York’s best picnic spots 2016

Bring and share your picnic

The weather is nice – quick let’s have a picnic!

Now we are finally seeing some good weather, it’s time to dig out that basket, dust off your picnic blanket and make some butties, cos summer is here! (YorkMix cannot be held responsible if the weather now changes to hailstorms and blizzards.)

We’ve created a list of some of the best picnic spots in York. Whether you’re an avid al fresco connoisseur, or a picnic first timer, there is somewhere for everyone to enjoy…

Museum Gardens

New to Museum Gardens, the No8 Pavilion serves ready-to-eat picnics. Photograph: York No8 on Facebook
New to Museum Gardens, the No8 Pavilion serves ready-to-eat picnics. Photograph: York No8 on Facebook

We have to start in the spot that half the city heads for on a sunny lunchtime.

The beautiful ten-acre Museum Gardens are perfect for a homemade picnic. And if you don’t fancy making your own, the team behind No 8 Bistro on Gillygate has opened an in-park café the at the pavilion, serving al fresco treats all summer.

You can even hire a proper picnic blanket to sit on.

Deans Park

A haven behind the Minster: Deans Park. Photograph: visityork.org / Paul Crossman
A haven behind the Minster: Deans Park. Photograph: visityork.org / Paul Crossman

Situated behind the Minster, beautiful Deans Park is perfect for a nibble on a nice day. With such magnificent views of the cathedral, it is easy to sit back and watch the world go by away from the city hustle.

In the summer months there are cupcakes sold from a caravan and ice creams nearby too. And there a number of food shops and pubs near by if you fancy something more.

Homestead Park

The new York Explore pop-up café in Homestead Park
The new York Explore pop-up café in Homestead Park

Found off Water End in Clifton, Joseph Rowntree Foundation-run Homestead Park is home to lots of flowers and wildlife, along with a children’s play park.

With a wildlife guide, tree trail, wildflower meadow and picnic area it’s perfect for families.

And now you can get some grub from the York Explore pop-up café, which opened in May and will be there daily till October 30, 2016.

St Nicks

St Nicks… Photograph: Facebook
St Nicks… Photograph: Facebook

One of the greenest places in York, St Nicks is a hub of nature-friendly living.

With a children’s play park and 24 acres of land containing wildlife, fruit trees and family walks, it is the perfect spot for a picnic and a breath of fresh air.

There are also a number of volunteering events that you can take part in, which should also build up an appetite.

Hob Moor

Photograph: Friends Of Hob Moor on Facebook
Photograph: Friends Of Hob Moor on Facebook

Hob Moor is part of Knavesmire and one of York’s four local nature reserves. It is used for cattle grazing in summer and is home to various wildlife and birds.

A peaceful place for a picnic that brings you at one with nature and escape the city life. The large space of land is great for walking off those sausage rolls with a small footpath around the edge of the site.

Merchant Adventurers’ Hall

City centre sunspot… Photograph: Merchant Adventurers' Hall on Facebook
City centre sunspot… Photograph: Merchant Adventurers’ Hall on Facebook

Dating back to 1357, the Merchants Museum is an amazing time capsule of history – and its small gardens are a nice city centre spot for a picnic.

It is also home to another York No 8 pop up café this summer, offering delicious homemade treats to enjoy while basking in the history and beauty of the hall.

York Cemetery

The Garden of Death… York Cemetery. Photograph © Allan Harris on Flickr
The Garden of Death… York Cemetery. Photograph © Allan Harris on Flickr

Sounds a bit morbid but York Cemetery is actually a tranquil, nature-lovers paradise. The 24 acres of land are filled with thousands of beautiful monuments and graves amongst the trees and overgrown brambles.

Nestled within the wild flowers and plentiful wildlife is a charming Grade II* listed chapel which is still in use. So if solitude and quiet is what you crave head down to Cemetery Road for a meander round the graveyard and a peaceful picnic.

