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9 Feb 2024

There’s romance in the air at our places

Written by Sarah Burnett
Couple eating by a stone wall, with mountains in background
A shared love of the outdoors brought together Trust members Sean and Jen
Scots look for a love of the outdoors when searching for a partner, according to new research carried out for the Trust.

According to a new survey carried out for our charity, seven out of ten (68%) Scots believe a love of spending time outdoors is one of the most attractive qualities in a potential friend or partner.

Findings from the research also show that, with existing relationships, 76% of people believe making memories together outdoors strengthens their connection – making a woodland walk, beach trip or garden stroll the ideal way to spend Valentine’s Day.

In addition, 77% of people surveyed said some of their best memories with family and friends took place outdoors. This is something that Trust members Sean Cullen and Jen Winter, who recently featured in one of our national campaigns, have found in their own relationship.

Jen, from Motherwell, first bought their Trust membership as a Christmas present for Sean, knowing they could use it to visit special places across Scotland together. Favourite places enjoyed so far include Glencoe, Ben Lomond and the Hermitage at Dunkeld, along with Culloden which was high on their list of ‘must-visit’ Trust properties last year since Sean is an Outlander fan and loves Scottish history.

Couple dancing on stepping stones in a river, with mountains on either side
There’s something very special about experiencing nature with your partner says Trust member Sean Winter

Jen explains: ‘As a couple, we have always loved going away on little road trips to different areas and exploring new places together. It gives us a chance to see new things, spend quality time together, and most importantly, it gets us away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. It’s definitely something that we built our relationship from, and we continue to make time for our weekly walks out in nature.

She continues: ‘Most of our first dates were either road trips to the coast, going up a hill somewhere, or away on a long walk in some nearby forest. Probably our best early date was when we climbed up Sean’s favourite hill to see the sunset. I loved his passion for the outdoors and the thrill of seeing my first sunset at the top had me hooked from then on.’

As members of our conservation charity, Jen and Sean enjoy unlimited free entry to over 100 amazing places across Scotland, exploring our great outdoors and iconic landscapes.

Sean adds: ‘I’ve always been a very outdoorsy person and have been going on adventures with my friends for years, but there’s something very special about getting out in nature and experiencing it with your partner too. So it was always important to Jen and me to experience these things together, and it's definitely something we think makes our relationship stronger.

‘Whether it’s going for a long hike up a Munro or walking in forests, being outside lets me de-stress, and for those hours, I feel like the happiest person in the world. There’s something very special about showing Jennifer these places.’

The results of this research highlight the importance of our work to care for and share Scotland’s nature, beauty and heritage so that people of all ages can enjoy their benefits. Whether it’s a romantic walk in the walled garden at Crathes Castle or at Corrieshalloch Gorge, a cycle through Balmacara Estate, a picnic in the grounds of Culzean Castle, or wildlife spotting at St Abb’s Head National Nature Reserve, there’s no shortage of romantic places to explore with the Trust this Valentine’s Day.

White waves crash into the rocks along a rugged coastline.
St Abb’s Head NNR is the perfect location for a romantic stroll along the rugged coastline, where a variety of wildlife can be spotted

Another finding from the research is that not only does spending time outdoors make potential partners or friends more attractive, it also improves mental health and wellbeing. 95% of Scots stated that spending time outdoors effectively reduces stress levels, with 97% confirming that access to the outdoors is important for mental health.

Jen Winter agrees: ‘Definitely for me, being in woodland areas where you can look up at the tall trees is something that always makes me feel happy inside. There’s something really relaxing about being in the woodlands and hearing the sounds of nature. I think being part of a social media generation, I can sometimes get quite overwhelmed, and so I like to find places like this where I can put my phone away and enjoy walking in the sounds of nature to help me reset.’

Commenting on the research, Iain Hawkins, Regional Director for the North East, said:
‘At the Trust, we know how important Scotland’s outdoor places are, so I’m not surprised to learn that people across the country see a love of outdoor experiences as an attractive quality in a friend or partner.

‘Our charity has been giving the public access to and shared ownership of some of Scotland’s most magnificent landscapes, alongside historic buildings, gardens and collections for over 90 years, and we see every day the impact these places have on our members, like Sean and Jen, and visitors who are discovering them for the first time. We’re very lucky in Scotland to be surrounded by such wonderful natural and cultural heritage and, thanks to the support of our members and supporters, we’re able to care for and share some of our country’s most special places, helping create connections and shared memories that last a lifetime.’

I love this place

By joining the National Trust for Scotland, you can protect the places that matter to you and experience the best that Scotland has to offer.

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A young woman walks along a clifftop path, with binoculars around her neck. >