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Walk of the Month: Llanberis Lake

Saturday, March 26th, 2016
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Can you believe we’re on our third Walk of the Month of 2016 already? In just a few days’ time it will be April and then summer will be here before you know it! To help make the most of the crisp spring weather whilst it lasts, we’ve pulled together a fantastic walk around the iconic Llanberis Lake in North Wales.

Clear blue lake reflecting the green mountains and clear blue sky above.

A fantastic image of Llyn Padarn taken by Hefin OwenCC 2.0

Llanberis Lake, known as Llyn Padarn, is approximately two miles long and 94 feet at its deepest point. Surrounded by some of the best scenery in Snowdonia, this picturesque walk offers plenty of opportunity for pictures, wildlife spotting and even a dip in the lake if you’re feeling adventurous!

The Walk

This walk follows a circular route around Llyn Padarn and will take between two and three hours to complete, depending on your level of fitness. The majority of the walk is over level ground, however the path can be loose underfoot in areas and there are some tricky stone steps along the way. It can be a little windy down by the lake so we suggest a warm jacket and sensible shoes for this walk.

The Route

Park in the car park (there is a small charge) then make your way north along the A4086. You will soon come to a fork in the road, at this point head right toward the track bed of an abandoned railway. Follow this track as far as the railway tunnel and take the steps to the right of the tunnel entrance to the upper level. From here, follow the path through a set of wooded gates and continue along the lakeside trail.

Silhouette of a lonely tree infront of a reflective lake with mountains and blue sky

Image of Llyn Padarn at sunset by Hefin OwenCC 2.0

Continue along the lakeside trail until you reach the head of the lake; at this point cross over the River Rhythallt making sure to admire the spectacular backdrop. Follow the road as it climbs towards the village of Fachwen, make your way through Fachwen keeping your eye out for a blue telephone kiosk. Take the path opposite the phone kiosk and descend the steps to the road below. The trail continues along the lane passing through wonderful woodlands before descending to a low point at a river crossing.

Cross the stream and follow the path until you come to a fork, take the left fork that ascends some rough stone steps. The path will take you back up through the woodland before exiting the trees at its highest point and offering amazing views.

From here it’s all downhill paths; continue along your path through the woods and into the old hospital grounds and gardens. Leave the hospital grounds via the wooden steps down to another lakeside car park. Here you will see the Welsh National Slate Museum, take the road that leaves the south eastern point of the museum area and cross the bridge towards the fields. Continue through the fields until you reach the A4086 and then your car park.

To view the route map and original walk please click here.

Rent a Cottage in Llanberis with Sykes Cottages

Modern kitchen/living space with over hanging light

The living space at Beudy Hywel (Ref. 6145) in Llanrug near Llanberis

If this walk has inspired you to visit North Wales this year then why not book a stay in one of our Llanberis holiday cottages? With nearly 30 holiday lets located within five miles of Llanberis, we’re sure to have something to suit your requirements. From large stylish properties sleeping 16 to small intimate cottages for two, these holiday homes are ideal for exploring Llanberis and the rest of the Snowdonia National Park.

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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.

Irish Locations Visited By St Patrick

Wednesday, March 16th, 2016
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It’s fair to say that St Patrick is one of the world’s most popular saints, with millions of people celebrating his feast day every year on March 17th. In today’s blog we are paying homage to Ireland’s patron saint by taking a photo tour of some of the areas St Patrick is said to have visited during his lifetime.

Lough Derg, County Donegal

Landscape image of a blue lake amongst green hills and a cloudy blue sky

Image of Lough Derg by chrispod1975CC 2.0

Lough Derg is featured in two stories relating to St Patrick; the first sees him chasing the last of the snakes from Ireland here, before turning the lake red with its blood and the second story is about Christ revealing the entrance to hell inside a cave nearby.

Saul Church, County Down

Historic church set in a green field with cloudy blue sky.

Image of Saul Church by michael kooimanCC 2.0

St Patrick spent his time in Ireland converting pagans to Christianity, one of these converts then donated a barn to St Patrick so he could hold his services there. This small barn is now known as Saul Church and it is where St Patrick spent the last years leading up to his death in 461AD.

