Plan your perfect Valentine's Day
From spending time together in the great outdoors to finding an impressive 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. Here are our top tips for a memorable day.
Go in search of some fantastic displays of snowdrops in the gardens and parks we look after – they should be looking at their best around Valentine’s Day. You’ll find them in massive numbers at Dunham Massey, Cheshire – its Winter Garden is Britain’s largest. Anglesey Abbey in Cambridgeshire boasts 270 different varieties of snowdrop, including 20 that were discovered there.
Find a quiet space
You’ll find peace and tranquillity, as well as secluded spots, in many of the parks and areas of countryside in our care, many with beautiful views. Our gardens still have a lot to offer, even at this time of year. 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. The amazing Victorian garden at Biddulph Grange, Staffordshire, was created by James Bateman for his collection of plants from around the world.
Make a stay of it
From grand gatehouses to cosy cottages, fairy tale towers to bothies, stylish apartments to coastal retreats, why not extend your Valentine’s Day visit to one of our places with a stay at one of our holiday cottages?
The Water Tower at Trelissick, Cornwall, and the Old Coastguard Station at Robin Hood’s Bay on the Yorkshire Coast are two of our favourites. Alder Cottage in County Fermanagh, at the heart of the Crom Estate, has one large, lovely sunlit bedroom and a cosy sitting room with an open log fire. On the doorstep are Crom’s 2,000 acres of waterways, woodlands, parkland and historic buildings – perfect for some romantic walks.
Romance on the silver screen
Many of the places we look after have been seen in film and TV adaptations of romantic classics. The Cornish beaches of Holywell and Porthcurno appear in the romantic drama ‘Summer in February’.
Several Jane Austen characters, including the matchmaker Emma Woodhouse, lovelorn Marianne Dashwood and reluctant wooer Mr Darcy, have all trodden the path of love in our houses, gardens and countryside.
A special day out on a budget
It costs nothing to visit much of the coast and countryside we look after across England, Wales and Northern Ireland, so your romantic day out doesn’t need to cost a fortune. A stunning landscape for an unforgettable day out could be right on your doorstep.
Look out for coastal wildlife at Blakeney National Nature Reserve, Norfolk, explore the lily ponds at Stackpole, Pembrokeshire, or see if you can spot the red squirrels at Aira Force, Cumbria.
Take 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.
Share a two-wheeled adventure
Many of the places we look after have cycle trails and cycling is a great way to spend some time together in the great outdoors. Clumber Park in Nottinghamshire has over 20 miles of cycle routes to follow, while Lanhydrock, Cornwall, has more than 6 miles of purpose-built, off-road cycle trails.
More than 150 places we care for are within a mile of a Sustrans National Cycle Network route and some offer cycle hire, so there’s no excuse even if you don’t have your own bikes!
Tea for two
Round off your romantic day with a visit to one of our tea-rooms, where you can indulge yourself with delicious homemade cakes, seasonal food and a hot drink or bowl of soup.
Enjoy a local ale at the Gibside Market Place café, Tyne & Wear, after a stroll around the18th-century landscape garden, or a warming cuppa at the Argory’s Courtyard coffee shop after a walk through this riverside estate in County Armagh.
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, 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.
Follow in the footsteps of love
Discover the fascinating love stories connected to places in our care. Polesden Lacey in Surrey was the honeymoon destination of King George VI and the late Queen Mother. Nestled amidst the beautiful landscape of the North Downs, this spectacular place is still alive with the spirit of its most celebrated owner, Mrs Greville.
The collection of romantic trinkets at Moseley Old Hall, Staffordshire, includes a heart-shaped locket believed to have been given to Charles II by his mistress Lucy Walter.
Sarah Anne Child, daughter of Robert Child, the former owner of Osterley Park in Middlesex, eloped to Gretna Green in 1782 to marry John Fane, 10th Earl of Westmorland, despite her father’s disapproval of the match.
The tales of ‘life below stairs’ are captured beautifully at Erddig, Wrexham, with the story of Lucy Hitchman and Ernest Jones, who worked there just before the First World War. They fell in love and took strolls on their afternoons off in and around the park. Today you can retrace their favourite walk.
Sarah Anne Child, daughter of the former owner of Osterley Park in Middlesex, Robert Child, eloped to Gretna Green to marry John Fane, 10th Earl of Westmorland, in 1782 despite her father’s disapproval of the match.