Archive for the ‘Holiday Ideas’ Category

Britain’s Best Safari Parks

Tuesday, March 31st, 2015
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One of the best things about the arrival of spring is that there are so many opportunities for fun days out! If you’re looking for ideas for family days out this Easter then a safari park is a brilliant option. The kids will love seeing all the animals up close, especially if you can bring yourself to drive through the monkey enclosure- this was always my favourite part as a child! To help you out, we’ve done a bit of research and come up with three of the best safari parks in the UK to visit this Easter:

Knowsley Safari Park, Merseyside

If you’re after a bargain this Easter then the fantastic Knowsley Safari Park in Prescot, Merseyside is offering 20% off tickets when you book online! Voted the UK’s number one safari park on TripAdvisor, Knowsley has over 700 exotic animals including all the usual favourites and some more unusual, including Iberian wolves, Californian sea lions and white rhinos. There’s no need to stay in the car all day either as the park offers a walkabout area where you can take a stroll through Bat Forest, take part in the High Ropes Challenge and watch a birds of prey display!

Longleat Safari Park, Wiltshire

Longleat was the first safari park of its kind outside Africa and at the time, was considered ground-breaking for the way in which it let its animals roam free. Today, it’s one of the biggest family-friendly attractions in the UK, spanning over 9,000 acres and boasting over 500 animals. With animals including gorillas, lions, elephants, cheetahs and tigers, you’re in for a fantastic experience when you visit Longleat. Aside from the safari there are also plenty of other fun-filled attractions to keep the whole family entertained; get lost in the incredible hedge maze, get wet at Splashpad and journey into the world of Postman Pat at Postman Pat Village!

Blair Drummond Safari and Adventure Park, Stirling

Did you know that Blair Drummond is the only place in Scotland where you can see elephants and giraffes? As well as these two African giants, this family-friendly safari park offers a fantastic array of other animals for visitors to get up close to in their cars, including rhinos, tigers, chimpanzees and penguins. There’s also an optional monkey drive through for those who aren’t too precious about their car! After driving through the animal reserves, families can park up and take part in other activities including feeding animals at the petting zoo, watching demonstrations from keepers, taking a boat safari out to Chimp Island and enjoying the rides at the funfair.

Where’s your favourite safari park? We’d love to have your input so please let us know via our Facebook or Twitter page if there are any incredible safari parks that you think we’ve missed out!

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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.

Why Choose A UK Short Break

Monday, March 30th, 2015
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I think I speak for most of us here when I say that we’re busy. Whether we’re at work or at home there always seems like there’s something we need to do and sometimes the fun things in life get put on the back burner. This is where short breaks come in. Whether it’s a weekend of rest and relaxation you need, or you just fancy checking out a new destination; a short break is the perfect excuse to get away from the day-to-day. Read on to see just a few of the reasons we think three night short breaks are brilliant!

Utilise Your Weekend

Seaview Apartment

Image from Seaview Apartment, Northumbria

In an ideal world we would work for two days and have a five day weekend but unfortunately, that isn’t the case! Short breaks allow you to use up just one or two days holiday and use your weekend days to enjoy a getaway. You could head away on Friday after work and use a day’s holiday allowance on the Monday; meaning you can enjoy the whole weekend away whilst using just one day of your annual leave, allowing you to head back to work on the Tuesday feeling refreshed and ready to take on a four day week!

Explore Your Own Doorstep

Image taken from The Abbey

Image taken from The Abbey

If you’re heading away for just a few nights, the chances are you won’t want to travel too far, particularly if you’ll be travelling after a day at work. This in itself will allow you to visit a destination a little closer to home that you might not usually think of visiting and who knows, you might discover you absolutely love it!

Meet up with Friends and Family

A huge number of enquiries that we received here at Sykes Cottages are from groups of families or friends who, due to time restraints and opposing schedules, may not be able to spend time together as frequently as they would like to. A three night short break is much more likely to be able to fit into a number of busy schedules than a week-long break would. If you’re struggling to fit in a week-long holiday with your friends or extended family this year, why not try a shorter weekend break?

