just outside the charming town of Painswick and is the perfect spot for a picnic.

The garden was originally created in the 1740s and features whimsical, playful elements including quirky garden buildings, winding paths and hidden nooks,, making this a great place to visit time and time again.

For picnics, there are two designated areas and both have picnic tables. One next to the car park and the other on the Bowling Great. There is an entry fee.

Open all year round, Painswick Rococo Garden is a brilliant way to spend a day walking amidst the colourful flowers, greenery, and trees before or after your picnic.

Check the website for opening times and entry ticket information or call Tel: +44 01452 813204.

Broadway Tower

It’s fair to say that Broadway village and Broadway Tower are two of my favourite places to visit in the Cotswolds making the location an ideal entry into our list of best Cotswolds picnic spots.

Broadway Tower offers generous views of the surrounding countryside and although it can be a little windy, is the perfect spot to enjoy a picnic with friends or family.

The tower itself is a historic landmark and has been around since the 18th century and built as a folly (a building of no practical purpose) by Sir Thomas Phillips, a wealthy landowner, and has since been used for various purposes, including as a lookout tower during World War II.

There is plenty of wide open space around the tower, so finding a spot to lay out your blanket and enjoy your lunch is easy and a nearby cafe offers snacks and hot and cold drinks.

Overall, Broadway Tower is a must-visit spot for anyone looking for a picturesque picnic location in the Cotswolds as the views are unbeatable, and the historic tower adds a touch of charm to the experience.

There was free parking when I visited before and the place gets busy.

Crickley Hill Country Park

If you’re looking for a stunning location for a Cotswold picnic, Crickley Hill Country Park is an excellent choice especially for the breathtaking views of the surrounding hills and countryside.

There are many picnic spots scattered throughout the park, but, like Broadway Tower, the panoramic views from the top offer the best backdrop to any picnic. Whether you spread out a blanket on the ground or prefer benches and tables, picnickers have the choice.

Aside from the picturesque scenery, Crickley Hill Country Park also offers a variety of walking trails and have various difficulty ratings so there’s something for the seasoned hiker and stroller.

Overall, Crickley Hill Country Park is several fantastic Cotswold picnic spots rolled into one location with stunning views and walking trails for anyone looking to enjoy a relaxing day out in nature.

Westonbirt Arboretum

Another option when choosing suitable Cotswold picnic spots is where to go to enjoy an area of natural beauty away from roads and the hustle and bustle.

Westonbirt Arboretum might just be the ticket.

This beautiful arboretum is in Tetbury and is home to over 15,000 trees and shrubs from all over the world and offers peaceful surroundings and perfect for a stroll to build up an appetite for your picnic.

There are several picnic areas throughout the arboretum, but one of the best spots is near the Old Arboretum.

This area is surrounded by towering trees and has plenty of space for families and groups to spread out and relax and there are also several benches and tables available, which is ideal if the ground is wet and muddy.

One thing to keep in mind when planning a picnic at Westonbirt Arboretum is that there is an admission fee of £12. Email customer support if you have questions at customerrelations@forestryengland.uk or check out the website at www.forestryengland.uk/westonbirt-the-national-arboretum

Now we’ve named our top five best picnic places in the Cotsworlds, here are some handy tips to make your picnic the best ever.

Handy Tips

Packing the Essentials

  • A waterproof picnic blanket
  • Durable and reusable cutlery, plates, and cups
  • Food storage containers and bags for leftovers
  • A cooler or insulated bag to keep food and drinks fresh
  • Hand sanitiser and wet wipes for easy clean-up
  • A rubbish bag to dispose of waste


Food and Drinks Packing

When selecting food and drinks for my Cotswolds picnic, go for simple and hassle-free items such as sandwiches, cheese, cold meats, fruit, and bite-sized desserts. I use airtight containers to keep food fresh and prevent accidental spills.

