IT’S summer and the perfect time to enjoy some alfresco dining. This week we invited Daily Echo readers to share their favourite picnic spots across Dorset and the New Forest.

Using their recommendations, we’ve compiled a shortlist of the best places to enjoy food in the great outdoors.

Kingston Lacy

The National Trust property near Wimborne is a popular attraction for families and picnic fans, too. The estate offers plenty of space for people to enjoy their sandwiches, sausage rolls and Scotch eggs. The National Trust recommends people head to the Cooper Beech Field which “with its great views of the house and plenty of space to run, play games or kick a football.” The Woodland Trail also has picnic benches and a play area for little ones.

Brownsea Island

It may be famous for red squirrels, wildlife and Scouting, but Brownsea Island also offers plenty of picnic spots. With a host of island trails, you can walk up an appetite and, if you’re lucky, catch a glimpse of a rare red squirrel before settling down for lunch. The National Trust says owl barn is a great spot for a picnic and one of their trails starts and ends at the barn, passing through the Brownsea countryside, down Beech Valley, along Island’s Middle Street and up Birch Valley.

Hengistbury Head

This popular beauty spot enjoys stunning panoramic views of Mudeford Spit, Bournemouth and Poole Bay. And those who venture up Warren Hill in particular will be rewarded with some spectacular views. Forget sandwiches and soggy salad, one reader told the Daily Echo that Hengistbury Head at sunset was perfect place to tuck into some fish and chips.

Wilverley Plain

During World War Two, Wilverley Plain in the New Forest was ploughed and sown with much-needed crops. Today, it offers a vast grassy area for grazing ponies and an ideal area for a picnic and playing games. Once you’re done with your picnic, you can burn off some calories by entering the adjoining wood and making your way along the waymarked trails.