As the days draw longer and the weather continues to improve, now more than ever we are keen to discover hidden corners and private picnic spots to enjoy some cost-effective days out as a family. With the school summer holidays just around the corner, the family-friendly pursuit of packing a picnic and heading off for a day exploring Cheshire will be on the cards for many as we stay closer to home this year. Rather than joining the crowds at busier more popular attractions, take inspiration from our round-up to visit some lesser-known and quieter corners of our wonderful county. From magical woodlands, secret playgrounds, and undiscovered parkland, we have rounded up our suggestions for the best hidden picnic spots in Cheshire this summer.

1. Edgar’s Field Park, Chester

Tucked away behind The Ship Inn in Handbridge, just over the Old Dee Bridge from the historic city of Chester, is Edgar’s Field Park. This park is a smaller and quieter alternative to Grosvenor Park and a welcome oasis of calm after time spent exploring the city. Edgar’s Field provides a delightful tree-lined avenue with which to enjoy a waterside walk together with an ample dose of Roman history.

The site of an original Roman Quarry, the sandstone was used to construct Chester’s famous fortress walls and the buildings within. Visitors can walk in the footsteps of garrison soldiers at the sandstone carving, Minerva’s Shrine, and Edgar’s Cave a few steps away from the park’s impressive nautical themed playground. The large pirate ship, slide and swings are suitable for children of all ages and the green space that surrounds it is perfect for a family picnic.

Edgar's Field Park. Photo credit Jenny Schippers

2. Kelsall Playground & Primrose Wood

The quaint village of Kelsall, a short drive from Delamere Forest, is situated on Kelsall Hill affording dramatic views across the Cheshire Plain to Beeston and Peckforton Hills beyond. While avoiding the crowds, visitors to Kelsall can explore the quieter walks in Primrose Wood, a detached section of Delamere Forest, by parking just off Waste Lane. Intersected by the Sandstone Trail walkers can incorporate a stop at Urchin’s Kitchen, an Ice Age glacial gorge, and Primrose Hill awash with seasonal blooms.

After a magical woodland walk, visitors can make their way to Kelsall village green, adjacent to The Morris Dancer pub for a relaxing picnic. The enclosed wooden playground features equipment suitable for children of all ages together with seating, a zipline and basketball courts. The paved paths circumnavigating the lawned park are fully accessible for prams, wheelchairs and scooters making it the ideal place to spend a few hours playing.

Kelsall Playground. Photo credit Jenny Schippers

3. Quarry Bank Mill & Styal Woods

Although the National Trust site of Quarry Bank Mill is by no means a hidden gem, there are quieter sections of the site and surrounding woodland that make an ideal picnic spot. Taking advantage of the free on-site parking, the upper formal gardens overlooking the mill are a delightful area to spend time close to good toilet and café facilities, and while National Trust fees apply, this is the quietest section of the estate. The ancient woodland that surrounds the mill is free to access and the countless miles of enchanting nature trails make it easy to avoid the crowds.

The Kingfisher Walk taking in the pretty Styal Village dissects Chapel Woods at the northern perimeter of the estate before joining the River Bollin where walkers can connect to a linear riverside trail through southern woodland to The Carrs in Wilmslow, a first-rate park with play and picnic areas.

Quarry Bank Mill. Photo credit Jenny Schippers

4. Grappenhall Heys Walled Garden, Warrington

Nestled in woodland just outside Warrington, Grappenhall Heys Walled Garden is the final remaining section of a grand estate once owned by banking giant, Thomas Parr. Protected from the encroaching new build housing development that surrounds it, the walled ornamental and kitchen gardens along with a small section of woodland are free for visitors to enjoy. Open Tuesday to Sunday, the exquisite gardens featuring a network of ponds allowing for a peaceful picnic spot away from the hustle and bustle.

Within the Kitchen Garden there is always something to catch your interest year-round from blossoming seasonal wildflowers, orchard trees bearing fruit, busy hives, and a remarkable array of home-grown produce, much of which is used in the onsite café housed in the restored glasshouses. Close by the cobbled village centre of Grappenhall is a short walk, easily reached by a paved pathway passing Parrs Wood, the site of one of the region’s largest Heron colonies.

Grappenhall Heys Walled Garden. Photo credit Jenny Schippers

5. Cholmondeley Castle Gardens, Malpas

The imposing Cholmondeley Castle, a private family home situated close to Malpas, opens its grounds and gardens for visitors to explore on Wednesdays, Thursdays, Sundays, and Bank Holidays throughout the summer season. This vast estate is a real hidden gem and makes for a full family day out in south Cheshire.

Guests can enjoy lakeside walks, a children’s playground, the stunning Temple and Folly ornamental Gardens, and the magical Tower Hill complete with a natural play area for little ones. With full on-site facilities including a café serving lunch, snacks and ice cream, Cholmondeley Castle welcomes visitors to enjoy a picnic anywhere within their gardens and on the slopes of the castle offering wonderful views across the estate.

Cholmondeley Castle. Photo credit Jenny Schippers

6. The Moor, Knutsford

A few paces from the bustling King Street, The Moor offers visitors an excellent playground and designated picnic area to enjoy after time spent exploring the historic streets and shops of up-market Knutsford. The Moor overlooks the southern tip of Tatton Mere and provides the opportunity to get up close and personal with the waterbirds that call it home.

The large playground with designated toddler area is right underneath the flight path for Manchester Airport, so plane enthusiasts will be greeted by a steady stream of low flying aircraft that only adds to the excitement factor. The green space is crying out for a football game and the paved pathways make it suitable for prams, wheelchairs, and scooters with ample parking just over the road. For the caffeine lovers, co-ordinate your visit with the arrival of the bright orange Tatton Perk coffee van that services the park on Sundays.

The Moor Knutsford. Photo credit Jenny Schippers

7. Anderton Nature Park, Northwich

This vast maze of waterside trails, woodland walks and nature meadows is a wildlife haven created from the disused lime beds and pools associated with Northwich’s salt production. The network of waterways that once serviced this industry are now used by leisure boats that take the Anderton Boat Lift, considered one of the ‘Seven Wonders of the Waterways’ the heady 50 feet from the River Weaver below to the Trent & Mersey Canal above.

The associated visitor centre is open weekends with a café, toilets, and a children’s play area sitting in the shadows of the famous boat lift. There are an array of picnic and seating areas dotted along the miles of trails that link the Nature Park to Neumann’s Flash and accompanying Lion Salt Works, also worth a visit. From accessible trails to canalside paths, there is something to suit all, making this Cheshire attraction a full day out for adults and children alike.  

Anderton Nature Park. Photo credit Jenny Schippers

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