National Picnic Week: Top Picnic Spots around Northumberland & Scottish Borders

Published on 1 Jun
8 min read

National Picnic Week takes place from 19th – 27th June 2021 this year, so what better way to celebrate than by grabbing your picnic baskets and blankets and heading outdoors. Lockdown has created a new breed of ‘staycationers’ & it doesn’t get much better than discovering Northumberland & the Scottish Borders!

Picnic spot in woodland
Picnic in the great outdoors across Northumberland and the Scottish Borders this summer!

National Picnic Week aims to provide people with the opportunity to get together and dine outside. There are plenty of amazing picnic locations across the Scottish Borders and Northumberland, from peaceful beaches to dramatic clifftop views, back-to-nature woodland walks, impressive country estates and gardens as well as hidden gems.

Top Picnic Tips

Picnicking can be fun when done on a whim but it can really be a day-long event if well prepared in advance. Read our top 3 tips!

Be Prepared:

Make sure you’re prepared with essentials including cutlery, wet wipes, a picnic blanket and water as well as the picnic treats! Remember to check the weather too! It’s also handy to have a picnic blanket, sun cream and insect repellent too.


Bring traditional outdoor games such as a ball or frisbee or even relax with a book. A picnic is a great opportunity to enjoy pastimes from days gone by.

Tidy Up:

Remember to tidy away everything you’ve brought. Food wrappings should be binned and leftovers should be taken away. Northumberland has a campaign running at the moment to keep it beautiful. The slogan Live it. Love it. Leave it Unspoilt ensures that our beautiful county is kept as nature intended & everyone can enjoy it.

Picnic Spots in Northumberland

Whether you’re a resident or a visitor, here are some top spots to discover in Northumberland as well as some delicious local picnic treats that we recommend!

For an active picnic: Kielder

Kielder Water and Forest Park is the perfect location for an active picnic. Explore the park, day or night, and discover something new. The lake is Northern Europe’s largest man-made lake and the forest is also England’s largest forest.  There are many planned activities during the year for all ages from fishing, star gazing and mountain biking.

Kielder Water
Kielder Forest, Lake & Park is a top place for visitors in Northumberland

Whether you’re there for the day or holidaying, Kielder is definitely a fun place to have a picnic.

Local Picnic Treat

Kielder Park is only 30 miles from Hexham. Stock up on some fantastic picnic treats from producers in Hexham such as game scotch eggs from Hadrian’s Game Larder and ginger beer from Fentimans.

scotch eggs
Indulge in delicious game scotch eggs from Hadrian’s Game Larder

On a country estate: Cragside

Cragside is a beautiful Victorian house and gardens situated just outside of Rothbury. It was voted ‘Britain’s Best Garden’ in 2016 and never fails to impress its visitors. The house is world-famous as it was the first house in the world to be powered by hydroelectricity.

The most popular time to visit Cragside is at the beginning of June to see its impressive rhododendron blooms.

Enjoy a fantastic walk around Cragside gardens before your picnic.

There are plenty of picnicking spots across the grounds including in front of a lake near the car park and also near the children’s play area. You could easily spend the whole day here as there is plenty to see and do. If you’re a National Trust supporter, you can free entry & parking too!

Local Picnic Treat

Why not try some award-winning sausages, including the Cragside Cracker, from Rothbury Family Butchers with some fresh rolls from Greenwell Bakery.

Rothbury Family Butcher sausages
Award-winning sausages from Rothbury Family Butchers

For peace: Alnmouth Beach

An often overlooked beach and village compared to its neighbours such as Bamburgh and Alnwick, but Alnmouth Beach is one where you can indulge in peace and quiet and unspoilt sands, perfect for a lazy day picnic.

The beach is dog-friendly and there are parking spaces close by too.

Local Picnic Treat

Stop in Alnwick before you get to Alnmouth for some delicious local treats including some delicious fruit vinegar dressing for your salads from The Fruit Kitchen and tea from Bari Tea.

Tea filters
Brew on the go with tea filters from Bari Tea

For an island escape: Holy Island

Fancy a picnic on an ancient island? Then why not visit the tidal island Lindisfarne. With a dramatic history of monks, Christianity and raiding Vikings, the island isn’t as tranquil as you’d be led to believe.

View from hilltop near Lindisfarne Castle
Enjoy the island life on Lindisfarne.

Walk around the island and see the fishing boats, the ruins of Lindisfarne Priory and walk up to Lindisfarne Castle to work up an appetite. The island has plenty of great picnic spots and benches dotted around.

Local Picnic Treat

Pop into the visitor centre and grab some Lindisfarne Mead or visit Pilgrim’s cafe and perk up with some island-roasted coffee.

Roasting coffee beans
Try some locally roasted island coffee from Pilgrims

For family fun: Alnwick Gardens

There is much to see and do at Alnwick Gardens and something for all the family. Whether you’re visiting the castle or the gardens, there are plenty of activities and seating areas to enjoy your picnic.

