Posted on Friday 23rd June
The warmer summer weather means more chances to eat outside in The National Forest. Here are our picks of the best places to eat al fresco.
Cider connoisseurs should head to the Derbyshire Sausage and Cider Festival this summer (30th June – 3rd July at Catton Hall. If you want to try a similar experience, head to the Real Ale & Jazz Festival on 14th-16th July. The hosting National Brewery Centre has its own on-site brewery which will be offering up its Charringtons IPA and Worthington White Shield to stand alongside summer ciders and ales coming from small, independent brewers from around the country.
There’s something hearty and wholesome about eating food from the farm! Ashby de la Zouch hosts its Farmers’ Market on the third Saturday of each month and Burton upon Trent also hosts its own Farmers’ Market on the second Thursday of the month. Here you can pick up locally reared meat, homemade cakes, a whole variety of rustic looking cheeses, and wine produced right here in The National Forest at Sealwood Farm Vineyard. If it’s been brewed, raised, made, pickled, bottled or baked within 35 miles of The National Forest, you’ll find it on one of those stalls!
Picnic in an English Country Garden
Pack up your strawberries, scones and flask of tea and find a spot for a summer picnic in the grounds of Elvaston Castle Country Park. The beautiful estate has been awarded the ‘Green Flag’ for the third year running for its quality green space, and the carefully curated gardens are designated for their heritage importance. Unroll your blanket at the top of the hill to look down on the impressive building, or surround yourself and lunchbox with colourful flowers in the Old English Walled Garden.
Hands on Food
Instead of just eating them, gather some hungry friends and make your own sausages at Betty’s Farm. It also has an army of 24,000 free range egg laying hens, which you can pick up in the Farm Shop, or on Thursdays –Saturdays munch down cakes and homemade specials in the new Coop Café. If you’re keen to support local businesses, then time your visit for a Tuesday afternoon when a fish van rocks up with a lovely selection of seafood.
If you want some fresh fruit with the satisfaction of harvesting them yourself, then go to Cattows Farm where you can pick strawberries and raspberries for your next Eton Mess – or select your own gooseberries and blackcurrants to make some delicious summer puddings.
Did someone say gin o’clock? You don’t often get the chance to create your own alcohol, but book on to the distillery tour at the 45 Gin School near Nanpantan and you’ll be walking out with your own botanical infused bottle of gin by the time you’ve learnt to choose your ingredients and distill your bespoke creation.
Tea and cake
Who doesn’t love tea and cake? It’s perfect whatever the weather might throw at us – equally great for getting out of the cold on a rainy day or for sitting outside in the sunshine. Stop by at Lakeside Bistro & Tearoom in Moira to eat on the patio in an idyllic setting – the tranquil venue overlooks a small lake with a wildlife island in the middle, and it’s known for its puddings and pies too.
If you fancy a long walk topped off by a well-earned slice of something, then Bradgate Park’s your destination. There’s a café right near to the ruins of 9-day Queen of England, Lady Jane Grey’s childhood house where you can sit and rest your feet, or take a break with your cuppa before heading for a second session around the country estate.
Take some sarnies and enjoy al fresco dining on your picnic rug in Saltersford Valley, a picturesque place en route from Donisthorpe to Oakthorpe. Its picnic area spans a hefty 6ha so you can choose between resting and refuelling open air in either woodland, meadow or marshland.
To take in some history on the Ashby Woulds Heritage Trail, start out for an easy walk from Conkers, passing along the canal to Moira Furnace. Eat your packed lunch by the water watching the boats and birds, or admiring the nineteenth century iron making furnace.
Take your pick from lush countryside locations on the Mease Lowlands walk in South Derbyshire. The 9 mile route takes in pleasant farmland and country grass paths giving you both lovely rural scenery, and a myriad of places to ponder and tuck in to your pork pie!
We’d love to see photos of your picnics, lunch stops or more elaborate romantic foodie escapes to The National Forest. Just use #forestlife to share the moment with us!