Croagh Patrick, County Mayo

Tall mountains with clouds rolling across the  peeks

Image of Croagh Patrick by Nicolas RaymondCC 2.0

St Patrick is said to have made a pilgrimage to the top of this sacred mountain 40 days before Easter in 441AD, once at the top St Patrick spent 40 days there fasting and praying. Now, on the last Sunday of July, also known as Reek Sunday, over 3,000 people make the pilgrimage to the top of Croagh Patrick barefoot!

The Rock of Cashel, County Tipperary

Historic castle set on a hill side with steep cliffs covered in grass under

Image of The Rock of Cashel by rosario fiore – CC 2.0

The Rock of Cashel is where St Patrick supposedly baptised the mighty king of Munster, Aenghus. It is also said that during the baptism, St Patrick accidentally stabbed Kind Aenghus in the foot with a crozier.

Hill of Slane, County Meath

Vivid blue sky with white clouds and a beautiful historic building in front

Image of the Hill of Slane by Anna & MichalCC 2.0

It is said that St Patrick lit a huge fire on the Hill of Slane in protest of a pagan feast. The high king was not impressed but St Patrick convinced him that the Christian God was far more powerful than his old gods by performing miracles and using the tree-leafed shamrock as an example of Christianity.

St Patrick’s Well, County Tipperary

Grassy bank with over hanging trees, stone bridge over a reflective pond

Image of St Patrick’s Well by Gerard AhernCC 2.0

During his travels across Ireland, St Patrick is said to have stopped here to bath and baptise the local people before continuing on his journey.

Slemish Mountain, County Antrim

Green fields full of sheep and a tall green mountain in the distance.

Image of Slemish Mountain by Albert BridgeCC 2.0

When St Patrick was just a boy, he was captured by pirates and brought from his home in Wales to Ireland, where he worked as a slave herding sheep on Slemish Mountain. Although St Patrick spent a tough six years on this mountain, it was also where he found consolation in God.

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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.

Pie Week Recipes

Monday, March 7th, 2016
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Today marks the start of British Pie Week and what better way to celebrate than by baking a homemade pie for you and your loved ones to share? So from the traditional pork pie to the tasty apple pie, we’ve included three easy pie recipes below to give you some inspiration.

Raised Pork Pie

A favourite here in Britain, the humble pork pie can trace its routes right back to the early 18th century. The following BBC Good Food recipe may not be as old as the original, but it is just as good! This recipe will feed up to ten people and takes around 3 hours to prep as well as an overnight stint in the fridge, so make sure you give yourself plenty of time to get it right.

Ingredients

For the filling

  • 800g pork shoulder, minced or finely chopped
  • 400g pork belly, half minced and half chopped
  • 250g smoked bacon, cubed
  • 2 large pinches ground nutmeg
  • 1 tbsp fresh chopped sage
  • 1 tsp fresh chopped thyme
  • 1 tsp ground white pepper
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp ground mace

For the pastry

  • 575g plain flour
  • 220ml water
  • 200g lard

To finish

  • 300ml chicken stock
  • 6 gelatine leaf
  • 1 egg, beaten

Method

  1. Pre-heat your oven to 180c/160c for fan and 4 for gas.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, bring together all the ingredients for the filling.
  3. To make the pastry take a separate bowl and add the flour, then put the lard and water into a small pan and heat gently until the lard has melted, then bring it to the boil before stirring into the flour using a wooden spoon.
  4. When the mixture is cool enough to handle but still warm, you can knead it until smooth.
  5. Cut off ¼ of the dough and wrap it in cling film, placing it to one side to use later for the lid. Roll out the remaining dough before placing it into the base of a non-stick 20cm springform cake tin. Whilst the dough is still warm, work quickly to press it in evenly all over the base and up the sides of the tin.
  6. Make sure there are no holes in the pastry and fill with meat, making sure to pack down well. Roll out the dough for the lid and place on top of the pie, pinching around the edges to seal the pie. Finally, make a hole in the centre of the top of the pie to allow steam to escape; we suggest using the handle of a wooden spoon for this.
  7. Cook the pie in the oven for 30 minutes before reducing the heat to 160c/140c for fan and 3 for gas. Continue to cook for 90 minutes.
  8. Brush the top of the pie with a beaten egg and then return to the oven for a final 20 minutes. Once done remove the pie from the oven and leave to cool.
  9. Soak the gelatine in cold water for around five minutes, then remove and squeeze out the excess water. Heat the stock until almost boiling then remove from the heat and stir in the gelatine. Leave to cool at room temperature.
  10. Use a small funnel to pour the stock into the pie through the hole in the top. Pour in a little at a time allowing a few seconds between each addition. Leave to set in the fridge overnight before serving.

