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Book a bargain in Sykes’ Spring Sale

Wednesday, March 11th, 2015
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Feel that? That’s the sun that is. You know what that means: Spring has arrived, bringing mild temperatures, baby animals, and most importantly, the Sykes Cottages Spring Sale to our shores.

For the next few weeks, we’re offering great discounts on selected cottage holidays to a number of destinations throughout the UK and Ireland. With great savings of up to 25% off to be had, now is a great time to get away before the rush of the peak season.

Need a little inspiration? Here’s a shortlist of the destinations we think would make a great base for a getaway this springtime.

Top 5 destinations that’ll put a spring in your step

Spring Sale 1Lake District

When William Wordsworth spotted a “A host, of golden daffodils” during a hike in the Lake District, he penned arguably his most famous poem, I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud. If lyricism’s your thing, feel free to try top the laureate’s ode; if not, relax and enjoy the views. The Lake District is one of the UK’s prettiest destinations any time of year, but it’s especially pretty in spring – think lambs, daffodils and ruddy big fens.

Spring Sale 3

Isle of Wight

Desperate for some Vitamin-D? Get started on this year’s sun-kissed summer glow with a spring break on the Isle of Wight. Throughout the year, temperatures on this sunny southern isle are higher than other parts, making it an enticing destination for tan fans. Despite its meagre proportions, the Isle of Wight is home to some of the UK’s best beaches, not to mention its best loved coastal resorts – cheeky beach break anyone?

Spring Sale 4Scotland

Perhaps you’re clinging to the dregs of winter and aren’t ready for double figures just yet? If so, get yourself north of the border with a cottage break in Scotland. Whether you walk, cycle, ski or drive, Scotland is a brilliant destination for adventurous types at any time of year. Book a Scottish cottage in the Sykes’ spring sale, and before you know it, you could be exploring a secluded loch or traversing a sun-blushed mountainside – bliss.

Spring Sale 5Cornwall

A discounted break in Cornwall? In May?! Pinch me, I must be dreaming. But no: we’re offering reduced rate cottage breaks in Cornwall, too. During summer, things can get a tad cramped on this coveted spit of land; in spring however, there’ll be plenty of space for your towel on the beach and no queues for a pasty. Don’t wait around though – these discounted Cornish cottage breaks will about book themselves.

Whitby harbor and abbey

North York Moors & Coast

Beaches, history and heathland collide in the North York Moors. This spectacular corner of God’s Own County is a peach of a destination now that the mercury is beginning to bubble, and is the perfect place to seek solace from the 9 to 5. With historic daytrips aplenty – Whitby Abbey, York, Rievaulx Abbey – and sandy beaches galore, a cottage break in the North York Moors could be just what you need this spring.

 You heard me – book your spring break today!

This is but a morsel of the destinations offered in our spectacular spring sale, so be sure to check out our full range of cottages with spring savings, here. Our spring deals are available from 10th April to 2nd May and from 1st May to 22nd May, so there’s plenty of time to pencil in a cut-price trip. But be quick – these fantastic deals won’t be around for long.

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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.

Five of our favourite bike rides in Devon

Saturday, March 7th, 2015
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Prefer pedal power to horse? Like feeling the wind in your barnet? Then you’ll love our guide to Devon’s bike rides! We’ve scoured the county to bring you five of our favourite cycle routes; with off-road jaunts and long-distance tarmacked trails, you’ll witness the picturesque Devonshire countryside like never before.

Drake’s Trail

Skirting the western fringes of Dartmoor, Drake’s Trail offers attractive scenery and a stimulating mix of hills, heritage and wildlife. This 21-mile route traverses the backbone of Devon – from Plymouth on the south coast to Ilfracombe on the north – and provides a feasible day’s ride for amateurs or a useful training route for hardened pedal-fanatics. Points of interest along the trail include Gem Bridge, Grenofen Tunnel as well as the towns of Tavistock, Okehampton and Barnstaple.

Find out more about Drake’s Trail

Tarka Trail

Image by Ian Haskins is licensed under CC 2.0

Image by Ian Haskins is licensed under CC 2.0

For those not accustomed to filtering through traffic on two wheels, the Tarka Trail provides a great alternative. This is one of the UK’s longest traffic-free cycling routes, with over 30-miles of glorious, car-less trail to enjoy. The Tarka Trail traverses a stretch of disused Devonshire railway, making it flat, smooth and easy to navigate. Along the route, cyclists can enjoy views of the Taw Estuary, as well as stop-offs in Braunton, Chivenor and Bideford – a must for any bike-mad families in search of a safe and simple cycle route.

