8 top places for picnic in Derbyshire and the Peak District

Kedleston Park

Kedleston Park - Credit: Gary Wallis

Summer is upon us. Butter the sandwiches, dig out the blanket and explore some of Derbyshire's best picnic locations - whatever the English weather throws at us

Is there anything more quintessentially English than a picnic?  

Whether it’s a quick sandwich and a Thermos of tea or a fully-fledged, decadent spread, Derbyshire is blessed with a multitude of perfect picnic spots.  

Whilst all of these are most glorious on a summer day, there are nevertheless areas in our county that are ideal if you’re looking to get out and about when the weather is less than favourable.  

So pack up the hamper, head out and celebrate the joyous summer months in the delightful Derbyshire countryside.  

FOR THE BEST VIEWS

Monsal Head, Peak District 

Monsal Head

Monsal Head - Credit: Gary Wallis

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One of the most famous beauty spots in Derbyshire, this is undoubtedly a pretty and popular place for a picnic.  

There are benches at the Monsal Head view point to sit and enjoy the stunning panoramic vista. 

Whilst the more active might hike down to Monsal Dale to sit by the weir for a picnic, Monsal Head is also a great option for anyone with limited mobility.  

The short stay carpark overlooks Monsal Dale and the viaduct and is free to blue badge holders - although you can only stay for one hour and there is only one disabled parking space.  

Much more long stay car parking can be found behind the pub. 

Public toilets are available and, for those wishing to supplement the picnic, there’s also the Monsal Head Hotel.   

Chatsworth Estate 

Chatsworth has expansive, varied gardens with numerous lovely spots for a picnic.  

However, you can save paying the entrance fee to the gardens by picnicking in the picturesque parklands.  

The 1,000-acre park, situated on the banks of the River Derwent, was designed by Lancelot 'Capability' Brown in the 1760s.  

Sit across the river to enjoy a beautiful view of the house. Alternatively climb up to the hunting tower for spectacular views.  

It’s free to picnic in the parklands, although you will need to pay for car parking. An adult ticket to just the garden is £15 (£5 discount for travelling by bus, train or bike). 

Toilet facilities open to everyone paying to use the car park (£5) 

Café refreshments are available and well-behaved dogs on leads are welcome in the garden and park.   

FAMILY-FRIENDLY

Staunton Harold Reservoir, South Derbyshire 

Staunton Harold Reservoir Country Park

Staunton Harold Reservoir Country Park - Credit: Gary Wallis

Located on the Leicestershire-Derbyshire border, in the heart of the National Forest, Staunton Harold Reservoir is a great value day out.  

Several walks can be done around the reservoir and there is a good-sized playground with lots of picnic benches and grassy areas close by - perfect to enjoy a family picnic.   

Dogs are welcome on leads. Free entry. Car parking is £3 all day at the main car park (cash and card accepted).  

Toilets are located in the main car park and include disabled and baby changing facilities. A café, operated by the National Trust, is located in the main car park.    

PICNICS IN THE PARK

Queens Park, Chesterfield 

Chesterfield’s Queens Park is a wonderful example of a traditional Victorian park, complete with a handsome bandstand, two playgrounds and large duck pond – go on a Saturday and you’ll likely to be able to take in a cricket match too if that is your thing.  

Accessibility is good and the paths are beautifully smooth for anyone with mobility issues or with prams, buggies, scooters and the likes.  

Free entrance, with pay and display car parking. Toilets, including disabled and baby changing are available and there is an on-site café serving a good variety of refreshments.   

Pavilion Gardens, Buxton 

Buxton, Pavilion Park

Buxton, Pavilion Park - Credit: Gary Wallis

Why not head to the High Peak and enjoy the twenty-three acres of beautifully landscaped gardens and play areas, including an extensive children’s play-park (including an accessible, specially made swing) adventure playground, outdoor gym, miniature railway and boating lake. 

Free entrance. Pay and display car parking. Toilet facilities. Café.     

PICNICS AND PADDLES  

Padley Gorge, North Derbyshire  

There’s a magical, fairy tale quality to Padley Gorge - and it’s a perfect place for a paddle on a hot summer’s day.  

As one of the most popular sites within the Peak District National Park, parking can be extremely limited at peak times, so do arrive early.  

Alternatively, you can park at Grindleford and scramble up Upper Padley or at Surprise View car park. 

From here cross the road and head through the rocks until you get to Padley Gorge. Otherwise, it’s possible to park at the Longshaw Estate and take a flat, way marked trail past the pond and down to Padley Gorge.  

There’s a café and toilet facilities at Longshaw Estate. Longshaw car parks are free for National Trust members. Otherwise, the charge is £4.50 for up to four hours, £6 for over four hours.    

Padley Gorge

Padley Gorge - Credit: Gary Wallis

A ROMANTIC PICNIC FOR TWO

Kedleston Hall, Derby area  

Operated by the National Trust, Kedleston Hall is a romantic neo-classical manor house situated in the rolling countryside on the outskirts of Derby city.  

There are numerous places for a delightful picnic. Whilst there are some picnic benches just by the car park, I would recommend taking a blanket and either heading to the beautiful wild flower borders in the gardens at the rear of the house, or walking away from the house towards the bridge where you will be able to find a quieter spot in the expansive parkland.  

Free for National Trust members, otherwise an adult ticket for the gardens is £9. 

Toilet facilities available as well as a café and also a catering van in the car park/picnic area.     

RAINY DAYS  

Hardwick Hall, near Chesterfield  

Hardwick Hall is an Elizabethan country house created by Bess of Hardwick in the 1500s.  

Whilst of huge historical significance, youngsters might be most interested in Hardwick being the inspiration for Malfoy Mansion in the Harry Potter films. 

There are numerous places to picnic in and around Hardwick but it’s a particularly good option when the weather is less than ideal.  

The Stableyard (close to the main entrance) has a good selection of picnic benches, some under cover. There’s also a café if you fancy supplementing your picnic with a coffee or sausage roll etc.  

Free entry for National Trust members, otherwise an adult ticket is £16. Toilet facilities available.