Sykes’ Filming Locations

February 8th, 2016
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Today on the Sykes Cottages blog, we’re taking a trip to Hollywood as we explore some of the biggest films, either just released or set to hit the screens in 2016. But it’s not just any random collection of blockbusters; instead they’re all films that showcase the UK at it’s finest, whether it’s through using the Gloucestershire countryside as the scene of alien planets or bringing a touch of magic to Merseyside. So if  you like to think of yourself as a bit of a film buff, why don’t you take a look and see what you think?

Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Where else is there to start than with the highest grossing film of all time? Yes that’s right, sections of the latest instalment in the ever popular Star Wars series were filmed in our very own Forest of Dean. Now Puzzlewood is no stranger to the limelight, having served as locations in both Doctor Who and the BBC’s Merlin, as well as inspiring both Tolkien and J.K Rowling’s famous works. However this is its biggest stage yet. This time round, the forest plays the role of the planet Takodana in one of the film’s most important sequences. As well as the Forest of Dean, you might be able to catch glimpses of Skellig Michael off the West Coast of Ireland and RAF Greenham Common.

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

Next up, we’ve got Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, the latest foray into J.K Rowling’s world of Harry Potter. Based on the 2001 book written in aid of Comic Relief, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them follows the adventures of Newt Scamander around 70 years before Harry et al studied his books at Hogwarts. Nearly all of the filming took place in the Leavesden Studios, the site of the Harry Potter studio tour, however the film did see St George’s Hall in Liverpool transformed into a snow covered New York city for the visit of the renowned “Magizoologist” amongst plenty of others.

Dad’s Army

Of course we’ve got to include the reboot of the British institute that is Dad’s Army. The remake for the big screen follows the mishaps of everyone’s famous bungling Home Guard platoon and features an array of household names from Sir Michael Gambon to Bill Nighy and Cathering Zeta-Jones. It might be set in the fictional Walmington-on-Sea on the south coast but the filming actually took place in the delightful seaside settlement of Bridlington, as well as the nearby spots of Beverley and Flamborough.


And finally we’ve got the upcoming re-imagining of Roald Dahl’s famous novel, The BFG. The collaboration between Steven Spielberg and Disney will see snozzcumbers and frobscottles all-round north of the border, with some of Scotland’s most dramatic scenery serving as the settings for Giant Country. From The Quiraing to Fairy Glen on the Isle of Skye, as well as spots in the Outer Hebrides and Orkney, they’ll all be used as the home of the BFG and the other giants.

So there you go, a short highlights reel of the various starring roles that the UK is playing in some of the biggest films of the moment. I’m sure that you’ll get to see them at some point on the big screen but you could still visit them and experience it all in person! We’ve got a wide choice of cottages in Scotland, on the Yorkshire Coast and around the Forest of Dean that are perfect for a trip, so why don’t you have a look?

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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.

Wales 2016: The Year Of Adventure

February 6th, 2016
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This year, Visit Wales are encouraging you to embrace adventure on your next Welsh getaway. As a country bursting with sweeping valleys, imposing mountains and fast-flowing rivers, there’s no better place to experience a bit of adventure. Feel the adrenaline pulse through your veins as you try your hand at extreme sports, water sports or bush craft activities amongst some of Britain’s most spectacular scenery. Below, you’ll find just some of the activities that you can get involved in to help celebrate Wales’ Year of Adventure.

Mountain Biking

When it comes to mountain biking, there aren’t many better places to go than Wales. With everything from wild natural trails escaping into the wilderness, to purpose built tracks designed for beginners and families, there’s something to cater to every level of mountain bike enthusiast. If you’re new to mountain biking, take a look at the fantastic centres available throughout Wales like Bike Park Wales or Afan Forest Park to get you on your feet before you start tackling the wilderness on your own!


