Archive for the ‘Wales’ Category

Wales 2016: The Year Of Adventure

Saturday, February 6th, 2016
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This year, Visit Wales are encouraging you to embrace adventure on your next Welsh getaway. As a country bursting with sweeping valleys, imposing mountains and fast-flowing rivers, there’s no better place to experience a bit of adventure. Feel the adrenaline pulse through your veins as you try your hand at extreme sports, water sports or bush craft activities amongst some of Britain’s most spectacular scenery. Below, you’ll find just some of the activities that you can get involved in to help celebrate Wales’ Year of Adventure.

Mountain Biking

When it comes to mountain biking, there aren’t many better places to go than Wales. With everything from wild natural trails escaping into the wilderness, to purpose built tracks designed for beginners and families, there’s something to cater to every level of mountain bike enthusiast. If you’re new to mountain biking, take a look at the fantastic centres available throughout Wales like Bike Park Wales or Afan Forest Park to get you on your feet before you start tackling the wilderness on your own!

Surfing

Less acknowledged than fellow surfing spot Cornwall, many people don’t realise that Wales is actually home to some of the UK’s best surfing beaches. Glamorgan, Gower and Pembrokeshire are all brilliant places to hit the waves and there are plenty of well-respected surf schools in the area to lend a helping hand if you’re new to the sport. Further north, areas such as Anglesey and the Llyn Peninsula also offer some great surfing spots. If you’re not sure about braving the outdoors, you can always try Surf Snowdonia, the world’s first inland surf lagoon. Re-opening in the spring, this surf centre offers impressive two-metre waves that peel for 150 metres.

Survival Courses

For the ultimate adventure in Wales this year, why not try your hand at one of Bear Grylls’ Survival Courses? One of the most recognisable faces in the world of outdoor adventure and survival, Bear launched his own Survival Academy in 2012 and there are now centres across the UK. Take part in a 24 hour family survival course in the Brecon Beacons or an adult day course in Criccieth, where you’ll learn how to light fires, rope skills, how to build emergency shelters and how to forage for grub and rodents.

White Water Rafting

Explore Wales from an exciting new perspective and have a go at white water rafting this year. There are places all across the country where you can get involved in white water rafting amongst beautiful scenery. In North Wales, try White Water Active in Llangollen or for Mid Wales, try Black Mountain Rafting on the River Wye. For a completely new experience in South Wales, visit Cardiff International White Water where you can enjoy the thrills of white water rafting in a purpose-built water centre.

If you’re tempted to book an adventurous break in Wales then don’t forget to take a look at our large collection of cottages in Wales. We’ve over 1,400 holiday cottages across Wales for you to choose from that would make the perfect bases for all of your adventures!

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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.

Wales’ Best Castles

Sunday, October 25th, 2015
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Did you know that there are around 400 castles in Wales, and that over 100 of these are still fully standing? If you’re not familiar with Wales’ castles and you want to learn more about these impressive feats of architecture then keep reading as we list some of our favourite castles in Wales.

Chepstow Castle

The appearance of Chepstow Castle has changed greatly over the years. In fact from the time it was built in 1067, right up until 1690, Chepstow Castle was constantly adapting to keep up with the latest trends in military architecture. Now home to the oldest castle doors in Europe, these 800 year old wooden doors are a testament to Chepstow Castle’s endurance.

Opening Times: Open from 9:30am between March and September, and then from 10am between November and February. Closing times vary so please check the website for more details.

Cost: Adults – £4.50, children under 16 – £3.40, seniors and students – £3.40, family ticket (two adults and two children under 16) – £13.50.

Contact: cadw.gov.wales/daysout/chepstow-castle; cadw@wales.gsi.gov.uk; 01443 336000

Conwy Castle

Conwy Castle was built by Master James of St George between 1283 and 1287 for Kind Edward I. The castle’s intimidating walls, two barbicans, eight mighty towers and impressive bow-shaped hall were all built to demonstrate England’s presence and power in Wales. The dramatic structure is still largely intact today and one of Wales’ biggest tourist attractions.

Opening Times: Open from 9:30am between March and September and then from 10am between November and February. Closing times vary so please check the website for more details.

