Author Archive

Luxury Days Out

Friday, October 2nd, 2015
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Here at Sykes Cottages, we have a wonderful selection of luxury properties ideal for special occasions, family events and romantic escapes. If you’re planning on renting one of these high-end properties for your next getaway then why not combine your stay with a luxury day out? From horse riding to day spas, the UK has a great choice of luxury activities sure to make your holiday extra special. Keep reading for a selection of these luxury days which will hopefully inspire your next getaway.

Horse riding in the New Forest

With spectacular views, open pastures and beautiful forests, the New Forest is one of Britain’s most spectacular National Parks. To make the most of this impressive park, we would suggest exploring the area on horseback.  Ride out over the open heathland at a pace that suits your skill level before your instructor guides you through leafy glades and past wild ponies and foals.

The Burley Villa School of Riding offers fantastic forest hacks for beginners and experienced riders, as well as private hacks and a variety of Western Style riding experiences. Prices start from just £40 and are suitable for riders aged seven and over.

Afternoon tea at the Barmoral

As a country obsessed with a good brew, it should come as no surprise that we’ve turned the humble cup of tea into a lavish affair. A good afternoon tea is a highly social event where friends and family can get together to have a good catch up over a pot of tea and a selection of delicious sandwiches, cakes and scones.

The Palm Court restaurant at the Barmoral in Edinburgh provides an award-winning cream tea daily, between noon and 5.30pm, with prices starting from just £35. The restaurant’s lavish interior and vintage Champagne create a wonderful atmosphere for any occasion.

Falconry in Cheshire

Falconry is a historic sport, one that takes a lot of time, knowledge and money to keep up full time. Because of this it’s not suitable for everyone but if you really love birds and want to spend the day getting to know some of nature’s most skilled hunters, then why not try a falconry experience? Learn all about birds as you come face to face with popular birds of prey used for the sport and have a go at flying them as they soar high above the wonderful Cheshire countryside.

Cheshire Falconry offer a fantastic selection of flying experiences from raptor encounters to walks through the Cheshire countryside with a team of hawks. Experiences start from just £39 and there are special junior experiences available for children aged 4-14 for just £29.

Day spa in Wales

Image provided by Tre-Ysgawen Hall

Image provided by Tre-Ysgawen Hall

With its wide open spaces, inspiring mountains and peaceful lakes, Wales really is the perfect place for a relaxing holiday. To help you unwind on your next Welsh getaway, we suggest taking a trip to one of the region’s many day spas. Indulge in a soothing back massage that targets areas prone to stress and anxiety, or simply relax in the sauna or at the pool side with a glass of bubbly; whatever you need to feel at ease, a Welsh day spa is sure to cater to your needs.

Tre-Ysgawen Hall on Anglesey has a range of day spa packages to choose from so whether you’re celebrating a special occasion or looking to escape the everyday, you’re sure to find a package to suit you. Prices start from as little as £49 and treatments are available throughout the week.

To take a look at our selection of high-end properties and start planning your next luxury getaway please click here.

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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.

Win a Pawsome Winter Getaway with Sykes Cottages and Pure Pet Food!

Wednesday, September 30th, 2015
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Fancy a winter getaway for you and your dog? One where you can run through the snow and hike over the hills before returning to a cosy cottage with a roaring open fire? If so we have just the thing for you – £250 worth of Sykes Cottages vouchers to spend on a cottage of your choice and a month’s supply of Pure Pet Food to take with you.

Pure pet Food

To be in with a chance of winning this fantastic prize, you simply need to pop on over to the Pure Pet Food website and enter your email address at the bottom of the page. Everyone who enters the competition will receive a £5 Pure voucher, so don’t delay! The competition winner will be announced by Pure Pet Food on October 23rd 2015.

Good Luck!

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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.

Recipes For Baking With Children

Saturday, September 26th, 2015
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Looking to try something a little different with the kids this weekend? If so, why not try a spot of baking? Great for rainy days, baking not only provides hours of fun but also teaches children valuable cooking skills. We’ve listed a selection of easy baking recipes below to help get you started; who knows, your little one may be a future contestant on the Great British Bake Off!


This extremely easy brownie recipe is great for children, it allows them to get involved in kitchen activities and rewards them with a tasty chocolate treat. The following recipe will make between 16 and 20 brownies, depending on portion size and takes around 45 minutes from start to finish.


