Archive for the ‘Scotland’ Category

Scotland’s Top Ten Film Locations

Wednesday, November 26th, 2014
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With its rugged coastline, vast glens and imposing mountain ranges, Scotland is a film maker’s dream; imagine historic battles re-enacted at the foot of Ben Nevis; sci-fi thrillers shot amongst the mountainous landscape; and romantic scenes set in front of a castle’s roaring fire. With a number of movie blockbusters and popular TV shows using Scotland as its backdrop the scenery here is instantly recognisable. Why not test your memory and see if you recognise our top ten film locations in Scotland.

The Wicker Man (1973)

Image via Flickr.

Image via Flickr.

A true cult classic, The Wicker Man saw the film crew using several locations in Dumfries and Galloway for their movie, including the iconic St. Ninian’s Cave. Fans of this film will recognise the cave from the scene where Howie finally tracks down the elusive Rowan.

Braveheart (1995)

Image via Flickr.

Image via Flickr.

Braveheart is the story of legendary Scottish hero, William Wallace, and his battle for freedom. Along with Mel Gibson’s terrible Scottish accent, the film is most memorable for the stunning scenery, like that around Loch Leven in Perth and Kinross.

Trainspotting (1996)

Image via Flickr.

Image via Flickr.

Following the story of Mark Renton, Trainspotting is a film famed for launching the career of Ewan McGregor. With several film locations throughout Scotland, we’ve chosen to focus on Princes Street in Edinburgh; you catch a quick glimpse of the city in the film’s opening scene as Mark races through the centre.

Entrapment (1999)

Image via Flickr.

Image via Flickr.

This award winning action film features not one but two Hollywood legends; the beautiful Catherine Zeta-Jones and the ever popular Sean Connery. Duart Castle masquerades as the home of Sean Connery as he puts Catherine through some intense burglar training.

Harry Potter (2002)

Image via Flickr.

Image via Flickr.

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets sees our heroes Harry and Ron unable to access Platform 9 and ¾ so, in a race to reach Hogwarts in time for the new school year, they steal Mr Weasley’s flying car. Whilst following the Hogwarts Express, the duo ends up on the picturesque Glenfinnan Viaduct, famous for its many appearances in the Harry Potter franchise.

The Dark Knight Rises (2012)

Image via Flickr.

Image via Flickr.

Ever taken a flight over the Scottish highlands? To see what you’re missing out on we suggest watching The Dark Knight Rises; you get a wonderful view of the Highlands from above as Bane and his crew make quick work of escaping one aircraft and getting into another mid-flight!

Prometheus (2012)

Image via Flickr.

Image via Flickr.

If Sci-fi, mystery and adventure are your thing then I’m sure you’re familiar with 2012’s award winning film, Prometheus. Not only used in the film, but also in the trailer is the Old Man of Storr and the gorgeous scenery from the Isle of Skye.

Skyfall (2012)

Image via Flickr.

Image via Flickr.

Making his third appearance as the legendary James Bond, Daniel Craig looks completely at home surrounded by the peaks at Buachaille Etive Mor in the award winning film, Skyfall. The impressive surroundings make the perfect backdrop for the final fight scene between Bond and the bad guys.

Brave (2012)

Image via Flickr.

Image via Flickr.

In 2012, Merida took her place amongst Disney royalty as the newest Disney princess. Yes, Brave is an animated film, but the San Francisco based creators travelled a long way to gather inspiration for their mystical stones. They made the lengthy journey to the Callanish Standing Stones on the Isle of Lewis, and the resemblance between the two sets is uncanny.

Outlander (2014)

Image via Flickr.

Image via Flickr.

The hit TV show Outlander has taken the country by storm and Americans just love it; but who could blame them with the devilishly handsome Sam Heughan taking the role of Jamie Fraser. The series is set entirely in Scotland and famous landmarks like Doune Castle play a pivotal part in production.

And there you have it, our top ten film locations in Scotland. Is your favourite Scottish set mentioned above or have we missed it? Let us know via our Facebook and Twitter page, we would love to hear from you.

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.

Scottish Wildlife Watch

Tuesday, November 25th, 2014
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From its sandy shores and rocky cliffs to its deep green glens and towering mountains, Scotland is home to a vast array of wildlife. As the cold weather sets in and the nights draws in you would expect Scotland’s wildlife to retreat into hibernation or migrate to warmer shores; but no, these hardy species are in for a long winter and autumn is just the warm up. From playful seals to soaring eagles, here’s what you can expect to find in Scotland this autumn.

Seals

Seal

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There are two types of seal found in Scotland: the common harbour seal and the grey seal. Although seals spend most of their lives out at sea, grey seals will come ashore between September and December in order to give birth. That means, throughout the autumn, you will find dozens of gorgeous baby seals dotted about the coast. For the best seal watching experience, head to the Orkney islands which is home to the second largest breeding colony of grey seals in the world.

