Archive for the ‘Holiday Ideas’ Category

Avast me hearties! It’s Talk Like a Pirate Day

Friday, September 19th, 2014
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Ahoy land lubber, Blogbeard here. Today be Talk Like a Pirate Day, and to mark the occasion, the scurvy dogs at Sykes Cottages have been busy dishin’ the dirt on Blighty’s most notorious pirate haunts.

Via Flickr

Via Flickr

As a humble gentlemen of fortune, I don’t claim to be an expert in all things swashbuckler. But what I do know is that England was birthplace to more morally-questionable buccaneers than any other country in Europe. The question is, where did these roguish sea-goers drop anchor on their return to Britain? We’ve been finding out with a little help from our resident pirate, Blogbeard.

Bristol

Via Flickr

Via Flickr

With its ancient harbour and favourable location on England’s west coast, Bristol was popular with pirates. Take a walk near the city’s historic harbour, and it’s easy to imagine galleon sails blowing in the breeze. Not only was Bristol a popular port for illicit activities, it was birthplace to one of the most notorious pirates in history; Blackbeard. Murderous, evil and down-right bad-ass, Blackbeard was no Jack Sparrow, choosing to murder, steal and trade slaves rather than prance about with a bottle of rum. Although by no means a nice chap, Blackbeard’s legacy is one of the most romanticised versions of piracy that exists today – god only knows why.

London

Via Flickr

Via Flickr

As a rule, pirates were probably glad to see the back of London. The 18th century saw an increase in security around England’s dockyards, due in part to the huge rise in smuggling along the English coast. This made the capital, as well as other large ports, a dicey place for the seafaring scally. London in particular, was home to Execution Dock, a grizzly wharf where unfortunate buccaneers were put to death. After being publically disposed of, the corpses were coated in tar, locked into cages and hung from cranes in full view of passing sailors as a warning.

Plymouth

Via Flickr

Via Flickr

Birthplace to the ‘king among pirates’ Henry John Avery, Plymouth was another popular place for pirates to drop anchor and make ashore with their doubloons. Its location on the Devon coast made it accessible for voyages to the Caribbean and the Mediterranean, but also made it an easy target for foreign pirates to pillage English goods. One such plucky brigand was Jean Bart, a French pirate who made a famous escape from Plymouth in a small rowing boat, and amazingly made it to the shores of France unscathed.

Whitby

Via Flickr

Via Flickr

Take one look at Whitby and you’ll be daydreaming about pirates. This ancient town on the North Yorkshire coast may not have been the biggest pirate cove in England, but its residents have kept the romanticism and legacy of piracy alive to this day. Whitby and its surrounding villages were more popular with local smugglers than notorious buccaneers, but the odd one did stop by now and again to decant their exotic wares. If you’re travelling to Whitby, why not visit when the annual Pirate Festival takes place? You’ll get to dress up, eat grub, and swap a tale or two from the high seas. Plus, it’s for a good cause, so why not eh?

Avast sea-dog, here be cottages!

Abandon hope all ye who enter a Sykes holiday cottage. These beauties will have you hook, line and sinker faster than a siren from the sea. With hundreds of coastal cottages up and down ‘ar fair Isle, you’d be a bilge rat to miss out!

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.

Weird and Wonderful Attractions around the UK

Wednesday, September 17th, 2014
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For today’s instalment of the Sykes Cottages blog, we’re having a look at some of the unusual yet wonderful places to visit around the UK and Ireland. You should be warned, it’s a truly eclectic mix that you probably wouldn’t find in any tour guide around the world; but don’t let that put you off. All of these attractions are well worth a visit, they just don’t seem to get the attention they deserve. So if you fancy taking a tour around some of the more off the wall places you can go when you’re stuck for something to do, have a look and see what catches your eye!

Museum of Witchcraft

museum of witchcraft

via Flickr

First up we’ve got one of the spookiest spots in Cornwall, the Boscastle Museum of Witchcraft. Featuring one of the world’s largest collections of magic related bits and pieces and telling the tales of witchcraft through the ages, it certainly makes for a different experience to your standard museum!

Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch

llanfair

via Flickr

Or what about a stop off in Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch?  Unsurprisingly, it’s the longest place name in the UK and translated it means ‘Saint Mary’s Church in the hollow of the white hazel near a rapid whirlpool and the Church of St. Tysilio of the red cave’, so either way, it’s a bit of a mouthful!

