Archive for the ‘Holiday Ideas’ Category

A Literary Tour of Britain

Thursday, July 10th, 2014
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Of all British exports, our authors are some of the best known; JK Rowling, Beatrix Potter, J.R.R Tolkien and C.S Lewis are amongst some of our most famous, whose stories are enjoyed across the world. As a fan of an author’s work, there is nothing better than visiting the places that inspired them to write and in the UK, you will never be too far away from a piece of literary history.

The Lake District

The World of Beatrix Potter, Windermere

image via Flickr

Being full of rolling hills, amazing views and of course beautiful lakes, it’s no surprise that The Lake District would inspire an author. Beatrix Potter, creator of Peter Rabbit, Jemima Puddle Duck and Tom Kitten amongst others, was enamoured by The Lake District after spending many of her holidays there, so much so that she bought a traditional farm in 1905 called Hill Top. Beatrix Potter bought Hill Top with the money she made from her first book, the Tale of Peter Rabbit, the farmhouse and surrounding countryside subsequently inspired her future books. Fans of Beatrix Potter can visit Hill Top which is now operated by The National Trust or visit The World of Beatrix Potter; a fascinating museum where visitors really experience the world that Potter created within her books.


The Elephant House Edinburgh

image via Flickr

Harry Potter is a global phenomenon. The Boy Who Lived and He Who Must Not Be Named are known the world over by children and adults alike, so it’s no surprise that Potter fans flock to the places that inspired the story or featured in the big screen adaptations. No UK literary tour would be complete without visiting Edinburgh, the place where JK Rowling wrote much of the Harry Potter series. You can visit locations that inspired Rowling on a walking tour before replenishing yourself with a good cup of coffee at The Elephant House, where JK Rowling spent much of her time writing her early novels. Perhaps an odd suggestion, but it’s certainly worth checking out the toilets in The Elephant House, where the walls are filled with messages from avid fans of Harry who have wanted to put their mark on ‘The Birthplace of Harry Potter’.


A birds eye view of beautiful Oxford

image via Flickr

Being home to one of the most famous and prestigious universities in the world as well as one of the world’s first libraries, it’s no surprise that the beautiful city of Oxford would be on our itinerary for literary lovers. Whether you’re a fan of The Lord of The Rings, Alice in Wonderland, His Dark Materials or Harry Potter, you will be in your element in Oxford. There are official guided walking tours around Oxford that would suit any reader, no matter your genre of choice. There is a Children’s Stories Tour that adults and children alike will love which takes visitors to the places that inspired Philip Pullman, C.S Lewis and Lewis Carroll amongst others. Both wizards and muggles will love the Harry Potter tour, which takes a look at the filming locations of the films. There is also a C.S Lewis and J.R.R Tolkien Tour, where guides will show you the Oxford that these two friends will have experienced; where they studied, lived and where they spent their leisure time!

Stay in a Piece of Literary History

The Retreat Self Catering Holiday Cottage in Cornwall

The Retreat in Cornwall property reference: 1678

Once you’ve had enough of touring the length and width of the UK for literary marvels, why not stay in a piece of literary history? At Sykes Cottages we have a few properties that have literary connections. How about Penlan in North Wales which was home to Albert Bestall, writer of Rupert The Bear. Stable Cottage in Shropshire was home to the family of author Malcolm Saville and his Lone Pine books were inspired by the lovely Shropshire backdrop. The Retreat in Cornwall also featured in Daphne Du Maurier’s novel The King’s General. So even if you plan on staying in one place for your UK holiday, you can still enjoy a literary connection!

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.

7 Wonders of the British Coast

Monday, July 7th, 2014
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Here in Britain, we love to be beside the seaside. As soon as the summer sun starts to shine, we pack up our beach towels, slap on the sun lotion, and make our way to the coast.  Fortunately, the UK has some of the best stretches of coastline in the world, with stunning scenery, captivating sand dunes and fascinating history. So forget the Seven Wonders of the World and focus on the Seven Wonders of the British Coast. Below you will find our selection of the best coastal locations Britain has to offer; from towering cliffs to wide open beaches, you are sure to be amazed by the spectacles on offer.

Dover – England

Picture via Flickr.