Deer

Image via Flickr.

Image via Flickr.

Autumn is the most exciting time to view deer in Scotland as this is when the male deer enter their rut and compete for the female’s affections. During the rut you will see the younger males challenge the dominate stag for the attention of the hinds (females); this involves head-to-head battles between the males until one is crowned victor. For a tour that is safe for both you and the deer, take a ranger-led tour by Scottish Natural Heritage.

Birds of prey

Image via Flickr.

Image via Flickr.

Scotland is home to a number of magnificent birds of prey; soaring high across the Scottish skyline, these majestic creatures are a real treat for bird watchers. Throughout autumn you will be able to see an array of birds taking flight including ospreys, red kites and the glorious golden eagle, which has a wing span of over two meters! This deadly hunter usually feeds on hare and rabbits but they have also been known to scoop up foxes, large birds or even young deer so keep your eyes peeled for their aerial acrobatics.

Gorse

Image via Flickr.

Image via Flickr.

It’s not all about the animals in Scotland; the country also has an incredible selection of plants on offer. Perhaps not a golfers favourite, but still beautiful to behold is Gorse (Ulex europaeus) also known as Furze or Whin in Scotland. This pretty plant covers Scotland and is especially fond of sandy, coastal and upland soil. Although the bright yellow flowers are extremely handsome, Gorse is also thorny and tough in nature, so when your golf ball gets lost in the thick of it you may have a hard time getting it out.

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.

Whisky Days Out in Scotland

Monday, November 24th, 2014
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As we near the end of November, we’re all reaching out for our favourite drinks. Those liquids that, from the first sip, you feel yourself warming from the inside, your taste buds soar and your cheeks begin to flush. I’m talking of course about whisky. What better way to kick off Scotland week here on the Sykes Cottages blog than with an ode to the country’s national drink? Read on to find out some of the whisky related activities and days out you can enjoy in Scotland..

Go to a Whisky Festival

Islay Festival

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Annual whisky festivals such as The Spirit of Speyside, The Spirit of Stirling and The Islay Festival of Music & Malt are certainly worth a visit for any whisky fans. They allow local and national distilleries to share their produce with festival goers who may find a new favourite. However, those who don’t fancy a dram needn’t worry as the festivals have much more to do and see than just whisky.

Gain a Scotch Whisky Certificate

Whisky Course

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If you’re a whisky aficionado then why not spend a day honing your craft at The Scotch Whisky Training School? At a cost of £175, this day course at The Scotch Whisky Experience teaches you all you need to know about the history, production and blending of whisky. Promising to be hands on and fun as well as educational, students of the training school will leave with a whole host of knowledge and also a certificate. Fancy having that on your CV!

Follow the Malt Whisky Trail

Whisky Barrels

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It will come as no surprise that the world’s only malt whisky trail is in Speyside, also known as ‘Whisky Country’. With over 50 whisky distilleries – more than any other whisky producing areas of Scotland – Speyside is a whisky lover’s dream. Following the trail will lead you to seven working distilleries, each with unique characteristics, where you can join a tour and sample the finished product.

Try a Whisky Cocktail

Whisky Cocktail

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Whilst many would argue that whisky should be enjoyed simply, on its own – or perhaps with a splash of water to bring out its flavour – it also works incredibly well in cocktails. If you fancy mixing up a whisky cocktail, why not try one of these recipes from the Scotch Whisky Experience website? I personally think the Grand Smash sounds amazing!

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.

Five Unusual Things to Do in Edinburgh

Tuesday, October 21st, 2014
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Edinburgh is one of our favourite cities and we can often be found talking about the best places to go and things to do while you’re visiting the Scottish capital. Of course, there are the classics: Edinburgh Castle, the Royal Mile, Holyrood Palace, Arthur’s Seat; but what about the more unusual things to do, that aren’t often mentioned in guidebooks? If like us, you’re fond of heading off the beaten-track, check out our pick of the five most unusual things to do whilst you’re in Edinburgh.

Edinburgh

Via Flickr

Go underground with The Real Mary King’s Close

Although there are ghost tours aplenty in Edinburgh, The Real Mary King’s Close stands out as something a little different. This fascinating tour takes you down underneath the Royal Mile to a warren of 17th century streets, or ‘closes’ as they’re known, that have been frozen in time. These closes were part-demolished and buried underneath the Royal Exchange for a very long time, awash with rumours of plague victims being buried in the walls, and urban legends of murders and ghosts. They’ve now been opened up to the public and visitors can take the tour under the streets of Edinburgh, learning about the closes’ history, the people that lived there and the grisly things that took place.

