Archive for the ‘Ireland’ Category

Sykes’ Spotlight on The Ring of Kerry

Tuesday, December 10th, 2013
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With stunning views and a surplus of natural beauty, it is no surprise that The Ring of Kerry is one of Ireland’s most popular tourist attractions outside of Dublin. The Ring of Kerry is a circular scenic route in the South West of Ireland spanning 179km. The Ring is such a popular and busy tourist attraction that a one way system has been put in place for people exploring the area. Whilst it would take a day to drive around The Ring of Kerry, there is so much to see and do along the way that it would be a shame to rush through the experience. Today on the Sykes Blog we thought that we’d take a look at all of the wonderful things to see and do whilst you journey around The Ring of Kerry.

Skellig Michael

Image via Flickr

Added to the UNESCO World Heritage Site list in 1996, Skellig Michael is an island off the coast of County Kerry. The island was home to a Christian monastery but was abandoned in the late 12th Century; despite this abandonment the ruins of the monastery have been well preserved. Between April and October tour operators run daily boat trips to the island, allowing visitors to take a closer look around the ruins of the monastery. A visit to Skellig Michael could be the perfect day trip for anyone with an interest in ruins or history!

Muckross Traditional Farms

Image via Flickr

For a step back in time to traditional Ireland, why not head to Muckross House, Gardens and Traditional Farms on your trip around The Ring of Kerry. Located in Killarney and with loads to do, Muckross House is an ideal day out for the whole family. Children of all ages will love taking a look around the traditional farm whilst anyone with a penchant for interior design will enjoy taking a tour around the impressive nineteenth century mansion. On a mild day, taking a walk through Muckross Gardens is a must. The Gardens are world renowned for their beauty and after a stroll through the bushes and blooms it is not difficult to see why!

Visit a Castle

Image via Flickr

There are two things that tourists to Ireland can be sure of; they will see a lot of beautiful landscapes, and they will see a lot of magnificent castles! The Ring of Kerry is no different with no less than four castles on the circuit. Whilst the majority of these castles are now in ruins, with not much of the buildings themselves remaining, they are still fascinating to look at. Ballycarbery Castle is an example of this; the castle overlooks the sea and despite the fact that it is missing a back wall, it is still striking to look at.

Holiday Cottages near The Ring of Kerry

Now that we’ve taken a look at some of the places you can visit on your journey around The Ring of Kerry, it’s time to decide where you’re going to stay. But don’t fret, as here at Sykes Cottages we have a number of cottages in County Kerry that are in brilliant locations for exploring The Ring of Kerry!

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.

The Great Outdoors in County Donegal

Wednesday, November 27th, 2013
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Tucked away on the rugged Atlantic coast of north west Ireland, County Donegal may not seem the most likely of holiday destinations. Having said that, the area has some of the most stunning natural scenery that you could wish for, with sweeping beaches, towering mountains and stunning sunsets appearing to be the norm. Here at Sykes, we’ve decided to try and find some of our favourite spots in Donegal and hopefully we’ll be able to do the region justice!

Sliabh Liag

The great sea cliffs of Sliabh Liag are especially awe inspiring. Standing a shade shy of 2,000 feet, they are the highest sea cliffs in Ireland and are over twice the size of their more famous cousins at Moher. Traditionally, people go to Bunglass to get a glimpse of the cliffs however, Sliabh Liag Boat Tours now offer a fantastic alternative with the opportunity to get an up close and personal view of the cliffs. The tours run several times a day and not only offer a whole new perspective of this Donegal delight, but also the chance to bump into some of the fantastic wildlife that calls this area home including dolphins, whales and basking sharks.

Sliabh Liag

Via. Flickr

Mount Errigal

Found right in the heart of the Derryveagh Mountains that form the backbone of Donegal, Mount Errigal is another of the county’s spots of beauty. At around 750 metres tall, Errigal is the highest peak in Donegal and when you couple this fact with the stunning views that can be found there, it’s little wonder the mountain is such a popular spot. Errigal is thought to be one of Ireland’s more iconic mountains alongside peaks from more famous ranges such as Macgillycuddy’s Reeks and the Wicklow Mountains. This is due to the peak giving off a shimmering pink glow at certain times of the day thanks to the quartzite minerals that make up the higher reaches of the mountain, making for a sure-fire photo opportunity!

Mt Errigal

Via. Flickr

Glenveagh National Park

If you’re after a taste of true Irish countryside there is no where better than Glenveagh National Park. Back in 1984 the area was designated as one of just six national parks in Ireland after a somewhat turbulent past. Made up of rolling hills, eerie forests and beautiful glens, the park is home not just to the stunning Glenveagh Castle but also to one of the country’s biggest herds of red deer, as well as a flock of rare golden eagles, which were reintroduced to the area in 2000.

Glenveagh National Park

Via. Flickr

Hopefully this will have tempted you into paying Donegal a visit so you can experience the area for yourself! If so, don’t forget to take a look at our Donegal Cottages to find yourself a real home away from home whilst you’re there.

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.