Colmans Mustard Shop and Museum

colmans mustard museum

via Flickr

Or if you’re a bit of a foodie then you might want to head down to the Colman’s Mustard Shop and Museum in Norwich. As one of Britain’s best loved brands, Colman’s have been doing their best to spice up ham butties and roast dinners around the country for 200 years now. Whilst you’re there, be sure to get yourself on the outside of a few of the samples that are laid on for you!

The Forbidden Corner

via Flickr

via Flickr

Then there’s the Forbidden Corner in North Yorkshire. Featuring a temple of the underworld, the eye of the needle and countless other oddities. You’ll have to find your way through the labyrinth of twists and turns and dead ends to try and find all that this truly bizarre spot has to offer!

The Gnome Reserve

gnome reserve

via Flickr

Next up we’ve got one of the stranger attractions that you could possibly think of. If you head down to West Putford in Devon you’ll find what could be you’re typical nature reserve, except there’s one key difference – all of the inhabitants are garden gnomes! But it’s not just the thousand gnomes, there’s also a wild flower garden to have a wander in as well as the option of tucking into a delicious Devon Cream tea!

Wharram Percy

wharram percy

via Flickr

Or if you fancy something a little less novelty there’s the village of Wharram Percy in Yorkshire. It’s pretty much like any typical English countryside village except for one thing; nobody has lived there for hundreds of years! Deserted way back in the 15th century, Wharram Percy now makes for an ideal spot to get away from it all with a quiet afternoon stroll and a picnic.

Puzzlewood

puzzlewood

via Flickr

Next up we’ve got Puzzlewood down in the Forest of Dean. This particular spot was one of the main inspirations behind J.R.R. Tolkien’s middle earth, and with its mysterious pathways and gullies you can certainly see why! There’s also a small petting zoo not to mention the willow maze made up of over 4,000 willow trees!

Bekonscot

bekonscot

via Flickr

Finally we’ve got Bekonscot, the oldest model village in the world. Dating back to the 1930′s, Bekonscot has grown over the years and has become a miniature metropolis sprawling over two acres of the Buckinghamshire countryside. It features 6 separate towns, a race course, castle and even a fully functioning railway!

So there we have it, a truly bizarre mix that encapsulates some of the weird yet wonderful attractions that can be found around Britain and Ireland, and if you’ve seen anything that you fancy be sure to take a look at our list of unusual cottages so that you have somewhere to stay at the end of the day!

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.

Escape the Crowds: Alternative UK Destinations

Tuesday, September 16th, 2014
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Tourist trap: it’s a term that conjures images of long queues, high prices and most importantly, lots of people. Unfortunately, in a world where holidays are becoming more accessible, crowded and overvisited places are proving difficult to avoid.

If you’re not one for queues, crowds and above-average prices, you’ve come to the right place.

Via Flickr

Via Flickr

Like foreign countries, the UK has popular resorts which draw more people than others, particularly at peak times. Whether by word of mouth, tradition, or proximity, it’s these destinations that have become the dreaded tourist traps of Britain.

And that’s a shame, because the places I’m talking about are all wonderful destinations in their own right. But, if you’re someone who doesn’t like crowds, they can be a real drag when it comes to high season. But all is not lost. With our handy guide to alternate UK destinations, avoiding the hordes can be a breeze. So without further ado, here’s our guide to the UK’s top alternate destinations and where you can find them.

Newquay OR Polzeath

Via Flickr

Via Flickr

Newquay may be the mecca of UK surfing, but come the summer months, its beaches can be chocka. Although we can’t blame anyone for wanting to spend their summer holiday in Newquay – its beaches really are fantastic – there is an alternative. Head east and you’ll find Polzeath, a small resort which shares the same Atlantic swells as its busier big bro, yet with more room to spread your beach towel. The water off Polzeath is reliably squally, making for great surfing, while its sand is soft enough for little toes. There’s plenty of bars, cafés and eateries too, not to mention curious independent shops; why not give it a go?

