Archive for the ‘City Breaks’ Category

Enjoy a Spine-chilling Halloween with Sykes Cottages

Thursday, October 31st, 2013
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If you’re looking for a truly spooky day out this Halloween, why not pay a visit to one of the hundreds of stunning castles that Britain and Ireland have on offer. By nature, castles have long and fascinating histories, having withstood countless attacks and attempted invasions, which makes them the perfect day out for those interested in paranormal activity. The English Heritage have recently released a list of their most haunted properties. Here at Sykes we’ve been inspired and have set out to investigate some of the most haunted castles on offer in the UK and Ireland. Happy Halloween!

Leap Castle, Ireland

Leap Castle, County Offaly, Ireland

Via Flickr

Leap Castle in County Offaly is widely regarded to be Ireland’s most haunted castle. The castle was built around 1250 and was home to the infamous O’Carroll clan who were one of the most feared clans of the time. Spectacularly sinister in appearance, the castle has a macabre and violent history and is definitely not for the faint-hearted. There are many ghosts reported to haunt the castle, including one of the O’Carroll brothers, a priest who was murdered by his own brother. This horrific act brought with it a cloak of misery that has engulfed the castle ever since. Other ghostly characters include a ‘Lady in Red’, 40 men from the McMahon clan who were lured to their deaths and a terrifying creature known as an Elemental, which is far too scary to talk about! Throw in an underground dungeon, skeletons found bricked into the walls and Leap Castle makes for one petrifying visit. If you’re looking to visit Leap Castle then consider booking one of our holiday cottages in Ireland, you may need somewhere to unwind and calm down after your visit!

 

Chillingham Castle, England

Chillingham Castle, Northumberland, England

Via Flickr

Chillingham Castle in Northumberland was built over 800 years ago, occupying a strategically important position close to the border of Scotland. The castle was repeatedly attacked by Scottish armies during this time but held its own. If you were unfortunate enough to be captured at Chillingham Castle, you would be thrown into the Oubliette (a dungeon which can only be accessed through a hatch in the ceiling). Elements of the castle’s horrific history can still be seen today as the dungeon and torture chamber, complete with torture instruments, can be visited along with the rest of the castle. Ghosts that haunt the castle are said to include John Sage, the merciless master of the torture chamber, ‘Blue Boy’ who has been seen walking around the castle surrounded by a bright aura, and the heartbroken ghost of Lady Mary Berkeley who’s dress can sometimes be heard rustling as she searches the castle in vain for her husband who ran off with her younger sister.

 

Edinburgh Castle, Scotland

Edinburgh Castle, Scotland

Via Flickr

The city of Edinburgh has been crowned the most haunted city in Europe so it makes sense that it would be home to one of the most haunted castles. Edinburgh Castle sits high on a hill looming over the city on a site that has been occupied for defensive purposes since the Iron Age. There have been hundreds of reports over the years from both staff and visitors to the castle, claiming to have had the sensation of being pulled or watched, with many reporting sudden temperature drops, green lights and shadowy figures.  Ghosts that are said to haunt the castle include a headless drummer boy, a phantom dog and a piper who was lost in the tunnels below the castle. At one point, the castle’s dungeons were used to quarantine victims of the plague and there have also been reports of phantom prisoners haunting the hallways. There are a whole host of ghostly goings-on across the city and if you’re particularly interested in the paranormal, Edinburgh is a fantastic place to visit.

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.

Sykes’ Spooky Cities

Wednesday, October 30th, 2013
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You can tell that Halloween is upon us, the pumpkins are being carved and the costumes are being created. All of the talk is about plans for the big night, whether it’s a Halloween party, a night in with your favourite horror films or maybe just terrifying the neighbours with a bit of trick or treating. However one option that people might not have thought about is the Ghost Walk. They may be a more recent Halloween phenomenon but they are growing in popularity year on year and are the perfect option for the particularly fearless out there. Not only will you be scared out of your wits but you’ll also learn many of your favourite city’s hidden secrets from terrifying tales to ghastly ghosts; what more could you ask for on Halloween?

York

Where else to start but at the very home of the Ghost Walk? Way back in 1973 York saw the first ever Ghost Walk and they’ve been getting bigger and better ever since. It is the perfect way to soak up the folklore and culture of this fantastic city, not to mention see many of its famous landmarks in a whole new light from the majestic Minster right the way through to the ever popular Shambles.

Via. Flickr

Chester

That’s right, Sykes Cottages’ home-town is the location of one of the country’s creepiest Ghost Walks, however it comes as little surprise when you think about it. Two thousand years of history have given the city every opportunity to amass a collection of scary stories and terrifying tales. Chester may well be characterised by its ancient walls, cobbled streets and the world-famous rows so you would probably be excused for thinking of the city as being quaint and quiet. However under this exterior Chester hides many dark secrets; from ghosts to ghouls, spectres to poltergeists this spooky city claims to have them all!

Chester Clock Tower

Via. Flickr

Edinburgh

If you’re north of the border then why not pay a visit to Edinburgh for Mercat Tours’ All Hallows Eve Special? You’ll see iconic landmarks such as the Castle and the Royal Mile, and if you’re feeling particularly fearless, you can also head down into the Blair Street Underground Vaults. Throughout the Halloween period there are walks running from the afternoon all the way through to the middle of the night so you’re sure to find a walk to suit you.

