5 unique places to propose in Britain

Since the engagement of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, some couples may be thinking of making their own romantic proposal.

Here’s a round-up of five unique places in the UK perfect for popping the question – from a fairy-tale treehouse to hidden forests that inspired the greatest legendary lovers.

 

1. A fairy-tale treehouse overlooking the shores of Loch Goil 

For a magical moment you want a truly memorable location, and you certainly won't forget The Lodge's enchanting treehouse overlooking a Scottish lake as the backdrop of your proposal. Enjoy a private candlelit dinner for two before the main event and then retreat to The Lodge itself – an intimate five-star venue popular with weddings and fashion shoots, located about an hour and 30 minutes' drive from Glasgow. The treehouse even has a marriage licence, so you can come back and get married in the place where you proposed!

 

2. A bespoke proposal looking over London

Twice the height of any other vantage point in the city, The Shard offers breath-taking views of London and is fast becoming known as one of the capital's most romantic destinations, especially when you add a spectacular sunset and a glass of champagne into the mix. The View from the Shard has a dedicated concierge service to help make your proposal unforgettable, with everything from exclusive use of the viewing gallery after hours and personalised music, to candles, petals and champagne - or, if you're thinking of something really different, they also work closely with dedicated romantic event planners, The Proposers.

 

3. On the beach at sunset

If you're ready to ask for your beloved's hand in marriage, the British coast makes an ideal backdrop. The sand at Bamburgh Beach turns a pinky hue at sunset, so pack a champagne picnic, pick a sand dune for privacy and ask the question that's been burning a hole in your pocket all day. Or you could opt for Rhossili Bay in south Wales, which is regularly voted as one of the world's top beaches and best picnic spots. And it's little wonder – the water is refreshing and clean and there's a cute property you can stay in, The Old Rectory, located right on the beach with uninterrupted views of the sea; it is one of the National Trust's most popular holiday cottages.

 

4. At the foot of a waterfall in the Lake District

With its mountain peaks and glistenng lakes, there is nowhere else quite like the Lake District. Unsurprisingly, it is one of the most popular places to propose in the UK, but you can still find an isolated part of this idyllic landscape for your own romantic moment. Derwent Water is a stunning body of shimmering tranquillity, perfect for a private little boat trip proposal, or how about going down on one knee at the foot of a waterfall? Sitting in the 40-acre grounds of Lodore Falls Hotel, overlooking Derwent Water, are the Lodore Falls. The hotel takes real enjoyment in helping guests make their proposals as special as possible, followed by an overnight stay in the romantic Lake View bedroom.

 

5. Live out your own great literary love  

Follow in the footsteps of great lovers in history and literature and head into Sherwood Forest in Nottinghamshire if you're a budding Robin Hood or Maid Marian; the pair are said to have been married in Edwinstowe Church, and there's a statue marking the site of the event. Fans of Robin Hood Prince of Thieves should make a pilgrimage to Hadrian's Wall (the section of wall in Northumberland), where they'll see the solitary tree immortalised in the film, which also makes a nice proposal spot. 

48 hours in…Nottinghamshire

Situated in the very heart of England, the county of Nottinghamshire is known as the land of Robin Hood, the heroic outlaw famous for robbing the rich to feed the poor. The legacy of Robin Hood resonates across the county, from the ancient oak trees of Sherwood Forest to the historic city streets of Nottingham, whose Sheriff was Robin’s main adversary.

One of England’s first industrial towns, Nottingham was an important centre for textile manufacturing. During Victorian times, the world’s finest machine made lace came from Nottingham’s Lace Market. As the industry declined, so did the city’s outlook – but today Nottingham’s many impressive examples of Victorian industrial architecture are the bricks of a rejuvenated city, with former 19th-century warehouse buildings converted into independent bars, restaurants and shops.

