1. Walk on the Whistling Sands
Porthor, Llyn Peninsula, Gwynedd
Discover one of the most romantic beaches in Wales at the Whistling Sands of Porthor, where the rugged, wild scenery of the Llyn Peninsula gives way to a perfect crescent of golden sand. the beach gained its poetic English name from the squeaking sound it makes when you walk on it (apparently, it’s down to the unusual size of the sand particles). Views extend to the islands of Dinas Bach and Dinas Fawr – popular haunts for grey seals – and there are shoreline walks in both directions. Head west and you’ll find yourselves on the remote cove of Porthorion, where you’re likely to be the only souls around.
2.Fly to Scilly for the Day
For a decadent day trip, catch an early flight to the Isles of Scilly, from Land’s End or Newquay, and spend the morning walking around the coast of st Mary’s. Explore the wild promontory of Peninnis Head, then make for the 16th-century star castle (now a hotel), where you can enjoy a locally sourced lunch at the award-winning restaurant. shop for handmade keepsakes at Phoenix craft Workshops, before catching a late-afternoon flight back to the mainland. there are year-round flights from Newquay and Land’s End airports to scilly, and from Exeter between March and october.
3. Take a ride on the Brighton Wheel
Brighton’s 45-metre Ferris wheel has been giving visitors an eyeful of the city’s classic sights since its opening on the seafront in 2011. Book a private capsule for two with champagne, which will allow you to bypass the queues and enjoy a drink in the VIP lounge beforehand. the ‘sky voyage’ lasts 12 minutes and local resident Steve Coogan provides an amusing commentary.
4. Drive a classic car around the Scottish Coast
Turn on the old-school glamour, and go for a spin around the west coast of Scotland in a soft-top MGB Roadster or a Jaguar XJS convertible. Largs, where the vintage car-hire company Wedding & Classic Cars is based, makes a great starting point for some scenic road trips. Fancy eating out at the Loch Fyne Restaurant & Oyster Bar? Then follow the coast road north, and take the car ferry from Gourock to Dunoon. The drive continues through Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park, before reaching the shores of Loch Fyne. Alternatively, skirt the Firth of Clyde southwards to arrive at the 18th-century Culzean Castle, overlooking the Isle of Arran.
5. Dine out on the Lakeland Coast
This low-ceilinged former smithy in the medieval village of Cartmel, just two miles from Morecambe Bay, makes an intimate setting for dîner à deux. And with two Michelin stars and the number-one position in 2014’s Good Food Guide, the food couldn’t be any better, either. Chef Simon Rogan takes an experimental approach to the Cumbrian menu, much of which is grown on his 14-acre farm, or foraged locally. Book an early table to allow for 21 courses, plus wine, then stagger back to one of the restaurant’s boutique-style rooms.
6. Indulge in a Spa Weekend
To spoil your loved one absolutely rotten, book a Valentine’s package at Fistral Beach Hotel and spa in Newquay. this includes a one-night stay in a balcony room, with Champagne and truffles on arrival, a three-course à la carte dinner in the hotel restaurant, a full English breakfast, plus a 90-minute ESPA treatment for you both in the candlelit Couples’ Suite. The hotel has an indoor pool with a steam room and sauna on site, but if that isn’t enough, Fistral Beach – the epicentre of Cornish watersports – is a stone’s throw away.
7. Float Back in Time on a Thames Barge
Thames barges – historic, scarlet-sailed, flat-bottomed crafts – were widely used from the 19th to mid-20th century for transporting cargo. A fine, fully restored 1906 example, the Edith May, is still in active service on the Medway Estuary, and has her winter berth at Lower Halstow Docks. On Valentine’s Night, climb aboard for a three-course meal with wine, prepared by a former Houses of Parliament chef. The vintage interior will be warmed by an open fire, and a harpist and guitarist will provide musical accompaniment. ‘One chap even proposed last year,’ attests Geoff Gransden, skipper and owner of the Edith May.
8. Learn to Surf Together
Novice boarders can bond over those beginners’ mistakes with surfing lessons for couples at Viking Bay in Broadstairs, courtesy of the ASI-accredited Kent Surf School. This sheltered bay is ideal for surfing, and during the two-hour session, you will learn about beach safety, how to catch waves and different pop-up techniques. ‘One hundred per cent of students will be standing up by the end of the session,’ says the Kent Surf School’s Andy Webb. Couples can also book stand-up paddleboarding lessons with the school on Margate Beach. Then, after all that adrenaline-fuelled exertion, treat yourself to a night at the boutique-style Sands Hotel.
9. Cruise into the Tunnel of Love
If you’re seeking an out-there way to declare your love this year, look no further than Blackpool Pleasure Beach, which opens its iconic rollercoaster, the Big One, on Valentine’s Day, so that lovers can walk the 420 steps to the top. From 235 feet, there are views over the Fylde coast. Or, wait until the whole park opens the next day, to enjoy a boat ride through the River Caves and into the Tunnel of Love. End the night with a jive at the Fifties-themed Carnival Ball, part of the annual Showzam! festival, at the tower Ballroom.
10. Go Stargazing on Exmoor
Exmoor National Park was designated Europe’s first International Dark Sky Reserve in 2011, and is an exceptional place for stargazing all year round. Good coastal spots for scanning the night skies include Holdstone Down, west of Lynton and Lynmouth. Wrap up warm, take a hot drink and set off arm-in-arm at least an hour and a half after sunset, to be sure it’s properly dark.