Its austere beauty has long been recognised by the thousands of tourists who visit each year, but now the romance of Skye is set to reach a new audience after inspiring its very own bodice-ripper
Mills & Boon, the purveyors of hot-under-the-collar historical novels, commissioned A Scandalous Liaison after the island’s Fairy Pools topped a list of the UK’s most romantic places.
The short story uses the beauty spot as the setting for a “secret trysting place where love blooms amid the magical combination of rocks, tumbling water and heather”.
The publisher has issued a series of short novels with titles such as A Passionate Portmeirion Proposal and His Lover from the Lakes after carrying out research into the places most likely to host a holiday fling.
Other Scottish locations which earn a mention in the are the Falls of Bruar in Perthshire and Arthur’s Seat in Edinburgh.
A longlist was drawn up by leading travel experts before being whittled down by a poll of 2,000 people, with each place in the top 10 celebrated by a specially commissioned story.
Lisa Milton, Mills & Boon executive publisher, said: “When it comes to a summer getaway with a loved one, we all want to make it as romantic as possible.
“Our survey has identified the definitive romantic places in Britain and the world. With all of us looking for any opportunity to bring a little extra romance into our hectic lives, holidays in these places offer the perfect chance to switch off and rediscover romance.”
The publisher said it had identified five key factors for a romantic location: beautiful views, luxury accommodation, warm climate, fabulous restaurants and amazing walks.
A separate list of the world’s most romantic places is topped by Paris, with mentions for Santorini in Greece, Italy’s Amalfi coast and Big Sur in California.
The poll also found that 49 per cent of respondents had enjoyed a “summer fling”, although only 22 per cent of those romances lasted more than six months.
The findings also suggest summer sun can give a timely boost to existing relationships, with 43 per cent saying that their relationships are in a better place following a holiday and more than half (53 per cent) trying to ensure they have at least one romantic escape with a partner a year.
Despite being the butt of jokes, Mills & Boon books remain hugely popular – one of the company’s novels is sold globally every four seconds, with more than 300,000 copies sold in the UK each month.
Skye, however, is well-accustomed to being used as a backdrop, having been used a location for recent Hollywood films such as Macbeth starring Michael Fassbender and Ridley Scott’s 2012 sci-fi epic Prometheus, as well as the hugely popular TV series Game of Thrones.
But its popularity has come at a price, with concerns over the huge number of visitors in the summer months, meaning any romantic trysts would probably have to be shared with dozens of camera-carrying tourists.
Earlier this year US broadcaster CNN named Skye among a list of place to avoid, claiming the island’s infrastructure “creaked under the pressure” of thousands of visitors last summer.
The full list of the 20 Most Romantic Places in the UK is as follows:
Fairy Pools, Glenbrittle, Isle of Skye, Scotland
Grasmere, Lake District, England
City of Bath
Durdle Door, Dorset
Tresco, Isles of Scilly
Portmeirion, Gwynedd, Wales
Bourton-on-the-water, the Cotswolds
Porthcurno, The Minack Theatre, Cornwall
Cambridge and the River Cam
Giant’s Causeway, Northern Ireland
Windsor Castle, Windsor
Abereiddi’s Blue Lagoon, Pembrokeshire, Wales
The Dark Hedges, County Antrim, Northern Ireland
Leeds Castle, Kent
Llyn Padarn (Llanberis), Snowdonia, Wales
The Falls of Bruar, Perth, Scotland
Arthur’s Seat, Edinburgh, Scotland
St Nectan’s Glen, Cornwall
City of Oxford