Archive for the ‘Holiday Ideas’ Category

Mud & Mountains: The UK’s Best Mountain Bike Trails

Monday, June 16th, 2014
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Thrilling, gruelling and really rather muddy, mountain biking is one of the UK’s favourite outdoor pursuits. Since the 1980’s, when the first fat-tired cycle rolled off the production line, thousands of us have headed for the nearest hills to take a ride on these tough two wheelers. But the question is, where’s the best place in the UK to go mountain biking? Seeing as it’s Bike Week, we thought we’d take a look.

Forest of Dean, Gloucestershire

Via Flickr

Via Flickr

With its enchanting tree-hidden trails, the Forest of Dean is a mecca for off-road cyclists. Easy on little legs whilst still pretty enough for a romantic ride, the forest offers plenty of room to let loose beneath the leafy canopy. Families will love the family cycle trail, an 11 mile circular route connecting numerous villages, whilst experienced riders will enjoy the challenge of the Freeminer Trail; four miles of hairpin bends, rooty drops and switchback hill climbs.

Bewl Water, Kent

Via Flickr

Via Flickr

One of the Garden of England’s finest water features, Bewl Water is a playground for all manner of outdoor pursuits including walking, horse riding and of course, cycling. One route around the reservoir is the aptly named Round Reservoir Route, which passes through peaceful meadows, rich woodlands and quiet country lanes, making it the perfect place for a pedal on a balmy summer’s day.

Tissington Trail, The Peak District

Via Flickr

Via Flickr

Skirting the remnants of an abandoned railway, the Tissington Trail is a fantastic way to take in the beauty of the Peaks on two wheels. At 13 miles long, the route is ideal for cyclists of all abilities, providing a quick jaunt for pros and a pleasant day’s ride for families. Sites to see along the trail include Tissington Hall and Hartington Village, both of which are ideal stopping off points should you need a rest.

Grizedale Forest, The Lake District

Via Flickr

Via Flickr

Steep climbs and rutted terrain make Grizedale Forest the place for mountain biking in the Lake District. Trails in the forest vary from relaxing woodland paths to adrenaline pumping black runs that will test even the most experienced downhill fanatic. One of our favourites is the Hawkshead Moor Trail, a 10.5 mile undulating route offering panoramic views of Coniston, Ambleside and the Langdale Fells- just be prepared for some serious pedalling on uphill sections!

Calderdale, Yorkshire Dales

Via Flickr

Via Flickr

On the cusp of the Yorkshire Dales lies Calderdale, a picturesque pocket of wilderness that lends itself nicely to the pursuit of extreme sport. Expect fabulous views, pretty heathlands and lots of hill climbs in this area, as well as a plethora of country pubs from which to savour a proper Yorkshire pint. One of Calderdale’s best trails is Calderdale Circuit; an 18 mile loop featuring gravel tracks, exposed  moorlands and quiet dells that are just waiting to be explored by mountain bike.

Machynlleth, Wales

Via Flickr

Via Flickr

Boasting a rich array of trails and a distinct alpine atmosphere, Machynlleth in Powys, Wales is the ideal place from which to embark on a mountain bike adventure in the stunning Dyfi Valley. Waymarked trails of varying difficulties lead you out of town and into a beautiful, mountainous landscape, where riders of all abilities can witness the spellbinding beauty of the Snowdonia National Park. If you’re an experienced mountain bike enthusiast, opt for the Mach 3 or Cli-machx route, man-made trails offering a series of hair-raising technical features.

Get set for a mountain bike break with Sykes Cottages!

If mud and mountains are on your holiday wishlist, why not rent a cottage for a mountain bike holiday from Sykes Cottages? We’ve got loads of self-catering holiday homes that would make a great base for a mountain bike break, so check out our cottages for cyclists page and choose your favourite today!

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.

What to pack for a UK cycling holiday

Sunday, June 15th, 2014
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Cycling holidays are great; they keep you active, enliven the senses, and enable you to see sights that you simply wouldn’t if travelling by car. Plus, they’re accessible to pretty much everyone, young and old. The only downside to a biking break however, is the equipment you’ll require to have a good time doing it. From spare inner tubes, multi-tools and crash helmets, to padded shorts, waterproofs and pannier bags, there’s loads of kit you should consider buying before hitting the open road.

