7 Spectacular Circular Cycling Routes

 A person on a bicycle, using a wide cycle path through pine trees on the shores of Loch Ness in the highlands. Credit to VisitBritain/Andrew Pickett
7 Spectacular Circular Cycling Routes

7 Spectacular Circular Cycling Routes

There are few things more enjoyable than a cycle ride through stunning British countryside - so for those dreaming of gliding past historic landmarks, seeing epic scenery and feeling fresh air on their face, here are a few spots to fuel some serious two-wheeled wanderlust. From the Scottish Highlands to a ride around a traditional Cotswold village, travellers can let their imagination run wild as they pick which of these spectacular cycle loops to add to their bucket list…

 

The Great Flat Lode, Cornwall

Length: 12Km

A chance to discover fascinating aspects of Cornish history and heritage, the Great Flat Lode route will send two-wheeled explorers through 12km of the Redruth Mining District, part of the Cornish Mining World Heritage Site. This loop follows part of the Basset Mine Tramway, once used to transport tin ore, so it’s peppered with chances to discover the remains of the area’s industrial past, including Cornwall’s last tin smelter at Carnkie.

Although comprised of a challenging route of farmland, heathland and off-road tracks, this short loop has only a few steep sections to consider.

                                                         

Assynt Achiltibuie Circular, Scottish Highlands

Length: 112Km

Those longing for a long-distance adventure in the Scottish Highlands should look no further than Assynt Achiltibuie Circular. One of VisitScotland’s Top 11 Most Spellbinding Cycle Routes, this loop will take cyclists across the wild countryside of Scotland’s north-west. Starting from the village of Achiltibuie, the route follows a road that will allow cyclists to whizz past stunning mountains such as Sula Bheinn, Cùl Mòr and Stac Pollaidh, as well as some unexpected beaches and dream-worthy lochs – a must for a bike-lover’s bucket list!

Lying 130Km from Inverness, known as the capital of the Highlands, time spent exploring the area is a must for those wanting to experience Scotland’s rugged loch-strewn landscape.

 

The Settle Circular, Yorkshire

Length: 28Km

Having sprinted onto many cyclists’ wish lists after the 2014 Tour de France, the Settle Circular is the loop for cyclists dreaming of a true British challenge. Comprised of two ascents, this route passes through the expansive countryside and quaint villages of northern England. Giving two-wheeled travellers the chance to experience Yorkshire’s beautiful limestone scenery, historic packhorse bridges and dramatic valleys, this rewarding route also takes in picture-postcard villages such as Airton, Arncliffe and Grassington.

Despite being just 47Km from Leeds Bradford Airport, this route covers vast and rugged countryside, with views of Pen-y-Ghent and Kilnsey Crag.

 

Hackney to Epping Forest, London to Essex

Length: 48Km

Those wanting to peddle their way from London’s East End into Greater London and onto the Essex countryside can plan a cycle ride from Hackney’s Victoria Park to the green woodland of Epping Forest. Along this circular route through the capital, cyclists will encounter landmarks such as the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park and travel along the River Lea, as well as only a few short ascents.

Following the River Lea from east London is a treat for the senses, offering those looking to escape the crowds the chance to see another side of the bustling capital. This river runs directly through Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, a complex built for the 2012 summer Olympics. Cyclists can hop off their bikes and enjoy a well-earned break beside the impressive velodrome or relax with a picnic in the parkland.

Once cyclists reach Epping Forest’s lush woodland, they can refuel at one of the many nearby cafés or enjoy a traditional afternoon tea, before venturing to the historic Queen Elizabeth Hunting Lodge. Anyone looking to stop off at any destinations en-route should check access and opening times before setting off.

 

Cromer Ridge, Norfolk

Length: 22km

Lying on the east coast of England, less than three hours’ drive from London, Norfolk’s Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty is a great spot for those dreaming of the road less travelled. One of the area’s circular cycle routes that offers a dose of bucolic mindfulness is along Cromer Ridge, part of the Norfolk Coast Cycleway, which takes cyclists across the hilly landscape and to the highest point in Norfolk, Beacon Hill. This path is a mixture of traffic-free cycleways and trickier off-road tracks, but rewards cyclists with undulating countryside, flint-clad villages and the stunning parkland of the 17th century manor house, Felbrigg Hall. The National Trust site’s parkland and gardens have reopened, but advance booking is required for entry.

 

The Forest of Marston Vale, Bedfordshire

Length: 4Km

Those dreaming of an easy-going and family-friendly cycle ride immersed in British forestland need look no further than the Forest of Marston Vale, which consists of two hill-free 4km loops, in a figure of eight. Lying just over 60Km from the historic city of Cambridge, Marston Vale offers rich forest views and revitalising lakeside cycling – this could be just the spot to enjoy a homemade British picnic!

 

The Burford Circular (East), Cotswolds

Length: 52Km

Those longing to experience the quaint village life of the Cotswolds should add the Burford Circular to their list of dream rides. Lying 122Km from London, it takes saddled adventurers through Burford, along Windrush Valley, via tranquil lanes and charming honey-coloured hamlets.

This moderate ride takes in some outstanding heritage sites that span Britain’s history, from the fascinating Roman Villa at North Leigh and the 12th century Burford Church, to the inimitable Blenheim Palace. Those dreaming of cycling through historic Britain will also enjoy the medieval town of Burford itself – a chance to de-saddle and take a walk through time among traditional antique shops, historic houses and flower-filled courtyards.

