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Get Out and About in the Lake District

Saturday, April 18th, 2015
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Today we’re going to be continuing with this week’s Lake District theme as we take a look at some of the best outdoor activities that you can try your hand at in the area. Let’s be honest, when you’re somewhere with the stunning scenery of the Lakes, which ranges from the towering Scafell Pike through to the tranquil beauty of spots such as Wastwater and the Langdale Valley, you don’t want to be locked up indoors. So we’ve trawled through the options available to visitors to the area in order to try and find a few activities that you can do to get a taste of the great outdoors!

Get out on the Lakes

What better way is there to explore the Lake District than actually heading out on the Lakes themselves? As you’d expect, there are a multitude of providers who can offer all sorts of options, whether it’s a gentle paddle on calm waters or an overnight expedition complete with bushcraft and camping out under the stars, it turns out that the Lakes are the perfect playground for all of the water sports enthusiasts! The options seem endless, whether it’s kayaking on Derwentwater or sailing on Windermere, and you can even try out one of the latest crazes, Stand Up Paddle Boarding!

Jump in the Saddle

Or if you want a different way in which to take in the beautiful scenery of the Lake District, you could always try out a horseback tour. There are several companies in the area who specialise in this and can offer a wide variety of options from gallops down the beach to long ranges across the fells. There’s no need to worry if you aren’t an expert rider- nearly all of the providers will be able to offer sufficient support and tutelage to make even first time riders feel at home in the saddle.

Test Yourself With the Via Ferrata

Then there’s something a little special for the real daredevils out there! How do you fancy crossing a wire bridge strung around 1,200 feet above the ground? Well with the Via Ferrata at Honister Pass you can do just that. Via Ferratas were first used in the Dolomite Mountains in Italy and consist of a set of pathways, ladders and bridges accompanied by a continuous wire that allow people to easily reach areas that were previously inaccessible to all but the most hardened climbers. The Via Ferratas at Honister were the UK’s first ever and they allow you to reach the very top of Fleetwith Pike which at 2,126 feet above the valley floor is well over twice the height of the UK’s tallest building, the Shard!

There you have it, some of the best ways in which you can experience the great outdoors in the Lake District. Hopefully we’ll have tempted you into taking a trip there to try them out! If that is the case you should have a glimpse at our wide selection of Lake District cottages so that you have a cosy little retreat where you can put your feet up after a long day. Or maybe you can think of an alternative activity? If so do let us know over Facebook or Twitter and we’ll try to pass the message on as best we can!

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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.

Walk of the Month – Newborough Beach

Thursday, April 9th, 2015
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For April’s edition of Walk of the Month, we’re going to be taking a trip over to Anglesey and the stunning beach and forest at Newborough. I was lucky enough to be able to spend a week in a Sykes cottage on the island last month and we actually ended up doing this walk twice whilst we were there, so you can tell how much I enjoyed it!

The area around Newborough Beach and Llanddwyn is actually owned by the Forestry Commission so there’s a small £3 toll that you have to pay in order to drive your car down to the beach, but don’t worry it’s well worth it! Not only will you be able to find stunning views out over the Llyn Peninsula from the beach but you might also be able to catch a glimpse of one of the thriving colony of red squirrels that call the woods home!

The Walk

The route that the walk follows is actually very simple and easy to navigate, and with it only being around 4 miles long and fairly flat, it should be manageable for walkers of all ages and abilities. If you’re planning on taking the pooch with you then it’s worth remembering that there are restrictions that run throughout the summer months. From the 1st of May right the way through to the end of September, dogs are prohibited from the vast majority of the beach and also from Llanddwyn Island but they can be taken on the eastern end of the beach.

The Route

The route is a simple one. The starting point is in the car park right down by the beach – if you head through the toll booth at the top of the hill you just have to keep on the road and you’ll reach it eventually.

From the car park, there is a short passage leading through the dunes which will take you out on to Newborough Beach, once you’re on the sands you’ll want to take a right and head down towards Llanddwyn Island.

Eventually you’ll reach the end of the bay but you’ll see Ynys Llanddwyn Island curve away to your left – this is where you want to go. It’s actually a tidal island so there’s no trouble walking across to it at low tide, but it can be totally cut off for a couple of hours at very high tides so make sure you check the tide times!

It’s on the island that you’ll see many of the highlights from the walk. You’ll see the remains of the old church of Saint Dwynwen, the lighthouse or the old pilot cottages that used to house the sailors who would guide boats through the treacherous Menai Straits, and there’s the stunning views out over the mountains of the mainland. Once you reach the western tip of the island, you’ll want to head back towards the mainland, either back the way that you came or by using one of the other pathways.

