Archive for the ‘Travel Tips’ Category

Where to See Snowdrops in the UK

Wednesday, February 4th, 2015
Pin It

We love a bracing winter walk at Sykes Cottages but after a few cold months of icy breath and numb toes it’s a welcome relief when, out of the corner of your eye, a bunch of soft white snowdrops catch your attention. Flowering at the end of winter, these petite plants signal the start of spring and the warmer weather that follows. If like me you can’t wait to see your first snowdrop of the year, keep reading as we suggest five of the best locations to spot snowdrops in the UK.

Anglesey Abbey, Cambridgeshire

Visit the Anglesey Abbey gardens during the Snowdrop Festival (January 26th – March 1st) and you’ll be able to explore 144 acres of grounds and view 270 different varieties of snowdrop. It’s a lot to take in on your own so why not join the Snowdrop collection tour lead by a member of the garden team every weekday at 2pm? If you’d rather head out on a solo mission then you’re in luck as the gardens are opening an hour earlier during the festival so you’ll be able to make the most of the winter light.

Kingston Lacy, Dorset

If you fancy a leisurely afternoon stroll where the snowdrops are in abundance then we would suggest a visit to Kingston Lacy. This stunning National Trust property was built to resemble an Italian palace and is only made more beautiful when the snowdrops start to appear. Well known for their white carpets of snowdrops, the gardeners at Kingston Lacy have predicted the flowers will be at their best around the third week of February.

Dunham Massey, Cheshire

It’s common to see one or two patches of snowdrops at this time of year but if you’re after something bigger then head to Dunham Massey where their gardeners promise a sea of white, made up of a quarter of a million snowdrops! Their seven acre winter garden is sure to leave you feeling inspired with 700 plant species, 1,600 winter shrubs and plenty of planting ideas which will help keep your garden bright during the move into spring.

Fountains Abbey, Yorkshire

At Fountains Abbey families can experience fascinating history, wonderful walks and stunning Georgian water gardens all in one afternoon. The Abbey ruins are picture perfect when surrounded by early morning fog and delicate white snowdrops, but make sure to wrap up as the best images are captured when there is a clear blue sky overhead. To help warm you up after your chilly walk around the grounds stop off at the Abbey restaurant and sample the seasonal specials.

Scottish Snowdrop Festival

Scotland loves snowdrops so much that they’ve dedicated a whole festival to the pretty flower! The festival started on Saturday and has over 60 venues taking part; even those that are normally closed for the winter have opened their doors in celebration. The festival will end on March 15th giving you plenty of time to visit one or two of the venues. Our suggestions for this year are Logan Botanic Gardens, Black Spout Wood and Dryburgh Abbey.

Are you venturing out to see the snowdrops this winter? If so let us know where you’re heading – you can reach us through Facebook or Twitter.

Pin It

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.

A TV Lover’s Tour of Britain

Friday, January 30th, 2015
Pin It

Britain is home to a number of award winning TV shows; from sci-fi thrillers to historic re-enactments, but did you know that many of these productions are filmed in our own back yard? That’s right, the fantastic sets you see on your television screens aren’t filmed in some dusty old studio or played out onto a green screen, they’re real and a lot closer to home than you would think! Keep reading as we take a tour of Britain and shed some light on the UK’s most loved TV sets.

Barrington Court

Everyone everywhere is talking about the BBC’s new original drama, Wolf Hall. This captivating six part series follows the life of Thomas Cromwell and features many historic properties. Our favourite set location from the series has to be Barrington Court, with its impressive history and hollowed out interior. Visit this imposing Tudor manor house and let your imagination run wild as you explore the light and airy rooms, beautiful gardens and working orchard.

Southerndown Beach

Doctor Who fans should be all too familiar with this stretch of Welsh coastline as it was on Southerndown beach that the Doctor bid farewell to Rose Tyler. Take a stroll along Southerndown beach and relive those final moments between Doctor and companion as you take in the staggering views and unusual layers of rook in the cliff face. Visit during summer to relax on the sandy shore or wrap up warm and take a romantic winter walk with your other half.

Highclere Castle

The TV show Downton Abbey has taken the nation by storm with many Brits falling head over heels for the period drama.  The TV show is so widely popular that if you were to show a picture of Highclere Castle to a stranger on the street they would assure you that it was Downton Abbey, home of Lord Grantham and family. Even if you’re not a fan of the TV show we would highly suggest a visit to Highclere Castle as the property and grounds are truly stunning.


