Five Spots to Enjoy a Picnic & a Walk

Arger Fen, Chappel Viaduct, Sudbury Water Meadows, Bourne Mill and Dedham

Summer has finally arrived! There’s no better time to get out in the sunshine and feast on a picnic in the gorgeous Suffolk and Essex countryside. Here are five of our favourite spots to enjoy a picnic and a lovely walk in the local area.

Arger Fen & Spouse’s Vale
10-minute drive or 1.5-hour walk

Enjoy your picnic in amongst the beautiful 500-year-old woodland at Arger Fen. This is a great place to sit back and enjoy the peace and quiet after a walk. Explore areas of heathland and the reservoir, spotting wildlife and ancient tree species during your visit.

The Parking can be limited here, so why not take a walk from the Lodges? Begin by following the Orchard Walk, which will take you from the Lodges to Leavenheath. From here, follow the Wildlife Walk route, passing through Hullbacks Grove, Spouse’s Vale, and finally Arger Fen. This is a lovely, scenic 2.2-mile circular route.

You can find our walking guide here.

P.S. Arger Fen and Spouses Vale is definitely worth a visit in the spring time. The whole woodland bursts into colour, full of beautiful bluebells!

Chappel Viaduct, Earls Colne
20-minute drive

The Grade II listed Chappel Viaduct is one of the largest brick-built structures in the UK, and makes for a striking sight with its 32 arches! Pop your picnic rug down on the recreation ground and enjoy lovely views of the Viaduct and Water Meadow Nature Reserve. Make sure to go for a wander during your visit, spotting WWII Pillboxes, anti-tank obstacles and spigot mortar pedestals along the way. There’s also a lovely playground to keep the kids occupied!

After your lunch, take a walk through Chappel and Wakes Colne from the Railway Museum. You can find a guide to the route here.

P.S. Parking near the Viaduct is difficult due to the windy roads. There is parking available nearby at Chappel & Wakes Colne train station and the East Anglian Railway Museum.

The Common Lands, Sudbury
15-minute drive

For peace, quiet and stunning views, Sudbury Common Lands and water meadows are a must-visit picnic spot. These ancient wetlands are bursting with birds, wildflowers and insects, as well as grazing cattle! Bring along a picnic rug and enjoy your lunch surrounded by nature.

We recommend rounding off your afternoon with a walk to take in the sites which inspired the famous painter, Thomas Gainsborough. Pick up the 3.5-mile Meadow walk by the Mill Hotel. Find out more here.

Dedham Riverside
15-minute drive

Dedham riverside is the perfect place to spend an afternoon with a picnic. A designated Area of Natural Beauty (AONB), sit back and take in the beautiful views which inspired many great English artists, including John Constable and Alfred Munnings. Enjoy a spot of people watching as rowing boats drift up and down the river, and you could even hire one for yourself!

Take a leisurely stroll along the River Stour to neighbouring Flatford, another stunning destination to explore. You can find a guide to walking in Dedham here.

Bourne Mill, Colchester
30-minute drive

Enjoy a picturesque picnic at Bourne Mill, a beautiful 16th century mill surrounded by lush gardens. We’d recommend setting up your picnic near Bourne Pond, where you can sit and spot the friendly ducks, fish and wildlife. Why not make a day of it and take a guided tour around the Mill, exploring the history of the building and grounds?

We’d recommend following the 3-mile circular walk after your lunch. Wander past some of Colchester’s country nooks, including the River Colne, Bourne Valley, Cannock Mill, Distillery Pond, and Winsley’s Almshouses. Find details of the route here.

P.S. An entry fee is payable to access the Mill’s site (National Trust members go free), but there are some lovely, free alternative spots along the Bourne Valley path, which runs alongside the pond.

Newsletter Sign Up