Quality over Quantity

Image from Telford House in Bangor.

Image from Telford House in Bangor.

The only downside to a shorter break is that it’s, well, it’s shorter. Whilst you may spread out activities over a week-long holiday, a three night break means you need to pack in the things you do a little more tightly to make the most of your weekend. This is definitely not a bad thing as it means you can choose to do those things you really want to do and see what you really want to see.

Book a Short Break at a Holiday Cottage

Image from Meadow View in Cornwall

Image from Meadow View in Cornwall

At Sykes Cottages, we have three night short breaks available throughout the year as long as they fit within our properties standard changeover days (usually a Friday or Saturday). Whether you want a city break, weekend by the coast or a romantic getaway we have a huge selection of holiday cottages available in fabulous locations across the UK and Ireland. Send us an email or give us a call on 01244 356695 and we will be happy to help you choose your perfect property for a UK short break!

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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.

Unleash your Inner Artist At a Sykes Cottage

Sunday, March 22nd, 2015
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Whether your tool of choice is a pencil, paintbrush or an oil pastel, even the most creative of artists gets a little uninspired every now and again. When you’re a little lacking in inspiration it can be a great idea to move yourself away from the norm and get a change of scene, which is why we think heading on a cottage holiday can be the ideal way to get those creative juices flowing again!

Whilst we think all of our properties are picture perfect, we’ve had a bit of a scour through and have found five properties that are all perfect for unleashing your inner artist. Whether you fancy getting involved in a bit of landscape painting, still life sketching or even nature sculpting, read on to see our suggestions of which of our properties may be ideal for your creative needs.

Best for Still Life

The Gatehouse

To inspire your still life art, you want a stunning property that is full of textures, bold colours and knick-knacks.  A property such as The Gatehouse with its unique décor and style is the perfect place to paint some still life.

Best for Lakeside Landscapes

Lovely Lake Image - Juniper Hayloft View

If you want to paint a watery scene, there is no better place to head than the Lake District. The stunning nature in the area inspired William Wordsworth and it can certainly inspire the budding artist in you, too. In a property like Juniper Hayloft you certainly won’t be far from stunning views like the above image.

Best for Cityscapes

Across the UK and Ireland we’re hugely lucky to never be too far from some of the greatest cities in the world! Cities are a mecca of inspiration for any artist; whether it’s the traffic, the hustle and bustle, the lights, the stunning architecture or even a city art gallery. For cityscape inspiration, a property such as Bath Garden Rooms, located in the historic city of Bath, is ideal.

Best for Countryside

Beesoni Lodge

Wherever you choose to go on your cottage holiday, you are sure not to be too far from the rolling hills and beautiful nature that this lovely isle of ours has to offer. If Beesoni Lodge doesn’t give you all of the inspiration that you need to create your next masterpiece, its location within stunning countryside certainly will.

Best for Property Painting

The thatch

With its thatched roof, colourful garden and interesting shape, The Thatch is a stunning property to paint or sketch. Whether you catch it on beautiful sunny day, or one where the weather is a little more typically British, a sketch of this attractive property will always be postcard perfect.

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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.

Book a cottage with a vegetable patch this spring!

Saturday, March 21st, 2015
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Picture this: a cosy cottage in the countryside, a pretty garden with its own vegetable patch, and a charming country kitchen to prepare meals from your freshly picked veggies. It’s a dream-like scenario that many of us will have entertained at some point but with our holiday cottages with vegetable patches, it can become a reality – if only for a week or two! We’ve selected a few of our lovely rural cottages which boast their own veggie gardens to whet your appetite.

School House, Pembrokeshire

Holiday cottage with vegetable patch

School House, Pembrokeshire, Ref. 918918

This beautiful stone cottage in the peaceful Welsh village of Spittal is the epitome of a relaxing countryside getaway; there’s a friendly pub opposite to the cottage, delightful walks from the doorstep and a village green next door. School House prides itself on being eco-friendly with green technology to heat the property and solar panels for electricity. Guests can also enjoy picking herbs, fruit and vegetables from the cottage’s plentiful veggie plot when in season.

