Archive for the ‘Devon’ Category

Five of our favourite bike rides in Devon

Saturday, March 7th, 2015
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Prefer pedal power to horse? Like feeling the wind in your barnet? Then you’ll love our guide to Devon’s bike rides! We’ve scoured the county to bring you five of our favourite cycle routes; with off-road jaunts and long-distance tarmacked trails, you’ll witness the picturesque Devonshire countryside like never before.

Drake’s Trail

Skirting the western fringes of Dartmoor, Drake’s Trail offers attractive scenery and a stimulating mix of hills, heritage and wildlife. This 21-mile route traverses the backbone of Devon – from Plymouth on the south coast to Ilfracombe on the north – and provides a feasible day’s ride for amateurs or a useful training route for hardened pedal-fanatics. Points of interest along the trail include Gem Bridge, Grenofen Tunnel as well as the towns of Tavistock, Okehampton and Barnstaple.

Find out more about Drake’s Trail

Tarka Trail

Image by Ian Haskins is licensed under CC 2.0

Image by Ian Haskins is licensed under CC 2.0

For those not accustomed to filtering through traffic on two wheels, the Tarka Trail provides a great alternative. This is one of the UK’s longest traffic-free cycling routes, with over 30-miles of glorious, car-less trail to enjoy. The Tarka Trail traverses a stretch of disused Devonshire railway, making it flat, smooth and easy to navigate. Along the route, cyclists can enjoy views of the Taw Estuary, as well as stop-offs in Braunton, Chivenor and Bideford – a must for any bike-mad families in search of a safe and simple cycle route.

Find out more about the Tarka Trail

Princetown & Burrator

Image by John is licensed under CC 2.0

Image by John is licensed under CC 2.0

Do the untamed heaths of Dartmoor tantalise your inner nutter? Then swap the road bike for an MTB and explore this wild wonder on the Princetown & Burrator mountain bike trail. This 20km thrill-fest is graded intermediate to difficult, so be sure you’re comfortable with your bike and your abilities before setting out. Those brave enough will be rewarded with an exhilarating trip to the heart of Dartmoor, utilising gnarly bridleways and cobbled tracks to navigate this beautiful, desolate landscape.

Find out more about the Princetown & Burrator mountain bike trail

Stop Line Way

Tootle down Route 33 from Brean to Axminster and experience another side of Somerset & Devon. This route is known as the Stop Line Way, given that it follows the Taunton Stop Line – a World War II invasion defence built in 1940. The route runs from the Somerset coast in the North to Axminster in the South, and there are a number of places to pull over and admire the views. Thanks to its easy going trail, the Stop Line Way is sure to be a big hit among little bikers.

Find out more about the Stop Line Way

The Granite Way

Meldon Viaduct by Graham Tait is licensed under CC 2.0

Meldon Viaduct by Graham Tait is licensed under CC 2.0

18 miles of traffic-free pedalling await on The Granite Way. This fantastic, purpose-built cycleway forms part of Devon’s coast to coast network, and makes it easy for less-confident cyclists to see the scenic beauty of Dartmoor. For some, 18-miles may sound a lot, but with a number of attractions to stop-off at along the trail, The Granite Way is doable over a pleasant day’s ride. Take in the panoramic views atop the Meldon Viaduct; spot dragonflies and bluebells among the heath and woodland; or stop off at a country pub for liquid refreshments or a spot of delicious Devonshire fare.

Find out more about The Granite Way

Rent a cottage in Devon for a cycling holiday

Devon Cycle 6

Planning a pedal-powered getaway? Then look no further than our range of cyclist friendly holiday cottages. With around 1,500 cottages available for a cycling holiday, you’re sure to find the perfect accommodation for your trip. To find out more about our bike friendly holiday rentals, click here.

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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.

