Love (and lust) is in the air all year round at these UK locations.
By Fiona Cullinan, who blogs about travel and tourism at www.touristvtraveller.wordpress.com
Warwick Castle, Warwick: Modern romance was born of courtly love, chivalrous knights, beautiful princesses and fair maidens. You can really get into the role at Warwick Castle, founded in 1068 by William the Conqueror and one of the finest medieval castles in the UK. Nearly 1,000 years later, in 2009, the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) voted Warwick Castle a veritable ‘construction of seduction' and the UK's hottest place for a date. Indeed it is straight out of a fairytale book with its crenellated battlements, towers and turrets. Potential suitors wanting to propose can also arrange to dress up as a knight in shining armour. That should make them truly weak at the knees.
For more information, visit www.warwick-castle.co.uk, or call 0870 442 2000.
Near Salisbury is the village of Lover, a perfectly named romantic minibreak destination. Once upon a time, the incurably romantic would send their Valentine's cards from here in order to get the Lover postmark on the envelope. Sadly the post office has now closed but there should still be plenty of amusing spots to take a photo - ‘40mph / Lover' road sign anyone? (Just don't tell them Lover is pronounced like Dover until you're heading home.) The village is on the edge of the New Forest National Park, so there are plenty of romantic walks in the woods. For those who want to stay the night, try the Three Lions Inn at Stuckton, where facilities include a sauna and spa pool.
For more information, visit www.visitwiltshire.co.uk
It's the Las Vegas of the UK - where the impulsive once eloped to satisfy their passions and get hitched in a hurry (ie, without parental consent). And love is still in the air here. Like Las Vegas, it's one of the most popular wedding spots in the world with around 5,000 weddings a year being hosted here. Also like Las Vegas, it has its tacky side, though, and couples may well find themselves being snapped by a coachload of tourists. And while there's no Elvis chapel; the theme here revolves around the Old Blacksmith's shop, with Gretna Green marriages still taking place over an anvil.
For more information, visit www.gretnagreen.com, surely one of the few websites with a navbar that includes a ‘Marry' option!
Brighton, East Sussex: Thanks to hedonistic George IV, Brighton is the original home of the dirty weekend with tourism films of the 50s capitalising on this naughty reputation with lines such as, ‘Come soon to Brighton, You'll want to come again and again...' Since then, the seaside town of Brighton has elevated the dirty weekend to an artform with saucy seaside packages in slick hotels, and all your fluffy handcuff needs thrown in. Even condoms can be ordered on room service. Try the Hotel Pelirocco, which has a pole-dance and ceiling mirror in one room, a black-satin trademarked KinkybedTM in another, and sex toy hampers available via room service. For an upmarket dirty weekender, try Kemp Town House - Brighton's only five star-rated boutique hotel.
North Cornish coast, Cornwall: Where better to give vent to your untamed passions than in a landscape that is wild and rugged? There are 60 miles of windswept coastline to explore here with cliffs, coves, moors, wild beaches and legendary Arthurian romance at the clifftop ruins of Tintagel. Modern-day Lancelots and Guineveres can even get a beach to themselves at Millook Haven Beach - a surfer's beach with a solitary rentable private 1920s beach hut (www.thebeachhut.uniquehomestays.com or call 01637 881942) in a secluded cove surrounded by cliffs. The hut stands alone in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and is perfect for curling up together by the woodburner and listening to the sound of the crashing Atlantic waves, or for sitting on the deck and toasting the stars. And if that's not free, further south, near Bodmin, Cornish Tipi Holidays offers secluded, cosy tipis for two.
Hadrian's Wall Country, Cumbria: This 73-mile necklace of stones from the east to west coast, across the north of England, is perfect walking country, with wide-open green vistas punctuated by milecastles, turrets and, of course, the ancient Roman frontier wall as your guide. Car-oriented lovers may wish to stroll only as far as The Popping Stone, a group of three naturally rounded boulders located in Irthing Gorge, near Gilsland, Cumbria. It was here that Sir Walter Scott - who wrote about chivalry and romance in 'Ivanhoe' and 'The Lady of The Lake' - is said to have 'popped' the question to his future wife in 1797. The secluded site can be visited as part of a short riverside walk through the woods from the Gilsland Spa Hotel (www.gilslandspa.co.uk).
For more information, visit www.hadrians-wall.org
Photo: Roger Clegg
Burgh Island, Devon: Escape into the era of 1930s decadence, elegance and glamour in England's version of Long Island and 'The Great Gatsby'. Burgh Island is a tidal island that sits in splendid isolation at high tide off South Devon's English Riviera. Its main feature is the Burgh Island Hotel, a unique English Art Deco hotel built in 1929 and restored to its 1930s glory days. It is said to have inspired Agatha Christie to write several of her novels. Cocktails, cream teas and champagne are on the menu, along with billiards and croquet for activities, while rooms offer retro radios, archive photos and marble bathrooms. Go when there is a ball or a weekend dinner-dance for maximum romance.
For more information, visit www.burghisland.com
The Cotswolds: Pretty stone cottages, thatched roofs, rolling hills, meandering streams, country inns and cosy B&Bs sum up the Cotswolds' offering. This slice of olde worlde middle England is bounded by and easily accessible from Oxford, Cheltenham, Warwick, Bath and Swindon. Avoid busy Burford and Stow, and head to somewhere like Bibury or Tetbury as a base to walk hand in hand through rolling wolds. The folly gardens of Stancombe Park near Wotton-under-edge are also hugely romantic, with a Grade I listed Doric temple rising up from the lake there. Legend has it that in 1815, the original owner fell in love with a local gypsy girl and built the temple as their love-nest - fortunately, the labyrinth of access tunnels were too narrow for his portly wife. Lovers can rent out the Temple (it sleeps just two) via www.ruralretreats.co.uk.
For more information, visit www.cotswolds.com
Jewellery Quarter, Birmingham: What could be more romantic than the UK's number one destination for wedding and engagement rings? With 40% of the UK's jewellery crafted here and more than 100 shops, it's the spot to pick out a sparkler or express the unique nature of your love by designing your own handmade ring. The Jewellery Quarter is set in an up-and-coming creative district in the UK's second city. Walk the historic trails, visit an art gallery, stop in at the Museum of the Jewellery Quarter or the Pen Room Museum (and write your loved one a message with a quill), and finish off with a flavoursome curry for two at innovative Indian restaurant, Lasan , which won Gordon Ramsay's F Word competition for Best Local Restaurant in 2009.
For more information, visit www.jewelleryquarter.net
Whitby, Yorkshire: Love at first bite is an enduring obsession for teenage girls up to 40-something marrieds as they've fallen for Edward Cullen (or Jacob Black) in 'The Twilight Saga'. Then there was 'Let The Right One In' and 'True Blood, The Vampire Diaries Being Human'. So if you've been bitten by vampire love, when the sun goes down head for legendary Whitby in North Yorkshire. Famously featured in Bram Stoker's 'Dracula', this coastal town also has the sinister ruins of Gothic Whitby Abbey on a cliff above the harbour, while down below is St Mary's graveyard, Dracula's nightly lurking place.
For more information, click here