Archive for the ‘Scotland’ Category

Out and About in the Scottish Borders

Thursday, October 17th, 2013
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The Scottish Borders are seen by some as merely being the gateway to the rest of the country so they’re often bypassed and don’t always get the credit that they deserve. Here at Sykes. we feel that this is a bit unfair; there’s always something to see or do in the Borders! However, the best way to get a true taste of the area is to head outside and enjoy all that the great outdoors has to offer! So read on and find out about some of the fantastic outdoor activities that you can enjoy in the Scottish Borders.


Fishing on the River Tweed

Via. Flickr

Fishing is one of the most popular activities in the Borders, thanks mainly to the River Tweed that runs right through the heart of the region. The river is widely recognised as one of Europe’s great fishing sites with an abundance of Atlantic Salmon, Sea Trout, Brown Trout and Grayling that make it a haven for anglers of all experience, from the first time fisherman, right the way through to the seasoned veterans. What’s more, with the service that is offered by Tweed Guide, who provide full or half day packages catering for both individuals and groups with licenses, with instruction and equipment all included, you’ll be guaranteed a catch!

Mountain Biking

Mountain Biking in the Borders

Via. Flickr

The Scottish Borders are also a paradise for all you adrenaline junkies out there. The area is widely recognised as the best location for mountain biking in the United Kingdom thanks to the winding tracks and forests that characterise the countryside. In fact, two of the famous 7Stanes mountain biking centres are found nestled in the forests of the region, providing trails of varying difficulties so there’s always a ride to suit you no matter how experienced you are.


Boots by the loch

Via. Flickr

If you’re looking to get a taste of the great outdoors in the Scottish Borders but at a more sedate pace then walking may well be the answer. Recognised walks like the John Buchan Way and St Cuthbert’s Way provide well-trodden routes, or if you’d rather make your own way then you’ll never be short of options with the beautiful vistas and rolling hills that make up the Borders; not to mention the countless country pubs that offer you the perfect place to rest and refresh!

So if you feel inspired to give the region a try, don’t forget to check out our range of holiday cottages in the Scottish Borders, so that you have somewhere to warm up and have a brew after a long day in the great outdoors!

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.

Go way, way back on your next cottage holiday

Monday, October 14th, 2013
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If you’re into unearthing yesteryear, you’ll know that today marks a particularly special event in English history. That’s because today -14th October- is the 947th anniversary of the Battle of Hastings, an event which changed the face of Britain forever. Forces from both sides of the English channel gathered on a windswept heath near the town of Battle in Sussex, to engage in what would arguably become the most fateful act of war that the country has ever known. Given the influence that the battle had on modern British culture,  we at Sykes Cottages thought we’d pay homage to this bloody day of transformation, by compiling a short list of the best battlefields to visit across the UK. There’s something rather moving and affecting about visiting a by-gone battlefield, so why not spend the day on your next cottage holiday taking a peek into the country’s bloody past whilst you explore these beautiful portions of prized British soil.

Stirling, Scotland- Battle of Stirling Bridge, 1297

Stirling Bridge

Via Flickr

Made famous in Mel Gibson’s 1995 film, Braveheart, the Battle of Stirling Bridge was a decisive victory for the Scots in their century-long feud with the English over their independence. Walk the earth where thousands of impassioned highland clansman followed their plucky blue-faced leader, William Wallace, into battle against a far superior force, and laid down their lives to secure the freedom of their country. Present day Stirling Bridge offers a feast of historic treats that will delight even the most aloof history fan, including Old Stirling Bridge, built in 1550, and the Wallace Memorial statue, erected at the spot where this proud Scot defied the odds to defend his great country. If you fancy donning your Sporran and bellowing “FREEDOMMM!” on your next Scottish adventure, take a look at our selection of holiday cottages in Scotland!

Sutton Cheney, Leicestershire- Battle of Bosworth Field, 1485

Battle of Bosworth

Via Flickr

On August 22nd 1485, the Wars of the Roses, fought between the house of York and the house of Lancaster over a thirty year period, came to its sticky and long awaited conclusion. Abandoned by his countryman and with a much lesser force, Richard III of England was brutally killed at the hands of the usurper Henry Tudor, and a new era of English history began. Discover information and theories about the battle in the Bosworth Battlefield Heritage Centre, and terrify the kids on a journey through medieval England in the centre’s interactive exhibition, where you can witness the horrors of 15th century warfare in the imposing battle room! For both the fanatical history fan and the casual daytripper, a visit to Bosworth Field proves a memorable day out; see for yourself on your next cottage holiday.

Branxton, Northumberland- Battle of Flodden, 1513

Flodden Battlefield

Via Flickr

Perhaps the most archetypal battlefield on the British Isles, this illustrious patch of Northumberland played host to the largest Anglo-Scottish tussle of the Middle Ages, with over 26,000 English and 34,000 Scottish troops involved in the fray. The battle ensued when James IV of Scotland, rather unwisely, invaded the North East of England to honour the country’s ancient allegiance to France, which was under threat from the surly Henry VIII. However, unlike Scots before him, James IV was unable to quash the English, and ultimately became the last serving monarch to be slain on British soil. Take time out of your Northumberland cottage holiday to visit this peaceful pasture land, and visualise the events of the battle as they unfolded with help from the interpretative boards which are placed along the battlefield trail.