Less acknowledged than fellow surfing spot Cornwall, many people don’t realise that Wales is actually home to some of the UK’s best surfing beaches. Glamorgan, Gower and Pembrokeshire are all brilliant places to hit the waves and there are plenty of well-respected surf schools in the area to lend a helping hand if you’re new to the sport. Further north, areas such as Anglesey and the Llyn Peninsula also offer some great surfing spots. If you’re not sure about braving the outdoors, you can always try Surf Snowdonia, the world’s first inland surf lagoon. Re-opening in the spring, this surf centre offers impressive two-metre waves that peel for 150 metres.

Survival Courses

For the ultimate adventure in Wales this year, why not try your hand at one of Bear Grylls’ Survival Courses? One of the most recognisable faces in the world of outdoor adventure and survival, Bear launched his own Survival Academy in 2012 and there are now centres across the UK. Take part in a 24 hour family survival course in the Brecon Beacons or an adult day course in Criccieth, where you’ll learn how to light fires, rope skills, how to build emergency shelters and how to forage for grub and rodents.

White Water Rafting

Explore Wales from an exciting new perspective and have a go at white water rafting this year. There are places all across the country where you can get involved in white water rafting amongst beautiful scenery. In North Wales, try White Water Active in Llangollen or for Mid Wales, try Black Mountain Rafting on the River Wye. For a completely new experience in South Wales, visit Cardiff International White Water where you can enjoy the thrills of white water rafting in a purpose-built water centre.

If you’re tempted to book an adventurous break in Wales then don’t forget to take a look at our large collection of cottages in Wales. We’ve over 1,400 holiday cottages across Wales for you to choose from that would make the perfect bases for all of your adventures!

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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.

Discover… William Wordsworth

February 5th, 2016
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One of Britain’s best-loved poets, William Wordsworth’s works have stood the test of time, inspiring generations of people with their highly romantic take on England, nature, and the relationship between the two. Wordsworth and the British Isles were inextricably linked – a relationship that can be explored further at Sykes’ Isle of Inspiration.

Wordsworths Lake District

Rural beginnings

Born in 1770 as the son of a lawyer, Wordsworth’s formative years were spent in Cockermouth in Cumbria. Living among the fells, peaks, lakes and forests, Wordsworth developed a close affinity with nature, an adoration that would later inform and feature heavily within his poetry. The young gentleman’s parents both passed away before he was 15, leaving him in the care of relatives until he was accepted into the University of Cambridge to study.

Study and reflection

While studying at St John’s College, Wordsworth embarked on a number of hiking tours around Britain, after which he took walking tours of France, Switzerland and Germany in 1788. In 1791 he trekked through Wales after graduating from Cambridge, all the time soaking in the landscapes and atmospheres of the wild and natural places. Later that year he travelled to France to lend his support to the French Revolution, though after fathering an illegitimate child and running out of money, he returned to England.

Poetic beginnings

Although he had always been interested in writing poetry, the young Wordsworth only began writing in earnest until the mid-1790s when he met Samuel Taylor Coleridge, a prominent poet of the time. Together they wrote a number of works, the most important being “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner” – known now to mark the beginning of England’s Romantic movement. Throughout this time Wordsworth produced a great many works of which he achieved fame, but a great many personal troubles in the early 19th century led him to become far more conservative than he had been in his youth.

Late acceptance

Retreating to the calm climes of Ambleside in 1813, Wordsworth began to gain greater acclaim for his writing, though after 1835 he wrote few pieces, despite being made poet laureate in 1843. Still living in his much-loved Lake District, Wordsworth passed away in 1850, prompting the release of his autobiographical poem, The Prelude, which he began penning in 1798.

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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.

Last Minute Cottages for February Half Term

February 4th, 2016
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How would you like to escape it all for a few days during the February half term? Well the good news is that it’s not too late to book! We’ve still got a wide array of properties that are available to book during the school holidays so you’ll be spoilt for choice, but to give you a hand we’ve picked out a few of our favourites – take a look and see what you think of them:

Warbrook, Bradworthy near Bude in Devon

We’re starting off with Warbrook, a delightful barn conversion in the quaint Devonshire village of Bradworthy. Sleeping 5 people, it’s great for a family looking to enjoy a few days away during the half term with features such as a children’s play area in the garden. But that’s not it, guests to Warbrook will be just a short way from the glorious beaches that dot the coasts of Devon and North Cornwall and there’s also countless pretty fishing villages just waiting to be explored.

