Archive for the ‘Holiday Ideas’ Category

Spooky Spots in the UK

Thursday, October 29th, 2015
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Well it’s that time of year again with the trick or treaters getting their costumes sorted, pumpkins being carved and everyone seems up for a fright. Of course most people would just put on a scary film and enjoy a halloween night in, but what if you want to get out and experience some real terror? Well we’ve tracked down some of the creepiest spots in the United Kingdom for you to visit, if you think you’re brave enough!

The Tower of London

Over the years the Tower of London has been the site of many a nefarious incident. Built way back in the 11th Century by William the Conqueror it has been the site of some of the most high profile executions in English history, including those of Anne Boleyn, Lady jade Grey and Catherine Howard not to mention the mysterious disappearance of the two princes in the 15th Century. And, as you’d expect, there are many reports of the supernatural taking place ranging from the ghost of Anne Boleyn all the way through to a phantom bear!

Pendle Hill, Lancashire

Easily one of the more famous of the UK’s paranormal places, Pendle Hill has gone down in folklore thanks to the events of the early 17th century. In 1612 twelve residents of the Pendle area were arrested on suspicion of witchcraft, apparently following the deaths of ten other locals. In all eleven were found guilty and executed and it is thought that their spirits still roam the hill. Add to this the recently discovered remains of a cottage thought to have been the home of one of the Pendle Witches, complete with a cat skeleton mysteriously bricked up in one of the walls and you’ve got somewhere that’s definitely not for the faint of heart!

Chillingham Castle

With a strong claim to be one of the most haunted buildings in the United Kingdom, Northumberland’s Chillingham Castle was a shoe in for this list. There are many gruesome tales of murder and intrigue from the years of the English-Scottish wars, including those of the notorious torture master John Sage. His old torture chamber still exists with many of his evil instruments still there for you to examine if you dare, but that’s not it! Chillingham is also home to a number of spooky supernatural beings including the famous Blue Boy and the ghost of Lady Mary Berkeley.

The Glasgow Necropolis

Between being the final resting place of over 50,000 people and having a name that means the City of the Dead, it was impossible to leave the Necropolis out of our list of the creepiest spots in the United Kingdom. Already it might seem eerie enough but then add in the seven foot tall, iron toothed Gorbals Vampire notorious for preying on the local children and a White Lady who is regularly seen floating through the cemetery and you’ve got a seriously spooky place!

So there you go, a handful of the United Kingdom’s more frightening places for you to visit this Halloween, and if you are brave enough we’d love to hear about your scary adventures – just let us know, either over Facebook or Twitter!

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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.

The UK’s Best Ghost Walks

Monday, October 26th, 2015
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From our abandoned graveyards and creepy woods, to our medieval buildings and eerie city streets, Britain is quite easily one of the world’s most haunted destinations. On our seemingly quiet island, you’ll find a whole manner of ghosts, ghouls and creatures that go bump in the night so if you’re looking for a spooky adventure this Halloween, you’ve come to the right place. Keep reading to discover a few of our favourite UK ghost walks – but be warned, walking in the footsteps of ghosts is not for the faint-hearted!

Hangman’s Hill, Essex Ghost Walk

With tales of headless horsemen, drowned ghost girls and a séance held deep in Epping Wood, this is possibly the scariest walk on our list. Not suited for those under 18, your evening starts with a trip into the chilly Epping Wood where an experienced Medium will attempt to connect with spirits of the past. Once you’re well and truly spooked the walk will begin; huddled together in the dark, you’ll hear a number of haunted tails before making your way to an area notoriously known as Hangman’s Hill.

When: This frightful walk is booking up fast and because of this there are only two dates left; October 28th from 8.30pm to 11pm and October 29th from 11.15pm to 1.45am.

Where: Meet outside The Kinds Oak in High Beach, Essex.

Cost: £14.00 per person.

Oxford Castle, Unlocked

Built in 1071, the intimidating appearance of Oxford Castle is enough to give anyone the willies, but venture inside this Halloween and you’ll experience a Spooky Tour like no other. The castle’s 900 year dark history is only made more terrifying when you learn that its main role, after the Civil War of 1642, was as the town’s prison, housing a host of vermin, prisoners and corrupt guards. Suitable for those aged 12 and older, this scary tour takes you into some of the most haunted areas of the castle, including a trip to the dark underground crypt.

When: Every Thursday throughout October and November. 50 minute tours start at 6pm, 6.30pm, 7pm and 7.30pm.

