Best Summer Destinations for Couples

February 26th, 2015
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For many childless couples, booking a summer holiday during peak season is a big no no; the overcrowded beaches piled high with sandcastles and packed country parks littered with picnic blankets can be extremely off putting. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a big fan of sandcastles and family picnics but too much of a good thing can be bad for you! So if like me and my other half you’d prefer to spend your summer vacation in a peaceful, stress-free location then keep reading as we suggest some secluded destinations perfect for couples looking to escape the crowds.

Ennerdale Water

The Lake District is one of the UK’s most popular summer escapes but instead of heading to the tourist hot spots of Windermere and Coniston Water head west to the parks most isolated lake, Ennerdale Water. This picturesque lake has crystal clear waters, spectacular scenery and best of all an undisturbed, tranquil atmosphere! As the only lake not to have a road running alongside it the journey to Ennerdale Water can deter families with young children from visiting making it the ideal spot for a romantic picnic.


Located on the south west tip of Ireland, Barleycove is a hidden gem nestled between two headlands in West Cork. Made up of an extensive dune system, this idyllic beach offers breath-taking scenery and plenty of space to relax along the sandy shore. When you’re not relaxing on the shore why not try a spot of surfing? Barleycove is a great spot for beginners and with a surf school located in the area and a lifeguard on hand it’s a wonderful opportunity to try something new with your partner.

Loch Enoch

Camping out under the stars is on everyone’s to-do list this summer and as a Dark Skies Park, Galway Forest Park in Scotland maybe one of the most popular spots for star gazers. If you would rather watch the skies in peace this year then journey to the centre of the park and visit its most secluded Loch, Loch Enoch. This beautiful loch is located in a granite basin and as well as the clear skies above you’ll be treated with glistening waters below, dazzling views and an extremely romantic atmosphere.


Snowdonia’s towering peaks, vast open countryside and extensive coast make it the perfect summer getaway and just about everyone knows it! But quietly fringing the mouth of the Mawddach Estuary with its inviting golden sands and steep bank of pebbles is the little known village of Fairbourne. This charming village and its beach boast excellent water sports, fascinating history, quaint cafes and the charming narrow-gauge Fairboune Railway – a real treat for any couple this summer.

I hope this post has encouraged you to make the most of your summer holidays this year and discover some of the UK’s hidden destinations. If you fancy teaming your adventures with a cosy cottage stay then make sure to visit our ‘Romantic Cottages For Couples’ page.

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By Nicole Westley

As a food lover Nicole can often be found in the kitchen, covered in flour and experimenting with new tastes! When not making a mess she loves to explore her Celtic roots by roaming the Scottish countryside or exploring the bays along the Anglesey coast with her fiancé.

3 Thatched Roof Holiday Homes You’ll Love

February 25th, 2015
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If you were asked to draw a typical English cottage, your sketch wouldn’t be complete without a characterful thatched roof. This timeless roofing technique has been used in the UK for centuries, yet its popularity has never wavered. Today, thatch is experiencing a sort of resurgence, with many choosing it for its aesthetic and ecological value. Thatched roof cottages are limited at Sykes Cottages, but we’re proud of the handful we do have; so proud in fact, that we’ve dedicated a whole blog to them. So without further ado, here’s three charming, chocolate-box thatches that’ll you’ll absolutely love.

Little Thatch

Cerne Abbas, Dorset

Feast your eyes on Little Thatch, an uber quaint and ever-so-cosy thatched roof cottage in Dorset. Built in 1813, Little Thatch is Grade II listed, with an assortment of original features harking back to days gone by; think oak beams, exposed brickwork and ludicrously low ceilings. Despite its age, the cottage contains plenty of home comforts, and has space enough for up to three guests. The village of Cerne Abbas was once voted Britain’s most desirable village, so it’s the perfect setting for this irrefutably charming holiday home.

Manor Farmhouse

Milstead, South of England

Our thatched roof cottages don’t come much more luxurious than Manor Farmhouse. First built in the 15th century, this impressive Tudor house features an original oak frame and white washed façade, all topped off with a good helping of thatch. The house is part of a complex of three individual holiday homes set around a courtyard, and together they accommodate up to eighteen guests. With a myriad of original features including inglenooks, log burners and an authentic country kitchen, this is one characterful country cottage you can’t afford to miss.

