Archive for the ‘Scotland’ Category

National Tree Week: Scotland’s Bonniest Woodlands

Friday, December 5th, 2014
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It’s National Tree Week, and what better way to celebrate our nation’s trees than with a trip north of the border. Scotland is home to some truly stunning forests and woodlands, many of which have been around for centuries – here’s a look at some of Scotland’s bonniest forests and where you can find them.

Taynish National Nature Reserve, Argyll

Taynish National Nature Reserve – Via Flickr

Taynish National Nature Reserve – Via Flickr

The oak woodlands of Taynish National Nature Reserve have occupied the same spot on the west coast of Scotland for over 6,000 years – extraordinary, right? The woodlands survival is down to the region’s moist, clean air, as well as its mix of heath, grasslands and saltmarsh, which provides the perfect environment for an array of wildlife. You’ll find Taynish on the west coast of Argyll, and there are a number of different trails and nature walks to be enjoyed within the woodland.

Birnam Wood & ‘Big Tree Country’, Perthshire

'Big Tree Country' – Via Flickr

‘Big Tree Country’ – Via Flickr

Perthshire, aka ‘Big Tree Country’, is home to a splendid array of ancient, towering trees. The region lays claim to Europe’s oldest tree: the Fortingall Yew, found in the churchyard of Fortingall and thought to be around 3,000 years old. Perthshire is also home to The Birnam Oak, an iconic tree which features in Shakespeare’s Macbeth – nearly 1,000 years old itself. Visitors to Perthshire will soon understand the origin of the term ‘Big Tree County’, particularly if they take a walk along the trails of Killiekrankie and Dunkeld.

The Caledonian Forest, Scottish Highlands

Caledonian Forest – Via Flickr

Caledonian Forest – Via Flickr

For thousands of years, huge pockets of pinewood covered the Scottish Highlands; this was called the Caledonian Forest. Sadly, only a small percent of this once mighty woodland remains today. Travel to the Mar Lodge Estate in the Cairngorms National Park, and experience the Highlands as they looked thousands of years ago. Mar Lodge is home to a large swathe of Caledonian woodland, with a range of ancient trees including Scots pine, aspen, birch, juniper and oak. Keep your eye out for rare Scottish wildlife too, including the red deer and golden eagle.

Yair Forest, Scottish Borders

Yair Forest – Via Flickr

Yair Forest – Via Flickr

The upmost peace and quiet awaits at Yair, a mature woodland in the picturesque Tweed Valley. Although popular with walkers, Yair remains relatively undiscovered, yet offers serene vistas and the perfect starting point for a hike up Three Bretheren, a scenic hilltop. Walking routes traverse much of this ancient forest, but one to look out for is the Raeless Trail, whose 1.1 mile route is accessible for everyone and offers magical views of the River Tweed.

Galloway Forest Park, Dumfries & Galloway

Galloway Forest Park – Via Flickr

Galloway Forest Park – Via Flickr

Those with a penchant for the great outdoors will be at home in Galloway Forest Park. Walking, cycling, kayaking, fishing – all take place beneath the canopy of trees. The forest’s rolling hills, coupled with its well-structured trails, make it a utopia for walkers and cyclists alike, and there are several ‘downhill’ routes for mountain bikers. No visit to Galloway Forest Park would be complete without a peaceful picnic on the banks of Loch Dee, and if you’re in no rush, stick around ‘til dusk – the starry night sky here is nothing short of epic.

Rent a country cottage in Scotland

Love the great outdoors? Then you’ll love our country cottage rentals in Scotland. There’s really no better place than bonnie Scotland for a secluded country escape, so choose your favourite from our collection today.

Celebrating National Tree Week? Let us know your favourite tree, woodland or forest on Facebook and Twitter.

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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.

A Look Back at Scotland in 2014

Sunday, November 30th, 2014
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Seeing as how it’s St Andrews Day, we just had to do a Scottish special for the Sykes Blog. Over the past few months, we’ve done posts on Scottish foods, our cottages north of the border and even one on film locations there. However, with it been such a fantastic and eventful year for Scotland, we thought we’d take a look back at 2014 and all that has gone on in Scotland.

