The UK's most accessible picnic locations
17th June 2020
*Please ensure you follow local guidelines for your area or consult these attractions before visiting any of these locations*
A picnic is an inexpensive way to spend an afternoon and can easily be enjoyed at a 2-meter distance from your loved ones if necessary, but if you use a stair lift in your home to help with low mobility, you may be wondering what spots across the UK are accessible to you and which ones are open to visitors at the moment. Spending time out in nature can be incredibly beneficial, especially as so many of us have spent a lot of time indoors recently.
From National Trust properties and country parks to riverside locations with breathtaking vistas, discover some of the most accessible picnic locations that you should visit this summer that adhere to social distancing.
Danielle from the luxury blanket brand Tolly McRae loves heading out for a picnic during the summer. We asked what her favourite location was, and she shared this with us: “My favourite location to picnic is Blenheim Palace which is really close to where Tolly McRae is based in Oxfordshire. It’s absolutely beautiful and has lots of different areas so you can choose where to picnic according to what’s best for you, from majestic manicured lawns, to meadows, the lakeside or the pleasure gardens which have the famous maze and beautiful landscapes.
“My picnic rug is my must-take item for any picnic. It’s one of the very first ones Tolly McRae produced and 5 years and numerous outings later, it’s still going strong. The rug is plenty big enough for all the family to sit on and serves as a base if we want to drop the food and then have a little wander or go play a game. The best thing is that it’s pure wool so if it gets chilly or windy, we can sit on a bench and use it to cover our knees too.”
When speaking about her favourite picnic foods, we asked Sam from Devon Haven who can’t help but long for a Devonshire cream tea whilst having a picnic: “We don't think that fresh scones, fruity jam and thick clotted cream can be beaten!”
Rosliston Forestry Centre
Situated in The National Forest, the Rosliston Forestry Centre is perfect if you’re looking for an accessible picnic location in Derbyshire that has ample space to allow you to stay spaced out. Spanning across 200 miles, the forest boasts a variety of different walks for you to enjoy, in addition to a number of spots that are fantastic for picnics.
If you’re planning a picnic, the National Forest is a great place to do so, with picnic tables located across the site. Danielle shared this piece of advice for those who are planning a picnic this summer: “At the moment I’d say to check the weather and prepare accordingly to make sure you’re not going to get too hot, sunburnt or cold and wet. Take plenty of sunscreen, plenty of water, and lots of layers so you can add/take off as needed. Foodwise, I’d say invest in some cool packs and a good cooler, so the picnic stays fresh and edible, and always take a spare bag to put the rubbish in.”
Roliston Forestry Centre has been designed with accessibility in mind. Not only does it offer free parking for disabled blue badge holders, but many of the routes available are wheelchair friendly.
Bolton Abbey is a ruined abbey nestled in the Yorkshire Dales, situated near the River Wharfe. Surrounded by rolling green countryside and glistening water vistas, this location is the perfect spot for a summer picnic.
Bolton Abbey describes their location as a ‘jewel in the crown’ “Its landscape is the “jewel in the crown” of Yorkshire’s many landscapes, and the 30,000 acres of beautiful countryside boasts over 80 miles of footpaths to walk and explore, providing something for all ages.
We spoke to the team at Bolton Abbey who told us a little more about what they have been doing since their re-opening: “Following Bolton Abbey’s reopening at the end of May, visitors have enjoyed picnics by the riverside, walks along the woodland nature trails and the opportunity to simply sit back relax and admire the view.”
They continue to explain more about the safety measures they have put in place to keep their visitors safe: “Visitors to Bolton Abbey have welcomed the systems they have put in place to ensure the safety and wellbeing of those visiting, working and living on the Estate. To ensure social distancing guidelines are met visitors have to pre-book their visit online. Staff scan tickets from behind a protective screen on arrival without any contact required. To avoid disappointment visitors are advised to check the Bolton Abbey website before leaving home and book their ticket, as entry will be refused on arrival without a ticket.”
