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Open Features: Love Is In The Air

"Love is in the air and for romantic inspiration this Valentine’s weekend, look no further than the National Trust. With tales of royal newly-weds and historic love affairs, our houses, castles and outdoor places continue to provide the perfect backdrop for love to blossom,'' says Sally Airey.

Here are ten idyllic havens of love and romance, beautiful places that are just right for a romantic stroll and some special time together - a world away from daily life.

Polesden Lacey, Surrey

With a royal wedding just around the corner, Polesden remembers its own personal tale of royal romance. King George VI and our late Queen Mother spent part of their honeymoon nestled here, amidst the beautiful landscape of the North Downs. What’s more, this spectacular place is still alive with the spirit of its most celebrated owner, Mrs Ronald Greville, whose zest for life and vivacious sparkle made for a whirlwind of weekend parties and the odd spot of romance too. Learning about the royal romantic connections and taking in its charming formal gardens, including the stunning rose garden, is the perfect way to spend Valentine’s.

Claremont Landscape Garden, Surrey

The Claremont estate was also the setting for royal romance, as in 1816 it was given as a wedding gift to Princess Charlotte of Wales, the heir to the throne as the only child of George IV. The Princess lived there until she died and the estate was later passed on to Queen Victoria. Lovers can walk hand-in-hand around this beautiful landscape garden and its serpentine lake, stopping off for a picnic in its unusual and enchanting grass amphitheatre.

Wimpole Hall, Cambridgeshire

Cambridgeshire’s grandest country house was home to a man who had a very important part to play in Britain's romantic history. Phillip, the first Earl of Hardwicke, purchased Wimpole in 1740 and 15 years later played an instrumental part in the passing of the Marriage Act of 1754 - establishing the legal basis for the conduct and definition of marriages in England and Wales.

Stourhead, Wiltshire

Enjoy a day together exploring the timeless wonder of this fairy-tale estate. Take a romantic stroll along the lake, passing temples, follies and grottos. Then, finish with the awe-inspiring views from the Temple of Apollo - a place so romantic, it was used as the location for Mr Darcy's declaration of love for Elizabeth in the 2005 film adaptation of Pride & Prejudice.

Killerton, Devon

Nestled within this tranquil spot amongst the majestic lawns and sweeping parkland are stories from the lives of the Acland family, which have their very own sprinkle of romance. For 17-year-old Thomas Acland, it was love at first sight when he was introduced to Lydia Hoare in 1804. The teenagers immediately embarked upon an adolescent love affair and, at the age of 21, it was decided that they would be married.

Stowe Landscape Gardens, Buckinghamshire

The scale, grandeur and beauty of Stowe has inspired writers, philosophers, artists and indeed all who have visited since the 18th-century, making it the perfect romantic getaway this Valentine’s. From spring time walks through follies and temples to sitting by the lake and breathing in the tranquillity, romance will flourish at every turn.

Gibside, Tyne & Wear

This is the perfect place to take a Valentine who really loves the great outdoors.

Gibside is a ‘grand design’ of spectacular sights. Take time to explore the ruins of the orangery, bathhouse and hall, stroll down the oak-lined Long Walk, then take in the dramatic Column of Liberty that rises above the treetops at over 40 metres high. Spoil loved ones at the Gibside Larder, with the region’s finest award-winning food on sale.

Lyme Park, Cheshire

Lying on the edge of the Peak District, nestling within sweeping moorland, lies the magnificent Lyme Park. Its wild remoteness and powerful beauty contrast with one of the most famous country house images in England. As the backdrop to where Darcy meets Elizabeth in the ever-remembered TV adaptation of Pride & Prejudice, romance oozes from this glorious setting. In spring-time the wooded slopes and rolling moorland, grazed by ancient herds of red deer, will give Valentine’s couples a real feeling of being miles from anywhere - in their very own romance classic.

Fountains Abbey, North Yorkshire

The breath taking ruins of this Cistercian abbey, combined with its Royal Water Garden and the atmospheric Serpentine tunnel, are guaranteed to capture the imagination and inspire romance this Valentine's Day. For couples looking for the perfect romantic wedding venue, the Grade 1 listed Great Chamber at Fountains Hall is licensed for civil ceremonies, whilst the ruins provide beautiful photo opportunities.

Dinefwr Park and Castle, Carmarthenshire

A magical land of power and influence for more than 2,000 years, Dinefwr Park and Castle is an iconic place in the history of Wales. The magnificent park stretches over 480 acres towards the bank of the Tywri, with water meadows and oak woodland home to more than 100 fallow deer and a herd of rare White Park Cattle - making Dinefwr a breathtaking backdrop for a Valentine’s stroll. Romantic moments include the thrilling views from the top of castle, which could make the perfect proposal spot.

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