Is the Lake District the most romantic place in the world?
PUBLISHED: 21:20 11 January 2013 | UPDATED: 20:20 10 February 2016
With Valentine's Day not far off, Mike Glover talks to a woman passionate about boosting business
The Lake District has been associated with the word ‘romantic’ for more than two centuries but during that time its meaning has changed. Back in Wordsworth’s day it was a reaction against literary styles, the decline of the church, industry and its impact on the countryside and, above all, man’s mystic relationship with nature.
What it did not mean was ‘lurve.’ But that modern connotation is of increasing importance to many of the 17 million who head here each year – including the likes of Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie.
Now, one enterprising woman has launched a business aimed at pulling together the old and the new meanings of the word to promote the region as a place for lovers and those who simply love the countryside.
Rebecca Walker, who has more than a decade of experience working with various tourism-linked organisations, has launched a web-based company named Romantic Lake District.
‘Whether people come for outdoor adventure, or walking or camping, or any other activity, it can have a romantic connotation,’ she says. ‘There are more and more hotels which promote this aspect. Weddings themselves have become a huge attraction of the Lake District.’
Her vision is shared by Sarah Pike who set up a business called Herdyhuts on a National Trust camp site in Great Langdale. These traditional refuges are furnished with double beds and wood burning stoves.
‘They are romantic cabins with amazing views, and ideal for couples wanting to get away from the hustle and bustle of urban life, and yet retain luxury,’ said Sarah. She thinks they will be particularly popular during the winter months, resonating with those who like ‘glamping’.
More traditional hospitality is also benefitting from the romance boom. Victoria Monk, who owns the boutique hotel, Windermere Suites, said: ‘Our rooms are designed for romantic couples. That is our niche market.
‘Rebecca is quite right. It is a great idea to bring all the romantic aspects of the Lakes together for honeymooners, proposals – we have a couple of engagements a week – anniversaries and other occasions.’
Jonathan Kaye, owner of the Cedar Manor Hotel, Ambleside, agrees. ‘About 50 per cent of our business comes from customers wanting a romantic experience, whether it is anniversaries, honeymoons or engagements. The Lake District just conjures up an image of romance, with its magical landscape.’
One booming business for hotels is the ‘mini-moon’ when hard-working couples delay their overseas honeymoon and have a short break here instead.
Jonathan is even able to recommend sites for marriage proposals and other special moments. His own favourites are Blea Tarn, in the Langdales, and Miller Ground, ten minutes walk from his hotel.
Cumbria Tourism has been promoting Cumbria Taste and Adventure holidays, but the romantic aspect is sometimes overlooked, he believes.
He said a website which aggregates all the romantic opportunities will put that right, raising the association higher up internet searches.
Even for singles happy to wander lonely as the clouds, there is always the possibility of meeting that someone special through a shared interest. With that in mind Rebecca is considering linking up with various events, including speed-dating.
‘It will be a one-stop shop for all things associated with romantic breaks. They no longer just happen on Valentine’s Day,’ says the 37-year-old businesswoman, who formerly worked for the Lakes Hospitality Association and Lake District Tourism.
‘I will be putting on my rose-tinted glasses to see the romantic potential in everything to do with the Lakes.’