Venturing into the great outdoors with a picnic hamper to enjoy a beautiful view is one of Britain’s most iconic summer activities. Whether you are on an extended hike with some sandwiches in your rucksack or have driven to the perfect spot with a blanket and elaborately packed lunch al fresco style, eating outdoors in the countryside is a fantastic way to enjoy the summer weather.
We are perhaps most famous for defying the weather and spending time outdoors on a family picnic – no matter whether it rains or shines. With the lockdown prohibiting indoors meetings picnics and outdoors activities have surged in popularity. Now that the summer has finally arrived the likelihood of sitting in the rain and eating soggy sandwiches has been greatly reduced.
There are a variety of beautiful places for people to stop and have a picnic all around Kent and Sussex. In this article I will share some of my favourite places to stop for lunch. So pack up some scotch eggs, sandwiches and lemonade and head for the hills!
Bewl is the largest reservoir in the UK, with miles of footpaths and woodland there are hundreds of spots for a picnic. The dam has incredible views of the reservoir and the nearby open grass area is near the visitor information and the play area for convenience.
Hundreds come to visit us here at Bewl each year, bringing picnics and bicycles to explore the area with. If you are interested in fishing – there is nothing better than setting up your picnic area near the reservoir bank and fishing before you eat. There are fishing permits and fishing equipment for hire available at Bewl if the prospect of a fishing trip before lunch tickles your fancy.
The white cliffs of the seven sisters loom over Cuckmere Haven where the estuary meets the sea. This beautiful natural ecosystem is a popular place to visit for hikes and bicycle rides. With a pebble beach, perfect for a picnic, this area gives beautiful views of the sea and wetland. A protected natural habitat there are many bird species and other wild animals living in the wetland that you may see on your walk to the beach.
There are many places on the beach to search for fossil hunting and bird watching, to pass the time before and after your lunch. A picnic at Cuckmere Haven is a full day’s trip that will brighten up any weekend.
The scene of one of the most iconic scenes of British history, Battle Abbey offers scenic walks around the battlefield itself, as well as picnic tables for you to use. With a variety of different activities to participate in, this historical site is an incredible place to explore. The battle between William the Conqueror and King Harold was one of the most significant events in British history bringing feudalism to the British Isles.
Battle is home to a variety of different restaurants and delis, you can pick up a quick picnic lunch in the local shops before finding a nice spot outside to enjoy it.
The yew trees living in Kingley valley are considered to be the oldest living creatures in Britain, as part of the South Downs this area sees quite a few ramblers passing through. The atmosphere created by these ancient trees is fascinating with deeply beautiful surroundings for your picnic. Two of these yew trees are at least 500 years old with the eldest measuring 5 meters in diameter.
The surrounding grass chalk land is the home of 14 registered ancient monuments and 39 species of butterfly. These picturesque areas make for a perfect spot to stop for a picnic and explore.
The river Medway passes through the historic town of Rochester and is a hotspot for angling, canoeing and paddle boarding. With a deep history, the river Medway acts as a barrier between the two separate sides of Kent, with those who originate from west and east of the river being known as ‘Men of Kent’ and those to the west as ‘Kentish Men’.
There are two prominent castles near the Medway river which serve as fantastic spots for a picnic, Rochester castle and Upnor Castle. Both sites are managed by the Medway Council and are open for visitors to explore.
The Long Man
The long man is an ancient marking on the side of the south downs depicting a figure in the chalk. There is little known about the long man and its historical significance and a lot of speculation, even the age of the long man is still unknown. The long man is situated near the small and beautiful village of Wilmington, which is home to some wonderful eateries and fantastic scenery.
The South Downs themselves are an area of outstanding natural beauty, attracting many walkers all year.
The remains of Bramber castle are located on top of a knoll with beautiful views of the river Adur. The one wall remaining of the once huge castle stands alone in the middle of open parkland with the elevation offered by the knoll giving any visitors a look at stunning views of West Sussex.
With very little of the castle still remaining, the site gets relatively little foot traffic and the area if often mostly empty, but for the walkers that pass through the area. If you are looking for a peaceful and private spot in which to enjoy the sun you will find it hard to find a nicer spot.
The infamous white cliffs of Dover offer incredible views of the English Channel, with many able to spot the French coast from the cliff tops. The rare chalk grassland on top of the cliffs is home to a wealth of wildlife, including butterflies and wildflowers. Exmoor wild ponies roam the clifftops and keep the grass growth under control.
With two wrecks within sight of the cliff the landscape is as harsh as it is beautiful, with sea breezes making the cliffs rather chilly in winter. Two historical sites, the South Foreman lighthouse and the Fan Bay Deep Shelter are available for tours for visitors that are interested in Dover’s history.
With the COVID 19 restrictions ongoing it is more important than ever to take the time to head outdoors and enjoy the sunshine. Picnics can offer a window of calm and relaxation within our busy schedules and can help you to reduce you stress. While many restaurants and pubs are still out of reach for those worried about the virus, the outdoors is open to everyone.