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Five Delicious Picnic Spots in Oxfordshire

Adventure doesn't stop at Fortnum's. For the next stop on our summer-long series of staycation hotspots, our hamper has touched down in Oxfordshire.

This summer, we’re loading up our Fortnum’s wicker picnic baskets, filling our flasks with tipples hot and chilled, and inviting the world to take a seat on our picnic rug for a season of al fresco episodes across Britain.

 

From picturesque parks and gardens to adventurous walking trails with stunning views and centuries of history, we’re ready for open air adventures – and this week, we’re following the Thames out of London and into nearby Oxfordshire, where we’ve handpicked a few of our favourite spots for outdoor dining.

 

An incredibly picturesque spot to stop, sit, sip and unwind, there are few better spots to watch the world (and a succession of long, narrow and pleasure boats) go by

 

THE VIEW

 

Built on the site of the original weir – which was believed to have been built in the 10th century by the monks of Abingdon Abbey – the Abingdon Lock we see today was built in 1790.

 

An incredibly picturesque spot to stop, sit, sip and unwind, there are few better spots to watch the world (and a succession of long, narrow and pleasure boats) go by than this ever-popular spot on the Thames. Now, pass the Prosecco...

 

THE CURIOSITY

 

One of Oxfordshire's best-loved landmarks, the Wittenham Clumps (so-named for the distinctive clumps of trees that sit atop both Castle Hill and Round Hill) are a pair of hilltops that stand a short distance apart, not far from the banks of the Thames.

 

Once a Bronze Age settlement, today the Clumps are surrounded on all sides by glorious countryside – where red kites, butterflies, bees and wildflowers can be seen in abundance, and where the opportunities for a perfect picnic are almost unlimited.

 

Red kites, butterflies, bees and wildflowers can be seen in abundance, and the opportunities for a perfect picnic are almost unlimited

Oh, and if you thought Clumps was an unusual name, it’s got nothing on ‘Mother Dunch’s Buttocks’ which (believe it or not) was the name given to the hills a few centuries ago. Sadly, there appears to be no historical record of Ms. Dunch’s reaction to the name.

 

 

THE LANDMARK

 

Built in 1621 near where the Thames and the River Cherwell meet, Oxford’s Botanic Garden is the UK’s oldest – and today, you’ll find 6,000 different type of plants, seven glasshouses that replicate everything from an alpine environment to the climate of a tropical jungle, and herbaceous borders aplenty waiting to be discovered.

 

Best of all, eager picnickers are welcome – and when the sun is shining, it’s a colourful and inimitably English spot to unpack your provisions.

 

 

THE FAMILY FAVOURITE

 

One of the city’s best-loved spots for walkers, runners, cyclists, bird watchers and wild swimmers, Port Meadow is a glorious patch of common land on the banks of the Thames, as it winds through Oxford.

 

Continuing a tradition that dates back many, many centuries, horsesand cattle graze freely in the meadow but don’t let that perturb you – there are still plenty of secluded spots to put down your picnic rug without fear of being disturbed (or more importantly, without your Scotch Egg being pinched by a hungry horse).

 

 

THE HIDDEN GEM

 

Budding horticulturists and lovers of colourful foliage, look no further: Waterperry Gardens is the perfect spot for you and your wicker picnic basket.

 

Home to the famous (but somewhat haughty-sounding) School of Horticulture for Ladies between 1932 and 1971, today it’s a celebration of the beauty of English country gardens – with beautiful trees, shrubs, flowers, borders and creative flourishes as far as the eye can see.

 

And if that’s not the perfect accompaniment to a cup of Fortnum’s tea and an al fresco nibble or two, what is?

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