Pack up a picnic

Picnics are on the rise in the UK, with more people choosing to spend time away from phones and other devices to enjoy eating outside with friends and family. 

From 16 to 25 June, National Picnic Week events will be taking place around the country, so grab your blankets and baskets and get out to great outdoors for a good old fashioned picnic. It's proven that getting some fresh air and sunlight is good for you, and enjoying some healthy home-cooked food is the perfect way to relax without breaking the budget.
 
According to the organisers of National Picnic Week, the average person picnics at least three times a year, that’s 94 million picnics per year. And in 2013 the average family spent £26 per picnic, totalling a cool £2,479,720,000. Originally a picnic was a fashionable social event to which each guest contributed some food. The French started the modern fashion for picnics when they opened their royal parks to the public after the revolution of 1789. The most popular picnic snack fifty years ago was the humble cheese sandwich. Now, it’s a bag of crisps. Scotch or picnic eggs are a favourite addition and Fortnum & Mason, the London department store, claims to have invented the Scotch egg in 1738. They still sell them today.
 
The most popular day for picnics varies around the world: in the US it is the 4 July; in Italy it’s Easter Monday; in France it’s Bastille Day, and the UK… well it’s basically weather dependent but perhaps National Picnic Week would be a good time to gather your friends and head out to enjoy some al fresco dinning.
 
And what better way to enjoy some delicious food than in a breath-taking location.
The Samphire region boasts more than its fair share of idyllic picnic sites including Llyn Mair (Welsh for Mary's lake) an artificial lake near Maentwrog, in Gwynedd in North Wales. The site is recommended for picnics by the UK National Parks and it is a popular spot bordered with ancient oak woods. The lake also has a notable echo because of the shape of the surrounding hills and it is also a starting point for a number of local country walks. While it is an easy spot to reach by car, why not take the train? The narrow gauge Ffestiniog Railway runs through the woods above the lake, and Tan-y-Bwlch railway station can be reached on foot from the lake.
 
The National Trust also has some perfect picnic settings. Picnic in the orchard at Speke Hall in Liverpool, or head out onto the Speke-Garston coastal reserve for picnics with a view. The glorious sandy beaches of Formby are another favourite with coastal walks, dog walking, horse riding, wave jumping, kite flying or just lazy days at the beach. There is a coffee cart and ice cream van most days to supplement your picnic. At Dunham Massy in Altchrincham, Cheshire, there is a designated picnic week from 26-29 July when picnickers are encouraged to join in a variety of fun and games.
 
For further ideas visit www.nationalpicnicweek.co.uk and check out our recipe section for some tasty picnic treats.
 
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