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Le Tour de France- Coming to a country lane near you!

Tuesday, April 15th, 2014
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Two years has passed since the Olympic Games brought passion and excitement to our shores and now the UK is set for yet another sizzling summer of sport. From the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow to the ever-popular Wimbledon Championships, 2014 is chock-a-block with thrilling sporting events. Yet none are causing quite as much fuss as a certain cycle race, which will be coming to the UK this July.

Via Flickr

Via Flickr

You guessed it; we’re talking the Tour De France, the world’s biggest and best cycle race. Since 1903, this multi-stage contest has seen riders from all corners of the world compete for the coveted yellow jersey and a place on the podium at the finish line in Paris.

In recent years, us Brits have become increasingly fond of the Tour De France, due in part to the popularity of British riders like Bradley Wiggins, Chris Froome and Mark Cavendish. But this year’s Tour looks set to take the UK by storm, as the contest’s Grand Départ will begin in Yorkshire.

Setting out from the city of Leeds on 5th July, the Tour takes the scenic route through the Yorkshire Dales, skirting Skipton, Grassington and Ripon before entering the spa town of Harrogate- and that’s just the first stage! Stage Two sees the peloton (posh name for a pack of cyclists) pass through parts of the Peak District National Park before landing in Sheffield; then it’s onward from Cambridge, through the pastoral Essex countryside before the Tour comes to the end of its UK leg in the capital.

For your chance to get up close and personal to the peloton, take a look at our guide to the best places to see the Tour De France below.

Buttertubs Pass

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Via Flickr

A spectacular panorama and a leg-torturing ascent make Buttertubs pass one of the most rewarding and challenging sections of the Grand Départ.  Named after a series of potholes which farmers used to cool their pails of butter, Buttertubs offers spectator and rider exquisite views across the Dales- decamp here with a picnic to watch the peloton pass amid wonderful surroundings.

Harrogate

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Via Flickr

If you’re holidaying in Harrogate during the Grand Départ, lucky you! The Tour will be tearing through this pretty spa town twice during its stint in God’s Own County, so you’re twice as likely to catch a glimpse of the riders as they blast on by. For information on when and where to see the cyclists as they hasten through Harrogate, visit the Grand Départ website.

Cragg Vale

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Via Flickr

Traditional terraces make way for austere heathlands above the village of Cragg Vale in the uplands of Calderdale. Here, the peloton will face the longest continuous uphill gradient in England, which rises 970ft over a gruelling five and a half mile ascent. The moorland ascent poses a challenging hike for spectators too, so pack a lunch and lace up on the walking boots if you think Cragg Vale looks like the place to spectate.

Yorkshire Holiday Accommodation near the Tour De France route

Here at Sykes Cottages, we’re prolific cycling fans, and it seems our owners are too! During the Tour De France, a handful of our holiday cottages near the Tour De France route are offering great discounts on seven night stays, making a self-catering cottage an affordable option for a cycling holiday when the Tour comes to town. Here are three of our properties which are currently available to rent near the Tour De France route.

11 Hardy Grange, Grassington

A stone-built period cottage located close to the centre of Grassington. The peloton passes through this village on the first day of the Tour, making 11 Hardy Grange ideal for spectators. Plus, the owners are currently offering £1,000 off the property price for a 7 night break between 4th-11th July, so book soon to avoid disappointment!

Monkholme Cottage, Threshfield

Monkholme Cottage is a wonderfully romantic retreat in Threshfield near Grassington. This charming Yorkshire Dales holiday home offers spectacular views and is close to the pubs and shops of the village, making it a great place to await the arrival of the racers. You’ll receive a 35% discount on stays between 27th June to the 4th July, so book today to make the most of this great offer.

The Thyme House, Haworth

The Thyme House is a first-class luxury holiday home in Haworth, ideally located for watching the riders zip by en-route to Skipton. This palatial Yorkshire Dales holiday rental sleeps 10 people and comes fully-equipped with a wealth of great self-catering facilities, making it the perfect base for a Tour De France themed get together with family and friends.

So there you have it, our definitive guide to where to watch and where to stay during the Tour De France. For our complete range of self-catering accommodation near the Tour De France route, visit our Tour De France cottages page 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.

Celebrate the Commonwealth Games in Scotland

Tuesday, April 8th, 2014
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The end of the London 2012 Olympic Games left most people hankering for another sports competition of a similar scale and, in just a few months’ time, the wait will be over. Set to take Glasgow by storm this July, the Commonwealth Games promises to be a spectacular sporting show.