Windermere OR Buttermere

Via Flickr

Via Flickr

Ever since Wordsworth penned his Lyrical Ballads in the 18th century, tourists have flocked to the Lake District in their droves, transforming this otherwise unspoilt land into one of the UK’s biggest tourist traps. In recent times, Windermere has took the brunt of the Lake District’s tourist surge, with over 12 million gracing its shores each year. For a more peaceful Lake District experience, head to Buttermere, a ‘lake’ equal in prettiness to Windermere, with much fewer tourists. The adjacent village is pleasantly quiet too, so it’s the perfect base for a holiday in the Lakes.

Bridlington OR Filey

Via Flickr

Via Flickr

Sure it’s not as big as Bridlington, but Filey’s stunning beach, lighthouse and sea-cliffs more than make up for it. Having grown up mere miles from Bridlington, I’ve paid witness to its summer mobbing, and although the crowds may appeal to those who prefer their seaside bustling, for others, this may be daunting. If so, head up the coast to Filey, a beautiful coastal village offering a nostalgic seaside experience. Filey’s crescent shaped beach is flanked by a string of evocative chalk cliffs, at the end of which perches an 18th century lighthouse. The beach is dog friendly too, so you can enjoy a bracing walk in the North Sea breeze with your beloved pooch by your side.

Tenby OR Newport

Via Flickr

Via Flickr

“Newport?!” I hear you ask. Not that one. Wales is actually home to another Newport, and one that’s quite a lot prettier than its counterpart. Situated in the northern reaches of the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park, this peaceful fishing village gives the popular coastal town of Tenby a run for its money thanks to its magnificent beach and charming architecture. Though I’m a huge advocate for Tenby, and doubt that baby-Newport could out-do it, this coastal village may pip its rival at the post when it comes to peace and quiet. Honestly though, go to Pembrokeshire; it’s a beautiful part of the world that’s full of beautiful places to visit.

Great Yarmouth OR Holkham

Via Flickr

Via Flickr

Like Bridlington, Great Yarmouth is a brilliant destination for good clean family fun. If penny arcades, donkey rides and rock shops aren’t your scene however, drive up the coast and visit Holkham instead. Located in the Norfolk Coast Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, this serene village is home to one of the UK’s most beautiful beaches, as well as charming village complete with attractive manor house; the aptly named Holkham Hall. Dogs on leads are welcome at Holkham beach, as too are nudists, so bear this in mind if you’re travelling with youngsters.

Book an alternative UK holiday today!

Here at Sykes, we love every inch of the UK, from the gaudiness of our beachfront arcades to the peace and tranquillity of our unspoilt moorlands. If you’re interested in renting a cottage in one of the destinations mentioned in this post, visit our website now and choose from a selection of over 5,000 wonderful UK holiday homes.

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.

Sykes’ Take on the Ironman Triathlon

Sunday, September 14th, 2014
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Today saw one of the most challenging events in the UK sporting calendar the Ironman Triathlon in South Wales. Consisting of a 2.4 mile swim, a 26.2 mile run and a 112 mile bike ride and with a strict time limit of 17 hours it’s not one for the faint hearted. Now here at Sykes we know that this kind of undertaking isn’t everybody’s cup of tea and so we’ve decided to put together our own, admittedly more sedate, version of the triathlon featuring some of the best places around the UK for swimming, cycling and running. So take a look at it and see if we can tempt you into giving our triathlon a go.

Swimming

swimming llyn gwynant

via Flickr

There are so many places in the UK where you can pop out for a dip, we’re absolutely spoilt for choice. From the Lake District through to the Lochs of Scotland, the options are seemingly endless. However we’ve picked out Llyn Gwynant, a beautiful lake in the shadows of Snowdon. Both ends of the lake are nice and shallow meaning that you’ll never be out of your comfort zone, but unless your heading down in the height of summer make sure that take along a wetsuit as the water can get rather chilly, and a thermos of tea certainly wouldn’t go amiss!

Running

running new forest

via Flickr

For the running section of the Sykes triathlon we’re going to head down to the New Forest National Park in Southern England. With it’s unspoilt natural beauty there’s nowhere better to enjoy a brisk morning jog and if you time it right you can witness some of the most beautiful sunrises around, what more could you want?

