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A TV Lover’s Tour of Britain

Friday, January 30th, 2015
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Britain is home to a number of award winning TV shows; from sci-fi thrillers to historic re-enactments, but did you know that many of these productions are filmed in our own back yard? That’s right, the fantastic sets you see on your television screens aren’t filmed in some dusty old studio or played out onto a green screen, they’re real and a lot closer to home than you would think! Keep reading as we take a tour of Britain and shed some light on the UK’s most loved TV sets.

Barrington Court

Everyone everywhere is talking about the BBC’s new original drama, Wolf Hall. This captivating six part series follows the life of Thomas Cromwell and features many historic properties. Our favourite set location from the series has to be Barrington Court, with its impressive history and hollowed out interior. Visit this imposing Tudor manor house and let your imagination run wild as you explore the light and airy rooms, beautiful gardens and working orchard.

Southerndown Beach

Doctor Who fans should be all too familiar with this stretch of Welsh coastline as it was on Southerndown beach that the Doctor bid farewell to Rose Tyler. Take a stroll along Southerndown beach and relive those final moments between Doctor and companion as you take in the staggering views and unusual layers of rook in the cliff face. Visit during summer to relax on the sandy shore or wrap up warm and take a romantic winter walk with your other half.

Highclere Castle

The TV show Downton Abbey has taken the nation by storm with many Brits falling head over heels for the period drama.  The TV show is so widely popular that if you were to show a picture of Highclere Castle to a stranger on the street they would assure you that it was Downton Abbey, home of Lord Grantham and family. Even if you’re not a fan of the TV show we would highly suggest a visit to Highclere Castle as the property and grounds are truly stunning.

London

The country’s capital has appeared in thousands of TV shows throughout the years but one of its most successful dramas has to be Sherlock, a show which modernises Conan Doyle’s iconic characters Sherlock Holmes and Dr Watson.  Throughout London you will find a number of  walking tours that explore famous places mentioned in the books and real sites featured in the film and TV adaptations. To top off your tour make sure to visit Baker Street, home of The Sherlock Holmes Museum.

West Bay

Another area now synonymous with TV drama (and the actor David Tennant) is West Bay in Dorset. Featuring heavily in the award winning drama Broadchurch, West Bay is not only the star of the show but also home to a number of the sets including the cafe, police station, newsagest’s, Sea Bridge Hall and Harbour. This picturesque location may look tempting on screen but no show could truly do this area justice; with its Jurassic cliffs, glorious sunshine and breath-taking views its the ideal spot for a summer holiday.

Well that concludes our tour, we hope you’ve enjoyed it! Which is your favourite TV set in Britain? Let us know by leaving a comment on our Facebook or Twitter page.

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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.

Adventure Awaits in Scotland

Tuesday, January 27th, 2015
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Here at Sykes we love exploring Scotland; whether we’re diving into the cool waters at Loch Morlich, running along the southern coast, or hiking The West Highland Way, we know that Scotland is the land of adventure and that it’s diverse landscape is ideal for outdoor activities! That being said, you can imagine our surprise when we found out that only 12% of the 2390 people we asked would consider an adventure holiday in Scotland.

This result really shocked us and made us sad to think people are missing out on all the wonderful opportunities Scotland has to offer. We decided to take action, and put together a graphic which highlighted some of the best adventure activities available in Scotland. Thanks to the help of industry experts our graphic is now complete, so keep reading to see if we can convince you to try something new this year.

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Adventure Awaits in Scotland

With its invigorating coastline, dramatic lochs and rugged landscapes, Scotland is the ideal destination for adventure. Journey into the Scottish wilderness on your next trip, and you could find yourself traversing serene mountainsides or plummeting into open seas.

Skiing

Where? Nevis Range Mountain Resort, Glencoe Mountain Resort, Glenshee Ski Centre, Cairngorm Mountain Resort and The Lecht Ski Centre.

When? The best time for skiing in Scotland is between January and March.

Did You Know? Glencoe was the first ski resort to open in Scotland and is home to the country’s longest vertical descent.

Our Expert Says… “Visit the Nevis Range ski area where the UK’s only mountain gondola takes you to 650m on Aonach Mor and 11 more ski lifts. Beginners can hire everything they need and enjoy fun lessons on gentle slopes near the restaurant, while more advanced skiers and boarders can enjoy red and black runs, our famous back country area, as well as a terrain park.” Dave Parfitt, Snowsports School Manager, Nevis Range

Coastering

Where? Coasteering takes place along Scotland’s rockiest shorelines.

When? Any time of year if you have the right kit. Book with a reputable company and they’ll provide this for you.

Did You Know? Coasteering involves exploring the rocky coastline by climbing, swimming and jumping.

Our Expert Says… “Scotland’s coastal waters, cliffs and caves have been the inspiration for countless tales of folklore and legend over the ages. The raw natural beauty and majestic atmosphere entice your adventurous spirit and beg you to Jump into Adventure. Join us on the Coasteering experience of a lifetime.” Aidan Duncan, Operations Director, Breeze Adventures

Canoeing

Where? Scotland’s abundance of lochs and rivers mean you can canoe just about anywhere.