Blenheim Palace will be open from 4th July, although advanced booking is required.

British archaeological highlights

One of Britain's archaeological highlights, Skara Brae neolithic village, coastline and bay. Credit to VisitBritain©Becki Enright
British archaeological highlights

British archaeological highlights

Britain’s eclectic history means it’s a nation that is incredibly rich in archaeology. From well-known Neolithic sites like Stonehenge and Avebury, to Roman roads, Saxon hoards and Viking burial sites, the land beneath our feet provides many clues about the country’s past.

Every year, the Council for British Archaeology hosts the annual Festival of Archaeology, a collection of events designed to inspire people to delve into the country’s history. The festival is returning for its 29th year in 2020 and will be split into two parts – a digital festival running from 11-19 July, followed by a wealth of outdoor activities and events in the final week of October. With a theme focusing on climate and the environment for 2020, museums, heritage organisations and other societies will put on a range of events, allowing people to dig deep into Britain’s archaeological past.

Alongside several archaeological sites in the heart of our cities, many finds have been unearthed in the expanses of Britain’s countryside, giving people the chance to delve into the nation’s history and culture while enjoying the great outdoors. These historic sites and attractions across Britain are slowly reopening, although visitors are encouraged to check before they travel.

 

The Roman Baths – Bath

Sat in the centre of Bath and dating back to the first few decades of the Roman occupation of Britain in around 60-70AD, the Roman Baths provide a unique glimpse into life during that period. Although not discovered until the late 19th century, the remains of the vast Roman temple and bath house once formed part of a small settlement known as Aquae Sulis. The Great Bath is fed by hot spa water, while the changing facilities feature an early version of an underfloor heating system called a hypocaust – highly advanced technology at the time. Set to reopen on 6 July with tickets now on sale, the site offers history buffs the chance to learn about the numerous archaeological finds from the region, including the Beau Street Hoard, a set of more than 17,000 Roman coins that were found in the city. Visitors looking to explore the site from home can also discover more with online tours, videos and a 3D model of the Roman baths and Pump Room.

 

Vindolanda – Hadrian’s Wall – Northumberland

Telling the tale of the Roman frontier at Hadrian’s Wall, Vindolanda acted as a vital garrison base throughout their time in Britain. Regular excavations uncover new finds year after year, helping to piece together the region’s impressive history – many of these are displayed at the museum at the site. Set amid striking Northumberland countryside and featuring the remains of a bath house, barrack buildings and a religious temple, it is believed Vindolanda was demolished and reconstructed nine times. Relics discovered at the site include a set of wooden writing tablets, considered to be Britain’s oldest remaining examples of texts written by hand , alongside an array of coins, pottery and weaponry.

 

Sutton Hoo / The British Museum

Representing Britain’s – and even Europe’s – most impressive archaeological find, the incredible Anglo-Saxon royal burial site at Sutton Hoo unearthed an abundance of medieval treasures. In 1939, an amateur archaeologist discovered a burial mound featuring the imprint of a 27-metre long boat, complete with a central chamber containing the possessions of an Anglo-Saxon king, whose exact identity remains a mystery. Alongside swords, feasting vessels and silverware from the distant Byzantine empire, archaeologists uncovered an unusual ‘human mask' helmet – one of only four from the period to survive to this day – as well as gold buckles, coins and other artefacts. Many of the treasures are now on display at the British Museum in London, while it’s also possible to explore the 255-acre Sutton Hoo estate, which is looked after by the National Trust, once again (pre-booking essential).

 

Greyfriars – Leicester

Once a thriving medieval monastery, the site at Greyfriars also has an important royal connection. It was here, following excavations under a car park in Leicester in 2012, that the grave of Richard III was found– the last English king killed in battle, at Bosworth Field in 1485. The friary, first developed in the early 13th century, is now a protected scheduled monument, while a visitor centre at the site explores the quest to find and identify him.

 

Bignor Roman Villa – West Sussex

Located in the centre of the South Downs National Park, the remains of Bignor Roman Villa help to capture the imagination. Found in 1811 when it was hit by a plough, the rural villa’s exquisite mosaic floors survive to this day, showcasing the incredible craftsmanship of the era. Dating to around the 2nd century and due to re-open on 4 July with limited hours, excavations have revealed jewellery, pottery and a baby burial at the site. Stane Street Roman Road, a route linking London to Chichester, can be found a short distance to the south-east, one of many walking and hiking trails to explore.

 

London Mithraeum – London

Once home to the Roman temple of Mithras, the London Mithraeum sits in the heart of the City as part of Bloomberg’s European Headquarters, close to St Paul’s Cathedral. Archaeological excavations during construction for the building in 2012 unveiled a collection of incredible artefacts, many of which are displayed in the London Mithraeum Bloomberg SPACE – a museum and reconstruction of the temple that exists just 100 metres from its original site. Featuring immersive experiences, it delves into the history of Roman London and a period when the capital was significantly different to how it is today.

 

Portchester Castle, Hampshire

Standing proudly overlooking Portsmouth Harbour, Portchester Castle has provided a striking defensive position on England’s south coast since the 3rd century. Initially a Roman fort – used to fend off Saxon invaders – it was developed over the centuries into a castle and vast royal residence. A number of the fortifications remain and it is regarded as one of the best preserved Roman forts in northern Europe.

