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10 Reasons to Visit Scotland This Summer

Monday, July 21st, 2014
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Here at Sykes Cottages, we love to take the time out of our busy schedule and head north to the beautiful country of Scotland. From the quiet villages in the highlands to the lively cities in the lowlands and all the coastal towns in-between, we know that Scotland is the ideal destination for a summer’s getaway. We’re rather smitten with Scotland and would hope that you feel the same way, but if you’re not yet convinced about this fabulous country then take a look at our top ten reasons to visit Scotland this summer and I’m sure by the end of the post you’ll have your bags packed ready to leave on a Scottish adventure!

1. It’s the Year of Homecoming! Scotland welcomes the world to celebrate Scottish history and culture this summer. 

Picture provided by Terry Norton

Picture provided by Terry Norton

2. Glasgow is hosting the 2014 Commonwealth Games. With over 18 sporting events, Glasgow is a must for sports fans. 

Glasgow Harbour, picture via Flickr.

Glasgow Harbour, picture via Flickr.

3. There’s 1,000 reasons to see the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo perform this year. That’s 1,000 musicians, drummers, pipers, singers and dancers entertaining the crowds in front of the spectacular Edinburgh Castle. 

Edinburgh Military Tattoo, picture via Flickr.

Edinburgh Military Tattoo, picture via Flickr.

4. Elgin is hosting a spectacular  food and drink festival which will showcase a delightful selection of Scottish produce. 

Selection of Scottish seafood, picture via Flickr.

Selection of Scottish seafood, picture via Flickr.

5. The world’s largest arts festival is held annually in Scotland’s capital. The Edinburgh Festival Fringe expects to welcome over one million visitors this year!

Edinburgh, picture via Flickr.

Edinburgh, picture via Flickr.

6. Just look at that beach! Did you know that compared to England and Wales, Scotland has almost double the length of coastline? 

Nairn Beach, picture provided by Terry Norton.

Nairn Beach, picture provided by Terry Norton.

7. The world sheepdog trials will take place in Ross-Shire in September and will see competitors coming from as far away as Canada and New Zealand.

Picture via Flickr.

Picture via Flickr.

8.Throughout August, the seas around Scotland will be filled with whales, dolphins, porpoise and seals, perfect for wildlife lovers!

Whale watcher, picture via Flickr.

Whale watcher, picture via Flickr.

9. You can experience Scotland’s rich culture with the royal family themselves at  the Braemar Highland Games.

Picture via Flickr.

Picture via Flickr.

10. The  Ryder Cup returns to Scotland this year and is being played at the wonderful  Gleneagles Hotel.

Picture provided by Terry Norton.

Picture provided by Terry Norton.

It’s not too late to book your summer holiday to Scotland; we have a number of beautiful Scottish holiday cottages which would make ideal accommodation for a family escape, romantic retreat or a group getaway. Simply go to the Sykes Cottages website or give us a call to find out more.

nicole.westley

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.

Visitors Guide to The Edinburgh Festival Fringe

Saturday, July 19th, 2014
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From August 1st until August 25th the city of Edinburgh will play host to the largest arts festival in the world, The Edinburgh Festival Fringe. This three week festival showcases thousands of performers over hundreds of stages across Scotland’s capital city of Edinburgh. With so much to see, the show’s organisers have issued over 1.8 million tickets for this year’s event and expect to see visitor numbers soar in the Scottish capital. Attending this large event can seem a little daunting at first but don’t worry because we’re here to help! Below you will find a short visitors guide to The Edinburgh Festival filled with money saving tips and transport advice.

What to expect at The Festival Fringe

Picture via Flickr.

Picture via Flickr.

The origins of The Festival Fringe date back to 1947, when a group of performers turned up at the Edinburgh International Festival uninvited and began to perform. Instead of stopping their performance, the shows organisers let them stage their show on the fringe of the festival. As the years ticked by, more and more performers turned up at the festival to showcase their talents and in 1985 the Festival Fringe Society (now a registered charity) was born.

From the eight performers that turned up in 1947, the show has now grown to host thousands of performers specialising in a number of talents. This year’s performances are set to include hundreds of acts in the following disciplines:

  • Cabaret
  • Children’s Shows
  • Comedy
  • Dance, Physical Theatre and Circus
  • Events
  • Exhibitions
  • Music
  • Musicals and Opera
  • Spoken Word
  • Theatre

For more information on the individual acts please download the official programme.

Getting around Edinburgh

Picture via Flickr.

Picture via Flickr.

The Festival Fringe will be hosted at a number of different venues throughout Edinburgh so finding the right style of transport for you is essential. To help find your way around Scotland’s Capital here are just a few of the transport links you may want to consider:

Walking

Walking may be one of the most environmentally friendly ways to travel but it definitely requires the most energy; we would suggest this method of transportation to visitors who are used to walking long distances as some of the venues are located 45 minutes apart.

Cycling

Edinburgh is a fantastic city for cyclists but just remember it’s quite hilly! There are a number of bike racks located throughout the city and even designated cycle paths – for a cycling map of Edinburgh please click here.

