AHEAD of National Picnic Week we look at the National Trust’s top ten picnic spots in Buckinghamshire, Berkshire and Oxfordshire.

Packing a picnic to catch up with friends and family is a wonderful way to celebrate the longer, warmer days of summer.

Endlessly optimistic and adaptable, Brits will picnic whatever the weather and make sure everyone enjoys it.

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It helps if it’s a beautiful setting. Luckily, we have some of the best spots in the country for eating al fresco and drinking in the stunning views.

Stowe (near Buckingham)

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In previous years at Stowe, you'd not have been able to picnic on the south lawn for fear of a hard golf ball coming your way.

All evidence of the golf course has now been removed and the area is gradually being restored back to its eighteenth-century heyday.

Views are being opened up, hay meadows restored and 60 lime trees have been planted in the area known as Queen's Theatre. It's a lovely place to picnic with the grand house at your back, overlooking Octagon Lake. This is a dog-friendly spot.

Hughenden (near High Wycombe)

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There are picnic benches in Hughenden’s orchard where you can sit at a bench and keep an eye on children playing in the natural play area.

However, the grass has been allowed to grow here this year to benefit the wildflowers and grasses as spring came so late. So if you prefer shorter grass, the north lawn is wonderfully shady on a hot day.

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If you like to picnic with a view, the east slope has far-reaching views over the ha-ha and across Hughenden valley and the Chiltern Hills.

This is a dog-friendly spot.

Waddesdon (near Aylesbury, open Wednesdays to Sundays)

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The most popular place for picnics is below the Parterre with a view of the Manor on one side and sweeping views of Aylesbury Vale on the other.

There are parkland trees to provide dappled shade if it’s hot. Later in the summer (latter half of July), the Parterre bedding will be in bloom and provide a colourful backdrop to a picnic. Waddesdon does click and collect picnics if you have better things to do than pack your own!

This is a dog-friendly spot - though they’re not permitted on the Parterre itself.

Boarstall Duck Decoy (near Bicester, open Sundays)

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Once an ancient royal hunting forest, Boarstall Duck Decoy offers 13 acres of picturesque shady woodland.

A short circular walk takes you around a central pond where you can see the intriguing netted channels or ‘pipes’ which were invented in the 17th century for catching wildfowl.

There are picnic benches, stepping logs and a den-building area to keep little legs active. This is a dog-friendly spot.

Claydon (near Buckingham, open Fridays and Saturdays)

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After a tour around the house being wowed by the sumptuous interiors and intrigued by the stories told, a little sit-down on the peaceful South Lawn is very welcome.

The lawn is nestled between the house, the church and the formal gardens (not NT) of the Claydon Estate.

The tranquil, timeless views over the parkland are a great accompaniment to a picnic. Dogs aren’t permitted on the South Lawn.

Basildon Park (near Reading)

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The lawn in front of the mansion at has been THE picnic spot for residents of Basildon Park for generations.

You can imagine garden parties here on the wide flat lawns with far-reaching views over the parkland, signalling the wealth and importance of the landowner.

Another advantage is that the tea room is at your back to top up your picnic hamper with a few choice goodies.

Alternatively, there are benches dotted through the woodland if you fancy a peaceful picnic with a shady stroll. This is a dog-friendly spot.

Chastleton (near Moreton-in-Marsh)

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Chastleton, a Jacobean country house in the north Cotswolds, has a lovely spot for picnics on the top terrace.

You get a great view onto the Croquet lawns and in the afternoons, the house gives some shade.

Alternatively, the Best Garden is being restored to its heyday at the moment. The topiary is being clipped back into shape and new borders have been cut in and planted up in the central feature.

The borders are already attracting lots of butterflies. This is a dog-friendly spot.

Greys Court (near Henley-on-Thames)

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The lower lawn is a favourite picnic spot at Greys Court as there are lovely views over the Chiltern Hills from there.

You can watch the cows grazing peacefully in the foreground and the red kites swooping in the distance. This is a dog-friendly spot.

Nuffield Place (near Henley-on-Thames, open Wednesdays to Sundays)

The garden at Nuffield Place is looking lovely at the moment. The volunteers have worked so hard to bring it back to life after lockdown.

The meadow behind the house has lots of space for a picnic and running around chasing butterflies.

The old tennis court beside the house is another favourite.

It feels weirdly naughty, billowing your rug across the invisible lines of the court, but don’t worry, there’s no umpire to tell you off! This is a dog-friendly spot.

Cliveden (near Maidenhead)

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Cliveden has a wealth of picnic spots. The aptly named ‘Picnic Spot’ is a quiet and sheltered area at the top of Rushy Valley, conveniently positioned between the Walled Garden and the conservatory café. There are picnic benches for use.

The Water Garden is a picturesque, family-friendly space to picnic on benches with the Storybook Play Area close by and the Doll’s House café on hand for ice cream (after all the carrot and cucumber has been consumed, naturally).

There are stepping-stones and open water, so whilst keeping your eyes peeled for a glimpse of the resident heron, you’ll also need to keep an eye on little ones near the water.

Arguably the best view of all for a picnic is by the river, watching the passing boats or even taking a trip on board the skippered cruise. Or you can hire your own boat and take your picnic with you. There are picnic benches on the riverbank.

The river is down a steep slope or 172 steps. Dogs aren’t permitted in the Water Garden but the river and Picnic Spot are dog-friendly.