Archive for the ‘Holiday Ideas’ Category

Spotlight on Our New Coastal Cottages

Monday, August 18th, 2014
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As summer gets into full swing, here at Sykes Cottages, we’re spending our days dreaming of lying on the beach in Cornwall, eating ice cream by the tonne on the North Yorkshire Coast and making sandcastles in Suffolk. To aid us in our British seaside daydreams, we’re taking a look at some of the fantastic new coastal cottages that have come on board with us recently; but we must warn you, it might make you want to grab your bucket and spade and book a holiday as soon as possible!

4 Croft House, Tenby, Pembrokeshire

Holiday cottage in Tenby

4 Croft House, Tenby, Ref. 913260

This delightful property in the South Wales seaside town of Tenby is just one minutes’ walk from the beach.  4 Croft House is a spacious self-catering apartment in a Georgian terrace, offering two bedrooms, floor-to-ceiling windows and WiFi. However, the real jewel in the crown of this property is the shared terraced garden located just across the road. This picturesque terrace is the perfect place to watch the sun go down and boasts one of the best views in the UK. The garden offers unrivalled views of Tenby Harbour, North Beach and Harbour Beach, which was recently voted the best beach in Europe.

Seashell Cottage, Amble-by-the-Sea, Northumberland

Holiday cottage in Amble-on-the-Sea

Seashell Cottage, Amble-by-the-Sea, Ref. 31213

Seashell Cottage is located in the picturesque fishing port of Amble, just 400 yards from the shore. This cute cottage has a quirky style and sleeps 4 people in 2 bedrooms. It boasts all the modern conveniences you could need as well as more traditional features such as an open fire and rear yard with alfresco dining area. The surrounding area is home to some wonderful beaches, restaurants and pubs where you can while away the hours on your Northumberland holiday.

The View of the Atlantic, Knightstown, County Kerry

Holiday cottage in Knightstown

The View Of The Atlantic, Knightstown, Ref. 912674

How about The View of the Atlantic for a holiday home with a view? The views from the balcony at this property look across the Atlantic towards Cahersiveen and are truly incredible. If you can tear yourself away from the balcony for long enough, then this duplex apartment is the perfect base for those who want to explore Valentia Island. The island is considered to be one of the most beautiful places in Ireland and a real hidden gem with plenty of walking opportunities and the awe-inspiring Fogher Cliffs.

If you’d like to take a look at more of the latest editions to the Sykes Cottages portfolio then you can visit the new cottages page on our website; or visit our coastal cottages page to find more holiday cottages by the sea.

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.

Britain’s Top 10 Scenic Drives

Sunday, August 17th, 2014
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Here in Britain, we’re a nation of motorists. Our roads are some of the busiest in Europe, and overall, there’s almost a quarter of a million miles of roadway in the UK. Impressive though this is, it doesn’t change the fact that for many, driving in Britain is a tiresome task, reminiscent of long delays, pesky speed cameras and dull scenery.

If you’re heading on a UK holiday this year, I’d wager that you’re dreading the drive. But fear not fellow motorist, for all is not lost. Should you choose to bypass the motorway and opt for a minor A or B road, you’ll often be met with charming views, sweeping bends and an endless supply of fascinating villages, hamlets and towns that you wouldn’t know existed from the comfort of the fast lane.

So if you love driving and want to escape the tedium of the motorway, take a look at our shortlist of the best scenic drives in the UK below.

Kendal to Keswick, the Lake District

Via Flickr

Via Flickr

The A591 is one of England’s favourite scenic routes, and can be busy at times; after all, it does link Keswick and Kendal, two of the Lake District’s most popular towns. Don’t let that put you off though, because this isn’t a drive you’ll want to rush. Must sees along the route include Grasmere, Ullswater and Glenridding.

Black Mountain Road, Powys

Via Flickr

Via Flickr

Meandering through the Brecon Beacons, the Black Mountain road has long been popular amongst motorists, and featured on an episode of the popular motoring show, Top Gear. Here, amid the timeless beauty of the Beacons, this glorious 27 mile road offers exhilarating bends, fast straights and plenty of scenic eye candy for both driver and passenger.

Alnwick to Kielder Water, Northumberland

Via Flickr

Via Flickr

Northumberland is home to one of England’s most dramatic coastlines, and thankfully, much of it is discoverable by car. By far the best route to take along the coast is the B-road between Alnwick and Kielder Water, which features evocative views over the coast, as well as a series of brilliant twists and turns through the Cheviot and Simonside Hills.

Ribblehead Viaduct, North Yorkshire

Via Flickr

Via Flickr

Thanks to its undulating terrain, North Yorkshire is a dream for motorists. Consequently, all that rolling countryside caused a real headache for Victorian railway builders, who were forced to tunnel and bridge their way across the county. Their most iconic construction is easily the Ribblehead Viaduct, a 400m bridge featuring no less than 24 stone arches; have your passenger snap a shot or two as you speed on by.

