Archive for the ‘Scotland’ Category

Adventure Awaits in Scotland

Tuesday, January 27th, 2015
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Here at Sykes we love exploring Scotland; whether we’re diving into the cool waters at Loch Morlich, running along the southern coast, or hiking The West Highland Way, we know that Scotland is the land of adventure and that its diverse landscape is ideal for outdoor activities! That being said, you can imagine our surprise when we found out that only 12% of the 2390 people we asked would consider an adventure holiday in Scotland.

This result really shocked us and made us sad to think people are missing out on all the wonderful opportunities Scotland has to offer. We decided to take action, and put together a graphic which highlighted some of the best adventure activities available in Scotland. Thanks to the help of industry experts our graphic is now complete, so keep reading to see if we can convince you to try something new this year.


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Adventure Awaits in Scotland

With its invigorating coastline, dramatic lochs and rugged landscapes, Scotland is the ideal destination for adventure. Journey into the Scottish wilderness on your next trip, and you could find yourself traversing serene mountainsides or plummeting into open seas.


Where? Nevis Range Mountain Resort, Glencoe Mountain Resort, Glenshee Ski Centre, Cairngorm Mountain Resort and The Lecht Ski Centre.

When? The best time for skiing in Scotland is between January and March.

Did You Know? Glencoe was the first ski resort to open in Scotland and is home to the country’s longest vertical descent.

Our Expert Says… “Visit the Nevis Range ski area where the UK’s only mountain gondola takes you to 650m on Aonach Mor and 11 more ski lifts. Beginners can hire everything they need and enjoy fun lessons on gentle slopes near the restaurant, while more advanced skiers and boarders can enjoy red and black runs, our famous back country area, as well as a terrain park.” Dave Parfitt, Snowsports School Manager, Nevis Range


Where? Coasteering takes place along Scotland’s rockiest shorelines.

When? Any time of year if you have the right kit. Book with a reputable company and they’ll provide this for you.

Did You Know? Coasteering involves exploring the rocky coastline by climbing, swimming and jumping.

Our Expert Says… “Scotland’s coastal waters, cliffs and caves have been the inspiration for countless tales of folklore and legend over the ages. The raw natural beauty and majestic atmosphere entice your adventurous spirit and beg you to Jump into Adventure. Join us on the Coasteering experience of a lifetime.” Aidan Duncan, Operations Director, Breeze Adventures


Where? Scotland’s abundance of lochs and rivers mean you can canoe just about anywhere.

When? Both summer and autumn are good for canoeing, although the colder months are less crowded.

Did You Know? When canoeing you use a single bladed paddle, as opposed to kayaking where you use a double bladed paddle.

Our Expert Says… “Canoeing in Scotland offers adventures for everyone. You can explore one of Europe’s last genuine wildernesses, paddling and camping for days with the lochs and mountains to yourself. It also offers the less experienced many sheltered, less challenging outings, with plenty of advice and support available to help plan your own little adventure.” Calum Rogerson, Sales & Marketing Manager, Canoe Hire Scotland

Quad Biking

Where? For the best views and the muddiest terrain, head for the Highlands.

When? From January to December you’ll be able to partake in quad biking treks at any time of year.

Did You Know? Scotland’s mix of sunshine and showers make conditions perfect for quad biking — prepare to get muddy!

Our Expert Says… “Quad biking in the Scottish Highlands offers a totally unique experience. Diverse terrain and stunning backdrops as you explore the hills, mountains and glens from the comfort of your bike. Add to that the thrill of riding a quad bike and you have the ultimate off road experience.” Ian Brown, Managing Director, Highland All Terrain Ltd.


Where? You’ll find archery centres across Scotland, from mystical forests to the shores of Loch Ken.

When? The ideal time for shooting is summer, when the weather is warm and the breeze slight.

Did You Know? Papingo is the oldest archery event to take place in the British Isles; it occurred in Scotland and dates back to 1483.

Our Expert Says… “With stunning countryside and a large number of outdoor activity centres and specialist archery activity providers across the country, Scotland is a fantastic place to experience thejoy of taking part in archery. Where better to try your hand at one of the oldest sports in the world, while enjoying the great Scottish outdoors. We welcome everyone who wants to try archery when visiting” Rona Mather, Director, MRM Archery Ltd

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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.

Walk the Scenery that Inspired Robert Burns

Sunday, January 25th, 2015
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Did you know that tonight is Burns Night? Tonight, Scots and non-Scots all around the world will be holding their own celebrations in honour of Robert Burns, who is widely regarded as Scotland’s National Poet. Here at Sykes, we thought we’d join in the celebrations in our own way- by having a look at some of places in Scotland that inspired his beautiful poetry and exploring the walks on which we can visit them!

The River Ayr Way

The longest of all our routes, The River Ayr Way spans a considerable 44 miles and is Scotland’s first source to sea path network. This beautiful part of the country is said to have inspired Burns in many ways, not least because it was the setting for his poem ‘Highland Mary’, an ode to Mary Campbell who the poet had a brief fling with before her untimely death in 1786. There’s the sheer scenic beauty of the place too; think sleepy woodlands, castle-strewn heath and wildlife rich stretches of coast. If you plan to tackle the full route, give yourself two days so as to enjoy the scenery as Burns would have two-hundred years ago.

Burns’ Trail

Burns’ Trail is a short, circular route around the leafy village of Alloway, once home to Robert Burns himself. In Alloway, you can find the Robert Burns Birthplace Museum, which encompasses the building in which he was born, known as ‘Burns Cottage’, new museum buildings housing original manuscripts of his poetry, and the Burns Monument, which is a sixteenth century memorial created by Thomas Hamilton. Other places of interest in Alloway include Alloway Auld Kirk and the Brig O’Doon, which both feature in Burns’ poem, ‘Tam O’Shanter’. Walking Burns’ Trail should take around 2 hours although walkers should allow extra time to investigate the attractions on route.

The Birks of Aberfeldy

This circular walk in Perthshire was the inspiration for one of Burns’ most popular poems of the same name, ‘The Birks o’Aberfeldie’, which he wrote in August 1787; he is said to have found his inspiration for the poem while visiting Aberfeldy on a tour of Scotland with his friend, William Nicol. The Birks were originally named the Dens of Moness but were actually re-named after the success of Burns’ poem! The walk itself is fairly short – about 2 miles long and will take around 1-2 hours to complete. The path is well-defined and takes walkers through a beautiful array of mature trees including birches and elm trees, before offering spectacular views of the waterfalls.

If you’re planning on walking one of these fantastic Scottish walking routes then head to our holiday cottages in Scotland page, where you’ll find a wide selection of cosy cottages perfect for walking holidays!

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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.

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.