Waterside picnic locations in East Anglia

Cool off this summer with a trip to a waterside location in East Anglia 

There’s nothing more satisfying than being by the water on a hot sunny day. It’s even better if you can dip your toes and cool off! Escape the coastal crowds and opt for a lazy day on the river; here are some of our favourite picnic riverside locations…

Picnics in Cambridge

The village of Grantchester is one of those picture perfect quintessential English villages. Cobbled cottages sweeping with wisteria, a beautiful church, plenty of green space and a few fabulous welcoming pubs. During the summer its biggest attraction is the River Cam which runs through the meadows.

The banks are the perfect spot for a picnic, ball games or a dog walk, while the river comes to life with children swinging from the rope swing, swimmers braving the murky water, paddle boarders and punts. Punts can be hired at various points along the bank.


For those looking to get active, this is the ideal location to launch your own kayak. Equipment such as the Itiwit three man inflatable kayak can be picked up from Decathlon, for a reasonable £249. Easy to pack and inflate, the kayak can bring hours of family fun. Launch from the shallows and spend the afternoon paddling up and down the river taking in the stunning scenery and wildlife, including the resident cows!

River tours in Suffolk

The River Orwell offers some of the best views of Suffolk. Hop aboard the Lady Orwell for a sightseeing tour or enjoy an afternoon tea cruise from Harwich Harbour or Pin Mill. There are a number of cruises throughout the year, including sunset options during the summer.

If you’d prefer to keep your feet on dry land but still want to experience the River Orwell landscape, pack a picnic and head to the Nacton Picnic Site, where you can watch ships navigating the narrow channel up river to Ipswich.

Paddle boarding in Norfolk

Paddleboarding and canoeing on the Broads has become a popular past time. However, if you’d prefer something a little less wet and wild how about taking a Broads Cruiser; a great way to enjoy the water and be guided through tranquil Norfolk countryside. There are several passenger boat companies that run scheduled hourly services from numerous locations across the Broads during the summer season.

Canoeing in Bedfordshire

Discover the River Great Ouse with a trip to Bedford. Here you can learn more about the waterway with a canoe or kayaking trip, available at www.canoetrail.co.uk. For a leisurely afternoon opt for a John Bunyan river cruise complete with afternoon tea or a fish and chips supper. Of course, you don’t have to be on the water to enjoy this stretch of river, there’s plenty of riverside pubs where you can enjoy a Pimms in the sunshine including the Bedford Swan & The Embankment.

Boat hire in Hertfordshire

There are plenty of boating and picnic opportunities in Hertfordshire. Take a walk along the River Lee footpath from Hertford to Ware and watch the canal boats float on by. If you fancy having a go yourself, head to the Lee Valley Boat Centre in Broxbourne, where you can hire a Rosie & Jim style boat for the day. Pack a picnic and have a fun day navigating the water and locks.

The Rickmansworth Aquadrome is a wonderful free day out. With free entry and parking, settle down at one of the many waterside picnic spots for lunch and games. There are plenty of walks and the opportunity to join in one of the many watersports for an additional fee.

River locations in Essex

For a sense of escapism visit Dedham Vale; an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. It’s clear to see why this was inspiration for artists Constable and Gainsborough, there’s beauty at every turn.The village is lined with pastel coloured cottages, the landscape is dreamy and the River Stour provides a haven for picnics, paddleboards and punts. Laze along the banks or stop for a bite to eat at the Boathouse Restaurant for lunch with a view!


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