When you’re off the island you’re presented with several choices, you can take a left and head through to Maltraeth Bay, the next beach up the coastline, and have a wander there. Or you can head across the dunes and up to the forest path that runs parallel to the beach and will drop you off back at the car park, then there’s also the option of heading back along the beach to the starting point.

Rent an Anglesey Cottage with Sykes

Well how does that sound to you? Good? Then you’ll want to have a look at our Angelsey cottages! We’ve got a wide variety available all over the island, from cosy couples retreats in Beaumaris to properties fit for the whole family in Cemaes Bay, why don’t you check them out?

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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.

Britain’s Best Bridges

Sunday, April 5th, 2015
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You may well have noticed over the last few weeks that Royal Mail have been celebrating some of Britain’s finest bridges through a limited edition of stamps. All in all, there are ten bridges from all around the country that were selected to be commemorated. They came in all shapes and sizes, from footbridges in the Cumbrian countryside to record-breaking structures big enough to carry thousands of people everyday. Here at Sykes, we thought we’d do our bit to celebrate the best bridges in the land and so we’ve taken a look at each of the chosen few to try and learn a bit about them; take a look and see if you learn anything new.

Pulteney Bridge

Pulteney Bridge in Bath was built in the second half of the eighteenth century in order to connect the city to Bathwick, just on the over side of the River Avon. It is one of just four bridges in the whole world that has a row of shops running down each side of it, something that the designers first saw in their trips to Venice and Florence with the world famous Rialto and Ponte Vecchio.

Craigellachie Bridge

Designed by the renowned engineer and architect, Thomas Telford over two hundred years ago, the Craigellachie Bridge is one of the most famous spots throughout the whole of Moray. Found just outside of the famous whisky producing village in Abelour, Craigellachie is the oldest remaining cast iron bridge in the whole of Scotland.

Menai Suspension Bridge

We’ve got another of Telford’s bridges for the next in the list!  The Menai Suspension Bridge was the first fixed crossing of the fast flowing waters of the Menai Straits and it provided a much needed lifeline to the inhabitants of Anglesey. It was later joined by the Britannia Bridge and together they form two of the most photographed spots of the island.

Tees Transporter Bridge

The fourth bridge to have been commemorated was the Tees Transporter. It’s the furthest downstream crossing of the River Tees and connects Middlesbrough to Port Clarence. It carries a gondola large enough to fit around 200 people or nine cars.

Humber Bridge

We’re staying in the North East for the next of the bridges. At its point of completion, the Humber Bridge was the longest of its kind in the whole world, although since then it has slipped down to 7th in the list. It’s estimated that over 100,000 cars cross the bridge every single week, thereby opening up a previously remote area of the country both socially and economically.

Peace Bridge

Crossing the River Foyle, Peace Bridge forms part of the regeneration programme of Derry-Londonderry in Northern Ireland. It crosses from the city centre through to Ebrington Square, and brings together communities that were traditionally seen as being on different sides of the Northern Irish conflicts.

Tarr Steps

Tucked away in the Exmoor National Park is Tarr Steps. A traditional clapper bridge, Tarr Steps is made up of 17 stone slabs, each weighing between one and two tonnes. It had previously been suggested that Tarr Steps was a few thousand years old however more recent studies date it to sometime in the 15th or 16th centuries.

Row Bridge

It might not match up to some of the other bridges in the list in terms of its size but Row Bridge certainly makes up for it in scenery. Situated not too far from the Wasdale Head Inn in Gosforth, the bridge is one of the most scenic spots in the area. A traditionally made packhorse bridge, constructed from local slate and rocks in the mid 18th century, to cross the babbling Mosedale Beck Row Bridge now forms a part of one of the most popular Fell Walking spots in the area.

High Level Bridge

For the next bridge we’re going to be heading back up to the North East and Newcastle in particular this time. The High Level Bridge was built by Robert Stephenson to connect the main city to Gateshead, just on the other side of the Tyne. The bridge’s main claim to fame lies in it being the first in the world to combine both road and rail traffic.

Royal Border Bridge

For the final bridge we’ve got another Stephenson creation. Spanning the River Tweed in Northumberland, the Royal Borders Bridge was built for the York, Newcastle and Berwick Railway in the middle of the 19th century. As part of the bridge’s 160th birthday celebrations back in 2010, it saw a bit of a makeover and, as you can see above is now illuminated each evening by multi-coloured lights.

