National Trust picnic spots in Surrey
PUBLISHED: 02:24 12 September 2012 | UPDATED: 18:36 02 July 2014
With the warmer weather finally here (well, we hope!), it's time to pack up a picnic and head into the Surrey countryside. Here, on behalf of the National Trust, Emma Brien brings us their pick of the most picturesque picnic spots
Originally published in Surrey Life magazine July 2010
- Top of the list for many picnic aficionados is Box Hill near Dorking. Made famous by Jane Austen, Box Hill became the fictional setting for one of the pivotal scenes from her romantic novel Emma (which centred around, coincidentally enough, a picnic). Picnics were becoming more and more popular when Austen wrote her novel at the turn of the 19th century. Today, we encourage ramblers, nature lovers and sightseers to bring their own picnics to Box Hill where they can enjoy the magnificent views.
- Another top National Trust picnic spot is Winkworth Arboretum, near Godalming, where visitors can tuck into their food in a picnic area amongst one of the finest collection of trees and shrubs in England. The brightly-coloured magnolias should still be in bloom for a while during the first half of July, following the height of their display in June.
- Alternatively, why not pick the perfect spot beside the lake at Claremont Landscape Garden and enjoy watching the black swans, the Egyptian geese and Mandarin ducks float past. You might even spot a parakeet flying past overhead in a streak of green.
- And don’t forget our more formal settings when planning your picnic, either. Our stately homes have beautiful gardens and wider estates, which are great places to set down your picnic rugs. In early July, visitors to Polesden Lacey, near Dorking, can enjoy the annual Polesden Lacey Festival. Of course, we don’t just encourage picnics on organised occasions like the Polesden Lacey Festival. Open air dining is welcomed all year round, provided that picnickers are respectful of their surroundings and clear up any mess afterwards.
- Clandon Park and Hatchlands Park, both located close to Guildford, also boast stunning formal grounds and wider estates and woodlands. The two mansions are impressive to look around, too, and provide perfect shelter, should a stray rain cloud drift by to threaten the afternoon’s entertainment.
- Finally, we can also recommend the wide views and pretty walks of Hindhead Commons and the Devil’s Punch Bowl, where the countryside is teeming with wildlife. Plus, there is the inviting National Trust-run café located at the Devil’s Punch Bowl for those who would prefer to have their lunch indoors.
For more details of National Trust countryside in the Surrey Hills and beyond, visit www.nationaltrust.org.uk.
Share photos of your favourite Surrey picnic spots @ www.surreylife.co.uk/photos
The National Trust's top ten tips for the perfect picnic
1) Make sure you bring slightly more food and drink than you think you will need. Appetites can expand greatly in the fresh air, especially after a long walk.
2) Make plenty of different sandwiches and bring a good selection of fruit and desserts so that everyone can have a choice of what they would like to eat.
3) If you have a child who is wary of trying new foods, try again during a picnic. They may be more willing to try something new if they are relaxed and enjoying a meal outdoors.
4) Involve the whole family in making your picnic. Decide together what you would like to eat and discuss where the food comes from to make up the picnic.
5) Don’t forget to bring food, and especially water, for your dog. Dogs can become just as dehydrated as humans if they are not properly refreshed during a hot day’s outing. Never leave them alone in the car while you eat or go for a walk.
6) Remember to bring a bag to put any rubbish in as there may not be a suitable bin in the immediate vicinity of your picnic spot. Never leave rubbish behind – it can be harmful to resident wildlife.
7) Create a theme for your picnic. You could choose foods from a certain country or culture and decorate paper plates and serviettes to match. Or try to just have foods beginning with a certain letter.
8) If several families are getting together for a large picnic, have each set bring a course. That way, the work is shared out, and there will be some delicious surprises, too.
9) Don’t forget to plan for wet weather. In this unpredictable country, rain is never far away and a sudden outburst could easily dampen your spirits. Bring anoraks and perhaps an umbrella or two and put food into waterproof containers with well-fitting lids.
10) Finally, bring a camera to capture the fun and laughter – and enjoy being in the great outdoors this summer!