Historic Moments

via. Flickr

via. Flickr

2014 has definitely been a year for all Scots to remember. First of all there was the matter of the Independence Referendum. Taking place in September, it saw a massive 84% of voters have their say on whether Scotland should become an independent country – quite the turnout! And then there was the 700th anniversary of one of the most important occasions in Scottish history: the battle of Bannockburn. To celebrate this moment, a series of festivities were put on at the site of the battle, from traditional arts to the highland games, and then there was the grand opening of a state of the art interactive visitor centre which certainly looks worth a visit!

The Homecoming 2014

via. Flickr

via. Flickr

This year was also the year of the Homecoming, a celebration of Scotland’s national identity, from the arts and culture right the way through to the food and drink. There were countless new events organised to showcase Scotland at its finest, from the John Muir Festival to the Forth Bridges Festival, as well as many old favourites such as the Hogmanay celebrations and the Edinburgh Military Tattoo.

The Year of Sport

via. Flickr

via. Flickr

It’s been a pretty phenomenal year for Scottish sport. Playing host to two of the world’s biggest sporting events in the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow and the Ryder Cup at Gleneagles certainly helped put the country back on the world stage. And there are plenty of other reasons to be cheerful; Scotland currently sit level with the world champions Germany in the qualifiers for the European Championships, not to mention the rugby team pushing the All Blacks close in their recent autumn test – fingers crossed this rise can continue into 2015!

So there you go, a quick rundown of 2014 in Scotland. It really has been a fantastic year, and let’s hope that it has set a precedent for many more to come. And maybe 2014 has convinced you to take a trip north of the border? If so be sure to take a look at our Scottish cottages – you’re sure to find something perfect for you!

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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.

Sykes’ Spotlight on New Scottish Cottages

Friday, November 28th, 2014
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At Sykes, we add new holiday cottages to our expanding portfolio every day, and today we thought we’d take the time to showcase some of our fantastic new properties. As it’s St. Andrews Day this weekend, we’re taking a look at just some of the latest holiday cottages in Scotland to join the Sykes Cottages family – just a warning, they are absolutely stunning and may make you want to book a holiday to Scotland as soon as possible!

Askival, Isle of Skye

Holiday cottage in Scotland

Askival, Isle of Skye, Ref. 906098

Askival is a stunning detached property located in an enviable position on the Isle of Skye. This cottage takes advantage of its superb location with a large balcony, making the most of its beautiful views across the sea towards the Inner Hebrides. The property itself is bright and airy, and the sitting room is spectacular, boasting large windows, a high-beamed ceiling and a woodburning stove to keep you warm on cooler nights. There are two bedrooms, both of which have en-suites, and the master bedroom even has its own walk-in-wardrobe! It’s a short stroll to Elgol Harbour, where you can enjoy boat trips to other nearby islands and also Loch Coruisk, a very popular destination for seeing whales, dolphins and basking sharks!

34 Low Shore, Moray Firth Coastline

Holiday cottage in Scotland

34 Low Shore, Moray Firth Coastline, Ref. 14243

This characterful fisherman’s cottage is located just yards from the Moray Firth shoreline in the pretty village of Whitehills. 34 Low Shore offers spectacular sea views and cosy, traditional accommodation for up to 5 guests. Inside, you’ll find a cosy living area with woodburning stove and original wood-lined walls, spacious kitchen with dining area, and three airy bedrooms. Outside, the private patio to the rear of the cottage boasts unobstructed views across the coastline, making it the perfect place for guests to sit and relax as they watch the waves roll in. The local pub, shops and the charming Whitehills harbour are all within 5 minutes’ walk.

Ardgour House, Ardnamurchan Peninsula

Holiday cottage in Scotland

Ardgour House, Ardmurchan Peninsula, Ref. 918078

If you’re looking for a holiday home with a touch of grandeur then look no further than Ardgour House on the stunning Ardnamurchan Peninsula. This Georgian Grade B listed property is located in 6 acres of woodland and was the former seat of the Clan Maclean, one of the oldest clans in the Highlands. Sleeping 22 guests, Ardgour House is the perfect place to enjoy a getaway with all of your family and friends, and boasts features such as a dining table to seat all 22 guests, indoor heated swimming pool and sauna, games room with table tennis table, and a billiards room with full-size snooker table.

Please click on the links to find out more about our newest additions to the Sykes Cottages portfolio and our range of holiday cottages in Scotland. If you need any help booking a cottage, our dedicated reservations team are on hand from 9.00am until 9.30pm, 7 days a week. You can give them a call on 01244 356 695 or send them an email by clicking here.

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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.

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.

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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

Image via Flickr.

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.

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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.