Traditional Apple Pie

Packed full of cooking apples, sugar and cinnamon, I dare anyone not to love this classic desert! Apple pie is so popular that just about every country has their own take on the dish. This following recipe from about food follows the traditional British and Irish recipe which takes around an hour to make and will serve six people.

Ingredients

Pastry

  • 200g plain flour
  • 110g cubed butter
  • 2-3 tbsp cold water
  • Pinch of salt

Filling

  • 700g cooking apples, peeled, cored and quartered
  • 110g sugar
  • 25g butter
  • 4 – 6 tbsp cold water
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 level tsp ground cinnamon (optional)
  • Milk to glaze

Method

  1. In a large clean bowl, rub together the flour, butter and salt until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. You will want to work as quickly as possible so that the dough doesn’t become warm.
  2. Add the water to the mixture. Using a cold knife, stir the mixture until the dough binds together. If your mixture is too dry, add more water, a teaspoon at a time. Wrap the finished dough in Clingfilm and chill in the fridge for between 15 and 30 minutes.
  3. Pre-heat the oven to 200C or gas 7 and whilst the dough is chilling in the fridge, simmer the apples with the lemon juice and water in a large pan until soft.
  4. Once soft, add the sugar and cinnamon to the cooked apples. Remove the pan from the heat and add the butter before leaving to cool.
  5. Split the chilled dough in half and roll out the first half using this to line a 13cm/7” pie dish. Put the cooled apple mixture into the pastry case. Roll out the second half of the dough to make a lid for the pastry. Damp the edges of the pastry in the dish with a little cold water, cover with the lid and press down on the edges firmly to seal the pie.
  6. Brush the top of the pie with milk and bake on the top self of the oven for 20 to 25 minutes.

Fish Pie

Fish pie is a real favourite here in the UK with pubs and restaurants across Britain featuring the scrumptious pie on their menus. This recipe from BBC Good Food will show you how to make fish pie from home in just four easy steps! The recipe takes around an hour and 15 minutes to make and will serve a family of four when done.

Ingredients

  • 600ml full-fat milk
  • 400g skinless white fish fillet
  • 400g skinless smoked haddock fillet
  • 100g butter
  • 50g plain flour
  • 50g cheddar, grated
  • 4 cloves
  • 4 egg
  • 2 bay leaf
  • 1 small onion, quartered
  • 1kg floury potato, peeled and cut into even-sized chunks
  • small bunch parsley, leaves only, chopped
  • pinch freshly grated nutmeg

Method

  1. Poach the fish by placing the fish in a frying pan and pouring over 500ml of the milk. Stud each onion quarter with a clove and then add to the milk along with the bay leaves. Bring the milk just to the boil and then reduce the heat and simmer for eight minutes. Lift the fish onto a plate and strain the milk into a separate jug to cool before flaking the fish into large pieces and placing in the baking dish.
  2. Hard boil the eggs before peeling and slicing into quarters. Arranged the quartered eggs on top of the fish then scatter over the chopped parsley.
  3. Make the sauce by melting the butter in a pan before stirring in the flour and cooking for one minute over a medium heat. Take the mixture off the heat and pour in a little of the cold poaching milk, then stir until combined. Continue to add milk gradually until you have a smooth sauce. Return the sauce to the heat and boil for five minutes, stirring continually until the sauce coats the back of your spoon. Remove the sauce from the heat, season with salt, pepper and nutmeg before pouring over the fish in the baking dish.
  4. Pre-heat over to 200c/180c for fan and 6 for gas. Boil the potatoes for 20 minutes before draining and seasoning with salt and pepper. Mash the cooked potatoes using the remaining butter and milk, then use the mashed potato to top the pie, starting at the edge of the dish and working your way in. Fluff the top of the mashed potato with a fork and then sprinkle over the cheese before baking the whole pie in the oven for 30 minutes.

