Why You Need to Attend the Egremont Crab Fair

September 20th, 2014
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The Egremont Crab Fair was established way back in 1267 and is still the most highly anticipated event in Cumbria’s calendar; with impressive cart racing and disturbing gurning, this fair is a true British delight, one that shouldn’t be missed! In honour of this year’s fair we’ve thrown together the top five reasons why you need to attend this entertaining event.

1. The raising of the greasy pole

raising of the pole

At dawn on the fist day of Egremont Crab Fair, the greasy pole is raised at the Market Cross; the pole is nearly 30ft tall and greased to make it harder to climb. Youngsters from the town will climb the pole tearing off ribbons at the lower levels to exchange for prizes in the town. The person who reaches the top of the pole first will win the grand prize!

2. It’s all about the gurning…

Egremont Crab Fiar winner

… and here is the current World Champion, Tommy Mattinson, showing us how it’s done! As the highlight of the fair, gurning is a highly competitive sport in Egremont where competitors are challenged  to pull a grotesque face whilst placing their face through a horse collar.

3. Fancy an apple?

1962's Parade of the Apple cart

Traditionally known as the ‘Scattering of Apples’, the Parade of the Apple Cart is one of the fair’s longest running traditions. Originally started when the Lord of Egremont would scatter crab apples amongst the children in the town. A sweeter apple is now used in the Parade with men, women and the Crab Fair Queen throwing them out to the crowd.

4. How about a spot of wrestling?

cumberland wrestling

Cumberland wrestling that is! A great spectator sport, well unless you fancy falling flat on your back in the middle of a field. Cumberland wrestling is when you lock hands behind your opponents back and try to throw them to the ground, the wrestler that lands face up on the ground loses.

5. Smoking the pipe


During this competition each adult is given a pipe which has been filled with black twist tobacco, the winner of the competition is the competitor who smokes his tobacco in the quickest time.

There are many more reasons to visit the fair including children’s races, live music and local ale. For more information on this event, the location and its history, be sure to visit the Egremont Crab fair website. They also have a Facebook and Twitter page where you can send in your best gurning pictures using the hashtag #tweetyourGurn!

All of the images for this blog were taken from the Egremont Crab Fair Facebook account. 


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.

Avast me hearties! It’s Talk Like a Pirate Day

September 19th, 2014
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Ahoy land lubber, Blogbeard here. Today be Talk Like a Pirate Day, and to mark the occasion, the scurvy dogs at Sykes Cottages have been busy dishin’ the dirt on Blighty’s most notorious pirate haunts.

Via Flickr

Via Flickr

As a humble gentlemen of fortune, I don’t claim to be an expert in all things swashbuckler. But what I do know is that England was birthplace to more morally-questionable buccaneers than any other country in Europe. The question is, where did these roguish sea-goers drop anchor on their return to Britain? We’ve been finding out with a little help from our resident pirate, Blogbeard.


Via Flickr

Via Flickr

With its ancient harbour and favourable location on England’s west coast, Bristol was popular with pirates. Take a walk near the city’s historic harbour, and it’s easy to imagine galleon sails blowing in the breeze. Not only was Bristol a popular port for illicit activities, it was birthplace to one of the most notorious pirates in history; Blackbeard. Murderous, evil and down-right bad-ass, Blackbeard was no Jack Sparrow, choosing to murder, steal and trade slaves rather than prance about with a bottle of rum. Although by no means a nice chap, Blackbeard’s legacy is one of the most romanticised versions of piracy that exists today – god only knows why.


Via Flickr

Via Flickr

As a rule, pirates were probably glad to see the back of London. The 18th century saw an increase in security around England’s dockyards, due in part to the huge rise in smuggling along the English coast. This made the capital, as well as other large ports, a dicey place for the seafaring scally. London in particular, was home to Execution Dock, a grizzly wharf where unfortunate buccaneers were put to death. After being publically disposed of, the corpses were coated in tar, locked into cages and hung from cranes in full view of passing sailors as a warning.


Via Flickr

Via Flickr

Birthplace to the ‘king among pirates’ Henry John Avery, Plymouth was another popular place for pirates to drop anchor and make ashore with their doubloons. Its location on the Devon coast made it accessible for voyages to the Caribbean and the Mediterranean, but also made it an easy target for foreign pirates to pillage English goods. One such plucky brigand was Jean Bart, a French pirate who made a famous escape from Plymouth in a small rowing boat, and amazingly made it to the shores of France unscathed.


