The Quorn Perfect Picnic Index
Who doesn’t love a trip to the park for a picnic? The weather is temperamental at the best of times, so when the sun shines it’s smart to make the most of it – relaxing, socialising and, perhaps best of all, eating outdoors.
Enjoying a meal in the sun has never been so easy and we’re constantly on the search for the best picnic spots.
Time spent outdoors is time well spent, regardless of whether you have a Quorn Cocktail Sausage in hand or not. Likewise, we could all do with a little extra socialising, and there are few ways better than to catch up with friends and family than a picnic. Picnics are flexible too – there’s no set menu, barring what you can bring outside, and almost all the best parks in England have free entry.
In pursuit of the perfect outdoor meal, we’ve collated a list of the best places for picnics across England. From South Shields to Sussex, we’ve scoured the country for the best spots to put down your blanket and enjoy some al fresco dining.
We’ve taken into account accessibility, family friendliness, and parking so you can focus on the important stuff. Like what to include in your sandwiches.
How did we pick our parks?
We started by looking at individual regions and shortlisted the most popular parks in each. To help whittle them down to the best picnic spots we then considered the following:
• How budget-friendly the park is
• How child-friendly the park is
• Accessibility of the park
• Public transport links to the park
• Onsite parking availability
• Onsite toilet facilities availability
We calculated a score based on the above and ranked each park accordingly. We’ve done the hard work, so dust off your picnic blanket, pack your sandwiches, and pick the best picnic spot nearest to you!
Roundhay Park – Leeds, West Yorkshire
One of the largest parks in Europe, let alone the UK, Leeds’ very own Roundhay Park is a popular spot for visitors and locals alike. Stretching over more than 700 acres of grass, woodland and lake, this Leeds park has plenty to keep visitors of all ages entertained. Providing ample parking room if you come by car but also directly linked to the city centre by regular transport, if you’re in Leeds, you’re never too far from Roundhay.
Valley Gardens – Harrogate, North Yorkshire
Not too far from Roundhay Park and Leeds is the town of Harrogate, found in the heart of Yorkshire. Here you’ll discover Valley Gardens, an English Heritage Grade II listed garden. Situated near the centre of the town, Valley Gardens is a Harrogate park that’s easy to find. For the kids there’s a play area and paddling pool. But for a more relaxing experience, consider exploring the seasonal flower and herbaceous beds. While this may be one of the smaller parks on the list, it’s certainly one of the most charming, and remains one of the best picnic spots in Yorkshire.
Rushcliffe Country Park – Rushcliffe, Nottinghamshire
This countryside park can be found less than a mile south of Ruddington. Perfect for those looking for a burst of nature and remoteness, you can meander through the 8 kilometres of pathways when searching for that hidden picnic spot away from the crowds. Bursting with wild meadows, grassland and woodland, keep your eyes peeled for birds, bees and natural beauty everywhere you look.
Alexandra Park – Hastings, East Sussex
A short walk from the hustle and bustle of Hastings town centre, Alexandra Park is a beautifully kept green space that’s perfect for a picnic. Expect well-maintained paths, clean toilets and a spacious play area. You can even visit the park’s café for a post-picnic ice-cream! Regardless of the season, this wonderful park can be the ideal location for a picnic.
Druridge Bay Country Park – Morpeth, Newcastle
Found on the Northumberland coast, Druridge Bay Country Park is rich in beauty. Not only is the park a brilliant attraction but its proximity to the coast makes it a real double whammy. Any keen birders are recommended to pack a pair of binoculars among their sandwiches, as this park is a haven for feathered friends of all shapes and sizes.
Mary Stevens Park – Dudley, Birmingham
Not everyone gets a park named after them. But if you were the wife of a Midlands industrialist in the 1930s you had a pretty good chance. Today, Mary Stevens Park is a popular spot and home to a handful of historical features. With loads of room for an impromptu kickabout or just to stretch your legs, you won’t need to worry about reserving a space to enjoy your lunch in this park in Birmingham.
Holywells Park – Ipswich, Suffolk
Like many of the parks open today, Holywells Park was once the playground of the royals and the wealthy. Fortunately, since the 20th Century, Holywells Park has been the playground of, well, anyone who comes to visit! A large sprawling space close to the beautiful Ipswich waterfront, you can find a café, a large child-friendly play area and even a walled garden to explore in this picnic spot.