Cost: Adults – £6.75, children under 16 – £5.10, seniors and students – £5.10, family ticket (two adults and two children under 16) – £20.25.

Contact: cadw.gov.wales/daysout/conwycastle; cadw@wales.gsi.gov.uk; 01443 336000

Harlech Castle

From its coastal mount, Harlech Castle casts a regal shadow over the beach and town of Harlech in North Wales. This commanding medieval castle was also built for Kind Edward I and was completed in 1295. Home to the longest siege in British history, Harlech Castle’s impenetrable walls are still as impressive today as they were 700 years ago.

Opening Times: Open from 9:30am between March and September and then from 10am between November and February. Closing times vary so please check the website for more details.

Cost: Adults – £4.25, children under 16 – £3.20, seniors and students – £3.20, family ticket (two adults and two children under 16) – £12.75.

Contact: cadw.gov.wales/daysout/harlechcastle/; cadw@wales.gsi.gov.uk; 01443 336000

Caernarfon Castle

Caernarfon Castle is one of Edward I’s more unusual castles as instead of the regular circular towers, this castle has a unique collection of polygon shaped towers. Caernarfon Castle, which was built in 1287, is a real brute of a castle with a very imposing appearance so if you’re looking for something with a storybook feel, this is the castle for you.

Opening Times: Open from 9:30am between March and September and then from 10am between November and February. Closing times vary so please check the website for more details.

Cost: Adults – £6.75, children under 16 – £5.10, seniors and students – £5.10, family ticket (two adults and two children under 16) – £20.25.

Contact: cadw.gov.wales/daysout/caernarfon-castle/; cadw@wales.gsi.gov.uk; 01443 336000

Powis Castle

Originally built in 1200 as a medieval fortress, Powis Castle has been remodelled over the years to suit the ever-changing needs of the Herbert Family. The castle itself is a very exciting structure with stunning state rooms and an old dungeon, but almost as impressive are the beautiful gardens that surround it, so make sure you spend some time exploring the outdoor areas.

Opening Times: Garden and restaurant open from 10am until 4pm. Castle, museum and shops are open from 11am until 4pm

Cost: Adults – £13.40, children – £6.70, family ticket (two adults and two children) – £20.10. Prices are for the whole property, to see pricing for just the castle please visit website.

Contact: www.nationaltrust.org.uk/powis-castle/; powiscastle@nationaltrust.org.uk; 01938 551944

Pembroke Castle

Pembroke Castle is one of Wales’ most iconic castles and the birthplace of Henry VII. The castle has a fascinating history that can be traced all the way back to 1093, when the small inner bailey standing was built by Arnulf de Montgomery. You will find that all the rooms in Pembroke Castle are circular and that the castle keep is nearly 80ft high.

Opening Times: Open from 9:30am – 5:30pm April 1st to August 31st, 10am – 5pm September 1st to October 31st, 10am – 4pm November 1st to February 29th and 10am – 5pm March 1st until March 31st.

Cost: Adults – £6.60, children (3-15yrs) – £5.50, children (under 3) – free, seniors and registered disabled – £5.50.

Contact: pembroke-castle.co.uk/; info@pembrokecastle.co.uk; 01646 681510.

Chirk Castle

Built as a symbol of power and completed in 1310, Chirk Castle is yet another monument left over from the reign of King Edward I. With a history dating back over 700 years, it may surprise you to hear that Chirk Castle is still lived in today but with a grand castle to explore and 5.5 acres of award winning gardens at your back door, it’s not a bad place to call home!

Opening Times: Estate opens from 7am until 7pm. Gardens, shop, tea-room and tower open from 10am until 4pm. State room tours are from 11am until 12pm and the state room opens at 12pm until 4pm.

Cost: Adults – £12, children – £6, family ticket (two adults and two children) – £30.

Contact: www.nationaltrust.org.uk/chirk-castle/; chirkcastle@nationaltrust.org.uk; 01691 777701

 

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nicole.westley

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.

10 things you must do on a Welsh holiday

Saturday, October 24th, 2015
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If you’re planning your first-time visit to Wales and need a bit of help on what you should look out for while you’re there, here’s our guide to the ten things that you must do when on a Welsh holiday. From scoffing Welsh cheese to cheering on the Welsh rugby team, this list will help you along the way to making the most of your getaway in this beautiful part of the world.

