Grab your picnic blankets , we’ve got some insider knowledge about some of the most beautiful picnic spots in the UK’s South West - the ones the locals really don’t want you to know about...
...but it’s no secret that the South West is home to some of the UK’s most beautiful scenery. It’s one of the reasons we wanted to base our HQ in Somerset. It gets busy down here in the summer but there are some places the tourists don’t know about; the secret beauty spots that the locals head-to come July, avoiding the crowds and enjoying the South West in peace.
So pack-up some tasty treats and head off the beaten track to some of our favourite secret picnic spots in the South West. Just don’t tell anyone else about them...
The South Hams in Devon take a while to drive to. The roads are narrow and windy, high hedgerows looming either side, grass growing in the middle of the track. And long may they stay that way - the inaccessibility is why the beaches in this part of Devon are still so unspoilt!
Still, on a warm summer’s day, popular beaches like Hope Cove and Saunton Sands will get busy. But if you can find the National Trust car park at Prawle Point and take a 20 minute hike west along the coast path you’ll find Macely Cove nestled amongst the cliffs. It’s a hidden gem. And you’ll probably have it all to yourself.
You won’t find a castle at Castle Neroche Woods , but what you will find is unspoilt forest, and spectacular views across the vale of Taunton towards Exmoor. It’s the site of a prehistoric Iron Age hill fort set within an ancient glade of trees. Perfect for woodland walks and peaceful countryside picnics.
You can find space to yourself pretty much anywhere on Exmoor, but Landacre Bridge is a popular picnic place for the locals. It’s a sheltered spot, with soft sheep-clipped grass gently sloping down to the quiet, shallow river. Popular with families and great for cooling-off on a hot day. Wander along the river from the bridge and you’ll find plenty of secluded picnic spots along the river bank.
Set in a peaceful wooded glade in Culbone is St Beuno’s church - England’s smallest church still in use. It might seem strange to have a picnic next to a churchyard but this picturesque spot is so pretty it was used as a filming location for the TV adaptation of Lorna Doone.
Image Credit: Exmoor NP
Not necessarily a secret anymore since appearing on Poldark, but never crowded, Pedn Vounder is a stunning beach in South West Cornwall, near Lands End. It’s a short hike down a steep coast ‘path’ which involves literally climbing down a rope to the beach (hence why it’s never busy!). But the hike is oh so worth it. Crystal clear, turquoise waters, long stretches of pristine white sand… the perfect spot to lay your picnic blankets!
Here’s the beach on our last visit a year ago on a sunny day in March. Who needs holidays abroad, eh!?
Here’s one the Exeter locals head to on a hot day when they want to avoid the tourists. There are just a few parking spots along the road next to the bridge, so it’s never busy.
Park-up and picnic under the bridge, or stroll through the woods along the river until you’re ready for a bite to eat. It’s especially beautiful here in spring when the woods are flooded with daffodils and bluebells.
When the beaches in East Devon get busy over the summer, you’ll always find some peace and quiet at Budleigh’s beach. The lack of sand tends to keep tourists away, but its sheltered spot and quiet beach give it an appeal of its own. The sea is always calm, at times like a lake, so a beautiful spot for swimming. It’s also pretty easy to catch mackerel here. Catch your supper, gather some driftwood to make a fire and cook it right there on the beach. Or buy fresh fish from the fisherman who sell it from their little stall on the beach.
Image credit: Michael Downes
Now you’re in the know, go enjoy your picnics away from the crowds. A portable picnic rug with carry handles will make reaching some of these hidden spots much easier. Browse our picnic blankets and get picnicking!