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Wild Swimming: Top Spots For An Alfresco Dip

Tuesday, August 26th, 2014
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Swimming pools, who needs ‘em. Chilly, chlorine clogged water. Screaming kids, stealthily ‘bombing’ the deep end. The old chap, who spends his towelling off time in the nud. Not to mention the price, which seems to go up year on year (I’m sure it used to cost 50p?)

Sadly, if you’re into your swimming, there’s no other option but to use the public baths. Or is there?

During my time as a writer in the world of UK holidays, I’ve come to realise that us Brits are pretty wild when it comes to swimming. What with the plucky few who race in the waters of Windermere, to the Irish who spend Boxing Day paddling in the Atlantic, it seems we’re a nation who aren’t afraid to get wet, however cold it may be.

With this in mind, we’ve come up with five places around Britain that are perfect for wild swimming. Naturally, this ‘sport’ isn’t for everyone, and we’d advise those who aren’t fans of getting wet and cold to remain firmly on dry land.

River Trent, Derbyshire

Via Flickr

Via Flickr

A river may not sound the safest place to take an alfresco dip, and rightly so. But choose your spot wisely and there’s no reason why you can’t enjoy a leisurely swim. The River Trent in Derbyshire is famed for its safe ‘lagoons’, which offer a tranquil place to plunge- even for little’uns. Sure, the water will be cold, but it’ll be fresh too. Plus, it’ll be quiet, so quiet in fact that 6th century hermits and saints used to inhabit the nearby rocky grottoes to avoid being seen by unsavoury types, perfect if you forgot your swimwear…

Kailpot Crag, Lake District

Via Flickr

Via Flickr

Ullswater may be one of the most popular lakes in the Lake District, but stay clear of the tourist haunts and undiscovered corners remain, including Kailpot Crag. Characterised by its ancient, gnarly foliage, this west-facing outcrop has the makings of a great swimming spot, including a small cliff for fright-free diving. There’s a petite shingle beach too that’s ideal for drying off, and that westerly aspect means you can enjoy the sunset if you wish. The easiest way to access the crag is via a ferry which docks at Howton.

Loch Caoldair, Western Cairngorms

Via Flickr

Via Flickr

Bring a wetsuit and thermals if you plan on swimming wild in Scotland because take it from us, it’ll be pretty chilly. Don’t let that put you off though as, thanks to Scotland’s liberal open access laws, you’re allowed to swim in pretty much all of the country’s thousands of lochs. One of our favourites is Loch Caoldair, a tree lined waterway tucked in the western Cairngorms. Home to deep, black water and a lovely wee beach, Caoldair is ideal for an invigorating swim. What’s more, the loch is only a mile from the road, so you won’t have to hike far to enjoy a quick dip.

Lower Ddwli Falls, Brecon Beacons

Via Flickr

Via Flickr

Hidden in the south-west hills of the Brecon Beacons lies Waterfall Woods, an enchanting blend of natural pools and ancient woodland; prime territory for open-air swimming enthusiasts. Whilst photographers flock to the Sgws Gwladys- aka Lady Falls- intrepid bathers should make for the Ddwli Falls, where a huge, deep pool and powerful waterfall await. Revitalise in the spray, keeping your eye on the treeline for fleeting rainbows, or head downstream to horseshoe falls to make use of the jump and rope swing.

River Stour, Kent

Via Flickr

Via Flickr

Those that have visited Kent’s River Stour may consider this an odd addition, but bear with me. Setting out from the town of Fordwich-reputed to be England’s smallest town- will bring you to an exposed stretch of the Stour, but keep going, and things soon become more secluded. Awash with wildlife and containing a relatively weak current, this river is ideal for a relaxing paddle on a sunny afternoon. The calmest stretch of the river is located beyond the reeds of Stodmarsh nature reserve, easily accessible by canoe.

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.

Walk of the Month: Falls of Truim & Truim Woods, Cairngorms

Monday, August 25th, 2014
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As the UK’s largest national park, the Cairngorms feature an abundance of natural attractions which provide the perfect backdrop for a bracing walk. But with over 4,000 square kilometres of protected parkland to explore, where do you begin?

Falls of Truim- Via Flickr

Falls of Truim- Via Flickr

The Falls of Truim may sound like a fictitious feature of Middle Earth, but actually, it is one of Scotland’s prettiest waterfalls. Enveloped in rich woodlands, the falls and their surroundings offer a sampling of most of the Cairngorms famous attributes- mountainous views, deep forests and black, trout-laden waters- making it ideal for those that have never visited the park.

The Walk

Waymarked paths make this 5.5 mile route straightforward; however, care should be taken on uneven trails and on the slate beside the falls as these can be slippery underfoot.