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.

Be Inspired to Draw on a Sykes Cottage Holiday

Monday, October 7th, 2013
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Now that it’s October, put down the kitchen knife, step away from the football and swap the camera for some stationery, because October means Big Draw; a month long international festival dedicated to the dwindling hobby of drawing. If like me, you miss those nonchalant childhood days where you’d sprawl on the carpet with a fist of coloured pencils and doodle to your heart’s content for hours on end, take this month as your cue to put pencil to paper and get lost in your imagination once more.

Big Draw is organised by the Campaign for Drawing, an independent charity attempting to raise the profile of drawing as a tool for thought and creativity. They’ll be putting on over 1,000 events across the country throughout October, aimed at helping people of all ages reconnect with this artistic past-time. Take a look at their website to find out what sketchy events are taking place in your area, or, read Sykes Cottages guide to the best landmarks to draw in the UK, and why they’d make the perfect spot for an arty cottage holiday!

Sketch the stunning Stone Henge

Stone Henge

Via Flickr

In this day and age, it’s all too easy to capture the majesty of Stone Henge with a single press of the shutter. So this October, why not take a little longer to take in England’s most treasured landmark by whipping out the sketchpads and having a good old scribble. The kids will love the challenge of trying to capture the plethora of perspectives and textures of these Neolithic structures, and we’re sure your Bronze Age ancestors will appreciate the extra effort you’ve put in admiring their ancient works of art! For your chance to get creative by the stones, see our Wiltshire holiday cottages page.

Etch out Eilean Donan Castle

Eilean Donan Castle

Via Flickr

Pitch a spot on the banks of Loch Duich and you’ll be rummaging for a pencil long before you’ve thought to raise the camera. Splashed across Scottish souvenirs for decades, this inspiring panorama features the majestic Eilean Donan, arguably Scotland’s most famous castle, set against the astounding backdrop of the Applecross peninsula. Bring a flask of Hot Toddy and hunker down for an afternoon of rustic creation, before taking the scenic route back to your Scottish cottage to admire one another’s handy work; can you think of a more stimulating way to spend the day on your cottage holiday in Scotland?

Make like an artist at Menai Bridge

Menai Suspension Bridge

Via Flickr

If you’ve got an eye for architecture and a good straight edge, consider travelling to the town of Menai Bridge in Anglesey on your October drawing odyssey. Overlooking the Menai Strait with its eminent suspension bridge, budding artists can capture their own version of this imposing Welsh vista just as engineer Thomas Telford did in 1826. Choose your preferred perspective of the bridge by taking a quiet walk along the Anglesey Coastal path, before settling down with pencil, pad and picnic for an afternoon spent bringing this celebrated structure to life.

So go on, make the most of the Big Draw on a cottage holiday! It’s a rewarding way to spend some quality time with the family; plus, with the October half-term fast approaching, there’s never been a better time to book a cottage holiday and get creative amid the rolling hills and inspiring architecture of dear old blighty.

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.

Get Out and Get Green on a Sykes Cottage Holiday

Friday, October 4th, 2013
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If you’re in need of a little R&R this coming weekend, run and hide! That’s because this weekend is The Conservation Volunteers’ annual Big Green Weekend, a UK wide event hell-bent on getting us all involved in the preservation and management of our lovely British greenery. You’ll find TCV (The Conservation Volunteers) events across the country offering you the chance to lend a hand, have some fun and get stuck in to a wealth of conservation based activities including dry stone walling, bench building and wildflower sowing. So go on, get mucky and give something back to your favourite stretch of green space this weekend; there’ll be a well-earned cup of tea waiting for you come knocking off time, and we’ll happily put you up in some comfy cottage digs at a minute’s notice should you want to travel to a specific TCV event. Read on for just a few of the green goings-on taking place at this year’s Big Green Weekend.

Build a Bee Box in Cornwall

Bee Box

Via Flickr

If you’re in Cornwall this weekend, why not head down to the Tuckingmill Valley Park in Cambourne, where TCV will be hosting a number of activities aimed at safeguarding the cornucopia of wildlife that calls Cornwall home. Volunteers at the event can build their own bee box for our buzzy pollinators, hunt for treasure, throw some wellies and even race a snail or two! Plus, organisers will be putting on a good spread of hot drinks, cake and BBQ for all you worker bees when the day is done; so come down to Tuckingmill between 11am and 3pm for your chance to give something back to the precious Cornish environment.

