Life changing

Nine of the best Lottery-funded picnic spots

Teddy Bears have them. Ducks love them. And they’re as quintessentially British as a stiff upper lip. Picnics! To celebrate not one, but two bank holidays in May, we’ve pulled together the top nine spots to roll out a rug and unwrap your sandwiches. After all, thanks to your hard work, over 800 parks have been restored all around the UK.

Knole Deer Park, Kent

Set out your picnic blanket beside one of England’s largest country houses and 600 years of history. The grounds are home to a deer park where herds of friendly deer roam, often stopping to nuzzle at inquisitive humans.

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Rainham Hall, Havering

You’ll be spoilt for picnic spot choice in this three-acre community garden, made even more picturesque by the 1,000 snowdrops that emerge during spring. Gaze up at the 18th century Grade 2 listed Georgian house that has been home to over 50 different families and was recently renovated thanks to National Lottery players.

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Lews Castle & Museum, Stornoway

The sprawling grounds of Lews Castle in the Outer Hebrides boast a beautiful Victorian garden design, complete with adventure playground, woodland trail and wildflower meadows. Perfect for energetic kids and enthusiastic picnickers. Make sure you pop into the castle’s recently reopened Museum nan Eilean (or The Islands Museum) – it’s National Lottery funded.

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Oakham Castle, Rutland

Leave the pottage behind when you head for a picnic surrounded by medieval Oakham Castle - a shining example of Norman architecture. The castle grounds are open all year round so no battering rams required.

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Chedworth Roman Villa, Cotswolds

Nestled in the tranquil Cotswolds, this picnic spot is surrounded by wildlife and a woodland trail. The trail overlooks the historic Chedworth Roman Villa, which is one of the grandest Roman residences in Britain with a fantastic array of treasures to be discovered from mosaic floors to bath houses.

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Abbotsford, Roxburghshire

For the ultimate fairy tale setting for a picnic visit Abbotsford. Built by one of Scotland’s most romantic poets, Sir Walter Scott, there are stunning formal gardens with beautifully manicured lawns and flowerbeds. There’s even a Juliet balcony and a Rapunzel tower… the perfect spot to let down your hair.

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Hardy's Cottage, Dorset

Set up a real West Country style picnic alongside the cottage where Thomas Hardy was born. Nestled in the Dorset hills (known as ‘Hardy Country’), Hardy’s cottage is a pilgrimage for poetry lovers. In such an idyllic rural setting, you don’t need to be acquainted with Hardy’s writing to appreciate the picturesque surroundings and sense of history.

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Dyffryn Gardens, Glamorgan

With 55 acres of grounds, including exquisite formal gardens, a glasshouse and even an apiary (that’s a beehive to you and me), even the most discerning picnicker will find the perfect spot at Dyffryn Gardens.

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Croome, Worcester

Croome was Capability Brown’s (‘England’s greatest gardener’) very first commission and he designed these stunning gardens in the 18th century. Thanks to National Lottery players, The National Trust has been able to open the wide gardens, mansion and a visitor centre to the public. During its 250 years, Croome Court has functioned as a hospital, a school for boys, a Hare Krishna residence and home to a RAF aircraft during World War II.

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