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Uncovering the UK’s Hidden Gems

Friday, August 15th, 2014
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When considering UK attractions, our thoughts are instantly turned to well known tourist traps such as The Tower of London, Hadrian’s Wall and Stonehenge, but throughout Britain there are a number of overshadowed attractions tucked into reclusive corners and quietly delighted visitors who have stumbled off the beaten track to find them.

To help you discover these hidden gems which are dotted around the UK, Sykes Cottages have put together the following infographic which highlights a number of alternative attractions for you to visit this year. Sykes-Hidden-Gems-final

 

Uncovering the UK’s Hidden Gems

Forget the usual tourist traps and delve a little deeper to discover some of the UK’s lesser-known treasures. Some are hidden away, while others can easily be missed, so here’s a handy guide to help you uncover these secret attractions.

The Crannog Centre Perthshire

Located on the shores of Loch Tay, the Crannog Centre offers visitors the chance to step inside an authentic replica of a Crannog, an Iron Age loch dwelling dating back to 2,500BC.

Discover the story of Scotland’s ancient tribes, and experience first-hand how they would have lived at this unique visitor centre in the midst of the stunning Scottish Highlands.

Barter Books Northumberland

More than just a bookshop, this magical spot occupies a magnificent Victorian railway station in the heart of Northumberland.

As well as being one of Europe’s largest secondhand bookshops and a focal point for artists and literary enthusiasts, it’s also where the now world famous ‘Keep Calm and Carry On’ poster first emerged.

Rievaulx Abbey Yorkshire

What was once the wealthiest abbey in England is now a majestic ruin in a secluded spot within the North York Moors National Park.

If you’re after peace and tranquillity, then this is a wonderful place to escape the crowds whilst learning about the Abbey’s past.

Port Sunlight Merseyside

Built by British industrialist William Hesketh Lever in 1888, Port Sunlight was originally used to house Hesketh’s workers, who produced the popular soap, Sunlight.

Now thought of as an attractive model village, this charming Merseyside suburb became a conservation area in 1978 and is home to over 900 grade II listed buildings. Explore the village on foot, stopping by the Lady Lever Art Gallery and museum on the way, and if you’re visiting in summer, be sure to enjoy a picnic on the village green.

Canterbury Tales Kent

Get under the skin of the city’s most famous literary export, Geoffrey Chaucer, with a visit to Canterbury Tales, a unique recreation of medieval life.

Experience the sights, sounds and smells of Chaucer’s timeless tales as you journey back to the 14th century, before enjoying an enchanting adaptation at the centre’s open-air theatre.

Bounce Below Gwynedd

Tucked away underground, Bounce Below is well worth discovering if jumping around on huge trampolines in a 200 x 60 foot cavern is your idea of fun.

This thrilling attraction also features giant walkways, slides, and a technicolour light display which illuminates a space twice the size of St Paul’s Cathedral.

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.

Top 10 Dog Friendly Beaches for Summer

Monday, August 4th, 2014
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Britain is a nation of dog lovers, and as dog lovers, we like nothing better than seeing our four legged companions enjoying the sunshine as they bound along the shoreline and splash though the surf on a beautiful sandy beach. During the summer months, there are a number of beaches that will not allow dogs access and this can really affect our decision on where to take the annual family holiday. If you’re planning a pet-friendly holiday this year then keep reading as we list our top ten pet friendly beaches for summer which will allow your dog the coastal holiday they deserve!

Holkham Wells, Norfolk

Picture via Flickr.

Picture via Flickr.

If you’re looking for luxurious golden sands and unspoilt beauty then Holkham Wells is the place for you! Here you can spend the day looking out over the ocean on the famous Halkham Wells dog walk or indulge yourself with a pet-friendly picnic as you relax along the shore.

Formby, Merseyside

Picture via Flickr.

Picture via Flickr.

Formby beach is a haven for dogs, with over 250 acres of woodland, a beautiful sandy beach and miles of sand dunes for them to explore. This beach is part of the national trust and one of the only beaches on the Sefton Coast that doesn’t apply seasonal restrictions on dog access, so you and your pet are welcome the whole year round!

