The secret of a successful picnic is simplicity, plus careful planning and packing. It doesn't pay to be too ambitious - the biggest mistake most people make is assuming that dishes which work at home will be just as good al fresco.
Bear in mind that some things don't travel well. However, if you can't live without your salad sandwiches, pack your ingredients separately in airtight containers and assemble on location.
There are plenty of cooked meats to choose from as well as meat products such as pork pies, try and find some locally reared ham and use a tasty local chutney or pickle to accompany it.
Salads Bags of fresh salad are plentiful in supermarkets now. They're easy to transport, washed and ready to use.
If you're lucky enough to have a good delicatessen, you could create an entire picnic just from its selection of pies, pâtés, cooked meats, cheeses and antipasti. It’s likely to be from smaller, regional producers too.
Ring the changes on sandwiches with different types of bread - try seed bread, herb loaves, french bread or focaccia. Think about taking small rolls, baps, or pitta bread so you don't have to worry about cutting up huge loaves. Good bread, a few nice cheeses, a good quality pâté and a bottle of wine can make a delicious simple picnic.
Chilled soups are easier to deal with than trying to keep things hot in thermos flasks - try gazpacho, chilled cucumber and mint or classic vichysoisse.
For dessert, ignore delicate confections that will get crushed too easily on the way. Look for robust sweet things that will stand up to the journey - sturdy cakes or stodgy chocolate brownies. And take lots of fresh fruit or a ready-prepared fruit salad.
Why not try some locally made beer or cider as an alternative to wine.
Summer smoothies can be made by blitzing seasonal fruits in a blender. Chill well before your trip, and store in a vacuum flask or in a container inside a cool bag or box.
Try making your own lemonade. Take three large lemons, half a cup of sugar or artificial sweetener and 1 litre (1.75 pints) water. Slice the lemons in half and squeeze into a large container. Remove any seeds. Pour into large jug, mix the juice with the sugar and chill. Why not try out a new recipe from West Country Farmhouse Cheesemakers...
There is something very special about the West Country’s pastures. Cows which graze on grass in Somerset, Dorset, Devon and Cornwall produce rich and creamy milk which is ideal for making cheese.
The home of real handmade Farmhouse Cheddar also boasts some of the finest areas of natural beauty, historical interest and rugged coastline in Britain. The West Country is the perfect destination for a picnic – there’s no better way to enjoy great tasting farmhouse cheese and at the same time discover the unique countryside and heritage that went into making it special.
The farmers at West Country Farmhouse Cheesemakers have put their heads together and chosen their favourite picnic spots, which makes a great guide for the summer season. Perhaps your readers might like to nominate other special places in the West Country?
The birthplace of real Cheddar cheese, this spectacular feature of the Somerset landscape is actually Britain’s largest gorge. The Cheddar Yeo in Gough's Cave is Britain's biggest underground river, and the sides of the gorge constitute Britain's highest inland limestone cliffs. It’s an official Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, home to Horseshoe Bats and Peregrine Falcons and the surrounding area is teeming with places of historic (and prehistoric) interest. There is plenty to keep the family occupied all day and many lovely spots to throw down the picnic blanket and enjoy the sunshine.
For more information visit: www.cheddarvillage.co.uk
How to find it: The village of Cheddar is located on the B3135 of the A371. The easiest route to Cheddar is from junction 22 of the M5. There is clear signage from here all the way to the Gorge and its caves.
Probably the most dominant feature of Somerset countryside, and topped by the tower of the ancient church of St Michael, the Tor overlooks the Isle of Avalon, Glastonbury and the Somerset Levels. The stiff walk up the hill certainly works up an appetite and the mystique of the area and the spectacular vistas are food for the soul.
For more information visit: www.glastonbury.co.uk
How to find it: Glastonbury is situated on the A39 south of Wells. The Tor is signposted from Glastonbury town centre, and there’s a seasonal park & ride service to the foot of the hill.
Cadbury Castle, near Sparkford, is the largest hill fort in Somerset and dominates the Levels south of Glastonbury. The castle is renowned as the site of Arthur's Camelot and is steeped in local folklore. The earliest evidence from excavations is of a Neolithic occupation before 3000 BC. This was followed by Bronze Age and unfortified Iron Age occupations.
In every direction you look you’ll see a patchwork of lush pastures interspersed by small woods and coppices. The slopes of the fort are now covered with mature trees but as you approach the summit you emerge from the woods to explore the ramparts and enjoy spectacular views.
For more information visit: www.southsomersetmuseums.org.uk
How to find it: Sparkford is situated on the A359. Follow signs from here to South Cadbury and the castle. Access to the castle is along a footpath beside South Cadbury church.
