Archive for the ‘Travel Tips’ Category

Strange British Traditions

Sunday, October 18th, 2015
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Here in Britain we are extremely proud of our quirky traditions but we have to admit, to anyone visiting the UK, these traditions can seem a little strange at first. From Morris dancing in the streets to cheese rolling in the countryside, our numerous traditions are truly a sight to behold. If you feel like witnessing one or two British traditions on your next getaway, then keep reading as we list some of our favourites.

Morris Dancing

Morris dancing is a traditional form of English folk dancing, which can trace its history right back to the 13th century. With bell pads on their shins and brightly coloured handkerchiefs or sticks, Morris dancers are hard to miss when they come to town. For your best chance to catch Morris dancers in action, we suggest heading to the Cotswolds where the dancers are particularly common.

Pearly Kings and Queens

The Pearly Kings and Queens of London are fascinating to behold with their customised suits and dresses covered in pearl buttons. From the very first Pearly King, Henry Croft, to the present day Kings and Queens, these pearly families are well respected through the UK and do a great deal of charity work. To see the pearly Kings and Queens in all their glory, head to the Fields Trafalgar Square in London on the first Sunday in October or the third Sunday in May.


The Maypole was traditionally a young tree that villagers would cut down and place in the village to symbolise the arrival of summer. Nowadays, the Maypole is a tall wooden pole which is commonly erected on May Day (May 1st) and decorated with garlands and ribbons. The intricate ribbon work around the Maypole is completed by dancers who perform a special choreographed routine with ribbon in hand. May Day celebrations can be seen across England.

Cheese Rolling

There are a number of cheese rolling events held across the UK but if you’re looking for the best then we would suggest heading to Cooper’s Hill in Gloucestershire. This extremely steep hill is home to a number of cheese rolling events each year and offers many vantage points to watch the big race form. However if attending, do be careful as the steep gradient of the hill can be dangerous.

These are just a few of the fabulous traditions here in Britain, but if we’ve missed your favourite then be sure to let us know by contacting us via Facebook or Twitter.

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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.

Some of the Best Heritage Open Days

Sunday, September 6th, 2015
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This September sees one of the year’s biggest cultural events taking place across England with the Heritage Open Days. With 40,000 volunteers, around 1,500 organisations taking part and an expected 3 million visitors, it promises to be bigger and better than ever. So we’ve cast the Sykes spotlight around the country and picked out some of our favourite open day locations for you to have a look through.

Glendurgan Gardens, Cornwall

On the 12th of September, Glendurgan Gardens, in the heart of the Cornish countryside, will be free to visit as part of the Heritage Open Days scheme. Between the garden’s three valleys, you’ll be able to lose yourself in banks of wildflowers, thick woodlands and of course the garden’s famous maze. No booking is required to visit Glendurgan on the 12th so it’s perfect for an impromptu trip with the family, however due to the loose gravel and steep pathways, it might not be the best choice for wheelchair users.

Fountains Abbey, North Yorkshire

Or if you’re up north, you could pop into Fountains Abbey near Ripon in Yorkshire. As part of the open day you can investigate what remains of the Abbey or head off the beaten track and explore the 800 acres of medieval deer parkland, water gardens and the old monastic grounds. There are also specialist tours being held throughout the day meaning that you’ll be able to get the inside track on both the majestic abbey and its stunning water gardens.

St John the Baptist Cathedral, Norfolk

Finally, we’ve got the Cathedral Church of St John the Baptist in Norwich. Constructed in the late 20th and early 21st century, it’s one of the city’s most famous buildings and a member of the celebrated Norwich 12, but you’ll get to experience it like never before through the upcoming heritage open days. From talks on the architecture and engineering of the cathedral itself through to demonstrations by a group of local stonemasons, it’s the perfect way to learn more about one of the area’s iconic buildings.

Hopefully that’s whetted your appetite to try out a Heritage Open Day this year? If so you can find the full list of them here, and don’t worry if you’ll need somewhere to stay over the weekend as our flexi-breaks are perfect for a shorter trip, have a look and see if you can find a cottage to suit 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.

Safe Swimming in South Wales

Tuesday, July 21st, 2015
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On a hot summer’s day there is nothing better than escaping the uncomfortable heat by submerging yourself in cold, clear water. South Wales is one of the best locations in the UK for this with plenty of wild swimming spots available throughout the region. If you’re planning a trip to South Wales this year then why not try out one of the local swimming spots? The following areas are great for safe swimming and with plenty of space and beautiful scenery, you’re sure to enjoy a dip in these Welsh waters.

Broad Haven Beach

Broad Haven is a beach famed for its long stretch of sand and beautiful views across St Brides Bay but did you know that it’s also a fantastic place to take a dip? With shallow waters and a lifeguard on patrol between June 20th and September 6th, this is a wonderful location for a spot of safe swimming. Older children can spend their afternoons splashing about in the calm waters as the younger kids explore one of the many rock pools, leaving the adults free to relax on the sand and enjoy the fantastic Welsh scenery.