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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.

Last Minute Cottages for Mother’s Day

Monday, February 29th, 2016
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Mother’s Day is just around the corner and here at Sykes Cottages, we can think of no better treat for our mums than spending some quality time together. After all, isn’t that what Mother’s Day is really about? To make sure you give your mum the time and attention she deserves, we suggest booking a Mother’s Day break in one of our cottages. With under a week to go until the big day, we’ve listed a selection of stylish holiday cottages which would be perfect for your Mother’s Day celebrations, so keep reading and see if we can convince you to take your mum away this March.

Engine Room Cottage

Dinning table and chairs, set up ready for a meal with daffodils on the table.

The dinning area at Engine Room Cottage, set up ready for Mother’s Day lunch

Located in charming village of Sledmere, this idyllic cottage once acted as the fire station for the Yorkshire Wolds. The cottage has since been lovingly converted to offer stylish accommodation for up to six people and one well behaved dog. The property’s fantastic views over the Yorkshire countryside and spacious dining area create the ideal atmosphere for a Mother’s Day lunch.

Nethergill Farm Byre

Open living area with exposed beams, brick work, comfortable furnishings and an openfire

The cosy living area at Nethergill Farm Byre

Dating back to 1871, Nethergill Farm Byre can be found nestled into the Yorkshire countryside in the hamlet of Oughtershaw. This property accommodates a party of four with one dog, so it’s great for older families who enjoy walking and wildlife spotting. In the evenings, you’ll find the property’s cosy living area with wood burning stove a wonderful place to relax and enjoy a glass of red wine.

The Dairy

Hot tub view looking out over the country at sun set

The spectacular view from the hot tub at The Dairy

If you’re thinking of bringing the whole family together this Mother’s Day, then The Dairy in Llandysul will accommodate a group of eight and up to six well behaved dogs. This stylish property comes with plenty of outdoor space as well as sole use of an eight seater hot tub! This cottage is perfect for any dog lover, so if your mum refuses to holiday without her pooch then The Dairy is the cottage for you.

Croft Cottage

Open plan living area with wood burning stove and character features including exposed beams

The fantastic open plan living area at Croft Cottage

Does your mum have a stressful job, or perhaps a hectic social schedule? If so a trip to the peaceful Croft Cottage in Embleton is sure to provide her with plenty of rest and relaxation this Mother’s Day. Quietly situated in the Northumbria countryside, this property’s stylish décor and plush furnishings create a wonderfully tranquil atmosphere, but be careful your mum may never want to leave.

The Farmhouse

White country cottage surrounded by trees, greenery and a blue sky

The Farm House in Coverack, perfect for a beach getaway!

Located on the Lizard Peninsula, The Farmhouse is the perfect Mother’s Day escape for beach lovers. Just a short drive from this Coverack cottage, you’ll find a handful of amazing beaches to explore including Coverack Beach, Porthbeer Cove and Kynance Cove. When you return from your day on the sands, The Farmhouse provides a warm welcome for up to six people, with a spacious kitchen and inviting living area.

Bank House Mews

Open plan living area complete with modern kitchen, farmhouse dinning and comfy living area

The stylish décor at Bank House Mews

If your mum is a fan of the finer things in life then she’ll love Bank House Mews. Converted from a stone barn and workshop mews, this property now has everything your mum will need for a luxury getaway. Accommodating up to eight people, this property boasts three bedrooms, two bathrooms and a gorgeous open plan living area with wood burning stove and plenty of character features.

