20 locations for the perfect picnic

Not only does food taste better outdoors but it tastes better when you eat with your fingers

Everybody loves a picnic

Everybody loves a picnic

Sat, Aug 2, 2014, 01:00

Enjoy a feed at a fjord

Few locations are as spectacular as that of Ireland’s most famous fjord, Killary Harbour, on the border between Galway and Mayo. Work up an appetite with a hike along the old Green Road, a grassy famine relief project high on its southern flank, stopping to spread a blanket for a little lunchtime theatre starring dramatic views out over its deep waters and on to mighty Mweelrea, Connacht’s highest mountain, beyond. connemara.ie

Garnish your picnic

Garnish Island in Bantry Bay, Co Cork, accessed by boat from the pier at Glengariff, is one of the most romantic spots in the country. The sheltered island’s Gulf Stream microclimate has so many exotic specimen plants you’ll feel you’ve fetched up on Capri. The 15-hectare gardens have a clock tower, Greek-style temple and a Martello tower but it’s the plants that steal the show, with rhododendrons and azaleas in spring, herbaceous perennials lighting up summer and a terrific autumn display of heathers. garnishisland.com

Fish for your supper

Kids love picnics but they also love messing about on boats, trailing fishing rods in the water which makes Rathbeggan Lakes in Dunshauglin, Co Meath, purpose built for family picnics. There are climbing walls and ziplines, an airsoft range, heritage park with replica stone circles, dolmens and archaeological digs plus a fairy garden with a wishing tree. Hire rods and fish its trout-filled lake, or just find a sunny spot on the grassy lakeshore to sit back and relax over a lunch you prepared earlier. rathbegganlakes.com

Derroura, Oughterard

Bike for a biscuit

Pedal for your picnic along the Derroura Mountain Bike Trail. The 16km looped trail, at the gateway to Connemara near Oughterard, provides picnic-perfect views north into the Maam valley, west to the Twelve Pins and, at the halfway point, overlooking the entire expanse of Lough Corrib. Stop in a shady glade along the way, or reward yourself afterwards at one of the purpose-built picnic tables. derrouramountainbikehire.com

Diversity in Donegal

No matter what type of view you like to see over the top of your hang sangers, Ards Forest Park is likely to come up trumps. Forest? Check. Rivers? Check. Sandy beaches? Check. The 480-hectare park in Sheephaven Bay has the most varied terrain of any forest park in Ireland, with great viewing points, nature walks, picnic tables and a play area. It’s also home to historical and archaeological gems such as four ring forts, megalithic tombs and a historic Mass rock, perfect for a pre-prandial peruse.

Killarney National Park

Lunch on a lake

Killarney National Park is teeming with nice spots for a picnic but for total serenity, it’s hard to beat Innisfallen Island. Hire a boatman at Ross Castle to row you over and come back for you when you’re finished exploring the ruins of this ancient monastic settlement where Brian Boru is said to have studied. Just get him to stop off at Dinis Island first, to pick up goodies from the gorgeous coffee shop, leaving you free to wander Innisfallen at your leisure, with only the resident deer to disturb you. killarneynationalpark.ie

Fall for a waterfall

While tourists love to visit the gardens at Powerscourt in Co Wicklow, seasoned picnickers make straight for the waterfalls just up the road. As well as plenty of green space to wander – and no flower beds to haul the kids out of – it’s got rocks for hopping and stones for stepping, and enough ice cold water rushing by to cool a bottle. Pair it with a hike around Djouce Woods, from which the water actually falls, for a great day in the great outdoors. powerscourt.ie

Luncheon in Leitrim

Glencar, with its series of waterfalls cascading from dramatic cliffs and bluffs, is immortalised in Yeats’ The Stolen Child – falls 50ft into a pool below, resulting in a permanent, and very romantic, haze of white spray. Take a walk along the bog road for great views of the lake and the beautiful v-shaped Swiss Valley that holds it. Wherever you stop for your picnic in this part of the world, it’s going to be a recipe for success. leitrimtourism.com

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