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Safe Swimming in South Wales

Tuesday, July 21st, 2015
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On a hot summer’s day there is nothing better than escaping the uncomfortable heat by submerging yourself in cold, clear water. South Wales is one of the best locations in the UK for this with plenty of wild swimming spots available throughout the region. If you’re planning a trip to South Wales this year then why not try out one of the local swimming spots? The following areas are great for safe swimming and with plenty of space and beautiful scenery, you’re sure to enjoy a dip in these Welsh waters.

Broad Haven Beach

Broad Haven is a beach famed for its long stretch of sand and beautiful views across St Brides Bay but did you know that it’s also a fantastic place to take a dip? With shallow waters and a lifeguard on patrol between June 20th and September 6th, this is a wonderful location for a spot of safe swimming. Older children can spend their afternoons splashing about in the calm waters as the younger kids explore one of the many rock pools, leaving the adults free to relax on the sand and enjoy the fantastic Welsh scenery.

The River Usk

Located in the Brecon Beacons National Park, the River Usk is one of Wales’ most charming rivers with beautiful scenery, an abundance of wildlife and plenty of opportunities for wild swimming. Some of our favourite areas for safe swimming along the River Usk include the two secluded pools at Llangynidr, which offer a perfect escape from everyday life with their picturesque country setting and smooth, flat red rocks; and the island picnic site, just outside the town of Usk, which is great for those looking for a gentler pace with the waters running deep under the old railway bridge.

Barafundle Bay

Barafundle Bay could be Wales’ prettiest beach; with its crystal clear waters, golden sands, lovely dunes and captivating woodland, this stretch of coast is perfect for the holiday scrap book. Make your way over the dunes and down towards the water for a truly relaxing swim amongst the waves and if you’re feeling a little lonely why not bring Rover along? With dogs welcome on the beach all year round, this is the perfect area for safe swimming with the dog, just make sure your dog is comfortable in the water and a good swimmer!

The River Wye

Snaking its way through the British countryside for 215 kilometres and forming part of the border between Wales and England, the River Wye is the UK’s fifth longest river and as such offers many great areas for safe swimming. One of our favourite locations along the River Wye can be found in Pen-doll Rocks near Builth Wells in Powys. This exciting stretch of the River Wye laps through the rocky gorge before making its way downstream to the white sandy bays. The rocky cliff area is more suited to strong, experienced swimmers but the sandy bays are perfect for all skill sets.

If we’ve left you craving a holiday to South Wales where you can explore all these swim locations for yourself then why not check out our South Wales cottages? Full of character and charm, these properties are perfect for drying off and relaxing in front of the fire after a busy day swimming and exploring the local area.

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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.

5 Reasons to Vote for Sykes Cottages in the 2015 British Travel Awards

Sunday, July 19th, 2015
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Emotions are running high here in the Sykes Cottages office as, for the third year in a row, we have been nominated for a British Travel Award! This year we will be fighting for the title of “Best UK Holiday Cottage/Self Catering Booking Company” and would love your support. To help convince you that Sykes Cottages deserve to take home this reputable award, here are just five of the many reasons you should click through and vote for us this year.

We’re an award-winning company

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Not only have we won our category at the last two British Travel Awards but in this past year alone, Sykes Cottages have also been listed as one of the London Stock Exchange’s 1000 Companies to Inspire Britain and won a prestigious Travolution Award for “Best use of Search Engine Marketing”. We are extremely proud of our accomplishments here at Sykes Cottages, believing that each award shows the commitment we have to our staff, customers and property owners.

We provide a dedicated team of Holiday Advisors

Some of the Sykes Cottages team celebrating in 2013

Some of the Sykes Cottages team celebrating in 2013

Our Holiday Advisors are the friendly voice that greet you when you call up or email Sykes Cottages. Their expert knowledge of properties and great advice on UK and Irish destinations have seen them correctly match thousands of customers to their dream holiday cottage. So whether you contact us at 9am for a trip to Ireland or 9pm looking for a last minute getaway in the Cotswolds, our Holiday Advisors are on hand to help!

We’re highly rated on TripAdvisor

Trip Advisor 2014

For the past four years Sykes Cottages have received “Rated Excellent” awards from the review site TripAdvisor. With thousands of reviews across the site for Sykes Cottages, we pride ourselves on our high level “Excellent” reviews, in fact we are so proud of the feedback we receive, we’ve even added it to our own site with many properties displaying recent TripAdvisor reviews down the left-hand side of the page.

Over half of our cottages of pet friendly

Here at Sykes Cottages, we understand the need to have your dog by your side at all times and that’s why over half of our properties are advertised as pet friendly. These popular cottages have seen many happy visitors come and go with their four-legged friends, offering them a home from home as they explore the surrounding area with their pooch before returning to the cottage for a night cuddled up in front of the fire.

