With its rolling hills, stunning prehistoric coastline and ancient ruins, the Dorset countryside is a spectacular setting for a picnic. In a county that’s known for its unspoilt natural beauty, the outdoor dining options are vast. Luckily, The Acorn Inn and Summer Lodge Country House Hotel are within easy reach of the area’s most perfect picnic spots and are delighted to provide guests with delicious picnic hampers. Whether you throw down your picnic rug by a centuries-old castle, or on a tiny island nature reserve, here is our pick of the best places for a picnic in Dorset.
Kingcombe Meadows Nature Reserve
Immerse yourself in Dorset’s natural beauty at nearby Kingcombe Meadows Nature Reserve. The reserve is a working farm that’s run without the use of any artificial fertilizers or pesticides and grazed by flocks of cattle. Expect wildflower meadows only interrupted by ponds, ancient lanes and woodland. As you enjoy your picnic, keep a look out for the reserve’s wildlife, from ringlet butterflies to dippers.
Summer Lodge Country House Hotel
Enjoy the great, green outdoors without having to leave the hotel by throwing down a picnic rug in Summer Lodge’s wonderful gardens. The peaceful and well-maintained gardens include wide green lawns, a kitchen garden, croquet lawn and tennis court. On a hot day, there’s nothing nicer than relaxing in one of the garden’s many shady nooks.
An unspoilt island in Poole Harbour, Brownsea is a wildlife haven and is easily accessed from the mainland by a ferry than runs every half an hour. This mile-long stretch of land combines peaceful woodland with coastline and is a habitat for animals like Sika deer and red squirrels, as well as kingfishers and oystercatchers. It’s easy to find a picnic spot with a great view as Brownsea looks out onto the Purbeck Hills and famous Dorset landmark, Old Harry Rocks. There are also plenty of family friendly activities that take place here, from a mini-beast safari to fungi foraging.
The location that inspired author Enid Blyton, follow in the footsteps of the Famous Five and tuck into a picnic at Corfe Castle. Dating back 1000 years, the Castle has served as both a royal palace and a fortress, and it’s easy to while away the time admiring what was King John’s gloriette, or learning about the history embedded in these ruins. Take time to choose a picnic spot on the grassy hill near the inner walls and savour the fantastic views across the surrounding countryside.
This untouched bay is a prime location for rock pooling and fossil hunting, and it also happens to be the perfect place for a picnic. The water is ideal for paddling and is part of the Marine Wildlife Reserve, meaning you’re likely to spot plenty of sea anemones, crabs and small fish. After lunch, take a walk along the Jurassic coast towards clifftop Clavell Tower, originally built as an observatory and folly in 1830.
Request a picnic lunch ahead of time at The Acorn Inn and Summer Lodge Country House Hotel, Restaurant & Spa and enjoy traditional wicker hamper filled with all the trimmings as well as cutlery, plates and glassware.
Image Credits: Lead image © iStock/Cecilie_Arcurs. Butterfly in a flower meadow © iStock/borchee. Summer Lodge garden © Red Carnation Hotels. Brownsea Island © iStock/suerob. Corfe Castle © iStock/JoeGough. Kimmeridge Bay © iStock/JulieanneBirch.