Devon’s Fabulous Food and Drink

Friday, March 6th, 2015
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For today’s entry into the Sykes Cottages blog we’re going to be taking a trip down the west country to take a closer look at some of the best local produce that Devon has to offer. If you’re anything like me then you might not have thought of Devon as being a centre of culinary excellence but we couldn’t be more wrong! The rolling hills and lush green pastures mean that Devon is one of the true homes of British dairy produce, and it turns out they aren’t too shy of the odd tipple! So we’ve been doing our reading and have picked out some of our favourite Devonshire foods and drinks to show you, have a look and see which you fancy trying!

The Devonshire Cream Tea

We couldn’t really have started with anything else could we, after all cream tea is a true British institution! However, you might not be aware of the long standing rivalry that exists between Devon and Cornwall over the cream tea – for the record, Devonians say that it has to be cream first and then the jam or if you’re in Cornwall it’s jam then cream. But no matter which way round you add the toppings you can’t really beat a good cream tea and there are few places better to tuck into one that Devon. There are countless quaint tea shops all over the Devonshire countryside who specialise in the delight so make sure you pop in and try one if you’re ever in the area!

Scrumpy

Then we’ve got the West Country’s favourite tipple, good old fashioned cider. Nowadays you’ll be able to find countless varieties of cider from all over down the local boozer but you can pretty much guarantee that it won’t match up to that produced in Devon’s orchards. The local favourite is a variety known as scrumpy, which derives from the local term for a small shrivelled apple, but don’t let that put you off! Scrumpy tends to be cloudier in appearance than your standard cider and it is normally a touch stronger, but it’s the perfect refreshment on a hot summer’s day!

Devonshire Blue

Next up we’ve got the wide selection of cheeses on offer. As it turns out, Devon is near enough the perfect spot for the production of dairy products. A good climate, reasonable frequent rains and extremely fertile soil mean the grasslands provide excellent food for the dairy herds and this shows in the quality of the cheeses. It’s too hard to pick out just one variety to recommend although the Devonshire Blue was crowned Britain’s Best Cheese a couple of years ago!

Plymouth Gin

And finally we’re finishing with the world famous Plymouth Gin. Devon actually has a long connection with the gin trade that stretches back several hundred years, and it’s still thriving to this day. Plymouth Gin remains one of the most famous brands going, although its heyday was at the turn of the twentieth century. Back then the distilleries were shipping out a thousand cases every week to New York alone, and what’s more, in his original dry Martini recipe, Martini di Arma di Taggia specifically stated Plymouth Gin as one of the main ingredients. Right to this day, Plymouth is still produced in the same Black Friar’s Distillery that has been going for over 300 years and is now also the site of a fashionable brasserie – the perfect place to spend an afternoon!

Hopefully you’ve enjoyed learning a bit about some of the stunning local produce that you can try out in Devon. And if you fancy a trip down to indulge then why don’t you take a look at our wide selection of Devonshire holiday cottages, we’ve got everything from cosy cottages for couples right the way through to properties big enough for the whole family to fit in.

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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.

Devon’s Best Beaches

Wednesday, March 4th, 2015
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Devon has long been renowned for its beautiful coastline, a fact that was cemented earlier this year when TripAdvisor listed Woolacombe as the fourth best beach in Europe. To coincide with Woolacombe’s new title we have decided to put together a list of our favourite beaches in Devon, but be warned; this fantastic selection of beaches may see you booking a holiday to Devon sooner than expected!

Woolacombe

Naturally Woolacombe has made it to the top of our list; with its rolling surf, unbroken Atlantic breakers, golden sands and spectacular views over the Woolacombe Downs, it’s easy to see why TripAdvisor chose this award winning beach! I’ve fallen off my surfboard more times than I would care to admit in Woolacombe, but for those of you more experienced at ‘hanging ten’, this beach is the ideal spot for a summer spent on the waves.

Slapton Sands

Slapton Sands is the type of beach you’d expect to see plastered across the front of a post card, but that’s not a bad thing! This idyllic shoreline makes for the perfect family holiday; with soft dense sands for constructing sandcastles, a gentle current for swimming or canoeing and of course plenty of room for sun bathing. This beach is also a great spot for animal lovers as it’s open to dogs all year round.

