Pack a picnic

Picnic Spots Notts

Our Girl About Notts reporter, Gemma-Louise King, brings you neighbourhood know-how and a roundup of places, people and things to look out for, with of course the 'Made' sparkle. In this edition she visits her top five family picnic spots…
 |  Gemma-Louise King  |  Made News

Nottinghamshire is blessed with a huge number of outdoor spaces and recreational areas, so picking a Top Five has been quite a challenge. After much deliberation, and admittedly a lot of food in the process (!), I narrowed it down to the following areas; Worksop, Newark, Retford, Nottingham and Mansfield. 

There are countless family attractions across our county, and there are many picnic sites, particularly at historical houses and some of the larger, known country parks and recreational spaces, so I have chosen some that may not be perhaps spring first to mind when choosing a picnic spot.

We all look for something that little different when we are choosing somewhere, but parking, WC and disabled facilities, children’s play space, and dog friendly signs tend to be common ground, regardless of whether you are looking for something in a town centre or a little further afield.


Newark Castle & Gardens
(Newark, NG24 1BN)

Having lived in Newark once for a while, I was already familiar with the castle and gardens, and have been to several outdoor events there. I’d never taken a picnic there before though and so it was lovely to enjoy the space in a different way.

The gardens are fairly small but are beautifully maintained and are bordered by the remaining walls of the castle, which was partially destroyed in 1646 at the end of the Civil War. The castle has stood proudly on the banks of the River Trent for nearly 900 years. 

Although, it is much smaller than the other parks and does not have family recreational facilities it offers a delightful space to enjoy your picnic and a stunning backdrop for your photos. An unusual setting. The castle is awe-inspiring for little ones, and you can easily tie your day in with as visit to the Civil War museum also, so that the kids can discover and engage with just how significant Newark has been historically. 

There are WC facilities onsite and the gardens are so centrally located in Newark that you are close to cafés and supermarkets in less than a couple of minutes’ walk. 

Parking around Newark is ample and both Waitrose and Morrison’s are close to the castle, along with parking available at the council-run castle car park.

I highly recommend the gardens as somewhere to just relax, take in the historical significance and admire the views over the river Trent. Afternoons and evenings often see the bandstand and entire gardens play host to a performance or event, so it is worth seeing what is on in advance and making a real occasion of your picnic.

Also, it is a great place for wheelchair users as the paths have been created specifically with this in mind.

Newark Castle and Gardens may not spring to mind for a picnic due to its size, but it really is an arresting setting for you to enjoy with your friends or family for a few hours.


Langold Country Park
(Worksop, S81 9NW)

Now this little gem (although not little at all!) is located just five miles north of Worksop in the village of Langold. The site covers an area of 300 acres of parkland and is designated as a Local Nature Reserve, with the park linking into Dyscarr Wood which the Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) recognised as one of the best examples of a limestone ash-wych elm wood in Nottinghamshire. 

I’d heard good things about the park but was really pleasantly surprised with how great it is. From woodlands to butterfly meadows and grassed areas and a large fishing lake it really is beautiful, and you could spend several hours walking around different paths, exploring and admiring the abundant wildlife. It also has a great children’s play area and water splash park, so the kids will be very happy.

It’s pretty easy to access, too, with two main car parks, off A60 Doncaster Road and off the end of Church Street. I had been tipped off to use the Church Street entrance as it is nearer to the lake and water splash park and children’s play area. Although I actually ended up exploring for a while before returning to the perimeter of the lake near to a lovely band stand and setting up my picnic blanket and hamper. Gorgeous. 

Peaceful and picturesque but with a sense that you could easily return to the main area and enjoy the family facilities if you needed to. There is a café and kiosk in case you have forgotten anything in the hamper and WC facilities. I also found the paths to be wide, mostly flat, and easily accessible. You can choose to stay close to the car park and children’s areas with your picnics or walk further round to admire the natural landscapes. I will definitely be returning with my bike as it looks fantastic for family cycling. 

If you fancy bringing a kite or football, there is a football pitch for under 12s and plenty of open green space. There is also a skate park for kids to enjoy.

Whilst out walking the park links also to other open public footpaths and bridleways and has an approved Dog’s Trust dog walking route, so be sure to bring your dogs along also.

I didn’t have children with me on the picnic, but I spent some time near the Sea Scoundrel water play area, and it looked terrific fun for the little ones. It has a number of interactive play zones over 45 metres, including a pirate ship, jet sprays and slides. It does operate seasonally though so check before visit but currently it is open from 10.00am until 6.00pm

I loved Langold. You could spend hours here walking, cycling, playing with the kids, and enjoying your food and drink. Plus, it is easily accessible from the car park. Be sure to enjoy it this summer. Also, keep an eye out for performances taking place at its bandstand.


King’s Park 
(Retford, DN22 6DF)

I have actually visited King’s Park before but only for a stroll through the gardens and I remember this incredible scent coming from the rose garden, which in the summer is truly spectacular. So, a picnic here was eagerly awaited.  Often described as the jewel in the crown of the council’s green spaces it’s not hard to see why. Covering over 10 hectares, it is divided into two parts by the River Idle which meanders seamlessly though its middle and provided a stunning backdrop for family photos. 