Find out more about the Tarka Trail

Princetown & Burrator

Image by John is licensed under CC 2.0

Image by John is licensed under CC 2.0

Do the untamed heaths of Dartmoor tantalise your inner nutter? Then swap the road bike for an MTB and explore this wild wonder on the Princetown & Burrator mountain bike trail. This 20km thrill-fest is graded intermediate to difficult, so be sure you’re comfortable with your bike and your abilities before setting out. Those brave enough will be rewarded with an exhilarating trip to the heart of Dartmoor, utilising gnarly bridleways and cobbled tracks to navigate this beautiful, desolate landscape.

Find out more about the Princetown & Burrator mountain bike trail

Stop Line Way

Tootle down Route 33 from Brean to Axminster and experience another side of Somerset & Devon. This route is known as the Stop Line Way, given that it follows the Taunton Stop Line – a World War II invasion defence built in 1940. The route runs from the Somerset coast in the North to Axminster in the South, and there are a number of places to pull over and admire the views. Thanks to its easy going trail, the Stop Line Way is sure to be a big hit among little bikers.

Find out more about the Stop Line Way

The Granite Way

Meldon Viaduct by Graham Tait is licensed under CC 2.0

Meldon Viaduct by Graham Tait is licensed under CC 2.0

18 miles of traffic-free pedalling await on The Granite Way. This fantastic, purpose-built cycleway forms part of Devon’s coast to coast network, and makes it easy for less-confident cyclists to see the scenic beauty of Dartmoor. For some, 18-miles may sound a lot, but with a number of attractions to stop-off at along the trail, The Granite Way is doable over a pleasant day’s ride. Take in the panoramic views atop the Meldon Viaduct; spot dragonflies and bluebells among the heath and woodland; or stop off at a country pub for liquid refreshments or a spot of delicious Devonshire fare.

Find out more about The Granite Way

Rent a cottage in Devon for a cycling holiday

Devon Cycle 6

Planning a pedal-powered getaway? Then look no further than our range of cyclist friendly holiday cottages. With around 1,500 cottages available for a cycling holiday, you’re sure to find the perfect accommodation for your trip. To find out more about our bike friendly holiday rentals, click here.

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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.

Sunny Delight: Top 5 Destinations in Devon

Monday, March 2nd, 2015
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Did you know: Devon is the fourth largest county in England? Well, it is. Stretching from the Bristol Channel to the English Channel and from Plymouth to Lyme Regis, this south-west county takes up a sizeable chunk of our fair isle. For those planning a trip, it can be tough to decide where to stay: Do you opt for the north with its big Atlantic swells? How about the south whose fishing villages are ever-so-pretty? Or, perhaps the dramatic heaths of Dartmoor will draw you near?

To help make choosing a holiday home in Devon easier, we’ve shortlisted five of our favourite Devonshire villages that we think would make the ideal holiday destination.

Clovelly

Clovelly by Barney Moss is licensed under CC 2.0

Clovelly by Barney Moss is licensed under CC 2.0

From its steep, cobbled streets to its ancient harbour, it’s clear Clovelly is no run of the mill English village. This is a place where cars are prohibited; a place where goods are carried on makeshift sledges from shop to shop; a place hemmed by woodland and ocean; a place to be cherished, loved and respected. Unusually, Clovelly is still privately owned, just as it has been for over 800 years, and perhaps more unusually, the majority of its buildings are architecturally listed. Put plainly, Clovelly is an extraordinary destination – don’t miss it.

Widecombe-in-the-Moor

Amid the wild grandeur of Dartmoor, the peaceful, unobtrusive village of Widecombe-in-the-Moor seems strangely tame. A string of quaint cottages, hearth-warmed pubs and a pretty church provide visitors with a charming respite from the untamed heathlands which encircle the village. Despite being back-o-beyond, Widecombe attracts many visitors; it’s home to the Dartmoor National Park Visitor Centre, and many of the moorland’s walks begin and end in the village. Those staying in and around the village should expect a quiet, tranquil and stimulating getaway.