Buses

There is an excellent network of buses throughout Edinburgh which will be able to transport you quickly from one venue to another. Single fares coast around £1.50, but if you’re planning on taking the bus more than twice it would be wise to purchase a Day & Night ticket.

Road

Please be aware that if you are thinking of bringing your car to Edinburgh there is very limited parking available in the city. If you wish to travel by road and not bring a car then you are in luck as Edinburgh has a variety of taxi ranks throughout the city, but for a truly unique travel experience we suggest a rickshaw ride. Rickshaws can be picked up throughout the city as the driver’s cycle round (We would advise agreeing a price before you start your journey in a rickshaw).

For more information on the location of each Fringe venue please use this interactive map.

Festival Tips

Picture via Flickr.

Picture via Flickr.

To help you make the most of your time at The Edinburgh Festival Fringe we have come up with some handy hints and tips that will be of use to both first time festival goers and those who have had a little more practise.

Save money

Did you know that there are a number of free shows taking place during the festival, or that there are tons of discounted and 2for1 tickets available? We would highly suggest making the most of these money saving offers. For more information on discounted tickets and free shows simply visit this page and filter your results for ‘special pricing’.

Clothing

Although the festival is held during August we would suggest coming prepared for all weather conditions; bring a hat and suntan lotion for hotter weather and a rain coat and boots for colder weather. The more prepared you are the better your festival experience will be.

Try something new

At the Edinburgh Festival Fringe you will find a variety of art forms; some you will have experienced before and some that will be completely new to you. We suggest visiting numerous shows and trying a little of everything; you’ll never know if you like something unless you try!

Take it easy

There is a reason that this special festival is spread out over a three week period, if it wasn’t then there wouldn’t be enough time to take everything in! Our advice would be to wake up early and get the tickets you really want rather than rushing about and missing your favourite acts.

If you’re attending this year’s Festival Fringe we hope that you have an amazing time and get to experience all the wonders of Scotland’s capital city.  For up to date information on the festival make sure to visit the official website.

nicole.westley

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.

Romantic Scotland: A Blogger Competition

Wednesday, July 16th, 2014
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We recently conducted a survey to find out people’s opinion of Scotland as a holiday destination. We were shocked to find that only 5% of the 2,390 people asked would consider taking a romantic holiday or honeymoon in Scotland! We know from personal experience that Scotland is a fantastic destination for lovers and even wrote a romantic guide to Edinburgh but now it’s your turn!

Picture via Flickr

Picture via Flickr.

To help convince our readers to take a romantic break in Scotland, and for your chance to win £350.00 worth of Sykes Cottages vouchers, we’re asking you to write a blog post all about Scotland telling us why you think this northern destination is romantic. All you need to do to enter our fabulous competition is follow this five step guide…

How to enter

  1. Write a blog post telling us why you think Scotland is romantic. This can include information on Scotland’s history, attractions, landscape or even your personal experiences in the country.
  2. Include instructions on how to enter the competition at the end of your post so your readers can join in too. These instructions can be in your own words or you could include a link back to this post.
  3. Nominate three blogs to take part in our Romantic Scotland competition either at the end of your blog or through twitter (if nominating through twitter please use the hashtag #RomanticScotland).
  4. Follow @SykesCottages on twitter and tweet us using the hashtag #RomanticScotland to inform us of your entry. Eg “Hi @SykesCottages I have just entered your #RomanticScotland competition”
  5. You will receive an acknowledgement tweet within one working day of your submission.

The competition closes on August 10th so make sure to get your entry in before this date! We will be announcing the winners on August 15th and will be in contact with them shortly after regarding their prize.

Bellow you will find terms and conditions for the Romantic Scotland competition and we ask that you read them carefully before entering. Once you have read the terms and conditions you’ll be ready to start writing so good luck, we can’t wait to hear all about your romantic Scotland!

Terms & Conditions

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nicole.westley

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.

7 Wonders of the British Coast

Monday, July 7th, 2014
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Here in Britain, we love to be beside the seaside. As soon as the summer sun starts to shine, we pack up our beach towels, slap on the sun lotion, and make our way to the coast.  Fortunately, the UK has some of the best stretches of coastline in the world, with stunning scenery, captivating sand dunes and fascinating history. So forget the Seven Wonders of the World and focus on the Seven Wonders of the British Coast. Below you will find our selection of the best coastal locations Britain has to offer; from towering cliffs to wide open beaches, you are sure to be amazed by the spectacles on offer.

Dover – England

Picture via Flickr.

Picture via Flickr.

The Dover coastline is dominated by startling white chalk cliffs that overlook the English Channel, commonly known as The White Cliffs of Dover. Best viewed from the coastal path that leads towards South Foreland Lighthouse, these iconic cliffs are wondrous to behold.

Alum Bay – Isle of White

Picture via Flickr.

Picture via Flickr.

Located off the coast at Alum Bay is another iconic British landmark, three distinctive white chalk rocks known as The Needles. One of the most photographed groups of rock in the world, this impressive chalk feature offers an alternative image for your Isle of Wight photo gallery.

Durdle Door – Dorset

Picture via Flickr.