Stables Cottage, Devon

Holiday cottage with vegetable patch

Stables Cottage, Devon, Ref. 911946

Stables Cottage is a cosy barn conversion on a working arable farm and is the ideal Devon bolthole for a couple or small family. This four star cottage is pet-friendly and offers a warming woodburning stove in the living area, beautiful countryside views and a large, enclosed garden for your dogs to run around in. The friendly farm owners are also happy to let guests collect freshly-laid eggs and home-grown vegetables for their own use from the farm gardens.

The Granary, Scottish Borders

Holiday cottage with vegetable patch

The Granary, Scottish Borders, Ref. 17400

The Granary is the perfect place for a rural retreat this spring, nestled in the Scottish hills with panoramic views over the nearby town of Jedburgh and the surrounding countryside. The well-stocked vegetable patch is not the only highlight of this stunning property, which also boasts a Jacuzzi bath, games consoles including Playstation 2 and Nintendo Wii, and a sprawling garden from which you can enjoy the beautiful views with a glass of wine!

Dessie’s Cottage, County Cork

Holiday cottage with vegetable patch

Dessie’s Cottage, County Cork, Ref. 4241

A traditional Irish cottage in a stunning rural setting, Dessie’s Cottage is a wonderful retreat surrounded by open countryside, with distant mountain views. As well as boasting its own vegetable garden from which guests can eat, this cottage also affords characterful period features including exposed beams and tiled floors, an open fire and a pretty lawned garden.

Book a holiday cottage with a vegetable patch

Holiday cottage with vegetable patch

Shortmead Cottage, Bedfordshire, Ref. 23362

At Sykes Cottages, we have lots of lovely cottages where you can pick your own veggies so if you still haven’t found what you’re looking for, head to our website or give our reservations team a call on 01244 356 695 – they’re here from 9.00am until 9.30pm 7 days a week.

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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.

Step to it: 10 of Britain’s best spring walks

Friday, March 20th, 2015
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Feared walking through the winter? You’ve no excuse but to don the booties and take a hike now spring has arrived. With cheerier temperatures and the sun’s overdue comeback, spring is the perfect time to dust down your wayfaring kit and get and about once more.

To stir you from inertia, we’ve assembled ten of the best spring walks across the UK and Ireland. So what are you waiting for? Lace-up those boots, craft the perfect curbside buttie and get set for an invigorating springtime walk. Oh, and don’t forget the pac-a-mac.

The Quiraing, Isle of Skye

Partial to a hill walk? Test those winter weary thighs with a bracing saunter around the Quiraing; a theatrical series of hillocks on the Isle of Skye. The Quiraing features a number of serrated rock spurs that rise vertically out of emerald grassland, making for a breath-catching backdrop to an invigorating Scotch walk.

Download a comprehensive map and route for this walk.

Tennyson Down, Isle of Wight

Tennyson Down by Tame Allen is licensed under CC 2.0

Tennyson Down by Tame Allen is licensed under CC 2.0

Taking its name from bearded Victorian bard, Alfred Lord Tennyson, the Needles Headland and Tennyson Down is the prettiest spot for a walk on the Isle of Wight. This majestic chalk bluff is topped with lush, buttercup laden grasslands, and the ebb of the Solent is never out of view. Take a walk at sunset if you want to be properly wooed.

Download a comprehensive map and route for this walk.

Looe, Talland & the Giant’s Hedge, Cornwall

Hulking great hedges perked your interest? Sorry to disappoint, but this particular Giant’s Hedge is actually just a big old earthwork – damn. Regardless, this wooded wander along the banks of the West Looe River is a top spot for a springtime stroll. Mixing beaches, woodland and wildlife, this is one for the little’uns.

Download a comprehensive map and route for this walk.

