It would be rather remiss of us to dodge the topic of Valentine’s Day when we’ve got the word ‘love’ in our brand name. But, depending on your perspective, it’s either an opportunity to demonstrate your love to your nearest and dearest, and/or to give your bank manager a heart attack. Now, if you’re on the cynical side of the fence (not always a bad thing), how best to show the love while avoiding this largely commercialised festival?
We’ve gathered our collective thoughts on some beautiful places for love struck couples to woo their other halves or find a comfortable spot to place their knee (if so inclined). And we’ve tried our hardest not to be too cheesy (no promises). But safe in the knowledge that we won’t be able to please everyone, we’ve taken the view that love can strike anywhere, at any time of day…
Ah, you thought we were going to be a bit obvious and go for sunset, didn’t you. Well we still might, but let’s start the day early. Valentine’s Day may fall on a Sunday in 2016 but at least you’ll have the morning to yourselves, no commuters.
So naturally, we’ll steer you towards your nearest hilltop. Take a blanket, park your bums and hope the clouds stay clear. But where oh where should you go?
If our memory serves us correctly, capturing sunrise atop Wittenham Clumps, near Dorchester on Thames, Oxfordshire, you’ll have glorious views across rolling fields, the River Thames and Days Lock, and be in for a fairly satisfying sunrise. With any luck you’ll not even notice the few remaining towers of Didcot Power Station lurking behind you, which should you return for sunset, might just spoil the view.
The other fabulous way to see the sunrise is from a hot air balloon. So if you and yours are both happy with heights, and the weather’s in your favour, up, up and away!
Now after an early rising, you’ll need a robust breakfast or brunch. But if you don’t fancy hiding the ring in an empty hard boiled egg shell, maybe a boozy lunch will convince your beloved to say yes instead. Lunch or dinner, these should work in your favour…
If long term love is a sure thing, you’ve probably planned well in advance and reserved a table at a restaurant glistening with Michelin stars. The old romantics amongst us fall time and again for Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons, while those with more adventurous palates are drawn to Bray, Buckinghamshire by the pull of Heston Blumenthal’s eateries.
But if the budget is tighter than that (or you’ve only just decided you really like him/her), we’ve also got a soft spot for Pascal at The Old Vicarage, Branston, which deliciously showcases the local produce of the neighbouring shires of Staffordshire and Derbyshire. Then for something a little funkier, Hop & Cleaver, Newcastle upon Tyne can certainly oblige when it comes to ensuring your night is smokin’ – between their home-smoked steaks and own-brewed craft beers, at least one of you will be in love (hopefully with the other one of you at the table, not just with the restaurant).
If you’re looking to work off a hearty lunch or work up a healthy appetite for dinner, we’re about to drag you outdoors to recoup the romance of the day. Long beach walks as the sun sets, waves lapping at your (freezing cold) toes (it is February in the UK, remember), are just what Hollywood wants us to think love is all about. And UK beaches don’t get much longer than Chesil Beach, Dorset. Warning: this is an 18 mile beach, so if it’s looking like he/she won’t say yes, turn around early.
But if remote is what you’re seeking to make your proposal that little bit more spectacular, you need to head to Huisinis, Isle of Harris. Admittedly, your Valentine may suss you out en route (it’s 15 miles down a single track road), but you could just pretend you’re lost to throw them off the scent in mild frustration. And when you reach this jaw dropping spectacle of a bay, you’ll think you’ve landed elsewhere. The white sand of the beach is almost Caribbean. Only the climate and the lush, rugged landscape will keep you grounded on UK terra firma.
We’re thinking Rapunzel here. Love ignited by one half saving the other half from a trepidatious situation. They live happily ever after, so what’s to lose.
A weekend in Wales is perfect for this – you can barely drive a few miles without coming across a castle. For those with curious minds, Castell y Bere, Abergynolwyn will have them fascinated figuring out how the castle once was while you plant the glistening diamond surreptitiously amidst a former turret. Or if you’re happy to attract a crowd, Harlech Castle is in tact and busier, so any outpouring of love or knee bending will likely be more public.
However you choose to woo your loved one this Valentine’s Day, good luck! Oh, and we do hope you do it while enjoying some of the UK’s most treasured of settings.