Sunday Snapshots: Dramatic Ireland

Sunday, October 6th, 2013
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A trip to Ireland in the winter months? Surely not! With a reputation for cold and rainy weather that rivals even England, a trip to the Emerald Isle over the less fair months of the year might seem ill-advised. Though your chances of getting caught in some rain, and maybe having to face some chilly winds, are pretty high during winter in Ireland, you’ll also get the chance to see Ireland in all her dramatic beauty. Wind swept cliffs, emerald green fields, and quiet country lanes are what await those brave enough to head to Ireland off season. Don’t believe me? A picture is worth a thousand words, or so they say, and here are a few that show winter in Ireland in all its glory.

Cliffs of Moher

Rock of Cashel, Ireland

Winter Trees

Lough Egish Winter Morning

Homefires in the Hills

View from Inishowen

Glendalough, Ireland

Have we convinced you yet? Set yourself up in a cottage in Ireland with an open fire and spend your days exploring this beautiful and dramatic country.

Delicious and Nutritious Irish Soda Bread

Monday, September 30th, 2013
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There are few things more comforting on a cold autumn night than a bowl full of hot soup and a thick slice of bread. I know for some people any bread related comfort food may only include white bread smothered with lashings of butter, but for me it is brown bread all the way. The nutty deep flavour just can’t be beaten, and when it’s dipped into a steaming bowl of homemade soup…..mmmm…. Food heaven!

soup + irish soda bread

While home baked bread is always best, it can be pretty labour intensive. Hours of waiting for it to rise and bake, only to discover that something has gone not quite right, can leave one hungry and frustrated with the brick that they’ve just laboured to produce. The solution? Irish wheaten bread.

Irish Wheaten Bread

Irish Wheaten Bread

Every regional recipe has a story and Irish wheaten, or brown soda, bread is no different. The climate of the Emerald Isle makes the production of hard wheat, the type which is needed to make yeast leavened breads, difficult to cultivate. Due to this fluke of climactic fate the Irish stuck to the traditional quick bread method that worked best with their soft wheat flour and we today get to savour the results.

The making of wheaten bread couldn’t be easier and the results are no less tasty than the time consuming alternative. Whole wheat flour, oats, salt, bicarbonate of soda, and a bit of sugar are mixed with buttermilk and an egg, the whole mix is poured into a loaf pan and baked to golden perfection. The resulting loaf has a crumbly texture and is more dense than yeast leavened bread, but is no less delicious.

brown soda bread loaf

Wheaten bread suits both sweet and savoury flavours equally well, so feel free to top it with anything from marmalade to smoked salmon (though probably not at the same time). On a trip to Ireland you’ll find that wheaten bread, which is sometimes just called brown bread, is served with every meal of the day at restaurants ranging from local pubs to Michelin starred restaurants.

So, before your next visit to Ireland why not give making your own Wheaten Bread a try? Not only is it easy but it’s delicious and nutritious too. All in all it’s a winner!

Irish Wheaten Bread Recipe

1/2 lb extra coarse wholemeal flour

3 oz porridge oatlets

1 teaspoons bread soda                  mix together

1 teaspoons salt

1 teaspoons sugar or honey

1/2 pint buttermilk                                 mix together

1 egg

Add wet mix to dry mix. The mixture will be wet and sloppy.

Pour into a greased loaf tin.

Sprinkle some more porridge oatlets on top.

Bake for 45 minutes to 50 minutes at 190° or 170° celsius (fan assisted oven) or gas mark 5. Done when golden brown and a toothpick inserted in centre comes out clean.

Let cool for 10 minutes on a rack. Slice and enjoy!

Travelling By Public Transport To Your Holiday Cottage

Tuesday, September 24th, 2013
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Apparently getting there is half the fun. Here at Sykes, we hope that all of the fun happens at your cottage but still believe that travelling should be an enjoyable part of your time away. Whilst it may seem like the easiest way to travel to your holiday cottage is by car, here at Sykes we think that using public transport to travel to your holiday destination can be just as simple.  We have compiled a list of some of our favourite ways to travel to your UK holiday destination with no car keys in sight.

By Rail

Day 1: A train from Euston to Liverpool Lime St

Image via Flickr

With tracks reaching even the furthest corners of the UK, you will find that many of our cottage destinations can be reached by train. Not only is travelling by train usually quicker than by car, but the views are often  better; swapping the car for a train means swapping views of grey tarmac for views of rolling green hills and countryside. Browse our selection of properties that are close to a railway station.

By Ferry

Ferry turning

Image via Flickr

If you want to head a little further afield and across the water, then a ferry is the way to go. Whether you’re heading over to Ireland, or to the Isle of Wight you can take a ferry and not only travel, but get your holiday started. With many ferries now containing places to eat, bars and entertainment for the kids; the whole family can enjoy the journey.

By Bike


Image via Flickr

If you’re not heading too far away, like to feel the wind in your hair and have no problem with packing light, then travelling by bicycle to your holiday destination could be a great idea. With no transport timetables or road traffic to get in your way, cycling could be a great way to take away the usual stresses of travel. We have a choice of holiday cottages that are perfect for cyclers.

Stay in a Converted Carriage

If you never want your travel time to end or just want to spend your holiday in truly unique accommodation, staying in a converted railway carriage could be the way to go. Converted to a high standard, yet still having original features means that with this accommodation your holiday truly will be first class.

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.