Via Flickr

Via Flickr

Take one look at Whitby and you’ll be daydreaming about pirates. This ancient town on the North Yorkshire coast may not have been the biggest pirate cove in England, but its residents have kept the romanticism and legacy of piracy alive to this day. Whitby and its surrounding villages were more popular with local smugglers than notorious buccaneers, but the odd one did stop by now and again to decant their exotic wares. If you’re travelling to Whitby, why not visit when the annual Pirate Festival takes place? You’ll get to dress up, eat grub, and swap a tale or two from the high seas. Plus, it’s for a good cause, so why not eh?

Avast sea-dog, here be cottages!

Abandon hope all ye who enter a Sykes holiday cottage. These beauties will have you hook, line and sinker faster than a siren from the sea. With hundreds of coastal cottages up and down ‘ar fair Isle, you’d be a bilge rat to miss out!

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.

The Scottish Referendum: How The UK’s Landscape Could Have Changed

September 19th, 2014
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The polls are closed, the votes have been tallied and it has been confirmed: Scotland is staying in the United Kingdom! There was a lot of talk during the run up to the referendum regarding politics and how various policies would change, which is rightfully so, however we thought that we would take a look at the more geographical changes and how statistically the UK’s physical landscape would have changed if the vote were a yes. Take a look at our nifty, easy to read graphic to see how the UK would have changed if it had lost it’s highland crown.


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How The UK’s Landscape Could Have Changed

The campaigning is over, the polls have closed, the votes have been counted and Scotland is still a part of the United Kingdom! We were all told about the possible changes to the political landscape of the UK but what about the statistical, geographic ones? Here are a few of the things we would have lost here in the United Kingdom had Scotland become an independent country.

We could have been shorter

Without Ben Nevis, the UK would have been 854 foot shorter…

This is equivalent to 366 Shetland Ponies stood on top of each other.

We could have been shallower

If we would have lost the deepest body of water, Loch Morar, which is 310 metres at its deepest point, the UK would have been a little shallower… Even The Shard, the highest building in the European Union is smaller than this, standing at 306 metres.

We could have lost most of our coast

The UK coastline stretches for 19,895 miles however 11,550 of those miles are from the coast of Scotland…

This is equivalent to travelling from London to New York, a 3452 mile journey, three times with some miles left to spare!

We could have had fewer national parks

The UK would have had two less national parks with the potential loss of Cairngorms and Loch Lomond. These two national parks have a combined area of 2468.4m2 ….

This would have been an area loss twice the size of Luxembourg!

Leanne Dempsey

By Leanne Dempsey

A lover of reading, eating and shopping Leanne will often be found spending time with her two pugs or snapping away on instagram. A big fan of the city, She likes nothing more than getting away for a weekend break in the UK, her favourite places being London and Bath.

Cornwall Scoops Destination Award

September 18th, 2014
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Cornwall has received yet another accolade after it was named top holiday destination by Countryfile Magazine, pushing the Peak District and the Lake District into second and third place respectively. The award, given in recognition of the quality of Cornwall’s natural landscape and rural communities, highlights the public’s affection for this pristine county in the South West, with  Countryfile describing Cornwall as ‘the land of magical coves, enchanting fishing villages, sandy beaches and many myths and legends’. But with winter on its way, what – aside from its swathes of soft sand, lagoon like waters and rugged landscapes – can you discover in Cornwall? Well we’re here to let you know, with our guide to what to you can do on a cold, rainy day in Cornwall.

History & Heritage

Via Flickr

Via Flickr

Rain a fallin’? Don’t fret. If soaking up some history and heritage is on your Cornish holiday agenda, there’s plenty to see without having to take a literal soaking. If it’s horrible history you’re yearning for, pluck up some courage and take a stroll around the forgotten cells of Bodmin Jail, a grizzly yet fascinating 18th century lockup located amid the barren wilderness of Bodmin Moor. Or, wet your whistle, not your hair, with a tour around St Austell’s award winning brewery. Boasting traditional Victorian brewing equipment and a plethora of Cornish pints for you to sample, the St Austell Brewery is a great place to warm the cockles when the weather takes a turn. Alternatively, visit the World Heritage Site of the Heartlands Mine in West Cornwall, which offers a day’s worth of undercover and open-air activities for young and old!

Shopping & Culture

Via Flickr

Via Flickr

Husbands relax, I’m not talking high street shopping. Fortunately for you, Cornwall is famed more for its independent wares and the convenience of its fresh, local produce than its overfilled high streets. Whether you’re looking to stock the larder of your Cornish holiday cottage with tasty home-grown titbits or pick up a few trinkets to take home for the kids, a great place to flutter away some of your hard-earned is at the Cornish Market World in St Austell; an indoor market comprising over 300 stalls and eateries. Alternatively, part with some of your holiday spends taking in some of Cornwall’s vibrant culture. The Millenium Gallery in St Ives remains a great place to see exhibitions by both local and national artists, whilst a matinee show at the Theatre Royal in Plymouth proves perfect for a rainy Saturday afternoon.