Whilst in Alnwick, enjoy a stroll through the town, and stock up on some delicious Northumbrian food and drink for your picnic.

Local Picnic Treat

Fill your basket with goodies from Turnbull’s butchers which boasts local meats as well as pies and deli foods.

Alnwick caste
Enjoy a day out at Alnwick Castle & Gardens

Picnic Spots in Scottish Borders

Enjoy rugged landscapes, a tipple or two and hearty food from across the Scottish Borders.

An ethereal feel: St Mary’s Loch

The mystical Brig-o-Doon feel at St Mary’s Loch is the perfect spot to relax and enjoy a picnic. Situated in the Yarrow Valley, not far from Selkirk, the loch sits in the heart of the Scottish Borders and captures the beauty of the undisturbed countryside. The loch is not far from the Southern Upland Walk, so it’s a great rest stop after a busy day walking.

Local Picnic Treat

Perk up for a day walking with some delicious locally roasted coffee from Three Hills Coffee in Selkirk.

coffee art
Perk up with coffee from Three Hills Coffee

For drama: Fast Castle

Fast Castle is an ancient, protected monument alongside the south-east Scottish Borders coast. The ruins lead to a steep drop off the cliffs into the North Sea. The castle saw much action and violence between the Middle Ages right up to the Jacobean times until it was just a ruin. The castle is not far from St Abb’s Head and nature reserve.

bench with sea and cliff view
Find a bench with a cliff-top view.

There is parking nearby but the castle is only accessible by walking. The path isn’t suitable for anyone with accessibility issues.  Enjoy the bracing breeze from the North Sea as you enjoy a well-deserved picnic break.

Local Picnic Treat

Fast Castle isn’t far from Coldingham so visit Peter Walker butcher‘s shop for a Scotch Pie to keep you going and finish off with some Belgian chocolate dipped cinder toffee from Kiki’s Chocolates.

Delicious homemade pies from Peter Walker Butchers

Georgian extravagance: Mellerstain House

Not far from Gordon, is Mellerstain House, a great example of both William Adam’s and his son Robert Adam, architecture. There are many examples of art and furnishings from the 18th century when it was built.

With beautiful views of the Cheviot Hills, and plenty of space and a play area for children, this is a great location for a picnic. Mellerstain is open from Friday till Monday till 5 pm.

Local Picnic Treat

Another prominent place in Gordon is Hardiesmill & Tombuie Charcuterie. Enjoy some ethically-raised charcuterie to create a deluxe picnic worthy of a Georgian aristocrat.

Charcuterie meats
Add charcuterie to your list of picnic treats

Discover a legend: St Ronan’s Well

Not far from Peebles, in Innerleithen, is St Ronan’s Well, which was built as a retreat for visitors to the spa and fresh spring water. There is a visitor centre worth visiting which houses the history of the local area as well as temporary exhibitions. The well is named after a Christian pilgrim, St Ronan, who visited the area on his journey up the River Tweed. This location also inspired Sir Walter Scott and James Hogg.

At St Ronan’s Well, there is a pavilion area with seating and a beautiful garden with an ornamental pond and a herb garden. While in the area, Traquair House is definitely worth a visit!

Local Picnic Treat

Of course, try the refreshing spa water at the well, but also stop by the Cocoa Black patisserie shop for some exquisite chocolate treats.

opening of chocolate school
Pick up some chocolate from Chocolate Master Ruth Hinks of Cocoa Black

For garden enthusiasts: Monteviot House & Gardens

Located near Jedburgh, this beautiful house has been in the Kerr family since the 16th century and is well-known for its fantastic gardens set amongst the Scottish Border hills and views of the River Teviot.

There are 11 separate gardens including the Japanese-inspired Water Garden, with fantastic water features and The Garden of Persistent Imagination, the latest garden to be created on the grounds, which is enough to spark curiosity in anyone’s mind.

The garden is open between April and October from 12 pm – 5 pm and the house opens only for July between 12 pm and 5 pm.

Local Picnic Treat

Relish the afternoon in beauty with some locally-brewed ales from Born in the Borders, not far from Jedburgh.

Local ale stall
Enjoy local ale from Born in the Borders

Great Local Picnic Foods

These locally made food and drink products would also make fantastic additions to any picnic!

The 4 varieties by Left Field: yunnan black, sencha green, oolong and darjeeling
Left Field Kombucha varieties: there’s one to suit any palate!
Apple juice
Apple Juice from Laprig Valley is a refreshing option for any picnic, especially with local cheese.
Smoked cheese board
Enjoy smoked cheese from Northumberland Cheese Co.
  • Chocolate Dipped Marshmallows from Cocoature

Picnic in Style

Give people serious food envy when you open your hampers and reveal the locally produced goodies inside.

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