A taste of British summer

The British know how to make the most of summer. Whether it’s a picnic in the park or an impromptu lunch in the middle of the countryside, outdoor dining and good weather go hand in hand. Beaches, parks, hills and historic towns: take your pick!

 

1. Kensington Gardens

This London classic, next to Hyde Park, is a great choice for spending a day outdoors. The coolest spot here is around the artificial lake, or the Round Pond as it's fondly called. You can bring a packed lunch or check out the nearby Whole Foods Market, where you can buy healthy goodies, without compromising on flavour. 

Hyde Park is a must for weekend plans in London.
Hyde Park is a must for weekend plans in London.

 

2. Formby Beach

The coastal town of Formby is located a 30-minute drive or train ride away from Liverpool. It's popular with daytrippers seeking a cool break from the summer sun, and its beaches are beautiful: for miles on end, dramatic sand dunes greet the eye. The surrounding woods are home to furry red squirrels and frogs. Here, you can be as laid-back or active as you like. Walk down the paths winding through woodland, grassland, heathland and dunes. Or slurp an ice lolly, sip a soft drink, and feel the sand between your toes. 

Formby Beach has picnic areas and marked walking trails.
Formby Beach has picnic areas and marked walking trails.

 

3. Blackford Hill

Located two miles south of the city centre, Blackford Hill is one of the seven hills upon which the city of Edinburgh was built. It rises more than 500 feet above sea level, offering panoramic views of Edinburgh Castle and the Lomond Hills far in the distance. This is a popular picnic spot for families, students, and people with dogs. Near the pond, there are stairs that lead to open spaces covered with grass, perfect for spreading out your  picnic blanket. The wetland invites water birds such as swans, herons, mallard ducks and little grebes. Think of it as a slice of countryside within the city. 

 

4. Heaton Park 

The largest municipal park in all of Europe, this Manchester attraction occupies more than 600 acres in the middle of the city. Every year in mid-June, the Park hosts the mega-popular Parklife independent music festival. The air is electric during this time. Food stalls pop up. Ice-cream vans open their windows. Artistes and music lovers arrive in thousands. But even on ordinary days, there is never a dull moment here. You can ride a horse, sail on the lake, visit the animal farm, stroll the ornamental gardens or try your hand at golf. 

Heaton Park cafés in Manchester open from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m
Heaton Park cafés in Manchester open from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m

 

5. Bath 

About two hours from London, Bath is recognised as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. While the city is always in festival mode, the summer concerts and events are truly special. You could take to the skies and view Bath from a hot air balloon, explore the caves at Wooky Hole, or enjoy one of the city's famous spas. One of the best places on a sunny day is Parade Gardens, a large park overlooking the River Avon. If you're up for a bit of sunbathing, rent a sunbed and catch the rays. The park also has a café with outdoor seating. 

There is an entry fee for visiting Parade Gardens on weekends.
There is an entry fee for visiting Parade Gardens on weekends. © 1000 Words / Shutterstock.com

 

6. The Lido Café

If you prefer to eat in nature without giving up the comfort of a restaurant, this is the place for you. The Lido Café is located in Brockwell Park in London, a huge alfresco dining area with lush vegetation. Tuck into the finest seasonal British food, drink the coolest craft beer, and watch the world go by.

The café's best asset is its huge outdoor swimming pool; take a refreshing dip and work up an appetite before you get started on the food. Children can enjoy a special menu designed just for them.

The Lido Café offers a weekend brunch.
The Lido Café offers a weekend brunch.

 

7. Hammersmith

The River Café is located in the London borough of Hammersmith. In this Italian restaurant, the pasta is cooked al dente and forms the base for mouth-watering, unique dishes like lemon spaghetti. The menu changes in rhythm with the season to keep you coming back for more. In addition to the excellent cuisine, The River Cafe offers a serene view of the River Thames.

 

8. Porthminster Café

If the river isn’t enough, you can head to Porthminster Café restaurant located in Saint Ives, a fishing village in Cornwall. This beach is perfect for spending a day with family. There is a mini golf course and you can rent equipment for water sports. Porthminster Beach is one of the cleanest in the region, and proudly displays the Blue Flag for its cleanliness and services. The cuisine is mainly based on seafood, but you can also choose from a vegetarian menu. The dishes are varied, but have one common ingredient: the taste of tranquillity that dining by the sea is all about. 

What better way to get a taste of British summer than a self-drive? Plan your holiday here.