Vineyard Cottage

Winkleigh, Devon

Vineyard Cottage forms part of what is arguably the prettiest row of terrace houses in the country, tucked away in the leafy Devonshire countryside, just a few miles from the romantic heaths of Dartmoor. The cottage offers a cosy, pastoral bolthole for up to five guests and is postcard handsome; from its whitewashed walls to its toffee hued thatch, it begs to be photographed. Indoors, things are just as charming. The tall will need to mind their heads as they navigate the cottage’s tastefully furnished rooms, each of which reveals a glimmer of the property’s past.

Rent a thatched roof holiday cottage with Sykes

Our choice of thatched roof cottages may be small, but it’s perfectly formed – much like the properties themselves. In fact, their exclusivity makes them all the more special. If you’d like this year’s holiday accommodation to be a little out of the ordinary, browse our range of thatched roof holiday rentals today.

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Jonathan Tuplin

By Jonathan Tuplin

Jonathan is a lover of books, music and good food. Originally from Yorkshire, there's nothing he likes more than a cycle in the country. One of his favourite spots in the UK is Tenby, where he spent many a happy holiday as a child.

Escape the holiday hubbub this Easter

February 24th, 2015
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With the promise of a school-free fortnight for the kids and a cheeky four day weekend for us grownups, it’s little wonder Easter has become one of the most popular times of year for UK holidays.

But before you make the queue-strewn journey to the coast like every other holiday-ready family in Britain, consider this: are you ready to spend five hours cramped in the car only to realise thousands of others have the same idea as you?

If the answer’s no, take a look at our shortlist of the destinations you could try this Easter that’ll help you beat the crowds and ensure queuing for a 99 is a thing of the past.

Have the coast to yourself in Cumbria

Most of the time when we use the term ‘hidden gem’, little is meant by it; when it comes to the Cumbrian Coast however, we mean it. Overshadowed quite literally by the Lake District National Pack, the Cumbrian Coast remains one of the least-frequented seaboards in the country. It’s not that it’s ugly (quite the opposite in fact) or that there are no good beaches (there’s loads); it’s just people tend to get distracted by the beauty of the Lakes and forget to look what’s over the next fen.

Travel to the Cumbrian Coast this Easter, then, and look forward to having the beach all to yourself (well, almost). Although you’ll find great beaches up and down the coast, the best are St Bees, Roan Head and Allonby.

Go to Scotland, and then keep going

Even the remotest enclaves of the Scottish Highlands can’t escape the Easter hordes, but if you’re dead set on a holiday north of the border, travel a little further and debunk on the Isle of Skye. This far-flung isle is dominated by a gorgeous mountain-range called the Cuillins, providing the perfect backdrop to a relaxed and queue-free getaway. If you’d prefer a slither of civilisation during your trip, a cottage in Portree is your best bet. This colourful coastal town is the largest on Skye, and is a great base for exploration.

Alternatively, opt for a holiday home in Dunvegan, Glendale or Carbost, or go thoroughly off-piste with an isolated cottage slap bang in the middle of Skye’s famously pretty outback.

Warm up in Sunny South East Ireland

The North Atlantic Drift provides the south east coast of Ireland with unseasonably warm weather, making it a great choice for the sun seekers who can’t wait ‘til summer for their next dose of Vitamin-D. Pack your beach towel if you plan to visit this corner of the Emerald Isle; the region is scattered with incredibly beautiful beaches, some of which have been awarded the prestigious Blue Flag award for their cleanliness and amenities. Some of our favourite ribbons of Irish sand include Curracloe, Brittas Bay and Portmarnock, but there are a lot more besides.

If surfing and sunbathing aren’t on your to do list, there’s plenty to partake in inland. Choose a cottage in County Wicklow and explore the Wicklow Mountains National Park, or take a daytrip to Dublin and soak up some Irish culture and hospitality.

