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Picnic For Free With The National Trust!

Who doesn't love a picnic? That's correct, no one!
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Six National Trust-protected wildflower meadows with great views where you can picnic for FREE in Bucks, Berks and Oxfordshire.


May is national walking month and No Mow month – both great reasons to explore wildflower meadows with a picnic. Wildflower meadows, particularly chalk grasslands, are increasingly rare, but vitally important because they support so many different species of plants and wildlife. You can find up to 40 different species of flowers and hundreds of pollinators in one square metre of meadow.


Sit back on soft ground speckled with wildflowers and listen to the quiet that’s not quiet at all. The air is literally humming with life. Hear the bird call, the grasshoppers chirp and the gentle white whoosh of the world happening somewhere else in the background. Feel the tickle of sweeping grasses, smell the wild herbs and watch birds wheel overhead and butterflies dance in the foreground. It’s an ordinary, but extraordinary pleasure and privilege to picnic in a wildflower meadow.

Restoring and protecting wildflower meadows is a labour of love for National Trust rangers and we’re hugely grateful to our members whose membership donations allow us to look after these special places.

Here are six beautiful wildflower meadows with great views where you can picnic for free:


Coombe Hill, near Wendover in Buckinghamshire

Coombe Hill is the highest point of the Chilterns and you can see for miles over Aylesbury Vale as far as the Cotswolds on a clear day. It’s a designated Site of Special Scientific Interest and is home to more than 30 species of wildflower and 28 species of butterfly. There’s a free car park, which can get busy on weekends, and a natural play area where children can let off some steam.

Gentle circular stroll: https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/visit/oxfordshire-buckinghamshire-berkshire/chilterns-countryside/the-best-of-coombe-hill-walk


West Wycombe Hill, near High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire

There are fantastic views from West Wycombe Hill over towards High Wycombe and over the designed landscape of nearby West Wycombe Park. The hexagonal mausoleum at the top of the hill is an obvious destination. It belongs to the Dashwood family, who still live at West Wycombe Park today, and includes family dedications along with an urn containing the heart of the poet and Hellfire Club steward, Paul Whitehead. The grass at the base of the mausoleum is a great place for a picnic and has the best views. There’s a free National Trust car park at the top (free) and one at the bottom of the hill (not NT, pay-and-display).

Gentle stroll: https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/visit/oxfordshire-buckinghamshire-berkshire/west-wycombe-park-village-and-hill/west-wycombe-trail


Winter Hill, Cookham, Berkshire

Winter Hill is a steep chalk escarpment with big views overlooking the river Thames and small towns of Marlow and Bourne End. On the chalk slopes you’ll find orchids, rock rose and other flowers, and you can watch the red kites riding the thermal updrafts. There’s a small free car park at the top of the hill, or you can arrive at Winter Hill from a longer walk taking in the lush meadows on footpaths alongside the river.

Four-mile walk: https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/visit/oxfordshire-buckinghamshire-berkshire/maidenhead-and-cookham-commons/cookham-and-cock-marsh-walk


Watlington Hill, Watlington, Oxfordshire

Watlington Hill looks out over the pretty town of Watlington and the Vale of Oxford. There are gentle plateaus of rabbit-grazed turf on the top of the hill that are perfect for picnicking. Alternatively, you can head to the bench at the top of the Watlington White Mark. This chalk figure was created by a local squire who wanted to view a spire from his home, so he ‘drew’ one on the landscape. As you walk you’ll see gnarled yew trees, silver spotted skipper butterflies and horseshoe vetch – a plant the rangers are protecting to feed the Adonis and Chalk Hill Blue butterflies. You can walk to Watlington Hill or there’s a National Trust pay-and-display car park at the site (please don’t park on the road verges).

Short walk: https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/visit/oxfordshire-buckinghamshire-berkshire/chilterns-countryside/watlington-hill-short-walk


Holies Down, Streatley, Berkshire

Before it was acquired by the National Trust, Holies Down was used for motorbike scrambling. The turf was in a terrible state. The rangers have been nursing the meadow back to health for decades and today it’s rich with orchids, vetch, wild thyme and rockrose. It’s also a haven for butterflies like the Adonis blue and grizzled skipper. If you follow the walk below, you’ll enjoy panoramic views towards the Chiltern Hills and North Wessex Downs. There’s a free National Trust car park at Lardon Chase.

Short walk: https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/visit/oxfordshire-buckinghamshire-berkshire/basildon-park/the-meadows-and-woodlands-of-streatley


Buscot, near Faringdon, West Oxfordshire

Buscot village is settled on one of the most tranquil and unspoilt stretches of the river Thames with flower meadows either side. A great place for a picnic is on the grass by Buscot weir overlooking a lovely pool of water. Take the peaceful walk from Buscot village to Lechlade and back along the river and you’ll come across St John’s Lock, the very first lock to be constructed on the River Thames. You can walk to Buscot, or there’s a National Trust pay-and-display car park in the village.

Short walk: https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/visit/oxfordshire-buckinghamshire-berkshire/buscot-and-coleshill-estates/lechlade-walk

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