Where: Oxford Castle, Oxford.

Cost: £12.00 per person.

The Real Mary King’s Close

Hidden under the busy city of Edinburgh, you’ll find the echoey streets of The Real Mary King’s Close. This once thriving area of Scotland’s capital has long been forgotten by all but the lonely spirits who still inhabit it. As your guide leads you through this cold, underground maze of uneven walkways and dimly lit rooms, you’ll not only hear spine-tingling tales of phantom shadows but also learn about Scotland’s intriguing history. This tour is suitable for children aged five and over, making it a perfectly ghastly activity for families this Halloween.

When: Open all year, except for Christmas Day and tours are every 15 minutes from 10am, until the last tour at 9pm. It is advised that you arrive 15 minutes prior to your tour so that you can leave on time.

Where: Entrance doors are located on The Royal Mile, directly opposite St Giles Cathedral.

Cost: Adults £13.95, seniors and students £12.50, children (5-15 years) £8.25 and family tickets (two adults and two children) £37.75.

Ghost Walk of The Lanes

A popular seaside resort or an ancient town packed with murderous tails, gruesome history and frightful spirits? Ghost Walk of The Lanes will let you see the hidden side of Brighton’s most celebrated quarter by taking you on a supernatural journey of discovery; be prepared to hear grisly tales of apparitions, poltergeists, wandering nuns and more about the city’s infamous links with Jack the Ripper. This tour is suitable for children and those brave enough to attend will receive a treat from the guides.

When: The walk takes place every Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday & Saturday, it lasts around 70 minutes and starts at 7.30pm. On Halloween night there will be an extra two walks, one at 6pm and one at 9pm.

Where: Meeting point is The Druids Head, Brighton Place.

Cost: Adults £8.00, seniors and students £5.00, children £4.00 and family tickets (two adults and two children) £20.00.

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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.

Gravity Defying Days Out

Saturday, October 10th, 2015
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Ever wondered what it would feel like to defy gravity, to float or soar over the earth like a superhero? If so we have just the thing for you, a selection of three fantastic gravity defying days out! These high flying activities are perfect for family days out, group activities or even corporate team building, read on to find out more…

Bounce Below

Bounce Below Oli Scarff 7

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Relatively new to North Wales, Bounce Below is the world’s first subterranean playground of its kind. This fascinating arrangement of giant trampolines, suspended in a former slate mine, create the sensation of hovering far above the ground as you bounce, slide and climb over the apparatus. The cavern itself is twice the size of St. Paul’s Cathedral so there is plenty of room for the whole family and with a spectacular light display, this once disused slate mine now has a new lease of life. Bounce Below caters for those aged seven and up with a special Junior Bounce Below section for those aged between three and six.

Zip World Velocity

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Image provided by

As the longest zip wire in Europe and the fastest in the world, Zip World Velocity allows you to speed through the air at speeds of over 100mph, making you feel just like Superman. This exciting experience can seem rather daunting at first but when equipped with safety helmet, goggles and flying suit, you’ll soon feel at ease. Once strapped in, the journey really begins as you soar over one of Wales’ most iconic quarries-the views and speed will take your breath away. Suitable for those ages 10 and older ,Zip World Velocity costs just £60 and is a fantastic group activity for anyone in the Bethesda area.

Airkix Indoor Skydiving

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Image provided by

Do you dream of flying? If so a trip to one of Airkix’s indoor skydiving centres will see your dreams become reality as you are suspended in a column of air that creates the feeling of freefall.  This highly addictive activity is ideal for anyone looking to defy gravity in a safe environment; the team provide you with professional instruction, flight suit, helmet and goggles, making the experience not only safe but fun too. You must be four years of age or older and be able to comfortably wear the flying helmet to fly in the wind tunnel. Prices start from as little as £29.99.

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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.

Macbeth: Filming Locations

Thursday, October 8th, 2015
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Justin Kurzel’s spectacular adaptation of Shakespeare’s revered tragedy, Macbeth, hit cinemas on 2nd October and true to form, Scotland plays a starring role. Its dramatic, moody landscapes help bring this timeless classic to life on screen in a dark and powerful film that is already being hailed a success. If you enjoyed the film then here are the filming locations you won’t want to miss:

Quiraing, Isle of Skye

It is the Isle of Skye that takes on the protagonist role in this adaptation. Filmed in the depths of winter during its most wild and unforgiving hour, the shots of the island reflect perfectly the merciless nature of the play. The Quiraing, with its distinctive rock formations, is a spectacular sight. It is here that Macbeth returns from battle and is awarded the title, Thane of Cawdor. Lady Macbeth also passes through on her journey back to Inverness.