2017 is VisitEngland’s ‘Year of Literary Heroes’, and besides originating the myth and legend of Robin Hood, the region has other literary connections. Nottingham’s oldest public park, the Arboretum Park is known to be the place that inspired J.M. Barrie’s novel Peter Pan, while beyond the city is the ancestral home of the poet Lord Byron and the birthplace of writer D.H. Lawrence. An inspirational place to these great writers, Nottinghamshire is sure to inspire you too. www.experiencenottinghamshire.com

 

TIME TO CHECK IN:

A 17th-century former farmhouse set in three acres of private grounds to the north of Nottingham, Cockliffe Country House Hotel is undergoing major renovation works, due for completion summer 2017. All guest areas and 11 bedrooms will be luxuriously refurbished, plus there’s a striking new architect designed banqueting room.

A converted Georgian townhouse in central Nottingham, the Lace Market Hotel is a stylish boutique option with 42 bedrooms, a smart restaurant, and its very own pub, the Cock & Hoop for more casual drinking and dining.

Located in Nottingham city centre, Igloo is a cool hostel that pairs vintage and up-cycled furniture with top-notch comforts like memory foam mattresses and flatscreen TV’s. There’s a choice of dorm rooms, sleepboxes, and single, double and family rooms, some with en-suite facilities.

 

DAY ONE:

10:00 SEE A CASTLE FULL OF HISTORICAL & ARTISTIC HERITAGE

Nottingham Castle museum & art gallery stands on the site of a 11th-century Norman castle built to establish the rule of law over this notoriously rebellious city – both the city and castle are associated with the legendary outlaw Robin Hood, as well as with significant kings including William the Conqueror, Richard the Lionheart, and Richard III. The present building is an elegant Ducal Palace dating from 1678. Gutted by fire in 1831 by protestors demanding electoral reform, it was remodelled and reopened in 1878 as the first municipal art gallery outside London. Today its collection includes fine works by 17th-century Dutch and Northern European masters, as well as renowned contemporary artists including Grayson Perry, Wolfgang Tillmans and Sam Taylor-Johnson.

 

12:00 DISCOVER A HIDDEN WORLD BELOW THE CITY

Deep below the city of Nottingham is a hidden world of over 500 manmade caves, many of which date back to medieval times. The soft sandstone bedrock allowed for these hand-carved caves to be excavated. Many were created for use as pub cellars or storerooms, and some have fascinating historical significance. Beneath Nottingham Castle is a labyrinth of manmade caves that are integral to the castle’s history. In 1330, King Edward III is said to have entered the castle via these secret passageways to stage a coup d’état against his mother, Isabella of France and her lover, Sir Roger Mortimer, who together had conspired to depose and murder his father, Edward II. Mortimer was executed for treason, and his ghost is said to haunt a particular tunnel here known as Mortimer’s Hole. Visitors to Nottingham Castle may join a cave tour for an additional fee.

 

13:15 HAVE A CURIOUS LUNCH

The quirky Curious Manor and Curious Townhouse are surreal spaces for enjoying anything from brunch to late night cocktails, with menus that include burgers, hand stretched pizzas, and splendid afternoon teas. The latest addition Curious Tavern opened in October 2016, serving traditional tavern fare including freshly shucked oysters and hand-pulled cask stout. It’s also home to a new secret bar called Lost Property.

 

14:00 TAKE A ROBIN HOOD OR LACE HERITAGE TOUR

An award-winning tour guide, Ezekial Bone is best known for his Robin Hood Town Tour, visiting places throughout historic Nottingham that tell the story of the legendary outlaw. The tour concludes with a tankard of ale at Ye Olde Trip To Jerusalem, a historic inn dating from 1189 that claims to be the oldest in England. The city became a major centre for textile manufacturing during Victorian times, with the finest machine made lace in the world coming from here. This fascinating period is the subject of the new Nottingham Lace Market Tour, a 90-minute tour that threads its way around the city’s fine Victorian industrial architecture.

 

16:30 DELVE INTO A LACE ARCHIVE OR A VIDEOGAME MUSEUM

When Nottingham’s lace industry fell into decline, so did the streets surrounding the Lace Market, a neighbourhood known as Hockley. In recent years the area and its well-preserved Victorian buildings has enjoyed a resurgence, and is now home to modern creative and digital industries. Hockley buzzes with pavement cafes and independent shops such as Debbie Bryan, maker of individually hand cast brooches and knitted scarves inspired by British heritage – her studio has regular craft and design classes, and houses a unique Lace Archive. Grand 18th-century Willoughby House is a flagship store of pre-eminent British fashion designer and Nottingham native Paul Smith. Pixelheads may prefer the nostalgia of gaming at the nearby National Videogame Arcade, a playful museum sure to unleash your inner geek.