The Route

Via Flickr

Via Flickr

The proximity of the A9 road makes this route accessible, and there is a car park near the falls. Park here, before backpedalling across the A9, taking the turning on your left marked Crubenbeg. Follow this path until you reach a kissing gate. Pass this, before turning right and following the path through the trees toward the Falls of Truim. For the curious, a short path leads to the edge of the water, but don’t worry if you miss this as better views of the water are available later in the walk.

Continue along the trail which follows the course of the river and eventually you will come to a bridge, which you should cross. On the opposing bank, a path follows the crags above the falls, where a pine coppice provides a good opportunity for photographs. Remain on the path as it bends away from the water, crossing the heather pocked fields until the trail becomes an indistinct grassy path.

Indulge in the views offered atop Crubenbeg Steading before following the track uphill, keeping the fence to your left. After crossing the next field, you’ll come to a metal gate with a green right of way marker. Turn right here and follow the dry stone wall which will bring you to the edge of Glen Truim Woods.

Ignoring a Glen Truim Woods marker, continue along the track until you reach the next signed junction. Here, turn left in the direction of the Truim Woods Viewpoint, where a well-placed bench offers an opportune moment to relax and take in views of the Cairngorms mountains. When you’re done, descend the crag along the same path until you arrive back at the junction.

Turn left and follow the track until you reach a road, where you should make a right. Continue along the road until you reach a signed forestry track, which will eventually bring you back to the falls. Here, ascend the path you’ve previously tread to get back to the car park.

Download the comprehensive route and map for this walk here.

Rent a cottage in the Cairngorms with Sykes Cottages

With the prospect of an Indian summer looking increasingly dubious, we think it’s time to stow away the speedos and get togged up in your autumn clobber to make the most of the UK’s bracing countryside, and where better to do so than Scotland. If you’re on the same wavelength, take a look at our cottages to rent in the Cairngorms, or, if you’re still pinning hope on a late spurt of warm weather, ignore me completely and have a look at our autumn sale, where hundreds of our coast and country cottages are up for grabs at low prices.

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.

Summertime Wanderlust? Book a last minute holiday!

Friday, August 22nd, 2014
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Whilst sullen kids are left wondering where their six week summer holidays have gone, back to school banners are being affixed to supermarket shelves from here to Hull. That’s right, summer is almost at an end, and the autumn term is upon us. But before you roll out the new uniforms, pencil cases and lunch boxes, why not treat the kids to one last summer spoil and take them on a last minute holiday right here in the UK?

Whether you book a full 7 nights or a long weekend, our affordable last minute holidays offer a great excuse to take the kids away for one last getaway before the academic year commences. But if you’re going to book, be smart, because others will have had the same idea. If you’re not one for queuing, or have a new found appreciation for the quieter side of life after a hectic summer, head to one of these five places on your impromptu pre-autumn holiday to beat the queues and enjoy a stress-free holiday with your little’uns.

Northumberland

Bamburgh Castle- Via Flickr

Bamburgh Castle- Via Flickr

Not only is Northumberland breathtakingly beautiful, it’s also one of the country’s least inhabited counties, giving you the peace of mind that it will be at least, overtly peaceful. Home to an invigorating North Sea coastline and more castles than any other region in the UK, you and the kids will have plenty to do in this historic and stunning English county. Must see attractions in the area include the Holy Island of Lindisfarne, a tidal island famed for its ties to Celtic Christianity, as well as Dunstanburgh, Bamburgh and Alnwick castles, the latter of which was brought to the fore by the Harry Potter film franchise.

Somerset

Exmoor- Via Flickr

Exmoor- Via Flickr

Enjoy the warm climate of South West England without the crowds of Devon and Cornwall with a trip to Somerset. Boasting a plethora of natural beauty spots- Exmoor, Mendips, Quantocks, Cheddar Gorge to name but a few- as well as several great coastal resorts and beaches like Minehead and Weston-super-mare, Somerset has all you could ever need to enjoy a fun filled family getaway. There are visitor attractions aplenty in the county too, with one of our favourites being Wookey Hole, a large show cave on the edge of the Mendip Hills.

Ireland

Ireland-Via Flickr

Ireland-Via Flickr

Escape to the Emerald Isle this summer with a 7 night break in Ireland. Littered with great beaches and home to some of Europe’s most beloved landscapes, Ireland is the perfect place to take the kids for an unforgettable trip before term starts. The beauty of a trip to Ireland is that it feels like you’re travelling somewhere much more far flung, yet in reality, our flights, ferries and car hire deals make it extremely easy to travel to the Emerald Isle.