When? Both summer and autumn are good for canoeing, although the colder months are less crowded.

Did You Know? When canoeing you use a single bladed paddle, as opposed to kayaking where you use a double bladed paddle.

Our Expert Says… “Canoeing in Scotland offers adventures for everyone. You can explore one of Europe’s last genuine wildernesses, paddling and camping for days with the lochs and mountains to yourself. It also offers the less experienced many sheltered, less challenging outings, with plenty of advice and support available to help plan your own little adventure.” Calum Rogerson, Sales & Marketing Manager, Canoe Hire Scotland

Quad Biking

Where? For the best views and the muddiest terrain, head for the Highlands.

When? From January to December you’ll be able to partake in quad biking treks at any time of year.

Did You Know? Scotland’s mix of sunshine and showers make conditions perfect for quad biking — prepare to get muddy!

Our Expert Says… “Quad biking in the Scottish Highlands offers a totally unique experience. Diverse terrain and stunning backdrops as you explore the hills, mountains and glens from the comfort of your bike. Add to that the thrill of riding a quad bike and you have the ultimate off road experience.” Ian Brown, Managing Director, Highland All Terrain Ltd.

Archery

Where? You’ll find archery centres across Scotland, from mystical forests to the shores of Loch Ken.

When? The ideal time for shooting is summer, when the weather is warm and the breeze slight.

Did You Know? Papingo is the oldest archery event to take place in the British Isles; it occurred in Scotland and dates back to 1483.

Our Expert Says… “With stunning countryside and a large number of outdoor activity centres and specialist archery activity providers across the country, Scotland is a fantastic place to experience thejoy of taking part in archery. Where better to try your hand at one of the oldest sports in the world, while enjoying the great Scottish outdoors. We welcome everyone who wants to try archery when visiting” Rona Mather, Director, MRM Archery Ltd

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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.

Lesser Known National Trust Sites

Monday, January 19th, 2015
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The National Trust offer an extensive range of sites to explore, however, when it comes to choosing a site to visit many of us will flock to the same well-known attractions like the imposing castle that casts a long shadow over the landscape or the wondrous abbey ruins that look like they’ve fallen out of a Harry Potter Book. But what about the lesser known National trust sites? The hidden gems that are nestled amongst the British coast or country? Today we are going to shed some light on four of these over looked attractions in the hope that the next time you’re looking for somewhere to visit you break from the norm and try something new.

Plas Yn Rhiw

Surrounded by heavenly Welsh countryside and boasting spectacular views of Porth Neigwl (Hells Mouth) beach, Plas Yn Rhiw is the perfect attraction to explore on a lazy Sunday afternoon. This previously neglected house was purchased in 1938 by the three Keatering sisters who affectionately restored the property before giving the house and land to the National Trust in 1949. Visit Plas Yn Rhiw today and you will be welcomed by enchanting gardens, a warm family home and some of the best views in Britain.

Westbury Court Garden

The peace and tranquillity of Westbury Court Garden offers the perfect escape from the stress of day to day living. Designed between 1695 and 1705 the garden is said to be the best example of a Dutch style water garden in the country. When the National Trust started restoration on this site in 1971 they used only plants that would have been known in the 17th century. Visitors to the garden can expect to see a beautiful array of plants, delicately tailored lawns, wonderful waterways and imaginative landscaping.

Arlington Court

Set amongst the glorious Devon Countryside is Arlington Court, a dazzling Regency manor house that was owned by the Chichester family for over 500 years. Visitors to this site will not be disappointed, with an array of options to keep both young and old entertained your day promises to be jam packed! Explore the 19th century house filled with unique collectables or make your way around the National Trust’s collection of historic horse-drawn carriages, before enjoying your very own carriage ride pulled by a delightful group of horses, each named after a Charles Dickens character.

Leigh Woods

As we slowly edge closer towards spring there is only one place we want to be and that’s in the Leigh Woods waiting for the abundance of bluebells to pierce the surface and turn the woodland into a fairy’s paradise. Set above Avon Gorge, this enchanting broad-leaf woodland offers incredible views of Brunel’s iconic suspension bridge and the city. With easy to follow, well established footpaths guiding you through the wood, you could spend hours getting lost among the trees as the children chase down those elusive teddy bears on their way to lunch.

And there you have it, a selection of fantastic, but maybe a little under-appreciated, National Trust sites that have hopefully inspired you to try something new this year. Why not incorporate a National Trust visit into your next cottage holiday? We have a wide range of cottages close to National Trust attractions that would be perfect for this, see the selection here.

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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.

Why Cornwall is the Destination of Choice for 2015

Tuesday, January 13th, 2015
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Ever since I was a child Cornwall has been my holiday destination of choice; its golden sands, extensive countryside and warm summer breeze call to me year after year and it would seem I’m not alone. In December, Google revealed the ‘Most Searched Holiday Destinations’ of 2014 and Cornwall came fifth, ranking above Turkey, Italy and Dubai.

