Archive for the ‘Holiday Ideas’ Category

Our Favourite Forest Cottages

Saturday, November 28th, 2015
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Today we’re taking a sneak peek at some of our favourite cottages, all of which are within a short distance from a famous forest. From Kielder right up in the north of Northumberland through to the Forest of Dean down in Gloucestershire, they all combine the beauty of the great outdoors with a cosy cottage, so why don’t you take a look and see which you’d like to pay a visit to?

Kielder Forest – Greystead Old Church (ref. 23575)

Situated just a few miles from Kielder Water, right in the heart of the Kielder Forest Park, Greystead Old Church is a stunning Grade II listed former Georgian church. Lovingly restored just a couple of years ago, the property was transformed into beautiful holiday cottage whilst retaining plenty of the original features including the stained glass windows, Georgian panelling and the Gothic archway. With four bedrooms, Greystead Old Church can comfortably sleep up to eight people making it perfect for family get-togethers or breaks with friends alike, and with the Kielder Forest right on the doorstep you’ll never struggle for something to do. With the darkest skies in the whole of the country, Kielder is one of the best places to do a spot of stargazing and you could even pop down to the famous observatory, which is just a little way up the road.

Grizedale Forest – 3 Vale View (ref. 25709)

Or alternatively, we’ve got 3 Vale View which is just on the outskirts of the Grizedale Forest in the Lake District. It’s a traditional whitewashed property in the picturesque hamlet of Hannakin – the perfect place to catch some stunning views. In fact the property is geared towards making the most out of these panoramas with the upside down arrangement meaning you’ll be able to enjoy uninterrupted vistas from the living areas. Just down the road, you’ll be able to find the quaint village of Hawkshead, famously the former home to both William Wordsworth and Beatrix Potter. These literary links mean that Hawkshead is a veritable haven for all of the book lovers out there, offering tours of Wordsworth’s old school and the Beatrix Potter gallery where you’ll be able to find many of her original illustrations. Or if you’d count yourself as more of an adrenaline junkie, then there’s always the Go Ape and mountain bike trails in Grizedale Forest itself.

The Forest of Dean – Ciderpress Cottage (ref. 24803)

And finally we’ve got the Forest of Dean and Ciderpress Cottage. A detached barn conversion situated in an idyllic rural location, the ground floor of the cottage features a cosy living room full to the rafters with charm, and up just a couple of steps you’ll be able to find the magnificent kitchen complete with all of the mod cons that you could ask for. Upstairs there are two comfortable bedrooms which between them can sleep four people, making it a great cottage for a family break. In the Forest of Dean itself, you’ll be able to try out a huge array of activities and things to pass the time, ranging from segway riding to bushcraft and maybe even a trip around the Westons Cider Mill.

So there’s just a small selection of some of our favourite forest cottages, we hope that you liked them but don’t forget you can always have a quick look through to the full collection – we’re sure you’ll find something to suit you!

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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.

Why London has a lot in common with the rest of the UK

Friday, November 27th, 2015
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Great Britain is home to both remarkable countryside, and invigorating cities – but what happens when you pair the two? We’ve taken some of our treasured cottage locations and paired them with what we think could be their London twin!

Whether they’re twinned because we think they share the same buzz, are keen on the same activities or own similar landmarks, we’ve tried to summarise the quirks of these places to show that, really, the big smoke and the countryside aren’t so far apart after all…

Shoreditch and Hastings


With Hastings having been described as the “Shoreditch of Essex” in the past, we’ve paired these two areas for their love of art and the keen creative scene.

Notting Hill and Hay-on-Wye


Thanks to the movie of the same name, there’s no disassociating Notting Hill from bookshops – and the small town of Hay-on-Wye in Wales is renowned for its high number of them, too. A match made in a book lover’s heaven!

The East End and Whitstable


Seafood is the common denominator in these two places. East London is the perfect spot to try some jellied eel, but head to Whitstable, and you’ll surely find some Whitstable Oysters to sample.

Ham and Kirtlington


Both Ham (located on the outskirts of London) and Kirtlington (just north of Oxford) are home to respected polo clubs. As well as being a centre for the game, both bring a tremendous sense of community to their respective homes!

Westminster and Dulverton


Believe it or not, both Westminster and Dulverton are home to keen stargazing communities. Regent’s Park in Westminster is home to the Baker Street Irregular Astronomers who aim to make the most of the poor darkness levels and in Dulverton, there is Exmoor National Park which was the first International Dark Sky Reserve in Europe.

Sutton and Cheltenham


Perfect for parents and their kids, both Sutton and Cheltenham have been singled out as family-friendly areas! Thanks to the beautiful parks and community facilities of Sutton, it’s known as one of London’s friendliest areas, and Cheltenham has been ranked as the top place in the UK to raise a family.