  • 175g caster sugar
  • 100g unsalted butter
  • 75g plain flour
  • 50g cocoa powder
  • 4 tbsp chocolate chips
  • 3 tbsp milk
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • 2 large eggs, beaten


  1. Preheat the oven to 180C/gas mark 4 and line a 20cm square, deep baking tin with baking parchment.
  2. Beat together the sugar and butter with an electric whisk before adding the eggs one at a time.
  3. Sift in flour, cocoa powder and baking powder to the egg mixture before adding the milk. Mix everything together then stir in the chocolate chips before pouring the mixture into the baking tin.
  4. Level off the mixture and place in the oven for 30 minutes, until the top is set. Remove from the oven and cool completely before cutting into small squares and serve.


Children love pizza, it’s a quick and easy meal that tastes great and is fantastic for sharing. If you feel like making your own homemade pizza then we would suggest the following recipe. It takes around 40 minutes to make and at the end you’ll have two delicious pizzas perfect for a family of four.


For the base

  • 300g strong bread flour
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp instant yeast
  • 1 tsp salt

For the tomato sauce

  • 100ml passata
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • Handful fresh basil

For the topping

  • 125g mozzarella, sliced
  • Handful cherry tomatoes
  • Handful grated parmesan


  1. Start by making the base. Sift the flour into a large bowl then stir in the instant yeast and salt. Make a well in the mixture and pour in 200ml of warm water along with the olive oil. Bring the mixture together with a wooden spoon until you have a soft, wet dough. Tip the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for around five minutes until the dough is smooth. Cover the dough with a tea towel and leave to one side.
  2. Make the tomato sauce by mixing together the passata, garlic and basil before seasoning to taste. Leave to sit at room temperature until ready to use.
  3. Split the dough into two then start rolling it out on a lightly floured surface until the rounds are about 25cm across. Make sure the dough is very thin otherwise it will not bake in the oven. Place the rounds onto floured baking sheets.
  4. Preheat the oven to 220C/gas mark 8 and place another backing sheet or an upturned baking tray onto the top shelf of the oven.
  5. Top the dough with a layer of the tomato sauce before scattering over the cheese and cherry tomatoes and drizzle with olive oil. Place one of the pizzas onto the preheated sheet/upturned oven tray and bake for 8-10 minutes. Remove the pizza from the oven before repeating this step with the remaining pizza.

Gingerbread Men

Christmas is fast approaching and what better treat to enjoy over the festive period than gingerbread men?  This recipe is very easy to make and a lot of fun to decorate. You can make 20 gingerbread men from this recipe and from start to finish the process, should take around two hours.


  • 350g plain flour
  • 175g soft brown sugar
  • 125g butter
  • 4 tbsp golden syrup
  • 2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 egg

To Decorate

  • Writing icing
  • Cake decorations


  1. Sift together the flour, ginger, bicarbonate of soda and cinnamon into the bowl of a food processor. Add the butter and blend well until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Add the sugar and stir through.
  2. Beat the golden syrup and egg together then add to the breadcrumb mixture. Pulse in the food processor until the mixture comes together. Tip the dough out and knead until smooth. Wrap in cling film and leave to chill in the fridge for 15 minutes whilst you preheat the oven to 180C/Gas mark 4 and line two baking trays with greaseproof paper.
  3. Take the dough from the fridge and remove the cling film. Roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface until around 0.5cm. Using gingerbread man cutters, cut out 20 gingerbread men and put them on the baking try, leaving space between each.
  4. Bake in the oven until light golden-brown. Take the gingerbread men from the oven and leave to cool on the try for ten minutes before moving to a wire rack. Once the gingerbread men are completely cooled, decorate with the writing icing and cake decorations.
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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.

Day Out Guide: A Romantic Break in Loch Lomond

Tuesday, September 15th, 2015
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Planning a getaway for you and your partner? If so you can’t go wrong with a trip to Scotland’s largest fresh water loch, Loch Lomond. With its clear waters, towering mountains, green forests and rich history, Loch Lomond’s enchanting scenery and quiet charm are sure to win you over. Read on to find out what you and your better half could be getting up to if you were to book a weekend escape in Loch Lomond.

What to See

Backed by snow-capped mountains and heather covered hills, Loch Lomond is the must see landmark in the area. At nearly 25 miles long, the loch has many viewing points but to make your trip extra special, why not take a boat tour of the loch or enjoy a romantic meal at a waterside restaurant? You could even spend the day hiking to the top of Ben Lomond for a panoramic view of the Loch and the surrounding countryside – whatever vantage point you choose you’re sure to be impressed by Scotland’s most iconic loch. As well as the loch itself, Loch Lomond has many other landmarks to visit; from the mystical stone circle at Killin to the historic church ruins at Balquhidder, the area is sure to inspire you.

