Archive for the ‘Autumn Holidays’ Category

The UK’s Best Halloween Attractions for 2014

Monday, October 27th, 2014
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Throughout the UK people are getting ready for the scariest day of the year. That’s right, Halloween is almost upon us and whether you love it or hate it, there is no escaping the things that go bump in the night! Here at Sykes HQ, we love a good scare and can’t wait for the arrival of All Hallows’ Eve when we’ll be visiting some of Britain’s scariest attractions. To help inspire you on a frightful outing this Halloween, we’ve put together a selection of the five best attractions to visit on Friday 31st.

The York Dungeon

Picture provided by Leanne

Picture provided by Leanne

With dark corridors, sinister characters and a severely creepy atmosphere, York Dungeon is the place to be this Halloween. As well as the usual villains and suspicious personalities, the dungeons are introducing an all new menace: The Master of Tricks himself, who – armed with his Wheel of Misfortune – will be baffling guests with his despicable deceptions and dares.

Tulleys Pumpkin Patch and Scare Fest

Image from Flickr.

Image via Flickr.

Tulleys Farm has catered for everyone this Halloween by putting on an eerie but not-so-scary show for children during the day before going all out with their adult scare fest. Voted the UK’s number one attraction at the Scream Awards, Schocktober Fest at Tulleys Farm is sure to scare your pants off with no less than seven haunted attractions!

Edinburgh Ghost Walks

Image from Flickr.

Image via Flickr.

With victims of the plague roaming the streets of old town and the Mackenzie Poltergeist terrorizing Greyfriars Kirkyard, it’s no wonder Edinburgh is known as the world’s most haunted city. Book your ghost walk with City of the Dead, who not only provide world class story tellers, but are the only tour in town with access to Edinburgh’s Covenanter’s Prison.

The Big Sheep Halloween Festival

Image via Flickr.

Image via Flickr.

By offering children a haunted hay ride and daylight haunted house, The Big Sheep in north Devon is really pulling out all the stops for kiddies this Halloween. Not content with tricking little witches and wizards, The Big Sheep also offers an evening party where adults are invited to join in a live haunt in their zombie zone before heading into the most haunted house in Devon.

Alton Towers

Image via Flickr.

Image via Flickr.

Known for its intense white knuckle rides, Alton Towers is the ultimate UK destination for thrill seekers. Combining their world famous rides with late night openings and terrifying scare mazes, Alton Towers is reaching out with cold icy fingers hoping to draw in lost souls for a spine-tingling family day out.

We hope this list of British attractions has encouraged you to take your ghoulish family on a scary day out this Halloween. We would love to hear all about your scary adventures so be sure to keep us up-to-date through Facebook or Twitter.

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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.

Sykes’ Autumnal Best Bits

Friday, October 17th, 2014
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We’re having a bit of an autumnal moment here at Sykes Cottages. Perhaps it’s the chill in the air, the view from our window or our Autumn’s Best Bits competition, but we’ve been talking constantly about the best things of the season. Not ones to be left out of the fun, we thought we’d share what our favourite bits of autumn right here on the blog.

Jacket Potatoes

A picture of Jonathan's delicious jackets; made with potatoes straight from his father's farm - yum!

A picture of Jonathan’s delicious jackets; made with potatoes straight from his father’s farm – yum!

Spuds: aren’t they good. Fried, mashed, boiled – even sautéed – the humble tatie’ is our most versatile veg. At this time of year, there’s only one way to serve this starchy superfood: jackets. As a farmer’s son, I spent many an autumn day picking spuds, and learnt a thing or two about them in the process. For the perfect jacket potato, opt for a King Edward. When cooked, this variety develop a fluffy middle, making them the ideal candidate for a jacket. On a nippy night, nothing will warm you faster than a steaming spud loaded with your favourite filling – and don’t skimp on the cheddar, it’s autumn after all. – Jonathan

 Autumn Picnics

Autumn Trees

A picture of the view from Nicole’s favourite autumnal picnic spot.

You may think I’m mad but one of my favourite things to do in autumn is to go on a picnic. I wrap up warm, make some sandwiches, a flask of tea and head off into the Cheshire countryside. I love the slight chill in the air, the animals preparing for hibernation or migration, and of course the amazing array of autumn colours. This time of year really inspires me, so with a steaming hot tea and a pen in hand I get a lot of writing done and tons of ideas for my upcoming wedding. – Nicole

Seasonal Drinks

Autumnal Drinks

Leanne’s favourite way to enjoy a seasonal drink… with a side of biscuits!

Perhaps it stems from spending my university days working at a certain well-known coffee house, but my favourite thing about the autumn season is warming up with a sweet, seasonal drink. Adding cinnamon and pumpkin spice syrup to a coffee may not ring in the bells of autumn to everyone, but to me the season doesn’t truly begin until I have sipped my first pumpkin spiced latte. Plus there is nothing quite like stopping to pick up a takeaway coffee in the middle of a chilly dog walk! – Leanne

Wrapping up Warm

Wrapping Up Warm at Autumn

A picture of Louise getting all snug in her autumn scarf.

