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Lifestyle, Country

Best National Trust Wildflower Picnic Spots in Oxfordshire

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cows on Holies Down National Trust Images Hugh Mothersole d6w7y6

Cows on Holies Down © National Trust Images Hugh Mothersole

The National Trust looks after more than 250,000 hectares of countryside, 780 miles of coastline and 500 historic properties, gardens and nature reserves including some of the region’s most beautiful wildflower meadows, protected by the National Trust rangers. 

Perfect for outdoor feasts, just sit back on soft ground speckled with wildflowers and listen to the quiet that’s not quiet at all. The air is literally humming with life. Hear the bird call, the grasshoppers chirp and the gentle white whoosh of the world happening somewhere else in the background. Feel the tickle of sweeping grasses, smell the wild herbs and watch birds wheel overhead and butterflies dance in the foreground. It’s an ordinary, but extraordinary pleasure and privilege to picnic in a wildflower meadow. Best of all, it costs nothing to visit any of those listed below. 

 

Coombe Hill, near Wendover in Buckinghamshire 

View from Coombe Hill © National Trust Images Hugh Mothersole

Coombe Hill is the highest point of the Chilterns and you can see for miles over Aylesbury Vale as far as the Cotswolds on a clear day. It’s a designated Site of Special Scientific Interest and is home to more than 30 species of wildflower and 28 species of butterfly.  

Parking: free, but gets busy on weekends  

 

 

West Wycombe Hill, near High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire 

View over West Wycombe Park © National Trust Images Alasdair Ogilvie

There are fantastic views from West Wycombe Hill over towards High Wycombe and over the designed landscape of nearby West Wycombe Park. The hexagonal mausoleum at the top of the hill is an obvious destination. It belongs to the Dashwood family, who still live at West Wycombe Park today, and includes family dedications along with an urn containing the heart of the poet and Hellfire Club steward, Paul Whitehead.The grass at the base of the mausoleum is a great place for a picnic and has the best views.  

Parking: There’s a free National Trust car park at the top and a pay-and-display at the bottom of the hill. 

 

Winter Hill, Cookham, Berkshire 

View from Winter Hill © National Trust Hugh Mothersole

Winter Hill is a steep chalk escarpment with big views overlooking the river Thames and small towns of Marlow and Bourne End. On the chalk slopes you’ll find orchids, rock rose and other flowers, and you can watch the red kites riding the thermal updrafts. There’s a small free car park at the top of the hill, or you can arrive at Winter Hill from a longer walk taking in the lush meadows on footpaths alongside the river.   

Parking: free car park at the top of the hill 

 

Watlington Hill, Watlington, Oxfordshire 

© National Trust Hugh Mothersole

Watlington Hill looks out over the pretty town of Watlington and the Vale of Oxford. There are gentle plateaus of rabbit-grazed turf on the top of the hill that are perfect for picnicking. Alternatively, head to the bench at the top of the Watlington White Mark. This chalk figure was created by a local squire who wanted to view a spire from his home, so he ‘drew’ one on the landscape. As you walk you’ll see gnarled yew trees, silver spotted skipper butterflies and horseshoe vetch – a plant the rangers are protecting to feed the Adonis and Chalk Hill Blue butterflies.  

Parking: Don’t park on the road verges, there’s a National Trust pay-and-display car park at the site. 

 

Holies Down, Streatley, Berkshire 

© National Trust Images Hugh Mothersole

Holies Down was used for motorbike scrambling vefore it was acquired by the National Trust. The rangers have been nursing the meadow back to health for decades and today it’s rich with orchids, vetch, wild thyme and rockrose. It’s also a haven for butterflies like the Adonis blue and grizzled skipper. If you follow the walk below, you’ll enjoy panoramic views towards the Chiltern Hills and North Wessex Downs.  

Parking: free National Trust car park at Lardon Chase.  

 

Buscot, near Faringdon, West Oxfordshire 

© National Trust Images Andrew Butler

Buscot village is settled on one of the most tranquil and unspoilt stretches of the river Thames with flower meadows either side. A great place for a picnic is on the grass by Buscot weir overlooking a lovely pool of water. Take the peaceful walk from Buscot village to Lechlade and back along the river and you’ll come across St John’s Lock, the very first lock to be constructed on the River Thames.  

Parking: National Trust pay-and-display car park in the village.  

 

www.nationaltrust.org.uk

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