What to Eat

No romantic getaway is complete without a luxury dinner and glass of traditional Scottish whisky. Luckily, Loch Lomond offers a number of fabulous restaurants which create the perfect atmosphere for couples. For a truly unforgettable dining experience, we would suggest a meal at Cameron House where the Michelin starred Chef, Martin Wishart, has created a sensational menu. As well as mouth-watering dishes, the restaurant also offers incredible views over Loch Lomond making this the ideal spot for dinner. If you’re just looking for a light bite then Café Lochan on the shores of Loch Lomond serve a delicious selection of home made cakes and scones.

What to do

Loch Lomond offers a number of fantastic things to do for tourists but the most popular attraction by far has to be the water tours. Board one of the many vessels offering water tours of Loch Lomond and you’ll soon find yourself gently cruising over the loch with a unique vantage point of the ‘bonnie banks’. If you fancy something with a faster pace then why not try your hand at water sports? From sailing to jet skiing, there is plenty to keep you entertained out on the water.  As well as the water based activities on offer, there are plenty of dry attractions to discover; both the National Wallace Monument and Doune Castle make excellent day trips from Loch Lomond.

Book your stay in Loch Lomond

Rose Cottage - Reference 24071

Rose Cottage – Reference 24071

Whether you’re looking to stay in Loch Lomond itself or in the surrounding area, our selection of Loch Lomond cottages are perfect for creating the cosy atmosphere needed on a romantic getaway. Rent one of our cottages near Loch Lomond and you and your other half could be exploring the Loch and the surrounding countryside in no time!

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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.

Walk of the Month: Lower Largo to St Monans

Saturday, September 12th, 2015
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September’s instalment of Walk of the Month sees us hiking across Scotland to bring you the best views of both the coast and country. Making use of the Fife coastal path between Lower Largo and St Monans, this route has everything you could ask for from an autumn walk; spectacular ocean scenery, open spaces, fresh country air and the chance to see Scottish wildlife and historic ruins.

From start to finish there is plenty to explore along this ancient route, making it extremely popular with walkers from all over the UK. Once you’ve finished your walk, the area is also great for day trips with plenty to see and a number of eateries scattered about. There are also buses available from both Lower Largo and St Monans so no need to bring the car.

The Walk

The route from Lower Largo to St Monans is almost nine miles long and can take up to four hours to complete; the distance along with some uneven terrain makes the walk better suited to adults and older children with previous experience of long walks/hikes. It can get rather nippy along the coast so as well as good walking boats and plenty of water, we would suggest wrapping up warm and using a waterproof jacket.

The Route

If you’re arriving by bus, start at the Lower Largo harbour and follow the road east, passing a unique totem-pole sculpture and the house with a carved statue of Robinson Crusoe. As the road curves right, keep straight until you reach a narrow path- follow it through to the car park. This is the starting point if you arrive by car. From the car park make your way down to the sandy shore and follow the coast east, heading out along Largo Bay. If the tide is high, follow the old railway line which can be found slightly inland. When the path gets stony, head slightly inland and follow the path until it brings you back out to the sands.

When you reach the burn that flows across the beach, cross it close to the railway line and then follow the signed path from the car park at Dumbarnie Links Wildlife Reserve. Here you can either stay on the sands or follow the signed path through the dunes until you reach a set of tank traps; keep walking until you see a tall signpost on your left. Follow this sign posted path to reach the first of two bridges which take you over the Cocklemouth Burn.

Follow the path though a break in the pines and along a surfaced tack which runs by the edge of the caravan park. Once you reach the far end, follow a sign to cross the bridge and continue along the coastal path which will soon begin to climb above the basalt cliffs which form Kincraig head. There is an option here to take the chain walk but this should only be done by experienced walkers at low tide. From the top of the cliffs, descend to the golf course and follow signs to the shore. Once you reach the shore, turn left at the sign to cross the golf course.

Once across the golf course, why not take a detour to your right and investigate the lighthouse? If you decided to give the lighthouse a miss, simply continue left past an arch. The path is now pretty straight forward until St Monans Castle where it will climb up to the left and continue through a gate at the old Dovecot. Descend to the shore for the final stretch and follow the coastal path round to the bottom of the old Kirk, if this is underwater there are inland detours available.

To view the route map please click here.

Rent a cottage in Fife with Sykes Cottages

North Cults - Reference 904038

North Cults – Reference 904038

If you fancy taking on the Lower Largo to St Monans walk and exploring all the Fife has to offer then why to book a stay in one of our Fife Cottages? Filled with character and charm, these cottages are ideal for exploring Scotland and its culture. Along with the wonderful coastal walks and fascinating history, the area also happens to be known as the home of golf, giving you the perfect opportunity to work on your swing!

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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.