Edinburgh Castle

Via. Flickr

Hopefully you’ll be feeling inspired to get out and about this Halloween, but don’t forget that the Ghost Walks run all year round, so why not book yourself a City Break with Sykes Cottages and join in the fun!

 

Jamie Tomkins

By Jamie Tomkins

Jamie is a big fan of long weekend walks with the dog, especially when there is the chance to refuel with lunch in a country pub. Living in Lancaster for three years gave him the perfect opportunity to spend a lot of time in the Lake District.

Sunday Snapshots: Illuminating York

Sunday, October 27th, 2013
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If you’re anything like the majority of 9 to 5ers across the UK, it can feel like you live life in perpetual darkness when the clocks go back and the dim mornings and dusky evenings of winter take hold. But fear not my fellow diurnals, because some cunning folk in the grand old city of York have come up with a twinkling solution to our woe. Taking place between 30th October and the 2nd November (so only a temporary fix; apologies for inappropriate spirit raising), this bunch of bright brainiacs will be illuminating York as part of their aptly named annual festival, Illuminating York! Visit the city any evening on the above dates and feast your eyes on an iridescent medley of dazzling digital light shows, cast on to some of York’s most esteemed landmarks in recognition of the city’s unique culture and heritage. The theme for this year’s event is ‘Illuminating the Past, Enlightening the Future’, allegedly chosen to celebrate the deep connection that the city has had to incoming cultures throughout its 2,000 year history.

So embrace the darkness and be enthralled by the enlightening artworks that will shine from Clifford’s Tower to the imposing Minster, before taking to the cobbled streets to enjoy a candlelit ghost tour on All Hallows’ eve; can you think of a better way to enjoy some good old darkness this autumn?

Take a look at last year’s lavish light show below!

Illuminating York installation 'Rose' on the South Transept

Via Flickr

York Minster

Via Flickr

Accendo

Via Flickr

Illuminating York 2009

Via Flickr

Via Flickr

Illuminating York 2010 [365 - day 303]

Via Flickr

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.

Enjoy a self-catering city break this autumn

Friday, September 27th, 2013
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With the onset of autumn and the sun’s increasing absenteeism, swap flip flops for ankle boots and put a smile on the other half’s face this season with an impromptu weekend city break from Sykes Cottages. We’ve a growing number of super inner-city cottages, entrenched within the borders of some of the UK’s most palatial metropolises, including York, Chester, Edinburgh and Lincoln, which provide the perfect base for a spot of urban exploration! With fewer tourists and cooler temperatures, there’s really no better time to pound the pavements of your favourite city than autumn, but if you’re still in need of a little inspiration, read our handy guide to three of the UK’s top stops for a self-catering city break.

Step back in time on a cottage break in York

The Shambles, York

Via Flickr

We’re sure you’ve read about York in one history book or another, but until you’ve paid it a visit yourself it’s difficult to appreciate the scope of history that is encased within the city’s ancient walls. Speaking of walls, that’s where we’ll begin. Take a lap around the city of York from the vantage point of this spectacular roman-age structure to get a feel for the panorama of this archaic city, before stooping into The Shambles to pick up a trinket or some local produce from one of the street’s original oak fronted medieval shops. Swap the modern age for the Viking age in the JORVIK centre, home to an interactive Viking city as well as a deluge of funky Nordic odours! Or, terrorize yourself at the York Dungeon, where you’ll be petrified by the Plague Doctor and witness the sticky end of Guy Fawkes. Take a tumble back to yesteryear for yourself with one of our self-catering cottages in York; who knows what you’ll uncover on your weekend escape in this age-old city!

Eat well in Edinburgh on your next city break

Edinburgh Castle, Edinburgh

Via Flickr

Edinburgh, birthplace of Hogmanay, haggis and Sean Connery, and now the jewel in the UK’s culinary crown. If you’re out to indulge on your next city break, there’s really no better place. You’ll find all manner of Scottish gastronomy amongst the city’s Michelin-starred restaurants, food markets and specialist delicatessens, making Edinburgh an outright mecca for foodies. Gorge on Highland Bay langoustine and Aberdeen steak in the city’s top restaurants; sip warming Scotch over a plate of hearty fare on the Royal Mile, or cook up a storm in your Edinburgh cottage kitchen with ingredients sourced from the weekly farmer’s market, before snuggling up for a supper of oatcakes and chutney in front of your cottage’s open log fire. Can you think of a better way to spend a sumptuous weekend away?

Soak up some city culture in Plymouth

Plymouth Barbican, Plymouth

Via Flickr

With a pseudonym like ‘Britain’s Ocean City’, it’s easy to assume that the only thing on offer in Plymouth is its maritime heritage and golden Devonshire shoreline. But don’t rule out the culture of this South coast city just yet! As it turns out, Plymouth offers a plethora of cultural activities for the urban gadabout, including exhibitions, concerts and regional fêtes, making it the perfect place for an enriching city getaway. Scrutinise the work of top UK artists at the Artist’s Make Faces exhibition, commissioned by Monika Kinley; enter the ‘live studio’ of Edward Waite as you sidle through his Urban Architecture; fill your Plymouth holiday cottage with homely antiques and kitchenalia acquired at the city’s annual Vintage Fair, before heading to Café Acoustica, an evening of unplugged music and performance poetry at Plymouth’s B-Bar.

Our short city breaks are available on a last minute basis, so why not spice up your weekend with a spontaneous urban getaway? To find out more, take a look at our self-catering city breaks page today.

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.