Kent

Canterbury- Via Flickr

Canterbury- Via Flickr

With swathes of charming English countryside and one of the UK’s most iconic coastlines, Kent is an undisputed hidden gem. During the summer months, this balmy region enjoys some of the UK’s warmest temperatures, making it the perfect place to catch some summer sun before the onset of autumn. The county’s undulating landscape means that outdoorsy types will never be short of places to cycle and ramble, whilst those with a penchant for history will love to explore the imposing keep of Dover Castle or step back in time at the charming medieval city of Canterbury.

Suffolk

Southwold Beach- Via Flickr

Southwold Beach- Via Flickr

Looking for the classic seaside experience? Then head to Suffolk, a county that’s home to some of Britian’s best loved coastal resorts. Families with young children will adore the traditional seaside towns of Southwold, Aldeburgh, Felixstowe and Dunwich Heath, which offer everything from soft sand and colourful beach huts to ice cream parlours and seafront arcades. Meanwhile, adventurous types will enjoy exploring Suffolk’s two areas of outstanding natural beauty, which comprise wildlife-rich heathlands and a multitude of charming historic towns and villages.

Book a last minute summer holiday today!

Wanderlust won’t waver, so before you send your kids off in their shiny new shoes, ask yourself: have you had a summer to remember? If the answer’s no, then make it so, by booking a last minute summer holiday today. We’ve got plenty of availability for the remaining summer in some truly wonderful destinations around the UK, so check out our last minute properties page today for more inspiration on where to getaway this summer.

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.

Why our holiday homes are ideal for the elderly

Wednesday, August 20th, 2014
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Today in the United States, communities are coming together to celebrate Senior Citizens Day, a national event which honours the country’s elderly population. Established in 1988 by then President Ronald Reagan, the day encourages people to spend time with elderly relatives and show appreciation for the value and contribution that they have made.

Not wanting to miss out on this worthwhile event, we’ve hopped on the American bandwagon and come up with five reasons why our cottage holidays are ideal for elderly holidaymakers.

Reason 1: Choice

With over 5,000 holiday cottages to rent from coast to country throughout the UK and Ireland, the choice really is yours. Travelling with friends? Then try one of our large cottages, whose roomy interiors provide space and comfort for any party size. Or, perhaps you’re ferrying the grandkids away for a long weekend away? If so, our holiday cottages on working farms are sure to keep everyone entertained. Alternatively, if it’s just the two of you, our cottages for two provide an affordable base for a holiday without compromising on comfort.

Reason 2: Locations

Thanks to our vast array of holiday homes, we’re able to offer cottage holidays in virtually every nook and cranny of the UK, giving you an amazing choice of locations to choose from. Seaside breaks remain a popular choice, and we offer cottages to rent near many of the country’s most popular coastal resorts, including Great Yarmouth, Bridlington and Whitby. Country escapes are very popular too, particularly in areas like the Lake District and the Yorkshire Dales, where we offer over 1,000 self-catering holiday cottages to rent.

Reason 3: Facilities

As a rule, self-catering holiday homes offer an extra level of comfort that you simply wouldn’t find in a hotel, and often provide a better range of facilities that can potentially make them more suitable for elderly or disabled guests. Here at Sykes Cottages, we offer a good selection of holiday cottages that are equipped with facilities that may make them suitable for guests who are less mobile, including features like ground floor bedrooms, wet rooms and access ramps. If you’d like to find out more about our range of accommodation for less mobile or disabled guests, please visit our disabled friendly properties page or contact us on 01244 356695.

Reason 4: On your doorstep

For some people, one of the many factors which could prevent them from going on holiday after reaching a certain age is travelling. Thankfully, due to our impressive range of holiday homes, you don’t need to travel far to get away from it all. If you’re not one for a long car, rail or bus journey, simply search for a holiday home in your area. Our cottages are dotted across the length and breadth of Britain, so there’s sure to be one not far away. Whether you want to travel twenty five miles or two-hundred, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t enjoy a UK holiday.

Reason 5: Affordability

If you fancy a holiday but are worried about breaking the bank, don’t fret, because you can enjoy a self-catering cottage holiday in the UK for a lot less than you might think. With prices starting from just £124 for a 7 night break, it won’t cost you the earth to experience the joy of a UK holiday. What’s more, we also offer several great short break discounts, so if you’d prefer to travel for just 3 or 4 nights, you could get a great discount off the total price of your holiday. To find out more about the eligibility of our short break discounts, click here.

So there you have it, five reasons why our self-catering cottages make a great base for a holiday no matter what your age. If you’d like more information on our cottage holidays, or would like us to send you a free brochure, please contact us on 01244 356695 and our friendly and helpful reservations department will be happy to help.

 

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.

