The best local delis (and nearby picnic spots)
From 8 March picnics on benches are THE hottest social event. Dig out your hamper and waterproof blanket, and order your sausage rolls from these divine Bucks & Oxon delis.
Quince and Clover, Great Tew
The deli: The takeaway menu at Quince and Clover, which changes daily, is picnic perfection. There are fresh, homemade salads such as roasted celeriac with pear, puy lentils, Oxford Blue and toasted walnuts, plus slow roast pork hot sandwiches and veggie tarts like roasted carrot, sweet potato, feta and cashew that come wrapped in wax paper, quarter, half or whole. And if that’s not enough for your gastro picnic, you can also opt for soup or stew and follow it with homemade cookies and brownies. A veritable smorgasbord. Currently open Weds-Mon, 8.30am-4pm.
The picnic spot: The village is picture-postcard but the locals get a bit cheesed off by being in the background of your Insta selfies. Instead head to The Great Tew Estate, which hosts the Cornbury Festival in its rolling fields, and enjoy the space and Cotswolds views.
The Granary Deli, Watlington
The deli: The Granary Deli is a cheese lover’s haven, with 120 types to choose from including locally made specimens from the Nettlebed Creamery, Windrush Valley Goat Dairy, and Norton and Yarrow. It’s also just started stocking a range of Somerset salamis and cured meats, which go perfectly with its fresh bread and biscuits. And given this is your first social outing for months, why not add a bottle of vino or bubbly? If you’d rather stay soft, you can always head next door to the Granary Café which does takeaway hot drinks and homemade cakes. Currently open Mon, 9am-1pm; Tues-Sat, 9am-3pm.
The picnic spot: Owners of the Granary Deli, Robin and Francesca Holmes-Smith, recommend taking your picnic to the top of Watlington Hill for its great views and the beautiful old yew tree woods. It’s a five-minute drive or 20-minute walk. If you want a stroll with your picnic, check out our Watlington Hill walk here.
Goring Grocer, Goring-on-Thames
The deli: Time to dust off your best hamper for this beauty – the Goring Grocer is an epicure’s delight with a daily changing menu of salads, soups and sandwiches alongside drinks. With options like a roast butternut squash sarnie with labneh, caponata and watercress in a homemade milk bun, you might be picking up dinner while you’re at it – hot parsnip and chestnut soup perhaps? Currently open Mon-Sat, 9am-5pm.
The picnic spot: The obvious choice here is to sit by the river, where you can watch the action at Goring Lock as well as taking in the riverside birdlife. If you want to put in some distance, join the long but gentle Thames Path National Trail to meander with the river past water meadows.
The Cook House Deli, Wallingford
The deli: This relative newcomer to Wallingford already has a devoted following thanks to its range of local produce and zero waste ethics. Cheese is the speciality but there are also freshly baked loaves, croissants, coffee and sweet treats. The Cook House offer brunch or lunch platters to pre-order, specifically designed for a picnic. These include olives, antipasti, cured meat, crackers and cheese, or fresh fruit and croissants for brunch. You can then choose from a curated selection of wines and beers to really top of the occasion. There’s even a sweet treats box for afters. Bon appetit!
The picnic spot: The house’s favourite spot is in the Wallingford Castle Gardens which, conveniently for the bags of food you’ll no doubt soon be lugging, are only steps away from the deli. The flower beds in the gardens have been recognised by the Britain in Bloom award, so make an ideal location as spring begins to edge into view.
Charlbury Deli, Charlbury
The deli: It’s an early start at the Charlbury Deli, as shop manager Lynne Stubbles wakes at 4.30am to bake the daily fresh batch of cakes. Luckily, you don’t have to be a dawn-riser to enjoy them: rock up for lunch, and nab a slice to-go with goodies like a runny yolk scotch egg, butternut squash and spinach roll, or house quiche. If you don’t think it’s a picnic without a sarnie, there are fresh sandwiches made with soft sourdough from the nearby Mark’s Cotswold Bakery. And, lest we forget the cheese course, the cheese counter offers a range of artisan British cheeses, perfect for slicing onto crackers, say, on a picnic blanket? After all that, you might as well wash it down with a local Cotswolds wine (or beer).