1. Visit a castle

With over 600 castles to choose from, no trip to this historic country is complete without paying a visit to one of the many majestic castles on offer.

2. Climb a mountain

Whether it’s Snowdon, Pen Y Fan or Moel Siabod, there is no shortage of mountains to climb in Wales. There’s something for every level of ability and the views when you get to the top are breathtaking.

3. Indulge in some Welsh delicacies

Caerphilly cheese, Glamorgan sausages, Welsh rarebit, Bara brith, laverbread, Welsh cakes- the list is endless and decidedly delicious.

4. Head to the beach

With 41 Blue Flag beaches, Wales has some of the UK’s cleanest and safest beaches, with some pretty spectacular scenery to boot!

5. Watch the rugby

The Welsh are passionate about rugby and watching a match here is a magical experience. The Millennium Stadium in Cardiff is said to be one of the most atmospheric sporting venues in the world so if you can, grab a ticket to see the Welsh national rugby team in action here.

6. Go underground

Its unique mining heritage means that Wales has plenty to offer in terms of underground attractions, from Bounce Below, the underground trampoline in a slate cavern, to the Dolaucothi Gold Mines in Carmarthenshire.

Bounce Below

Image via Bouncebelow.net

7. Walk some of the Welsh Coastal Path

With 870 miles of coastline to explore, the Wales Coastal Path is a must for anyone holidaying in Wales. Whether you fancy a morning stroll by the sea or a weekend’s hiking along the coast, make the most of this superb pathway on your next holiday.

8. Try your hand at surfing

Wales- South Wales in particular- has some of the best surfing spots in the UK. Whitesands in Pembrokeshire is ideal for beginners while Llantwit Major in Glamorgan is perfect for the more experienced surfer.

9. Ride a steam train

Wales’ mining history also means that narrow gauge steam trains are easy to come by- a fantastic way to explore the countryside! Llanberis Lake Railway offers unbeatable views of Snowdonia, whilst the Brecon Mountain Railway takes in 13th century castle ruins and the highest peak in South Wales.

10. Visit an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty

Wales has six AONB- Anglesey, Gower, Dee Valley, the Clwydian Range, Llŷn and Wye Valley. Boasting some of the most stunning scenery that Britain has to offer, you can’t afford to miss experiencing these places.

If you’ve been inspired to visit Wales, make sure you take a look through our fantastic collection of holiday cottages in Wales. From Snowdonia to Pembrokeshire, we’ve a wide range of cottages perfect for every occasion; your Welsh getaway wouldn’t be complete without a cosy Welsh cottage to return to after all your adventures!

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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.

Harbour Beach, Tenby crowned Best Beach in Europe!

Wednesday, June 18th, 2014
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This week, the news broke that Harbour Beach in Tenby, Pembrokeshire was named the most beautiful beach in Europe, beating off stiff competition from the likes of Croatia, Italy and Portugal. I know that there’s a few of us here at Sykes who’ve spent many a childhood summer holiday in Tenby and we were delighted to hear that it had been recognised in such a way. I for one wholeheartedly agree with this choice and for today’s blog post, we want to convince those of you who haven’t had the pleasure of visiting Tenby, why you should be rushing out to book a holiday in this pretty Welsh harbour town.

Tenby’s Beaches

Tenby beach

Tenby’s beaches, via Flickr

As well as being home to the newly crowned best beach in Europe, Tenby also boasts three other beautiful beaches: the North Beach, South Beach and Castle Beach. Along with Harbour Beach, they stretch out for a combined two and a half miles along the Pembrokeshire coastline. Harbour Beach is the smallest and most picturesque of the four, tucked under Tenby’s harbour between the medieval town and castle hill; its size and shelter makes it perfect for small children. The North Beach is east-facing, creating a glorious sandy sun-trap for beach-goers, which is enclosed and sheltered from the wind. The South Beach is the largest and stretches out along the coast for a mile and a half. There’s plenty of room on this beach for families to spread out and for beach games to be enjoyed without disturbing others, especially during low tide when there’s acres of sand available. Castle Beach can disappear altogether at high tide but during low tide, this cliff-backed beach is great for rock-pooling.