The country’s capital has appeared in thousands of TV shows throughout the years but one of its most successful dramas has to be Sherlock, a show which modernises Conan Doyle’s iconic characters Sherlock Holmes and Dr Watson.  Throughout London you will find a number of  walking tours that explore famous places mentioned in the books and real sites featured in the film and TV adaptations. To top off your tour make sure to visit Baker Street, home of The Sherlock Holmes Museum.

West Bay

Another area now synonymous with TV drama (and the actor David Tennant) is West Bay in Dorset. Featuring heavily in the award winning drama Broadchurch, West Bay is not only the star of the show but also home to a number of the sets including the cafe, police station, newsagest’s, Sea Bridge Hall and Harbour. This picturesque location may look tempting on screen but no show could truly do this area justice; with its Jurassic cliffs, glorious sunshine and breath-taking views its the ideal spot for a summer holiday.

Well that concludes our tour, we hope you’ve enjoyed it! Which is your favourite TV set in Britain? Let us know by leaving a comment on our Facebook or Twitter page.

Pin It

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.

Book Now for 2015

Saturday, December 27th, 2014
Pin It

If you’re the kind of organised person who likes to plan-in-advance I’m sure that you’ve already thought about your 2015 getaway and I am probably preaching to the choir here. But if you’re more into doing things last minute then read on, as I’ll be sharing with you some reasons why now is a great time to book your 2015 holiday.

Huge Choice of Properties

Moat Farmhouse, The Lake District

Moat Farmhouse, reference 2643

January is our busiest month here at Sykes Cottages and our properties book up quickly. To make sure that you have the pick of the pack, it is best to get booking early! This is particularly important if you have a specific location, type of property or dates in mind. Our large properties tend to book up first particularly for Christmas and New Year with many already booked for 2015 and enquiries coming in for 2016. If you’re planning a Christmas gathering for a large family, it is best to book your property now!

Utilise a Deposit

Elmet Farmhouse in Hebden Bridge

Elmet Farmhouse, reference 918960

If your holiday is further than six weeks away, you can choose to pay in full or just pay the deposit at the time of booking. The deposit will be 30% of the property rental plus the booking fee, the balance of your holiday must then be paid six weeks before the start of your holiday. You can find out more about paying for your holiday on our FAQs page.

Have a holiday to look forward to

Manor Farmhouse in Milstead

Manor Farmhouse, reference 919243

I like to think of the Sykes Cottages blog as being a positive place, so I don’t want to bring the mood down but sometimes we all just need something to look forward to! As nice as last minute getaways are, there is nothing quite like building up excitement prior to going away. Sometimes it is good to push spontaneity to the side and do some good old fashion planning – a luxury you may not have when booking a last minute break.

Get Booking Now for 2015

The Cider Mill Grade II listed Holiday Cottage

The Cider Mill, reference 11799

Whether your 2015 plan is to holiday by the sea, head to the countryside for some peace and quiet or visit a new city you will be spoilt for choice at Sykes Cottages. With over 5,000 properties we really do have something for everyone!

Pin It
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.

Budding Writer? Here’s 4 Ways A Cottage Can Help You

Saturday, November 1st, 2014
Pin It

November is National Novel Writing Month, a time when – you guessed it – wannabe authors put pen to paper and attempt to write a novel in thirty days.

Via Flickr

Via Flickr

From someone who’s tried and ultimately failed to write a novel, I’d say this was a damn tough challenge – especially for those who haven’t devoted their lives to writing and have other responsibilities to attend. If you’d like to give it a go, there’s a wealth of help and advice on the NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) website.

One hurdle that many aspiring Hemingways face is writer’s block; the dreaded inability to string a sentence together or come up with original ideas. Although there’s a wealth of advice on how to tackle writer’s block online, we think a holiday in an isolated or secluded holiday home could be just the thing to help you overcome writer’s block and help you on the way to completing your first novel. Here’s four reasons why.


Isolation, seclusion, confinement; call it what you will, but finding alone time is the first step on the road to penning that bestseller. With an isolated cottage, you’re guaranteed distraction free writing from the moment you arrive. If you plan to lock yourself away like a regular ink-slave, be sure to stock up on the bare necessities first; we’d hate your flow to be interrupted by a lack of loo roll or a nagging thirst for a cup of joe.


