Britain just oozes with romance. There’s just something about the UK which seems to bring out the lovey-dovey side of great artists, writers and film makers. Maybe it’s the landscapes: rolling hills, bluebell carpeted woods and windswept moors. Maybe it’s the seasons: what could be more romantic than snuggling up to a crackling log fire as snow falls outside, or watching the sun set over Lakeland hills on a midsummer’s night? Whatever it is, there’s no reason why you can’t follow in the footsteps of some of Britain’s greatest romantics and discover for yourself the places that inspired them.
1. Hawarth, West Yorkshire
In the heart of Bronte country, the Pennine village of Howarth is not far from the winding, windy moors beloved of Wuthering Heights’ doomed lovers Heathcliff and Cathy. In fact, the moors can still be accessed via path from Hawarth Parsonage in which all of the Brontes’ novels and poems were written. Hawarth itself is an old-fashioned Yorkshire village with a charming (if steep) cobbled main street offering views of the surrounding hills. This same street was used in one of the UK’s most iconic adverts ever, which depicted a small lad on a bike cycling up it with a Hovis loaf.
2. Gretna Green, Dumfries and Galloway
The statistics bear testimony to Gretna Green’s enduring romantic appeal: one in every six Scottish weddings is held here and the village annually hosts more than five thousand weddings. It’s a tradition that dates back to 1753 when English law dictated that couples below the age of twenty-one required parental consent to be married. The law didn’t apply in Scotland, and the village of Gretna was the nearest place to the border for ‘unlawful’ couples to run away to and become wed. As you’d expect, accommodation around Gretna is plentiful and the area makes a perfect base from which to explore the historic towns and villages and beautiful landscapes of Scotland’s border country.
3. Lyme Regis, Dorset
Indelibly associated with more literary romance – Jane Austen’s Persuasion and John Fowles’ The French Lieutenant’s Woman are both set here – it’s easy to see why Lyme Regis swells the heart. Known as the ‘pearl of Dorset’ Lyme Regis sits on England’s beautiful and sweeping Jurassic Coast – the perfect location for romantic and scenic cliff top walks. Backed by a stunning landscape, the town itself has historic associations with smuggling and with the novelist Thomas Hardy and offers plenty for visitors to see and do.
4. Lover, Wiltshire
Could there be a more romantic place name in Britain? Surely a good place to send postcards from? In fact, the name of this little village near Salisbury rhymes with Dover but why spoil the romantic fun? Besides, this is the perfect place to take a UK break because nearby you have historic Salisbury with its magnificent cathedral, Salisbury Plain and the magnificent Stonehenge. Lover also sits on the border of the New Forest National Park – ideal for romantic woodland strolls at any time of year.
5. Snowdonia, Wales
I know what you’re thinking. Snowdonia?! OK, picture the scene… a warm, pine log cabin with a balcony that overlooks an expanse of breathtaking Welsh countryside. Heart lifting strolls amidst some of Britain’s most beautiful mountain scenery. A shared bottle of champagne as you watch a sunset fade to the darkness of a clear starlit night unspoilt by the light pollution of the city. Not convinced? Then take a short journey to Newborough Village where you can literally follow in the footsteps of St Dwynwen, the patron saint of Welsh Lovers.
Main image: Fireworks night in Lyme Regis