Jesmond Dene – Newcastle
Exploring Jesmond Dene can feel like you’re stepping back in time to ancient woodlands and untouched green spaces. Snaking its way along the Ouseburn River, Jesmond Dene is one of Newcastle’s best parks and is always filled with wildlife and activity. If you’re searching for a picnic place with water nearby, look no further.
South and North Marine Parks – South Shields, Newcastle
The Marine Parks of South Shields are separated by a road but could easily be considered one big park. Another splash of greenery only a stone’s throw from the sea, this park is situated in a family-friendly hub of activity. Whether you’re enjoying the beach front or the Ocean Beach Pleasure Park, the Marine Parks provide the perfect opportunity to enjoy a picnic and keep the sand out of your sandwiches.
Yorkshire Sculpture Park – Wakefield, West Yorkshire
A favourite among walkers, art buffs and, of course, picnickers, Yorkshire Sculpture Park is unlike anywhere else. YSP is possibly the only place where you can polish off a packet of Quorn Picnic Eggs while sitting next to a Henry Moore sculpture without being asked to leave. With rolling hills, wide open spaces and a treasure trove of art, an outdoor lunch rarely offers such a spectacular view. True, it may be the only park on our list that requires an entry fee (and only then if you’re over 25), but it’s well worth the price and a visit you won’t regret.
You can view all of our top ten parks in a handy infographic here.
Packing your picnic
So, you’ve decided where to have a picnic, you’ve checked the weather and you’ve packed your blanket. But what do you eat? You might opt for the ultra-practical on-the-go meal of two slices of bread with something in between. But you might want something a little more impressive. Maybe you’re celebrating an occasion that calls for a platter of fresh veg, beautifully arranged fruit and home-baked snacks.
Whatever your tastes, preferences, or diet, Quorn can help you build that perfect picnic.
What to pack
The great thing about the picnic is that you can tailor it to your needs. If you’re on a bike ride and you’re planning to have a picnic midway through the day, a healthy pasta dish with Quorn Smoky Ham can be a delicious way to pack in some carbs and protein. Alternatively, a well filled wrap is a nicely packable meal that will survive the lumps and bumps of any cycle path.
Or if you’re attending a family get-together and want to show off your baking skills, why not create some vegan mini pies, spicy harissa rolls or even a batch of vegetarian scotch eggs?
Regardless of what you decide to bring on your picnic, the cost of a packed lunch can be significantly cheaper than paying for pre-made food. The average price of a meal to go comes to £6.07, a picnic or a pre-prepared lunch will cost you only £2.08 on average – putting £4 in your pocket and a delightful meal on your plate.*
Whatever your plans, we’ve put together a short checklist you can adjust, expand or reduce to suit your perfect picnic:
The number of people attending your picnic will determine how much food you’ll want to bring. Also, if you’re going to be carrying your food around in a backpack all day, a showstopping pie might be out of the question. However, impressive sandwiches are always a crowd pleaser. Do away with limp lettuce, stale bread and uninspired fillings, and try our vegetarian stuffed picnic loaf, or create the ultimate meat-free ham sandwich.
Arguably the best part of the picnic are the nibbles, antipasti, and bite-sized bits. Think things like Quorn Mini Sausage Rolls or Garlic and Herb Bites. Picnic classics like Cocktail Sausages and Picnic Eggs always go down a treat.
You can also make your own – mini quiches or even bruschetta can be whipped up at home before bringing them to the park. Think about the rest of your picnic and what would complement everything else on offer.
Whether it’s one big cake or an assemble of tray baked goods, there’s no better way to round off a good picnic than with something sweet. Sure, you could opt for some fruit, but where’s the fun in that? Remember that whatever you bring, you’ll have to be able to carry it and include any potential plates, forks and knives. Consider pre-cutting any cakes, or picking foods that are individually wrapped.
Just as essential as any food you bring along, you’re going to need something to drink on your picnic. What you bring is up to you. Fresh lemonade is a great option for the summer heat, fizzy drinks can make a nice treat, and fresh juice can pair well with almost anything. If it’s really sunny, remember to drink plenty of fluids if you’re going to spend a lot of time outdoors.
One of the best things about a picnic is that you can tailor it to any budget and location. We’ve picked out some of the best parks for you to explore, but you might have some favourite spots closer to you. If you’re looking for the food inspiration for your next outing, we’ve got a fantastic collection of picnic recipes for you to try.
*Source: Kantar Lunchtime Insights