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7 Feb 2022

5 of the UK's prettiest towns and villages for a romantic meal

Wells, Grasmere and Ludlow are among Which? readers' favourites.

Valentine's Day is upon us and if you're looking for something different to do this year, why not venture out to a historic market town or sleepy country village for a romantic dinner with your loved one?

From lush hilly landscapes overlooking the Cumbrian lakes to quaint slate high streets in the heart of England, we've handpicked five of the UK's top-rated towns and villages for dining and scenery, as voted by Which? readers.

In a recent survey, 5,333 Which? Travel readers rated the UK's best towns and villages, giving us an insight into where people venture off to for some of that unbeatable British rural charm. We've taken their scores for food and drink, scenery, and overall attractiveness out of five to bring you some inspiration for a romantic stroll and delicious dinner this February.

All of the locations listed below were rated four or five stars for food and drink, scenery, and overall attractiveness, so you can rest assured that you'll be able to find beautiful walks to help you work up an appetite.

1. Wells, Somerset

A historic country town characterised by its English Gothic architecture and magnificent 13th-century cathedral, it's no surprise that Wells was rated four out of five stars for attractiveness and scenery. Stand in awe of the Anglican masterpiece or take a pre-dinner stroll down nearby Vicars' Close, a rare example of a medieval street still intact and occupied by priests today.

Find a front row seat of the cathedral lit up against the night sky or hunt for a cosier setting down one of Wells' cobbled back streets. As a small city, there's a wide range of dining options from well-known restaurant chains to independent and locally owned pubs, which may be why Which? readers awarded it four out of five stars for food and drink.

2. Grasmere, Cumbria

Grasmere, Cumbria

With its slate stoned buildings, sleepy meadows and beautiful surrounding lakes, we can see why William Wordsworth described Grasmere as u201cthe loveliest spot that man hath ever found.u201d And (in a much less poetic way) Which? readers have applauded it too, rating it a full five stars out of five for scenery.

Situated right at the heart of the Lake District, visitors here will find plenty to see and do. Take a romantic stroll around Grasmere Lake or potter about Grasmere village itself and discover its long history with some of England's finest poets.

All of that walking and fresh air will help build your appetite ready to flop by a fire in a cosy country pub for a hearty dinner in a location rated four stars for food and drink. Amble along Church Style road or College Street in the centre of Grasmere to find a choice of tearooms, bakeries, gastro pubs and bistros.

3. Ludlow, Shropshire

Ludlow Castle, Ludlow, Shropshire

A thriving medieval market town overlooking the River Teme and Welsh Marches, Ludlow scored four stars out of five in our Which? survey for attractiveness, scenery and dining. The 11th-century Ludlow Castle is the centrepiece, surrounded by timber-framed buildings and the nearby St Laurence's Church.

Foodies will appreciate the wide selection of independently owned restaurants, gastro pubs and cafes boasting their use of local produce. For a weekend break, Ludlow is a great base for exploring the Shropshire hills and the nearby Unesco World Heritage Ironbridge.

4. Bakewell, Derbyshire

Bakewell, Derbyshire

Known for being the birthplace of the humble Bakewell pudding, this market town in the Derbyshire Dales is a photographer's dream with its mellow-stoned architecture, medieval five-arched bridge and quaint courtyards. Pair that with the town's wide range of eateries and it makes for a perfect date location, as reflected by its glowing score of five out of five stars for scenery and four stars for food and drink and attractiveness.

Fancy a romantic stroll before dinner? Take the Monsal Trail, an 8.5-mile paved route which used to be the Midland Railway. Pass by lush pastures dotted with sheep, sleepy villages and limestone cliffs en route. The path itself is worth a photo with its four stunning railway tunnels.

5. Ambleside, Cumbria

Ambleside, Cumbria

Handed five stars for scenery and four stars for attractiveness and food and drink, Ambleside has plenty to offer those organising a meal out in scenic surrounds.. Just a stone's throw away from the stunning Lake Windermere, England's largest lake, this Victorian village is sure to provide a pretty backdrop for a romantic meal this February.

Bridge House is considered to be the most photographed building in the Lake District. You wouldn't be the only one to expect a grand architectural achievement of some kind with that status, but it's actually a tiny stone building dating back to the 17th century, originally built as an apple store over a beck running through Ambleside. Now owned by the National Trust, its backstory is as intriguing as its current status.

After pottering about the village, either dip into one of Ambleside's quaint country pubs or head down to Windermere for a restaurant with a lakeside view.

Feeling more of a cosmopolitan vibe? Find out the best UK cities for dining as voted by Which? readers, featuring York, Glasgow and Brighton.