Via Flickr

Via Flickr

Like writers of old – Wordsworth, Coleridge, Dickens, Brontë to name a few – would-be authors will find a veritable font of inspiration in the British countryside. Blighty has been a backdrop for thought-starved writers for centuries, who have sought creative solace in the country’s scenic beauty. From the Lake District, the Highlands and Yorkshire to Cornwall, Devon and Norfolk, the UK has always been a valuable source of inspiration among wordsmiths. Tap into it yourself on a secluded cottage break – who knows what you might find.


Via Flickr

Via Flickr

Good times are kind to the mind, slogging 9 til’ 5 isn’t. A break from the day to day frees up brain-space, letting you ponder ideas put on the backburner long ago. Plus, when you’ve got limited time on your hands, you’re bound to be more focused, more determined, and more prepared to pen at least a few paragraphs. Count the end of your break as a deadline, and try get a set number of words down before it’s time to go back to the day job.


Via Flickr

Via Flickr

Or, do the opposite: fuel your thoughts. Seek memories. Good ones that can be rendered into a page of prose on your return. Eat well, drink well. Walk cliff tops and woodlands. Climb hills and cycle bracing mountain sides. Swim in the ocean. Watch the sunset and the moon rise. Talk to people and share stories. In short, live your life. Then, go write it all down. Gaining experience makes booking a cottage holiday in the UK a no-brainer.

Book a break, write a book

It’s that simple. Ok, it’s not, but booking a holiday home could certainly help. If you’re itching to write a book, use those leftover holiday days, pack paper, pen or laptop and make for the nearest pocket of countryside. Before you know it, you might have a bestseller on your hands. Remember this blog when you do.

Pin It
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.

Booking a Surprise Holiday: The Ultimate Guide

Saturday, September 27th, 2014
Pin It

Whether it’s for a birthday, anniversary or just because, nothing says you care like booking a surprise holiday for your loved one. Whether you want a relaxing break or something to let out your adventurous side, we have a huge choice of properties that will suit your every need and are happy to help keep your booking a surprise. Take a look below at our latest infographic for hints and tips on booking – and keeping – that holiday a surprise!

The Ultimate Guide to Booking a Surprise Holiday

Copy and Paste the Code Below onto your Website to Share with your Readers


Booking a Surprise Holiday… The Ultimate Guide!

There is nothing  like a luxury, romantic break for two and they’re even sweeter when it’s a surprise. Booking a getaway whilst keeping your partner in the dark can seem like a logistical nightmare but read on to learn a few tips on how to make your surprise a success!

Making a Surprise Booking

When making your booking, ensure that all correspondence goes to an address that your loved one doesn’t have access to. Book using your work email and ask whether they will be sending you anything in the post – if so, use your work address for that, too!

If you have a shared bank account, make sure that you don’t use it to pay for your surprise holiday. Use your personal bank account to avoid raising suspicions!

If you make your booking using a shared computer, or a computer that your loved one has access to, be sure to delete your browsing history and cookies afterwards.

Is there a series that your partner never misses or a TV show they’ve been longing to watch? Then be sure to record them if they’re scheduled for whilst you are away.

Things to Keep in Mind

Make sure that both you and the recipient of the surprise have booked holidays from work on the dates that you would like to go away.

If you’re leaving it until last minute to unveil your surprise, you can take some of the strain from your loved one by doing some of their packing for them.

If you aren’t staying in the UK think about any identification that you both might need and check that any identification is up to date before embarking on your journey.

Don’t forget that if you or your partner have a four legged friend, make sure to book pet friendly accommodation or arrange for a friend or family member to look after them.

Let their friends and family know about the surprise, to ensure that they do not make plans with your loved one over the time you will be going away.

Extra Touches

While You’re Away

Think about whether you want to have a relaxing or an action packed getaway. Does your loved one need to unwind or would an energising holiday full of activities suit them better?

If romance and relaxation is on the cards, then why not book a meal at a local restaurant whilst you’re away? Or even better, order a food shop from an organic delivery service and cook up a romantic meal for two.

If you’re looking for something a little more action packed then take a look at what activities are available in the local area and plan your days accordingly. If you’re near the coast then why not surprise your lucky holiday companion with surfing lessons, or if they’d rather stay on dry land, book a segway tour through a local forest.

Back at Home

If you’re keeping the getaway a complete surprise and not telling your loved one until last minute, there are a few thoughtful things you can sort out back at home so that they don’t have to!

Postpone any deliveries that they may have. Do they have milk or the newspaper delivered? Perhaps they receive a health snack food box through the post. If so, then put these deliveries on hold until you return from your getaway.


Pin It
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.