Archive for the ‘Travel Tips’ Category

Sykes’ Spotlight on the South Wales Valleys

Monday, September 16th, 2013
Pin It

With the white sandy beaches and crystal clear waters of Anglesey, bustling city of Cardiff and the stunning Pembrokeshire Coast National Park, there are numerous reasons why Wales is such a popular holiday destination. Add in the fantastic food, friendly locals and real sense of history and it’s easy to see why our holiday cottages in Wales attract holidaymakers throughout the year.  Often overlooked are the South Welsh Valleys, communities which grew up around the coal mining industry and today painted as grey towns and villages where unemployment is high, a stereotype not helped by a recent TV show.  So while the Valleys may not automatically spring to mind as a holiday destination, I guarantee that you’ll find stunning scenery to rival that anywhere else in Wales, a wealth of attractions and the friendliest welcome you could ever hope to have. Here’s what not to miss on your holiday to South Wales…

Rhondda Valley, Wales

History and heritage

For a community so dependent on mining, it’s obvious that the industry has left an enduring legacy within the valleys.  The Rhondda Heritage Park is a great place to start exploring the area’s mining history with an underground tour to give you a taste of life as a miner; you’ll even get to ride the cage to the bottom of the pit.  Back above ground, you’ll find a reconstruction of a village street which shows domestic life during the industry’s peak.  As if you needed convincing of the spirit in these parts, a further example of the strong community vibe is in the area’s music.  Home to Tom Jones, this area’s contribution to the music scene has long been sealed but for a more authentic experience, be sure to make a date with a Male Voice Choir.  Choirs have been popular in the Valleys for more than 150 years and you’ll see why as soon as the first few lines of Cwm Rhondda are sung; this is spine-tingling stuff.

Drams at Lewis Merthyr

Action-packed holidays in South Wales

It’s a given that the Valleys are a natural playground for sporting enthusiasts.  From cycling to hill walking and even paragliding, the breathtaking landscape only serves to heighten any activity you undertake here.  The view from above is really the best way to appreciate just how beautiful the valleys are.  Marvel at the intensely green valleys, multicoloured rows of terraced houses and the scars the coal industry has left behind as you soar above.  I was initially surprised to find out that paragliding is just one of the activities on offer here but you’ll find that the Valleys will surprise you again and again.  If you’d rather keep two feet on the ground at all times, how about taking part in the annual Wales Valleys Walking Festival.  The ninth festival is on now and runs until 22nd September promising something for walkers of all abilities from challenging all day treks to gentle strolls and special interest walks.

Ogmore Castle

Plan a holiday to the South Wales Valleys

Has this got you thinking about a holiday to the South Wales Valleys?  If so, why not take a look at our fantastic selection of holiday cottages throughout South Wales?  You can browse online or call one of our holiday cottage advisors on 01244 356695; we’re open until 9.30pm seven days a week!

Book now for Summer 2014

Friday, August 23rd, 2013
Pin It

There’s a chilly breeze blowing through Chester and from my window here at Sykes Cottages HQ, I can see the first signs of autumn as the leaves turn to rust and begin to cover the pavement. But, although this summer is coming to an end, it’s time to start thinking about your plans for next summer! Before we know it the schools will be breaking up, you’ll be digging out the buckets and spades and keeping your fingers crossed for sunshine!


Take a look at our popular holiday cottages

Believe it or not, we’ve already taken a large number of bookings for next summer and many of these are for our most popular holiday cottages.  Some of our cottages are pretty special boasting swimming pools, hot tubs and games rooms!  We have a number of unique cottages such as The Gaolhouse, the Shepherd’s Hut or even a Converted Railway Carriage to make your summer break a memorable.



Location, location, location!

As big fans of holidays in the UK and Ireland, we know that wherever you choose for your 2014 summer holiday you’re sure to have a brilliant time.  Thinking about where you want to spend your summer holidays is a big decision but with more than 4000 holiday cottages located throughout the UK and Ireland, you won’t go far wrong.  Perhaps you’ll want to return somewhere you’ve enjoyed fantastic holidays in the past (for me, that would be Dorset), or discover somewhere new and exciting.  You could recreate the traditional British summer holiday with a week on the Norfolk coast or follow in the footsteps of royalty with a summer holiday on the Isle of Wight.

