Archive for the ‘Holiday Ideas’ Category

Non-Festive Days Out This December

Saturday, December 20th, 2014
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At Sykes, we appreciate that not everyone is a big fan of Christmas and sometimes it can be a little overwhelming when festive activities are thrust in your face everywhere you turn. It can feel like you can’t go anywhere without being reminded of the festive season. That’s where we can help; we’ve scoured the internet and made a shortlist of some of the best non-festive days out that you can enjoy this December:

RSPB Wild Families

Rainham Marshes

Via Flickr

From 20th December- 4th January, the RSPB is running a free family adventure trail at their Rainham Marshes Nature Reserve in Essex. The Wild Families: Family Winter Trail is open every day from 9.30am until 4.30pm- just head along to the nature reserve, pick up an adventure trail activity sheet and hunt around to find the hidden clues. Families will need to find all the clues to reveal the mystery! This winter trail is a fantastic day out for all the family and a nice alternative to the plethora of very festive events that take place throughout December. For more information on Wild Families, please visit the RSPB website.

Biking at Dalby Forest

Dalby Forest

Via Flickr

If you fancy an active day out then head to Dalby Forest in North Yorkshire, where you can experience over 70 miles of one of the UK’s best cycling trails. Dalby has something for everyone, with ramps and jumps for thrill-seekers, gentle trails for families, and World Cup standard tracks for serious mountain bikers. You can even hire bikes here if you don’t have your own. There are plenty of pretty picnic spots and scenic views along the way, as well as a tasty café where you can indulge in a well-deserved treat after your day out! For more information, please visit the Forestry Commission website.

Day Out With Thomas

Thomas the Tank Engine

Via Flickr

For families with children of the train-loving variety, try a Day Out With Thomas! This wonderful event brings Thomas the Tank Engine and his friends to heritage railways across the UK and on 21st December, Day Out With Thomas is coming to the East Anglian Railway Museum in Essex. This event does need to be booked in advance and gives visitors the chance to meet Thomas and friends, take a ride on a real steam train, and take part in fun-filled themed activities. For more information, please see the Day Out With Thomas website.

Burning the Clocks

Burning the Clocks

Via Flickr

Burning the Clocks is an annual free event that takes place in Brighton on 21st December. Organised by community arts charity, Same Sky, Burning the Clocks is a celebration of the shortest day of the year and consists of people gathering together to make paper and willow lanterns to parade through the centre of Brighton, before making them into a bonfire on the beach as a token of the year’s end. There’s also live music and fireworks! For more information, please visit the Same Sky website.

If you’re heading to any of these fun days out then don’t forget to let us know how your trip was! You can do this by either sending us a tweet or a message on Facebook.

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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.

Walk of the Month: The Tolkien Trail

Saturday, December 13th, 2014
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Today sees another instalment of our Walk of the Month series, and for December we’re going to head to the Ribble Valley in Lancashire and follow in the footsteps of one of the country’s literary greats, J.R.R. Tolkien. His son attended Stonyhurst College, one of the main sights to see on the walk, and Tolkien used to visit him often. In fact he wrote sections of the Lord of the Rings whilst staying at the school and drew plenty inspiration for Middle Earth from the surrounding countryside, with places like Hurst Green, Jumbles Farm and Cromwell’s Bridge all coming together in his head to form parts of the Shire.

via. Flickr

via. Flickr

You can expect to see plenty of stunning scenery whilst making your way around the Tolkien Trail, from the lush woodlands to the commanding presence of Pendle Hill in the distance and of course the lazy meanderings of the Rivers Hodder and Ribble that frame the route.

The Walk

The Tolkien Trail follows a circular route with plenty of flat terrain and easy pathways so that it should be easy enough for all, although at just under six miles long it will take around 3 hours to complete.

The Route

via. Flickr

via. Flickr

Starting off in the village of Hurst Green, head over towards Stonyhurst College, the domed turrets on the roof of the school will guide you along.

Once you pass the College Observatory you’ll want to head right down the path towards Hall Barn Farm. Then take a left just before the gate of the farm and follow the line of the buildings. Here you’ll find a couple of outstanding views, to the left you’ll be able to see the College in all it’s glory and in the opposite direction there’s the profile of Pendle Hill and also Clitheroe Castle.

Now follow the path all the way until you reach Woodfields, once you’re there cross the road and head down the lane between the rows of houses. Soon after this lane veers to the left you’ll want to take the right hand turning and follow the edge of the field alongside Over Hacking Wood.

Then head down to the River Hodder and follow the pathway all the way along to Cromwell’s Bridge. From here take a right and follow the road for a short while. Once you reach the first junction head over the stile to the left and cross the field.