The picnic spot: Take your goodies to the nearby Wychwood Forest to eat among the old trees and spot some thriving wildlife. Sunshine-yellow daffodils (and the thrill of seeing another person) should make up for any lingering winter chill.
Laceys Family Farm, near High Wycombe
The deli: Run by the same family since 1884 (that’s seven generations!), Laceys family farm offers a deli counter packed with delicious goodies. Butchers as well as farmers, the Laceys make all their meat pies and sausage rolls themselves, offering a changing range of flavours. This month, the specials are a Marmite and cheddar sausage roll, and a Japanese-inspired katsu curry sausage roll. You can also pick up a great selection of pork pies, samosas, quiches and more. As you’re buying your lunch from a dairy farm, it’d be remiss to miss out on a bit of cheese: try some from The Marlow Cheese Company, or a wedge of Two Hoots Barkham Blue — all made using milk from the Laceys’ Guernsey cows.
The picnic spot: Overlooking the beautiful Hambledon Valley, Laceys Farm is in prime picnic territory. It won’t take you long to find a picturesque spot in which to settle and admire the spring surroundings. If you fancy a digestif walk, there are lots of well-signed routes nearby, including the long-distance Chiltern Way. Or, Marlow is only a few miles away, if you fancied a wander by the river. You can enjoy the Thames Path, numerous locks, and an old abbey before rummaging in your bag for leftovers.
Westcott Diner, near Aylesbury
The deli: Freshly opened, having rebranded from the Waddesdon Deli, Westcott Diner offers delicious, homemade fare that’s perfect to nab for a picnic. Its meat is sourced locally from Boarstall Meats, and prepared into sandwiches epic enough to send egg and cress running for the hills. Roast pork, apple sauce, and crackling in a sandwich, anyone? If you’re not satisfied with a doorstop sarnie, there are also cakes, sausage rolls, and other handheld goodies: all baked fresh in-house.
The picnic spot: The beautiful Waddesdon Manor is only a hop and a skip away, though plan ahead as the grounds are only open Wed-Sun, and require advance booking for the moment.
The Kitchen Larder, Chalfont St. Peter
The deli: Family-run, The Kitchen Larder offers specially made picnic boxes of both sweets and savouries. As an independent deli, the shop’s shelves are stocked with the finest local produce (including milk from Laceys Family Farm), which feature in their picnic spreads. You can order either a savoury box of sandwich selection and crisps, sweet box of treats, or a Kitchen Larder cheese and charcuterie sharing box. Kids boxes are also on offer. It’s worth pre-ordering to ensure your choice is available.
The picnic spot: A five-minute walk away is Gold Hill, where you can sit on a bench and admire the daffodils. But, Little Chalfont Nature Park is only a short drive away or to really push the boat out, you might prefer to sit tight for a few extra minutes and chow down in the glorious, untouched villages of Latimer and Chenies.
Boycott Farm, near Stowe
The deli: The food on offer at the Boycott Farm shop is all handmade in the kitchen, using free-range Boycott eggs and adorned with homemade jams and chutneys. The deli offers a variety of daily specials made from seasonal produce, including picnic staples like sausage rolls, scotch eggs, pork pies and quiches. Sandwiches are made to order, and you can phone ahead to have them ready for collection. The farm shop also sells a wide selection of cakes, perfect for sharing (or greedy solo gobbling), and you can even pick up an afternoon tea if ordered in advance — very refined.
The picnic spot: The farm is close to Stowe Estate (National Trust cards at the ready) where, if you book in advance, you can enjoy your haul in the elegant surroundings of the Georgian landscape park. Alternatively, you can cross the border into Northamptonshire to visit the picturesque Evenly Wood Gardens.
Prefer a hot drink on your socially distant meetings? Try one of these best walks with coffeee pitstops instead.