Lake Windermere, Lake District National Park, Windermere

As soon as you step off the train at Windermere you’re in the heart of the vast Lake District National Park. This may be the end of the line from Oxenholme, but for many it’s the start of a love affair with arguably England’s most beautiful landscape.

The muse of the Romantic Poets, this dramatic scenery attracts people from around the world. The views also tend to bring out the romantic in visitors. Be careful when you bend down to tie your shoelace as the area is one of the most popular in the UK for marriage proposals.

Lake Windermere is best enjoyed on the water and regular cruises chug around dropping off people for lunch dates at hotels and villages. If waterbound vessels don’t float your boat, you can always wander lonely as a cloud among Windermere’s quaint streets taking in the breathtaking views.

Image credit: © Ron Evans / Alamy

Riverside Park, Chester-le-Street

Couples love this place. With wide open spaces and the River Wear bubbling by, The Riverside is one of the most popular parks in the north east. Kids are kept largely to the lively play areas, leaving most of the park free for the grown ups. As a result this is the perfect spot for a gentle walk or a lazy summer’s evening of relaxation on the well-kept greens.

The towers and turrets of Lumley Castle - now a luxury hotel - provide a fairytale backdrop. And there’s a café serving hot and cold snacks and drinks - handy if you forget your cooler bag full of fizz. Right next door is the Riverside cricket club, officially known as the Emirates Durham International Cricket Ground. As well as sports it hosts touring bands, including Madness later this year. Quite the House of Fun, then…

Exhibition Park, Newcastle

How quickly Newcastle’s urban buzz gives way to leafy tranquility… Exhibition Park is a short walk from the city’s main shopping area and a longtime local favourite. Recently revamped with a fantastic café, the park boasts a lake and plenty of quiet spots for a snooze or a romantic picnic. If you fancy a longer stroll, you’re on the doorstep of the Town Moor or can head past the bandstand to reach the southern tip of Jesmond with its snug cafés and eateries.

To find the park from the station you wind your way through the ‘pink triangle’ of nightspots via Pink Lane, skirt Newcastle’s Chinatown - centred on Stowell Street - and hug the shadows of the city’s great cathedral of football - St James’ Park. Should rain threaten your parade, it’s just a short dash to The Great North Museum - known to locals over 30 as ‘The Hancock’ - which is free to enter.

Williamson Park, Lancaster

Overlooking the city and offering spectacular views for miles in every direction, Williamson Park is the crowning glory of Lancaster in more ways than one. The park’s Ashton Memorial is a stunning Edwardian folly that can be spotted from afar. Its first-floor platform is the best spot for awesome views, while a butterfly house, aviary and bughouse provide rather more intimate spectacles. Summer provides the opportunity to take in some open-air theatre too.

The Ashton Memorial is also a popular venue for weddings, but the beautifully manicured grounds and lovingly preserved Victorian and Edwardian buildings mean the park is a popular spot for popping the question too - the Pavilion Café is on-hand to provide cups of tea and locally-sourced food if any nerves require steadying.

Norfolk Heritage Park, Sheffield

Just a short walk from Sheffield train station, this beautiful Grade II listed space is an urban oasis a stone’s throw from the hum of the city. Formerly a deer park, it has retained its Victorian heritage and is ringed by a four-mile stroll through tree-lined avenues, flanked with oaks and limes.  

With an open parkland, meadowland and walks through ancient woodlands full of wild flowers, there’s a variety of terrain to suit all tastes. Jervis Lum is an undisturbed wooded ravine - a haven for wildlife and the jewel in the park’s crown. 

It’s also part of the Norfolk Heritage Trail, which starts at Sheffield train station and links historical buildings and open spaces in the area. Guided walks stop for lunch in the café along the way - it’s open seven days a week if you need to refuel.


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