Beer

Beer Beach by Claire Dickson is licensed under CC 2.0

Beer Beach by Claire Dickson is licensed under CC 2.0

Head south to Devon’s Dorset-esque Jurassic Coast and you’d be wise to stay in Beer, one of Devon’s best loved coastal villages. Despite its name, Beer has no associations with drink; instead, the village’s title is derived from the Anglo-Saxon word for “grove” which refers to the nearby woodland. Beer was once one of the south west’s most notorious smugglers’ coves, and this is something celebrated by villagers to this day. Come summer, Beer’s beach is a haven for sun worshippers thanks to its luxuriously soft sand and sheltered aspect – book a break in Beer this summer and you’ll be in seventh heaven.

Lydford

Lydford Castle by TempusVolat is licensed under CC 2.0

Lydford Castle by TempusVolat is licensed under CC 2.0

Looking to discover Devon’s history? There’s no better place than Lydford. This small, sleepy village was once an economic powerhouse, until Viking raiders put an end to the region’s prosperity in the 6th century. Now, Lydford has a drowsy, bucolic feel, and is easily the most peaceful place on our shortlist. Despite its sleepy vibe, Lydford proves a superb holiday base; the village is in a prime location for exploring Dartmoor and is within daytrip distance of the Devonshire coast as well as the Cornish border.

Mortehoe

Mortehoe Beach by Chris Frewin is licensed under CC 2.0

Mortehoe Beach by Chris Frewin is licensed under CC 2.0

Sand dunes and sea cliffs await in the coastal village of Mortehoe on Devon’s enriching north coast. The village and its encompassing landscape are typical of North Devon; think rugged tors, heathland and of course, breaker beaten beaches. Mortehoe itself is very popular with tourists, and has enough amenities – including pubs, cafes and restaurants – to keep travellers fed and watered. Strike out from Mortehoe and you’ll stumble upon some of Devon’s other, larger towns, including Barnstaple and Woolacombe, making the village a superb base for touring the county.

Book a break in Devon this summer with Sykes Cottages

Sun, sea and sand – add dramatic countryside, ancient history and friendly locals to this list, and you’re one step closer to describing Devon. If you’re looking for a sunny, fun and interesting destination for this year’s summer break, book a cottage holiday in Devon this summer with Sykes Cottages. We have hundreds of holiday rentals from coast to country throughout the county, so you’re sure to find a Devonshire holiday home that’s perfect for you.

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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.

3 Thatched Roof Holiday Homes You’ll Love

Wednesday, February 25th, 2015
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If you were asked to draw a typical English cottage, your sketch wouldn’t be complete without a characterful thatched roof. This timeless roofing technique has been used in the UK for centuries, yet its popularity has never wavered. Today, thatch is experiencing a sort of resurgence, with many choosing it for its aesthetic and ecological value. Thatched roof cottages are limited at Sykes Cottages, but we’re proud of the handful we do have; so proud in fact, that we’ve dedicated a whole blog to them. So without further ado, here’s three charming, chocolate-box thatches that’ll you’ll absolutely love.

Little Thatch

Cerne Abbas, Dorset

Feast your eyes on Little Thatch, an uber quaint and ever-so-cosy thatched roof cottage in Dorset. Built in 1813, Little Thatch is Grade II listed, with an assortment of original features harking back to days gone by; think oak beams, exposed brickwork and ludicrously low ceilings. Despite its age, the cottage contains plenty of home comforts, and has space enough for up to three guests. The village of Cerne Abbas was once voted Britain’s most desirable village, so it’s the perfect setting for this irrefutably charming holiday home.

Manor Farmhouse

Milstead, South of England

Our thatched roof cottages don’t come much more luxurious than Manor Farmhouse. First built in the 15th century, this impressive Tudor house features an original oak frame and white washed façade, all topped off with a good helping of thatch. The house is part of a complex of three individual holiday homes set around a courtyard, and together they accommodate up to eighteen guests. With a myriad of original features including inglenooks, log burners and an authentic country kitchen, this is one characterful country cottage you can’t afford to miss.

Vineyard Cottage

Winkleigh, Devon

Vineyard Cottage forms part of what is arguably the prettiest row of terrace houses in the country, tucked away in the leafy Devonshire countryside, just a few miles from the romantic heaths of Dartmoor. The cottage offers a cosy, pastoral bolthole for up to five guests and is postcard handsome; from its whitewashed walls to its toffee hued thatch, it begs to be photographed. Indoors, things are just as charming. The tall will need to mind their heads as they navigate the cottage’s tastefully furnished rooms, each of which reveals a glimmer of the property’s past.