Of the five spots in this feature, King’s Park has the broadest ranging of facilities and is very much designed to provide recreational fun for all the family. There is a seasonal bowling green, two tennis courts, a multi-use games area, a great skate park, and a children’s play area which is always popular, and is flanked by plenty of space for families to set up and enjoy a picnic whilst still keeping an eye on the kids as they play.

The children’s water play area is really popular and during the summer months it is open from 10am until 6pm daily. Plenty of splashing about and fun to be hard before you even open your sandwiches.

There is a kiosk in case you forgot any refreshments and some good walking areas, plus there are WC facilities on site. 

I walked past the new performance stage which looks fantastic and is host to events throughout the summer. Keep an eye out for what is on and maybe tie in with a late afternoon, early evening picnic. I’ll certainly be doing that.

For garden enthusiasts, the rose garden, community garden and formal gardens are really wonderful, and beautifully maintained. It’s refreshing to have a walk around these and then head over to the open spaces flanked by the river to setup up your blanket and chairs and relax for a few hours.

I really enjoyed my picnic here. It’s a beautiful space, albeit perhaps more cultivated than some of the more natural landscapes of the two country parks I have already mentioned, but it’s a great place for socialising and picnicking with friends and family, particularly on a balmy sunny day. It had to be included on this list. 

Just a note though, parking is not as easy here as it is largely street parking nearby which does come with limits, so you might need to park slightly further out and walk to the park. Also, bring chairs if you normally rely on seating as it doesn’t have any picnic tables. 


Victoria Enbankment 
(Nottingham, NG2 2GR)

Victoria Enbankment is one of those places that unless you live in Nottingham you may well have seen below you as you cross the embankment’s Trent Bridge (not the cricket!) into Nottingham, but never actually stopped at.

I thought I’d give it a go. Originally, I was planning to picnic at the Arboretum but with the Enbankment being lesser known and a rather lovely place for a stroll and social gathering, I decided on the latter.

It is a grand, landscaped park that run alongside the river Trent and is great for an afternoon promenade, an ice cream from the kiosk near the bridge, and for walking the dog. I also, as I was enjoying my food, that there are boat trips available along the embankment and you can watch the boats from the viewing platform, which kids will enjoy. 

I fed the ducks and geese (please do not give them bread…) and relaxed for a while on the greens before finishing my picnic with a drink at the nearby Enbankment Pub and Kitchen.

It’s wonderful that in the middle of a city you can still find peace and tranquillity here. The memorial gardens on the west side of the river a particularly charming and a popular spot for picnic-ers.

You may well have to pop into a pub nearby for facilities, but parking is ample all along this stretch of the embankment. It’s roadside, but I didn’t have any problems. There are steps down to the embankment though to be mindful of, but all in all, it’s a really lovely place to enjoy an afternoon, particularly when the sun is shining.


Vicar Water Country Park
(Clipstone, NG21 9AA)

There is something rather tranquil about this park which has been created on the site of a former colliery. Once an industrial site it now boasts a stunning nature reserve, with spectacular views over Derbyshire and Lincolnshire, and an interesting landscape of heathland, woodland, and grassland, with a beautiful central lake. The lake itself was created by the fifth Duke of Portland and fishing can be booked. In the past it has also been used for boating and swimming. 

I was quite happy as I wandered around its perimeters, looking at the tiny ducklings and keeping my eye out for wildlife.

Vicar Water has green flag status in recognition of its excellent facilities, maintenance standards and because it is a great advocate for community involvement and raising environmental awareness. There are plenty of footpaths and cycle paths for all abilities amongst the woodland and around the open spaces, including the Timberland Trail and the Sustrans National route 6. The visitor centre has toilets and plenty of interesting information on wildlife to spot and what’s happening at the park. 

I enjoyed an ice cream the Rumbles café, which is a lovely little place to stock up on anything you might have forgotten and support a great cause. For those who do not know Rumbles they are a group of cafes run by Rumbles Catering Project which provides education and training to people with learning difficulties.  Outdoor seating and a takeaway service are also available. 

Kids will love the play area, which includes a giant zipwire, climbing frames, swings and roundabouts, and there’s an accessible swing seat for ease of use by all abilities. 

The park is easily accessible along its routes, and I found the parking on site to be ample. You can easily park up, unload your bikes and hampers, and off you go. It’s a really lovely route whichever way around you walk, and you will soon find a spot that takes your fancy to set up and enjoy your food and surroundings. 

There is a voluntary pay and display scheme so you can park for free and won’t risk a fine but if you’d like to pay a nominal £1 for the day, this money all helps towards investment in the park.

All in all, a lovely place to visit. Great for families, dog walkers, cyclists, runners, and those who appreciate nature and our great outdoors. Plenty of open space for picnics and for children to play. 


Hopefully, this feature will give you some ideas and I hope you all enjoy your picnics, whichever location you choose. Please do remember to take all rubbish away with you. I did see plenty of bins at all locations. And BBQS are not allowed at any of them.

Have fun!

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