What else can you do in Tenby?

Tenby

Tenby, via Flickr

As one of the most iconic seaside towns in Wales, Tenby has plenty to offer tourists. With its medieval walls, picturesque harbour and cobbled streets, Tenby is bursting with character and charm and was recently awarded a bronze award at the British Travel Awards for the best UK coastal resort. There’s an abundance of cafés, restaurants, pubs and shops and on a warm day, there’s nothing nicer than grabbing yourself a spot outside a café and watching the world go by against the delightfully quaint backdrop of Tenby. Another idea is to take a peaceful stroll around the harbour as the sun goes down. If you’re in search of something indoors then the National Trust’s Tudor Merchant’s House is well worth a visit, or the Tenby Museum and Art Gallery, which is the oldest independent museum in Wales.

What other things can you do nearby?

Caldey Island, Tenby

Caldey Island, via Flickr

Tenby is also a fantastic base from which to explore South Wales with easy access to plenty of fun-filled activities and days out. Children and adults alike will love Folly Farm Adventure Park and Zoo which was twice voted the winner of the Welsh Tourist Board’s ‘Best Day Out in Wales’ award. If your kids are the adventurous kind, then don’t miss The Dinosaur Park which is just a seven minute drive from the centre of Tenby. There’s a dinosaur trail, adventure playgrounds, daily fossil hunts and even a few rides, all of which are sure to keep your children entertained. If you’re after a bit of culture then you should definitely make sure you pay a visit to Caldey Island which lies just off the coast of Tenby. One of Britain’s Holy Islands, this serene place is chiefly inhabited by Cistercian monks and has a history dating back over 1,500 years. During the spring and summer, you can take a short boat ride from Tenby across to Caldey Island, where you’ll be able to explore this beautiful and remote place at your leisure.

Where to stay?

Holiday cottage in Tenby

Crown Cottage, Ref 10551

If this latest accolade has convinced you that your next holiday should be to beautiful Tenby then why not book one of our fantastic self-catering cottages in the area? Whether you’re after something cosy and romantic or spacious and pet friendly, we’ll have a holiday cottage in Tenby to suit you. To browse our Tenby cottages then please visit our website. If you have any other suggestions of places to visit in Tenby then don’t hesitate to get in touch with us via our Facebook or Twitter!

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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.

12 Reasons Why You Should Visit Wales

Sunday, March 2nd, 2014
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In celebration of Wales Tourism Week and St David’s Day, Sykes Cottages have compiled a list of 12 reasons why you should visit the breathtaking country of Wales in 2014.

1. Wales is really, really beautiful with five designated Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

Gower Peninsula, Wales

Via Flickr

 

2. You can experience views like this:

Snowdonia, Wales

Via Flickr

 

3. Who needs Portofino when you have Portmeirion?

Portmeirion, Wales

Via Flickr

 

4. There are more castles per square mile in Wales than in any other country in the world.

Castle in Wales

Via Flickr

 

5. Welsh Rarebit, Bara Brith, Welsh Cakes, Caerphilly cheese, Cawl, Glamorgan sausage…

Welsh Rarebit

Via Flickr

 

6. Anglesey. If it’s good enough for Kate and Wills then it’s good enough for us!

Anglesey, Wales

Via Flickr

 

7. Wales offers some of the UK’s most stunning and spectacular beaches.

Beach in Wales

Via Flickr

 

8. Hay-on-Wye is heaven on earth for lovers of books.

Hay-on-Wye, Wales

Via Flickr

 

9. Being a bit rainy has its advantages- Wales is one of the greenest countries around.

Wales countryside

Via Flickr

 

10. Cardiff. Wales’ capital city is rich in history, culture and attractions.

Cardiff, Wales

Via Flickr

 

11. The population of sheep is four times that of humans; less crowds and more cute animals.

Sheep in Wales

Via Flickr

 

12. You need to visit Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch at least once.

Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch

Via Flickr

If you’re thinking about heading to Wales for your next holiday, you’ll need to find somewhere to stay. Check out our holiday cottages in Wales for a fantastic range of properties to suit every location, budget and group size.

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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.