In honour of Bike Week 2014, we’ve compiled a list of all the things you ought to take on an intrepid cycling break. For hardened cyclists, this list will be fairly arbitrary, but for amateurs, we hope it’ll provide a jargon-free insight into the bamboozling world of the cycling holiday. So without further ado, here’s our guide to what to pack for a UK cycling holiday.

Clothing and personal equipment

Via Flickr

Via Flickr

Cycle Helmet: Though not the most stylish piece of kit you’ll carry with you, the safety benefits of a cycle helmet mean it should take pride of place at the top of your cycling shopping list. Nowadays, helmets come in a variety of styles, so it shouldn’t be difficult to find one to suit you.

Padded cycling shorts: Preferably of the skin-tight variety, though loose work just as well for leisure rides. You’ll really thank that extra cushioning after a day in the saddle.

Cycling jersey or sport shirt: Choose the top to match the weather. If you have the cash, a cycling jersey will provide extra warmth in colder conditions, whilst the sweat wicking technology will keep you cool during the summer.

Cycling gloves: A good pair of cycling gloves will not only keep your hands warm, but will also provide vital protection from blisters and painful road vibration, which can become a real drag on longer rides.

Waterproof jacket: Keen cyclists will be all too aware of how useful a lightweight jacket can be, particularly in the UK. Pac-a-macs are a great option for their portability, but make sure they’re long enough to cover your lower back to avoid wind-chill.

Cycling shoes: Planning on doing some serious miles on your biking odyssey? Invest in a pair of cycle shoes that clip into your pedals to maximise efficiency- just be sure to get some practice with these before heading for the highway.

Backpack or pannier bags: From your cumbersome kit to a midday snack, carrying stuff on your bicycle can be a pain if you haven’t got the right luggage. Many cyclists plumb for pannier bags (lightweight bags that attach to pannier rack on the back of your bike) on cycling tours, but a small rucksack works just as well for shorter journeys.

Sun cream: When you’re out and about in warm weather for hours on end, it’s easy to catch too much sun, particularly on exposed areas such as your face, neck and legs, so be sure to carry a tube of sun cream with you.

First aid kit: Whether cycling with kids or not, it’s likely that one of your party will take a tumble during your trip, so make sure you’ve got a well-stocked first aid kit to deal with grazed knees, elbows and other bumps and knocks that come up along the way.

Water & snacks: From full picnics to energy drinks, you’ll need fuel to help get you up and over the next hill, so be sure to carry some snacks, as well as a bottle of water, when you’re out on the road.

Bicycle Tools and Gadgets

Via Flickr

Via Flickr

Puncture Repair Kit & Spare Inner Tube: Punctures can happen anywhere at any time for all manner of reasons, so it pays to be prepared. Carrying a spare inner tube can save you time, but be sure to have a puncture repair kit too lest you fall foul of a thorn twice.

Multi-tool: If you notice a problem with your bike or start to feel uncomfortable in your riding position, it’s imperative to have a tool for making quick adjustments. That’s where the multi-tool comes in. Featuring an array of different tool options, these handy gizmos will help get you back on the move in a jiff.

Cycle Computers & GPS Devices: For many cyclists, tracking and recording information from a ride is what it’s all about. In recent years, cycle computers have come along in leaps and bounds, and now offer the rider unique insight their performance. If you have some money to burn on a cycle computer, opt for one with GPS tracking to help plan routes and ensure that getting lost is a thing of the past.

Book a UK cycling holiday with Sykes CottagesRent cyclist friendly cottages

Here at Sykes Cottages, we’ve been providing cyclist friendly holiday accommodation in the UK and Ireland for over 25 years, and consider ourselves experts in catering for the needs of the country’s two wheel enthusiasts. We feature over 1,000 self-catering cottages for cyclists across the UK and Ireland, each of which provides a comfortable and convenient place to stay at the end of a long day of pedalling. To find out more about our cyclist friendly accommodation, please visit our cottages for cycling page.

Are you a keen cyclist and think we’ve missed something essential from our list? Let us know on Facebook or Twitter and we’ll happily add it in!

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.

Treat your dad to a round of golf this Father’s Day!

