London's 10 best picnic spots
Rally for soaring temperatures as we pick the best patches of grass in the capital and readers offer their insider tips…
22 May 2009
Plus: Summer festival guide
1 St John’s Lodge Garden
Best for: secluded location
A cherished secret among picnickers, this beautiful manicured garden on the north-east side of Regent’s Park is a welcome break from the rest of the sprawling tourist trap.
2 Greenwich Park
Best for: post-lunch games
The oldest of the Royal Parks, Greenwich’s sloping hill and glorious spaces are made for afternoon games and expansive feasts.
Greenwich Park, SE10. DLR: Greenwich
3 Richmond Park
Best for: hiding from unwanted guests
Exploring, napping in the long grass, animal eye-spy and chi-chi brunching is catered for in the beauty of the capital’s largest open space. Nothing says romance like sitting under a tree with a loved one watching green parrots flying over your head.
Richmond Park, TW10. Tube/train: Richmond
4 Fulham Palace Gardens
Best for: nostalgia
If you’re after a real-life secret garden, head through the 13 acres of trees and flowers into Fulham’s walled garden. This wild spot has tame squirrels and knotty herb patches.
Fulham Palace Gardens, Bishops Avenue, Fulham, SW6. Tube: Putney Bridge
5 Postman’s Park
Best for: making the most of your lunch hour
Jude Law and Natalie Portman’s characters in Closer started their tryst in this hideaway between St Botolph and St Leonards churches.
Postman’s Park, Little Britain. EC1. Tube: St Paul’s
6 Holland Park
Best for: feeling like you’ve left the country
For an injection of tranquillity, bring your thoughts to the Japanese garden. Stalk a peacock, listen to the waterfall and, from June, let the in-house operas lull you to sleep.
Holland Park, Ilchester Place, W8. Tube: Holland Park
7 Cannizaro Park
Best for: glam setting
Get the smoked salmon out to munch in Grade II-listed splendour. This enchanting park has lawns for lounging, a wood and smaller flowered gardens if you’d rather relax than face the crowds.
Cannizaro Park, West Side Common, Wimbledon, SW19. Tube: Wimbledon
8 Hampstead Heath
Best for: celeb spotting
Sample the Heath’s long grass, swimming ponds and idyllic peacefulness. Lunch under a weeping willow, then walk it off
with a kite session on Parliament Hill.
Hampstead Heath, NW3. Train: Hampstead Heath
9 Waterlow Park
Best for: walking off lunch
Sir Sidney Waterlow left this to the public in 1889 as a “garden for the gardenless”. Its panoramic views and tennis courts offer plenty to picnickers.
Waterlow Park, Dartmouth Park Hill, N19. Tube: Archway
10 Brockwell Park
Best for: picnicking with children
Not just a leafy expanse for leisurely picnics, “Brixton’s beach” boats a lido, sports pitches and cute miniature railway, so caters for all tastes.
Brockwell Park, Dulwich Road, SE24. Train: Herne Hill/Tube: Brixton
“Remove the middle-flesh of cucumber and tomato before putting either into a sandwich – it will stop the bread from going soggy.” – Samantha Loveday, 21, Southwark
“Take red wine instead of white, as it doesn't have to be chilled. Oh, and lots of wet wipes for when you spill it all down you afterwards.” – Pip Tyler, 28, Borough
“When you go to fancy hotels, hold onto the tiny pots of ketchup or jam – washed out, they are brilliant for putting mayonnaise or mustard in” – Eleanor Major, 27, Paddington
“Have three empty plastic carrier bags with you – one for rubbish, one for dirty cutlery, and one for leftover food” – Zahria Clarke, 32, Balham
“Flasks keep things cold as well as hot, so pre-chill your margarita/wine and transport in a Thermos.” – Oliver Wood, 27, Westminster
“Truffle oil comes in very small bottles for about a tenner, and is a really good show-off touch if you brought salad.” – Geoffrey Davies, 31, Forest Hill
“If you don’t carry wet-wipes everywhere as a matter of course (ie you aren’t mother to an under-5), a damp jay-cloth in a carrier bag is very useful for sticky hands/spillages” – Denny Loewe, 26, Stoke Newington
“Take a couple of forks and teaspoons wrapped in a tea towel, just in case you succumb to temptation for pasta salad or ice-cream on your way.” – Emmy Mason, 24 London Fields
“Everyone should own a pair of nice looking, durable plastic champagne flutes, and a sharp knife and small chopping board are totally essential.” – Javier Pero, 29, Clapham
“Get people to each bring a course and remember a cake – and make sure they take a map and know where they’re going. Don't take mobiles/Google Earth for granted and think people can find you on a remote corner on Hampstead Heath, you will spend all your time hunting them down!” – David Medo, 27, Hampstead
Plus: Summer festival guide