Conwy Morfa, Conway

Picture via Flickr.

Picture via Flickr.

Ideal for building sandcastles and digging up buried treasure, this large sandy bay can be enjoyed whatever the weather. The nearby town of Conwy is extremely dog friendly and with a number of cafés and restaurants available, you’ll never be short of somewhere to eat come lunch time.

Eyemouth, Berwickshire

Picture via Flickr.

Picture via Flickr.

The historic town of Eyemouth offers a fantastic beach which is more than happy to accept your four legged friend to its sandy shores. With an impressive coastal path running all the way from St. Abbs, this area is the ideal location for exercising dogs and children.

Snettisham, Norfolk

Picture via Flickr.

Picture via Flickr.

Located along Norfolk’s sunset coast, Snettisham beach is perfect for a late afternoon stroll. Watch the sun set over the water as you share a cuddle with your other half and a few slobbery kisses from your affectionate pooch!

Whitby, North Yorkshire

Picture via Flickr.

Picture via Flickr.

A great coastal destination for both locals and visitors, Whitby has access for dogs all year round on the east end of the beach. The sheltered sandy beach on the east side is ideal for dogs with lots of space to run around and play fetch with their owners.

Harlyn Bay, Cornwall

Picture via Flickr.

Picture via Flickr.

Harlyn Bay, located just west of Padstow, is a sand and pebbles beach filled with rock pools which are perfect for dipping wet noses in! This is one of the safer beaches in the area, ideal for swimming and learning to surf, that along with its year round acceptance of dogs, makes it a firm favourite amongst families.

Gairloch, Highlands

Picture via Flickr.

Picture via Flickr.

Found in the north west of Gairloch, this beach is surrounded by moorlands and mountains making it an idyllic beach to waste away the hours this summer. With sand dunes to roll about in and the safe sandy beach to run along, your dog is sure to enjoy their time spent on Gairloch beach.

Arnside, Cumbria

Picture via Flickr.

Picture via Flickr.

The beach at Arnside is perfect for walking dogs with a variety of guided nature walks and market trails in and around the town itself. As well as spectacular walks and wonderful scenery, the beach has a number of excellent local facilities including parking, shops, cafes and a small promenade.

Cwmtydu, Ceredigion

Picture via Flickr.

Picture via Flickr.

The fantastic beach at Cwmtydu is surrounded by a deep woodland valley and high pastures which are inhabited by wild ponies. This beach was supposedly used by smugglers and its wonderful cliffs and walkways make it very popular with walkers and pet friendly families.

We hope this list has been helpful when planning your pet-friendly days out and UK holidays. If you’re looking for pet friendly accommodation near any of these beaches then please visit our pet friendly cottages page or call our reservations team on 01244 356659.

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.

Outdoor Activities for Children This Summer

Wednesday, July 30th, 2014
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The summer holidays have just started and with over four weeks of summer activities to organise, keeping the kids entertained is no easy task! Here at Sykes Cottages, we want to help you out so have come up with a delightful selection of outdoor activities that your children are sure to love. The following activities are suitable for individuals or groups and have been selected to suit all budgets.

Lawn art

Picture via Flickr.

Picture via Flickr.

Encourage your child’s inner artist this summer with a spot of lawn art; all you need is an old bed sheet, a few items to weigh the corners down and a selection of paints to create a giant floor canvas. Ideal for making colourful footprints children of all ages are sure to enjoy this activity.

Hopscotch

Picture via Flickr.

Picture via Flickr.

Hopscotch is a classic British game which never fails to entertain children. Simple to set up, all you will require is a hard surface and a piece of chalk. You can have hours of fun creating funky hopscotch designs before getting a good dose of exercise as you jump from square to square.

Build a den

Picture via Flickr.

Picture via Flickr.

Building a den this summer is not only a fantastic activity for the children but also a welcome hideaway to shelter sensitive skin from the sun. From blanket forts in the back garden to twiggy dens in the local woodlands, you can build a den almost anywhere from almost anything!

Treasure hunt

Picture via Flickr.

