Cliffy shores, tiny fishing harbours, chocolate-box villages and Britain’s mildest climate make the West Country ideal for romantic getaways.

Surrounded by seven hills, the city of Bath makes a terrific starting point for a West Country sojourn. With its grand Georgian terraces and squares, it’s an easy city to explore on foot. Highlights include perfectly preserved Royal Crescent and the Circus – just one of many striking architectural landmarks.

Soak in the steaming rooftop waters of the Bath Thermae Spa before visiting the city’s original Roman Baths. Take tea in the elegant Pump Room,  then trawl for gifts or antiques in little arcades and dozens of speciality shops. And be sure to visit some of the city’s 20-odd museums.

Dorset is Thomas Hardy country, and you can visit the author’s thatched cottage birthplace at tiny Higher Bockhampton. Leafy Bournemouth, with its miles of sandy beach, is a natural gateway to the county as well as an entrée to the villages of the New Forest. Lyme Regis and Lulworth Cove – known as the Jurassic coast for its fossils and rock strata – are just some of the picture-worthy spots en route west.

Somerset is home to the bijou cathedral city of Wells, the dramatic Cheddar Gorge and the caves of Wookey Hole. Further west, Devon’s a county of rolling hills, cream teas and fabulous coastline. Don’t miss the yacht-filled harbour of Dartmouth, on the River Dart estuary, and tiny Burgh Island – a decadent outpost of 1930s living.

North Devon has a score of chocolate-box villages, among them pretty Lymington. Then there are the hills of wildlife-rich Exmoor and Dartmoor, where stags and wild ponies roam. Exmoor’s coastal paths frame cliffy sea views, and you can see where two rivers converge at Watersmeet, high on the moors.

Cornwall has its rocky coves and fishing villages and the surfing meccas of Rock and Newquay. For an extra special getaway, head off to the palm-treed Isles of Scilly – Britain’s most westerly outpost – by chopper or plane. Go diving, seal-spotting and picnicking in the Scillies and gaze over Atlantic rollers – it’s next stop, America.


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