 

Jorvik Viking Centre – York

Excavations in the 1970s at Coppergate in York uncovered a vast array of Viking artefacts from around 1,000 years ago. The site is now home to the Jorvik Viking Centre, which takes visitors on a journey back in time to explore life in that period. Some 40,000 objects were unearthed during the dig, including everything from shoes and shields to weapons, coins and pottery, all of which have been lovingly preserved by the York Archaeological Trust. With re-opening scheduled for 11 July, the centre’s immersive experience delves into the dig itself and features reconstructions of the houses, workshops and streets of the Viking-age city of Jorvik, as it was all those centuries ago.

 

Pentre Ifan – Pemborkeshire – Wales

Home to the largest Neolithic dolmen in Wales, a form of stone tomb, Pentre Ifan in north Pembrokeshire dates from around 3500 BC. The stone structure includes a huge capstone which rests upon three other blocks around 2.5 metres above the floor, and is part of a site which may have formed a vast communal burial. However, archaeological digs have unearthed minimal artefacts at the site, leading to several theories over what it originally looked like and what it may have been for. Maintained by Cadw, the Welsh Historic Monuments Agency, it’s a site steeped in mystery and set in the shadow of the striking Preseli Hills – the region that provided the bluestones found at Stonehenge.

 

Bryn Celli Ddu – Anglesey – Wales

Found amid the greenery of Anglesey, the Neolithic landmark of Bryn Celli Ddu features a henge and a central chambered tomb under a large mound. A thin pathway points to  an octagonal space where  human bones, arrowheads and carvings have all been discovered. Although shrouded in mystery, the site carries great importance around the summer solstice, as the rising sun shines straight down the passageway on the longest day of the year, lighting up the chamber inside. Anglesey is also renowned for its beaches and wildlife habitats, providing an abundance of outdoor spaces to explore.

 

Skara Brae – Orkney – Scotland

Another remarkable prehistoric monument is the Neolithic village of Skara Brae. First uncovered by storms in 1850, over the years winds and high tides have slowly revealed an array of stone dwellings and covered passages. The incredibly well-preserved site forms part of the Heart of Neolithic Orkney World Heritage Site and in the 1970s radiocarbon dating found it was probably inhabited for a period of circa 600 years, somewhere between 3200BC and 2200BC. A replica house details what life may have been like for people at the time, while the region’s striking landscapes and birdlife provide plenty to capture the imagination.

 

Callanish Stones – Isle of Lewis – Scotland

Dating back 5,000 years, the Callanish Stones predate England’s Stonehenge and carry great ritual and astronomical importance. Found on the Isle of Lewis in the Outer Hebrides, thirteen stones form a ring, with a monolith near its centre, while five different lines of standing stones link to the centre. The Story of the Stones is explored at the Calanais Visitor Centre, which delves into the mysteries of why the Neolithic site exists. A chambered tomb may have carried ritual or religious importance, while others have theorised that the site may have lunar links.

Britain's natural wonders

Britain's natural wonders

Know Before You Go: It’s time to find your Great Britain

Know Before You Go: It’s time to find your Great Britain

10 unforgettable driving routes in Britain

An Aston Martin on The Wales Way, North Wales.

Escape Britain's motorways and visitors are often amazed at what they discover. From mountain passes to scenic coastal drives, Britain has plenty of stunning driving routes that are ideal to build a driving holiday around.

 

1. A82 - Loch Lomond to Loch Ness

This scenic route is widely regarded as one of the most iconic in Britain. Starting in Glasgow, the A82 stretches north into the Scottish Highlands, passing Loch Lomond before heading into arguably the highlight of the route – Glencoe. This stunning area has been called the most spectacular location in Britain, and one look makes it easy to see why. Film buffs will also recognise the area from the James Bond film, Skyfall.

After Glencoe, the A82 rounds Loch Leven before passing through Fort William. On this stretch of road, drivers are able to spot Britain’s tallest mountain Ben Nevis towering above them. Those feeling particularly adventurous often stop in Fort William and attempt to climb the mountain’s peak.

Continue north on the A82, and encounter another iconic British location – Loch Ness. Drive alongside the Loch and try to spot the legendary Loch Ness Monster, or stop off and take a relaxing walk around the area to finish the road trip in style. The ruins of Urquhart Castle date back to the medieval period and stand proudly overlooking Loch Ness too. Trace 1,000 years of history while taking in the remarkable nature that surrounds this majestic landmark.

The 140-mile route can be completed in around three-and-a-half hours, but it’s worth stopping off at numerous locations along the way to take in the sights!

 

2. A3055 - Military Road (Isle of Wight)

Running parallel with the west coast of the Isle, the A3055 (aka Military Road) is a road trip that should be taken sooner rather than later, as erosion along the coast could see parts of the road disappear! Landslides have reduced some sections of the road to single file traffic and marker boards along the route will illuminate to shut it immediately in the event of another landslide.

The A3055 dates backs to the mid-18th century when it formed a key part of the island’s military infrastructure. Linking St Catherine’s Point, near Chale, with Freshwater Bay to the west, the 11-mile route may be short, but it offers a wealth of sweeping ocean views and memorable country landscapes. No stopping is allowed on the section of road between Brook and Freshwater Bay as it is a designated Clearway, but there are a number of official car parking areas where travellers can stop to enjoy the views.

