Graphic of friends enjoying a picnic

If you've not enjoyed a picnic by the end of August we're afraid to say that you're doing summer all wrong. From elaborate hamper-filled affairs to some quick pre-packaged sandwiches to fill a gap, you can't beat a picnic when the weather is at its best.

There's great picniccing spots all over Colchester, many of which you can combine with visiting a fantastic local attraction or beauty spot. We've picked ten of our favourites, but why not get in touch on social media and tell us what we've missed?

1. Colchester Castle Park

Colchester Castle Park

In the heart of the town centre, Colchester Castle Park is the number one picnic spot in the borough. Choose your location from sitting in the shade of the historic Norman Castle, perfect views of the Victorian Gardens, spotting wildlife by the river, or on the picnic tables next to the impressive children's play area. 

Why not use one of the town centre's many shopsrestaurants, and delicatessans to pick up some last minute luxury items to enjoy on your picnic too?

2. Cudmore Grove

Cudmore Grove Country Park is located on East Mersea and is perfect for exploring and enjoying a picnic. A large area of grassland makes way as it approaches the sea, turning into wild beaches with views across the estuary of Brightlingsea. There's a host of natural habitats to explore too, as well as an old WW2 pillbox you can still get inside.

Families will enjoy the fantasic pirate-themed play area located close to the car park, complete with picnic tables.

3.  Dedham

The Dedham Village Sign

Essex's only Designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, The Dedham Vale is a hugely popular spot for picniccers in the summer months. Across the area, views that inspired the likes of John Constable are complimented with opportunities for scenic hikes and rowing boat hire.
Do take extra care to picnic responsibly by using designated picnic areas, and please take your litter home as there are limited bins in an effort to keep the landscapes intact. 

4. The Chappel Viaduct

Chappel Viaduct

The spectacular Chappel Viaduct in the Colne Valley can be easilly accessed, with a footpath running between its arches. It is surrounded by green fields and has a small children's play area close by. The nearby East Anglian Railway Museum also accomodates picnics, and in fact has a dedicated picnic bus should the weather turn.

We can also recommend the beer garden of the Swan Inn, for a refreshing post-picnic drink, complete with impressive views of viaduct.

5. Bourne Mill

Bourne Mill

The picturesque Bourne Mill, owned and maintained by the National Trust, has relatively small grounds, but they are ripe for exploring and picnics are encouraged. Bourne Pond on which the mill sits is well populated with friendly ducks and other water-birds, and you can always cheat a bit with your picnic by purchasing an accompanying cream tea from the Mill itself.

Please note that an entry fee applies to acces the Mill's site, although National Trust members go free, and the nearby Bourne Valley path running along the south side of the pond is a suitable free alternative.

6. Abberton Reservoir

Abberton Reservoir Visitor Centre

Both Abberton Reservoir and its sister Essex Wildlife Trust site at Fingringhoe Wick have picnic areas, but for us Abberton gets the nod due to its fantastic children's play area and accompanying Brambly Hedge Trail - perfect for smaller picniccers.

On the down side though, there's not much shelter from the winds whipping over the reservoir so be sure to hold on to your hat (and sandwiches) if it's a blustery day.

7. St Botolph's Priory

St Botolph's Priory

St Botolph's Priory in Colchester Town Centre is often overlooked in favour of the Castle and it's surrounding Park, but for an equally historic but perhaps more low-key affair there's still great opportunities for picniccing in the priory's grounds.

For summer 2019 you'll also find an attendant on duty keeping everything in check whilst the summer holidays run, which should make it a perfect family spot to grab a quick town centre bite to eat.

8. High Woods Country Park

High Woods in Autumn

Nestled in the North of Colchester lies High Woods Country Park, a local beauty spot with plenty of open space for picnics as well as equally pleasant woodland and meadows.

Besides the beautiful walks around the wood you can also use the adventure playground situated close to the visitor centre or follow one of the many wildlife and nature walks across the site.

9. West Mersea Beach

Breathe in the sea air at West Mersea, the slightly more tourism-orientated cousin of the beaches on the East of the Island. Pastel coloured beach huts decorate the shore, and you're never too far from an ice-cream van to round off your al fresco dining experience. 

We fully acknowledge the drawbacks of a beach picnic though, and true to form West Mersea has been putting the sand in sandwiches as long as anyone can remember.


10. Gosbecks Archaeological Park

Gosbecks Park

Gosbecks Archaeological Park was once the site of a 5,000-seater Roman Theatre and Temple, but any sign of the structures has long gone, except for an outline of the site marked out on the fields.

These days the park is a favourite with dog-walkers and there's plenty of space to lay out a picnic blanket and stuck into some food on this historically important site.


Why not check out our Instagram account for more scenic Colchester spots? We can't promise they'll all be great for picnics, but they sure are nice to look at.

You can also find us on Twitter and Facebook, where we'd love to hear your suggestions of great picniccing spots we've missed.




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