Britain’s Top 10 Scenic Drives

Sunday, August 17th, 2014
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Here in Britain, we’re a nation of motorists. Our roads are some of the busiest in Europe, and overall, there’s almost a quarter of a million miles of roadway in the UK. Impressive though this is, it doesn’t change the fact that for many, driving in Britain is a tiresome task, reminiscent of long delays, pesky speed cameras and dull scenery.

If you’re heading on a UK holiday this year, I’d wager that you’re dreading the drive. But fear not fellow motorist, for all is not lost. Should you choose to bypass the motorway and opt for a minor A or B road, you’ll often be met with charming views, sweeping bends and an endless supply of fascinating villages, hamlets and towns that you wouldn’t know existed from the comfort of the fast lane.

So if you love driving and want to escape the tedium of the motorway, take a look at our shortlist of the best scenic drives in the UK below.

Kendal to Keswick, the Lake District

Via Flickr

Via Flickr

The A591 is one of England’s favourite scenic routes, and can be busy at times; after all, it does link Keswick and Kendal, two of the Lake District’s most popular towns. Don’t let that put you off though, because this isn’t a drive you’ll want to rush. Must sees along the route include Grasmere, Ullswater and Glenridding.

Black Mountain Road, Powys

Via Flickr

Via Flickr

Meandering through the Brecon Beacons, the Black Mountain road has long been popular amongst motorists, and featured on an episode of the popular motoring show, Top Gear. Here, amid the timeless beauty of the Beacons, this glorious 27 mile road offers exhilarating bends, fast straights and plenty of scenic eye candy for both driver and passenger.

Alnwick to Kielder Water, Northumberland

Via Flickr

Via Flickr

Northumberland is home to one of England’s most dramatic coastlines, and thankfully, much of it is discoverable by car. By far the best route to take along the coast is the B-road between Alnwick and Kielder Water, which features evocative views over the coast, as well as a series of brilliant twists and turns through the Cheviot and Simonside Hills.

Ribblehead Viaduct, North Yorkshire

Via Flickr

Via Flickr

Thanks to its undulating terrain, North Yorkshire is a dream for motorists. Consequently, all that rolling countryside caused a real headache for Victorian railway builders, who were forced to tunnel and bridge their way across the county. Their most iconic construction is easily the Ribblehead Viaduct, a 400m bridge featuring no less than 24 stone arches; have your passenger snap a shot or two as you speed on by.

St Ives to Land’s End, Cornwall

Via Flickr

Via Flickr

The coast road from the cultural hub of St Ives to the striking spit of Land’s End is an evocative and dramatic route, taking in much of Cornwall’s untouched western territory. This is a place where deserted tin mines rise from rugged heathlands and craggy sea cliffs stand tall above the powerful Atlantic Ocean.

Cat and Fiddle, Peak District

Via Flickr

Via Flickr

The Cat and Fiddle scenic drive, aka, Buxton to Macclesfield, takes its name from a rustic country pub that just happens to be the second highest public house in the UK. This famously bendy route is hotspot for motorcyclists, but drivers will be in their element too thanks to the routes stunning views over Greater Manchester, the Cheshire Plain and the Peak District National Park.

Chedder Gorge, Somerset

Via Flickr

Via Flickr

Chiselling through the Mendip Hills, Cheddar Gorge is widely considered to be one of the Britain’s greatest natural wonders. By far the best way to see this majestic limestone pass is via the meandering stretch of tarmac that runs through its centre; just watch out for slow lorries when you’re heading uphill.

Buttertubs Pass, Yorkshire Dales

Via Flickr

Via Flickr

Featured in the Grand Depárt of the Tour De France 2014, Buttertubs Pass is a very popular scenic road winding through the beloved Yorkshire Dales. This picturesque carriageway takes its name from the neighbouring potholes where dairy farmers would rest on their way to market, and features some superb sweeping bends.

Wild Atlantic Way, Ireland

Via Flickr

Via Flickr

At 1,500 miles, the Wild Atlantic Way is the longest touring route on our shortlist, but can easily be divided into shorter drives. For a dramatic snapshot of the Atlantic Seaboard, head for Donegal, whose coast features a mix of towering sea cliffs and sweeping beaches. Alternatively, take to the asphalt in Galway, where the mountainous landscapes of Connemara await.

Glasgow to Fort William, Scotland

Via Flickr

Via Flickr

Leave the city lights of Glasgow behind you and make for the wonderfully scenic Scottish Highlands, home to some of Britain’s favourite roads. The A82 from Glasgow to Fort William passes through the Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park, so expect sensational views and plenty of windy tarmac. To extend the route, make for Inverness, passing the iconic Loch Ness along the way.

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.