 

3. B3135 - Cheddar to Ashwick

Cutting a route through the Mendip Hills, designated an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, the B3135 twists its way through cliffs and a gorge in central Somerset. Primarily known for its cheese, the village of Cheddar is also surrounded by lush, scenic country routes. Adventurous drivers can look forward to navigating the tight, winding bends through the spectacular Cheddar Gorge, before sweeping turns lead to the quiet village of Ashwick.

Despite not being the longest drive - around 14 miles - the stunning surroundings make for an unforgettable trip to England’s West Country. There’s plenty of other attractions in the area too, but none offer a sense of adventure quite like a drive through Cheddar Gorge. Set aside around 30 minutes to complete the route.

 

4. Wrynose and Hardknott Pass

For those dreaming of a road-trip challenge, Wrynose and Hardknott Pass is ready and waiting. Featuring some of the steepest roads in Britain (Hardknott Pass has a 33% gradient at one point), this route is not for the faint-hearted.

However, those who do brave the route one day will be treated with spectacular views across the Lake District, along with one hell of a story to tell when they head home. The single track route has plenty of twists and turns between the picturesque village of Eskdale and the town of Ambleside. It also passes the Hard Knott Fort, once one of the loneliest outposts of the Roman Empire. Built between 120 and 138AD, the archaeological site overlooks the pass which forms part of the Roman road linking Ravenglass to Ambleside, and Brougham to Penrith.

 

5. Evo Triangle

Named after Evo magazine which often uses this route to test or review new cars, the Evo Triangle combines three roads in North Wales. Starting on the A5 near Cerrigydrudion, head west towards the quiet village of Pentrefoelas, before taking a right turn onto the A543, where the Evo Triangle really starts to shine.

Tight bends and sweeping vistas make the uphill climb a joy, with the road veering off ahead almost endlessly. Eventually, the route will pass the Sportsman’s Arms, before taking a right onto the B4501. This is arguably the finest stretch of the route, featuring panoramic views across the Alwen Reservoir and a twisting, turning road that supplies plenty of thrills. At just over 20 miles, the route takes around 30 minutes to complete, and drivers might even see the latest sports cars being tested!

 

6. Alnmouth to Lindisfarne

Driving through the countryside can sometimes be a chore, but not on the Northumberland Coast. This route from Alnmouth to Lindisfarne Nature Reserve follows the coast, offering spectacular views across the North Sea. The Northumberland Coast is also littered with castles, towering above the roads on hillsides; Bamburgh Castle is a particular highlight on this route. Originally the site of a Celtic fort, the imposing stone castle was built in the 12th century and its walls have witnessed dark tales of rebellion and bloodshed.

At the end of the journey lies Lindisfarne, an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and a historic gem in northern England.  The sight of the first Viking invasion in 793AD, Holy Island and Lindisfarne Castle are both picturesque from afar. Those who intend to get closer, beware; the causeway leading to Holy Island becomes unusable at certain points because of tidal shifts! Expect to spend around an hour driving the route, although there are numerous opportunities to stop and admire the scenery along the way.

 

7. Bealach na Ba

Historically used to drive livestock across the mountains, Bealach na Ba (aka Pass of the Cattle in English) has been transformed into one of the most scenic drives in Britain. It’s a little intimidating at first, but any worries will all melt away near the midpoint, thanks to glorious views across the Scottish Highlands.

The winding single-track road dates back to 1822 and was engineered in a similar vein to the great mountain routes in Alpine Europe. There’s no complex directions to follow on this one; just follow the road south of Tornapress towards Applecross, before ascending across the Bealach na Ba. There’s plenty of stopping points along the 11-mile route, so make sure to get out and take time to enjoy the view!

 

8. A470 - Brecon Beacons to Snowdonia

The A470 runs across most of Wales, linking Cardiff in the south with Llandudno in the north, and if drivers venture northwards on the road, they’ll be able to see some of the best views that the country has to offer. North of Merthyr Tydfil, the A470 enters the Brecon Beacons National Park, with its rolling hills and near endless horizon.

Continue onwards and the A470 heads into the Welsh countryside, passing through numerous tiny villages and communities. There’s plenty of opportunity to break off and explore the surroundings, but stick with the A470 to eventually arrive in Snowdonia. Along the way, drivers will find themselves surrounded by mountains in the distance and views that just keep getting better.

A mix of single carriageway roads and sweeping dual carriageways, the 178-mile route can be completed in around four-and-a-half hours. The Cambrian Way, a journey across the mountainous spine of Wales, follows much of the A470, with additional detours to sites including Welsh Royal Crystal at Rhayader and Adventure Parc Snowdonia.

 

9. Snake Pass

Located in the Peak District, Snake Pass provides a route across the Pennines between the market town of Glossop and Sheffield. As one might expect from the name, Snake Pass is full of curves and bends, with each one offering a glorious view of its own. In the late summer, heather blooms across the surrounding hills, bathing the area in a gorgeous purple colour – it’s a spectacular sight.

Once the main route linking Sheffield to Manchester when it opened in 1821, Snake Pass experiences regular snowfall in the winter months and is often closed during these periods. It’s popular with bikers and cyclists during the rest of the year, with a leisurely drive along the 20-mile route taking in the region of 30 minutes.

 

10. B3306 - St Ives to St Just

The B3306 might not be the quickest route between St Ives and St Just, but it’s definitely the most exciting. A 13-mile stretch of coastal road, the B3306 twists and turns between quaint villages and hills sloping down to the ocean.

