With soaring temperatures and wall-to-wall blue skies, it’s time to enjoy the great outdoors with friends and family. The old Oxford favourites – Port Meadow, University Parks, Christ Church Meadow, punting on the Cherwell; these are all fine, but if you're looking for something different - perhaps with picturesque countryside views - then here are five of our favourite places to picnic further afield from Oxford.
Half an hour out of central Oxford to the west of Witney, the picturesque ruins of Minster Lovell Hall, a 15th century Oxfordshire manor house, provides an impressive backdrop to a lazy summer afternoon. Lying beautiful in a rural setting beside the River Windrush, enjoy a picnic by the river and admire the fish that can be seen clearly in the crystal clear waters. Or take a walk through the meadows by the river. From the Hall, take the footpath through the gate as though you are going to view the dovecote.
Harcourt Arboretum, in the village of Nuneham Courtenay, has been part of the University of Oxford since 1947. Its 130 acres has the best collection of trees in Oxfordshire, including some of the oldest redwoods in Britain. Seasonal highlights include wildflower meadows, rhododendrons, and bluebell woods. There is a charge to visit the arboretum. Bring a picnic and enjoy a day in nature! There’s lots of space to run around and exciting habitats to explore. Ask at the ticket office to borrow a trail, spotter sheet or Explorer Backpack.
3. Greys Court
The National Trust's Greys Court is a Tudor country house and garden near Henley-on-Thames in Oxfordshire. This 16th-century mansion boasts beautiful walled gardens and an expansive estate, perfect for walking and enjoying the views of the rolling Chiltern Hills. There are loads of places to picnic at Grey’s Court during the summer months and plenty of activities to keep the kids learning and exploring. Grey’s court is approximately 45 minutes (25 miles) drive from Oxford city centre.
Shotover Country Park in Headington is another great picnic spot for nature lovers and mini adventurers alike. Due to its diverse habitats, most of the park is a Site of Specific Interest, making it perfect for exploring and dog walking. Shotover Country Park offers everyone a chance to enjoy a place of beauty and history right on the edge of Oxford. There are spectacular views of south Oxfordshire the top of Shotover Hill – it’s well worth the walk. Shotover is open to everyone to enjoy throughout the year free of charge and is ideal for a summer picnic.
5. Coleshill Village
The rolling countryside of West Oxfordshire is ideal for walking and picnics. Pick a quiet spot to lay down the rug. Bring your hamper and enjoy a traditional picnic in the parkland. Alternatively, why not take a stroll around Coleshill and Buscot villages - two very picturesque English villages with their surrounding fields, woodland, water meadow, working farms and parkland. The National Trust Buscot and Coleshill Estates, and Buscot Park are nearby.