Coverack Harbour, Coverack,Cornwall,UK

Don’t delay, book today!

Although the summer holidays are almost a year away, there’s no such thing as booking too early!  Start looking for your dream cottage by visiting our website where you’ll be able to search by location, size or cottage type.  We also have a very friendly and highly trained team of holiday cottage advisors in our Chester headquarters who man the phones until 9.30pm, seven days a week!  Give us a call on 01244 356695 or get us to call you, when it’s convenient.

English Scenery

Choose Sykes Cottages and book your holiday with confidence

Friday, May 3rd, 2013
Pin It

With so many holiday companies to choose from and countess cottage websites, choosing who to book your holiday cottage with can be a difficult and confusing process. Here at Sykes Cottages, our easy to use website, friendly and helpful staff and our long-standing reputation in the industry means that booking a holiday is as simple as possible.

Hendre Aled Farmhouse, North Wales

Hendre Aled Farmhouse, North Wales

Here at Sykes Cottages, we pride ourselves in providing quality holiday cottages with the peace of mind that you are booking your holiday with a company that you can trust. We have been helping people to book holiday for more than twenty five years, starting from a small family business with just a handful of cottages. We now have more than 4000 holiday cottages in the UK and Ireland and employ approximately 100 people at our HQ in Chester.

We work closely with our cottage owners to help them to make the best of their cottages. Each and every one of our cottages is visited by an experienced local manager to ensure it meets our high standards. You can trust our local managers: they are best placed to know what holiday makers are looking for in a holiday cottage.


Colly Cottage, Dorset

Colly Cottage, Dorset

Over the years we have helped thousands of holidaymakers book holidays in the UK and Ireland. You can read reviews from many of our happy customers on our website and on Trip Advisor, where we have received more than 7000 reviews and over 96% of these reviews are four or five stars.

Here at Sykes Cottages HQ in Chester we have a specially trained team of holiday cottage advisors available seven days a week to help you find the perfect holiday cottage. Our phone lines are open from 9am until 9.30pm daily and are always answered by real people – no robots here! Plus if you would prefer not to speak to us that’s fine too, you can book the perfect holiday cottage through our easy to use and constantly updated website or simply send us an email with your enquiry and we will get back in touch as soon as we can.


By Charlotte Stamper

Charlotte's love of the UK started as a child, with frequent trips to the North Wales, the Lake District and Scotland. In her spare time she enjoys walking and last year completed the Yorkshire Three Peaks Challenge. Her favourite place is the Victorian seaside town of Llandudno in North Wales.

UK Cycling Holidays with Sykes Cottages

Monday, April 8th, 2013
Pin It

Following the recent success of Bradley Wiggins and Mark Cavendish in the Tour de France and the news that Le Tour will start in Yorkshire in 2014, cycling holidays are all the rage. From super-fit, competitive road cyclists to families with tow bars and trailers, the UK is a dream playground for those exploring on two wheels.

As a keen cyclist, here is my pick of the best cycling routes in the UK, whatever type of cycling holiday you’re planning!

Where the Ride Ends


Ride the Solar System in York

…perfect for families…

The six mile, traffic-free and virtually flat route between York and Selby is a fantastic ride for families.  There’s no need for a map as the route is well sign-posted so you can just enjoy the beautiful countryside which stretches the entire length of this former railway track.  The scale model of the solar system is what really makes this route great for little legs; start at the sun which is eight feet in diameter and suspended above the track.  You’ll find plenty of information at every planet as well as numerous places to stop for a picnic so you can really make a day of it.  You’ll also find a wealth of great family activities in York like the free Railway Museum and the Jorvik Viking Centre.  Why not take a look at our holiday cottages in Yorkshire for inspiration for your next family holiday?


Scale model of the solar system on a bike route

Bedgebury Forest, Kent

…ideal for mountain bikers…

So the south of England may not be known as particularly challenging territory but prepare to be surprised in Kent where Bedgebury Forest offers something for mountain bikers of all abilities.  The 2000 acre forest not far from Tunbridge Wells offers 10km of family friendly paths, adapted bikes for disabled cyclists and bike showers for those particularly muddy days!  The real excitement is the 12km single track path which after a gentle ascent promises twisting, speedy descents interspersed with sharp climbs and challenging jumps.  There’s also a separate free ride area with a great selection of dirt jumps and table tops which are satisfyingly tough!  If this has got your adrenaline flowing, click here for our full range of south coast holiday cottages.


