We can’t guarantee that Scottish weather in April will be consistently picnic-friendly. But until the economy significantly reopens on the 26th, meeting up for a socially distanced picnic is one of the few ways that you can legally socialise with friends and family outside of your household.

Scotland has plenty of beautiful spots for alfresco dining, especially while surrounded by spring flowers, but just make sure to pack a jumper and a raincoat alongside your food in case of unexpected rain. Here’s our guide for everything you need to enjoy the perfect Scottish picnic…

HeraldScotland: Picnic with red and white wine

Get a YETI cool bag to carry everything in

Hopper Backflip 24 is £299.99

A decent cool bag can be the difference between an enjoyable picnic lunch and a lukewarm, soggy one. High-end outdoors brand Yeti specialises in coolers and cool bags, with its founders determined to overcome issues with “cheaply built” coolers that required frequent replacement. Their range of hard cool boxes and softer cool bags will suit all kinds of picnic requirements, but our favourite is the ‘Hopper Backflip 24’. It is shaped like a cool bag, but has been engineered to be carried like a backpack thanks to soe ergonomic shoulder straps.

Yeti promises that it will boast “superior cold-holding”, a 100% leakproof zipper, a tough shell (designed to efficiently distribute the weight of your goods), as well as a removable chest strap and waist belt for added stability and security. Not the cheapest, but well worth the investment if you are a frequent picknicker.

uk.yeti.com

 

Be entertained with outdoor toys from Gulliver’s Toys in Edinburgh

Kids can often get restless at a picnic, so it’s worth bringing along something to keep them entertained. Rather than having them stare at a tablet o smartphone, why not get some traditional outdoor games to help them burn off some energy?

Gulliver’s Toys is one of the best toy shops in Edinburgh, with a website that allows you to browse their products, from home, no matter where you live in the country.

There’s plenty of outdoor games to choose from but our favourites are the £9.99 Aerobie Sprint 10 inch Frisbee

(which apparently flies twice as far as traditional frisbees) as well as the Wooden Childrens Rounders Set (£7.99).

You might even find yourself succumbing to the urge to join in the games…

www.gulliverstoys.co.uk

 

Bring a can of alcohol-free gin

Available from Ocado for £2

Sipping a gin and tonic in the sunshine is a feeling that’s hard to beat. But what about if you’ve had to drive to your chosen picnic spot? Well, the good news is that the designated driver doesn’t necessarily have to miss out on a refreshing drink, thanks to a new, portable, alcohol-free gin and tonic drink from distilling firm Strykk.

Their ready-to-drink ‘Not Gin & Tonic’ cans are also ideal for fitness-conscious picknickers, with 18 calories and zero sugar in each 0.5% ABV can. There’s an alcohol-free ‘rum and coke’ version too, for those who prefer a sweeter taste.

strykk.com

 

Pack some insect repellent from Cubby’s

£6.99 for one tin of midge salve

One of the biggest threats to a picnic in Scotland, particularly in damp weather, are midges. Tiny in size, they can be incredibly annoying when they arrive en masse and begin leaving their tell-tale itchy bites. Various home remedies exist, but if you want to stop midges spoiling your picnic then you would do well to pack Cubby’s Midge Salve.

Cubby’s all-natural products are made by hand by mum of two Margaret Ozgur, in her kitchen in Glasgow’s southside, but the Midge Salve has developed a loyal fanbase as far afield as South America.

“People get in touch to say it is repelling mosquitos in Corfu, or Barcelona, all over Europe,” she explains, “with folk even sending me pictures from the Amazon to say that it is scaring off insects there!”

cubbyssalve.co.uk/product/cubbys-midge-salve/

 

Make your own pork pies to bring along

Robust, filling and just as tasty when eaten hot or cold, pork pies are truly the ideal picnic food. Twelve Triangles bakery, which has several branches in Edinburgh, has a gourmet pork pie recipe that will be a great centrepiece to your picnic lunch.