Picture via Flickr.

The Dover coastline is dominated by startling white chalk cliffs that overlook the English Channel, commonly known as The White Cliffs of Dover. Best viewed from the coastal path that leads towards South Foreland Lighthouse, these iconic cliffs are wondrous to behold.

Alum Bay – Isle of White

Picture via Flickr.

Picture via Flickr.

Located off the coast at Alum Bay is another iconic British landmark, three distinctive white chalk rocks known as The Needles. One of the most photographed groups of rock in the world, this impressive chalk feature offers an alternative image for your Isle of Wight photo gallery.

Durdle Door – Dorset

Picture via Flickr.

Picture via Flickr.

As well as an impressive shingle beach, Durdle Door in Dorset is home to a dramatic limestone arch. Making its home along the Jurassic Coast, this imposing arch allows your imagination to run wild when thoughts turn to dinosaurs and the incredible fossils that are embedded in the rock.

Isle of Staffa – Scotland

Picture via Flickr.

Picture via Flickr.

Located on the Isle of Staffa is one of the UK’s best known caves, Fingal’s Cave. This impressive 227 foot cavern is made up of basaltic pillars which form an obscure walkway just above sea level. Surrounded by both history and folk law, this cave is an extraordinary part of Scotland’s culture.

Bamburgh – Northumberland

Picture via Flickr.

Picture via Flickr.

Bamburgh beach may be one of the most dramatic stops along the British coast. With the imposing Bamburgh Castle to one side and the stunning Farne Islands on the other, Bamburgh offers visitors a wonderful mixture of both history and wildlife.

Kynance Cove – Cornwall

Picture via Flickr.

Picture via Flickr.

Found on the West side of “The Lizard” in Cornwall, Kynance Cove is a breath-taking beach famed for its contrasting white sands, clear turquoise waters and green serpentine rock. This enticing beach, with its soft sands and numerous caves, is a favourite amongst sun seekers and explorers alike.

Freshwater West – Pembrokeshire

Picture via Flickr.

Picture via Flickr.

Freshwater West is known for its impressive sand dunes which were made famous in the Harry Potter film “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows” as the set of Shell Cottage, Dobby’s final resting place. Although the cottage has long since gone, you can still visit the scene of this iconic film.

Stay at a coastal cottage on your next holiday

Curlew in Pembrokeshire, Ref: 14393

Curlew in Pembrokeshire, Ref: 14393

With over 1,800 coastal cottages available, you are never far from a wonderful beach, stunning coastal path or an impressive cliff on a Sykes cottage holiday. If you would like to holiday along the British coast, take a look at our coastal cottages today and see if we can help you plan your perfect beach getaway.


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.

5 Easy London Escapes

Sunday, July 6th, 2014
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With a diverse culture, lots to do and plenty of opportunities, it is no surprise that London is bursting at the seams with tourists and locals alike. But every now and again it’s nice to escape the crowds, leave your oyster card at home and head a little further afield for some fresh air and a different scene.

If a London Escape is something you are thinking about, then you’ve come to the right place! We’ve created a nifty little guide pinpointing some of the fantastic places that you can head to when you want a little break away from the capital.

Whether you consider yourself a bit of a culture vulture, fancy a romantic break or just want to head away with the family, we have a few ideas for you. The best thing about these escapes is that they are each roughly two hours or less from The City of London and we’ve picked out a few things that you can get up to in each area. We’ve even given you an interesting fact about each of the destinations, so that you can impress your travelling companions with your knowledge!


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Five Easy London Escapes

London is a great place, but there comes a time when we all need to escape the daily grind. Travel just a few hours, and you can find a spot that’s perfect for beach lovers, foodies, romantics, culture vultures or families…

Oxford for culture vultures

59.8 miles from London with a 1 hour & 17 minute drive or a 58 minute train journey

See: The impressive Bodleian Library, which is one of the oldest in the world

Do: Wander the cobbled streets and marvel at the 38 colleges that make up one of the world’s most famous universities

Don’t miss: Christ Church College, the largest and grandest building in the university complex and location for the Harry Potter films