The B3306 follows the ‘Tin Coast’ of the Penwith peninsula and near Trewellard is the Levant Mine and Beam Engine, part of the Cornish Mining World Heritage Site, which is home to numerous surviving mine buildings and a restored 1840s engine. Or venture to Pendeen, to see the Geevor Tin Mine, a well-preserved museum that stands as it was left by the miners in 1990.

The Great British Picnic Menu

Flapjacks préparés pour un pique-nique

Whether enjoyed in one of London’s Royal Parks, in the middle of the countryside or on a stretch of charming coastline, an outdoor picnic (with all the trimmings) is a much-loved British tradition. And while the very first London Pic-Nic Society was formed in 1801, dining al fresco has gained a new level of importance for friends and families in Britain in 2020 too.

Brimming with sandwiches, scones, and other treats, these finger-food extravaganzas are a fun way of enjoying a socially-distanced get together. So dig out that picnic blanket and get creative in the kitchen, for a British-themed dining experience to remember.

 

Scotch Eggs

There are a number of theories as to the origin of the Scotch egg, from its creation at London’s luxury department store Fortnum & Mason in the 18th century, to more humble beginnings in the coastal city of Whitby in Yorkshire in the late 19th century. Wherever these savoury snacks hail from, one thing is certain: this British classic makes for an utterly sumptuous picnic treat…

Made by wrapping breaded meat around a boiled egg, Scotch eggs can be enjoyed hot, cold or with a touch of mustard.

 

Ingredients (makes 6):

6 eggs (large if possible)

2 beaten eggs

20g (7/8 cup) thyme

20g (7/8 cup) parsley

1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

300g (1 ½ cups) minced meat

400g (1 ¾ cups) skinned sausages

Pinch of salt and ground pepper

1 teaspoon English mustard powder

Flour (for coating the eggs)

100g (1 cup) dried breadcrumbs

Oil for cooking

 

Preparation:

To prevent cracking, carefully pierce the eggs with a needle and place in a saucepan to boil for five minutes. Once cooked, run under a cold tap and gently peel from their shells.

Next, mix the sausage meat with the minced meat in a large bowl, along with the Worcestershire sauce, mustard powder, and the herbs. Season with salt and pepper and mix until combined. Spread the contents of the bowl evenly on baking paper and cut into six squares. Coat each of the eggs with flour and then place one on each of the meat sections, wrapping around the egg entirely. The encased eggs then need to be coated with the flour, followed by the beaten egg and finally the breadcrumbs.

Pour oil into a high-edged frying pan until five centimetres deep, and heat. Place each of the eggs into the hot oil using a utensil and being mindful of splashes/spitting. Rotate onto each side once golden, until completely cooked. This should take around seven minutes, depending on the temperature of the oil.

Top tip: Use cling film to help wrap the meat mix around the egg.

 

Sausage Rolls

Loved by city-dwellers and village folk alike, the sausage roll first became popular in the capital during the Napoleonic Wars in the early 1800s.  Little is known about the snack during the Victorian era, although a criminal case in 1894 uncovered an incident of an apprentice soaking brown bread in red ochre, salt and pepper to give the appearance of a meaty filling and save money!

This is far from the case with modern versions of this pastry-based treat, which can contain meat or vegan fillings, helping to make the sausage roll a staple of British picnics…

 

Ingredients (makes 8 rolls):

8 skinned sausages

2 teaspoons dried sage

Pinch of salt and ground black pepper

2 crushed garlic cloves (optional)

375g pre-made puff pastry

1 beaten egg

 

Preparation:

Preheat the oven to 220°C (428°F, Gas Mark 7), roll out the pastry, cut into eight squares and leave to one side. Next, prepare the filling by mixing the meat, garlic, sage, salt and pepper in a large bowl. Once combined, divide into eight equal sized cylinders and place one on one side of each pastry square. Brush with the beaten egg and cover the filling with the other side of the pastry, using fingers to seal together. Place onto a greased baking tray and brush the top with egg before cooking for 25-30 minutes, until golden in colour and piping hot throughout.

 

Coronation Chicken

Created by Le Cordon Bleu chef Rosemary Hume to celebrate Queen Elizabeth II’s Coronation lunch in 1953, this dish is enjoyed by royals and street party-throwing Brits alike! A quintessential British classic to add to any picnic, it can spice up a simple salad or work as a delicious sandwich filling.

 

Ingredients (serves 4-6):

6 tablespoons of mayonnaise

3 teaspoons of mild curry powder

½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

2 tablespoons of mango chutney

2 tablespoons of sultanas

500g (4 cups) cooked, shredded chicken

 

Method:

Mix all the ingredients, except the shredded chicken, together in a large mixing bowl to make a thick sauce. Once combined, mix with the chicken. Add to a simple bed of salad leaves or spread between two slices of bread to create a delicious picnic sandwich.

 

Potato Salad

Although hailing from Germany, potato salad is a popular addition to any British picnic. There are many delicious variations to this traditional recipe, but here is a simple way to produce a potato salad that is regularly gobbled up across Britain.