Cornwall is a perfect destination for families, couples, friends… come to think of it, Cornwall is perfect for just about everyone! So if you’ve yet to experience the joys of the south west coast then keep reading as we list the best reasons to visit Cornwall in 2015.

Coast

Naturally, Cornwall’s coastline has made it to the top of our list. The warm sandy beaches and turquoise waters will transport you to a tropical paradise, whilst the sharp cliffs and spectacular scenery are taken straight form a pirate novel, with hidden coves and deep caves. It’s no secret that my favourite beach is a Cornish one; in fact, everyone here at Sykes’ HQ could tell you about my fondness for Kynance cove. This unbeatable beach mixes breath-taking views over the Cornish countryside and open ocean with golden sands, crystal clear waters and hidden caves – perfect for budding explorers and keen photographers, I would highly suggest a visit!

Country

If you thought Cornwall was all about the coast then you couldn’t be more wrong! Venture inland and you will be so captivated by the county’s countryside, you’ll never want to leave. Spend the day exploring the Bodmin Moor and you’ll be greeted with heather covered hills stretching as far as the eye can see; ancient Bronze Age hut circles that will see children enchanted with Cornish history; and beautiful moorland ponies grazing peacefully on the hillside. Alternatively, you could plan a stopover in the Tamar Valley and delve into Cornwall’s extensive mining history before relaxing with a glass of delicious wine at the Camel Valley Vineyard.

Attractions

Image of the Eden Project taken by Holly.

The Eden Project | By Holly

We’ve touched on just a few of Cornwall’s natural gems, but along with these points of interest Cornwall also offers an array of manmade attractions. In Bodelva, visitors will discover the Eden Project’s Biomes dotted about the hillside. Housed within these unusual bubbles are tropical plants and gardens as well as the world’s largest captive rainforest. Over in Helston, you’ll find Flambards, Cornwall’s very own amusement park. With white knuckle rides, hands on science, and plenty of indoor fun at Flambards spectacular award winning exhibitions, you’re sure to make a few lasting memories.

Food and Drink

Cornwall is known for its steamy golden pasties, creamy smooth ice cream and bubbly sweet ciders and although these traditional delights are still widely available there is now a range of new and exciting tastes invading Cornwall. Some of the world’s top chefs have set up shop in Cornwall, drawn to the county by the fantastic selection of produce on offer. For an unforgettable foodie affair, visit Cornwall during the last weekend in September and attend The Great Cornish Food Festival. The range of 60 food and drink exhibitors, 40 chefs and food experts along with an unbeatable atmosphere make this the food festival of choice for 2015!

I’m sure by now you’re itching for a Cornish adventure and who could blame you? For more information on this intriguing destination head on over to our Discover Cornwall Guide where you’ll find a fantastic selection of posts, videos and images highlighting the best of Cornwall, alternatively to view our range of Cornwall Cottages simply click here.

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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.

Great Places to Walk and Cycle in the UK

Monday, January 5th, 2015
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At the beginning of each new year hundreds of us pledge to get fit by taking up a new sport or working out more, usually as part of a New Year’s Resolution. If you’re one of these people and want to stay healthy whilst enjoying the great outdoors then cycling or walking is for you! We love getting out on our bike or pounding the pavement as we explore the British countryside so to help inspire you to take up one of these activities we have listed four of our favourite trails below.

Forest of Dean, Gloucestershire

Image via Flickr.

Image via Flickr.

Get out of the gym and experience the fresh air as you ride through this fairy tale forest. Choose from several different trails ranging in classification from easy to technical and explore this enchanting woodland at your own pace. For a family ride that’s suitable for all ages we would suggest the seven mile Verderes’ trail; easily accessible from the cycle centre, this path climbs in a loop and takes you over a mixture of surfaces.

Elie Chain Walk, Fife

Image via Flickr.

Image via Flickr.

The Elie Chain Walk is possibly the most exciting walk available for Children in the UK although we would suggest only taking children aged ten and older. This unusual walk sees you clambering over the coastal rock using the assistance of eight fixed chains and footholds as you balance over the crashing waves below. This adventures route is 1.5 miles long and is best attempted around an hour after high tide.

Tarka Trail, Devon

Image via Flickr.

Image via Flickr.

Devon is one of the best spots in the UK for a bike ride; with its many hills it can make the routes difficult but riders are rewarded handsomely with stunning views over the coast. To ease you into things why not try the Tarka Trail in North Devon? This 30 mile route is available between Braunton and Meeth and as it mainly follows the tracks of a disused railway it avoids the hillier areas whilst still offering the same breath-taking views.

Tennyson Trail, Isle of Wight

Image via Flickr.

Image via Flickr.

If you’re looking for a real challenge then head on over to the Isle of Wight and take on the 14 mile long Tennyson Trail. This gruelling route challenges walkers with swift ascents and steep declines, but along with the bad comes the good as walkers are greeted with astonishing views of the Needles and panoramic views across the ocean to the mainland. A difficult walk but one that is more than worth the challenge!

These are just a few of the fantastic routes available to walkers and cyclists in the UK, for more interesting trails take a gander at our previous Walk of the Month posts and keep an eye out for new routes being added.

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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.