See the Penguin Parade

While Edinburgh Zoo may not be the most unusual place for people to visit, the Penguin Parade is certainly one-of-a-kind. Edinburgh Zoo was actually the first zoo in the world to start housing and breeding penguins back in 1913, and they’ve remained a firm favourite with visitors ever since. The daily tradition of the Penguin Parade began in 1951 when a keeper accidentally left the enclosure door open and was followed around the zoo by the inquisitive escapees. It delighted visitors so much that the zoo continued the tradition and now, a parade of Gentoos, Rockhoppers and King Penguins occurs every day at 2.15pm.

Penguin at Edinburgh Zoo

Via Flickr

Visit the Royal Commonwealth Pool

Want to dive from the same diving board as Tom Daley? Head to Edinburgh’s Royal Commonwealth Pool, which played host to the diving events at the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games! This 50m swimming pool has its own dedicated diving pool with facilities including 1m and 3m spring boards, as well as 3m, 5m, 7.5m and 10m platforms. You can either turn up at specially-allocated time slots for casual diving practice or pre-book an individual diving session with an instructor.

Walk the Water of Leith

Described as one of Edinburgh’s “best kept secrets”, the Water of Leith Walkway is a stunning path that takes you through Edinburgh city centre, along the River Leith and on to Leith itself. The walkway is perfect for a crisp afternoon stroll and takes walkers through charming villages such as Dean Village and Stockbridge; it also reveals fantastic views of Murrayfield Stadium.

Water of Leith, Edinburgh

Via Flickr

Take a Turkish Bath

Take a trip east from the city centre to the seaside suburb of Portobello, to discover a part of Edinburgh less-known to tourists. Whilst visiting this delightful beach resort, make sure you pay a visit to the Portobello Turkish Baths, which are one of only three working Turkish Baths still left in Scotland. Guests can take their pick from a steam room, relaxation area, three hot rooms and a cold plunge pool. Why not treat yourself to a little relaxation time away from the busy city and come back feeling fresh, rejuvenated and ready to sight-see!

If you’re planning on visiting Edinburgh or the surrounding areas, then make sure you check out Sykes Cottages’ fantastic range of holiday cottages in Scotland. We have over 550 properties located across the country, so you’re sure to find what you’re looking for!

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.

Four Seasons of Scotland

Wednesday, October 1st, 2014
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It may only be October but here at Sykes Cottages we are already taking a large number of bookings for 2015. In a former post, my colleague Louise explained why it’s important to book your 2015 summer holiday early, and she wasn’t wrong; booking in advance allows you more choice, more time to save and of course something to look forward to.

If you’re thinking of planning your 2015 holiday early and you’re having difficulties finding the ideal destination then we suggest a trip to bonnie Scotland. Scotland is beautiful all year round and offers a number of fantastic activities in every season.

To help you discover Scotland and what it can offer you throughout the year take a look at the following infographic which highlights some of our favourite Scottish activities.

Scotland_Infographic_Final

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Four Seasons of Scotland

Most people wouldn’t think of Scotland as a year-round holiday destination but here at Sykes Cottages, we want to show you that it’s possible to enjoy a fantastic holiday in this beautiful country, whatever the season! Here’s our handy guide on what to do in Scotland, come rain or shine.

Summer 21C

During the summer, make the most of the warm weather and head to one of Scotland’s unspoilt white sand beaches such as Luskentyre, with its turquoise waters and mountain views. Scotland
has more than double the length of coastline than England and Wales combined so you’ll never run out of picture-perfect beaches to explore!

Spring 18C

At the beginning of May, the Highland Games are kicked off with a bang at Gourock Park in Inverclyde. The Gourock Highland Games are the first games to take place after the winter and are a
great opportunity to experience the essence of Scottish culture with bagpipes, highland dancing, caber tossing, the Scottish hammer throw and even children’s entertainment!

Autumn 10C

Beat the autumn chill and put a fire in your belly with a trip to the Isle of Islay, which is home to no fewer than 8 whisky distilleries. The island is said to offer some of the most distinctive and flavourful whiskies in the world and competition between the distilleries is fierce. They’re always striving to produce the best dram on the island, ensuring that they are all sensational!

Winter 3C

Over New Year, there’s no better place to be than Edinburgh for its legendary Hogmanay celebrations. Take part in the torchlight procession down the Royal Mile, gaze in awe at the famous firework displays, dance the night away at the official street party and sing your heart out at the Concert in the Gardens beneath Edinburgh Castle.

Book your 2015 holiday

If you’ve decided that Scotland is the perfect location for your 2015 holiday then why not check out our Scottish cottages page? With over 600 properties located throughout Scotland we are sure to have the ideal cottage to suit your needs. For more information on our Scottish cottages and booking a holiday up North contact our reservations team today!

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.