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What could be more romantic than a stroll through our literary landscapes?

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: January 04, 2013

  • Salcombe Hill combines shingle beach, woodland, open fields and stunning views out over the Jurassic coast, made famous in John Fowles's novel The French Lieutenant's Woman

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Few people need an excuse for a walk in the countryside, especially those lucky enough to live in the rural Westcountry.

But in case there are any that can't take a stroll without a good reason, the South West Coast Path organisation is looking ahead to next month – when hopefully the mud will have dried up – and suggests some romantic walks for Valentine's Day.

Outdoor types hoping to impress a loved-one with a well-chosen romantic route through the countryside might like to check one of these out before February 14. There is plenty of time.

The South West Coastpath's latest report asks: "What could be more romantic than a stroll through the Westcountry's beautiful literary landscapes?"

And it suggests walkers might like to follow in the footsteps of Coleridge, Shelley and Wordsworth on Exmoor, take a walk along the Cornish coast, the inspiration for Daphne du Maurier's broodingly romantic novels, or stand and admire the view for a moment across Lyme Regis bay in Dorset, the literary backdrop for The French Lieutenant's Woman.

The South West Coast Path team's pick of the best romantic walks, are all available to download from the SWCP website at www.southwest coastpath.com/romance

Porlock Woodland walk, North Somerset (4.1 miles). For the romantic poets, Exmoor was paradise. Stroll around the western side of Porlock Bay, through the wooded hills above Porlock Weir, along Porlock Beach and back around the edge of marshy pastures. Coleridge composed Kubla Khan in an isolated farmhouse near Porlock, and was a regular patron of the Ship Inn in the village.

Gribbin Head, Cornwall (4.5 miles). This area of headland just west of Fowey is famed for its association with Daphne du Maurier, who lived for many years at Menabilly at Gribbin Head and used it as a model for Manderley in her novel Rebecca. The South West Coast Path traverses the peninsula and combines breathtaking natural beauty with wildlife and unique heritage.

Salcombe Hill, Devon (2.8 miles). A dog-friendly walk combining shingle beach, woodland, open fields and stunning views out over the Jurassic coast, Lyme Bay and The Cobb, made famous in John Fowles's best-selling novel, The French Lieutenant's Woman.

Boscastle, Valency Valley and Fire Beacon Point, North Cornwall (5.4 miles). This challenging walk takes in coastal views, a waterfall, picturesque Boscastle Harbour, a wooded valley and the remote church of St Juliot, closely associated with Thomas Hardy, who was the architect taken on to rebuild the church. While there he met the sister-in-law of the rector, Emma, who later became his first wife. The romance led to the novel, A Pair of Blue Eyes, and to some of his finest poetry.

Porthcurno and Penberth, Cornwall (3 miles). A romantic cliff walk high above turquoise seas and sandy coves, passing a tiny harbour and a promontory fort from prehistoric times. The area is immortalised by the author Rosamunde Pilcher in The Shell Seekers.

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