Glen Brittle Forest & the Fairy Pools, Isle of Skye

Another Isle of Skye location, it is here in the woodland, overlooking Cuillin Ridge, that Banquo is killed on Macbeth’s orders- a pivotal scene in the film. The crystal clear waters at the Fairy Pools are close by; their sparkling blue waters and waterfalls are mesmerising and well worth the visit.

Sligachan Glen, Isle of Skye

This extraordinary Skye landscape is where Lady Macduff and her children are murdered on Macbeth’s orders. Sligachan Glen is a magnificent spectacle to behold and though beautiful, its imposing, isolated position does offer a sense of foreboding befitting of the play and the events that take place here in the film.

Bamburgh Castle, Northumberland

Just outside Scotland, the magnificent Bamburgh Castle lies on the rugged Northumberland coastline and appears in the film as Macbeth’s stronghold at Dunsinane. It is here that Macbeth is eventually defeated by Malcolm who takes his place as King. In real life, the castle is a fantastic tourist attraction with 14 rooms open to the public and over 2,000 artefacts to discover.

To embark on your own Macbeth-themed getaway, take a look at our cottages in the Isle of Skye, Northumberland and Angus.

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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.

Luxury Days Out

Friday, October 2nd, 2015
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Here at Sykes Cottages, we have a wonderful selection of luxury properties ideal for special occasions, family events and romantic escapes. If you’re planning on renting one of these high-end properties for your next getaway then why not combine your stay with a luxury day out? From horse riding to day spas, the UK has a great choice of luxury activities sure to make your holiday extra special. Keep reading for a selection of these luxury days which will hopefully inspire your next getaway.

Horse riding in the New Forest

With spectacular views, open pastures and beautiful forests, the New Forest is one of Britain’s most spectacular National Parks. To make the most of this impressive park, we would suggest exploring the area on horseback.  Ride out over the open heathland at a pace that suits your skill level before your instructor guides you through leafy glades and past wild ponies and foals.

The Burley Villa School of Riding offers fantastic forest hacks for beginners and experienced riders, as well as private hacks and a variety of Western Style riding experiences. Prices start from just £40 and are suitable for riders aged seven and over.

Afternoon tea at the Barmoral

As a country obsessed with a good brew, it should come as no surprise that we’ve turned the humble cup of tea into a lavish affair. A good afternoon tea is a highly social event where friends and family can get together to have a good catch up over a pot of tea and a selection of delicious sandwiches, cakes and scones.

The Palm Court restaurant at the Barmoral in Edinburgh provides an award-winning cream tea daily, between noon and 5.30pm, with prices starting from just £35. The restaurant’s lavish interior and vintage Champagne create a wonderful atmosphere for any occasion.

Falconry in Cheshire

Falconry is a historic sport, one that takes a lot of time, knowledge and money to keep up full time. Because of this it’s not suitable for everyone but if you really love birds and want to spend the day getting to know some of nature’s most skilled hunters, then why not try a falconry experience? Learn all about birds as you come face to face with popular birds of prey used for the sport and have a go at flying them as they soar high above the wonderful Cheshire countryside.

Cheshire Falconry offer a fantastic selection of flying experiences from raptor encounters to walks through the Cheshire countryside with a team of hawks. Experiences start from just £39 and there are special junior experiences available for children aged 4-14 for just £29.

Day spa in Wales

Image provided by Tre-Ysgawen Hall

Image provided by Tre-Ysgawen Hall

With its wide open spaces, inspiring mountains and peaceful lakes, Wales really is the perfect place for a relaxing holiday. To help you unwind on your next Welsh getaway, we suggest taking a trip to one of the region’s many day spas. Indulge in a soothing back massage that targets areas prone to stress and anxiety, or simply relax in the sauna or at the pool side with a glass of bubbly; whatever you need to feel at ease, a Welsh day spa is sure to cater to your needs.

Tre-Ysgawen Hall on Anglesey has a range of day spa packages to choose from so whether you’re celebrating a special occasion or looking to escape the everyday, you’re sure to find a package to suit you. Prices start from as little as £49 and treatments are available throughout the week.

To take a look at our selection of high-end properties and start planning your next luxury getaway 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.