With the Big Beach Picnic happening all over the South West this weekend, we wanted to choose 6 of our top locations within Devon to fling down a blanket and get the hamper out!
The Tarr Steps are a clapper bridge, which crosses the River Barle in Exmoor National Park. The steps are located in a nature reserve near Dulverton. A perfect spot for alfresco dining, it was picked out by The Sunday Times in 2013 as the UK’s best picnic location. It is remote and relatively difficult to reach but that doesn’t stop the hoards of walkers and picnickers visiting. It is surrounded by beautiful woodlands, amazing wildlife, and open moorland with free roaming Exmoor ponies.
Valley of the Rocks
The Valley of the Rocks is a dry valley that runs parallel to the coast in North Devon to the west of Lynton. It is a stunning location, and a popular tourist location. You have a choice of plenty of grass for picnicking, or you may prefer a rocky knoll if you don’t want to go for one of their designated picnic spots. Wild goats roam the area much to the delight of children, and you may see a game of cricket being played on what would be described as Britain’s most dramatically situated cricket pitch! The coast path from Lynton to the Valley of Rocks is relatively level and has been surfaced with tarmac to make it easier for everyone.
Lydford Gorge boasts the deepest gorge in the South West with a spectacular 30m waterfall and an amazing place to visit at any time of the year. An array of wildlife including Dippers and wagtails can be seen flying low over the river, while woodland birds can be spotted darting about in the trees. It is a National Trust site and the gorge is a feature of the River Lyd, which is the deepest in South West England. The gorge also features a series of whirlpools known as the ‘Devil’s Cauldron’. The orchard or woodland nearby is the perfect location for a picnic or you can visit the nearby tea-rooms.
A stunning coastal venue for your picnic – why not set your blanket down among the network of sand dunes, there are numerous secret spots to discover in Braunton Burrows. Set on the North Devon coast, it is privately owned and forms part of the Christie Devon Estates Trust. It is a prime British sand dune site, and the largest sand dune system (psammosere) in England. A very peaceful spot to enjoy your picnic, you can admire the wildlife or spot birds in the estuary.
Spekes Mill Mouth
Spekes Mill Mouth is the location of one of the most famous waterfalls in North Devon and is just 20 minutes away from Hartland Quay on the South West Coast Path. Consisting of a tumbling waterfall and a long, curving beach you can descend the sandy steps to the beach and watch the surfers while enjoying your picnic. Spekes Mill, despite it’s popularity with the surfers due to its renowned reef brake, remains quiet and peaceful even in the summertime.
Completed in 1898, Burrator Reservoir is on the south side of Dartmoor near Yelverton, and is one of a number of reservoirs and dams that were built over the course of the 19th and 20th centuries to supply drinking water to the city of Plymouth. Now covered by Dartmoor National Park, the reservoir is surrounded by mixed woodland and you could be mistaken that you were in a traditional Swiss landscape with pine trees and clear water. There is a circular walk that follows the lanes around the water, otherwise take the little road around the reservoir and stop at the small car park. You will see a stone bridge and a stile where you can climb over and trek to the reservoir. There are many pretty spots to lay out the blanket and enjoy the peace and quiet.
So what is ‘The Big Beach Picnic’?
Celebrating 50 years of public support for protecting our previous coastline, the National Trust are hosting Big Beach picnics throughout the South West tomorrow – Saturday 4th July. They are free events and the National Trust are encouraging as many people as possible to join in the celebrations. Beaches that are hosting their own picnic include Woolacombe, Wembury, Saltram, Paignton Green and Branscombe.
For more information please visit nationaltrust.org.uk