• Family activities

How to have the perfect picnic

Published on 5 min read


OS GetOutside Champion and Fell Foodie, Harrison Ward, reveals his top tips on how to have the perfect picnic including what to take and where to go.

Fell Foodie

Me – The Fell Foodie

I don’t know about you, but lunch and snacks play a key part of any of my excursions into the outdoors. Not only does food and drink keep you topped up with energy but it’s the perfect excuse to stop, enjoy and take in the view. Whether it’s cooking up a feast on my camp stove or enjoying nibbles in the park with friends, I’m regularly dining al fresco. Here are my top tips on how to have the perfect picnic.

Where to picnic

Where is the best place to lay a picnic rug? On the beach, atop a mountain, by the river or in the park? Regardless of where we are located there is always some picnic potential not too far away. Here’s some of my favourite picnic locations which can be found using OS Maps. Just look for the blue picnic bench symbol. 

  • Park or playing field
  • Viewpoint
  • Picnic area
  • Seaside
  • Woodland
  • River
  • Lake

Our friends at Dennis Maps have shared their favourite picnic spots across Great Britain.

london park picnic

Picnic with a view

How to get to your picnic spot

For locations close to home, maximising our time outdoors by walking or cycling has the extra benefit of exerting a few more calories before indulging, plus it’s better for the environment. For shorter journeys, it’s worth carrying more home comforts for a more luxury al fresco dining experience. Finding a picnic spot you can travel to on foot or bike means a quick escape from the office (or homeworking) to hopefully bask in some sunshine.

If your chosen spot is too far for foot power then a trip in the car may also mean your fine china can make the journey with you (providing the spot isn’t too far from the car park at the other end!). On the other hand, some may enjoy the pilgrimage to a more remote setting for a real adventure. If this is the case we may have to get a bit craftier when deciding what to take.

river picnic 

Picnic by a river

What to bring on a picnic

This can be as simple or extensive as you like depending on how many are eating, what you are having, how connected to nature you want to be or how far you are carrying the bag. My go-to picnic accessory is a picnic blanket/mat as more so than often the grass is usually a little damp in Great Britain!

OS thermal mug 

GetOutside mug and thermal flask

Now I don’t know about you but a brew is always required after (and often during) a walk. Some could brew up on location with a camp stove but why prolong that hug in a mug any longer. By packing a thermal flask and an outdoor mug, your thirst is ready to be quenched the minute you’ve found a spot to pop down your blanket.

Unsurprisingly, food is the most important thing to pack, and you can munch on a sandwich pretty much anywhere. However, if you’re preparing something a bit more substantial, reusable plates/cutlery will help protect the environment. If I’m with friends or family, we often bring a couple of outdoor games that we can play whilst the food is being prepared.

fell foodie

One of my finer creations

Picnic food

If you are the designated cook (I know that role well) then this is your time to shine by sharing your tastiest assortments, ready to be devoured. I tend to cook hot food on location on a stove but the classic picnic fodder is usually prepared at home first.

Sandwiches are synonymous with an al fresco dining experience. Stuff some freshly baked bread with fillings of your liking to cater for any dietary needs your friends and family may have. Perhaps a classic cheese and chutney, an upmarket chicken, chorizo and mozzarella or a jazzed up cucumber and vegan cream cheese. If you’re walking a hill or doing a spot of trail running, high-energy foods like peanut butter and banana are great at keeping you fuelled.

perfect picnic

Adventure tapas

If you really want to impress, you could use a continental approach and bring tapas and mezze to the picnic rug. Cured meats, cheeses, various dips and veggie batons, pastries and more. Perfect for sharing and getting the conversation started and less preparation required at home first.

Don’t forget the sweet treats! Cakes, tarts and fruit all add to the experience. I’d leave the ice cream at home though and visit the nearest van for that or you may have a soggy picnic basket! Baking your own treats adds an extra level of satisfaction to your picnic and you’ll be surprised at home many quick and easy recipes there are out there.

Picnic etiquette

As always when enjoying the outdoors it’s essential to leave the location as you found it. This means no litter, no scorched grass from bbqs or stoves and no damage to trees or foliage. Remember to take everything you brought with you home again, although you can be forgiven for a few cake crumbs!

When out and about, please follow the countryside code.

To keep up to date with Fell Foodie’s culinary camp stove creations by following him on Instagram.

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