Countryside Winter Picnic Spots
For glorious views of the Towy Valley Paxton Tower packs a punch for a winter picnic spot. There’s a car park close to the tower so no strenuous walking to be done and lots of grass for laying down a rug. Built by William Paxton this Neo-Gothic folly sits on a hilltop near Llanarthney with views down to the National Botanic Gardens of Wales. The land is now managed by the National Trust and the tower was built sometime between 1805 and 1808 and erected in honour of Lord Nelson to a design by Samuel Pepys Cockerell.
Picnic tip: It can be breezy so pack a windproof
How to reach: on the Llandeilo to Carmarthen road (B4300) with the turn off sign posted at Llanarthne.
Perched above the Towy Valley and on a rocky outcrop right above the river this 13th century castle occupies a perfect defensive position and a very pleasing view for a picnic. Look across to Paxton Tower with a mulled cider and reflect on the battles that look place here. Built by one of the princes of the kingdom of Deheubarth, this castle changed hands several times in the struggles between the Welsh and English over the ensuing centuries and is considered one of the most important remaining structures (Grade 1 listed) built by a Welsh chieftain.
Picnic tip: It is really satisfying to conjure up a winter picnic out of your backpack as you leave the car and seek out the perfect location for the best views of this landscape, dominated by Paxton’s Tower and Dryslwyn Castle, which is spectacular from any one of the compass points. Pack several courses, drink in the sights and create special memories.
How to reach: Whilst Red Kites soar majestically over this hallowed terrain mere picnicking mortals have to wander under their eagle eyed scrutiny half way between Llandeilo and Carmarthen on the B4297 after leaving the A40.
The peace that falls on a forest in winter along with the mist, moss and shards of sunlight through densely packed trees make for a fairytale picnic. You could be Red Riding Hood with her picnic basket - without the wolves of course! Brechfa is a large area of mostly coniferous forest with picnic tables and there are way marked trails for winter wanderings to avoid getting lost. Don't miss the Forest Garden Trail to see giant redwoods and eucalyptus along with sessile oak and walnut.
Picnic tip: Pine needles gathered together make for super soft makeshift table and chairs when spread with a blanket or sheet. Take the kids and hunt for fairies in the forest. The towering pines springing from alpine slopes that pierce the sky and the natural outward bound terrain both make for invigorating explorations.
How to reach: Abergorlech Picnic Site is in Brechfa. Abergorlech is a small village and friendly community who welcome all visitors. Find it next to Brechfa Forest on the B4310.
Llyn y Fan Fach
This must be a strong contender as one of the UK’s most dramatic picnic spots, overlooking the glacial cirque of Llyn y Fan Fach on the western flank of the Brecon Beacons. From the car park it’s a bit of an uphill slog but worth every puff and pant. The views over the lake are magical and looking west into the sinking sun while slurping some soup is hard to beat. Lay out a rug, look down at the lake and reflect on the Lady of the Lake legend.
Picnic tip: A cold, breezy, cloudy day is no less beautiful than summer even at this exposed spot. As long as you are prepared with suitable attire it is possible to enjoy an elegant picnic with Father Winter. Choose best autumn recipe ideas for your picnic that are guaranteed to warm the palate and excite the brain with the colour and life of Mother Nature.
How to reach: Leave the A40 at Trecastle and head south west to Llanddeusant. Then follow the signs to Llyn y Fan Fach.
Cwm Rhaeadr, which means “valley of the waterfall” in Welsh, is a remote woodland and picnic area situated in the upper Tywi Valley just north of Llandovery. A visit to this area in the autumn/winter months means with more water the falls are more dramatic and the woodland colours simply stunning. Lay your picnic out on the tables near the car park beneath the Douglas Fir trees or there is a two mile waymarked walk to the falls or a shorter trail to two peaceful ponds.
Picnic tip: If you have something to celebrate dunk a bottle of fizz in the falls to chill.
How to reach: Cwm Rhaeadr is near Llandovery and is approximately one mile north of the village of Cilycwm. Car parking is free of charge.
Cenarth is a small village on the River Teifi on the border with Ceredigion with a series of small waterfalls and pools and famous for its cheese. Buy some cheese from the Caws Cenarth farm shop then head to the riverside picnic area just below the falls to look out for otters and kingfishers.
Picnic tip: Call in at the National Museum of Wool en route. Their shop is packed full of great Welsh blankets which make great picnic rugs.
How to reach: From Cenarth, take the B4332 sign posted for Boncath. Keep your eyes peeled for a Forestry Commission sign on your left and follow the lane to the left here, it leads up hill to a parking area with a picnic spot.