Saturday, June 14th, 2014
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It probably hasn’t escaped your notice that tomorrow is Father’s Day and if it has then you’re in trouble! If you’re still trying to find the perfect present for your dad then look no further as here at Sykes Cottages, we’ve found the answer. Why not treat your dad to a round of golf this Father’s Day? We’ve listed below some of the best ways that you can spoil your golf-mad dad on his special day.

Follow in the footsteps of legends

Golf course

Via Flickr

If your dad is a lover of golf then there’s no better present this Father’s Day than to book him some time at one of the UK’s most famous golf courses, The Belfry, in Warwickshire. The resort has hosted the Ryder Cup four times, which is more Ryder Cup matches than any other venue in the world and boasts 3 separate courses, The Brabazon, one of the world’s most esteemed courses; PGA National, which is the only PGA branded golf course in the UK; and The Derby, a smaller course which caters for all levels of ability. When playing at The Belfry, you’ll be following in the footsteps of famous golfers such as Tiger Woods, Steve Ballesteros and Sir Nick Faldo; playing here would be a dream for any golf fan so if you want to get your dad something truly special this Father’s Day then look no further!

Pitch and putt

Pitch and putt golf

Via Flickr

For something a little less daunting, why not head for a pitch and putt golf course. Pitch and putt is an amateur sport very similar to golf but players are only permitted to use two clubs, one being a putter. The hole lengths are also shorter than those found in regular golf, at around 80 yards to golf’s average of 400 yards. Heatherton World of Activities, near Tenby in Pembrokeshire has a fantastic pitch and putt course set in the beautiful South Wales countryside. The course is ideal for families and offers something for everyone, no matter your ability.

 Go crazy this Father’s Day

If you want to go to a place where the whole family can get involved then why not try your hand at a few rounds of crazy golf? Also known as minigolf, this pastime is great fun for all ages and abilities and would make the perfect Father’s Day treat for dads with younger families. One of the most unique crazy golf experiences in the UK is 4D Golf in Castleford, Yorkshire. Unlike other crazy golf courses, the courses here offer glow-in-the-dark, 3D themed fun with special effects throughout. There are two separate courses to explore- ‘Search for Atlantis’ and ‘The Mummy’s Curse’; both of which will be fantastic fun for all the family to enjoy this Father’s Day.

Book a holiday cottage near a golf course

Holiday cottage near a golf course

The Laggan Drey, Cairngorms National Park, Ref 1525

If you’re looking for a really special way to treat your dad this Father’s Day then why not book one of our fantastic holiday cottages near a golf course. Your dad will be able to spend his time perfecting his swing on the green before heading back to his own holiday cottage to put his feet up and relax, before doing it all again the next day! You could even go with him to learn a thing or two!

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.

Sykes’ Guide to Great Pub Walks

Friday, June 13th, 2014
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As I’m sure you’re aware Father’s Day is fast approaching and here at Sykes we appreciate that it can be a bit hard to think of what to do for the big day. Do you head out for a day trip or maybe have a lazy day at home? Well one alternative which is sure to go down a treat with dad is a country walk followed by a trip to the local for a couple of pints and some quality grub. That’s why we’ve put together a few ideas to do just that! So if you’re a fan of stunning scenery, rambles in the countryside and even the odd little tipple then read on as I’m sure you’ll find something to your liking.

Anglesey

via. Flickr

via. Flickr

­­If you’re on Anglesey then I think it’s safe to say that you’ll never be stuck for somewhere to go for a lovely walk, after all, with the fantastic sea vistas and some of the country’s best beaches the island is a bit of a walker’s paradise. However there is one route that epitomises this. If you head over to Anglesey’s Holy Island, you’ll be able to try out this route right the way around to the other side of the Rhoscolyn headland where you can enjoy stunning views over the nearby Trearddur Bay and Holyhead Mountain. What’s more, when you’ve finished the walk, you can pop into the White Eagle  which is reputed to be Prince William’s local of choice during his posting on the island!