You can find out more information about the accessibility of the site on their dedicated accessibility page.
Dartmoor National Park
Dartmoor National Park is situated in the heart of the Devon Countryside and covers 954 km². Full to the brim with stunning open landscapes, rocky outcrops and friendly wildlife. The landscape is dotted with flat and picnic-friendly areas as well as designated picnic areas with wooden benches and bins.
On the Dartmoor National Park website it says: “From its striking granite tors and steep wooded river valleys to swathes of heather-covered moorland and hidden villages, Dartmoor is a land of contrasts.”
The park allows you to enjoy a picnic almost anywhere which makes it very easy to stay at a social distance from other visitors, they just ask a few simple things from you: “On the open moorland, there are no restrictions on where you can have a picnic. However, please do not light any fires or leave any litter.”
We spoke to Tim at Dartmoor National Park, he told us one of the popular routes that leads to a lovely picnic spot, perfect for those with limited mobility: Shipley Bridge to Avon Dam, this pleasant route follows the river upstream towards the Avon Dam. Initially the route passes a series of small waterfalls through a treed area and then enters into a more open moorland environment. After about a 1km there is a very handy picnic area.”
He explained a little more about the route and the Avon Dam: “The River Avon begins its life at Avon Head Mires (near Ryder’s Hill the highest part of the southern moor) and flows all the way to the coast at Bigbury on Sea; a journey of some 25 miles. Avon is the Celtic word for ‘river’. The dam was built in 1957 to supply drinking water to the growing towns in South Devon. The area also has an industrial heritage of quarrying for naptha and china clay. Keep an eye out for dippers and grey wagtails down along the river and buzzards and ravens further up the valley.”
You can access most of the picnic locations from your car via the main roads and most of the picnic spots are flat and wheelchair friendly making them great for accessibility. It is worth noting that all public toilets are currently closed on Dartmoor due to Covid-19.
Sitting perfectly in central London, Hyde Park is the perfect spot for a delicious summer picnic at a distance. Hyde Park is home to events all year round and boasts a very large expanse of flat, accessible space perfect for enjoying the warmer climates.
Perfectly flat and linked by smooth and accessible paths and tracks, the park is the perfect place to enjoy a picnic during Covid-19 and you will easily find a spot away from others, you may just have to travel a little further down the path to find your perfect spot. During the pandemic, some of the local amenities and toilets may not be open, so that is something to bear in mind.
Kew Gardens is usually a hot-spot for picnics all year round, but as the season’s change and the country starts to ease its restrictions, they have started to allow visitors into their gardens once again. We spoke to the team at Kew Gardens who recommended some of their favourite places across the grounds that are perfect for picnics:
"Grab your picnic blanket and enjoy al fresco eating this summer at Kew Gardens. With acres of botanic gardens to explore, you can roam amongst our magnificent plant collections and pause to enjoy our iconic vistas.
“Here are a couple of our favourite areas across the Gardens for outdoor eating: The Rose Garden; sitting with a magnificent view of the Palm House is a feast for the senses between June and August. Cedar Vista: Head to Cedar Vista and stretch out on the grass to admire views of the Great Pagoda. Please remember that you must book a time slot in advance to visit the Gardens as we are limiting capacity to ensure visitors can get to us safely and enjoy the fresh air. A limited number of mobility scooters are available to book (call 020 8332 5121 at least 48 hours in advance). Accessibility information plus booking details can be found on Kew’s website.”
If you’re looking for somewhere to enjoy a picnic with your family and loved ones that is great for social distancing as well as accessibility, we hope these recommendations have been useful. If you’re looking for accessibility and mobility aids to fit into your home, check out our selection of second-hand stair lifts for a number of straight and curved stairlift options.
The UK’s most accessible picnic locations:
- Blenheim Palace
- Rosliston Forestry Centre
- Bolton Abbey
- Dartmoor National Park
- Hyde Park
- Kew Gardens
This news article is from Handicare UK. Articles that appear on this website are for information purposes only.