Other things to do on a rainy day in Cornwall

Via Flickr

Via Flickr

With the bases now covered, I have just three more suggestions of what you can do in Cornwall should the rain fall. Escape the dark clouds with a subterranean stroll around the beautiful Carnglaze Caverns; an enormous man-made cave system featuring a striking underground lake. Hop aboard the Launceston Steam Railway, and relish a respite from the weather as you travel through the picturesque Kensey Valley. Or, take the tykes to Cornwall’s Seal Sanctury, where they’ll experience first-hand the nurture and care of Cornwall’s vulnerable marine life.

Come rain or shine, the attractions mentioned in this post are worthy of a visit whatever the weather. For your chance to make the most of a holiday in Cornwall, choose a cottage holiday in Cornwall today with Sykes Cottages.

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.

Weird and Wonderful Attractions around the UK

September 17th, 2014
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For today’s instalment of the Sykes Cottages blog, we’re having a look at some of the unusual yet wonderful places to visit around the UK and Ireland. You should be warned, it’s a truly eclectic mix that you probably wouldn’t find in any tour guide around the world; but don’t let that put you off. All of these attractions are well worth a visit, they just don’t seem to get the attention they deserve. So if you fancy taking a tour around some of the more off the wall places you can go when you’re stuck for something to do, have a look and see what catches your eye!

Museum of Witchcraft

museum of witchcraft

via Flickr

First up we’ve got one of the spookiest spots in Cornwall, the Boscastle Museum of Witchcraft. Featuring one of the world’s largest collections of magic related bits and pieces and telling the tales of witchcraft through the ages, it certainly makes for a different experience to your standard museum!



via Flickr

Or what about a stop off in Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch?  Unsurprisingly, it’s the longest place name in the UK and translated it means ‘Saint Mary’s Church in the hollow of the white hazel near a rapid whirlpool and the Church of St. Tysilio of the red cave’, so either way, it’s a bit of a mouthful!

Colmans Mustard Shop and Museum

colmans mustard museum

via Flickr

Or if you’re a bit of a foodie then you might want to head down to the Colman’s Mustard Shop and Museum in Norwich. As one of Britain’s best loved brands, Colman’s have been doing their best to spice up ham butties and roast dinners around the country for 200 years now. Whilst you’re there, be sure to get yourself on the outside of a few of the samples that are laid on for you!

The Forbidden Corner

via Flickr

via Flickr

Then there’s the Forbidden Corner in North Yorkshire. Featuring a temple of the underworld, the eye of the needle and countless other oddities. You’ll have to find your way through the labyrinth of twists and turns and dead ends to try and find all that this truly bizarre spot has to offer!

The Gnome Reserve

gnome reserve

via Flickr

Next up we’ve got one of the stranger attractions that you could possibly think of. If you head down to West Putford in Devon you’ll find what could be you’re typical nature reserve, except there’s one key difference – all of the inhabitants are garden gnomes! But it’s not just the thousand gnomes, there’s also a wild flower garden to have a wander in as well as the option of tucking into a delicious Devon Cream tea!

Wharram Percy

wharram percy

via Flickr

Or if you fancy something a little less novelty there’s the village of Wharram Percy in Yorkshire. It’s pretty much like any typical English countryside village except for one thing; nobody has lived there for hundreds of years! Deserted way back in the 15th century, Wharram Percy now makes for an ideal spot to get away from it all with a quiet afternoon stroll and a picnic.



via Flickr

Next up we’ve got Puzzlewood down in the Forest of Dean. This particular spot was one of the main inspirations behind J.R.R. Tolkien’s middle earth, and with its mysterious pathways and gullies you can certainly see why! There’s also a small petting zoo not to mention the willow maze made up of over 4,000 willow trees!



via Flickr

Finally we’ve got Bekonscot, the oldest model village in the world. Dating back to the 1930′s, Bekonscot has grown over the years and has become a miniature metropolis sprawling over two acres of the Buckinghamshire countryside. It features 6 separate towns, a race course, castle and even a fully functioning railway!

So there we have it, a truly bizarre mix that encapsulates some of the weird yet wonderful attractions that can be found around Britain and Ireland, and if you’ve seen anything that you fancy be sure to take a look at our list of unusual cottages so that you have somewhere to stay at the end of the day!

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.