The Wye Valley awaits

Whilst most wind their way down the A48 en route to South Wales, you’d be wise to stop short and enjoy a holiday in the supremely pretty Wye Valley. Labelled the “valley of the Romantics” because of its ties to 17th century poet Wiliam Wordsworth, the Wye Valley is charming, peaceful and challenging in equal measure. For a small AONB, this picturesque vale contains plenty to keep outdoorsy types amused: think canoeing, climbing, hiking, mountain biking and everything in between.

Those who prefer a more sedate pace will feel just as at home here; the Wye Valley is awash with fascinating historic sites that hark back to the border region’s bloody past, and the mystical and enchanting Tintern Abbey – which features in a poem by Wordsworth – is well worth a visit.

Book a break this Easter with Sykes Cottages

Wherever you wish to travel this Easter, a self-catering holiday home from Sykes provides a comfortable and affordable place to stay. Unlike hotels and guesthouses, a self-catering cottage gives you the freedom to holiday your way; take a look at our wide range of cottages that are still available to rent this Easter, and get set for an unforgettable holiday.

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Jonathan Tuplin

By Jonathan Tuplin

Jonathan is a lover of books, music and good food. Originally from Yorkshire, there's nothing he likes more than a cycle in the country. One of his favourite spots in the UK is Tenby, where he spent many a happy holiday as a child.

Robson Green’s Tales From Northumberland

February 23rd, 2015
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If you tuned into ITV last Monday night you’ll probably have noticed that Robson Green’s Tales From Northumberland returned to the small screen for a second series. The first season went down a storm here at Sykes HQ, and I think that success was mirrored all around the UK. Millions tuned in every week to see the ever enthusiastic Robson explore some of the most beautiful and interesting spots in Northumberland; from the Kielder Observatory through to Alnwick Castle and Hexham Abbey, and it seems to have had a lasting effect. The Northumberland County Council ran a survey off the back of the program and 91% of respondents were of the opinion that the county is a great place to visit whilst 85% of people had been encouraged to learn more about the area. Little wonder Robson’s back!

This series will see Robson visit some more of Northumberland’s treasures; from beautiful stately homes to hidden hermitages and as you’d expect, he’ll be finding himself waylaid by some of the fantastic activities on offer like scuba diving with rare white beaked dolphins through to Cumberland and Westmorland wrestling. One thing for sure is that the series will be well worth a watch, so make sure you tune in!

Cragside Manor

If you did watch last week’s program, you’ll be well aware of Cragside Manor in Cartington. For years it served as the home of the renowned Victorian engineer William Armstrong and although it may have started off as a relatively humble country lodge it ended up being transformed into a towering Tudor style mansion by the architect Richard Norman Shaw. As you would expect from the home of one of the most eminent engineers of the Victorian period Cragside was well ahead of its time, in fact it was the first building in the world to boast a lighting system completely powered by hydroelectricity – quite the claim!

Corbridge Roman Town

Another of the spots that Robson will pay a visit to over the course of the series is the Roman Town at Corbridge. Found just a couple of miles south of Hadrian’s wall Corbridge was actually the most northerly town in an empire that, at it’s height, stretched from Spain through to Asia and covered over 5 million square kilometres! As a garrison town it served to support the troops stationed on the wall and you can still see echoes of this from the high street that survives to this day through to the Corbridge Hoard, a veritable treasure trove of Roman artefacts that includes the most complete set of armour ever found, not bad for a sleepy Northumberland town!

The Cheviot Hills

Finally we’ve got the Cheviot Hills. Nestled right on the border between England and Scotland the Cheviots are one of Northumberland’s hidden treasures. They constitute the northern section of the Northumberland National Park, a stunning area of countryside that somehow manages to remain free of the crowds who visit the Lake District and the Peaks every year. The Cheviot Hills were the scene of many a battle between the English and Scottish raiders over the years but nowadays it’s a fair bit sleepier there, making it the perfect spot for a quiet afternoon stroll.