 

Ingredients (serves 4):

400g (2 2/3 cups) white potatoes (peeled or with skins left on, as preferred)

2-3 tablespoons mayonnaise

1 teaspoon chopped dill or chives

1 tablespoon of chopped spring onion

1 teaspoon ground black pepper

1 boiled egg

1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley

1 teaspoon mustard (preferably Dijon)

Pinch of salt

 

Preparation:

Start by chopping the potatoes into bite-size chunks and boil in a saucepan of seasoned water. Once soft, drain and put back into the saucepan to steam for a few minutes. Slice the boiled egg into small pieces and add to the steaming potatoes. Next add the mayonnaise, chopped fresh herbs, mustard and salt. Carefully stir until combined.

Transfer the potato salad into a bowl and leave to chill in the fridge for 30 minutes – after this the salad is ready for the picnic basket!

 

Fairy Cakes

Those who have visited the perpetually pink Peggy Porschen in west London know how seriously cupcakes are taken in Britain. Although originating in America, fairy cakes (as they are often called) are a dainty and delicious addition to any outdoor feast. Why not go full Anglophile and add blue and red food colouring to your frosting mix to create a Union Jack themed sweet treat?

 

Ingredients (makes 12):

Buttercream

150g (2/3 cup) butter

1 teaspoon of vanilla extract

300g (3 cups) icing sugar

2-3 tablespoons of milk

1 or 2 drops of food colouring, depending on the desired effect

Cake mix

110g (1/2 cup) butter

110g (1/2 cup) caster sugar

110g self-raising flour (1 cup) - this can also work with plain flour by adding a teaspoon of baking soda

2 eggs

1 teaspoon of vanilla extract

Pinch of salt

 

Preparation:

Preheat the oven to 180°C (356°F, Gas Mark 4), and place 12 paper cupcake cases on a baking tray. Grab a large mixing bowl and use a hand whisk or electric mixer to combine the butter and sugar until fluffy. Next, slowly add the eggs and vanilla extract, mixing for a few minutes more. Add the salt and continue to gradually add the flour into the mix, stirring continuously. Once the ingredients are fully mixed, carefully spoon into the cases and place into the oven. They will only take 15 minutes to turn golden brown, but use the skewer test to make sure they are fully baked through – a clear skewer poked in the middle of a cake means they are done.

While the cakes bake, make a start on the buttercream frosting. Start by mixing the room temperature butter with a hand mixer or wooden spoon until fluffy. Sieve the icing sugar into the butter and add the vanilla extract. Once mixed, add the milk and continue to beat for a few more minutes. Separate the mix into three and stir in the food colouring to create the red, white and blue colour scheme.

 

Flapjacks

Golden brown and brimming with golden syrup, the oat flapjack is a picnic pudding loved throughout the nation. The word flapjack has been used in Britain since the 16th century, with Shakespeare himself mentioning ‘flap-jacks’ in Pericles, Prince of Tyre, as reference to a common English pudding. However, the dish we know and love today was not created until 1935.

 

Ingredients (serves 6):

600g (6 cups) porridge oats

300g (1 1/3 cups) butter or margarine

250g (just under 3/4 of a cup) Golden Syrup

200g (1 cup) caster sugar

Handful of sultanas (optional)

2 teaspoons of cinnamon

Preparation:

Line a baking tray with butter or greaseproof paper and pre-heat the oven to 180°C (356°F, Gas Mark 4). Pour the sugar, syrup and butter into a saucepan and heat slowly, stirring until they are melted and combined. Take the pan off the heat and add the oats, cinnamon and sultanas, mixing until the ingredients have bound together. Spread onto the baking tray and pat down. Bake for 25 minutes or until golden brown.

Remove from the oven and cut into equal pieces while hot, leaving to cool before enjoying.

 

Pimm’s

Royal warrant holder and drinks maker, Pimm’s is a British liqueur that sparks fond memories of summer fun for many Brits. Made from a secret gin recipe infused with caramelised orange, warming spices and herbal botanicals, this drink is best served with a refreshing mixer, a selection of sliced fruits, ice and mint leaves.

It is particularly popular as a refreshment at Wimbledon tournaments, summer parties, and of course, British picnics!

 

Ingredients (all to taste):

Pimm’s No. 1. (similar drinks are also available, such as Austin’s, Jeeves and Pitchers)

Ginger ale or lemonade

Cucumber slices

Lemon slices

Orange slices

Strawberries (halved)

Sprig of mint

 

Preparation:

Place a few ice cubes in a glass and pour one part Pimm’s to two or three parts ginger ale/lemonade, depending on the desired strength. Add a slice of cucumber, lemon, orange and strawberries, as well as mint leaves. Gently stir the cocktail and enjoy! This recipe can also be used in bigger portions to create a sharing pitcher.

 

Pork Pies

Pork pies have been eaten in Britain since medieval times, when their thick pastry crusts were simply used as a way to preserve their meaty fillings. The confection itself has seen many variations over the centuries, from meat and fruit combinations to adding half a pint of white wine into the mix. Today, it takes the form of a classic high crusted pie, with the meat surrounded by a layer of jelly to help it retain its moisture.

Having used the same traditional pork pie recipe since 1851, Ye Olde Pork Pie Shoppe in Molton Mowbray, Leicestershire, is the home of the pork pie, a taste that foodies can attempt to replicate for their very own British picnic…

 

Ingredients (makes 4 pies)

For the pastry

3 tablespoons milk

40g (2/5 cup) lard

40g (2/5 cup) butter

340g (1 cup) plain flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

For the filling

500g (just over 2 cups) pork shoulder, cut into 1cm cubes

120g (1/2 cup) pork sausage meat

180g (3/4 cup) chopped bacon

Pinch of nutmeg

Pinch of salt

1/2 tablespoon finely chopped fresh or dried sage

1/2 tsp ground black pepper

1 beaten egg

150ml (2/3 cup) chicken stock

3 sheets of gelatine

 

Preparation:

Start by creating the pastry. Put 110ml (1/2 cup) water in a small saucepan, add the milk, lard and butter and slowly heat until the hard ingredients have melted, then turn up the heat and bring to a boil.