So there you have it, the Sykes Cottages round-up of the most iconic bridges in the country and I think you’ll agree that they’re all worthy of celebrating! Maybe you have a favourite, or have been to see one of them? If that’s the case we’d love to know! Or maybe you’re interested in getting the stamps yourself? If you are make sure that you head over to the Royal Mail website where you’ll be able to find some more information.

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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.

Sykes One of 1000 Companies to Inspire Britain

Tuesday, March 24th, 2015
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Here at Sykes Cottages we’re absolutely delighted to announce that we’ve recently been identified as one of the 1000 Companies to Inspire Britain by the London Stock Exchange! The 1000 companies report is all about celebrating the UK’s fastest growing and most dynamic small and medium sized businesses, so you can see why we’re excited to have been included in the list.

The 1000 Companies to Inspire Britain Report

In order to have qualified for selection as one of the 1000 Companies, we had to show a regular growth in revenue over the past few years and significantly outperform our industry peers. If you want to find out more about the report and its criteria then more information is available on their website –


The Chief Executive of the London Stock Exchange Group, Xavier Rolet, described the 1000 Companies report as “a significant part of London Stock Exchange’s broader campaign to support UK high growth companies in their journeys from Start-up to Stardom and to create an entrepreneurship revolution”, and also said “I’m delighted that a strong alliance between UK Government, financial market participants, investors, entrepreneurs and companies has been created to support these inspiring businesses”.

What a Year for Sykes Cottages!

Tan Llan near Dolgellau in Wales, one of Sykes' own cottages

Tan Llan near Dolgellau in Wales, one of Sykes’ own cottages!

All in all, being named in the report has capped off what has been a fantastic few months for everyone here at Sykes. Not only did we take home the British Travel Award for being the Best Large UK Holiday Cottage Booking Company (for the second year running!) but we also recently won the Travolution Award for the Best Use of Search Engine Marketing. And then there were the milestones of going past 5000 cottages in the Sykes portfolio and of course, smashing our 2013 record of 100,000 bookings!

Obviously we’re absolutely delighted with all of these achievements and they’re just a few signs of the improvements that we’ve been making as a company. However what’s important here is to remember that we couldn’t have done any of it without the help of our fantastic owners and customers, so we’d just like to say a massive thanks to all of you!

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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.

Where to see the Solar Eclipse

Thursday, March 19th, 2015
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I’m sure that by now you will have heard all about it but tomorrow is a momentous occasion in the British calendar. That’s because we’re due to experience our first substantial solar eclipse in over 15 years. Sure there have been a couple take place since that date, however here in the UK we’ve been right on the periphery of them and haven’t been able to get the full experience. But all of this is due to change tomorrow! According to the experts, it won’t be until 2090 that we have another eclipse on these shores to match what we’re due to experience tomorrow, so here at Sykes, we’ve decided to try and give you the lowdown on the best places and ways to make the most out of the event.

The eclipse is due to start somewhere out over the Atlantic Ocean and will hit the British Isles not too long after 8am. It will be at its fullest point at around half past nine onwards depending on where in the country you are. Because of the path that the sun is due to take, the eclipse will be at its fullest the further north and west that you are, but don’t worry! Even in the least affected areas there should be at least 85% coverage of the sun, making it a fantastic spectacle no matter where you are!


As I said before the further to the North you are the better the eclipse will be, making Scotland the prime viewing location. According to the experts, the Torry Battery in Aberdeen will be one of the best spots going to catch a glimpse of the eclipse. Normally it’s the ideal spot for people hoping to see the dolphins that call the North East Coast of Scotland home, however its Easterly aspect and uninterrupted views out over the harbour and North Sea will make it perfect for viewing the solar eclipse.


As seems to always be the way, it sadly looks like the Great British weather will play a part. Experts have forecast that much of the UK will be experiencing some cloud cover during the eclipse and of course this will obstruct the spectacle. Happily however, the forecast in the South West is a good deal clearer than other areas which may well make it the best spot in the country. Add to this the fact that Cornwall is due to experience the eclipse before anywhere else in the UK with it reaching its zenith over Penzance just after 20 past nine.


Or there’s also the option of heading over to one of the many observatories dotted around the UK countryside. After all, it’s at times like the solar eclipse that they really come into their own! We’ve been seeing more and more of these installations opening up with the Kielder Observatory in Northumberland being the prime example.

So there you go, hopefully you’ll enjoy experiencing this rare event, but remember to do so carefully! Experts recommend that you use a device along the lines of a pinhole projector which will allow you to see the eclipse without risking any damage to your eyes. Fingers crossed that that weather holds off for long enough for us all to catch a good glimpse of it!

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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.