20 locations for the perfect picnic

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

Sat, Aug 2, 2014, 01:00

Pick up a picnic in Wexford

For a dramatic setting Dunbrody Abbey outside New Ross is worth exploring. The 12th-century abbey may be in ruins but it’s got a certain magic. Go on a Saturday to pick up treats from the weekly market for an impromptu picnic on the spot, fuelling an exploration of the visitor centre and maze. Or pack up the cooler box and head further afield to sites such as Duncannon Fort and Hook Head lighthouse, the oldest operational lighthouse in the world. dunbrodyabbey.com

Load up at Lough

Key Few forest parks can top Lough Key, Co Roscommon, for fun, with outdoor playgrounds and adventure centres plus indoor activities such as the Boda Borg, perfect for when it rains. There are forest trails, lakeside paths and a treetop path you won’t have seen this side of a rainforest. Stop off first at the Origin farmer’s market in nearby Boyle for locally produced knapsack fillers to make best use of the park’s lakeside picnic tables. Alternatively, hire a bike – or cheat and hire an e-bike – and take a spin to a picnic spot of your own. loughkey.ie

Gourmet on the Greenway

Picnickers, like armies, travel on their stomachs. Launch an assault on the Great Western Greenway, the 42km off-road cycle trail from Achill to Westport, taking full advantage of the canny Gourmet Greenway Food Trail alongside it. Devised by local foodies, it’s designed to showcase the artisan produce of the region.

Snack your way cross-country with products such as Murrevagh honey, Carrowholly cheese, Keem Bay smoked fish and Croagh Patrick oysters, stopping off at the Blue Bicycle Tearooms in Newport to stock up on gourmet sandwiches, scones and cakes for the picnic on the return leg. greenway.ie

Ballycotton cliff walk

Sea-bird’s eye view in Cork

For dramatic coastal picnics, pack the knapsack and head out along the Ballycotton Cliff Walk in east Cork. Starting at the car park at the most westerly end of the town, it extends along 8km of cliff walk to the beach at Ballytrasna, with about 300 species of bird to be spotted along the way. With meadows on one side and sea on the other, there are almost as many suitably scenic spots to stop and eat your sarnies. Choose a lofty vantage point along the cliff top, or take steps down to the shore for lunch on the rocks – either makes for a perfect impromptu dining room. ballycotton.ie

Take a tow path to treats

Not sure if it’s appropriate to picnic on top of the flat-topped motte in the picturesque village of St Mullins in Co Carlow, though the panoramic views will certainly aid digestion. Instead, strike out towards Graiuenamanagh on the 7km path which makes up the first – or last – leg of The Barrow Way long-distance walking path. It’s as bucolic a picnic setting as you’ll find, with a grassy towpath to spread your rug on and barges and cruisers to watch as you munch. borris.ie

Snack under the stars

On those happy occasions when warm night air and clear skies combine, nothing beats a picnic under the stars. If you’re inKerry, head for Waterville, and if it’s a weekend, even better, because you’ll have the Waterville market to shop for goodies by day, before finding yourself a spot overlooking Ballinskelligs Bay and Lake Currane to watch the sunset. It’s when the real show begins in this star spangled part of the world – part of the Kerry International Dark Sky Reserve and the only Gold Tiered Reserve in the Northern Hemisphere. kerrydarksky.com

Picnic with puffins

Take a trip to see the wildlife on Great Saltee off Co Wexford, one of the bestird sanctuaries in Ireland. The privately owned island is home to around 220 species of sea birds, as well as a large population of grey seals. To get there, catch a boat from Kilmore Quay. You don’t need permission to land but when the island’s owners are in residence visitors are asked to come on shore between 11.30am and 4.30pm only – giving you plenty of time to find a ringside seat for a picnic with puffins. salteeislands.info

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