Using a sieve, mix the flour and salt together in a large mixing bowl and carefully add the just-boiled wet ingredients. Mix until it forms a dough, kneading lightly with your hands until the dough is smooth. Wrap tightly in cling film and set aside to rest at room temperature for 20 minutes.

Thoroughly combine the meat, nutmeg, sage, and black pepper in a mixing bowl with a large pinch of salt. Next, cut away 1/3 of the dough and separately wrap it in cling film, before dividing what is left into equal pieces.

Grab four average sized jars and wrap the bases in cling film. Divide the remaining pastry into four even pieces, mould each one carefully around the base of the jar, until it reaches about nine centimetres from the base.

Cover each of the jars evenly, mindful to not to make the base too heavy. Once all four are covered place upside in the fridge for one hour. Whilst waiting for the four pie bases to chill and turn hard, divide the remaining pastry into four equal parts. Roll each of them to create a circle around eight centimetres in diameter, these can then be covered with cling film and left at room temperate until needed.

Preheat the oven to 180°C (356°F, Gas Mark 4) and carefully remove the now chilled pastry bases from their refrigerated jar moulds by pouring boiling water into each jar. Once loosened they can then be gently pulled off and placed on a baking tray.

Spoon the pork filling into each of the cases. Now add the pastry circles on top of the filled pies and secure them by pinching the edges together by hand. Brush the pies with beaten egg and use a skewer or thin knife to make a small hole in the top of each.  

Cook for 50 minutes, until completely golden brown.

Heat the stock until almost boiling before removing from the heat. Soak the gelatine sheets in cold water for five minutes to soften. Squeeze the sheets to remove any extra water then add the gelatine to the hot stock, stirring occasionally.

To add the distinctive jelly to these savoury creations, carefully funnel the stock through the holes at the top. This can be done with a small funnel or piping nozzle, making sure to allow time for the mixture to fill the gaps between the filling and the pastry without flooding. Once full, leave to cool and then chill the pies for a minimum of four hours so that the jelly has time to set.

The Great British Picnic Menu

Jug of traditional summer of Britain, Pimms. Credit to VisitBritain/ Melody Thornton
The Great British Picnic Menu

Get inspired by Britain’s natural wonders

Britain’s natural wonders offer a glimpse into the country’s awe-inspiring ancient past; one that created cavernous gorges, spectacular limestone amphitheatres and breathtaking chalk cliffs. These spots have fascinated visitors for centuries, so why not get dreaming of a natural wonder-inspired adventure?

Find out more about these iconic landscapes at these spectacular ancient sites, all worthy of a spot on any nature-lover's British bucket-list…

 

The Needles, Isle of Wight, England

For those dreaming of tasting bracing sea air whilst looking onto a magical scene of azure blue waters, The Needles is just the place. These three jagged chalk rocks jutting from the western coast of the Isle of Wight once made up part of the headland, but over time erosion has separated them from the coast. They’re best seen from The Needles Old Battery, a Victorian fort built to protect Britain from invasion. On a clear day, the contrast between gleaming bleached rock, blue foaming water and the endless sky above is spectacular. Some of the best vistas can be enjoyed from aboard the airborne chairlift, which provides a bird’s eye view of the Alum Bay cliffs, the rock formation and the site’s impressive lighthouse – just don’t be tempted to look down!

Did you know? None of the squat forms are particularly needle-like. The name refers to two earlier members of the group that crashed into the sea after a storm in 1764.

 

Malham Cove, North Yorkshire, England

Travellers longing to experience the stunning scenery and rugged charm of northern England can get inspired by Yorkshire’s Malham Cove, Mother Nature’s limestone amphitheatre. The curving crag of the Cove features an 80-metre high cliff that was created at the end of the last Ice Age by meltwater, which left an expansive, breathtaking cliff and plateau above. At the top of the cliff is a limestone pavement, scoured by the retreating glacier, thus creating a strangely regular feature that resembles rough paving slabs. The views from the pavement across Yorkshire are fantastic and the area is excellent for walking. The landscape should also pique the interest of bird lovers, as it is home to both Peregrine Falcons and Tawny Owls.

Did you know? Malham Cove appears in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1.

 

Jurassic Coast, East Devon and Dorset, England

The Dorset and East Devon Coast, also known as the Jurassic Coast, is one of Britain’s outstanding natural gems and was the first ever site to be inscribed as a 'natural' World Heritage Site. It spans 95 miles of sensational coastline all the way from East Devon to Dorset. What makes this coast so special is the way its cliff exposures provide an almost continuous geological 'walk through time' spanning the Triassic, Jurassic and Cretaceous periods - a time capsule holding 185 million years of the Earth's history. Eager adventurers can lose themselves as they imagine walking along the cliff-top paths to see some of England’s most spectacular geology including Durdle Door, the large limestone arch near Lulworth. There’s also Old Harry Rocks, a mesmerising trio of chalk formations that stand proudly on the Isle of Purbeck, marking the eastern-most point of Dorset’s coastline.

