21 January 2013

Top 10 Romantic Escapes

As the most romantic of months approaches, now is the perfect time to start making plans for a weekend escape with your loved one. From breathtaking coastal views to ruins steeped in centuries of romantic tradition, we have everything you need for an unforgettable day out this winter.

Tintagel Castle, Cornwall

Enjoy a romantic sunset at Tintagel Castle

Tintagel Castle, Cornwall

Set high on the dramatic Cornish coastline, the windswept ruin of Tintagel Castle has inspired many a romantic tale. Steeped in Arthurian legend, the site has also been long associated with the star crossed lovers Tristan and Isolde - a Cornish knight and Irish princess whose passionate affair ended in tragedy.

Today the picturesque site is only accessible by coastal path, and with dramatic views and a stunning beachside café to boot, it makes for the perfect location for a romantic day out.

Nearby: For more breathtaking views and romantic walks, why not try nearby Berry Pomeroy Castle or Dartmouth Castle?

St Mawes Castle, Cornwall

Shaped like a delicate clover leaf and elaborately decorated with carved Latin inscriptions, this charming castle once shared the arduous task of guarding the south coast from invasion. Today it is more of a lovers' haven than battleground, and the spectacular views out over the Fal Estuary make it easy to understand why.

For those whose hearts are captured by this unique site, nearby Fort House holiday cottage offers spectacular views and free access to the castle - all just a short walk from lovely St Mawes village.

Nearby: Complete your romantic weekend away with a trip to nearby Pendennis Castle, St Mawes' sister castle just across the water.

Stonehenge, Wiltshire

The enduring mystery of Stonehenge has long served as romantic inspiration to those who visit it. From modern-day couples popping the question there to Thomas Hardy's tragic heroine Tess of the d'Urbervilles, the mighty stones have long evoked feelings of love and affection. Providing Tess and her beloved with shelter and solitude, this "Temple of the Winds" is a wonderful way to spend a day out with your nearest and dearest.

Nearby: Why not explore the romantic ruins of Old Wardour Castle, and imagine yourself as an extra in the Hollywood romance, Robin Hood Prince of Thieves?

Osborne House, Isle of Wight

"It's impossible to imagine a prettier spot" - such were the words of Queen Victoria after a visit to Osborne House

Osborne House, Isle of Wight

"It is impossible to imagine a prettier spot" - such were the words of Queen Victoria after a visit to Osborne House. Surrounded by beautiful formal gardens, sweeping vistas and an attractive wildflower meadow, this royal seaside palace was a haven for the Queen and her beloved Prince Albert.

For those that fall in love with the spot today (and it's very easy to do!), secluded stays in the Pavilion holiday cottage, gourmet meals in the elegant Terrace Restaurant and luxurious wedding receptions amidst lavish interiors surely help to make this one of the Isle of Wight's most romantic spots.

Nearby: Discover the atmospheric ruins of Netley Abbey in Hampshire, inspiration for many 18th century writers, artists and poets in search of the romantic and picturesque.

Eltham Palace and Gardens, London

As a 1930s Art Deco mansion built around the Great Hall of a medieval palace, Eltham romantically combines old and new in a grand and glamorous fashion. After exploring the stylish house, enjoy the 19 acres of beautiful gardens, including the sunken rose garden, moat, medieval bridge and delightful herbaceous borders.

This millionaire's mansion is also an elegant choice for wedding ceremonies, with the exquisite interior decor providing a unique backdrop for the big day.

Nearby: Why not round off your romantic break with a visit to nearby Down House, where you can enjoy a peaceful stroll through Darwin's garden, copse and greenhouses.

Wrest Park, Bedfordshire

After decades behind virtually closed doors, the 90 acre historic landscape surrounding Wrest Park has finally been restored its former glory. A dramatic showcase of three centuries of landscape design, the magnificent 'secret gardens' of Wrest combine stunning formal bedding, ornate architecture and perfectly positioned statuary to make this one of the country's most romantic outdoor attractions.

Nearby: The beautiful grounds and spectacular interiors of Audley End House and Gardens provide a wonderful day out for those with romance on the mind!

Kenilworth Castle, Warwickshire

The magnificent gardens at Kenilworth Castle - perfect for a spot of romance with your beloved

Kenilworth Castle, Warwickshire

The extensive ruins of Kenilworth Castle hold a special place in English romantic history. Transformed into a grand palace by Robert Dudley in an attempt to win the affections of his beloved Queen Elizabeth I, the ornate architecture and elaborate gardens became a testament to the ultimate romantic rumour.

Today visitors can follow in the footsteps of the Queen by taking a walk through the magnificent Elizabethan Garden - lost for over 400 years but now open to visitors once more. Carved arbours, a bejewelled aviary and stunning marble fountain not only make this a paradise for garden lovers, but the perfect place for a spot of romance with your beloved.

Nearby: Enjoy magnificent landscaped gardens at Witley Court, spectacular views at Beeston Castle, and picturesque surroundings at Stokesay Castle.

Whitby Abbey, North Yorkshire

The magnificent remains of Whitby Abbey have long been touted as some of the England's most romantic, standing picturesquely over the pretty seaside town of Whitby. Immortalised by Bram Stoker in his 1897 novel Dracula, the gothic splendour of the site, coupled with stunning panoramic views out over the coastline, make this a perfect spot for both romance and reflection.

Nearby: Why not schedule in a trip to tranquil Rievaulx Abbey, impressive Mount Grace Priory or Scarborough Castle, which boasts a stunning location, panoramic views and fascinating 2,500 year history.

Furness Abbey, Cumbria

The romantic ruins of Furness Abbey lie in the 'vale of nightshade', a beautiful wooded valley in Cumbria. Extensive and ornate, they served as inspiration for Romantic poet William Wordsworth, who was so charmed by the song of a single wren that he professed, "I could have made my dwelling-place and lived for ever there."

Celebrated in his Prelude of 1805, as well as in the etchings of Romantic landscape painter J.M.W Turner, this makes for a truly wonderful day out in Cumbria.

Nearby: Love is in the air in Cumbria! Take a trip to nearby Brougham Castle or Castlerigg Stone Circle for picturesque settings and stunning vistas. 

Belsay Hall, Castle and Gardens, Northumberland

Begun in 1807 by Sir Charles Monck, this elegant Classical Greek Revival villa takes its inspiration from the buildings of ancient Greece - namely those seen by Charles whilst on honeymoon in Athens. Surrounded by a magnificent grade I listed heritage garden, the romance of the site is undeniable; the high point undoubtedly being Belsay's unique quarry garden, a fantasy of ravines, pinnacles and exotic plants.

Nearby: Stunning scenery coupled with centuries of history to discover make Hadrian's Wall the perfect place for a romantic break.

Whitby Abbey, North Yorkshire

Stunning views and gothic splendour at Whitby Abbey