 

18:00 TOUR A HAUNTED MUSEUM AFTER DARK

A city associated with the outlaw Robin Hood, it’s appropriate that Nottingham’s National Justice Museum has Britain’s largest collection relating to law, justice, crime and punishment. Formerly the Galleries of Justice Museum, it reopened in April 2017 following a £1million refurbishment. New interactive activities and exhibition spaces now complement the museum’s grand Victorian courtrooms, 17th-century dungeon and 19th-century prison cells. As well as displaying many fascinating artefacts, it’s reputedly one of the world’s most haunted buildings and in 2014 was voted the most haunted building in Britain. Not normally accessible to the general public, its darkest and deepest corners are open for chilling Ghost Tours and Terror Tours on Friday and Saturday nights at 6pm.

 

19:30 DINE IN AN HISTORIC BOOTS PHARMACY

The Hockley area of Nottingham has many independent eateries, including Michelin Guide listed The Larder on Goosegate, whose daily changing menu is based around seasonal produce. It occupies a Victorian building that was once home to Jesse Boot’s first apothecary – he transformed M & J Boot, founded by his father in Nottingham in 1849, into one of Britain’s best-known high street retailers, and the restaurant décor retains many heritage and architectural features that echo the building’s history. Or enjoy award-winning North Indian cuisine at MemSaab.

 

DAY TWO:

09:30 GO IN PURSUIT OF AN OUTLAW

Once part of a royal hunting forest, Sherwood Forest National Nature Reserve is the legendary stomping ground of Robin Hood. Located 1 hour north of Nottingham by car, the forest covers 450 acres including ancient areas of native woodland. Legend asserts that Robin and his band of Merry Men would hide inside the hollow trunk of an enormous oak tree known as Major Oak, thus evading enemies including the Sheriff Of Nottingham. Standing in the heart of Sherwood Forest, this epic tree is estimated to be between 800 and 1,000 years old, and is so huge that since Victorian times its branches have needed the support of scaffolding. There are numerous trails through the trees and glades, and the forest is free to enter. Held each August is the annual Robin Hood Festival, with live-action re-enactments of Robin Hood’s exploits, plus medieval jousting, jesters and falconry.

 

12:30 HUNT FOR LUNCH

Robin Hood may have been skilled at archery, but with numerous country inns and restaurants around Sherwood Forest, hunting for lunch with a bow and arrow is no longer necessary. On the edge of the forest, the village of Edwinstowe has excellent options including Launay’s, whose seasonal menu fuses English and French cuisine, and Forest Lodge, an award-winning 18th-century coaching inn.

 

14:00 TAKE A LITERARY PILGRIMAGE

The famous writer D.H. Lawrence was born in 1885 in a red brick miner’s cottage in Eastwood, 30 minutes north west of Nottingham by car. Now the D. H. Lawrence Birthplace Museum, its authentically recreated interiors offer an insight into the writer’s formative years. Awarded a VisitEngland ‘Hidden Gem’ accolade in 2016, it’s also a fascinating snapshot of what life was like in a small mining community during Victorian times. For more literary connections, nearby Newstead Abbey was the ancestral home of the poet Lord Byron, and is also open to the public.

 

Or…

If you’d prefer to pamper your body, spend the afternoon at a luxury day spa. Surrounded by countryside in the east of the county, award-winning Eden Hall Day Spa is a peaceful sanctuary set in a beautiful old mansion. Or head farther north to the historic Ye Olde Bell Hotel. This AA 4-star Rosette hotel has a brand new purpose-built £multi-million spa open from Spring 2017, with state-of-the-art amenities including an indoor to outdoor vitality hydropool, Sabbia Med Sunlight Therapy, and Britain’s first and only ‘snowstorm’ spa experience.