Ingredients (makes 12 individual pies):

600g lean pork mince

1tbsp fresh sage

1tbsp fresh thyme

1 tsp ground fennel seed

1 tsp all spice

1tsp salt and 1tsp ground white pepper

(For the pastry)

200g lard

750ml plain flour

250ml water

(For the jelly)

300ml chicken stock

4 leaves of gelatine

Method:

Heat the oven to 180c. In a large bowl mix together all the ingredients for the filling and line 12 holes of a muffin tin with the remaining lard. To make the pastry, put the flour in a large bowl then heat the lard and water together gently until the lard has melted.

Pour the mixture over the flour and stir with a wooden spoon, mix until the dough comes together. Remove two thirds, covering the last third to keep warm and use for lids.

Roll the larger piece out on a floured surface to about 3mm thick, working quickly so the dough is still warm. Cut out 12 x 11cm circles using a pastry cutter. Line each hole of the tin with the circle, pushing them in with your fingers so you have a slight overhang.

Divide your filling between the pastry cases, pushing down gently. Roll out the remaining pastry on a floured surface and cut out 12 x 8cm circles, cutting out a small hole of each circle. Brush the edges of the filled pastry cases with egg wash then put the lids on. Pinch together and crimp the edges with your fingers.

Brush with egg wash. Bake in the oven for 40-50 minutes, then once golden brown remove the tray and let it cool slightly.

To make the jelly, put the gelatine into cold water and allow to soak and soften. Heat the chicken stock and once hot, stir in the gelatine.

Place the pies on a wire rack. Pour the warm jelly mix into a jug and very carefully pour into the holes of the pies, allow time for the jelly to pour in. Repeat the process until the liquid reaches the top of the hole.

twelvetriangles.co.uk

 

Find the perfect spot

We are, quite frankly, spoiled for choice in Scotland when it comes to finding a picturesque picnic spot.

It’s hard to narrow down our favourite locations, but one of the very best has to be Loch an Eilein, in Rothiemurcus in Aviemore.

It has been previously voted as Britain’s best picnic spot and with a lochside location, abundance of wildlife and dramatic pine trees, it isn’t hard to see why.

There is also the added bonus of an accessible path round the loch which is suitable for both motorised wheelchairs and off-road buggies.

Other great picnic locations include Tentsmuir Forest in Fife, Portencross seafront in Ayrshire, Fearnoch Forest, near Oban, and the ever-popular Botanic Gardens in Glasgow.

 

Make some posh Scotch Eggs to bring with you

You can hardly get a more quintessential picnic snack than a Scotch egg. But rather than bringing along a rather bland supermarket version, why not make your own? This recipe, from trendy cookery brand Mob Kitchen, adds nduja paste through the sausage meat to give the Scotch egg a delightful kick.

Ingredients:

2 1/2 Tsp ’Nduja Paste

400g Sausage Meat

6 Eggs

8 Tbsp Plain Flour

100g Panko Breadcrumbs

Small Bunch of Parsley

Small Bunch of Chives

Salt and Pepper

Vegetable Oil (you will need a lot)

Method:

Finely chop your herbs. In a bowl combine the sausage meat, ’Nduja, salt, pepper, and your chopped herbs. Mix together and place in the fridge. Get some water on the boil. Add 4 of your eggs, boil for 6 mins, remove from the heat and place in a bowl of icy water for 2 minutes. Take the eggs out and peel off the shells.

Get three bowls - fill one with flour, crack 2 eggs into the second and whisk and breadcrumbs into third. Add a pinch of salt to all bowls. Cover the boiled eggs in flour and place on a board.

Remove the sausage meat from the fridge. Divide your meat into 4 balls, pat into a patty shape and pop your egg on top. Then, mould the sausage meat around the egg until you have a nice smooth ball shape.