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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: Trevose Head

Tuesday, February 23rd, 2016
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We’re fast approaching the end of the month and that can only mean one thing, it’s time for February’s instalment of Walk of the Month! In this edition, we’re heading south to the coastal county of Cornwall, where we’ll be taking on the South West Coast Path. As the whole 630 mile walk was a bit too much for us to handle, we’ve decided to break the route down and focus on the beautiful Trevose Head circular walk instead.

Trevose Head is a fantastic section of coastline located in North Cornwall. The area is widely known for its fantastic wildlife, great hiking, birdwatching spots and picturesque lighthouse. During this circular walk, you’ll be able to take in all of these fantastic sights as well as sensational views of the Cornish coast.

The Walk

The circular route around Trevose Head covers 6.1 miles and should take experienced walkers just over an hour and a half to complete. The walk has an easy gradient so isn’t too difficult for beginners, but we would advise wearing trainers or walking shoes. You can stop off for food in Constantine Bay or stock up on picnic supplies at the local shop before heading out.

The Route

Start at the Constantine car park and walk down towards the beach, turn right and walk along the back of the beach until you reach the steps at the far end. Walk up the steps and follow the cliff behind Bobby’s Bay until the path meets some tracks that head inland.

Keep left along the coastal path until you come across some kissing gates. Go through the kissing gates and bear left to keep on the coastal path. Follow the path onto the headland; you’ll pass a stile which you can walk past before coming to a huge collapsed cave on the right. Take some time to marvel at the cave before continuing along the path, you will soon come across a second stile which you will need to cross.

Once you’ve crossed the stile, keep following the path until you come across a track. Bear left onto the track and follow it down into the quarry. Dinas Head is located on the left so you could take a detour to explore the area before coming back to the quarry. Cross the quarry and follow the path along the other side and up the steps towards to road.

Looking down at the ocean from cliff top.. Grey stone, green grass and dark turquoise waters with white sea foam

Image taken by Mike KnappCC 2.0

Turn left and walk down the side of the road towards the lighthouse. When you reach a path turning right, follow it up the steps and onto the coast path around Trevose Head. When the path reaches the corner of a wall and forks at a waymark, follow the path to the left to a cairn between the two benches on the skyline.

From the cairn, bear right to a stile in the corner and cross the stile to the lane that leads to the lifeboat station. Cross the stile opposite onto a path and follow it until you reach another stile. Cross the stile onto a track and turn left, then immediately right over the stile which is indicated by the coast path sign. Follow this path until it comes out at a waymark on a track next to Mother Ivy’s Cottage.

At the waymark, pass the path to the beach and head on towards the gate for Mother Ivy’s Cottage. Go through the kissing gate which is on the right of the cottage gate and follow the path until you reach the main track onto the beach at the holiday park. When you reach the track, turn immediately right and up the steps, following the coast path until you reach another gate.

Go through the gate and follow the path until you reach the track. Cross the track and continue along the path opposite the coast path and around the headline, until you reach a stile in front of a house at Onjohn Cove. Cross the stile and keep left on the path, walking past the house to a kissing gate.

Go through the kissing gate and take the second path leading left (avoid the first path which leads to the beach), follow the coast path until you reach a waymark at Haryln Bay. Turn left at the waymark, go down the steps and follow the path onto the beach. Once on the beach, turn right and hug the cliff until it brings you out onto a lane at the side of the bridge.

At this lane, turn right and follow it until it brings you to a junction. Turn right at the junction and follow the lane around the bend until you reach another junction signposted to the lifeboat station. Continue ahead at the junction and stay on the lane as it crosses the Trevose Head golf course.

At the junction by the club house, turn right and follow the public footpath signposted to the coast path. Follow this footpath until you reach the top of a flight of steps from the dunes to the beach. Instead of taking the path down the steps, turn left and follow the path along the edge of the dunes until you reach the track to the car park.

To view the route map please click here.

Rent a cottage in Cornwall with Sykes Cottages

Property with solar panels and lots of greenery.

Colhay Studio in Downinney near Launceston, Cornwall

If you feel like trying this walk or any of the walks listed on the South West Coast Path website then why not team your activity with a stay in one of our Cornish cottages? With over 320 properties in Cornwall to choose from, you’ll be sure to find a property to accommodate your needs.

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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.