National Picnic Week – our recommendations for a fun family day out
A CHEQUERED blanket, a basket brimming with sandwiches and a sunny day are just three of the things which make a perfect picnic.
From days spent at the beach trying to keep the sand out of our jam sandwiches, to sitting in the boot of a car thanks to an unexpected downpour, it's safe to say we all share memories when it comes to picnics.
From today it is National Picnic Week, and in the spirit of the occasion, we have put together a list of some of the best spots in the area to lay out a blanket and enjoy a feast on the grass.
This weekend in the South Lakes is set to be a scorcher, and with a calendar of events as jam-packed as our childhood sandwiches, it would be rude not to take advantage of the weather.
If you're tempted, it doesn't take much work to get some sandwiches together and a pork pie or two, pop them in the back of the car and drive out, searching for a patch of unspoiled Lake District grass.
Whether you live at the bottom end of Walney or skirt the western edge of the Lake District, we have some suggestions for where you can have a perfect picnic.
If you're inclined for a bit of a drive and a walk, there are few places in the Lake District more beautiful than Buttermere. A not too challenging four mile circuit of the lake will certainly get your appetite up, and there is a perfect spot at the south west corner when you can hunker down and reward your exertions with a slice of cake.
Grizedale Forest has the potential to cater for people from all walks of life. If you're an adrenaline junkie you may want to tackle one of their mountain bike trails, or, there are a host of gentler ways to explore the lush greenery.
The Millwood Trail is a low level route which is both wheelchair and pram accessible. It runs down through the valley, following the course of a stream, giving visitors the chance to acquaint themselves with some of the amazing sculptures dotted through the trees.
We are blessed with a stunning coastline in the south Lakes, and you don't have to travel far to enjoy a piece of unspoiled scenery.
Just south of Ulverston lie the grounds of the Manjushri Meditation Centre. Trails run throughout their estate, that during the summertime is alive with the sights, sounds and smells of nature.
If you keep walking, you will soon reach the shoreline where you can take in the breathtaking views across Morecambe bay, and towards Ulverston's Canal Foot.
Heading west will take you to the stunning gardens and grounds of Muncaster Castle. Located near Ravenglass, the medieval castle has acres of space for the young ones to explore, and for the mums and dads to relax in.
After a bite to eat, there is always more of the garden to explore, or, there are regular shows at the castle's hawk and owl centre.
Needless to say there are countless places across our beautiful county that are ripe for exploring picnic basket in hand.
But if you aren't able to go far afield, there is no reason you can't unroll a blanket and have an at-home picnic on your back lawn.
As well as having fun, the most important thing is to clean up after you go. It will take seconds, and will leave your picnic spot as pristine as it was when you first found it.
For more information on National Picnic week, and events in our area, visit their website at www.nationalpicnicweek.co.uk.
IF you need inspiration about what the best things to pack for a weekend picnic are, we spoke to one of the area's top bakers for her advice.
Caroline Davis, co-owner of Barrow's Peace and Loaf Bakehouse said the number one item on her list was a fresh, deliciously crusty homemade sourdough bread.
She said: "We'd also take a lovely salted butter, cheese, chutneys and houmous.
"A nice cut of quiche, caramelised red onion and spinach, that's what we would take."
Even for a talented baker, what goes in your picnic basket doesn't have to be the most complicated creation. Miss Davis said that leftover pizza from the night before is perfect to wrap up, and eat cold the following day.
To wash everything down, she recommends making your own elderflower cordial, an easy and delicious drink you can whip up in no time.
"Having a cordial at a picnic is lovely," she said.
Making the drink only requires six ingredients, and can be made a day in advance. A "quick google" being the only thing that separates people from thirst, and a refreshing drink.
When we head out to the countryside laden with food and drink for a picnic, you may not realise you are part of a tradition hundreds of years old.
Picnicking first arose during the middle ages. Nobles riding through the country side during a hunt would stop with their travelling party, and hold an outdoor feast.
The word 'picnic' emerged during the 1600s, from the French 'pique-nique', a term used for people who brought their own wine to gatherings.
The picnic was strongly connected to hunting until the 19th century when it became a leisure activity of the upper and middle classes.
This was a time when many ordinary people struggled to afford three meals a day, let alone the expense of eating for leisure.
However, a change came with the publication of the food bible,in 1861. This tome laid out to the letter how any respectable person could hold a successful picnic.
Since then, fortunately things have simplified, and the wonder of the picnic filtered down to the masses.
Fortunately, a cheese and pickle sandwich and a slice of Victoria sponge have taken the place of roast duck and plum pudding recommended during Mrs Beeton's days.