Did you know? The oldest form of graffiti on record can be spotted at the bottom of the stairs in the Great Hall at Christ Church, it says ‘no peel’ and there are different stories as to what it refers to

Whitstable for beach lovers

61.2 miles from London with a 1 hour & 16 minute drive or train journey

See: The Tankerton Slopes with their rolling hills and colourful beach huts provide a great vantage point overlooking the coast

Do: Take in the town by foot so you don’t miss the quirky cafes and independent shops dotted around the old high street

Don’t miss: The nautical artefacts and art of The Whitstable Museum and Gallery, which also hosts special exhibitions 6 times a year

Did you know? Oysters are synonymous with Whitstable and have been harvested in the town since Roman times

Brighton for foodies

53.7 miles from London with a 1 hour 30 drive or a 1 hour train journey

See: The Lanes, a maze of quaint cobbled streets littered with traditional pubs, independent cafes and top notch eateries

Do: Eat at Riddle and Finns- classic seafood dishes are brought to life at this Brighton culinary institution

Don’t miss: The Royal Pavilion, an incredibly ornate structure that looks as if it would be more at home in India

Did you know? Brighton and Hove’s food and drink festival occurs twice a year and is one of the largest of its kind in the UK

Bath for romantic breaks

115 miles from London with a 2 hour 6 minute drive or a 1 hour 27 minute train journey

See: A panoramic view of the city from atop Bath Abbey’s 160 foot tower, a Grade I listed building featuring no less than 212 steps

Do: Take in the architecture of Bath’s iconic Roman bathhouse and treat yourself to a dip in the natural hot spring water of the Thermae Bath Spa

Don’t miss: Jane Austen’s house and visitor centre, a charming memorial to the late novelist who set two of her novels in the city

Did you know?  Bath is the only whole UK city to be designated a world heritage site by UNESCO.

Stratford Upon Avon for families

109 miles from London with a 1 hour 46 minute drive or a 1 hour 59 minute train journey

See: The sciencey MAD Museum is brimming with odd contraptions, giving kids the chance to unleash their inner inventor

Do: Take the kids on the Stratford Treasure Trail; not only is it a great way to explore the city and get some exercise, but there’s also prizes to be won!

Don’t miss: A fun family workshop at the Royal Shakespeare Company; little ones can learn some of the bard’s famous lines before settling down to enjoy a show

Did you know? Shakespeare wrote 37 plays in his lifetime- an average of 1.5 a year!

Book your Escape

So if you’re looking for a short break from London, then what are you waiting for? Head over to the Sykes Cottages main page to browse our properties and book your getaway today!

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.

Sykes’ Spotlight On: Quirky Properties

Saturday, July 5th, 2014
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If you’ve ever wanted to sleep in a railway carriage, stay over in a chapel or snooze in a signal box then you’ve come to the right place. One of the biggest benefits about staying in a holiday cottage rather than a hotel is the huge amount of choice when it comes to the style of accommodation and at Sykes Cottages, we’re proud of our large variety of accommodation types. Whether you want a traditional cottage, a modern apartment or something a little out of the ordinary, we are bound to have something to suit you! Today we’re taking a look at some of our most unique and quirky properties that will make you think twice about staying in a standard double on the third floor again.

The Old Baptist Chapel

South Wales & Pembrokeshire

The Old Baptist Chapel, South Wales & Pembrokeshire

property reference 22484

Satisfying both modern tastes and those who like things a little more traditional is The Old Baptist Chapel in South Wales. The modern décor and furnishings of this property work well with its original features to provide both attractive and comfortable accommodation.

Brookbank Folly

Royal Forest of Dean, Gloucestershire

Brookbank Folly, hand built cottage Royal Forest of Dean

property reference 6733

Not only is Brookbank Folly located just on the edge of the Royal Forest of Dean, but it was also hand built using timber from the forest itself! Blending seamlessly into its surroundings and being full of character with exposed beams, wooden floors and stained glass windows, you would be forgiven for thinking that you were staying right in the thick of the forest.