And we’re welcoming this news in more ways than one. Yes, we’re excited to see some world-class sport on UK soil, but we also think it represents a great opportunity for anyone planning on attending the Games to discover Scotland at the same time!

For an in depth look at the ins and outs of the Games, as well as information on what to see in Scotland during your visit, check out our useful guide to the Glasgow Commonwealth Games below.

Sykes-Cottages inforgraphic 2

Scotland’s homegrown sports stars

Scotland is an amazing place for sport lovers thanks to its incredible sporting heritage. In fact, it’s home to some of the UK’s best-loved sports stars.

Celebrated for being one of the UK’s finest tennis players to emerge in recent decades, Andy Murray is a true sporting hero. The British number one snatched the Wimbledon men’s singles title in 2013 – a grand follow-up to nabbing Olympic gold in 2012.

Sir Chris Hoy also shone at London 2012. In terms of Olympic gold medals, he’s actually the most successful British Olympian of all time. His rounded off his career in real style at London 2012, taking home two gold medals before his retirement.

Bronze medallist at the recent Sochi Games, Eve Muirhead won the 2013 World Women’s Curling Championship, making her the youngest female ever to have done so – she was just 22 when she took the title.

Going to the Games? Discover Scotland too!

We think going to the Games presents the perfect opportunity to see more of Scotland – especially given the fact that there’s just so much to do and see!

More sports fixtures

Can’t get enough of sports? The Commonwealth Games isn’t the only major event hitting Scotland this summer. If you fancy seeing some quintessentially Scottish sports, get yourself to the Highland Games this June.

Held in Fife, this event features all kinds of unusual activities – including haggis throwing. Whoever hurls it furthest wins!

Meanwhile, later in the year the 2014 Ryder Cup will be hosted at Gleneagles in Perthshire – a must for golf lovers.

Other attractions

Scotland is home to a wide array of amazing attractions, so it’d be a real shame to make sport the only feature of your itinerary. For instance, why not take a trip to the lovely Loch Ness? This is the largest lake in Scotland by volume, and you might even catch a glimpse of the elusive Nessie…

Intrigued by tales of castles and adventure? Travel to Aberdeenshire and follow the fabulous Castle Trail, which will lead you to 17 of the area’s most atmospheric and impressive fortifications.

Prefer to get a more literal taste of the places you visit? Head to Edinburgh instead and discover one of the Scotland’s most famous products – whisky. The Scotch Whisky Experience will not only tell you all about the whisky-making process, but also give you a chance to taste some for yourself!

So what are you waiting for? Organise your trip to Scotland today.

Let the Games Begin

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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.

Getaway to North Yorkshire this Easter!

Monday, April 7th, 2014
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For many, the upcoming bank holiday means four precious days of freedom; so use it wisely by booking a last minute getaway for the Easter break. Plenty of our properties are still available for the Easter weekend, so choose your favourite and reserve it quick-sharp to avoid missing out!

Worried it’s just the dud-destinations where properties are still available? Worry not. From Cornwall to the Lake District, we’ve still got plenty of holiday rentals to choose from at fair and affordable prices. To see our full range of holiday lets that are still available for the Easter weekend, visit our Easter Cottages page.

Before you choose your favourite destination however, take a minute to read today’s blog, where we’ll be giving you a few reasons why we think North Yorkshire is the ideal destination for a long Easter weekend.

Reason 1: There’s lots to do outdoors

Via Flickr

Via Flickr

From mountain biking through the lush trees of Dalby Forest to wandering through the Shambles of York, North Yorkshire is a haven for those who like to spend their time in the open-air. With the weather outlook for the bank holiday too far ahead for an accurate prediction, we can’t promise you sunshine, but if you’re travelling to Yorkshire over Easter, make sure to pack a mac to make the most of the county’s outdoor activities and attractions!

Reason 2: There’s lots to do indoors, too

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Via Flickr

If the weather does look set to bring a halt to your outdoor pursuits, don’t fret as North Yorkshire offers plenty of things to see and do indoors too. Travelling with kids? Head to the National Railway Museum in York to learn the history of Britain’s railways. Or, experience the sights and sounds of World War Two with a visit to Eden Camp near Malton, a unique museum housed in an original WWII POW camp. Alternatively if you’re going it alone on a romantic break with your partner, discover one of North Yorkshire’s ancient castles- Hawes, Leyburn, Middleham and Reeth to name but a few.

