1. Whitby Abbey
Whitby Abbey’s majestic atmosphere helped secure its place as your favourite romantic ruin in Britain. Atop 199 steps and set among breath-taking scenery, the Gothic 13th-century abbey is most known for being the location where, in AD664, the date for Easter was set.
Entry to the Abbey costs £5.80 for adults, £2.90 for children and £4.90 for concessions. Family tickets costs £14.50 whilst English Heritage members can gain access for free. Read more about this winning ruin in the February issue of Countryfile Magazine.
After a romantic day at the Abbey, Green’s Restaurant and Bistro within the town centre offers two menus to satisfy those hunger pains. The busy Bistro downstairs is a completely different world from the more relaxed and intimate Restaurant upstairs. Both boast splendid menus, all sourced locally, with their famous ‘catch of the day’ handpicked by head chef Rob, daily from the Whitby Quayside.
The award winning The Leeway Guesthouse, located within the town centre and close to the Abbey itself, offers guests a warm hospitality and large rooms at a decent price.
2. Fountains Abbey
Known as the largest abbey ruins in Britain, Fountains Abbey in North Yorkshire came a close second. The abbey’s ten historic buildings are set within 800 acres of land, overlooking one of England’s most spectacular Georgian Water Gardens. Founded in 1132, the once richest religious house in England is now a beautiful and vast historical ruin, perfect for that romantic stroll.
Admission is £8.50 for adults, £4.55 for children and £21.60 for families. National Trust and English Heritage members and under five’s get in for free.
Lockwoods café and restaurant within the local Cathedral City of Ripon offers the finest and freshest local Yorkshire ingredients. Recipient of numerous awards, the restaurant is the perfect place to rest your tired legs and warm up over their spectacular British and European menu.
The Old Deanery Hotel, located opposite Ripon Cathedral has been voted as one of the best hotels in North Yorkshire. Built on the site of a former monastery, the hotel offers a variety of high standard rooms within a historic setting.
3. Corfe Castle
Corfe Castle in Dorset came in at third place. The 11th-century castle, strategically placed to defend a gap in the Purbeck Hills, is a stunning ruin shrouded in history. Built upon the site of the murder of King Edward (the Martyr) and used as a royal fortress for six hundred years, the castle met its demise during the civil war where it was destroyed by the Parliamentary forces. With the fallen walls and secret places, the castle is a giant playground within a spectacular landscape.
Entry to the castle costs adults £6.50, children £3.25, family £9.75 or £16.25 (2 adults).
The Greyhound Inn is a traditional old English Country pub offering fresh local food, real ales and traditional ciders. The use of original Purbeck Stone and solid oak flooring mixed with modern leather chairs and visual art offers dinners an eclectic mix of old and new within the heart of the village.
Set within a 16th-century manor house, Mortons House Hotel offers guests the chance to stay within Elizabethan splendour, within the vicinity of the town centre. With views of both the castle and the Steam Railway this is a perfect location to fully immerse yourself in the history of the surrounding area.
4. Carreg Cennen Castle
© Crown copyright (2011) Visit Wales
The spectacular location of Carreg Cennen Castle in Llandeilo lead to its positioning in fourth place. Sat upon a 100m/325ft cliff, this 13th-century castle located in a remote corner of the Brecon Beacons is an iconic castle ruin with high walls and breathtaking surroundings. A dramatic passageway has been cut into the cliff-face passing under the fortification and into a natural cave. Carreg Cennen is the ultimate romantic adventure.
Admission is £3.70 for adults, £3.30 for concessions and £10.70 for families (2 adults and children under 16). Entry is free for Welsh residents aged over 60 or under 16, with a valid Cadw pass.
The Angel Inn in the near by historic town of Llandeilo offers the ambience of its authentic cosy bar combined with the culinary delights of The Capel Bach Bistro restaurant. Although it has been modernised over the past few years, it has retained much of its authentic charm and remains a favoured local haunt.
The Fronlas townhouse boutique hotel offers contemporary bed and breakfast accommodation within Llandeilo. Each modern room is individually decorated and tailored to the guests needs. With unique wallpaper murals and views of the Tywi valley and Brecon Beacons, the hotel offers a place to relax in style.
5. Kenilworth Castle
In fifth place is the most impressive ruin in England’s Midlands, Kenilworth Castle. Known for playing a major role in British history, and immortalised by Sir Walter Scott in his early 19th-century novel, the castle is a memorable landmark of Norman rule. Located within vast, picturesque grounds, with re-created Elizabethan Gardens and positioned next to the country’s largest manmade lake, Kenilworth is a brilliant paradise for garden lovers to wander.
Adult tickets cost £7.60 whilst children’s are £3.80. Concession tickets cost £6.50 whilst family tickets cost £19. English Heritage members can visit for free.
