Archive for the ‘Scotland’ Category

Sykes’ Snapshots: Scotland’s Best Architecture

Wednesday, January 27th, 2016
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Well it looks as though 2016 is set to be a year to remember north of the border. Music festivals, major sporting events and of course a few Highland games – it’s all happening. But that’s not all, as 2016 has been labelled as the Year of Innovation, Architecture and Design! Aimed to showcase the incredible contribution that Scotland has had on life as we see it now, from the telephone to the television, penicillin all the way through to the mackintosh coat. So to do our bit for the Year of Innovation, Architecture and Design, we’ve tracked down some of the photos of the spots that we think best illustrates Scottish design at its finest.

The Dugald Stewart Monument, Edinburgh

 The Clyde Auditorium, Glasgow

The Forth Bridge, The Firth of Forth

Edinburgh Castle

The Kelpies, Falkirk

Balmoral Castle, Aberdeenshire

The Glenfinnan Viaduct, Lochaber

Eilean Donan Castle, Western Highlands

The Sir Walter Scott Monument, Edinburgh

So there you have a small selection of photos of our favourite Scottish landmarks. Hopefully they will have tempted you into taking a trip up to join in with the Year of Innovation, Architecture and Design. If so you’ll want to take a look here to find out some more about the celebrations. And who knows, you might even need somewhere to stay whilst you’re there? If that’s the case then don’t forget to take a look at our selection of Scottish holiday cottages, as you’re sure to find something to suit your needs.

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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.

Brilliant Burns Night Events

Monday, January 11th, 2016
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Who can believe that we’ve only got a couple of weeks until Burns Night takes place? That’s right, on the 25th of January, people all around the world will be following the example set by Robert Burns’ close friends way back in 1801, in celebrating his life and works by getting together, eating some good Scottish grub, enjoying some poetry and maybe even having a wee dram. But don’t worry if you haven’t made any plans to celebrate the big night as we’ve done some research into what you can do to celebrate the life of Scotland’s famous bard!

Burnsfest 2016

To kick it all off, we’re going to start at the Scottish Storytelling Centre in the heart of Edinburgh for their fantastic event – Burnsfest! Running from January the 21st all the way through the 6th of February, it promises to be one of the biggest and best Rabbie Burns themed events in the UK. With everything from Burns for Beginners through to a Café Ceilidh, and even a range of family orientated workshops, Burnsfest promises to be a great event for all generations.

The Big Burns Supper

Or there’s always the Big Burns Supper! Held every year in Dumfries, Burns’ home for the latter stages of his life and the site of his grave, the Big Supper claims to be the world’s biggest Burns Night celebration. A nine day long extravaganza of live music, theatre and comedy held in various locations all around Dumfries, it promise to bring a whole new perspective on the bard’s life and works so don’t miss out!

Host your own Burns Night Bash

Alternatively you could always throw your own birthday party for wee Rabbie. Over the past few years, we’ve put together a range of posts that may well give you a hand when it comes to celebrating the Bard’s birthday, ranging from recipes for the perfect Burns Night meal (Scotch Broth, Haggis, Neeps and Tatties and a good old Clootie Dumpling) through to a trip round Scotland to see what inspired his finest works. Or if you fancy going the whole hog and maybe even taking a trip north of the border for the big occasion, don’t forget to take a look at our Scottish cottages where you’re sure to find something to suit.

So there you have it, a few little pointers on how you can enjoy Burns Night 2016! We hope that you all have a great time come January the 25th and we’d love to hear what you all get up to so feel free to get in touch over Twitter or Facebook to let us know!

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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.

Why Scotland For an Adventure Break

Sunday, September 20th, 2015
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If you count yourself as something of an adrenaline junkie then there’s nothing quite like an adventure holiday. Forget about putting your feet up and relaxing with a good book, your idea of a good break would be getting out and about in the great outdoors and trying your hand at a variety of action-packed activities, but where’s the best place for that? Well that’s easy! Between its rugged coastline, the majestic lochs and of course the stunning Highlands, Scotland has got every base covered when it comes to adventure breaks, but read on if you think you need a bit more convincing.

