Great scenic picnic spots to enjoy this summer
Sandwiches, crisps, scotch eggs, cherry tomatoes and perhaps lashings of ginger beer…
Whatever it is that you love in your picnic basket, Scotland sure does provide a great backdrop for a picnic. There are so many great picnic spots - from beaches to parks and clifftops to castle views – a lot of which are easily reached by train.
And of course, we can’t not mention a great train picnic. Usually eaten within the first half an hour of a journey, despite the very best of intentions.
In celebration of National Picnic Week which takes place between 21 and 30 June, we’re looking at our favourite picnic spots and unveiling an epic tasting box for a very special journey…
On the bonny banks of a loch
Sunshine beating down, great company, delicious food and the stunning view of a loch with a backdrop of impressive mountains... does a picnic spot get any better? You don’t even need to travel for miles to find one.
For a picnic where you can enjoy both the views and a trip through Scottish history, it has to be Loch Shiel, overlooked by the grand Glenfinnan Monument. The scenery here is truly dramatic for both the natural landscapes and the famous Glenfinnan Viaduct. You may even be lucky enough to see The Jacobite steam train chugging over it during the summer months. From Glenfinnan station, take a wander down to the water’s edge or follow the signs to the viewpoints for great views while you enjoy your picnic.
Alternatively, stay on for the full route of the West Highland Line, between Glasgow and Mallaig and you can enjoy views over nine lochs from the comfort of your seat.
As part of a hike
The West Highland Line has lots of stops making it perfect if you fancy hopping off and hiking between stops to find a truly remote picnic spot. For some of the route, the railway follows alongside The West Highland Way, so wherever you start you’re guaranteed a challenging but rewarding hike. One of the gentler sections is between Upper Tyndrum and Bridge of Orchy which takes around 3.5 hours and has spectacular views over the mountains. There aren’t any facilities on the route so you’ll need to bring your food with you.
Across the water
Make the day out into a real adventure with a Rail and Sail ticket. Along Scotland’s west coast there are lots of opportunities to take the train to the coast then hop on a ferry for a brilliant, and very scenic, day out.
One of our favourites is Great Cumbrae. Simply take the train to Largs, gather together your picnic supplies at one of the shops by the harbour then ride the ferry for 15 minutes to the island of Great Cumbrae. Once off the ferry, take the bus to Millport and then set off on foot or hire a bike. Along the west coast of the island there are lots of great spots to stop for a picnic. There are benches, picnic benches and space for a rug, all with a gorgeous view over the water and the Isle of Bute. Be sure to pack lots of food, you’ll want to sit awhile.
In the shadow of a castle
The most obvious picnic spot here is Princes Street Gardens in Edinburgh, in the shadows of Edinburgh Castle. It’s such a scenic spot with plenty of shops around to stock up with some epic picnic goodies. Just remember that if you’re picnicking over lunch, that the one o’clock gun goes off every day except for on a Sunday.
On the train
But what if you would rather just sit back, relax and indulge in a good old train picnic. Hands up who loved a train picnic as a child…and still do now.
We’re really excited to launch our Great Scenic Tasting Box, the train picnic to top all others. There’s no soggy sandwiches or wee juice cartons here. Think gourmet Scottish produce of pate’s, oatcakes, charcuterie and shortbread to name just a few. And of course, a wee dram or Edinburgh Gin to toast the journey. Each box also has a route map so you can revel in the delights out of the window and know what you’re looking at.
The tasting boxes are on sale at Glasgow Queen Street and Inverness stations for £15.
Wherever you choose to picnic this summer, we’ll keep everything crossed that the British weather provides a sunny accompaniment.