Royal Victoria Park is a flowery spot to while away a few fragrant hours. When a young Queen Victoria opened it in 1830 she was so impressed she renamed it the “Royal” Victoria Park. We’re impressed too, especially by the ornate Botanic Gardens, the chirping aviary and all those multi-coloured hot air balloons bobbing up and down overhead (flights take off from the park every day). And if you’re wondering about the ducks, there are plenty waddling around waiting to be fed a bit of your Bath bun.
Tyne Riverside Country Park is packed with things to do with the family. Sat on the banks of the River Tyne and cut through by the Hadrian’s Wall Path National Trail, this green spot sees a lot of canoeing, orienteering and cycling action. Or you could just simply lie back on the bank and soak up the views of the meadows, chalk grassland and woodlands. Who would have thought all this was a short train ride from toon!
Sefton Park is an unexpected and rather romantic oasis. Just a few miles from the centre of Liverpool, it’s perfect for a loved-up picnic. There are also plenty of pretty sites to take in on a hand-in-hand stroll. You’ll find a grade II listed handsome Victorian glasshouse, a pretty Eros fountain, a man-made grotto, and a primary-coloured bandstand said to be the inspiration for The Beatles’ Sgt Peppers Lonely Heart Club Band.
Often described as the lungs of London, Richmond Park is the capital’s largest green space and also one of the oldest. Hidden in its centre is the Isabella Plantation, an ornamental woodland filled with azaleas, ferns, chestnut trees and a still pond cuddled by mounds of flowers. Along with the whimsical woodlands, you’ll find plenty of majestic fallow and red deer first welcomed to the vast wooded area of south-west London by Charles I.
If you’re thinking about some picnic action in this part of the world, it’s got to be on the banks of Lake Windermere. And at Fell Foot Park, you can combine this with sweeping Victorian lawns and an adventure playground (ideal for when the kids get restless). You just can’t beat a good al fresco meal of pink lemonade, pork pies and unforgettable views.
An exceptional English garden inspired by an exceptional English writer: Rudyard Kipling. Enclosed by a flint wall, Kipling Park has a real secret garden feel to it. The park was originally the grounds of ‘The Elms’, the country house that Rudyard Kipling lived in for five years. Nowadays, the park is a great spot for a game of croquet or a relaxing picnic among the rose-studded bushes and woodland gardens.
Put simply, Windsor Great Park is a green space fit for a king. With its five kilometre tree-lined Long Walk leading to the largest inhabited castle in the world, this park is majestic with a capital ‘M’. And we think there’s no better way to experience it than clip-clopping along in a horse-drawn carriage. Muse over frolicking deer, 500-year-old oak trees and miles of beautiful Berkshire countryside. If only you had your own palace to retire to afterwards…
South of Brunel’s Clifton Suspension Bridge, Leigh Woods is perfect for a mini escape from bustling Bristol. Meander through miles of ancient woodland alive with wild flowers, birds, butterflies, towering Giant Redwoods and the kind of fungi that belongs in fairy tales. We particularly love the walk from beech tree-lined Coronation Avenue up to Paradise Bottom for stunning views across the Avon Gorge.
Sat on the west bank of the dainty River Cherwell, University Parks is a signature English grassy spot. There are tweeting robins, lavender-laden flower beds, a cricket pavilion, oaks, crab-apple trees and a croquet lawn. Oh, and not forgetting the dinosaurs and the famous Oxford dodo (the Oxford University Museum of Natural History sits in the park). The only thing missing from this perfect park equation is a gingham blanket, a jug of Pimm’s and some polite heckling at the umpire.
World-famous art in rich green surroundings, and it’s free. The Yorkshire Sculpture Park is made up of 500 acres of 18th-century parkland decorated with the works of Henry Moore, Turner Prize winner Martin Creed and many others. It’s hard not to feel inspired as you meet masterpiece after masterpiece, each with its own personality. And if there’s rain in the air don’t worry; there are four indoor galleries too.
Check out their site for more inspiration on where to go and what to see: www.enjoyengland.org