The Lochs

It’s estimated that there are over 30,000 freshwater lochs (and a few sea lochs) dotted around Scotland, so I think that it’s safe to say that any thrill seeker who wants to head out on the water will be spoilt for choice. Ranging from the famous Loch Ness right the way through to its lesser known counterparts, they’re all perfect playgrounds for a wide variety of water-sports. Whether it’s windsurfing, kayaking or wild swimming, there’s nowhere better, and if you fancy going to the extreme you can even canoe your way across the whole country via several lochs, rivers and canals, but be warned you’ll have to set aside 5 days to make the journey!

The Highlands

Or if you don’t fancy getting too wet (rain aside) you’ll want to have a look at the Highlands. With their beautiful scenery and peaceful atmosphere, they might seem the perfect place for a bit of quiet relaxation but they’re also ideal for those looking to get their adrenaline fix. Whether you want to tear around on the back of a quad bike or pedal your way through rugged terrain, there’s nowhere better in the UK than the Scottish Highlands. And that’s not it, they’re also fantastic for all of the walkers out there who can challenge themselves to see how many munros they can bag. In the winter months, you can even pay a visit to one of the only ski resorts in the whole of the UK at Glencoe.

Our Scottish Cottages

But the best thing about Scotland is the wide range of cottages that we have available for you to book whilst you’re on your adventure break. Whether it’s so that you have a cosy living room where you can put your feet up in front of an open fire or a hot bath where you can have a long soak after a day in the great outdoors, we’ve got them all, take a look here.

Hopefully that’s gone some of the way into convincing you that your next adventure break should be taken north of the border, but if you still need a little push then you should take a look at this useful graphic that we made showing the best activities and where to go for them!

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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.

Best Child Friendly Museums in Scotland

Wednesday, July 22nd, 2015
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Now I know that the majority of schools have either broken up for the summer, or will be doing so in the next few days, but that doesn’t mean that the learning should stop. No, that doesn’t mean you should be holding lessons at home during the school holidays, instead why don’ t you try an educational (and fun!) day out? It’s much easier than you think, but to give you a bit of a hand in finding somewhere to go we’ve tracked down the best museums north of the border for the whole family.

The National Musuem of Scotland

National Museum of Scotland 1. 01-10-2014 Nikki

The National Museum of Scotland

Where else is there to start than with Scotland’s National Museum? Located on Chambers St right in the the middle of Edinburgh it’s a free entry museum that caters for all members of the family, especially the little ones! With a variety of galleries specifically for the kids they certainly won’t get bored on a trip round this museum as they find themselves excavating the skeleton of a dinosaur or getting kitted out ready for a dive down to the bottom of the ocean, amongst other great activities.

Kids are welcome throughout the museum, including in the Brasserie and Balcony Cafe, or if you’d rather take your own food you’re free to eat packed lunches within certain areas of the building.

The Glasgow Science Centre

Or, alternatively, there’s the Glasgow Science Centre. Part of a recent renovation to the Clyde Waterfront the centre features an IMAX cinema, the Glasgow Tower, and the main attraction, the Science Mall. With three storeys packed right up to the rafters with a wide variety of hands on, interactive exhibits designed to teach all about science, it’s the perfect place to spend an afternoon as a family. Whether it’s taking a trip to the planetarium, experiencing the baffling illusions of the mind works or exploring the fascinating bodyworks you’re bound to have fun.

You’ll also be able to find the Elements Cafe, offering an array of tasty treats that includes a light option for the kids containing a butty, drink, some fruit and a dessert, all for just £3.50!

Our Dynamic Earth

Again located in the heart of Edinburgh at the bottom of Hollyrood Road, Our Dynamic Earth is a museum like no other! Telling the tale of our planet, right from the big bang through to the present day it’s a fully immersive experiecne allowing you to feel the heat of a volcano or lose yourself in a tropical rainforest, and you’ll even have the chance to watch a film on Scotland’s only 360 degree dome theatre. And then there’s the Ocean Commotion soft play area, perfect for burning off any extra energy that the little ones might have.