Picture via Flickr.

Become part of Jake’s crew as you lead the children around the garden in search of gold doubloons on a “Jake and the Neverland Pirates” themed treasure hunt! Create a simple treasure map and hide small sweets or toys around the garden to create an exciting activity for children this summer.

Teddy Bears picnic

Picture via Flickr.

Picture via Flickr.

The iconic Teddy Bears picnic is a fantastic way to liven up the average lunch time this summer. Along with the usual afternoon treats, why not introduce a few new tastes? Children who normally dislike trying new things will feel more inclined to join in if Teddy is eating them too.

Garden camping

Picture via Flickr.

Picture via Flickr.

Make the most of our crystal clear skies this summer with a garden camp out. Safe in the back yard, your children can enjoy sleeping under the stars, roasting marshmallows and telling ghost stories as you keep a watchful eye from the comfort of the sofa!

If you decide to try out any of these activities then we would love to hear about it; you can connect with us via Facebook and Twitter, so please do not hesitate to share your summer fun with us!

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.

Sykes’ Guide to UK Theme Parks

Monday, July 28th, 2014
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If you’re looking for a fun filled family day out this summer then why not visit one of the UK’s many theme parks? With dizzying highs and terrifying lows, UK theme parks have been entertaining families for generations and with numerous parks dotted about the country, you’re never too far from one of these marvellous attractions. For the best theme park in your region keep reading and discover the Sykes’ guide to UK theme parks

M and D’s in Scotland

Picture via Flickr.

Picture via Flickr.

M and D’s in Scotland offers a fantastic day out for the whole family and has well and truly earned its title as ‘Scotland’s Theme Park’.  The park boasts five white knuckle rides and no less than twenty children’s rides and attractions. M and D’s is a must for thrill seeks but makes sure to include a number of activities for those among us that prefer to keep are feet on the ground; these activities include a miniature golf course, indoor bowling alley and a gigantic soft play centre.

Flamingo Land in North England

Picture via Flickr.

Picture via Flickr.

Not content with being simply a theme park, Flamingo Land in North Yorkshire has the added bonus of housing over 140 species of birds, mammals and reptiles in their very own zoo! Children love to see all the animals at the zoo and learn about their natural habitats before whizzing through the air on one of the parks eight extreme rides. With so much to do at this incredible attraction, you may find yourself making several trips there this summer.

Alton Towers in Mid England

Picture provided by Holly Magoolagan.

Picture provided by Holly Magoolagan.

With ten rides designed to thrill, nine rides devised for laughs and frights and six rides especially for children, it’s no wonder that Alton Towers in Staffordshire is regularly voted the best theme park in Britain! A trip to Alton Towers can see you spiralling through 14 loops on ‘The Smiler’ or making a splash as you twist and turn around their marvellous waterpark on ‘The Master Blaster Water Coaster’. However you decide to spend your time at Alton Towers, it is sure to be unforgettable!

Oakwood in Wales

Picture via Flickr.

Picture via Flickr.

For a fabulous family day out  this summer head for the second star to the right and continue straight on to morning; that’s right, we’re off to Neverland! Neverland in Oakwood theme park that is. During 2013, Oakwood built a number of rides and attractions based on the adventures of Peter Pan in Neverland, now children can enjoy a number of themed rides which include Skull Rock, Crocodile Coaster and of course, the Jolly Roger.

Flambards in South England

Picture via Flickr.

Picture via Flickr.

If you’re heading down south this summer make sure visit Flambards in Cornwall. This stunning theme park offers a winning combination of both high energy thrill rides and exciting family rides, making it the ideal location for a family day out. If the south west is unfortunately hit by a spell of bad weather then there is no need to worry as Flambards offers two award winning exhibitions, Britain in the Blitz and their Victorian village, where children can learn all about Britain’s history!

Whether you’re staying at home this summer or touring the UK on a family holiday, make sure to to visit one of these top theme parks. If you’re still unsure on your summer plans then why not visit our summer cottages page? With hundreds of cottages still available throughout the UK it’s never too late to book a holiday the whole family will enjoy!

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.

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.