VisitScotland and Forest Holidays have taken the Scottish summer picnic up a gear this year, with the launch of an exclusive Picnic Butler service at two Forest Holidays sites – Ardgartan in Argyll and Strathyre in Perthshire. In celebration of Scotland’s Year of Food & Drink, forest ranger (and Everest mountaineer, no less) Jack Black can be called upon to design a picnic experience to suit, from a family adventure to a romantic excursion. If you’re used to nibbling Scotch eggs on a tartan rug call in kilted Jack instead and he will guide you through foraging, making fires, spotting wildlife and outdoor survival techniques before supplying a picnic hamper laden with local treats, from smoked salmon and Caboc cream cheese bagels, to oat cakes, seasonal fruit, Tunnocks tea cakes, Heather Honey tablet, Scottish spring water and (perhaps slightly less local) sparkling wine.
The Nare Hotel on Cornwall’s Roseland Peninsula is one of the county’s classiest country house hotels. This year its picnic service just got even classier, however; having acquired a new 38ft motorboat, the hotel is offering guests and non-residents the chance to book a picnic onboard whilst sailing (hopefully smoothly) down the Helford River. The Alice Rose can seat up to eight guests and the five-hour trips must be booked in advance.
If seafood’s your thing, walk out along the South West Coast Path to Yarmer Sands in Devon to picnic on fine sand, right by the sea. If you’re staying at the nearby Thurlestone Hotel you can go one better and pre-order a picnic crammed with local seafood specialities (south Devon crab and soused mackerel with rhubarb and apple relish among them) as well as home-baked ham, West Country cheeses, home-made cakes and juices.
Walk to a secret spot on the High Weald Landscape Trail from Sussex’s Gravetye Manor and the hotel’s outdoor butler will meet you with a Kitchen Garden Hamper. Tuck into fruit and vegetables from the hotel’s garden, plus sandwiches, homemade cake and a bottle of Nyetimber Classic Cuvée or Bluebell Sparkling English Wine, both from local vineyards, while you look out over the Gravetye Estate and the North Downs.
Across the Channel, help is at hand for visitors to Paris who haven’t got the va-va-voom to buy their own pain, vin and boursin. Simply order a basket of French lunch favourites via Paris Picnics, an online picnic delivery service, and they will bring “le classique” (wine, baguettes, charcuterie, fruit, salad and a seasonal dessert) or “le chic” (the same but with Champagne, fois gras and macarons added in) to you, at any of the main city parks.