Plan your perfect Valentine's Day

Visitors beside the lake at Sheffield Park, East Sussex

From spending time together in the great outdoors to finding a floral backdrop to wow your loved one, you'll find everything you need for an extra special Valentine's Day at the places we look after.

From thoughtful gift ideas to romantic events and inspirational stories from history, here are our top tips for a memorable day.

A couple looking at flowers in a garden

Celebrate with a special event 

The parks, woodlands and historical houses we care for can be perfect for a romantic day out. Whether you're exploring secret gardens or enjoying a special meal for two, here are some of the best events going on this Valentine’s Day.

Bodiam Castle, East Sussex

Think about the backdrop 

A memorable day out needs a memorable setting. Be inspired by the grand gardens of Waddesdon Manor, Buckinghamshire, set against the backdrop of the French Renaissance-style chateau. You can also wander the extraordinary rock garden, lakeside paths and Pinetum at Cragside, Northumberland, or step into a world of damsels and knights at the moated and semi-ruined Bodiam Castle, Sussex.

A couple walking in the gardens at Fenton House and Garden, London

Find a quiet space 

You’ll find peace and tranquillity, as well as secluded spots, in many of the parks and gardens in our care. Rowallane Garden in County Down has a fabulous winter garden, home to plants from around the world, and Bodnant Garden, Conwy, is renowned for its botanical collections.

A couple walking through a garden

Go for a romantic walk 

There’s nothing more important on Valentine’s Day than spending time together – and what better way than by going for a good long walk. You could spend a day exploring the peninsula at Trelissick, Cornwall, and watching the ever-changing views of the estuary. Or take a walk at Sheringham Park, Norfolk, with its wide open spaces, beautiful gardens designed by Humphry Repton and uninterrupted views of the north Norfolk coastline.

Lighting rigged up outside Montacute House, Somerset, during filming for the 2015 BBC adaptation of Hilary Mantel's Wolf Hall

Re-enact romantic scenes 

Many of the places we look after have been seen in film and TV adaptations of romantic classics. Whether you fancy yourself as Mr Darcy stalking through the grounds of Pemberley, or Anna Karenina living in a grand Russian mansion, there are plenty of places where you can re-enact romantic scenes.

Valentine's Day gifts

Visitors enjoying a picnic on the sand dunes at Murlough National Nature Reserve, County Down

Dedicate a donation to your loved one 

From surprising your other half with a trip to the coast to watching the sun go down over a lake or sharing a picnic in your favourite floral garden, spending time in special places is a great way to build magical memories. Help look after these cherished places when you dedicate a donation to your loved one. You could even celebrate an anniversary in a unique way by donating to your shared favourite place in their name.

Cheescake is shown from birds eye view, decorated with grated chocolate love heart

Recipes to sweeten your heart 

Why not try out some of our favourite recipes for a Valentine's Day breakfast in bed or after dinner treat? You might be inspired to try something new this year – we've also got some mouth-watering ideas for vegetarians and vegans for the ultimate romantic home-made meal.

Old Mill cottage and garden

Make a stay of it 

Book a getaway at one of our romantic holiday cottages. From cosy country retreats to secluded woodland cabins, we have a holiday to suit every couple.

Painting of Lord and Lady Scarsdale of Kedleston, Derbyshire

Uncover stories of love  

Who doesn't like a good love story? Many of the places we care for are brimming over with tales of romance and intrigue, from medieval legends up to more recent decades. Maybe you’ll even find some inspiration for your own love life.

What we get up to on Valentine's Day

Every Valentine's Day, we do an annual flower count in the south west, and 2020 will mark 15 years of this tradition. Gardeners and volunteers count the different species and varieties in bloom in their gardens, then we compare the results to previous years. In 2019, 2,352 plants bloomed across gardens we care for in the south west. For the fourth year running, Saltram had the highest amount recorded with 210 different plants in bloom.

‘Being in the garden this time of year really thrills me, the new season is beginning and there is so much to look forward to,' says Andrew Hunt, Kingston Lacy's Project Manager. 'Walking through the garden here at Kingston Lacy in the early morning when the grass is crisp really helps me relax and unwind. It's so peaceful with a few birds singing as the sun shines through.'