With Valentine’s Day just around the corner and romance on the cards, there’s that special place all over the country for enjoying some time outdoors with your loved one.
The cold weather has been and gone (for now), and with milder temperatures coming our way, there’s no excuse not to venture outdoors. However if you do decide that the weather’s not quite right, you could promise, as a some-what belated Valentine’s Day gift, to take your partner there in the spring or summer.
Take a look at some of the places on our list...
1. Sunset at Sweetheart Abbey
The appropriately named abbey is located near Dumfries in south-west Scotland and was built in the 13th century by Lady Devorgilla. She dedicated the abbey to her beloved husband John Balliol after he died, the ultimate display of romance.
The story goes that Lady Devorgilla carried his embalmed heart around in a silver and ivory casket for the rest of her life, spending vast sums on new churches and abbeys in honour of her late husband. Sweetheart Abbey is now in ruins but it still makes an impressive sight, especially at sunset.
2. Visit “Lover”
This perfectly named Wiltshire village, near Salisbury, was once the place that the incurably romantic would send their Valentine's cards from, so as to get the Lover postmark on the envelope. The post office has now closed but there are still plenty of amusing photo opportunities and its proximity to the New Forest National Park means there’s the opportunity for a romantic stroll in the woods. A word of advice, the “o” in Lover may be pronounced like the “’o” in Dover, but your partner needn't know!
3. Wild camp on Sandwood Bay
Acclaimed as one of the most beautiful remote beaches in the UK, Sandwood Bay in the north-west of Scotland, and accessible only on foot or by boat. The fabulous expanse of sand and the spectacular sea views are well worth the two to three-hour walk along an off-road trail. Don't forget to pack your waterproofs as it does tend to get wet and windy along the route
To add to the occasion take a romantic picnic, including a bottle of pink fizz, and a tent for an overnight wild camp. Watching the sunset with your loved one on an almost empty beach couldn't get more romantic if you tried. See Walk Highlands for the route.
4. Isles more love
Many islands naturally conjure up feelings of romance simply because you have enjoyed the get-away-from-it-all adventure of crossing water to reach these smaller pockets of land. The Isle of Skye is the perfect example, with intense hiking trails to black and white sand beaches, there is plenty to offer for couples who love the great outdoors. Portree is the capital of the Isle of Skye and has been named as one of the most beautiful small towns to visit in Europe. Walk along the brightly coloured waterfront houses and admire the views with your loved one. End your romantic evening watching the sunset on the beach at Talisker Bay, if you're up for it you can even go have a look at the waterfall.
Or head to an island that has been voted one of the best in Europe. Suggestions include the Outer Hebridean islands of Lewis and Harris in Scotland, or St Mary’s in the Isles of Scilly and Anglesey in North Wales
5. Walk the south-west
The South West Coast Path offers a wealth of fabulous views, especially if you are a couple drawn to golden sands of windswept beaches. One of the most romantic hotspots on this long-distance walking trail include Burgh Island.
A short walk on the island takes you past an Art Deco hotel, which was made famous by Agatha Christie and voted the “most romantic hotel in Britain”. A four-mile Porlock Woodland Walk also heads to Porlock Beach, a favourite among the romantic poets and modern-day romantics alike.
6. ‘To be or not to be: that is the question’
With romance a key part of much of Shakespeare’s works, spend your Valentine’s weekend in Stratford-Upon-Avon. Glide down the River Avon, visit Shakespeare’s birthplace or treat yourself to a performance at the Royal Shakespeare theatre - hopefully Hamlet
7. Castell Coch
Situated in North Cardiff, this late nineteenth-century fairytale-style castle provides a romantic vision of the Middle Ages. Its name, translated ‘Red Castle’ comes from the sandstone which was used in its construction, and whilst not the oldest castle in Wales – it’s location set in the woods at the top of a hill makes it one of the most idyllic.
This rope bridge in Northern Ireland sits over 100 feet above water and is the perfect adventure for thrill seekers on Valentine’s weekend. Watch the birds or cast your eyes across the water to Scotland, and if you are really up for a challenge, cross the 350 year old bridge itself – but don’t look down whatever you do! Make sure you have the correct footwear whilst crossing the bridge, perhaps a sturdy pair of walking boots.
9. Float high on love
A hot air balloon trip is a fabulous way to say “I love you” in the great outdoors, however it is rather pricey! Why don’t you put your own spin on ‘love is in the air’ and fly a kite with your partner. Are you meant to be together? In which case your kites should meet and tangle in mid air. Why not try visiting Barafundle Bay, Pembrokeshire, Holkham Beach, Norfolk or Bamburgh Castle Beach, Northumberland, each beautiful in their own way with unique features such as a castle, as well as a beautiful stretches of sand along the coast.
10. Lake Windermere
What list would be complete without The Lake District? Surrounded by romance in the hills, find the jetty at Lake Windermere and enjoy the array of colours on display at sunset – offering a somewhat surreal view of the peaks and water. How about taking a tent for a romantic overnight wild camp.