From here you’ll want to head on to Winckley Hall Farm where you’ll rejoin the Hodder as it converges with the River Ribble. Then continue following the river for quite a distance passing Hacking Hall, Jumbles Farm and the aqueduct.

Not long after the aqueduct youll come to a small wood and at this point you should leave the riverside path. Cross the small wooden bridge and head up the stepped pathway, climb the stile and keep walking with the fence on your left.

When this fence takes a sharp left keep walking straight on, after crossing a couple of bridges and another stile cross the stream on your right. Now all you need to do is follow the field boundary and you’ll find yourself back in the village of Hurst Green.

Download the comprehensive route and map for this walk here.

Rent a Lancashire Cottage with Sykes Cottages

If you’re struggling to think of a location for a winter break then Lancashire is right up there! With it’s rolling hills and lush forests the scenery is spectacular. Add to this the great transport links with the Lake District, and Western Dales, not to mention the bustling cities of Liverpool and Manchester, should you need to get in that last bit of Christmas shopping, and you’ll never find yourself short of something to do. So if you fancy taking a break in the Lancashire countryside why not take a look at our wide array of cottages there, from romantic boltholes to properties big enough for the whole family we’ve got them all!

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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.

Spotlight on Cottages Still Available for New Year

Saturday, December 6th, 2014
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The end of the year is nigh, and it won’t be long until we bid 2014 a fond farewell and say a big ‘hello’ to 2015! If you still don’t have any New Year’s plans then never fear, as it’s not too late. Whether you want to party your way in to next year or welcome 2015 in a much more subdued manner, we still have a number of properties available that are perfect no matter your intentions this 31st December! Below are just some of the properties still available for booking, but do take a look at our website for the full range of properties still waiting to be snapped up to host your New Year celebrations.

Tyddyn Goronwy

Talybont, Wales – Ref. 4084


Dine in style in the character-filled dining room of Tyddyn Goronwy

The lovely Tyddyn Goronwy in Wales is the perfect New Year hideout for a larger family. Sleeping 10 in six bedrooms, this five tick property is full of character and with it’s huge list of amenities including WiFi, an open fire and six TVs, there is sure to be something for everyone to enjoy.

Norah’s Nook

Kirkbymoorside, North York Moors and Coast – Ref. 911836

Noah's Nook in Farndale

Enjoy a New Years getaway at Norah’s Nook

Ideal for a small group is Norah’s Nook near Kirkbymoorside in Yorkshire. The property is set within the owner’s grounds and offers guests stunning views of the North York Moors National Park; the perfect location for a New Year’s walk to clear that hangover!

Quayside Cottage

Conwy, Wales – Ref. 21843

Quayside Cottage

Countdown to 2015 in luxury at Quayside Cottage

Quayside Cottage is perfect for those couples who want to spend the beginning of the year as they mean to go on; together. This cosy property sleeps two and one dog and is the ideal romantic New Year retreat. With cosy sofas, an open fire and underfloor heating, this property is the ultimate in luxury romance and is a fantastic backdrop for a couple’s New Year celebrations.

Bryn Meirion

Blaenau Ffestiniog, Wales – Ref. 21899

Bryn Meirion

Enjoy New Year in this delightful Welsh holiday cottage

Not only does Bryn Meirion provide a great base for families or groups of friends to explore the surrounding area, it also provides a great place to bring in the New Year. Enjoy nibbles and drinks in the open plan living area before heading out onto the property’s enclosed patio area to watch the fireworks. Perfect!

Bryn Meirion is currently offering a huge £322 discount on stays over the festive period. Stay here over New Year for a week beginning the 29th December for just £400! 

Singing Heart Cottage

Lochgilphead, Scotland – Ref. 914763

Singing Heart Cottage in Scotland

Get away from it all for New Years in Singing Heart Cottage

If your New Year’s resolution is to cut back on the television and be a little more switched off, why not start 2015 as you mean to go on in Singing Heart Cottage? This delightful property sleeping four and two dogs is perfect for getting the family together this New Year without the distractions of emails, social media or online games.

Book Yourself a New Year Break

Hogmanay Celebration Fireworks

image via Flickr

Our New Year’s breaks begin on the 29th December, so there is still time to book a getaway! Head over to our website to see all of the properties that are still available for New Year, whether you will be staying on your own, as a twosome or bringing the whole brood along!

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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.

Winter Beach Activity Ideas

Thursday, December 4th, 2014
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When you think of the beach, what is the first thing that comes to mind? I bet it’s clear blue skies, sun bathing and eating ice cream. At least that’s what would come to mind for many of us, but there is no need to ignore the lovely beaches of the British coastline when the skies aren’t so clear, the sun isn’t as hot and you’d much prefer a warm mug of tea than an ice cream cone! With this in mind we’ve come up with some ideas of things to do on the beach when it isn’t exactly bikini weather.

