My Top 5 Picnic Spots in Notts

It’s been soooo sunny in Nottingham! But don’t moan too much about this mini heatwave we are having, give it a couple of days and no doubt we’ll be back to the ‘is it/isn’t it going to rain’ summer lottery that’ll have you in and out more than the ockey cockey as you gamble on how long you can leave the washing on the line.

It’s only the beginning of summer, so hopefully there are lots more ‘perfect weather’ days to come. Last weekend we headed out for a picnic in the park – a great way of getting out of the house for the day with minimal cost and if you’ve got kids then there’s lots of open space and fresh air to tire them out. Here’s my top 5 picnic spots in Notts:

Colwick Country Park 

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Cost of entry: Free on foot/bike. There is a barrier charge for cars of £2 – take change.

Parking: Yes, there are four car parks

Toilets: Yes

Children’s playground? Yes

Ten minutes out of town and up the Colwick Loop road lies the hidden gem that is Colwick Country Park. I only went for the first time a few months ago and I was shocked that such a vast and pretty area was hidden just off of a main road.

With a marina, adventure centre and two lakes to congregate around, it’s a perfect day out whatever you’re into. We tend to go on our bikes and explore the paths through the woodland areas, but there are plenty of gentle walking routes and open spaces for picnicing. I have also spotted a couple of designated BBQ areas.

If you go, take the time to walk past the marina and imposing Home Sluices and keep an eye out for Tern Island on Colwick Lake. All pretty impressive sights and a great talking point with the little ones.

If you’re feeling a bit posh, you can also nip for afternoon tea at the Colwick Hall Hotel. With it’s picturesque gardens and beautiful exterior the old homestead of the Byron’s, before they upped sticks and moved to Newstead Abbey, is definitely worth a visit. Don’t forget to explore the ruins of St John’s church next door, beautiful, if a bit errie and some welcome shade on hot days.

Newstead Abbey

Photo: Nottingham City Council

Opening times: Grounds 10 – 4pm – 7 days a week

House 12 – 4pm weekends and 12 – 4pm daily throughout school holidays and some bank holidays

Cost of entry: £1 on foot or bicycle

Parking: £6 per car

There is an additional cost to visit the house (£8 adults/ £6 children) and other costs may apply for special events

Toilets: Yes

Children’s playground? Yes

If you’re based in Mansfield or other areas of North Notts then Newstead Abbey is a must visit. It’s always been a key landmark in my childhood because my grandparents were based in Ravenshead. When I saw the gates I knew we were nearly there! It’s right on the main bus route between Mansfield and Notts, so easy to get to if you don’t have your own transport.

The gardens are beautiful and entry is included in the parking/admission charge. The lake is a great spot to picnic and you’re more than likely going to run into a peacock or two when you’re there. The Abbey’s website lists all the brill things you can see in the gardens so no need for me to repeat them, but definitely check out the rose garden and Boatswain’s monument a pretty elaborate memorial for Byron’s beloved four-legged friend!

Clumber Park

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Opening times: Tends to be 10am – 5pm in the week and 10am – 6pm weekends but times vary so check the website

Cost of entry: £3.50 adults / £1.75 children. Family discounted tickets available and free entry for National Trust members.

Parking: Parking charges may apply

Toilets: Yes

Children’s playground? Yes, near main visitor facilities

Grade 1 listed and over 3,500 acres of pure countryside lovelieness, Clumber Park is, in my opinion, well worth the drive from the city. The facilities are too numerous to list, but I would really recommend hiring out a bike from the park’s Cycle Hire Centre and setting off on you’re own adventure.

There are designated BBQ areas if you want to cook hot food, otherwise there’s numerous spots for picnicing and due to it’s size finding your own little private corner of the park to enjoy your feast is pretty easy.

I would really recommend seeing the Long Range glasshouse while you’re there or take a trail that leads you past Clumber Bridge.

Wollaton Hall

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Opening times: Hall – 10 – 5pm, 7 days a week throughout summer.

Ground opening times vary check the website for details.

Cost of entry: Free on foot or bicycle

Parking: £4 per car for all day parking, take change.

Toilets: Yes

Children’s playground? Yes

Wollaton Hall is without doubt one of the best free attractions in Notts (by this I mean entry to the house and grounds are free if you’re on foot, there is a charge for parking). Home to the oldest iron glasshouse in Europe and the filming location for Wayne Manor in the Dark Knight Trilogy, it’s already famous far beyond Nottinghamshire.

Throughout the summer, there are a range of outdoor theatre performances in the grounds which are perfect for picnicing and getting your culture fix at the same time. Around 200 deer roam the park and are a lovely subject for photographs and add to the oldy worldy feel of the grounds. Remember that during summer is calving time for the deer so admire them from afar.

The hall is situated on a hill providing an amazing view over the surrounding grounds and the formal gardens are a great spot for chilling out and taking a break from the rush of everyday life. There’s a nice courtyard with a cafe where you’ll also find Nottingham Industrial Museum if you fancy a wander around (there is an entry charge).

Bridgford Park

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Cost of entry: Free

Parking: Yes the designated car park is pay and display but there is free on street parking in the surrounding area (time limits apply) 

Toilets: Yes (20p charge)

Children’s playground? Yes

If you don’t want to go too far away from civilisation, then my favourite ‘urban’ park is the Victorian Bridgford Park, located just off Central Avenue. The playground there is really popular with families and there are lots of trees, so plenty of shady areas if you need to cool down.

With West Bridgford’s main shopping area just a stone’s throw away, you don’t even have to pack your own picnic. Pick a Saturday when the local farmer’s market is on and you can pick up artisan bread, locally produced butter and a selection of cakes and macarons depending on who’s selling their wares!

Have fun picnicing and keep any eye on the blog for new recipes you can try out to take with you!