Rowntree Park

Always lovely… Rowntree Park
Always lovely… Rowntree Park

A short riverside walk from the city centre, Rowntree Park is home to 20 acres of greenery that cry out for a picnic – just mind the geese!

The park has been awarded the Green Flag every year since 2004. It is also home to the rather wonderful Rowntree Park Reading Café, where you can find both cultural and tasty nourishment.

West Bank Park

You're probably not going to catch your lunch in there… Photograph: West Bank Park on Facebook
You’re probably not going to catch your lunch in there… Photograph: West Bank Park on Facebook

To the west of York city centre, West Bank boasts a woodland park, a meadow picnic area and a basketball court.

Plans are underway to transform the old park-keeper’s lodge into The Backhouse, a heritage centre to celebrate the history of the James Backhouse Plant Nurseries, known as The Kew of the North.

With this there is plans for a café and community area, perfect for a family day out. See how you can help here.

Goddards House and Garden

Just lovely. Photograph: Goddards on Facebook
Just lovely. Photograph: Goddards on Facebook

Now owned by the National Trust this former Terry family home explains the story of the chocolate story while offering beautiful gardens and wildlife. It costs £6 per adult, £3 per child or £15 for a family ticket.

After your picnic there are a number of things to see and do including getting nostalgic with Hornby trains, play croquet, or even play chess in the beautiful drawing room of the house.

There is also a café serving drinks while the children play and a number of events on to watch out for, including talks on Terry’s women: the workers at the factory.

Millennium Bridge

A great spot for a sarnie… Millennium Bridge. Photograph © Tim Green on Flickr
A great spot for a sarnie… Millennium Bridge. Photograph © Tim Green on Flickr

The bicycle wheel bridge spanning the River Ouse offers a perfect spot to picnic on the riverbank, as well as a great meeting place to gather with friends from either side of the river and enjoy the views.

Or you could pick your picnic spot on either side of the river.

Rawcliffe Meadows and Clifton Ings

Photograph: Friends of Rawcliffe Meadows on Facebook
Photograph: Friends of Rawcliffe Meadows on Facebook

Rawcliffe Meadows and Clifton Ings are part of the floodplain to the north of York. Don’t let this put you off though – when river levels are normal they offer lovely walks and peaceful picnic spots.

There’s a range of plant, bird, animal and insect life, some of which is very rare due to the flooding landscape. Clifford Ings and Rawcliffe Ings run adjacent to the River Ouse and are left undeveloped, giving you an escape from the city and a chance to walk the dog, picnic, and explore peacefully.

Acomb Wood

Photograph: The Woodland Trust
Photograph: The Woodland Trust

York’s newest nature reserve, designated in 2007, comes complete with 10 acres of mixed woodland and ancient meadow. The circular walk around the woodland takes roughly 20-25 minutes and has many spots to stop off for a lovely picnic.

Old ridge and furrow suggest the some nature was planted in the 18th century. Now managed by the Woodland Trust it is found via Acomb Wood Drive in Woodthorpe.

Clifton Backies

An aerial view of Clifton Backies. Photograph © Bing Maps
An aerial view of Clifton Backies. Photograph © Bing Maps

Situated between Bootham Stray and Water Lane this local nature reserve has a number of surviving historic features from spanning from medieval times to old blast shelters from the Second World War.

On the Friends of Clifton Backies website you can download a guide and walk the Doug Herald Trail. There are two main possible walks, a shorter inner path about 30 minutes to walk, or a longer outer through meadows and woodlands.

One thought on “York’s best picnic spots 2016

  1. Just a couple of pointers Chloe –

    Rawcliffe Meadows & Clifton (not Clifford) Ings are a Site of Special Scientific Interest so any BBQ’s are definitely out of the question (found two discarded today).

    On Clifton Backies it’s the Doug Heald Trail (not Herald).

    Keep up the good work but sack your proofreader 😉

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