Life's a picnic

July 20, 2022

Life's a picnic

If you’re anything like us, summer days out must include water. And the long, hot days of the school summer holidays mean one of two things depending on whether or not you have children – keeping them entertained, or finding those less frequented beauty spots.

July is national picnic month, so we thought we’d share our favourite day trip adventures for the summer holidays. All you need to plan is what food to pack.

Swim out adventures

Around the UK coasts, there are small islands, monuments and natural features that swimmers love to explore. It’s best to hook up with a local guide or swim group before taking on one of these more challenging adventures.

Where to go: We love the St Michael’s Mount swim in Cornwall. It’s about 3km of fairly safe, current-free swimming (though avoid a Spring tide). You can do this swim yourself or book a swim guide.

What to bring: Dress for 1-2 hours in the water, so wear a wetsuit if you need one. You’ll need a brightly-coloured swim hat and a tow-float so boats can see you, and pack a mobile phone and whistle for safety.

Deakin and Blue Red X back swimsuit paddleboard drybag

Secret coves

There’s something really exciting about finding a secret cove as a swimmer or by paddleboard or kayak. Starting at your favourite beach, why not pack a picnic and swim or paddle your way around the coastline?

Where to go: Beer in Devon is a beautiful village with easy parking and an easy-to-access beach. The nearest secret cove is only 1km to the right of the beach, and there are caves that you can swim through on a high tide.

What to bring: If you’re swimming, you can pack a picnic in a Ruckraft and a lightweight towel. Don’t forget your drybag to keep your sandwiches dry!

Hike and swim

Hiking up river and then swimming down is a proper pleasure on a warm day. Wear lightweight trainers that you can swim in and plenty of food to fuel you. You can make your hike-swim as long as you like.

Where to go: We love the River Wye on the Welsh-English border. It’s very bendy, which means your hike can be shorter than your swim. Park at Huntsham bridge and walk about 4km to Lower Lydbrook to start your 7km swim downstream back to Huntsham bridge.

What to bring: Hiking shoes and lightweight clothing that you pack into your tow-float. The Wye can be quite busy with kayakers, so make sure you’re visible.

Deakin and Blue Lido drybag

Lido life

If you like something more sedate and family-friendly, you can’t beat the UK’s beautiful lidos. Pack a picnic and plenty of factor-50 and show your support for your local outdoor pool.

Where to go: In the heart of the Peak District, Hathersage swimming pool is a huge 1930s lido which has had significant work done to it over the last decade. It’s accessible to people with disabilities and has a new, sustainable heating system. Look out for live music events over the summer for an extra special outdoor swimming experience.

What to bring: You don’t need any special kit, but do make sure that you book first.

Safe bathing

Another way to swim outdoors safely with children is to find a designated bathing spot at a river or a life-guarded beach. This is one sure way of know that a swim spot is safe.

Where to go: In December 2020, an area of the River Wharfe at Cromwheel in Ilkley, Yorkshire was given bathing water status. That means that the Environment Agency monitors the water quality just upstream. At low water, there’s a gently sloping shingle beach and it’s the perfect place to cool off in the summer.

What to bring: Water shoes for stepping over the pebbles would be a good idea.

Roaming free

Scotland introduced new rules for responsible public access to the countryside in 2003. This means you can hike, wild camp and swim in many Scottish Lochs.

Where to go: We love Loch Tay in the Scottish Highlands. Surrounded by mountains, its cool waters are perfect for a dip. After breakfast at the Paper Boat, try swimming from the shingle beaches at the Kenmore end of the loch. And if you’re after a treat, visit Taymouth Marina with its Hot Box sauna, steam room and jacuzzi and huge slide into the loch.

What to bring: Wild swimming gear for the loch or your best bikini for the Hot Box.

Deakin & Blue X-back Zoo