Rather than running the gauntlet of the last-minute rush on roses or chocolates, or dying of embarrassment when trying to choose the least-cringeworthy card left on the shelf, why not take a new approach this Valentine’s Day and do something that requires a different kind of nerve…

1. Paragliding
Paragliding offers spectacular views and a real adrenaline rush. To find a club near you, visit www.bhpa.co.uk

2. Sunrise hot air balloon ride
Watch the world wake up while flying at heights of up to 5,000ft, and indulge in a celebratory glass of Champagne. £299 for a three-and-a-half-hour ride (www.redletterdays.co.uk)

hot air balloon3. Dog sledding in Scotland
Control your pack of dogs, such as Siberian huskies or Alaskan malamutes, to steer your sledge at speeds of up to 10mph. Although we’ve been enjoying plenty of snow recently, you can also sled on dry land using carts. Between £60 and £200 per day (www.sdas.org.uk)

4. Aerobatic stunt flying
Climb aboard a British Slingsby

Firefly
, a Chipmunk or a Cessna and learn how to do a roll, a loop or a

stall turn. £125 for a 30-minute lesson, in locations around the

country (www.redletterdays.co.uk)

plane stunt5. Parakiting
Steer your buggy by controlling the attached traction kite. For an added bonus, choose a location with wonderful views, such as West Sands beach at St Andrews, Scotland (www.welcometoscotland.com)

6. Seal watching

Travel out past the Kentish Flats Wind Farm towards the Barrow Sands, a favourite with common and grey seals. £35 per person for a three-hour tour (www.bayblast.co.uk)

kent seal7. Canyoning
White-water rafting without the raft! Descend the steep-sided gorges of the Brecon Beacons in Wales by swimming down rapids, sliding through chutes and jumping off waterfalls (www.callofthewild.co.uk)

8. Land Yachting

A combination of sailing and motor racing that can see you storm across the sand at 40mph. From £65 for a taster session (www.landyachting.co.uk/)

land yachting

And to recover from those extreme adventures…

9. Country-house cooking
Create exotic concoctions in a Food of Love class at North Yorkshire‘s Swinton Park, an 18th-century stately home that borders the Yorkshire Dales National Park, for £140 (www.swintonpark.com/cookery_school)

waddesdon manorWaddesdon Manor10. Wine-lovers’ weekend
Beautiful 19th-century National Trust estate Waddesdon Manor in Buckinghamshire hosts sumptuous meals, including a black-tie dinner, with tastings of Rothschild wines with each course and a sommelier on hand to discuss your choices. Work off your meals with wildlife trails in the grounds

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  • Richard Darling

    I think you will find a balloon ride is about 1 hour, not 3.5 as stated above. I imagine the 3.5 hour figure is talking about the whole experience from preparation to going home.
    Having said that – I can thoroughly recommend a ballon ride if you get the chance!