Upper Wharfedale Wildlife Walk, Yorkshire Dales

Upper Wharfedale by John Sargant is licensed under CC 2.0

Upper Wharfedale by John Sargant is licensed under CC 2.0

Ah the Dales, darling of long legged fell walkers the world over. But fear not average Joe, for this glorious wilderness offers easy walking too; take the Upper Wharfedale Wildlife Walk, for example. This six to nine mile walk is classified as “moderate”, so while it’s by no means a walk in the park, it shouldn’t pose too much of a challenge for amateur weekend hikers.

Download a comprehensive map and route for this walk.

Kilham Hill Trail, Northumberland

One route better suited to the seasoned billy goat is the Kilham Hill Trail, a 3.5 mile circular trail summiting Northumberland’s Kilham Hill. Despite the meagre distance, the Kilham Hill Trail gains its challenging classification from its steep climbs and daunting descents. Those bold enough to tackle the walk will be rewarded with goose bump inducing views over the Northumberland National Park.

Download a comprehensive map and route for this walk.

Torc Mountain Walking Route, County Kerry

With a name like Torc Mountain, hikers might assume they’ll be joined by a band of Shire folk on their way to the summit. But this is Ireland, and there be no dragons or Mordor nasties here – just great views and leg-cramping ascents. There’s a number of waymarked trails to the top, but our favourite is a 2.5 hr, easy going jaunt offering majestic views over the Killarney National Park.

Download a comprehensive map and route for this walk.

Paston way – Cromer to Southrepps, Norfolk

Cromer by David Allan is licensed under CC 2.0

Cromer by David Allan is licensed under CC 2.0

Norfolk’s flat, and flat is good – for those that don’t want to break a sweat, that is. Regardless of this lack of gradient, Norfolk racks up the pretty points along its coast. From timeless resorts to deserted dunes, this Anglian county boasts one of England’s loveliest seaboards. The Paston Way offers the best of coast and country – try the Cromer to Southrepps stretch.

Download a comprehensive map and route for this walk.

Holyhead Mountain, Anglesey

Sunlit Stacks by Kris Williams is licensed under CC 2.0

Sunlit Stacks by Kris Williams is licensed under CC 2.0

Feeling lethargic? Sluggish? Altogether lazy? Give yourself a slap round the chops with an invigorating mooch to the top of Holyhead Mountain. This 5 mile walk features over 300m of ascent, so prepare for aches and pains the morning after. Those up to the challenge will enjoy views of the iconic South Stack Lighthouse, not to mention a 360-degree panorama over much of Anglesey.

Download a comprehensive map and route for this walk.

Scafell Pike, Lake District

Stock up on bragging rights this weekend by summiting Scafell Pike, the biggest and best mountain in England. At 978 metres, Scafell makes a mockery of England’s wannabe mountains, and offers views stretching from Scotland to the Isle of Man. Despite the height, Scafell is reasonably accessible, but don’t tell your colleagues that; come break time Monday, they’ll be bowled over by your triumphant feat of human endeavour. Trust us.

Download a comprehensive map and route for this walk.

Matlock Bath, High Tor and Heights of Abraham, Peak District

The Peak District, like the Yorkshire Dales, is among an elite group of counties favoured by serious walkers – but what routes are there for the rest of us? One such trail is the Matlock Bath circular, a five mile tour of deciduous woodlands, lofty peaks and charming townships. The terrain offers a good ascent to descent ratio, making the route a fair challenge for the untested daytripper.

Download a comprehensive map and route for this walk.

Book a self-catering walking holiday with Sykes Cottages

Spring Walks 11

Ready to hit spring where it hurts? Then why not rent a cottage for an invigorating walking break? We’ve got loads of holiday rentals that would be perfect for a walking holiday, from log cabins in Scotland to coastal cottages in Norfolk. Plus, we’re currently offering discounts of up to 25% in the Sykes Spring Sale, so there’s never been a better time to strap on the walking boots.

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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.