Well there you go, the Sykes spotlight on this newest series of Robson Green’s Tales From Northumberland, hopefully you’ve enjoyed reading, if so make sure that you turn over to ITV at 8pm where you’ll find the second episode of the series. Or maybe you know of some of Northumberland’s hidden treasures yourself? If you do we’d love to hear them, you can get in touch with us over Facebook or Twitter and we’ll be sure to pass it on! And remember it’s easy enough to visit Northumberland if the program inspires you into it – just take a look here and see which cottages catch your eye!

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Jamie Tomkins

By Jamie Tomkins

Jamie is a big fan of long weekend walks with the dog, especially when there is the chance to refuel with lunch in a country pub. Living in Lancaster for three years gave him the perfect opportunity to spend a lot of time in the Lake District.

Cottages along the Tour de Yorkshire route

February 22nd, 2015
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Here at Sykes Cottages, we were extremely excited to learn that the inaugural Tour de Yorkshire will be taking place from 1st-3rd May 2015. The event follows on from the success of last year’s Tour de France Grand Depart in Yorkshire and the immense surge in popularity of the sport across the country! The race begins in Bridlington on 1st May and runs in three stages before finally finishing up in Leeds on 3rd. For more information on the route, you can see each stage in detail on the Tour de Yorkshire website.  If you’re planning on heading to see the Tour de Yorkshire then luckily for you, we still have some lovely holiday cottages available along the route…

Stage 1 – Bridlington to Scarborough, Friday 1st May 2015

Holiday cottage on Tour de Yorkshire route

Amber Cottage, Whitby, Ref. 22180

This pretty former fisherman’s cottage is situated in the heart of Whitby, hidden away along a traditional, narrow yard. Amber Cottage has plenty of character with many charming original features including aged timber floors, beamed ceilings and a cast iron fireplace. Whitby’s amenities are right on the doorstep with the nearest pub just 1 minute walk away and the beach a 5 minute walk. Stage 1 of the Tour de Yorkshire will be passing directly through Whitby along the coast and then south to Robin Hood’s Bay, so guests at Amber Cottage will have a front row seat to this exciting event!

Stage 2 – Selby to York, Saturday 2nd May 2015

Holiday cottage on Tour de Yorkshire route

Barn Owl Cottage, Stamford Bridge, Ref. 15874

Barn Owl Cottage is a luxury barn conversion on an arable farm just 2 miles outside of Stamford Bridge, near York. Set in a picturesque courtyard and boasting its own private decked area and hot tub, Barn Owl Cottage is the perfect place for a relaxing getaway in Yorkshire. The surrounding area is peaceful and rural but you’re only a short drive from the many facilities of Stamford Bridge and just over 8 miles from the delightful city of York. If you’re in Stamford Bridge for the second stage of the Tour de Yorkshire then you won’t be disappointed as the route for the race runs straight past the farm that Barn Owl Cottage is situated on – you’ll barely even need to leave the front door to catch a glimpse of the cyclists!

Stage 3- Wakefield to Leeds, Sunday 3rd May 2015

Holiday cottage on Tour de Yorkshire route

Holme House Cottage, Oakworth, Ref. 919042

For a first class holiday cottage packed with character and charm, look no further than Holme House Cottage in Oakworth. This beautiful 17th century cottage offers everything you could want from a holiday in the countryside with stunning meadow views, a traditional country pub a short walk away, wonderful walks from your doorstep and a cosy wood-burning stove to sit down and relax in front of! The Tour de Yorkshire cyclists will be racing through Oakworth village during the third stage of the event, just a couple of minutes’ walk from this lovely cottage. Or alternatively, you can travel the 2 miles to Haworth, where the cyclists will be making the climb up Main Street, which was an iconic moment of the Tour de France Grand Depart.

Book a holiday cottage along the Tour de Yorkshire route

You can see our full range of holiday cottages available for the Tour de Yorkshire 2015 by visiting our website. Cottages along the route are already booking up quickly so we definitely advise thinking about booking your accommodation sooner rather than later!

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Louise O'Toole

By Louise O'Toole

Louise loves reading, shopping, baking and cosy country pubs with log fires. A nice cup of tea will never be turned down. She has spent many childhood summers on the beach in Cornwall and walking the hills of the Lake District.