Cycling

cycle lake district

via Flickr

For the final leg, the bike ride, we’re heading up to one of the most beautiful parts of the country, the Lake District. This particular route was voted the best in the UK by the Telegraph last year, and that comes as little surprise. With the stunning scenery up in the Lakes you’ll never struggle to find something to look at whilst pedalling away. The route is a 40 mile loop starting and ending a the quaint little village of Broughton in Furness and along the way you’ll find yourself coasting along the shores of Coniston Water.

So there we have it, Sykes’ very own triathlon. It might not be anything on the Ironman in terms of the difficulty however I’m almost positive that you’d have more fun taking part in ours! And if you manage to complete it you could always reward yourself with a week of R & R in one of our holiday cottages!

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.

Top 10 Historic Sites Outside of London

Friday, September 12th, 2014
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The UK is home to many historic sites which showcase Britain’s rich and diverse history, a history that attracts thousands of visitors to our island each year! Living in the UK, it is easy to forget that historical sites can be found almost everywhere you look and that they aren’t just limited to the country’s capital, London. Here at Sykes Cottages we have scoured the UK in search of its best historic sites and below you will find our choice of the ten must see sites outside of London.

Whitby Abbey – North Yorkshire

Image provided by Charlotte Stamper.

Image provided by Charlotte Stamper.

Overlooking the popular coastal town of Whitby, the abbey dominates the horizon with its gothic demeanour. As one of the most atmospheric visitor attractions in Yorkshire, Whitby Abbey is a must at any time of year.

Caernarfon Castle – Gwynedd

Image via Flickr.

Image via Flickr.

Built by Edward I, the intimidating keep of Caernarfon Castle makes it one of Wales’ most impressive structures.  With its unusual polygonal towers and colour coded stones, this castle is sure to capture the imagination of children and adults alike.

Iron Bridge and Tollhouse – Shropshire

Image via Flickr.

Image via Flickr.

The Iron bridge and Tollhouse in Telford, Shropshire is seen as one of the iconic symbols of the industrial revolution. Become part of the story as you walk over and marvel at the world’s first cast-iron bridge, an activity tourists have been partaking in since 1779!

Stonehenge – Wiltshire

Image via Flickr.

Image via Flickr.

As one of the wonders of the world, you would be crazy not to plan a trip to Stonehenge in Wiltshire. Archaeologists believe that the structure was erected around 3,100 BC and took some 300 years to build.

Bayham Old Abbey – East Sussex

Image via Flickr.

Image via Flickr.

Located on the Kent/ Sussex border, Bayham Old Abbey is a fascinating collection of ruins which include most of the 13th to 15th century church. The ideal location for a picnic, this historic site is a favourite amongst visitors to the area.

Birdoswald Roman Fort – Cumbria

Image via Flickr.

Image via Flickr.

Birdoswald Roman Fort is located alongside the longest remaining continuous stretch of Hadrian’s Wall. Not just famed for its historic remnants but also for the abundance of wildlife, this area is the ideal stop off for visitors making their way along Hadrian’s Wall.

Chatsworth House – Derbyshire

Image via Flickr.

Image via Flickr.

With its regal appearance and impressive surroundings Chatsworth House in Derbyshire is a favourite among tourists. Steeped in history, this regal building also plays a part in popular culture as the setting of Mr Darcy’s Home in the 2005 adaptation of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice.

Roman Baths – Somerset

Image via Flickr.

Image via Flickr.

As one of the largest tourist attractions in the South West, the Roman baths in Bath make for a captivating day out. Below modern street level, the baths have four exciting features to explore; the Roman Temple, the Roman Bath House, the Sacred Spring and finds from Roman Bath.

Edinburgh Castle – Edinburgh

Image via Flickr.

Image via Flickr.

Dominating the skyline of Scotland’s capital city, Edinburgh castle sits proudly on top of its great rock. Used for centuries as an ancient stronghold, home to royalty and then as army headquarters, Edinburgh castle provides something for everyone on a family day out.

Chester City – Cheshire

Image via Flickr.

Image via Flickr.

The historic city of Chester is a fantastic destination for a weekend away, with so much history to discover you’ll want to squeeze in as much as possible! We would highly suggest trips to the Roman Amphitheatre, Chester Cathedral and of course a spot of light exercise walking the city walls.

We hope this selection of ten historic sites to visit outside of London has left you feeling inspired. If we’ve missed out your favourite historic attraction then let us know! We would love to hear from you and can be reached on Facebook, Twitter or over Google Plus.

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.