Glencoe

via. Flickr

If it’s good enough for Bond then I’m sure it will be good enough for Dad. That’s right, if you’re north of the border you could always head up to Glencoe, the setting for 007’s childhood home. Mainly thanks to the beautiful panoramas of the nearby Munros, this stunning highland glen is considered a bit of a Mecca for walkers; just ask the 200,000 who turn up there every year. It has to be said that some of the local walks are probably left to the experts, especially in more adverse conditions, but don’t let that put you off! You could always take a look here at some of the less taxing routes in the area, and happily they all start on the doorstep of the award winning Clachaig Inn!

Northumberland

via. Flickr

via. Flickr

Or there’s also this walk along the rugged Northumberland coast. Back in 2010, the National Trust voted it one of the top 10 walks in the country and the best for wildlife watching with seals, birdlife and many others all making themselves known along the way. So if you fancy seeing it for yourself, take a look the route which starts at the quaint fishing village of Craster, goes up past the brooding ruins of Dunstanburgh castle before reaching the delightful little Ship Inn in Low Newton where you’ll be able to choose from one of the twenty craft beers all brewed on site.

So hopefully if you were a bit stuck for ideas you’re now planning your own little pub walk, but if you’re thinking of something a bit grander you could always check out our Last Minute Cottages and treat Dad to a weekend away!

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.

Dolphin Watching in Scotland

Sunday, June 8th, 2014
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Here in the UK, we’re extremely fortunate to be surrounded by such a vast array of wildlife; from tiny butterflies to large whales, we have our fair share of extraordinary creatures. One of the UK’s most charismatic critters can be found in the northern tip of Scotland, in Moray Firth. Playing in the bays and amazing tourists and locals alike is the resident population of Bottlenosed dolphin. These charming creatures attract thousands of tourists each year and with their cheeky smiles and playful attitude, it’s not hard to see why! If you fancy a trip up north to visit these adorable dolphins then here’s everything you’ll need to know about the area and its most famous residents.

Moray Firth

Picture via Flickr.

Picture via Flickr.

Rich in animal and plant life, the Moray Firth is a vast inlet of the Northern Sea located in the Scottish Highlands. The Moray Firth offers the people of Scotland more than 500 miles of coast line and is the ideal location for a coastal getaway. There are many fascinating places to visit along this vast stretch of coastline but if you’re looking for a memorable day of dolphin watching followed by a slap up meal then we would suggest a trip to Chanonry Point. This fantastic narrow peninsula is the perfect location to spot Bottlenose dolphins as they feed along the channel just off shore and with the sensational Crofter’s Bistro just a short coastal walk away, you are sure to feel extremely satisfied come the end of the day.

Resident Bottlenose dolphins

With an estimated population of over 160 dolphins, the Moray Firth is one of the best places in Europe to catch a glimpse of this graceful animals. Growing up to 4 meters in length, the Moray Firth dolphins are unique as they are the largest Bottlenose dolphins you will see anywhere in the world. For your best chance to spot these inquisitive creatures, we would suggest a boat trip across the Moray Firth. Drawn to the boats by their extreme curiosity, you’re far more likely to spot a dolphin on the sea then you would be on land. For a fantastic wildlife experience we would suggest taking a boat trip with EcoVentures, this committed troop are dedicated to providing you with a memorable experience as well as preserving the local marine environment.

Other wildlife favourites

Dolphins are not the only creatures to be found in the Moray Firth; in fact the area is rich with a vast array of wildlife. Another favourite amongst visitors to the area is the Harbour Porpoise; smaller and shier than the dolphin, they are a little harder to spot but well worth the wait. The local sea life also includes seals, Minke whales, otters and occasionally pilot whales. Also common to this area is a wide selection of incredible sea birds. There are two RSPB (Royal Society for the Protection of Birds) reserves in the Moray Firth making it a bird watchers paradise and well worth the trip for a budding wildlife photographer.

Holiday cottages in Moray Firth

Lilac Cottage, Ref: 30495 is just a short journey from Moray Firth.

Lilac Cottage, Ref: 30495 is just a short journey from Moray Firth.

When visiting the Moray Firth, you’ll need somewhere to stay and here at Sykes Cottagesm, we have a wonderful selection of high quality self-catering holiday cottages which are ideal for such an occasion. So whether you are visiting friends and family, on a wildlife adventure, romantic getaway or family vacation, we will have the perfect cottage to meet your needs. Visit our Moray Firth cottages page or call our holiday specialists for more information.

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.