The River Usk

Located in the Brecon Beacons National Park, the River Usk is one of Wales’ most charming rivers with beautiful scenery, an abundance of wildlife and plenty of opportunities for wild swimming. Some of our favourite areas for safe swimming along the River Usk include the two secluded pools at Llangynidr, which offer a perfect escape from everyday life with their picturesque country setting and smooth, flat red rocks; and the island picnic site, just outside the town of Usk, which is great for those looking for a gentler pace with the waters running deep under the old railway bridge.

Barafundle Bay

Barafundle Bay could be Wales’ prettiest beach; with its crystal clear waters, golden sands, lovely dunes and captivating woodland, this stretch of coast is perfect for the holiday scrap book. Make your way over the dunes and down towards the water for a truly relaxing swim amongst the waves and if you’re feeling a little lonely why not bring Rover along? With dogs welcome on the beach all year round, this is the perfect area for safe swimming with the dog, just make sure your dog is comfortable in the water and a good swimmer!

The River Wye

Snaking its way through the British countryside for 215 kilometres and forming part of the border between Wales and England, the River Wye is the UK’s fifth longest river and as such offers many great areas for safe swimming. One of our favourite locations along the River Wye can be found in Pen-doll Rocks near Builth Wells in Powys. This exciting stretch of the River Wye laps through the rocky gorge before making its way downstream to the white sandy bays. The rocky cliff area is more suited to strong, experienced swimmers but the sandy bays are perfect for all skill sets.

If we’ve left you craving a holiday to South Wales where you can explore all these swim locations for yourself then why not check out our South Wales cottages? Full of character and charm, these properties are perfect for drying off and relaxing in front of the fire after a busy day swimming and exploring the local area.

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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.

Britain’s Best Coastal Views

Wednesday, July 1st, 2015
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In the UK, we’re incredibly lucky to be blessed with an abundance of stunning sea views; there’s no denying that as an island nation, our views are hard to beat.  So if you’re in need of a pick-me-up this Wednesday evening, grab a brew and settle down to discover Britain’s top 10 coastal views.

Seven Sisters, East Sussex

Bamburgh Castle, Northumberland

Durdle Door, Dorset

Antony Gormley’s Another Place, Merseyside

Three Cliffs Bay, Gower

Lundy Island, Devon

Seilebost, Outer Hebrides

St Ives Harbour, Cornwall

Robin Hood’s Bay, North Yorkshire

Robin Hood's Bay

Robin Hood’s Bay

Neist Point, Isle of Skye

If our blog on Britain’s best coastal views has whet your appetite for a seaside holiday in the UK then make sure you visit our page on coastal holiday cottages, there are plenty of incredible views out there for you to explore!

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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.

Choose a Holiday Cottage for your next Sporting Event

Thursday, June 18th, 2015
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If you participate in sports, you’ll probably be used to travelling the length and breadth of the country for various events and tournaments. Frequently, these can be far from home and finding somewhere to stay can be a bit of a nightmare! Well, we at Sykes Cottages may be able to help; read on to discover five reasons why booking a self catering holiday cottage is perfect when you’re taking part in a sporting event.

Have a Bath to Soothe those Muscles

Bathroom The Malthouse

The Malthouse in Cromford, The Peak District

Be sure that there is a bath where you can relax after your event by booking a holiday cottage with a bath. Showers are great for quick fixes before heading out, but if there’s one thing you deserve after your event it’s a relaxing bath to help soothe your muscles. Why not really treat yourself by booking one of our cottages with a spa bath?

Have Space for Your Equipment

If your sport of choice means you must carry a selection of equipment with you, then a holiday cottage is ideal. Being much larger than a standard hotel room, where space is often at a premium, there will be plenty of space for your equipment and you can rest assured that it will be safe.

Cook your Own Meals

East Gable

East Gable located in Gatehouse of Fleet, Scotland

You don’t want to ruin all that training by falling at the last hurdle on your diet. Every one of our self catering holiday cottages have a kitchen and dining space including all of the utensils and pots you could need, so you can whip up a recovery meal post-workout and keep to that regime whilst you’re away!

Enjoy your Holiday Right Away

23 Clock Tower Court

23 Clock Tower Court in Charlestown, Cornwall

You’ve been training for months; you deserve to spend some time away getting a bit of rest and relaxation! By booking a holiday cottage, you can begin your holiday straight after the sporting event without having to travel elsewhere.

Bring the Whole Family Along

Bring all the family

Beechcroft in North Molton, Devon

Every sports star needs their cheerleaders but sometimes, if an event is quite far away, it can be difficult for everyone to be able to come along due to costs and space! Luckily, when booking a holiday cottage, everyone will have somewhere to stay and be able to cheer you on. Get that for support!

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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.