Ham Hill Country Park is the perfect place to explore the natural heritage of South Somerset. Home to thousands of species flora and fauna, the park covers 154 acres of woodland and grassland rising to over 300 feet and offers extensive views of the Mendip Hills to the northeast, the Quantock Hills to the northwest and the Dorset Downs to the south. Enjoy gentle strolls, panoramic views, quiet picnic spots and a barbecue area.
For more information visit: www.somerset.gov.uk
How to find it: Ham Hill Country Park is situated 5 miles west of Yeovil off the A303 near Stoke-sub-Hamdon.
Braunton Burrows is the largest sand dune system in the UK. A unique area of coastline, the dunes are designated a National Nature Reserve and a UNESCO biosphere reserve (the scientific equivalent of achieving World Heritage Site status). The Burrows stretch along 4 miles of shoreline – the perfect setting for a nibble of West Country Farmhouse Cheddar and an afternoon enjoying the fresh sea air of North Devon.
For more information visit: www.visitengland.com
How to find it: Take the A361 north from Barnstaple and head for Braunton.
Lydford is home to a spectacular river gorge and waterfall. The gorge 1½ miles long and can be viewed from a circular walk, which starts high above the river and passes through attractive oak woods before dropping down to the dramatic 30m high White Lady waterfall. The walk includes an enchanting riverside walk along the River Lyd as it plunges into a series of whirlpools, including the thrilling Devil’s Cauldron.
For more information visit: www.nationaltrust.org.uk
How to find it: Lydford is located halfway between Okehampton and Tavistock on the A386 and the gorge is well signposted from the village.
Often used as a location for filming, Hound Tor is one of the most picturesque places on Dartmoor and a great starting point for walks. The setting for Conan Doyle’s ‘Hound of the Baskervilles’, the unique moorland landscape is home to some fascinating balancing rock formations, so watch out where you stop for lunch!
For more information visit: www.walkingbritain.co.uk
How to find it: Leave the A38 south of Exeter at Drumbridges Roundabout, signposted for Bovey Tracey. Follow signs for Widecombe and then for Hound Tor.
Croyde boasts three fantastic sandy beaches and a charming old-world village. There’s something for everyone, young and slightly older. Whether you enjoy surfing or strolling Croyde is the Devon coast at its finest. Forget ice cream cones - a sea breeze and crashing waves are best accompanied by a slice of West Country Farmhouse Cheddar.
For more information visit: www.northdevon.com
How to find it: Croyde is located on the B3231 off the A361 south of Ilfracombe.
Dorset’s Golden Cap is the highest point on the south coast of England where you can sit and enjoy your West Country Farmhouse Cheddar. Prime fossil hunting country, the cliff gets its name from the golden yellow sandstone rock covering its summit. It affords excellent views both west along the coast beyond Lyme Regis and east to the Isle of Portland and there’s a lovely pebble beach at its base.
For more information visit: www.jurassiccoast.com
How to find it: Leave the A35 at Chideock midway between Bridport and Lyme Regis, head for Seatown.
A beautiful shell shaped cove, Lulworth has recently been placed into the World Heritage Jurassic Coastline, and provides a great place to relax on the beach, swim in the cove or just admire the world famous geological wonder Durdle Door and other great coastal views. If you decide to take a walk along the cliff top keep an eye out for the cove’s very own ‘Lulworth Skipper’ butterfly.
For more information visit: www.lulworthonline.co.uk
How to find it: Lulworth Cove is sign posted from the A352 Dorchester - Wareham road.
Avon Heath Country Park has nearly 600 acres of heath land with stands of pine trees and birch woodlands. The park is of international importance for its wildlife, in particular for its breeding pairs of Woodlarks, Linnets, Nightjars, Dartford Warblers, Sand Lizards, Silver-studded blue butterflies, Green Winged Orchids and Roe Deer.
While there is a bustling atmosphere of people around the Visitor Centre and children's play area, tranquility lies only a couple of minutes walk across the heath and there are many signposted trails and secluded spots.
For more information visit: www.dorsetcc.gov.uk
How to find it: The park is situated 2 miles west of Ringwood on the A31.
Durlston Country Park is the gateway to England's first natural World Heritage Site. The combination of unrivalled geology and wildlife make Durlston a very special place. The fabulous sea views, cliffs, limestone down land and hay-meadows are home to a variety of flora and fauna. The park has an excellent network of footpaths which link into Swanage and the wider countryside. There’s bound to be a peaceful spot for a West Country picnic.
For more information visit: www.dorsetcc.gov.uk
How to find it: The park is situated one mile south of Swanage of the A351.