There are so many things to love about autumn but my personal favourite is the clothes. There’s a lot of excitement surrounding rooting out the cold-weather clothing from the depths of my wardrobe! It’s fun to re-discover the old favourites that I’ve not worn since last winter and for me, there’s no greater comfort than wrapping up warm. Think winter coats, cosy jumpers, huge scarves, ankle boots and bobble hats! – Louise

Homemade Soup

A bowl of warming soup is Jamie's best bit of autumn.

A bowl of warming soup is Jamie’s best bit of autumn.

I’d have to say, my favourite thing about autumn is soup. Think about it: the nights are drawing in ever earlier and the temperature is starting to drop, so what more could you want than a piping hot bowl of soup? I absolutely love the stuff, from leek and potato through to Scotch broth, there’s nothing better. And there’s the best type in the world: my Grandma’s homemade chicken soup, you just can’t beat it! – Jamie

So, there we have some of our favourite bits of autumn as inspired by our latest competition. Unfortunately we can’t enter, but you can, so if you’re a fan of autumn, have a camera and write a blog, take a look at all the details on the competition page.

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Leanne Dempsey

By Leanne Dempsey

A lover of reading, eating and shopping Leanne will often be found spending time with her two pugs or snapping away on instagram. A big fan of the city, She likes nothing more than getting away for a weekend break in the UK, her favourite places being London and Bath.

Beautiful British Autumn Walks

Saturday, October 4th, 2014
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There is a distinct chill in the air, a crunch under the feet and a definite brown hue has taken over what was once green. That’s right, autumn is here and whilst it may mean goodbye to summer for another year, it also means a big hello to all of the beauty that the season brings. There is no better way to see the beautiful colours and textures of autumn than by heading out on a walk. So grab yourself a warming beverage of choice and read on to discover a few of the most beautiful places to see colour this autumn.

Grizedale Forest – The Lake District

Grizedale Forest in The Lake District

Image via Flickr

Positioned between Coniston and Windermere, Grizedale Forest is in an ideal location for seeing the beautiful colours of  autumn. The forest has a number of walking and cycling routes suitable for all abilities, all of which having stunning views of the lakes and mountains, to provide an idyllic backdrop to the autumnal leaves.

Castell Coch – Cardiff

Castell Coch, Cardiff

Image via Flickr

The fairy tale-esque castle, Castell Coch, in Cardiff and the woods that surround it provide the perfect backdrop for an autumnal stroll. See brown, orange and red leaves mix with evergreens to create wonderful scenery to compliment the changing season. Whilst Castell Coch provides walkers with a beautiful autumnal exterior, don’t forget to head inside the small, but perfectly formed, castle to see its ornate décor.

Stourhead – Wiltshire

Stourhead Wiltshire

Image via Flickr

With a world-famous landscape garden, i’s no surprise that Stourhead in Wiltshire would be on a list of where to see seasonal colours this autumn. Crunch through fallen leaves on an estate walk, learn more about the castle on a story walk or join one of Stourhead’s qualified tree climbers to get a birds-eye-view of the stunning surroundings.

Sheffield Park and Garden – Sussex

Sheffield Park and Gardens

Image via Flickr

With varying landscapes, lakes and a number of tree species, Sheffield Park and Garden provides a stunning backdrop in autumn. With leaves changing throughout late September and October there is always a plethora of autumnal tones in the park and reflected in the four lakes. Stunning!

See autumn colour for yourself

At Sykes Cottages we have a huge number of properties that are in ideal locations for seeing seasonal colour changes. If you fancy taking your own wanders through beautiful autumn backdrops why not book a stay in one of our properties located in the countryside and see autumn colours for yourself!

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Leanne Dempsey

By Leanne Dempsey

A lover of reading, eating and shopping Leanne will often be found spending time with her two pugs or snapping away on instagram. A big fan of the city, She likes nothing more than getting away for a weekend break in the UK, her favourite places being London and Bath.

Things to do with the kids this autumn!

Thursday, October 2nd, 2014
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This autumn, there are hundreds of exciting events taking place across the UK that are perfect for a family day out. Autumn is a wonderful time to get out and about; organisations such as the Woodland Trust and the National Trust are working hard to ensure that we make the most of this spectacular season by holding some fantastic events aimed at families. We’ve had a look at the activities on offer and listed a few of our favourites below.

Children’s red squirrel walks

Red Squirrel

Via Flickr

This October half term, Brownsea Island in Dorset is playing host to several children’s red squirrel walks. This island wildlife sanctuary in Poole Harbour is owned by the National Trust and is home to not only the red squirrel but also a host of different kinds of bird including the kingfisher and the dunlin. Children will love the guided woodland red squirrel walks, which will give them a chance to spot these rare creatures and learn more about their natural habitat. The red squirrel walks are taking place from 26th- 29th October, for more information please see the National Trust website.

Into the wild bushcraft activity day


Via Flickr

On 25th October, Brede High Woods in East Sussex are holding a family bushcraft activity day, which is sure to be a fantastic day out and lots of fun for all the family! Located in the High Weald Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, Brede High Woods is full of diverse wildlife and a mix of ancient and secondary woodland, making it a wonderful place to spend the day. The family activity day will teach visitors how to light a fire, build a shelter, forage and identify plants. What’s even better is that the event is completely free, although booking is essential so make sure you visit the Woodland Trust website for more information.