East Portlemouth

Okay, so we’ve cheated a little with this beach, as East Portlemouth isn’t just one long stretch of coast but actually several small beaches, coves and bays. Each of the small independent beaches have won Safe Bathing status and with so many to choose from you’re pretty much guaranteed your own secluded spot, making this beach perfect for couples.

Bigbury on Sea

This particular beach has a number of award winning qualities, but possibly it’s most noticeable feature is its beautiful scenery. Located in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, Bigbury on Sea is a photographer’s dream, with shallow waters, soft clean sand and wonderful views towards Burgh Island. For views back towards Bigbury on Sea, cross to Burgh Island at low tide or grab a ride on the ever popular sea tracker during high tide.

Blackpool Sands

Blackpool Sands brings a little slice of the Mediterranean to Devon with its clear waters, clean beach and fragrant backdrop of scented pines and evergreens. This picturesque stretch of coast is not only perfect for a lazy Sunday afternoon spent relaxing on the shore but with fantastic water sports available and the delicious Venues Café within striking distance, it’s easy to see why this beach has been awarded Blue Flag status.

So there you have it, our choice of Doven’s best beaches. If this list has left you longing for a trip to the south coast then why not book one of our holiday cottages in Devon? Full of character and style, these cottages are the perfect addition to any beach break!

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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.

Try something different: Adventure breaks on Dartmoor

Tuesday, March 3rd, 2015
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Dartmoor National Park in Devon is well known for its dramatic landscape and its ability to combine four seasons worth of weather into one day, but did you know that it’s also the perfect place to plan your next adventure break? This ruggedly beautiful corner of England is a haven for all things adventure, from walking to cycling and climbing to watersports; here are just a few of the fantastic activities you can do on Dartmoor.

Climbing

If you’re thinking of heading on a climbing or bouldering holiday, Dartmoor is a fantastic place to visit. Famous for its towering granite tors, Dartmoor is ideal for both solo climbers and groups, providing the perfect playground for climbing enthusiasts in one of the wildest parts of the country. The unspoilt and striking landscape offers climbing and bouldering opportunities for all abilities and some of the most popular tors to climb include: Dewerstone, Haytor, Hound Tor, Leigh Tor and Foggintor Quarry. There is a climbing code of conduct in place at Dartmoor so if you’re planning a visit then please make sure you have a good read first – you can see it on the Dartmoor National Park website here.

Watersports

During the winter months, Dartmoor is a magnet for canoeists and kayakers, with some of the best mid-grade white water in the country. Canoeing and kayaking offer a different view of Dartmoor’s unique wildlife from a perspective that’s not available to those on foot. It doesn’t matter whether you’re after a gentle paddle whilst taking in the stunning scenery or something a little more challenging and adrenaline-fuelled, the waters of Dartmoor provide something for everyone. If you’re a beginner, there are also plenty of accredited activity centres in the area that will enable you to find your feet in a safe environment led by expert instructors.

Cycling

With its natural beauty and vast, rolling landscape, Dartmoor is also a popular destination for cyclists. There are over 368 square miles to explore and the routes are varied; quiet, country lanes to wind through at your own leisurely pace, designated cycle routes with panoramic views across the moorlands, and over 350km of bridleways and byways that are perfect for mountain biking. For a great weekend cycling break, why not take on the 95 mile Dartmoor Way which opened in 2013? The route is suitable for cyclists of all abilities and passes through many pretty Devon villages including Bovey Tracey and Tavistock, so there’s plenty of opportunity to stop for nice pub lunch!

Book a holiday cottage on Dartmoor

If you’re thinking of heading for an adventure break on Dartmoor then don’t forget to check out some of the fantastic holiday cottages that we have available in the area. Our dedicated reservations team are on hand 7 days a week from 9am until 9.30pm; give them a call on 01244 356 695 or you can send us an email.

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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.