Putney and Cambridge


The relationship between Putney and Cambridge is a watery one – in the strongest sense of the term! Each year, Putney hosts the Oxbridge boat race but Cambridge is also home to its own water sport activity – the annual Dragon Boat Festival.

Hampstead and Buttermere


Open-water swimming fans in London may have already experienced taking a dip at Hampstead Heath, but how about a trip to the Lake District? Buttermere is one of the best places for those who like swimming al fresco – but be sure to don a wetsuit outside of the summer months!

Clapham and Skipwith


Both Clapham and Skipwith are home to large commons, making them perfect destinations for those with families and furry friends. Skipwith Common is also Natural England’s newest Natural Nature Reserve.

Richmond and Harrogate


In 2009, Richmond was declared as London’s “happiest borough” and recently, it was announced that Harrogate is home to the happiest people in Britain – a happy twinning indeed!

Dulwich and St Ives


Art appreciators, assemble! While Dulwich is known for the Dulwich Picture Gallery, head to the Cornish coast and you’ll find the Tate St Ives, as well as many other boutique galleries.

Tom Lowes at Sykes Cottages, adds: “We’re incredibly lucky here in the UK. We’ve got large cities and vast countryside on our doorsteps – but we want to highlight that you don’t have to head into London to experience something a little different. In short, the essence of city life can be found further afield – you just have to know where to look for it!”

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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.

Small Cottages Perfect For One

Wednesday, November 11th, 2015
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Not everyone likes to travel as part of a large group, in fact many of us would prefer to holiday alone and treat ourselves to the finer things in life whilst enjoying a little peace and quiet. If you’re a solo traveller in search of a cottage for one, keep reading as we list four of our favourite small cottages which are sure to inspire your next getaway.

Westwick Edge Cottage

Bishop Monkton, Yorkshire Dales

Westwick Edge Cottages | Reference 921446

Westwick Edge Cottages | Reference 921446

Westwick Edge Cottage provides a wonderful holiday hideaway in the heart of the Yorkshire Dales, just a short drive from the charming city of Ripon. This comfortable cottage is perfect for individuals who are looking for a little down time. Here you can spend your afternoons exploring Ripon and the Yorkshire Dales at a leisurely pace, before heading back to the cosy Westwick Edge Cottage to curl up on the sofa with a glass of wine and a good book.

The Cider Mill

Westhope, Heart of England

The Cider Mill | Reference 11799

The Cider Mill | Reference 11799

Providing fantastic Grade II listed accommodation, The Cider Mill can be found nestled amongst the apple orchards of Westhope village in the Heart of England. This character cottage comes with luxury décor, exposed beams and an inviting woodburning stove, making this snug property almost too good to leave. If you do decide to venture outside, then you’ll be rewarded with numerous walks and birdwatching opportunities as well as a warm welcome from villagers at the local pub.

Charcoal Nook

Nibthwaite, Lake District

Charcoal Nook | Reference 5253

Charcoal Nook | Reference 5253

Situated in the picturesque Lake District, just one mile from the beautiful Coniston Water, Charcoal Nook offers high class accommodation for those individuals wishing to connect with nature. From this wonderful cottage you can explore the east shore of the lake by following one of the many foot or bike paths which can be found on your door step. Once you’ve finished exploring, make your way back to Charcoal Nook and retire to the comfort of your super king size bed for a good night’s sleep.

Monks Cottage

Threshfield, Yorkshire Dales

Monks Cottage | Reference  21352

Monks Cottage | Reference 21352

Offering a warm and inviting escape from everyday life, Monks Cottage can be found in the stunning Yorkshire Dales National Park. Great for individuals travelling with their pets, this lovely cottage allows up to two well behaved dogs and provides a spacious lawned garden for them to play in. When you’re not having fun in the garden, venture a little further on and you’ll discover a fantastic walk along the river which leads to Linton Falls, a wonderful spot of a solo picnic!

To see our full selection of small holiday cottages please click here.

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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.

10 Cosy Cottages With Open Fires

Thursday, November 5th, 2015
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At this time of year, we all dream of having a roaring fire to cuddle up in front of. After a long day exploring the local town or roaming through the countryside, there’s nothing better than stoking up the fire and relaxing in its glow. For a cosy winter getaway this year, take a look at these stunning cottages with glorious open fires.

Oughtershaw Hall, Yorkshire Dales

See it here: Ref. 921374

For a grand getaway with family and friends, look no further than this splendid country estate in the Yorkshire Dales National Park, with no fewer than three open fires!

The Lodge, Lake District

See it here: Ref 911747

The Lodge is the perfect romantic bolthole for a winter getaway. Just picture yourself snuggling up with your loved one in front of the warming woodburner with a glass of wine!