Hopefully you’ll have found this useful, who knows, maybe you’re even planning a trip up to Scotland to try them out? If that’s the case make sure that you take a look at our selection of properties north of the Border so you have somewhere to rest your legs at the end of the day.

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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.

6 of Scotland’s Best Castles

Sunday, April 26th, 2015
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Today on the Sykes blog, we’re going to be taking a trip north of the border in order to investigate some of the biggest and best castles on offer. With its turbulent and colourful history, Scotland has been a breeding ground for countless examples of castles, from the medieval peel towers in the Borders, right the way through to the stunning feats of architecture such as Edinburgh and Balmoral. Now as you can probably imagine, it’s been quite the task narrowing it down to just the six castles but we’ve done our best, so take a look and see which one would get your vote.


Where else could we have started this list but with the world famous Edinburgh Castle? The centrepiece of Edinburgh’s World Heritage Site, Edinburgh Castle dominates the skyline up above the city and is one of Scotland’s most visited tourist attractions with people flocking there in their droves. With the celebrated 1 o’clock gun and events such as the annual Military Tattoo, Edinburgh Castle is definitely worth paying a visit to.


With at least eight sieges, a few ghosts and a couple of famous murders, I think it’s safe enough to say that Stirling Castle has had a pretty eventful history. Most of the buildings on show these days date back to the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, although a few earlier examples still remain. Not only is it a Scheduled Ancient Monument but Stirling Castle has played a major role in Scottish history with many of the most prominent figures being strongly linked to it, from Robert the Bruce through to King James I, the first ruler of both England and Scotland.

Eilean Donan

With stunning views out over the Isle of Skye, Eilean Donan is found right at the juncture of three of the Highland lochs. It’s easily one of the most recognisable points, not just in the Highlands but in Scotland! Over the centuries, Eilean Donan has had a somewhat colourful past, whether it’s clan uprisings, the War of Independence or being partially destroyed during the Jacobite Uprising of the 18th Century. Happily though, the castle was rebuilt in the early 1900’s and under the guidance of the Conchra Charitable Trust remains one of the Highlands’ gems.


Next up, we’re heading to Caerlaverock Castle in Dumfries. Sitting just the other side of the Solway Firth from England, Caerlaverock has watched over the Borders for centuries and played a key role in Scottish history. Over the years, Caerlaverock was attacked countless times, including when Edward I of England besieged it with the entire English Army in 1300. Although one of its walls may have been destroyed following it’s capture in 1640, the castle remains one of the finest on offer and its unique triangular design still pulls in visitors right to this day.


Then we’re going to head up north to the Ayrshire Coast where you’ll be able to find Culzean Castle. Some version of the castle may have standing since the 1300’s but it wasn’t until Sir Thomas Kennedy inherited the building in the mid-18th century that it started to take the form that we see today. With stunning gardens and extravagant interiors, including a famous oval staircase, Culzean really is one of the gems of the north of Scotland, so much so that since 1987 it has featured on the back of the Scottish £5 notes.


Apparently the oldest continually inhabited castle in the whole of Scotland, Dunvegan has been the seat of the chiefs of Clan Macleod for over 800 years. Throughout the many generations that have called it home, the Macleods have managed to amass a veritable treasure trove of Scottish artefacts, from a lock of Bonnie Prince Charlie’s hair through to the famous fairy flag, which according to legend brings victory to the Macleods whenever it is unfurled.


We’re going to finish with another of the most famous castles in Scotland – Balmoral. Well known for being one of Queen Elizabeth II’s favoured retreats, Balmoral has been in the possession of the Royal family since 1852 when it was purchased by Prince Albert. Over the years, the estate has steadily expanded and these days covers and area of around 50,000 acres with woodlands, Munros and of course the stunning gardens that were opened to public access back in 1931.

Well there you have it. Hopefully you’ll agree with our choices. There are so many more that we just couldn’t fit into our list but let us know if you have any favourites that you think should have been included! If you fancy paying one of them a visit, make sure you take a look at this page where you’ll find our full range of Scottish properties perfect for putting your feet up in after a long day out and about.

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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.