Have Fun in an Arcade

Brighton Pier Arcades

Some of the Sykes online marketing team heading into the Brighton Pier arcade.

Whether you’re a high flyer on those 2p machines or a break dancing whizz on dance machines (like a few members of the Sykes’ online team…) seaside arcades are too much fun to pass up and any trip to the beach isn’t complete without trying your luck at winning a few strips of tickets and trading them in for a souvenir of your trip.

Take Your Dog To The Beach

Westie dog on a beach

image via flickr

Throughout the summer months, many beaches have a restriction on when dogs can be brought onto the beach. In winter, these restrictions are mostly lifted so why not take your best friend for a day trip to the beach? It may be a tad chilly but wrap yourself up, take your dog’s favourite ball and play a game of catch! You’ll soon warm up and your furry friends’ tail won’t stop wagging.

Beach Games

Kite Flying on Bridlington Beach, Yorkshire

image via flickr

In the summer, our beaches are full to the brim with sunbathers, paddlers and budding architects building fantastic sandcastles so there often isn’t much room for playing beach games. The off-peak months are the ideal time to make the most of how quiet the beach is. Pack up a flask of tea, wear an extra layer and head down to the quiet seaside to play a game of volleyball, football, beach cricket or try your hand at flying a kite.

Go Fossil Hunting


image via flickr

Quieter seasons at the beach are perfect for spending a morning or afternoon on the hunt for fossils. Without groups of people hiding up potential fossil hideaways, there is much more space to hunt for something prehistoric – who knows what you might find? For more information and tips on fossil hunting take a look at this post on the Sykes Cottages blog from last year.

Partake in Water Sports


image via flickr

When the temperature drops it might not seem like a good idea to head into the sea but actually the colder months can often provide ideal conditions for partaking in water sports. The beach is quieter and there aren’t often any paddlers to worry about, plus the breeze can make activities such as kite surfing an absolute, well, breeze.

If these ideas have got you inspired to be beside the seaside this winter, take a look at our selection of properties near a beach and book yourself a little getaway!

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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.

Sykes’ Best Living Rooms

Tuesday, December 2nd, 2014
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When choosing a holiday cottage, what’s the first room you look at to decide if it’s for you? For me, it’s the living room. In my opinion, it’s the most important room in the house as it’s probably the room you’ll spend the most time in, along with your holiday companions. With that in mind, we’re taking a look at some of the best living rooms in the Sykes Cottages’ portfolio. There’s something to suit every taste – let us know which one is your favourite!

House on the Hill, Charnwood Forest

Holiday cottage in Charnwood Forest

House on the Hill, Charnwood Forest, Ref. 916619

This luxurious living room is on the first floor of House on the Hill, a large holiday home set in two acres of grounds near Charnwood Forest. This property sleeps up to 15 guests and the living room is spacious enough to accommodate everyone! It’s light and airy with glass doors leading to the stone terrace outside, and it also offers a warming woodburner for cooler times of year.

Beckside Barn, Cumbria

Holiday cottage in Cumbria

Beckside Barn, Cumbria, Ref. 914337

This charming Kirkby Stephen cottage combines modern luxuries with traditional features and the living room is no exception! The stylish furniture and sleek gas fire-bowl at Beckside Barn are blended seamlessly with the original oak beams, creating an attractive, cosy place for all of the family to snuggle up.

Grove Cottage, North Yorkshire

Holiday cottage in Yorkshire

Grove Cottage, North Yorkshire, Ref. 12465

Grove Cottage is home to one of the sweetest living rooms we’ve ever seen; the cosy woodburner and feature fireplace, along with the pretty décor and thoughtful finishing touches make this holiday cottage the perfect place for a romantic getaway with your loved one.

The Malthouse, Peak District

Holiday cottage in Peak District

The Malthouse, Peak District, Ref. 17888

With its exposed stone walls, beams and wooden floors, the living room of this Peak District holiday cottage is every inch the country retreat. From this spectacular sitting room, you can also enjoy delightful views across the mill pond and maybe even catch a glimpse of The Malthouse’s resident kingfisher and heron.

Seashell Cottage, Northumberland

Holiday cottage in Northumberland

Seashell Cottage, Northumberland, Ref. 31213

For those who like their holiday cottages a little more quirky, Seashell Cottage is perfect. The living room is spacious, boasting characterful furnishings and plenty of books to keep you entertained. This cosy little cottage is just yards from the shore at Amble-on-Sea and its nautical associations are nicely reflected in the décor.

If you’re looking for a holiday cottage with a lovely living room but haven’t quite found the one for you yet, you can visit our website to see our full range of holiday cottages by clicking here.

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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.