St Ives to Land’s End, Cornwall

Via Flickr

Via Flickr

The coast road from the cultural hub of St Ives to the striking spit of Land’s End is an evocative and dramatic route, taking in much of Cornwall’s untouched western territory. This is a place where deserted tin mines rise from rugged heathlands and craggy sea cliffs stand tall above the powerful Atlantic Ocean.

Cat and Fiddle, Peak District

Via Flickr

Via Flickr

The Cat and Fiddle scenic drive, aka, Buxton to Macclesfield, takes its name from a rustic country pub that just happens to be the second highest public house in the UK. This famously bendy route is hotspot for motorcyclists, but drivers will be in their element too thanks to the route’s stunning views over Greater Manchester, the Cheshire Plain and the Peak District National Park.

Chedder Gorge, Somerset

Via Flickr

Via Flickr

Chiselling through the Mendip Hills, Cheddar Gorge is widely considered to be one of the Britain’s greatest natural wonders. By far the best way to see this majestic limestone pass is via the meandering stretch of tarmac that runs through its centre; just watch out for slow lorries when you’re heading uphill.

Buttertubs Pass, Yorkshire Dales

Via Flickr

Via Flickr

Featured in the Grand Depárt of the Tour De France 2014, Buttertubs Pass is a very popular scenic road winding through the beloved Yorkshire Dales. This picturesque carriageway takes its name from the neighbouring potholes where dairy farmers would rest on their way to market, and features some superb sweeping bends.

Wild Atlantic Way, Ireland

Via Flickr

Via Flickr

At 1,500 miles, the Wild Atlantic Way is the longest touring route on our shortlist, but can easily be divided into shorter drives. For a dramatic snapshot of the Atlantic Seaboard, head for Donegal, whose coast features a mix of towering sea cliffs and sweeping beaches. Alternatively, take to the asphalt in Galway, where the mountainous landscapes of Connemara await.

Glasgow to Fort William, Scotland

Via Flickr

Via Flickr

Leave the city lights of Glasgow behind you and make for the wonderfully scenic Scottish Highlands, home to some of Britain’s favourite roads. The A82 from Glasgow to Fort William passes through the Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park, so expect sensational views and plenty of windy tarmac. To extend the route, make for Inverness, passing the iconic Loch Ness along the way.

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.

Discount Days Out With The Kids

Monday, August 11th, 2014
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Well we’ve had a few weeks of the summer holidays now and no doubt the kids have already been treated to several days out. Now we know that the cost of these can start to mount up, and so we’ve had a look to see if we could lend a hand when it comes to finding a few ways to save a bit of money.

Check the Internet


via. Flickr

Nowadays there are plenty of sites that you can go onto and find some of the best value trips in a matter of clicks. Day Out With the Kids is one of the easiest as it breaks them down area by area, allowing you to compare various attractions for their costs. Alternatively, you could pop over to a website like Money Saving Expert which will often post which places have got good deals on, allowing you to track down the best value for money.

Collect Vouchers


via. Flickr

Or you can always collect vouchers and coupons which will help you get a bargain price on your day. Normally, cereal boxes are a good place to start for this, or you can also use those saved up Clubcard or Nectar points. Over the summer, Tesco have been running the voucher exchange which lets you trade your hard-earned points for tickets to attractions, and there are some cracking deals available. For example, you can trade just £4.50 worth of points for a child’s ticket to the Eden Project!

Save Money on the Day

via. Flickr

via. Flickr

Finally, there are plenty of things that you can do to save money when you actually arrive. A big one for doing this is taking food along with you rather than paying for it from the various stalls and restaurants; most of the time they tend to be a touch expensive. Also if there is a gift shop where you’re heading, you might find it quite useful to set a budget before you let the little ones head in, as they tend to have a habit of picking out the biggest or the most expensive thing that they can get their hands on!

So there we have it, a few hints and tips for saving a bit of cash whilst keeping the kids entertained. Hopefully you’ll have picked up a couple of ideas but if there’s anything that you do which we might have missed out then do let us know, either over Facebook or Twitter, so that we can pass it on!

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.

Lake Vs. Beach

Sunday, August 10th, 2014
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Whether you want a rural countryside getaway or a more traditional time beside the seaside, we are lucky enough to be spoilt for choice here in the UK. From rolling countryside in the Peak District to the sandy shores of Cornwall, everyone has their favourite holiday destination. Today we’re mediating the ultimate battle between what makes Lake and Beach locations; which will win?



image from property 913260

Just imagine you’re stepping out of your lovely holiday cottage in the morning, brew of choice in hand, there is still dew on the grass and a beautiful view of hills ahead of you. You’re thinking about the day you’re about to spend beside the lake, surrounded by stunning trees and nature. Blissful, isn’t it? Now imagine yourself stepping out of a similarly lovely holiday cottage, you can see imposing cliffs and perhaps you can make out some fairground rides in the distance. Looking towards the coast you can see the almost empty beach with stunning sand and blue sea across the horizon. Both equally as stunning and whether you’re by a lake or the beach, the surrounding views will be vastly different despite both having incredible natural beauty. At beach locations you will of course see sand, cliffs and potentially a boat or two along the horizon. At lakes you will be surrounded by lush countryside, hills and stunning forests.



image from property 911868

During summer, the UK coastline is full to the brim with sun seekers trying to catch the rays as well as being a popular choice for family holidays. This mixed with potential fairground rides and other activities can make the beach quite a loud location! If a bit of a quieter getaway is what you’re after then perhaps a lake location is the way to go. With holidaymakers much more spread out in comparison to how they would be on a beach, lakes are noticeably quieter but if you like a little hustle and bustle the beach may be more your scene.

