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10 pretty picnic spots in Dorset & Somerset

Pack your scotch eggs and lashings of ginger beer - we're heading to these 10 outdoor beauty spots across Somerset & Dorset to enjoy lunch al fresco.

A beautiful wicker basket packed with fizz and crustless sandwiches or a glorified packed lunch with mountains of Tupperware and sausage rolls (guilty!). Fear not, our Muddy guide to some of the loveliest picnic spots in our ‘hood will at least ensure the location is perfect and so is the food with £500 of free Ocado deliveries (well hello M&S Deli range).

IN A FOREST: Great Wood, Over Stowey, near Bridgwater

Bring your bike, horse or Shanks’s pony to explore the bridleways and forest roads through the Great Wood (TA5 1HN) in The Quantocks, and picnic in a clearing. Look out for the giant Douglas Firs (some taller than 11 double decker buses) on the Red Walk trail as well red deer, ravens, buzzards, pied flycatchers and more throughout the forest.

ON THE BEACH: Ringstead Bay, near Weymouth

Park at the top of the cliff above Southdown Farm and walk along the cliff top or follow the tracks down for a picnic on the shingle beach in this unspoiled bay with super clear safe waters and views over to Weymouth Bay and Portland.

BY A LAKE: The Blue Pool, near Wareham

Littlies will love looking for the fairy doors amongst the trees; everyone else will be marvelling at the shimmering blue waters (a phenomenon caused by light diffracting from minuscule clay particles in the water), at this nature reserve on the Furzedown Estate. Picnic by the lakeside or in the grounds of the 1930s tearoom.

BY A MONUMENT: Wellington Monument, Wellington

Bring a kite as well as a picnic to the recently restored obelisque, a tribute to the Duke of Wellington’s victory at Waterloo, surrounded by beech hedgerows and a wildlife-rich meadow and with views across the Blackdown Hills, Taunton Vale and over to Exmoor *sigh*. Put TA21 9PB into the satnav to take you to the car park. You can climb the monument’s 232 steps up a spiral staircase from 10am-4pm on Weds, Sat & Sun from April to September but you must book.

IN A MEADOW: Kingcombe Meadows, near Toller Porcorum, near Maiden Newton

The countryside as it used to be: grassland filled with wildflowers and butterflies, ancient hedges, streams, ponds, green lanes and woods almost untouched by artificial fertilisers or pesticides and teeming with wildlife. There are two marked circular trails to follow. Park at the Dorset Wildlife Trust’s visitor centre.

WAY UP HIGH: Golden Cap, near Seatown

Feel on top of the world (well, Dorset) with a picnic at the highest point (191m above sea level) on the South Coast, with 356 degree views over the Dorset countryside and the Jurassic Coast; Chesil Beach and the Isle of Portland in one direction and Lyme Bay in the other. Choose your route up: park at Stonebarrow and walk along two miles along the coast; at Langdon Hills for a shorter walk through woodland or up from Seatown, where – very handily – there is an excellent pub, The Anchor Inn.

ON THE TOP OF A GORGE: Cheddar Gorge, Cheddar

Play spot the goat in Britain’s largest and most spectacular gorge (three miles long and 400 feet deep). Park in one of the car parks along the road through the gorge or in Cheddar itself and walk up through wooded trails to picnic at the top with views across the Somerset Levels and the limestone crags and pinnacles all around.

ON AN ISLAND: Brownsea Island, near Poole

Channel the Famous Five by hopping on the ferry from Sandbanks or Poole to this National Trust-owned island (the inspiration for Enid Blyton’s Whispering Island). There are views across to the Purbeck Hills, soft sand beaches and a plethora of wildlife including red squirrels, Sika deers, all sorts of birds, plus trails, a natural play area and lots of picnic spots.

IN THE CITY: Sydney Gardens, Bath

Come for picnics and more in the tranquil Georgian pleasure gardens in the centre of Bath. Dating from 1795 (Jane Austen used to come here), the gardens include formal flower gardens, parkland, woodland, walks by the Kennet & Avon canal, playground, tennis and petanque courts, neo-classical buildings, white Chinoiserie bridges and former Georgian party house, the Holburne Museum.

WITH THE GHOST OF KING ARTHUR: Cadbury Castle, South Cadbury

The steepish climb up past the ramparts to the flat top of this Bronze and Iron Age hill fort is well worth the spectacular views of the Somerset countryside all around. It’s been associated with King Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table since medieval times. Mystical, man. Parking in the village near to the Camelot pub.

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