Get Growing in York

Community Allotment

Via Flickr

Roll up in your wellingtons, grab a spade and prepare to get dug into some good Yorkshire earth at the Sleep Path Community Allotment in York. TCV have teamed up with Refugee Action to raise money for local charity initiatives, so come down and show your support. There’s a handful of crafty activities on offer for you green fingered helpers, whether it be whittling up a willow animal and wind chime, carving out your very own mosaic stepping stone or pressing apples for their thirst quenching juice.  The event is being held between 12noon-3pm tomorrow, so join the fun and get back to nature at the Big Green Weekend event in York.

Have a clear out in Ayrshire


Via Flickr

Although you may think that Rhododendrons are an attractive addition to your garden, out in the wild this non-indigenous shrub is an aggressive coloniser, capable of reducing the bio-diversity and regeneration of precious British woodlands. That’s why, TCV need your help to clear this pesky plant from Belleisle Park on the dramatic Ayrshire coast in Scotland. By hook or by crook, it’ll be your duty to eradicate this dogged blossom from the parkland to make room for all manner of other native Scottish fauna. When you’ve managed that, you can wipe your brow, give yourself a pat on the back and look forward to a cool pint and a warm meal in a homely Scottish pub- what could be more rewarding?

Here at Sykes Cottages, we’re fanatical about our country and want you to feel the same. That’s why, we do what we can to support conservation schemes in their mission to preserve the UK’s green spaces so that they can be enjoyed for generations to come. For more information about any of the destinations mentioned in the post, or to make a last minute booking, visit the homepage or call us today.

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.

Happy National Poetry Day!

Thursday, October 3rd, 2013
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Today at Sykes Cottages, we are celebrating National Poetry Day. Poetry is a subject that can often divide opinions with most people claiming to either love or hate it. For some, it’s a way to express themselves on a level that they just can’t reach through prose and for others it’s somewhat of a mystery. National Poetry Day is a celebration of poetry in every form and an attempt to make it accessible to everyone, everywhere. It aims to encourage and inspire Britain to discuss, write about and read poetry, but most of all, enjoy it.

So in honour of National Poetry Day, we’ve decided to make our own contribution by taking a look at some of Britain’s best loved poets and their origins.

William Wordsworth

I wandered lonely as a cloud that floats on high o’er vales and hills

Wordsworth Country, Lake District

Via Flickr

William Wordsworth, born in 1770, is one of the most influential poets of the Romantic era. His works include ‘The Prelude’, ‘I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud’ and a collaboration with fellow Romantic, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, ‘Lyrical Ballads’. Wordsworth was born in Cockermouth, an ancient market town nestled on the borders of the Lake District National Park. Although of medieval origins, the town has a heavy Georgian influence with most of the town being rebuilt during this period. Cockermouth is steeped in history and is a charming place to visit with modern day attractions including Cockermouth Castle which dates back to the Norman era and Wordsworth House, which is the birthplace of Mr Wordsworth himself. This beautiful Georgian townhouse is presented as the Wordsworth family home and is a must see for any literature fan.

Robert Burns

A fond kiss and then we sever; a farewell, and then forever!

Burns Cottage, Alloway

Via Flickr

Robert Burns is widely regarded as the national poet of Scotland, writing poetry and folk songs that are still commonly known today. Favourites include the traditional Hogmanay song ‘Auld Lang Syne’ and ‘A Red, Red Rose’. Born in Ayrshire in 1759, Burns was characterised by fierce national pride, radicalism, spontaneity and sincerity. So proud are the Scottish of his legacy that they dedicate a day to him each year. Burns Night is normally held on the 25th January every year, on the day that Burns was born and celebrates his life and poetry. Revellers make toasts, eat and read Burns’ ‘Address to a Haggis’. Fans of the Bard of Ayrshire can visit the Robert Burns Birthplace Museum  in the Alloway countryside which houses a awe-inspiring collection of his life and works.

Ted Hughes

Effortlessly at height hangs his still eye. His wings hold all creation in a weightless quiet

Ted Hughes country, Yorkshire

Via Flickr

Ted Hughes has long been considered to be one of the greatest writers of his generation and was Poet Laureate from 1984 until his death in 1998. Born in 1930, Hughes led a life marked by both genius and tragedy with some of his most famous works include ‘The Hawk in the Rain’ and ‘Birthday Letters’. As a child, Hughes lived in the rural Yorkshire town of Mytholmroyd, but moved to Mexborough, South Yorkshire a few years later. The harsh moor landscape of his childhood is reflected in his work, much of which is predominantly concerned with nature and the impact of man on his surroundings. Hughes’ early work in particular, is influenced by the wildlife he encountered as a child. If you’d like to experience the places and landscapes that inspired his work, you can visit the area around Mytholmroyd and immerse yourself into the life and times of one of Britain’s best poets. Hughes’ first wife, the American poet Sylvia Plath, is buried in nearby Hepponstall.

If you’ve been inspired to take a trip to discover the origins of Wordsworth, Burns, Hughes or any other British poet, why not book a self-catering cottage for the duration of your stay. After all, what could be better after a long day of exploring than heading back to your holiday cottage and relaxing in front of a roaring fire with the works of your favourite poet?

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.