Reason 3: Beaches, beaches, beaches

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Via Flickr

Whether we’re blessed with warm weather over the Easter weekend or not, the beach is still a firm favourite amongst holidaymakers. From sand castle building to blustery dog walks, the coast is somewhere to escape to for a truly invigorating getaway. The North Yorkshire coast happens to be one of the best in the UK, offering a wonderful blend of rugged sea cliffs, fascinating villages and some of the most coveted swathes of sand in England. Blue Flag beaches in North Yorkshire include Whitby’s West Cliff and North Bay in Scarborough, so if you’re travelling with children, be sure to pay at least one of these a visit.

Reason 4: North Yorkshire Cottages Galore!

With welcoming cottages scattered from coast to country across North Yorkshire, there’s nowhere better for a stimulating getaway this Easter. So what are you waiting for? Treat yourself and the kids to a fun-filled family holiday or use those precious days off to whisk the other half away on an impromptu short break. We’ve a handful of cottages that are still available to rent in North Yorkshire over the Easter weekend, so choose your favourite and reserve yours today by visiting our North Yorkshire cottages page.

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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.

Planning A Getaway To Cornwall

Thursday, April 3rd, 2014
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With its striking coastline, evocative culture and fascinating history, there’s a lot to see and do in Cornwall. In fact, some might be quite overwhelmed by the choice of attractions, events and days out that are available in this popular southern county. So to make it easier for you to decide what to include in your Cornish cottage holiday itinerary, we’ve created this quick guide on what and not to see on your next trip to Cornwall.

Must-See Attractions

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Via Flickr

Type Cornish attractions into any search engine and you’ll be dazed by the variety and choice, which is of course, not a bad thing. In Cornwall there really is something for everyone, but some attractions are simply more worth seeing than others. Here’s our top three must-see attractions in Cornwall:

  1. The Eden Project
    We’ve all heard of it, but until you’ve seen it for yourself, it’s difficult to imagine this otherworldly visitor attraction. Comprising two artificial biomes brimming with rare, tropical plants as well as extensive vibrant gardens, the Eden Project is an extraordinary place to spend the day.
  2. The Minack Theatre
    Looking more like something from ancient Greece than a relatively modern piece of Cornish architecture, the Minack Theatre is an open-air theatre built into the granite gully above Porthcurno bay. During the summer months, the Minack Theatre plays host to a plethora of plays and performances, so be sure to catch a show if you’re in the area.
  3. The Lost Gardens of Heligan
    Take a break from the beach with a peaceful stroll around the Lost Gardens of Heligan, the UK’s most popular and expansive Botanical Gardens. Here, Italian parterre gardens stand beside sub-tropical thickets of fern, and ancient Rhododendrons tower over hidden lakes and pools. The Lost Gardens of Heligan are open daily all year round, so pencil them into your holiday itinerary.

Sports & Recreation

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Via Flickr

If you’re an active person, we understand that a large part of your holiday will be given over to the pursuit of your favourite sport or recreational activity. Luckily, Cornwall is a utopia for the energetic, thanks in part to its invigorating coastline and undulating inland areas. From cycling and golf, to surfing and kayaking, there are facilities to suit all manner of activities in Cornwall.

If you’re worried about giving up your usual fitness regime during your trip to Cornwall, fear not, because we’re here to tell you about Sofa Dodger, a brilliant new online service that lets you know about all the great activities that are taking place in your area. Whether you’re after yoga or tennis, squash or Zumba, Sofa Dodger will provide you with up to the minute info on all of the activities taking place near you, so you need never miss out on a chance to burn some calories on your holidays again.

Cornish Food

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Via Flickr

If you’d prefer your holiday to be centred more around food than fitness, don’t fret, because Cornwall’s got you covered. The county is awash with award-winning eateries, delicious seafood and rather famous pasties, so you certainly won’t go hungry during your stay.

For those of you looking to splash out on some truly top nosh during your stay in Cornwall, head to one of four of Rick Stein’s award-winning restaurants in Padstow, where you can try some of Cornwall’s most sought-after seafood and delicious regional produce. Alternatively, grab food on the move and opt for the humble Cornish Pasty; a national staple whose origins can be traced back through centuries of Cornish history.

