Five alternative romantic days out

Leanne Hyland follows in the footsteps of Britain's most influential romantic novelists, seeking out some romantic getaways that you can take all year round

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Experience Shakespearean romance in Stratford

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Birthplace of William Shakespeare, the idyllic town of Stratford-upon-Avon is informally known as Shakespeare Country. Creator of Romeo and Juliet, this playwright will always be remembered for bringing romance to life in one of history’s most tragic love stories.

Wander down Stratford’s winding cobbled streets beside the picturesque River Avon, or drift along the water on the Countess of Evesham restaurant cruiser. Step back in time as you take in the historic Tudor cottages and thriving market town of rural Warwickshire. Visit Shakespeare’s birthplace to hear love scenes and sonnets performed aloud or journey to Shakespeare Houses and Gardens to experience the Tudor traditions of courtship.

Where to stay

Wind down at the relaxing Adelphi Guest House, complete with four-poster rooms and authentic period décor. Just a stone throw away from the Shakespeare Theatre and centre of the town, this unique getaway is a treasure in the heart of Stratford.

Where to eat

Try the Old Town Restaurant for fresh, seasonal British cuisine and seafood specials. The grade II listed building features original wooden beams and inglenook fireplaces. Shakespearian prints line the walls adding a touch of warmth and character.

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Horseback ride across Brontë Country

Charlotte, Emily and Anne Brontë spent their childhood roaming the haunting moors of West Yorkshire (above). The bleak expanse of craggy sandstone provided much inspiration for the sisters classic novels including Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights. The moors themselves are most strongly associated with the wild romance of Heathcliff and Catherine Earnshaw.

Breathe the fresh air and take in the beautiful scenery as you gallop on horse back across this windswept land of heather and wild moors. Trek along bridleway towards the historic village of Haworth where the Brontë family lived at Haworth Parsonage. Whether you’re a complete beginner or experienced rider, try True Well Riding Centre and travel in style on an unforgettable literary adventure. 

Where to stay

Visit True Well Hall, a traditional 16th century farmhouse complete with picturesque views of Yorkshire’s beautiful countryside and rolling hills. Enjoy the tranquillity of the cottage from a choice of luxurious rooms boasting modern décor and stylish furnishings.

Where to eat

Enjoy pan fried duck breast or filleted sea bass at the Embers of Haworth. This charming restaurant has a homely feel, with its intimate lighting, candles and live piano music.

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Explore the birthplace of J. M. Barrie

Full of romantic ideals, Barrie’s house in Kirriemuir, Angus was his first theatre and inspiration for Peter Pan, the boy who never grew up. Through his writing, Barrie portrayed childhood as the ultimate freedom, a time of fantasy and imagination. Surrounded by historic buildings and astounding scenery, it is easy to see from where Barrie drew inspiration for Neverland.

Witness Angus’ historical Glamis Castle (above), set in the dramatic surroundings of the Scottish Highlands. Steeped in more than 600 years of history, these towers and turrets provide the perfect atmosphere for a truly magical experience. Admire the castle’s stunning architecture and the pristine gardens of its grounds.

Where to stay

Just four miles from the old town of Kirriemuir lies the charming Winters Cottage. Originally the village’s old post office, it stands on the edge of the small town with panoramic views of rural farmland and the hills beyond. The cottage stands in the hamlet of Dykehead adjoining Prosen and Glen Cova, a scenic, arable, stock farming area in the county of Angus.

Where to eat

Try the elegant Roundhouse Restaurant at Lochside Lodge for some local delicacies. Dishes include local Angus beef, lamb, game and hand picked soft fruits. The relaxing atmosphere and ambience of the lodge make this an ideal romantic getaway.

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Follow the Austen trail in Hampshire

In 19th century England, the small village of Chawton saw the creation of Jane Austen’s leading masterpiece. It was in this family cottage that she wrote the much-acclaimed Pride and Prejudice, a rags to riches story of the working class Elizabeth Bennet and wealthy Mr Darcy.

The Jane Austen walk begins at the author’s home in Chawton where she spent her final years. Follow the old road past Chawton Church (above) and its valley before heading to higher ground and the spectacular viewpoint that awaits you. Descend into Upper Farringdon taking in Manor Farm House, the church of All Saints and the Rose and Crown Inn before ambling past Parsonage Close next to the Meon railway line before journeying back to the village.

Where to stay

Stay in the tower room at St Mary’s Hall in Alton, a beautifully converted church with twisting wooden staircases and lavishly decorated rooms. Enjoy a sumptuous full English breakfast, the perfect start to your day’s adventure.

Where to eat

With its crackling real log fire and homely atmosphere the award winning Jolly Farmer in Blacknest is sure to impress. Choose from a huge selection of real ales, freshly cooked platters and buffet or basket meals. Alternatively, why not visit one of Hampshire’s colourful farmers markets full of fresh, local produce made within ten miles of the border.

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Punt past Carroll’s Christ Church meadows

It was in 1862 that Lewis Carroll, formerly known as Charles Dodgson, began writing the much loved fantasy tale Alice in Wonderland. During a trip from Folly Bridge to Oxford, Reverend Dodgson rowed three daughters of the Dean of Christ Church down the river, relaying to them as they went the story of a bored little girl named Alice who went looking for adventure. The story was popular, in particularly with the young girl Alice Liddell who asked Dodgson to write it down for her, sparking Carroll’s imagination to create the much-loved children’s book.

Start your punting experience at the Magdalen Bridge Boathouse on the tranquil River Cherwell (above). Float past the stunning Botanic Gardens, around Magdalen College and the Angel and Greyhound meadows. Sip champagne as you journey past St Hilda’s and onto the famous stretch of Christ Church.

Where to stay

Formerly the residence of a Victorian merchant, the Burlington House Hotel has recently undergone a complete renovation, resulting in an ultra modern interior finished with great attention to detail. The hotel provides rooms to accommodate all, with elegant king and queen size suites.

Where to eat

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Overlooking the scenic river stands the Cherwell Boathouse Restaurant. Enjoy an alfresco dinner on the river terrace and taste locally sourced classic dishes. Dating back to 1904, the restaurant began in an authentic Victorian working Boathouse beside the punt station.