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Take the road to romance with the South West Coast Path

With a Royal wedding in the spring, love is definitely in the air for 2011 and the South West Coast Path with its stunning coastal views and outstanding natural beauty is the place to be for the perfect romantic getaway. www.southwestcoastpath.com

Take a romantic stroll along this spectacular coastline and discover secret coves and secluded beaches that can only be reached on foot. Or follow in the footsteps of generations of writers and lovers inspired by woodland walks and windswept cliff tops to create some of the most profound and sometimes tragic love stories

The South West Coast Path has a wide range of walks that will bring out the romantic in all of us.

In South Devon, the four mile walk from Bantham to Thurlestone winds its way past the glittering sea and awe inspiring coastline of the area back through the lush green fields. Watch the sun set over the magnificent Thurlestone Rock and let the sea air whet your appetite for a delicious evening meal of locally sourced food at the award winning Thurlestone Hotel. Or why not stay at the ultimate romantic island getaway, the unique Burgh Island which is the home of the famous and glamorous Art Deco hotel associated with Agatha Christie. Guests can sometimes access Burgh Island by using the world’s only sea tractor, depending on the tides, but the hotel also has its own helipad. Visit: www.burghisland.com and http://tinyurl.com/45vsk5j.

Another romantic coastal walk in the area is Hope Cove to Bolberry Down (5 miles). This is a walk of towering cliffs, endless coastal views and scenes as well as the charm of Devon lanes winding between abundant hedgerows with the beautiful nestled fishing village of Hope Cove to start from and return to. You will also wander through the aptly named “Sweethearts Lane.” Ice cream at the Beachcomber café or lunch for two at the Hope and Anchor pub at Hope Cove will be just the thing for a couple of tired but hungry “lovebirds”. Check out: http://tinyurl.com/2997zl5.

South Devon is an ideal location for romantic couples or those planning weddings or honeymoons. A spectacular “Brief Encounter style” wedding day is offered with the Dartmouth Steam Railway as well as a cruise along with the River Dart on the Dart Explorer. Ride on a romantic old steam train and your wedding ceremony can then take place in the unusual settings of either Paignton or Churston booking halls for a wonderful day to remember: www.dartmouthweddings.co.uk.

Kingswear Castle is an inspiring location fit for a future King and Queen, located directly on the water’s edge on the River Dart estuary. Built in the 1500’s the castle has views straight across to Dartmouth and is easily accessible from the South West Coast Path. Go and visit: http://tinyurl.com/6ygsxd8. Further details of accommodation and activities in the area are available at www.visitsouthdevon.co.uk .

Or take a walk from Kingswear to Froward Point (8miles), a stunning circular coastal walk which promises castles, cliffs, seals and skylarks. http://tinyurl.com/67s94g2 .

North Devon and Exmoor provided the romantic poets Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Robert Southey, Wordsworth and Percy Bysshe Shelley with material for their work around the turn of the 19th Century. However, nowhere on Exmoor has more literary associations than Badgeworthy, the location for Lorna Doone, the tragic heroine of the R.D Blackmore’s classic novel. Explore the wild valleys and hills that overlook the Bristol Channel on this literary trail.

Starting at County Gate on Exmoor this is a more challenging walk with some steep bridleways and paths to follow. You will pass many landmarks made famous by the novel such as Oare Church where Lorna was shot on her wedding day. There is the Doone Valley and Badgworthy Water where the novel is set. At the end of the walk, you can pause as author R D Blackmore did and look up the valley and think of Lorna doing her washing in the stones of the bubbling water while Carver and his outlaw brothers galloped across the moor land above her. Click on: http://tinyurl.com/6fpjhxu and check out: www.northdevon.com for details of accommodation in the area.

For further literary inspiration why not stay at a cosy North Devon cottage which was featured in the BBC TV adaptation of Sense and Sensibility. Situated in a sheltered valley near a remote Atlantic cove, Blackpool Mill was the location for Barton Cottage, where Marianne and Elinor Dashwood played out their romances with Colonel Brandon, the dastardly Willoughby and the well meaning Edward Ferras. The cottage is part of the Hartland Abbey Estate which is also worthy of a romantic stroll or two, particularly in Spring when the gardens are ablaze with spring bulbs. www.hartlandabbey.com and check out: http://tinyurl.com/68h2zg5 .

A local walk which the Dashwood sisters would have enjoyed would be the dramatic coastal walk from Stoke Via Hartland Point and Speke’s Mill (8miles) where you can see the best waterfall to be visible on the whole of the South West Coast Path. This wildly romantic landscape on the Atlantic coast will invigorate both heart and mind. http://tinyurl.com/5rt9hzv . Further information from: Alex Green, Communications and Project Officer, South West Coast Path Team – T/: 01392 382683 or E/: alex.green@devon.gov.uk or www.southwestcoastpath.com. For further press information please contact: Jane Adkins, T/: 01935 813114; M/: 07960 698089 E/: jane@aheadforpr.co.uk or Gail Livingstone, T/: 01823 252415; M/:07767 055595; E/: gail@aheadforpr.co.uk.

Notes to Editors

1. The South West Coast Path is a National Trail created and mainly funded by Natural England and managed by highway authorities and the National Trust. It follows the coast for 630 miles (1014 km) from Minehead in Somerset to the shores of Poole Harbour in Dorset and is looked after by approximately 65 dedicated on-the-ground managers, who strive to provide the highest quality route for users.

2. There are 15 National Trails in England and Wales. These long-distance routes offer liberating and rewarding natural adventures and are the nation’s favourite walks and rides through the finest and most varied landscapes in the country.

3. It’s ‘one of the world’s greatest walks’ in Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel 2009. In 2007, readers of Country Walking magazine voted the South West Coast Path Britain’s favourite walk with 50% more votes than the second placed route in the Cairngorms.

4. Natural England works for people, places and nature to conserve and enhance biodiversity, landscapes and wildlife in rural, urban, coastal and marine areas. It conserves and enhances the natural environment for its intrinsic value, the wellbeing and enjoyment of people, and the economic prosperity it brings. Website: www.naturalengland.org.uk "

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Release Date: 1st February 2011

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