Rent a Cornish holiday home with Sykes Cottages

Foxgloves, Upton Cross, Cornwall. Ref. 18318

Foxgloves, Upton Cross, Cornwall. Ref. 18318

What you want from your holiday in Cornwall will greatly affect the type of accommodation that’s right for you. Thankfully, we have holiday cottages in Cornwall to suit a multitude of different breaks, including luxury cottages for couples, country cottages for active folk and coastal holiday lets for family holidays on the beach. So choose your favourite today and make the most of your time in this remarkable county!

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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.

What to do with that extra hour of daylight?

Monday, March 31st, 2014
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With daylight savings time adding an extra hour of sunlight onto our evenings, you’ll want to make the most of it. That’s why, we’ve come up with a few ideas for what you can do with that precious extra hour of daylight. From picnics in the park to wildlife watching in your own back garden, we offer some advice on the best ways to make use of  that sought-after sunshine.

Via Flickr

Via Flickr

1. Get out and about on your bike

With the gloomy nights and chilly easterly winds now behind us (touch wood), you’ve no excuse but to climb in the saddle and do some pedalling- even if you don’t have any lights! We recently featured a blog about Britain’s Best Bike Rides, so check them out or visit the Sustrans website for more two-wheel inspiration.

2. Get out and about in the car

If it’s raining cats and dogs, hit the open road and take in some of the UK’s breathtaking scenery by car. There’s so much to see in every corner of the country, and luckily for us Brits, all of it is within driving distance. Why veg in front of a mediocre drama when there’s so much drama to be had right before your very eyes?

3. Or get out and about on your two feet

Walking isn’t just good exercise; it’s a way to get off the beaten track and see things like never before. With spring on our doorstep and summer waiting in the wings, there’s never been a better time to strap on the walking boots. And just think what you might discover before the sun goes down: beautiful landscapes, invigorating coastlines and trees, wildlife and foliage in full bloom- what could be a better way to use those remaining moments of daylight?

Via Flickr

Via Flickr

4. Dine alfresco

Whether on holiday or not, I’ve always considered eating outdoors to be one of life’s little pleasures. Whether you’re packing a picnic and heading to the park or setting up camp on a sunlit terrace, dining alfresco is bound to brighten even the toughest of days.

5. Head to a sunbaked beer garden

If you’ve been put off the pub by the dim, wet nights, now’s your chance to revisit your local and make the most of that disused beer garden. There’s nothing better than spending an evening in the company of friends enjoying a tipple or three, so don the shades and make for the nearest watering hole. If you fancy a change of scene, take a look at our guide to Britain’s Best Pubs today.

6. Feast like a King at a food festival

That extra hour of daylight means more events and attractions will be willing to stay open longer to bring in any sun seeking punters. One of our favourite types of event here at Sykes is the food festival (not sure what that says about us), a celebration of British Food in all its delicious forms. There’s a plethora of these delightful fodder fests taking place across the UK this spring; find one in your area by clicking here.

Via Flickr

Via Flickr

7. Take up a new hobby

Everyone needs a hobby, so if you haven’t got one or would like another, now’s the perfect time to get one. Whether it’s golf, archery, clay-pigeon shooting, tennis, birdwatching or landscape painting, that extra hour of sunshine means there’ll be a greater choice of activities out there for you to enjoy at a time that’s right for you.

8. Go wildlife watching

It’s not just us humans that relish the arrival of spring’s lengthier days; all manner of British wildlife are waking after the long winter to make the most of the extra daylight and warmer temperatures. On your own turf, you’re likely to find an increase in bird activity and if you head further afield, you might spot a new-born calve or lamb frolicking in the dying sunlight- bliss!

9. Spruce up the garden

The arrival of spring indicates that mother nature is ready and waiting to get things moving, so help her out by taking some time to prepare your garden for the growing season. If you want your yard to be bursting with colourful blooms this summer, now’s the time to plant your bulbs. This tip might be useful for our cottage owners too!

Via Flickr

Via Flickr

10. Sit back and enjoy the sunset

After months of missing out on the sunset whilst being stuck in the office, now’s the time to enjoy the sun’s parting gift in all its glory. Whether you’re sipping on a glass of wine in a beer garden, relaxing in the park with a picnic, summiting a hill on your bike or making the most of the final day of your cottage holiday, take a moment to appreciate the beauty of the day’s end.

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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.