An esky is perfect and practical for picnics because it’s easy to carry, keeps drinks cold, and the water can be drained out after use and the space filled with empties or leftovers. I know an esky ‘breaks the law’ of an English picnic; it’s just a modern take on traditional wicker baskets and hampers.

Some picnickers like to pre-cut food, others like to do this on the picnic. The choice is yours but remember to bring a sharp knife and cut on a firm surface.

Support Local Businesses

If you’re planning a picnic in the Cotswolds, make an effort to support local businesses, such as purchasing ingredients, prepared foods, or drinks from a local bakery or a farm shop. This is an excellent way to try something new and contribute to the Cotswolds’ local economy.

Sunscreen, and Insect Repellent

Regardless of which Cotswolds picnic spots are chosen, having sunscreen and insect repellent on hand is a necessity. This being the heart of England, midges, no-see-ums, and their bigger, more visible friends such as wasps and bees love a nicely prepared picnic too.

Setting Up the Picnic

Firm Ground

Look for firm, level ground that is free of rocks and roots, which will make your seating arrangement comfortable. A shaded area under a tree is great, but also consider the weather, as windy conditions might require a more sheltered location.

A picnic rug or blanket is essential, especially one that’s waterproof or moisture-resistant to avoid dampness seeping through. To make seating more comfortable, consider bringing along portable chairs, cushions or even a couple of folding camping stools.

Saying that, it is nice to sit on a rug next to a stream or in a forest. However, I’ve found the older I get, the harder it is for me to stand up and sitting on a foldable chair makes sense.

Organising Food and Drinks

Ensure everything is within reach, create designated areas for different items with sections for cutlery, plates and napkins, and another for chilled food and drinks (or park the esky within reach. The esky’s lid can double up as a table surface too.

Pre-cutting sandwiches, fruits or cheeses will make it easy for everyone to enjoy their meal without any hassle. Although if pre-cut food is leftover, make sure it’s stored in an air-tight box.

Be Considerate

To minimise our impact on the environment, ensure all litter is disposed of, even organic waste such as fruit peels or cores.

Being considerate of other park-goers is another aspect I think is important – this includes keeping noise levels down, especially when in close proximity to others enjoying the outdoors. If you have pets accompanying you, ensure they are well-behaved, and always clean up after them.

Enjoying the Picnic

If you are visiting any Cotswolds picnic spots, here are our top tips for a memorable experience:

  • Select a picturesque location with ample shade and a comfortable place to sit
  • Research local farm shops and markets where you can purchase fresh, local ingredients for your picnic, such as delicious cheeses, ham, vegetables, fruit. There’s an excellent greengrocer in Cirencester has a beautiful greengrocer, named The Market Garden (Google Map) in Cirencester is an excellent example of a place to go for fresh, locally grown fruit and veg.
  • Keep food chilled in an insulated cooler bag or esky.
  • Don’t forget the essentials – plates, cutlery, glasses, and napkins.
  • Gather all rubbish and dispose of it properly in designated bins, or take it home.
  • Wipe down surfaces and shake out any picnic blankets before leaving.
  • Leave the area as you found it for future visitors to enjoy.

Many human foods are not suitable for animals, and feeding them may lead to illness or injury. Instead, dispose of any leftovers responsibly in designated waste bins or take them home with you.

With such stunning scenery, it is an ideal area to enjoy a leisurely afternoon with a picnic and delightful company.

Everyone has a different way of doing picnics and there are no hard and fast rules. From a simple picnic blanket with sandwiches and crisps to an elaborate gourmet feast; taking the time to enjoy the scenery, relax in the sunshine, take time off, and breathe in some fresh air is important.

Cotswolds picnic spots are plentiful and it’s nice to plan picnics and venture into this picturesque area of natural beauty.

Pack your baskets with some local produce from one of the many farmers markets or farm shops in the area, and create an unforgettable experience surrounded by nature on International Picnic Day or any day of the year!

www.travelcotswolds.com

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