There are great prizes to be won

Spend your winnings on a trip to Little Thatch (reference 919506) in Dorset

Spend your winnings on a trip to Little Thatch (reference 919506) in Dorset

Not only is a vote for Sykes Cottages greatly appreciated from everyone who works here, but voting in the British Travel Awards also enters you into a prize draw to win some pretty amazing prizes. Some of the star prizes up for grabs this year include a 10 night Canary Islands cruise from Barcelona; a seven night tour of Prague, Budapest and Vienna; a seven night holiday for two people to Sharm El Sheikh and £500 worth of Sykes Cottages vouchers! For more information and to see all the prizes available simply visit the British Travel Award website.

We really hope this list of 5 reasons to vote for Sykes Cottages in the 2015 British Travel Awards has convinced you that we deserve this prestigious award. If you would like to vote for us then please click here and fill in the form today – thank you!

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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.

Planning a Trip to the Zoo with Children

Wednesday, July 8th, 2015
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With the summer holidays fast approaching, zoos across the UK are getting ready to welcome thousands of guests as they make their way to the zoo for a family day out. But planning a trip to the zoo with children can be difficult; organising the transport, arranging the picnic, even deciding which of the animal enclosures to visit can be a challenge. To help make your next zoo visit run smoothly, we’ve put together a list of things to consider before leaving so that you and the kids can enjoy a hassle-free family day out this summer.

Weather

Family days out can often be put on hold when the weather turns grey but luckily you can visit your local zoo no matter what the weather, it’s just a case of what to take with you. For the colder days, we suggest layering up; many zoos have tropical realms to discover and wearing a heavy jumper can be rather unconformable in those tropical climates. For those hot summer days, we suggest a good hat and lots of sun tan lotion; walking around in the sun all day can take its toll so make sure to drink plenty of water too!

Transport

How do you plan on getting to the zoo? Many families will chose to drive; this is a great option as it allows you complete flexibility on arrival and departure times.  Before leaving make sure you check for any parking charges and pack plenty of change for the meter if needed. For those of us not driving, public transport makes an excellent alternative. Many zoos will offer a bus service straight to the entrance with a number of these also stopping by the local train station. Just make sure to check the train schedules and bus timetables before you go.

Food and drink

When it comes to food and drink at the zoo you have two options, bring your own or shop at the zoo. For those who choose to bring a picnic packed full of all your children’s favourite treats, make sure to consider the weather and check that the zoo has a covered eating area for greyer days. If you plan on purchasing lunch at the zoo, we’d suggest checking the zoo’s website beforehand to make sure they cater for any special dietary requirements you may have. Many zoos will offer children’s menus and facilities to heat up bottles but again, check this service is available before leaving.

Packing light

When packing your bag for the zoo think to yourself, do I really need this? Carrying around a heavy bag all day won’t do your back any good so make sure you only pack the essentials. If you do need to bring heavier items or if you’re planning a family picnic, we would advise renting a locker. Many zoos offer this locker service; all that’s required is a small charge and deposit. Once you have purchased your locker, you can leave the heavier items securely inside whilst you explore the zoo, nipping back to collect the items when needed.

Zoo Map

Walking around the zoo all day can be exhausting for adults and even worse for children, so we would advise taking a good look at a zoo map before leaving. Planning the route you take through the zoo will not only allow you to see the most animals but also to travel a lot less by ensuring that you don’t double back on yourself because you missed the giraffes. Many zoos will also have great transport facilities like a monorail or boat; these are great ways to get a new and exciting view of the zoo without consuming too much energy.

And there you have it, our top tips for planning a visit to the zoo with children. If you have any tips that you think would be of use to our customers then let us know! You can connect with us on both Facebook and Twitter.

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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.

Dog Friendly Days Out

Tuesday, July 7th, 2015
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The demand for dog friendly days out in the UK is on the rise and with hundreds of attractions now welcoming dogs, it’s never been easier to plan a trip with your four legged friend. If you’re planning a dog friendly day out this year but are still unsure on what to do, then keep reading as we suggest our five favourite places to visit for a day out with man’s best friend.

Coed y Brenin Forest Park

With numerous trails to choose from, the smells, noises and texture of the Coed y Brenin Forest Park are sure to excite your dog’s senses. Whether you decide to walk or run through the park, we’re sure your four legged friend will have a fantastic time keeping pace, even if they do make the occasional stop in search of the biggest stick! The staff at the visitor centre are extremely friendly and always happy to help, so if you need advice on which route best suites your skill level it’s worth stopping by to make use of their expert park knowledge.