Old Coach House, Church Leigh in the Peak District

Or, alternatively, we’ve got the Old Coach House in the village of Church Leigh, just outside of the Peak District National Park. It sleeps six people through three bedrooms so there’s plenty of space for a family escaping it all for a bit of peace and quiet. With the enclosed garden overlooked by the French windows, parents can keep an eye on the little ones whilst they’re at play. Or if you’re after an adventurous break, you’ll be happy to hear that Alton Towers is just 9 miles down the road.

The Wagtail, Mundford near Thetford in Norfolk

And finally we’ve got The Wagtail, one of the Lynford Cottages group in Norfolk. Tucked away in the countryside, just out from the village of Mundford, The Wagtail offers stunning scenery in abundance. There are countless woodland walks on offer right from the cottage doorstep, where you’ll be able to explore seemingly limitless pathways and trails teeming with all sorts of wildlife. Add to this the varied cycle paths criss-crossing their way around the region and families will never be stuck for options if they want to explore the great outdoors.

So there you go, just a few of the cottages that are still available to be booked during the February half term. We do hope that you like them but remember there are plenty of alternatives! If you click here you’ll be able to find the full selection, or you could always give us a call on 01244 356695 and we’ll be happy to help find you the perfect cottage for you and your family.

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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.

UK Wetlands In Pictures

February 2nd, 2016
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On today’s blog, we’re celebrating World Wetland Day, a fantastic event that celebrates the signing of the conservation of wetlands. The UK boasts a fantastic selection of wetlands, all of which make for a wonderful day out whatever the weather. In celebration of this special day, we’ve pulled together a selection of pictures from our favourite UK wetlands to show you just how wonderful British wetlands can be!

Whooper swan landing on the water amoungst ducks at the Slimbridge WWT

Bewick in Flight” taken by Jacob Spinks at Slimbridge WWT – CC 2.0

Close up of a Red Crested Pochard on the water at the Slimbridge WWT

Red-Crested Pochard” taken by Lauren Tucker at the Slimbridge WWT – CC 2.0

Water Volve washing in the water at Welney WWT

Water Vole” taken by Tony Court at Welney WWT – CC 2.0

Two white faced whistling duck walking along the pavement by some greenery at Arundel WWT

white faced whistling duck” taken by Jason Thompson at Arundel WWT – CC 2.0

13 swans swimming upriver near Shapwick Church in Somerset

Swans upriver” taken by Jim Champion near Shapwick Church in Somerset – CC 2.0

Close up of a crane at the Slimbridge WWT

Mr Crane” taken by Richard Cocks at Slimbridge WWT – CC 2.0

Five Ruddy shellducks chicks playing at the waters edge at Martin Mere WWT

Ruddy shellducks chicks” taken by distillated at Martin Mere WWT – CC 2.0

Wetlands at Shapwick in Somerset at dusk

05-Fkr-Somerset-Shapwick” taken by JoN in Shapwick, Somerset – CC 2.0

Two white crested ducks swimming on the water at Martin Mere WWT

Martin Mere Birds” taken by Pete Birkinshaw at Martin Mere WWT – CC 2.0

Green tree frog resting on a log at the Slimbridge WWT

Green Tree Frog” taken by Lauren Tucker at Slimbridge WWT – CC 2.0

Water Vole resting on a log amongst greenery by the side of the water near Arundel WWT

Vole on Boot Hill” taken by Peter Trimming near Arundel WWT – CC 2.0

Have you visited one of the UK’s many wetlands? If so, make sure to share your pictures with us on Facebook and Twitter, we’d love to see them!

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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.