WITH Valentine's Day just around the corner, no doubt many Gwent romantics are considering proposing to their better halves.
But instead of proposing at home or in your favourite restaurant like everyone else, why not let the great outdoors witness your declaration of love everlasting?
This week we’ve searched high and low to find the most romantic spots in Gwent to stage your big proposal – and there’s some fantastic choices.
From castles and follys to mountains and lakes, Gwent offers the perfect proposal setting for everyone, whatever your taste.
For adrenaline-junkies, extreme sports including windsurfing and rock climbing are guaranteed to get your loved one’s pulse racing, even before you get down on bended knee.
For the romantics out there, any one of Gwent’s beautiful and historical castles, rich with history, will almost definitely ensure a "yes" answer.
The best part is, some of them are also licensed to perform weddings, so you can book straight after your proposal if the answer was to your liking.
Samantha Imbimbo, a wedding and events planner who runs Oh So Perfect Weddings and Events in South Wales, is something of an expert on the subject of romance.
She said: "Nature lovers and romantics who love a brisk walk in the winter sunshine should wrap up warm, pack a flask of soup, some fresh baked rolls and head out for a walk in the countryside. There’s lots of stunning views over the mountains and valleys which would make a perfect setting for an outdoor winter picnic proposal.
"If you’re worried which way to go, or think you might end up getting lost, be sure to map your walking route beforehand – or for the real romantics among you why not plan ahead and create a Valentine's treasure hunt to surprise your partner with? Alternatively visit a pretty nature park like Cwmcarn Forest where there’s lots to see and do without the risk of losing your way."
The Skirrid Inn is steeped in Welsh history and exciting tales of lovers gone by, so you could add your own slice of history by proposing over a candlelit dinner or in a quiet corner by the open fire, she said.
“Abergavenny Castle is the perfect setting for a glorious proposal in a proper Welsh castle," she added. "What could be more romantic on Valentine's Day than a wander round a castle with your loved one.”
When it comes to matters of the heart and proposing, Ms Imbimbo has some advice and top tips.
She said: "Making a proposal can leave you feeling nervous with the pressure to get it ‘just right.’
"Stay relaxed, take a few deep breaths to clear your mind of nerves before you begin, and remember to smile and make eye contact with your partner when you pop the question.
“It’s lovely to include a big grand gesture of affection with your proposal if you wish to, but don’t get too stressed out in trying to make everything just perfect - remember sometimes it is the little personal things that are more important.”
If you are feeling inspired, why not consider proposing at one of our romantic hot spots from across Wales. Here's our pick of the best:
- Tredegar House and Gardens
Recently taken over by the National Trust, Tredegar House is one of the most magnificent 17th-century houses in Britain. Situated within 90 acres of beautiful gardens and parkland, there’s plenty of romantic and traditional places to propose to your loved one. Even better, marriages, civil partnerships and wedding receptions can all be arranged here.
- Newport Wetlands
For the twitchers and nature lovers out there, where could be a better setting to propose spending the rest of your lives together? With tranquil reedbeds and stunning views of the Severn Estuary, propose to your favourite person in the Wetlands surrounded by Bearded Tits and Little Egrets.
- Parc Bryn Bach
Perfect for outdoorsy types, why not take a picnic to Parc Bryn Bach and propose next to the lake? Or you could take part in one of the many activities on offer and propose mid-action. Windsurfing, archery, caving, gorge walking and canoeing are all available.
- Bedwellty House
For history buffs and those proud of the mining past of Gwent’s valleys. Bedwellty House is a listed Regency villa in Tredegar. It is surrounded by a historic garden that was established in the early 19th century for the Master of Tredegar Iron Works. Bedwellty House and Park are intimately linked with the early social history of Industrial Wales.
Its relevance continued when the house and park were given to the people of Tredegar and consequently became a centre of the labour movement in Wales, and Britain at large.
- Raglan Castle
This brooding castle is both beautiful and imposing and so is perfect for those who love a touch of drama. This late medieval castle dates from between the 15th and early 17th-centuries, and was built by the Herberts and the Somersets creating a, for the time, luxurious, fortified castle, complete with a large hexagonal keep, known as the Great Tower or the Yellow Tower of Gwent. At its peak the castle featured parkland, water gardens and terraces.
- Tintern Abbey
For the romantic in your life. This beautiful Cistercian Abbey inspired Tears, Idle Tears, the lyric poem in 1847 by Alfred, Lord Tennyson, inspired William Wordsworth's poem "Lines written a few miles above Tintern Abbey", and Allen Ginsberg's "Wales Visitation". It also inspired several painitings by J. M. W. Turner. Despite the shell of this grand structure being open to the skies, it remains the best-preserved medieval abbey in Wales.
If your beloved loves to ramble, look no further than ‘The Twmp’. It is very popular for hillwalking and mountain biking and with tourists who visit Cwmcarn Forest Drive or walk the Gwent Ridgeway. Take a mildly strenuous walk and propose at the top. At 414 metres above sea level, his former Bronze Age hill fort offers panoramic views over the Bristol Channel, Newport and Risca.
- Sirhowy Country Park
Great for proposing to outdoors enthusiasts. Sirhowy country park is a great place to walk and cycle with over 1,000 acres of woodland and meadows to discover – so it won’t be too hard to find a romantic spot before getting down on one knee. Enjoy rambles alongside Sirhowy River, or climb to Graig Goch Woods and get great views of the surrounding countryside.
- Big Pit
Propose at Big Pit if the love of your life is an engineering or geology buff.You can also go 300ft underground and see how life down the mines would have been.
- Folly Tower
The Folly Tower in Pontypool is around 1,000 feet above sea level. Take a walk along the canal before heading up to the summit and proposing with spectacular 360 degree views of Gwent.