Things To Do


image from property 906039

The glory of beach and lake locations is that both play host to a variety of things to do! If you’re feeling adventurous on the beach then you could try out coasteering or surfing. For a less wild day, you could build a sandcastle or search for fossils. If you fancy a chilled out day beside a lake you could go fishing or for a walk in the countryside. Alternatively, when feeling adventurous on a lake holiday you could head for the trees to partake in a Go Ape course or have a go at climbing or abseiling. The possibilities really are endless for both locations and whichever way you feel like spending your day you will be stuck for choice!

You really could go on comparing lakes and beaches forever and never come to a conclusion on which is the best place to take a holiday. Both are popular destinations due to their beautiful scenery, choices of things to do and of course their locations!

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.

Our Favourite Holiday Reads

Friday, August 8th, 2014
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There is no better way to spend a relaxing holiday afternoon than getting fully engrossed in a good book. Whether you’re a fan of crime, non-fiction or a romantic tale, any and all genres are perfect for the beach! With the Sykes blog writers being a team of book lovers, we thought that we would share some of our favourite beach reads with you.

The Big Sleep by Raymond ChandlerThebigsleep


When it comes to ‘beach reads’, for me, it has to be crime fiction. In the space of a week, I can get through any number of these pacey page-turners, but one that stands out as particularly brilliant is Raymond Chandler’s The Big Sleep. Short, sharp and home to one the coolest narrators ever penned (Phillip Marlowe), this complex yet hugely entertaining book is about as unputdownable as any beach read can be- enjoy!

warbreakerWarbreaker by Brandon Sanderson


Brandon Sanderson is a world class fantasy novelist, he is not only able to create complicated characters but also fully immerse you in that character’s world. He has a number of books which I love to read but Warbreaker makes the ideal beach read as it is a standalone novel. Warbreaker tells the story of two Idrian princesses, Vivenna and Siri. Vivenna is contracted to marry the God King of Hallandren and has been trained her whole life to be the perfect queen, however at the last moment her farther decided that Siri is to marry the God King in her place. The book follows both princesses as Siri is transported to Hallandren to marry the God King and Vivenna follows in hopes of saving her sister from her awful fate!

One Day by David Nichollsoneday


With a storyline that pulls you in and characters that you can’t help but like, One Day is an ideal beach read. The book has a unique style, with one chapter covering the same day of each year in the protagonists’ lives (the 15th July, which was the date that they met in 1988) for twenty years. Whether the characters are together or apart, successful or failing, there is at least one chapter of this novel that you can relate to. The style of the chapters is what makes it the ideal beach read, totally engrossing yet easy to put down and pick up if you fancy building a sandcastle!

TWHLBThe Woman He Loved Before by Dorothy Koomson

Being my favourite author for her fantastic characters, well thought out stories and fantastic writing, my number one choice for a beach read is anything by Dorothy Koomson. I could happily re-read all of her books at any time of year, right from The Cupid Effect to The Flavours of Love. The Woman He Loved Before is an ideal beach read. It follows the story of Libby whom, unsure of whether her husband Jack has ever loved her, comes across diaries written by Jacks late first-wife Eve. Whilst she reads the diaries she uncovers some startling truths. The story is tense, moving and a real page turner.

Captain Corelli’s Mandolin by Louis de BerniéresCaptain Corelli's Mandolin


A mixture of history and romance, and comedy and tragedy, Captain Corelli’s Mandolin is my idea of a perfect beach read. The story is set on the Greek island of Cephalonia (Kefalonia) and follows the story of the locals as Italian officers, including the charming Captain Antonio Corelli, are posted on the island as part of occupying forces. It offers a little bit of everything and is beautifully written, which makes it very hard to put down. I think that this is the most important quality for a good beach read as there are so many distractions to contend with when you’re on holiday!

Starter For Ten by David NichollsStarter For Ten by David Nicholls


In my eyes an ideal beach read is one that is quite easy-going and therefore makes it easy to while away a couple of hours in the sun, and that’s why I’ve chosen David Nicholls’ Starter for Ten! Set back in the mid-eighties it tells the tale of Brian Jackson, a working class Essex boy, as he struggles his way through his first year at one of the country’s most prestigious universities. It’s an entertaining coming-of-age story full to the brim with laughs, as well as the odd cringe-worthy mishap that will leave you wanting to read page after page!


These are just some of our favourite beach reads, we’d love to know yours! Send us a tweet or leave us a note on facebook telling us what you’ll be reading on your summer holiday this year. For more inspiration of what book to pack when you head away, take a look at our holiday reads Pinterest board

All images for this blog post were taken from the Waterstones website.

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.