Make a home for a wild animal


Via Flickr

Does your children love animals? If so, then make sure you take them down to Trerice in Cornwall on 28th October, where they can take part in building a bat box to put in their garden! This stunning Elizabethan manor house on the Cornish coast provides the perfect backdrop for this creative activity for young animal-lovers and by taking part, kids will also be able to tick number 36 off their National Trust ’50 Things to do Before You’re 11 ¾’. See the National Trust website for details.

Don’t miss out on our autumn sale!

Holiday cottage in Shropshire

Stable Cottage, Shropshire, Ref. 14117

If you’re planning a UK holiday this autumn then make sure you check out our fantastic autumn sale. With hundreds of cottages offering discounts of up to 20%, you’re sure to bag a bargain on your getaway!

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Louise O'Toole

By Louise O'Toole

Louise loves reading, shopping, baking and cosy country pubs with log fires. A nice cup of tea will never be turned down. She has spent many childhood summers on the beach in Cornwall and walking the hills of the Lake District.

Autumn Wildlife Watch

Monday, September 29th, 2014
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Unlike us Homo sapiens – who batten down the hatches at the first sign of the impending winter – wildlife flourishes when the mercury drops and the leaves turn amber. Whether fattening up on seasonal fruits, nuts and berries, or fleeing the imminent chill, there’s loads of critters to spot during the autumn months. Here’s a quick guide on what you’re likely to see should you stray into the country this fall.

Spot seal pups at Farne Islands

Via Flickr

Via Flickr

Not only are the Farne Islands home to one of the UK’s largest seabird colonies – there’s 23 species here, including 37,000 pairs of puffins – they’re also home to a large grey seal colony. On average, around 1,000 seal pups are born on the Farne Islands every autumn, so it’s the perfect place to spot these enchanting aquatic beasts. Historically, these North Sea islets were renowned for their ties to Celtic Christianity, though in recent times, high tides mean they’re now only accessible by boat. To see these cuties though, a boat trip seems a small price to pay.

Bottlenose Dolphins, The Lizard, Cornwall

Via Flickr

Via Flickr

You know that bit of land in Cornwall that sticks out into the Atlantic? That’s called the Lizard Peninsula, or ‘The Lizard’ for short. Why it’s called the Lizard Peninsula I have no clue, but one thing’s for sure; there’s aquatic wildlife aplenty off the coast of this un-reptilian shaped headland. Basking sharks, seals and harbour porpoises are among the sea dwellers you’re likely to spot off the Lizard coast, as well as everyone’s favourite, the bottlenose dolphin. Autumn is a great time to see dolphins wherever you are in the UK, but the beauty of the Lizard Peninsula is sure to make a sighting that extra bit special.

Black Grouse, Durham Dales

For bumpkins, the grouse is commonplace on any country lane commute. For city slickers however, the closest you may have come to one of these handsome birds is the animated one that appears on TV at Christmastime advertising Scotch. Head to the very lovely Durham Dales during the months of autumn and chances are you’ll spot one or two Black Grouse, a globally threatened variety of the Grouse. Though twitching may not be on everyone’s holiday agenda, an afternoon searching for Black Grouse won’t feel wasted when you see Durham’s charming landscapes.

Red Deer, Beecrags Country Park, West Lothian

Via Flickr

Via Flickr

Although Red Deer are synonymous with the British countryside, how many of us have actually laid eyes on one in the wild? Growing up on the fringes of the Yorkshire Dales, I was lucky enough to see plenty of deer, though none – to my knowledge – were red. For those of you who’d like to see the majestic red deer in the flesh, now’s the perfect time to do so. The Beecrags Country Park in West Lothian is home to a large herd of deer, and it’s around this time that the male bucks go head to head to impress females.

Puffins, South Stack Cliffs, Anglesey

Via Flickr

Via Flickr

Just look at ‘em – aren’t they a delight? Needless to say, I’m a big fan of the humble puffin. These comical cliff dwellers are one of the UK’s most beloved seabirds, and for good reason. Though the largest colony of puffins can be found at RSPB Bempton Cliffs in North Yorkshire, there’s plenty of other places around the British Isles where you can find these multi-coloured wonders, including here, at the South Stack Cliffs in Anglesey. This spectacular headland is teeming with puffins at this time of year, and it’s also the perfect place to blow out the cobwebs with a blustery coastal walk.

Watch wildlife on an autumn cottage break

If your other half’s not keen on devoting a day to wildlife watching, then you could always bribe them with a weekend cottage break from Sykes. We’ve got hundreds of cottages with availability this autumn in many of the UK’s favourite wildlife hotspots, so grab the binoculars and book yours today.

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Jonathan Tuplin

By Jonathan Tuplin

Jonathan is a lover of books, music and good food. Originally from Yorkshire, there's nothing he likes more than a cycle in the country. One of his favourite spots in the UK is Tenby, where he spent many a happy holiday as a child.