Play Hard

9 picnic spots in the North East

Because all we want to do is be outside right now...

Written by High Life North
Published 17.06.2023

Rising Sun Country Park, North Tyneside

Where: Whitley Rd, Benton, Newcastle upon Tyne NE12 9SS

Admission price: Free

Dog-friendly: Yes

Blink and you’ll miss the entrance to this, but find the entrance next to ASDA Benton and along the track you’ll find a sprawling green space with woodland, wildflower meadows and ponds. With its well-maintained picnic areas and network of nature trails, Rising Sun Country Park provides a great setting for an outdoor feast.

HLN’s top tip: Keep an eye out for the park’s resident wildlife, such as red kites and deer.

Washington Wetland Centre

Where: Barmston Lane, Pattinson, Washington NE38 8LE

Admission price: Adults – £10.45, Junior (4-17) – £6.81, Children under 4 – free

Dog friendly: Assistance dogs only

We’ve only just discovered this absolute gem recently which is a great day out for all the family. From flamingos to otters (including a new baby, Buster), Washington Wetland Centre has a huge variety of nature to discover, as well as a packed activity schedule, on site cafe and gift shop.

HLN’s top tip: Check out the collaboration with illustrator Quentin Blake that has a series of events from May-September 2023.

Saltburn-by-the-Sea, Redcar and Cleveland

Where: TS12 1JS

Admission price: Free

Dog-friendly: On the right of the pier during summer

Saltburn-by-the-Sea is a beautiful coastal town in Redcar and Cleveland known for its sandy beach, Victorian pier, and impressive cliff views. Whether you choose to picnic on the beach or venture up the cliffside using one of the world’s oldest cliff lifts, you’ll get some gorgeous views of the North Sea.

HLN’s top tip: If you don’t take your own picnic, check out the Seaview Restaurant which has the best fish and chips in the area.


Hardwick Park, Sedgefield

Where: A177, Sedgefield, Stockton-on-Tees TS21 2DN

Admission price: Free

Dog-friendly: Dogs on leads welcome

A Visit England accredited country park in County Durham, Hardwick Park is a picturesque setting of beautiful woodland, lakes and wildlife. Stroll along the paths to find a cozy spot beside the water for a picnic surrounded by nature, including the resident swans and ducks.

HLN’s top tip: If you have children, download the free Love Exploring App and watch as augmented reality brings characters to life across the park.

Kielder Water and Forest Park, Northumberland

Where: Kielder, Hexham NE48 1ER

Admission price: Free (but take cash for parking)

Dog-friendly: Yes

This vast expanse of woodland and the largest man-made lake in northern Europe offer endless picnic opportunities. Choose a secluded spot along the lakeshore or find a clearing within the forest. You can cycle, ride horses or walk along the many trails to discover the art installations around the park.

HLN’s Top Tip: Stay until after dark to enjoy the beauty of England’s largest Dark Skies Park.

Jesmond Dene, Newcastle-upon-Tyne

Where: Jesmond Dene Road, Jesmond, NE2 2HP

Admission price: Free

Dog-friendly: Yes

Just 5 minutes outside of Newcastle City Centre, Jesmond Dene has a river, picturesque bridges, beautiful woodland and hidden waterfalls to explore, as well as wide open spaces for a picnic. There’s also a fun pet’s corner for kids which is also free to visit.

HLN’s top tip: Visit Jesmond Road to pick up your picnic food from Grate, Dene’s Deli, Rehills or SomethingGood.

Bamburgh Beach, Northumberland

Where: Bamburgh, Seahouses, Northumberland, NE69 7DF

Admission price: Free

Dog-friendly: Yes

Regarded as one of the finest beaches in the UK, Bamburgh Beach has the amazing backdrop of the castle to enjoy a seaside picnic. The expanse of golden sands go on for miles, giving you loads of space to find a quiet spot and a paddle in the sea.

HLN’s top tip: The sunrise is incredible if you fancy making this one a breakfast picnic.

Raby Castle, County Durham

Where: Staindrop, Darlington DL2 3AH

Admission price: Adult – £13.00, Concession – £12.00, Children (4-15) – £6.50, Under-4 – free

Dog-friendly: Dogs on leads welcome

Surrounded by rolling hills and a deer park, Raby Castle is a medieval fortress where you can explore the castle’s gardens and spot the resident fallow deer as you enjoy your picnic.

HLN’s top tip: There’s a huge outdoor play area called The Plotters’ Forest to keep the kid’s entertained.

Exhibition Park, Newcastle

Where: Claremont Rd, Newcastle upon Tyne NE2 4PZ

Admission price: Free

Dog-friendly: Yes

This large public park in Newcastle-upon-Tyne has loads of facilities including sports areas, playgrounds, a boating lake and a skate park. It has loads of wide-open grassy spaces to sunbathe and enjoy a picnic – it’s also a great place to enjoy lunch outside if you work in the city centre.

HLN’s top tip: Pick up a sandwich from award-winning sandwich shop BAIT which is just a short walk from the park.

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