Dip each ball in flour, then egg, then breadcrumbs until evenly coated. Fill a saucepan with oil and heat. Add a few breadcrumbs - once they start bubbling, it’s ready (you want it on a medium heat). Add your scotch egg and cook for 10 mins until golden brown. Remove from the heat, lay on kitchen roll to absorb any leftover oil. Wrap them up and bring them along on your picnic.

mobkitchen.co.uk

HeraldScotland: Make your own Scotch Eggs

Bring along a lumbar support picnic chair from Highlander Outdoor

Picnicking often sounds fun in principle. But after an hour or two of sitting awkwardly on an uneven surface, with grass uncomfortably tickling your legs, the novelty can wear off. Fortunately, Livingston-based firm Highlander Outdoor has a portable picnic chair that also offers a tailored back support. With a lumbar support backrest and arm rests (plus cup holders) it will enable you to relax in comfort, no matter where you set up your picnic. It folds away into a bag for easy transportation, too.

highlander-outdoor.com/uk_shop/lumbar-support-chair.html

 

Buy some plastic-free cutlery from Glasgow’s Green Turtle Shop

There’s nothing worse than those who ruin Scotland’s beauty spots by leaving their rubbish lying around. And even if you are careful to pick up all your empties, there’s always a chance that a stray plastic fork could be left behind, or a single-use plastic bag gets blown away into the wind. The good news is that the Green Turtle Shop, based in Glasgow, has you covered. Their online shop has a range of environmentally-friendly, re-usable picnic essentials: bamboo cutlery sets, plastic-free sandwich wrappers, washable steel straws, cotton bags, natural sunscreen, reusable baby wipes, collapsible bottles, travel cups, and cleaning brushes, to name but a few.

thegreenturtle.co.uk/collections/out-and-about-1

 

Pick up a gourmet Scottish picnic hamper

Gourmet picnic hampers start from £52.75

If you can’t be bothered making your own picnic food, there’s always the option of buying a pre-made hamper. And Scottish Gourmet Food do it in style: offering a traditional hamper that’s filled with salmon, smoked Argyll ham, oatcakes, chutney, mustard, smoked duck breast, artisan cheese and two luxury pies.

You can then go deluxe and upgrade to a wine hamper, beer hamper, or -if you really want to impress- a champagne hamper. Each hamper can be personalised according to your tastes and delivered fresh to your door.

scottishgourmetfood.co.uk

HeraldScotland: Scottish Gourmet Food Picnic Hampers

 

Get a portable speaker to listen to music

£49.95 from Richer Sounds

Having some music playing while you dine al-fresco will set your picnic off in style, but you don’t want your favourite song to be ruined by poor sound from a tinny speaker. JBL speakers offer impressively good sound quality for such a small sized device, with the brand’s Clip 4 speaker boasting a deep, rich sound and 10 hours of battery life despite weighing just over 200g.

Perfect for a picnic, it clips on to a belt loop, bag strap (or even a cool bag) and is waterproof up to a metre of depth as well as being resistant to dust. Even technophobes should manage connecting it up to their phone or tablet: all you need is to do is pair via Bluetooth.

richersounds.com/jbl-clip-4-black.html?refSrc=17952&nosto=nosto-page-product3-copy

 

Bring a doggy picnic for your four-legged friend

Dogs and picnics aren’t always the best combination. Yet with lockdown seeing a huge surge in dog ownership across Scotland, you might well have a four-legged companion in attendance at your outdoor lunch. To stop a dog from swiping your sausages (or giving you a desperate stare until you relent and give them some food) why not bring them their very own pooch picnic? Luxury dog food brand Different Dog has its very own ‘Pawfect Picnic’ meal, coming in three sizes to suit different breeds.

It contains a healthy combination of chicken, red peppers, broccoli, sweet potato and a dash of parsley, providing the perfect doggy distraction to allow you to enjoy your food in peace. Even if only for a couple of minutes.

shop.differentdog.com/pawfect-picnic.html

 

Get a luxury picnic blanket from Kinloch Anderson

£95 per blanket

Tartan blankets are a fairly standard picnic accessory, but Kinloch Anderson takes them to the next level. The Edinburgh-based firm, which specialises in traditional clothing, offers a range of picnic blankets in various Scottish tartans, coming complete with a brown wax waterproof backing to make them extra durable.

The blanket also doubles up as a great wind break (always handy in Scotland) and it folds up neatly into itself with poppers and a carry handle to make it both compact and portable.

www.kinlochanderson.com/shop/