Tweed and Ettrick Valleys, Scottish Borders

…one for road cyclists…

The Scottish Borders provide enviable road cycling opportunities for those looking to emulate their Team Sky heroes.  From 200 mile routes requiring you to cycle around the clock to shorter but equally tricky routes, the mystically beautiful Borders has it all.  For a route which is easily achievable while you’re on holiday, try the 42 mile circular ride through the Tweed and Ettrick Valleys.  The route begins between Selkirk and Galashiels and takes in Innerleithen on the return of what is a challenging but visually stunning loop.  Fortunately, there are plenty of places to stop off for a breather en route as well as the impressive Bowhill House and Country Estate.

Sunlight on hills, Scottish borders, 2010

Find a cottage

Two wheels are one of the best ways to discover the UK’s gorgeous countryside as well as a great way to get the whole family in the great outdoors.  Finding a cottage for a cycling holiday is easy with Sykes as almost half of our holiday cottages are located in excellent cycling destinations the length and breadth of the country.  Many of our cottages also offer secure bike storage so after a hard day in the saddle, you can rest easy knowing that your two wheels are safe.  You could even choose a cottage with a hot tub, what better way to soothe aching muscles at the end of the day!

Egg-cellent value Easter days out with Sykes Cottages

Monday, April 1st, 2013
Pin It

With Easter falling early this year, the race is on to find ways of keeping the children entertained during the holidays. Whether you’re making the most of the holidays and enjoying a few days away somewhere new or simply planning a series of day trips, our guide to great value days out is not to be missed…



Egg rolling in Lancashire

Egg rolling has been taking place on Easter Monday for centuries in the UK with participants racing to be the first to smash their hardboiled egg by rolling it down a hill.  The tradition is said to resemble the stone being rolled away from the tomb of Christ on Easter Sunday which is why the game is popular over the Easter weekend.  Egg rolling is particularly popular in the North West with a free annual event taking place in Preston.  There’s also live music, a bonnet competition and Easter trails around Avenham and Miller parks.  If you’re enjoying a cottage holiday on the south coast, why not head to the egg rolling event in Brighton?  Take a hand decorated egg to the event at Devil’s Dyke and the winner is the person whose egg reaches the furthest down the Dyke.  Of course, this is also a great game if you’re spending Easter at home.  All you’ll need is some hard boiled eggs, paint, a patch of grass and a healthy dose of imagination.  Take inspiration from this cracking guide to egg decorating!

Malowane jajka / Easter Eggs

Chocolate heaven

Easter is these days synonymous with chocolate so why not visit the home of chocolate in the UK, Cadbury World in Birmingham?  As well as discovering how chocolate is made and the origins of Cadbury, there is an Easter Trail and Bonnet Competition over the weekend with prizes up for grabs.  You can also look forward to family entertainment throughout the school holidays meaning you can enjoy a great value day out in chocolate heaven.  You can save 5% by booking your tickets online or take advantage of their ‘Purple Thursdays’ offer which gives you two for one entry on certain Thursdays throughout the year.  It’s also the perfect excuse to stock up on chocolaty treats, it is Easter after all!

Cadbury World

Go on an egg hunt

It wouldn’t be Easter without an egg hunt and you’ll find plenty of family friendly trails across the country during the Easter holidays.  There are more than 250 hunts at National Trust properties throughout the country with lots of Easter-themed events to keep children of all ages entertained.  My personal choice for an Easter trail would be The Peter Rabbit Egg Hunt at The World of Beatrix Potter in the Lake District.  The hunt, which starts on 4th April, is raising money for WaterAid with a minimum £2 donation required to take part.  There are fantastic prizes to be won from UK holidays to family days out!  To tie in with the watery theme, each of the fifty eggs will be hidden a safe distance from water.  It’s a fantastic way to get the whole family out into the Great British countryside during your holiday in the Lake District and raise money for charity.

Buttermere - Lake District

Whatever you have planned for the Easter holidays, we hope you have a wonderful time with friends and family.  If you’ve been inspired to book a last minute cottage break, why not give our holiday cottage advisors a call today?