Did you know? Scenes from the Oscar Wilde biopic Wilde, starring Stephen Fry and Jude Law, were shot here.

 

Cheddar Gorge, Somerset, England

Britain’s biggest gorge was gouged out of Somerset by meltwater floods more than one million years ago, leaving a spectacular steep-sided ravine that cleaves the countryside in two. A whopping 137-metres deep and three-miles long, Cheddar Gorge provides an expansive look into prehistoric Britain.

The gorge is an unforgettable spot for cliff-top walks, rock climbing and discovering the show caves. Home to weird and wonderful rock formations and an underground river, the caves found at Cheddar Gorge are just as much a natural wonder as the cliffs themselves. For those picturing an epic road trip around Britain, Cheddar Gorge is less than an hour from the historic cities of Bath and Bristol.

Did you know? Britain’s oldest complete skeleton, known as the Cheddar Man, was found in one of the caves here. 

 

Seven Sisters cliffs, Sussex, England 

For those dreaming of breathtaking coastal walks and windswept views, the South of England’s white chalk cliffs offer an unmissable taste of Britain’s natural beauty. A symbol of Britain’s proud island history, some of the most dramatic white cliffs in the UK are in the Seven Sisters Country Park along the Sussex Heritage Coast.

This classic view is best enjoyed from Seaford Head, for sweeping vistas of the snow-white cliffs beyond. Over the centuries, their imposing might has repelled invaders and welcomed weary seafarers home. But the cliffs are gently eroding thanks to the elements, so why not add this historic natural landmark to the must-see list before they change? 

Did you know? The cliffs appear in Robin Hood Prince of Thieves and Atonement, among a host of other films.

 

Brimham Rocks, North Yorkshire, England 

Like discovering nature’s quirkier side? Imagine a trip to Brimham Rocks in North Yorkshire, lying just eight miles from the historic town of Harrogate. This collection of crazily balanced rocks have fascinated visitors for centuries. Formed by the glaciation and erosion of millstone grit sandstone over thousands of years, the formations have acquired names that (supposedly) reflect their shapes. Look out for The Watchdog, The Sphinx, The Turtle, The Dancing Bear and The Camel. A Site of Special Scientific Interest, its 454-acres are also home to herds of red, roe and sika deer that roam freely across the landscape. There are also majestic birds such as kestrels and owls, as well as a range of protected butterflies that live around this natural wonder.

Did you know? Early observers thought the naturally formed rocks were carved by druids, members of ancient Celtic culture.

 

Giant’s Causeway, Antrim, Northern Ireland

Longing to experience nature’s whimsy? Why not envision a trip to The Giant's Causeway, an out-of-this-world natural wonder that lies at the foot of basalt cliffs along the rugged Antrim coast of Northern Ireland. This intriguing rock formation, now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is made up of some 40,000 tightly packed black basalt columns sticking out of the sea, some of which reach as high as 39 feet into the air. The polygonal pillars are strangely regular, almost as if formed by hand, but were in fact moulded over 50 million years ago by intense volcanic lava that cooled at a rapid speed, breaking into distinctive shapes.

Did you know? Legend has it that the causeway was formed by Irish giant Finn McCool who wanted to cross the Irish Sea to fight Scottish rival, Benandonner.

 

Fingal’s Cave, Isle of Staffa, Scotland 

Across the Irish Sea from the Giant’s Causeway is Fingal’s Cave, a sea cave on the island of Staffa in the Inner Hebrides that deserves a place on any nature-inspired bucket list. Formed by part of the same ancient lava flow that created the Causeway, it has been an inspiration to artists and writers for hundreds of years. Sir Walter Scott said it ‘baffled all description’ and the composer Felix Mendelssohn composed his Hebrides Overture after hearing the strange echoes caused by water sloshing around the cave.

Did you know? The name of Fingal’s Cave in Gaelic, Uamh-Binn, means ‘cave of melody’.

 

Trotternish Peninsula, Isle of Skye, Scotland 

The most northerly of the Isle of Skye’s peninsulas boasts some spectacular geology and scenes of true otherworldliness. So evocative is the region, it’s easy to imagine taking the easterly coast road to see the bizarre Tolkienesque spikes of the Quiraing landslip and the Old Man of Storr, a monolith of basalt rising 49 metres. It was in this startling landscape that Bonnie Prince Charlie hid from government troops after the Battle of Culloden in 1746. The region also has a rich prehistoric story, as fascinating footprint and bone evidence suggests it was once a dinosaur stomping ground.

Did you know? Trotternish is also home to Kilt Rock, a sheer cliff of hexagonal basalt named after the Scottish national dress it resembles.

 

Glyder Fach and Glyder Fawr, Snowdonia, North Wales

Hikers itching to don their walking boots and explore new terrain might enjoy imagining a trip to North Wales, to conquer Glyder Fach and Glyder Fawr. These two mountains are among the most striking in a region not short on epic, rugged scenery. Glyder Fach (994 metres) is crowned by the famous cantilever rock, a massive precariously balanced slab that’s a favourite spot for climbers. Glyder Fawr (1,001 metres), which translates as ‘big lump’ in Welsh, rewards adventurers with a craggy summit littered with spiky frost-shattered rocks angled like ancient tombstones. 

Did you know? Snowdonia National Park is also home to the highest peak in England and Wales, Mount Snowdon.