 

19:30 HAVE AN INTERNATIONAL DINNER

Head back into Nottingham for a global smorgasbord of drinking and dining options. Nottingham’s newest bar and eatery is Bavarian-style The Bierkeller. Or enjoy world tapas at Bar Iberico, a new and casual sister venue to Iberico, a fine dining restaurant and Nottinghamshire’s only Michelin Guide Bib Gourmand entry.

 

HOW TO GET HERE:

Nottinghamshire is a county in the heart of England. Its principle city, Nottingham, is 1h 40m north of London by train. Located just over 30 minutes south west of the city, East Midlands Airport is a hub for budget airlines Jet2.com and Ryanair, with flights from many European cities.

Six of the best: wintery National Trust walks

The National Trust is a charity that looks after some of the most beautiful countryside in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. It cares for more than 2,400 square kilometres of land and more than 500 historic houses, castles, parks and nature reserves. One of the joys of the British countryside is that you can enjoy it at any time of year. Don't let lower temperatures put you off - grab a warm coat and your National Trust touring pass, and head out on a fresh wintery walk at one of these scenic spots, which display a whole new beauty in frosty or snowy conditions.

 

Box Hill, Surrey, south-east England

Approximately 30km south-west of London is Box Hill, a summit of the Surrey’s North Downs. It takes its name from the ancient box woodland found on the steepest slopes overlooking the River Mole. There are lots of different walks to explore, from a gentle stroll over the top of the famous hill, to a long walk down and up again, taking a well-earnt stop at a pub along the way. If it’s a white winter with a decent layer of snow, Box Hill becomes a sledging playground, with kids and adults alike hurtling down its famous slopes, and lots of enthusiastic snow fights!

 

Bath Skyline, Somerset, south-west England   

Once you’ve explored the beautiful city of Bath, a short stroll from its centre is the six-mile Skyline trail, taking you up onto the hills overlooking Bath and beyond. The route boasts magnificent views and you'll wander through history, passing an Iron Age hill fort and 18th-century follies. The path continues through meadows, ancient woodlands and secluded valleys, which look even more beautiful covered in wintery frost or a dusting of snow.

 

Clumber Park, Nottinghamshire, east Midlands, England

Clumber Park is a beautiful expanse of parkland, heath and woods covering more than 3,800 acres. Although the house was demolished in 1938, there are many glimpses of its grand past to explore, including the Gothic-style chapel, often referred to as a 'Cathedral in miniature'. This gentle two-mile walking trail explores the park’s picturesque parkland, heathland, gardens and peaceful woodlands. The views of Clumber Lake – particularly from Clumber Bridge – are stunning.

 

Divis and the Black Mountain, County Antrim,  Northern Ireland   

This challenging three-mile Summit Trail takes you along the Tipperary Road through open heath, following a way marked trail to the highest peak in the Belfast Hills, Divis Mountain. Overlooking the city of Belfast below and with magnificent views of Lough Neagh, the Mourne Mountains and Strangford Lough, this is a fantastic vantage point from which to take in the magnificent scenery that Northern Ireland has to offer.

 

Dinefwr Park, Carmarthenshire, south-west Wales

Discover ancient oaks and wildlife during this scenic one-and-a-half mile route, which was designed by landscape architect Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown when he visited Dinefwr in 1775. It takes you through Dinefwr deer park, which surrounds 12th-century Dinefwr Castle. Fallow deer roam the park and are often joined by a neighbouring second herd in winter. Keep a look out for majestic Newton House, and some of the park's 150 ancient trees that you'll pass; there are nearly 300 ancient trees at Dinefwr, half of them in the deer park.  

 

Fountains Abbey and Studley Royal Water Garden, North Yorkshire, northern England 

Discover the winter landscapes of Fountains Abbey and Studley Royal Water Garden with a five-mile trail that takes you through the deer park and elegant Georgian water garden. The route offers views of Ripon, the distant North York Moors and the impressive ruins of Fountains Abbey. This walk follows around the boundary of the estate, and after taking in the sights of the deer park, wander through the 18th-century water garden and past the magnificent Abbey.