Rent a thatched roof holiday cottage with Sykes

Our choice of thatched roof cottages may be small, but it’s perfectly formed – much like the properties themselves. In fact, their exclusivity makes them all the more special. If you’d like this year’s holiday accommodation to be a little out of the ordinary, browse our range of thatched roof holiday rentals 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.

Escape the holiday hubbub this Easter

Tuesday, February 24th, 2015
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With the promise of a school-free fortnight for the kids and a cheeky four day weekend for us grownups, it’s little wonder Easter has become one of the most popular times of year for UK holidays.

But before you make the queue-strewn journey to the coast like every other holiday-ready family in Britain, consider this: are you ready to spend five hours cramped in the car only to realise thousands of others have the same idea as you?

If the answer’s no, take a look at our shortlist of the destinations you could try this Easter that’ll help you beat the crowds and ensure queuing for a 99 is a thing of the past.

Have the coast to yourself in Cumbria

Most of the time when we use the term ‘hidden gem’, little is meant by it; when it comes to the Cumbrian Coast however, we mean it. Overshadowed quite literally by the Lake District National Pack, the Cumbrian Coast remains one of the least-frequented seaboards in the country. It’s not that it’s ugly (quite the opposite in fact) or that there are no good beaches (there’s loads); it’s just people tend to get distracted by the beauty of the Lakes and forget to look what’s over the next fen.

Travel to the Cumbrian Coast this Easter, then, and look forward to having the beach all to yourself (well, almost). Although you’ll find great beaches up and down the coast, the best are St Bees, Roan Head and Allonby.

Go to Scotland, and then keep going

Even the remotest enclaves of the Scottish Highlands can’t escape the Easter hordes, but if you’re dead set on a holiday north of the border, travel a little further and debunk on the Isle of Skye. This far-flung isle is dominated by a gorgeous mountain-range called the Cuillins, providing the perfect backdrop to a relaxed and queue-free getaway. If you’d prefer a slither of civilisation during your trip, a cottage in Portree is your best bet. This colourful coastal town is the largest on Skye, and is a great base for exploration.

Alternatively, opt for a holiday home in Dunvegan, Glendale or Carbost, or go thoroughly off-piste with an isolated cottage slap bang in the middle of Skye’s famously pretty outback.

Warm up in Sunny South East Ireland

The North Atlantic Drift provides the south east coast of Ireland with unseasonably warm weather, making it a great choice for the sun seekers who can’t wait ‘til summer for their next dose of Vitamin-D. Pack your beach towel if you plan to visit this corner of the Emerald Isle; the region is scattered with incredibly beautiful beaches, some of which have been awarded the prestigious Blue Flag award for their cleanliness and amenities. Some of our favourite ribbons of Irish sand include Curracloe, Brittas Bay and Portmarnock, but there are a lot more besides.

If surfing and sunbathing aren’t on your to do list, there’s plenty to partake in inland. Choose a cottage in County Wicklow and explore the Wicklow Mountains National Park, or take a daytrip to Dublin and soak up some Irish culture and hospitality.

The Wye Valley awaits

Whilst most wind their way down the A48 en route to South Wales, you’d be wise to stop short and enjoy a holiday in the supremely pretty Wye Valley. Labelled the “valley of the Romantics” because of its ties to 17th century poet Wiliam Wordsworth, the Wye Valley is charming, peaceful and challenging in equal measure. For a small AONB, this picturesque vale contains plenty to keep outdoorsy types amused: think canoeing, climbing, hiking, mountain biking and everything in between.

Those who prefer a more sedate pace will feel just as at home here; the Wye Valley is awash with fascinating historic sites that hark back to the border region’s bloody past, and the mystical and enchanting Tintern Abbey – which features in a poem by Wordsworth – is well worth a visit.

Book a break this Easter with Sykes Cottages

Wherever you wish to travel this Easter, a self-catering holiday home from Sykes provides a comfortable and affordable place to stay. Unlike hotels and guesthouses, a self-catering cottage gives you the freedom to holiday your way; take a look at our wide range of cottages that are still available to rent this Easter, and get set for an unforgettable holiday.

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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.