Picture via Flickr.

As well as an impressive shingle beach, Durdle Door in Dorset is home to a dramatic limestone arch. Making its home along the Jurassic Coast, this imposing arch allows your imagination to run wild when thoughts turn to dinosaurs and the incredible fossils that are embedded in the rock.

Isle of Staffa – Scotland

Picture via Flickr.

Picture via Flickr.

Located on the Isle of Staffa is one of the UK’s best known caves, Fingal’s Cave. This impressive 227 foot cavern is made up of basaltic pillars which form an obscure walkway just above sea level. Surrounded by both history and folk law, this cave is an extraordinary part of Scotland’s culture.

Bamburgh – Northumberland

Picture via Flickr.

Picture via Flickr.

Bamburgh beach may be one of the most dramatic stops along the British coast. With the imposing Bamburgh Castle to one side and the stunning Farne Islands on the other, Bamburgh offers visitors a wonderful mixture of both history and wildlife.

Kynance Cove – Cornwall

Picture via Flickr.

Picture via Flickr.

Found on the West side of “The Lizard” in Cornwall, Kynance Cove is a breath-taking beach famed for its contrasting white sands, clear turquoise waters and green serpentine rock. This enticing beach, with its soft sands and numerous caves, is a favourite amongst sun seekers and explorers alike.

Freshwater West – Pembrokeshire

Picture via Flickr.

Picture via Flickr.

Freshwater West is known for its impressive sand dunes which were made famous in the Harry Potter film “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows” as the set of Shell Cottage, Dobby’s final resting place. Although the cottage has long since gone, you can still visit the scene of this iconic film.

Stay at a coastal cottage on your next holiday

Curlew in Pembrokeshire, Ref: 14393

Curlew in Pembrokeshire, Ref: 14393

With over 1,800 coastal cottages available, you are never far from a wonderful beach, stunning coastal path or an impressive cliff on a Sykes cottage holiday. If you would like to holiday along the British coast, take a look at our coastal cottages today and see if we can help you plan your perfect beach getaway.

nicole.westley

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.

Last Minute Breaks for July 2014

Thursday, July 3rd, 2014
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With the England team safely back in the UK and our hopes of World Cup victory long gone, our social calendar has been left wide open. Luckily the sun has decided to put in an appearance and help distract us from the remainder of the tournament, so why not make the most of the beautiful weather and book yourself a last minute holiday with Sykes Cottages? There are a number of spectacular events taking place throughout the UK over the next week which are sure to offer a distraction from the beautiful game. If you’re still not convinced then take a look at this selection of upcoming events and see if we can persuade you to pack your bags and book a last minute break in the UK.

Tour de France – Yorkshire

Holme Moss; Picture via Flickr.

Holme Moss; Picture via Flickr.

The worlds’ premier cycling competition is coming to Yorkshire this weekend and just like the World Cup, it will be impossible to miss. Passing through a number of towns including Leeds, Harrogate, York and Sheffield, the Tour de France promises to be a memorable event for all those involved. With a number of Yorkshire cottages still available within driving distance of the route, a trip to Yorkshire this weekend is a must for all cycling enthusiasts.

Bruce Festival – Dunfermline

Dunfermline Abbey: Via Flickr

Dunfermline Abbey: Picture via Flickr.

Take a step back in time at the 2014 Bruce Festival in Dunfermline, Scotland. This historic event will take place on July 12th and 13th as part of Scotland’s Homecoming celebrations and is expected to be one of the highlights in Scotland’s calendar. The 2014 programme is set to include jousting, medieval battles, falconry displays, medieval music and a historic puppet show. Suitable for the whole family, we would highly suggest a trip to Dunfermline next weekend.

Open Air Theatre – Chester

Historic City of Chester picture via Flickr.

Historic City of Chester picture via Flickr.

The Chester Grosvenor Park is setting itself up for one of the finest theatre performances this side of London. The only other theatre of its kind outside of the capital, the Grosvenor Park Theatre has gained a fantastic reputation for performance, display and fun. With a capacity of 400, the actors are always greeted with rapturous applause and a standing ovation from the crowd. If you’re visiting Chester this season then you’re in for a treat as the plays on offer are Macbeth, The Secret Garden and The Comedy of Errors.

Wakestock Festival – Abersoch

Abersoch Beach: Picture via Flickr.

Abersoch Beach: Picture via Flickr.

Wakestock festival began way back in the year 2000 with a wakeboarding contest during the day followed by an evening party in a car park with 500 people. Today Wakestock is a major music and wakeboarding festival which attracts over 20,000 people each year! Held in the beautiful surroundings of Cardigan Bay in North Wales this year’s festival takes places between July 11th and 13th. An excellent excuse to hit the beach, watch world class water sports and listen to some of Britain’s top artists Wakestock is a must for all UK party goers.

We hope this small selection of events has helped convince you to take a short break over the upcoming weeks and with over 500 cottages still available for last minute breaks we are sure to have a property to suite your needs. For more information on our last minute breaks please visit our cottage page or call our holiday specialists on 01244 356695.

nicole.westley

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.