Opposite the castle is Harringtons on the Hill restaurant offering diners a selection of the finest and freshest local ingredients including, what they believe to be, the best fish board in Warwickshire. Situated within a picturesque cottage, the restaurant offers the ideal country meal.
Within the town centre and a short walk from the Castle grounds, the Abbey Guest House offers modern accommodation within a Victorian location. With Egyptian linen and all the necessities, the guesthouse is the idyllic place to relax after a day at the Abbey.
6. Llansteffan Castle
Overlooking the Tywi estuary is your sixth most romantic ruin, Llansteffan Castle in Carmarthenshire. The 12th-century Norman castle is one of a chain built to guard the numerous river mouths throughout the country. However, 200 years of neglect have lead the castle become a ruin.
Entry to the castle is free and there are limited amenities.
The Castle Inn within Llansteffan town centre offers a variety of food and a host of guest ales. Located only a short walk away from the castle, the pub is a brilliant place to experience the local area.
The Manordaf B&B in the neighbouring of St Clears offers comfortable accommodation within a large detached Victorian house overlooking the river Taf. With a choice of room size’s within the main house and a separate 2 bedroom cottage, the Manordaf offers guests the comfort close to many of South Wales’ best attractions, including Llansteffan Castle.
7. Dunluce Castle
The ruins of Dunluce Castle came in seventh place. This Medieval Irish castle, located on the Antrim coast and above a sea cave, is accessible only by a small bridge offering jaw dropping views of the coastline. The location of many attempted sieges, the castle’s remains command an air of strength and power, with its only conquerable enemy being nature itself. The judges considered it the outstanding ruin in Northern Ireland and one that deserves wider recognition.
Entry to the castle costs £2 for Adults, £1 for children and seniors. Children under 4 go free whilst those in groups of 10 or more can enter for £1 per person.
Overlooking Portrush’s East Strand beach, 55° North allows you to drink in the beauty of the Causeway Coast whilst enjoying a luxurious meal. Close to the Castle, the family-run restaurant has offers a variety of cuisines to tame those hunger pains.
Situated atop the cliffs at White Rocks, the Royal Court Hotel offers guests panoramic views of County Donegal, the Giant’s Causeway and the Scottish Isles. Located just down the road from the castle, the hotel is the perfect base for an exploration of the castle and the surrounding area.
8. Dunstanburgh Castle
In eighth place is the iconic Dunstanburgh Castle, located on one of the most beautiful stretches of Northumberland coastline. Standing on a remote headline, the castle, built on an earlier fort, became an important Lancastrian stronghold in the Wars of the Roses, though badly damaged and not repaired. Since then, many of the stones have been taken for other local building projects leaving the current remains.
Tickets cost £3.80 for adults, £1.90 for children and £3.20 for concessions. English Heritage members can enter for free.
The Cottage Inn in neighbouring town of Dunstan offers locally sourced and produced meals within a quant local restaurant. With the choice of 3 locations to dine within and a large selection of local ales, the Cottage Inn is the perfect place to dine.
Offering wonderful views of the coast and the castle, Harbour Lights B&B offers guests a comfortable stay within the delightful fishing village of Craster. The B&B is a perfect base to enjoy the numerous coastal walks in the area, including the one to Dunstanburgh Castle.
9. Sweetheart Abbey
Although romantic by name, Sweetheart Abbey in Dumfries only managed ninth place. Founded in 1273 by Lady Devorgilla of Galloway in memory of her husband, John Balliol, the abbey was the last Cistercian house to be founded in Scotland. Although the abbey enjoyed many years of religious solitude, the numerous attacks upon it from English armies lead to its fall into disrepair.
Admission costs £3 for adults, £1.80 for children and £2.50 for concessions.
The Abbey Cottage tearoom and gardens, located by the entrance to the Abbey, offers a variety of sandwiches and cakes to fulfil those hunger pains after a day of exploration.
Cavens Hotel is a country house hotel close to the Abbey and set within six acres of land. The previously private manor house has been converted into a country retreat full of character and charm.
10. Kilchurn Castle
The picturesque Kilchurn Castle on the banks of Lock Awe in Scotland came in tenth. With the water in the foreground and the mountains behind, the judges instantly placed the stunning 15th-century castle into the top ten. Originally built on an island by the Clan Campbell, the castle has, over the years, become connected to the mainland as the water levels have fallen. A lightening strike in 18th-century left the castle abandoned until it was taken into the care of Historic Scotland.
Admission to the castle is free.
Overlooking the Loch Awe and the castle itself, The Tight Line Bar offers diners variety of homemade food and snacks from a variety of local produce. For whisky lovers, the bar holds an extensive list of malts, with the current count being 36.
The Glenorchy Lodge Hotel, close to the castle, offers guests the chance to stay within a 100-year-old hunting lodge. Offering spectacular views of Ben Cruachan and with individually furnished rooms, the hotel is the perfect starting point for an exploration of the surrounding areas.
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