Crich Tramway Village

For a museum visit with a difference, we suggest taking a trip to Crich Tramway Village in Derbyshire. This wonderful attraction welcomes dogs free of charge, so you and your pooch are free to explore the village at your leisure, with the exception of the catering establishments and indoor children’s play area. Take your dog on a tram ride through the village and let them hang their head out the window as they take in their surroundings, or visit the great exhibition hall which houses the largest collection of vintage electric trams in the UK!

Framlingham Castle

If you’re looking for a historic day out for you and your dog then Framlingham Castle is the place for you. This impressive structure has been around for more than 800 years but with towers reaching a spectacular height of 10.5 metres and walls as thick as 2.3 metres, it’s not hard to see why. Explore the grounds of Framlingham Castle this summer and you and your pooch can enjoy extensive views over the Suffolk countryside whilst learning all about this formidable castle’s intriguing history.

Compton Bay

Whether they’re digging in the sand, playing amongst the surf or chasing frisbees over the dunes, dogs just love to be at the beach. One of our favourite dog friendly beaches is Compton Bay on the Isle of Wight; with both golden and dark sands, spectacular coastal views and great walks nearby, it’s a must for dog owners. Playing on Compton Bay will allow your pooch the opportunity to meet lots of new doggy friends and as long as you stay between Hanover Point and Brook Chine, you and your dog can enjoy the beach all year!

Eden Project

The Eden Project is one of Cornwall’s most popular attractions and since 2013, it has allowed dogs to explore the outdoor gardens at no extra charge. This is a perfect area for exercising your dog, with miles of outdoor garden paths to discover. The Eden Project has gone to great lengths to ensure that you and your dog feel welcome at the attraction and even provide water bowls and an undercover dining area, so that you and your four legged friend can enjoy a picnic together in the grounds.

These are just some of the fantastic days out you can have in the UK with your dog and with hundreds more out there, you’re spoilt for choice when it comes to planning a day with your best friend. If you were hoping to spend a little more quality time with your pooch this year then why not take a look at our dog friendly cottages? With over 3,000 to choose from, we’re sure to have something that suits both of your tastes!

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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.

Walk of the Month: Catbells

Sunday, July 5th, 2015
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July has really snuck up on us here in the Sykes Cottages office, it feels like only yesterday I sat down to write June’s edition of Walk of the Month on Aber Falls and now I find myself here again, ready to suggest another exciting UK walking route. You’ll be pleased to hear that we’re sticking with the water theme for July and heading north to the Lake District, where we’ve stumbled across an exciting trail at Catbells.

Catbells is an idyllic fell located in the Lake District National Park overlooking Derwentwater; at 1,481 feet tall, the fell offers spectacular views over the surrounding countryside, Keswick, Derwentwater and Borrowdale. The Catbells route is extremely popular with walkers and has received high praise on TripAdvisor with a certificate of excellence and hundreds of positive comments.

The Walk

Catbells is a 3.7 mile walk with a steep climb and although the route does include some scrambling, it shouldn’t take any longer than two and a half hours to complete. The walk looks harder than it is in places but as long as you have good walking shoes and plenty of water, you’ll do just fine. This route is great for families and with plenty of open space, it’s even suitable for the dog!

The Route

Start your journey from the small parking area near Hawse End and follow the signposts marked “Cat Bells 1 Mile”. Continue along the narrow path across the hillside and round to the north ridge,before bearing right onto the steep zigzag path that takes you up the nose of the ridge. Once you get to the memorial stone to Thomas Arthur Leonard, the scrambly bit begins.

Continue over Skelgill Bank and make your way up, it may appear a little steep and difficult but don’t worry, just take care and use three points of contact when pulling yourself up. When you reach an obstacle that looks like a piece of overhanging rock you are best to go straight over. As you near the top of the fell there are many routes to choose from, we would suggest taking the loose path to your right as it’s less difficult. Once over this section you will soon come to the summit, with its breath-taking views we highly recommend taking a picture or two!

Follow the path over the summit and down to the col at House Gate where four paths join together. Turn left and follow the steep steps down the hillside. Once you have reached the bottom, turn left and follow the wide track back to the foot of the north ridge.

Once you reach the road you can return to the car park by turning left and then left again.

To view the route map please click here.

Rent a cottage in Keswick with Sykes Cottages

The Hayloft Reference 9031

The Hayloft Reference 9031

If you’re looking for an idyllic lake side retreat where you can spend your mornings walking over Catbells fell, then our Keswick cottages are for you! Filled with character, these cottages are perfect for those looking to explore the Lake District’s many walking routes and cycle paths and with cottages sleeping up to 11 people, there is plenty of room for the whole family!

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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.