Converted Railway Carriage

North York Moors & Coast

Converted Railway Carriage Self Catering Accommodation Near Whitby

property reference 3877

Forget the Orient Express! Perhaps one of the quirkiest and most unique properties in the Sykes family is the Converted Railway Carriage in Hawsker. Whilst the carriage has been refurbished to make comfortable accommodation for six, many of its original features have been left including first class seats, sliding windows and the shape of the carriage. The carriage is now static, but when sitting on one of these train seats and looking out of the window onto the beautiful countryside, you can almost imagine yourself going on a great adventure.

The Laggan Drey

Northern Highlands & Cairngorms National Park

The Laggan Drey, Self Catering Accommodation in Northern Highlands

property reference 1525

If you still have those childhood dreams of living in a treehouse then The Laggan Drey could be your answer. This timber cottage is located on the outskirts of Laggan and is built on stilts to give guests a stunning view of Ben Alder and Creag Meagaidh. The exposed beams and open plan living space give this property plenty of character and the outside space makes it feel as though you are secluded in your own treehouse world!

See More Quirky Cottages

Quirky Pinterest Board Sykes Cottages

head to our Quirky Cottages Pinterest board for more fantastically unique properties

We have far too many quirky and unusual properties to share them all in one blog post, so take a look at our quirky cottages pinterest board where you can see many more unique holiday cottages that are just a little out of the ordinary!

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.

Last Minute Breaks for July 2014

Thursday, July 3rd, 2014
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With the England team safely back in the UK and our hopes of World Cup victory long gone, our social calendar has been left wide open. Luckily the sun has decided to put in an appearance and help distract us from the remainder of the tournament, so why not make the most of the beautiful weather and book yourself a last minute holiday with Sykes Cottages? There are a number of spectacular events taking place throughout the UK over the next week which are sure to offer a distraction from the beautiful game. If you’re still not convinced then take a look at this selection of upcoming events and see if we can persuade you to pack your bags and book a last minute break in the UK.

Tour de France – Yorkshire

Holme Moss; Picture via Flickr.

Holme Moss; Picture via Flickr.

The worlds’ premier cycling competition is coming to Yorkshire this weekend and just like the World Cup, it will be impossible to miss. Passing through a number of towns including Leeds, Harrogate, York and Sheffield, the Tour de France promises to be a memorable event for all those involved. With a number of Yorkshire cottages still available within driving distance of the route, a trip to Yorkshire this weekend is a must for all cycling enthusiasts.

Bruce Festival – Dunfermline

Dunfermline Abbey: Via Flickr

Dunfermline Abbey: Picture via Flickr.

Take a step back in time at the 2014 Bruce Festival in Dunfermline, Scotland. This historic event will take place on July 12th and 13th as part of Scotland’s Homecoming celebrations and is expected to be one of the highlights in Scotland’s calendar. The 2014 programme is set to include jousting, medieval battles, falconry displays, medieval music and a historic puppet show. Suitable for the whole family, we would highly suggest a trip to Dunfermline next weekend.

Open Air Theatre – Chester

Historic City of Chester picture via Flickr.

Historic City of Chester picture via Flickr.

The Chester Grosvenor Park is setting itself up for one of the finest theatre performances this side of London. The only other theatre of its kind outside of the capital, the Grosvenor Park Theatre has gained a fantastic reputation for performance, display and fun. With a capacity of 400, the actors are always greeted with rapturous applause and a standing ovation from the crowd. If you’re visiting Chester this season then you’re in for a treat as the plays on offer are Macbeth, The Secret Garden and The Comedy of Errors.

Wakestock Festival – Abersoch

Abersoch Beach: Picture via Flickr.

Abersoch Beach: Picture via Flickr.

Wakestock festival began way back in the year 2000 with a wakeboarding contest during the day followed by an evening party in a car park with 500 people. Today Wakestock is a major music and wakeboarding festival which attracts over 20,000 people each year! Held in the beautiful surroundings of Cardigan Bay in North Wales this year’s festival takes places between July 11th and 13th. An excellent excuse to hit the beach, watch world class water sports and listen to some of Britain’s top artists Wakestock is a must for all UK party goers.

We hope this small selection of events has helped convince you to take a short break over the upcoming weeks and with over 500 cottages still available for last minute breaks we are sure to have a property to suite your needs. For more information on our last minute breaks please visit our cottage page or call our holiday specialists on 01244 356695.


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.