Rhiannon Batten finds the perfect places to lay your blanket this summer

Beeston Castle

"With views spanning over eight counties, from the Pennines to the Welsh Mountains, Beeston Castle is a great spot for a picnic lunch," advises Laurence Bresh. "Stop at nearby Hollies farm shop to select your picnic hamper, then climb to the top of the castle, which sits on a craggy outcrop."

Getting there Beeston Castle is 11 miles outside Chester in Cheshire.

Currently open from 10am to 6pm daily, entrance costs £5 per adult and £2.50 per child (01829 260464; www.english-heritage.org)


"Pick your spot on the manicured, grassy slopes in front of Chatsworth and savour both your picnic and a timeless viewof the bridge, house and fountain that stretch out in front of you," says Laurence.

Getting there Chatsworth is outside Bakewell in Derbyshire. The park is open all year, with free access.

The gardens are open from 11am to 6pm and cost £7.50 per adult or £4.50 per child (01246 565300; www.chatsworth.org)

Ragley Hall

Ragley Hall in Warwickshire, home to the Marquess and Marchioness of Hertford for nearly 350 years, is well worth a visit, according to Laurence. "Set within 400 acres of playground, this is the perfect place for a picnic and a family day out. There's a kids' zone, adventure playground with a 3D maze, trampoline and climbing frames, and a peaceful picnic area by the lake, where you might see a few peacocks roaming around".

Getting there Ragley Hall is two miles outside Alcester in Warwickshire. The grounds are currently open from 10am to 6pm.

Entrance costs £8.50 per adult, £5 per child (0800 093 0290;www.ragleyhall.com)

Hatfield House

Hatfield House's grounds are an impressive place for those looking to park a hamper. There are scented gardens and fountains, a knot garden, herb garden and a park laced with woodland trails and picnic tables.

Getting there: Hatfield House is five minutes' walk from Hatfield station, in Hertfordshire.

The gardens are open from 11am to 5.30pm in the summer months and entrance costs £5.50 for adults or £4 for children (01707 287010; www.hatfield-house.co.uk)

Powis Castle

It's tough deciding where to start a visit to Powis Castle, says Mark Price. Now cared for by the National Trust, this medieval castle was once home to Welsh princes, but it's the Italianate garden that really shines here, especially forwould-be picnickers.

Getting there: Powis Castle is just south of Welshpool in Powys. The gardens are currently open every day but Tuesday, from 11am to 5.30pm.

Entrance (garden only) costs £6.75 for adults and £3.38 for children (01938 551944; www.nationaltrust.org.uk).

Floors Castle

"Undoubtedly one of the UK's prettiest castles", Floors, in the picturesque Scottish Borders, offers much to see and do, says Mark Price. "You learn something new every time," he adds.

Getting there: Floors Castle is part of theRoxburghe Estate, outside Kelso.

Normal opening hours are 11am to 5pm and entrance costs £7 for adults and £3.50 for children (01573 223333; www.floorscastle.com)