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10 of our favourite picnic spots

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Winchester is full of picturesque green areas perfect to lay down a blanket and enjoy a picnic. Below are 10 of our favourite spots to relax with your favourite food and people.

Make sure you pre-order some local treats to enjoy on your picnic from our local delicatessens and eateries for a real Winchester treat. When picnicking please leave only your footprints behind and take all of your rubbish home with you.

1. Abbey Gardens

Abbey Gardens is the perfect place to lay down your picnic rug and share out the sandwiches. This picturesque garden is full of colour with flower beds throughout, shaded by trees and with a channel of the Itchen River running beside it. Bordering Abbey Gardens are Winchester’s historic buildings with the Guildhall built in 1872, Abbey House – the official residents of the Mayor of Winchester and Abbey Mill, once part of St Mary’s Abbey.

Abbey Gardens was once the site of the Nunnaminster, later known as St Mary’s Abbey, founded by Queen Ealhswith, wife of Alfred the Great, in 903. The remains of the Abbey can be seen along the side of the Guildhall.

There is also an inclusive playground for children of all ages to enjoy.

Enjoy this tranquil spot right in the middle of the city centre – a great place to relax and enjoy the company of friends and family.

Abbey Gardens

2. St Giles Hill

Just a short walk from Winchester city centre is St Giles Hill, a beautiful spot surrounded by trees and with sweeping views of the city – you can even see King Alfred’s statue on the Broadway.

This was once the site of one of the largest fairs in Europe, known as the St Giles Fair. Held every September all other trading in Winchester stopped for the 16 days of the fair.

Walk your picnic treats to this peaceful open space and enjoy the panoramic views.

3. St Catherine’s Hill

When you arrive at St Catherine’s Hill the walk might look a bit daunting but trust us, its well worth the climb. The 58 hectares of flower rich grassland is home to 25 different species of butterfly and stunning wild flowers. Make your way to the top to enjoy spectacular views of the city below, as well as the River Itchen and the surrounding countryside. If you fancy a late picnic the views of the sunset are stunning from St Catherine’s Hill, but please take care on your way back down.

4. River Park

When deciding on your next picnic spot River Park Leisure Centre might not be your first thought, but the beautiful, green open setting can be the perfect place for a sit down. A popular spot with joggers and dog walkers this is a great space to play catch or throw a frisbee with your family. The wide open space makes this a great location to enjoy a socially distanced get-together.

5. Orams Arbour

Orams Arbour is a beautiful green open space hidden at the top of Winchester town centre. A hidden local treasure it is popular with dog walkers and families so if you find yourself at the top of the high street looking for a place to put your picnic basket Orams Arbour could be the perfect place.

6. Hospital of St Cross

Follow the trail walked by John Keats to the tranquil countryside surrounding the Hospital of St Cross.  Place your basket in the shadow of the Hospital of St Cross, which was founded between 1132 and 1136 by Henry of Blois – the Bishop of Winchester at the time. The Hospital was founded to support thirteen poor men and feed more at the gates each day. The thirteen men who live there are the Brother’s of St Cross.

Escape to this small patch of countryside and after your feast explore the Viaduct Way – a great walk to burn off your picnic.

Hospital of St Cross ® Harvey Mills Photography 2017

® Harvey Mills Photography 2017

6. Wickham Water Meadows

In the market town of Wickham make sure you visit the naturally formed water meadows in the heart of the town for the perfect spot to relax and enjoy your food. The space was historically used for grazing cattle but it has now been transformed into a peaceful haven, perfect for a walk or a picnic near the waters edge thanks to the hard work of local residents and volunteers.

7. Bishop’s Waltham Palace

If you are heading to the market town of Bishop’s Waltham enjoy your picnic in the ruins of Bishops Waltham Palace.

The palace was first built by Henry of Blois in the 12th Century and has hosted royalty and the Bishop throughout the years. The palace was badly damaged during the Civil War and was subsequently abandoned.

Find a bench next to these ancient walls or enjoy laying out on the grass and take a moment to enjoy the peaceful surroundings and your basket of treats.

Bishop's Waltham Palace

Bishop’s Waltham Palace

8. Wolvesey Palace

Wolvesey Castle was one of the greatest medieval buildings in England – the palace of the powerful and wealthy bishops of Winchester. One of the most important Norman palaces in England, it was built during a period when Winchester was second only to London as a royal and ecclesiastical centre.

Now it is open daily 10am to 4pm to October to March and makes for a lovely spot to explore and enjoy a picnic.

Wolvesey Palace

9. The South Downs National Park

Right on the doorstep of Winchester is the South Downs National Park. Explore the rolling chalk hills and take in this amazing landscape as you enjoy a picnic relaxing in nature. With so much natural beauty you can find a new spot each time you want to enjoy a picnic.

10. Farley Mount

With plenty of space to run around, Farley Mount is a large area of beautiful downland, coppices and ancient woodland, including West Wood. It’s an ideal place for walking, cycling and picnicking, with fine views over the rolling countryside and fields across Winchester.

Farley Mount - Gilbert Yates Photography

Farley Mount – Gilbert Yates Photography