Sunny Delight: Top 5 Destinations in Devon

Monday, March 2nd, 2015
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Did you know: Devon is the fourth largest county in England? Well, it is. Stretching from the Bristol Channel to the English Channel and from Plymouth to Lyme Regis, this south-west county takes up a sizeable chunk of our fair isle. For those planning a trip, it can be tough to decide where to stay: Do you opt for the north with its big Atlantic swells? How about the south whose fishing villages are ever-so-pretty? Or, perhaps the dramatic heaths of Dartmoor will draw you near?

To help make choosing a holiday home in Devon easier, we’ve shortlisted five of our favourite Devonshire villages that we think would make the ideal holiday destination.

Clovelly

Clovelly by Barney Moss is licensed under CC 2.0

Clovelly by Barney Moss is licensed under CC 2.0

From its steep, cobbled streets to its ancient harbour, it’s clear Clovelly is no run of the mill English village. This is a place where cars are prohibited; a place where goods are carried on makeshift sledges from shop to shop; a place hemmed by woodland and ocean; a place to be cherished, loved and respected. Unusually, Clovelly is still privately owned, just as it has been for over 800 years, and perhaps more unusually, the majority of its buildings are architecturally listed. Put plainly, Clovelly is an extraordinary destination – don’t miss it.

Widecombe-in-the-Moor

Amid the wild grandeur of Dartmoor, the peaceful, unobtrusive village of Widecombe-in-the-Moor seems strangely tame. A string of quaint cottages, hearth-warmed pubs and a pretty church provide visitors with a charming respite from the untamed heathlands which encircle the village. Despite being back-o-beyond, Widecombe attracts many visitors; it’s home to the Dartmoor National Park Visitor Centre, and many of the moorland’s walks begin and end in the village. Those staying in and around the village should expect a quiet, tranquil and stimulating getaway.

Beer

Beer Beach by Claire Dickson is licensed under CC 2.0

Beer Beach by Claire Dickson is licensed under CC 2.0

Head south to Devon’s Dorset-esque Jurassic Coast and you’d be wise to stay in Beer, one of Devon’s best loved coastal villages. Despite its name, Beer has no associations with drink; instead, the village’s title is derived from the Anglo-Saxon word for “grove” which refers to the nearby woodland. Beer was once one of the south west’s most notorious smugglers’ coves, and this is something celebrated by villagers to this day. Come summer, Beer’s beach is a haven for sun worshippers thanks to its luxuriously soft sand and sheltered aspect – book a break in Beer this summer and you’ll be in seventh heaven.

Lydford

Lydford Castle by TempusVolat is licensed under CC 2.0

Lydford Castle by TempusVolat is licensed under CC 2.0

Looking to discover Devon’s history? There’s no better place than Lydford. This small, sleepy village was once an economic powerhouse, until Viking raiders put an end to the region’s prosperity in the 6th century. Now, Lydford has a drowsy, bucolic feel, and is easily the most peaceful place on our shortlist. Despite its sleepy vibe, Lydford proves a superb holiday base; the village is in a prime location for exploring Dartmoor and is within daytrip distance of the Devonshire coast as well as the Cornish border.

Mortehoe

Mortehoe Beach by Chris Frewin is licensed under CC 2.0

Mortehoe Beach by Chris Frewin is licensed under CC 2.0

Sand dunes and sea cliffs await in the coastal village of Mortehoe on Devon’s enriching north coast. The village and its encompassing landscape are typical of North Devon; think rugged tors, heathland and of course, breaker beaten beaches. Mortehoe itself is very popular with tourists, and has enough amenities – including pubs, cafes and restaurants – to keep travellers fed and watered. Strike out from Mortehoe and you’ll stumble upon some of Devon’s other, larger towns, including Barnstaple and Woolacombe, making the village a superb base for touring the county.

Book a break in Devon this summer with Sykes Cottages

Sun, sea and sand – add dramatic countryside, ancient history and friendly locals to this list, and you’re one step closer to describing Devon. If you’re looking for a sunny, fun and interesting destination for this year’s summer break, book a cottage holiday in Devon this summer with Sykes Cottages. We have hundreds of holiday rentals from coast to country throughout the county, so you’re sure to find a Devonshire holiday home that’s perfect for you.

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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.