Wenning Bank, Yorkshire Dales

See it here: Ref 904721

Wenning Bank is a picturesque Grade II listed country house in the heart of Three Peaks Country; ideal for a small family or two couples looking for a rural retreat with a roaring fire.

Old Chapel, Devon

See it here: Ref. 919297

This spectacular chapel conversion is nestled near the North Devon coastline. With a floor-to-ceiling stone fireplace, wonderful sea views and ten acres of grounds, this holiday home is truly impressive.

Driftwood, Anglesey

See it here: Ref 4196

Just 150 yards from the beach, Driftwood is bright and airy with stripped pine floors, contemporary décor and a wonderful cosy woodburner.

Nethergill Farm Byre, Yorkshire Dales

See it here: Ref 22132

Head to Nethergill Farm Byre for a peaceful holiday away from the hustle and bustle. With a tranquil farm location and no phone signal, you’re sure to come home refreshed and rejuvenated.

Afallon, Gwynedd

See it here: Ref 926773

This lovely period town house, just a few minutes’ walk from Porthmadog harbour, is a shabby chic dream with beautiful original features and striking feature fireplaces.

San Therese, County Clare

See it here: Ref 4645

San Therese is a fantastic property for holidays with family or friends, enjoying breath-taking views out across the Clare coastline and just two miles from the famous Flaggy Shore.

Idlers Cottage, Somerset

See it here: Ref 3516

This charming romantic retreat is like something from a story book with its quaint décor and snug woodburner- spend the morning in bed watching the flames dance.

17 The Cliff, Cornwall

See it here: Ref 26244

Perched on the cliff above Mevagissey, this inviting cottage is located close to the South West Coast Path and just five minutes’ walk from the harbour with its shops, pubs and restaurants.

Rent a holiday cottage with a log fire

We’ve over 2,900 cottages with open fires for you to choose from so if you’re looking for a cosy cottage where you can relax in front of a roaring fire, please visit our website and take your pick!

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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.

Alternative Days Out

Tuesday, November 3rd, 2015
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The UK is packed full of fantastic days out and attractions to visit but once you’ve explored each castle, climbed every mountain and investigated all the historic landmarks, what’s left to do? In today’s blog we take a look at some of the UK’s alternative days out, days out with activities that you have yet to try, that offer new and exciting experiences.  These days out are sure to offer something different on your next holiday and provide you with plenty of inspiration for long weekends away.


Falconry is an ancient and exciting activity that many people have heard of but have not yet tried. On a recent day out, the team here at Sykes HQ experienced falconry first hand and I have to say it was one of the best days out I’ve ever had! Watching these incredible birds in flight is truly inspiring and being able to handle and work with them is a real treat. If you fancy trying this exciting activity then you couldn’t ask for a better provider than Hawkins Falconry. Visit Nigel Hawkins and you can see Goshawks and Harris Hawks in action as they work alongside German Short Haired Pointers, you can take a hawk walk across the country or even give ‘parahawking’ a go, an exciting experience that combines both paragliding and falconry.

Hawkins Falconry is based in South Staffordshire but they also have venues in Shropshire and South Wales. Your falconry experience is guaranteed to be unique so for more information on what’s available or to book, please email

White Water Rafting

A wonderful activity for the whole family, white water rafting is an exercise sure to get your blood pumping. You can go white water rafting at any time of year making it perfect for the British weather because let’s face it, you’re going to get wet anyway! The River Tay in Scotland and Nae Limits offer the ideal combination for white water rafting; Nae Limits provide the guidance and expertise and the River Tay provides the waves. The professionals at Nae Limits will brief you on all things rafting and initiate games before letting the river take over. Visit during summer for a slower pace suitable for families and beginners, or wrap up warm and take on the winter waters for a faster session ideal for the adrenaline junkies amongst us.

White water rafting along the River Tay with Nae Limits will cost your group £45.00 per person. The activity lasts three hours and covers a 6 mile stretch of the river between Aberfeldy and Grandtully. For more information and bookings please email

Climb the O2

Thousands of people walk past the O2 every day and as one of the UK’s most iconic buildings, its appearance is easily recognised, but did you know that you can climb to the very top of the building with Up at The O2? With a top height of 52 metres, this experience is not for the faint-hearted. However if you have a head for heights and a thirst for adventure, this could be the perfect activity for you. The O2’s incredible height provides a phenomenal 360 degree view of London and some of its most popular areas including the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park and Canary Wharf.

Up at the O2 is suitable for those aged 10 years or older and participants must be at least 1.2 metres tall. Prices start from as little as £28 per person and the climb lasts around 90 minutes. For more information or to make a booking, please visit the Up at The O2 website.

These are just a few of the different days out available to you in the UK, if you have an idea for an alternative day out then feel free to share it with us by commenting on our Facebook page or tweeting us.

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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.