Archive for the ‘Wales’ Category

Sunday Snapshots: Laugharne, Wales

Sunday, October 20th, 2013
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Interesting accents, mounds of Carmarthen Bay cockles and one rather famous poet are just a few of the things to discover in the charming Welsh town of Laugharne in Carmarthenshire. Huddled beside the estuary of the River Taf, this alluring town is made up of tiers of stately Georgian houses, including the grade 2 listed Castle House which stands in the shadow of the imposing Laugharne Castle. Peek into the past at this 12th century stone leviathan, made famous by the town’s most eminent resident, Dylan Thomas, in his piece ‘Poem in October’. Discover the still sailing boats and misty woodlands which inspired Dylan to put pen to paper in this bewitching Welsh town, as well as his charming ‘writing shed’, the Boathouse, which houses the literary mementoes and personal effects of this canny Welsh bard.

Once you’ve unearthed the cultural delights of Laugharne, pop into one of the town’s heart warming pub for some fine Welsh fare; the perfect place to relax and enjoy the flavours of the real Wales on your next cottage holiday.

Laugharne Castle

Via Flickr

Dylan Thomas House, Laugharne

Via Flickr

Laugharne Bookshop

Via Flickr

Dylan Thomas Writing Shed

Via Flickr

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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.

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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.

Sykes’ Spotlight on the South Wales Valleys

Monday, September 16th, 2013
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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!

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A taste of adventure in North Wales

Monday, September 2nd, 2013
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North Wales. Famous for its 800 square mile national park, innumerable castles, the Italianate village of Portmeirion and first marital home of Wills and Kate. But North Wales is a good deal more than leisurely walks and stunning views, here we showcase some of the most heart-pumping ways to see the northern most region of Wales. Thrill seekers and adrenaline junkies read on…

 
North Wales Lake
 

Fly through the trees

Ever thought about what it would be like to swing through the trees like a character from the Jungle Book?  You need not imagine any longer with a Tree Top Adventure in Snowdonia.  Grab a harness and helmet and navigate through a variety of obstacles including rope bridges, zip wires and balance beams through the tree tops.  You could also try the Sky Ride, Europe’s highest and first ever five person swing, which takes you to 80ft over the ground and offers unmissable, breathtaking views of the Conwy valley.  Planning a holiday to North Wales with the family?  Your little ones will not miss out here with a tree tops course specially designed for children aged between 4 and 8 years old and can even be completed in wet weather!



Make a splash

As soon as you set foot into Llangollen, you’ll be greeted with all the hallmarks of a quintessentially sedate market town; pretty stone-built cottages, a steam train slowly making its way through the wooded countryside and a multitude of independent shops lining the high street.  But this sedate facade belies the heart pounding activities available.  White Water Tubing UK offer tubing and rafting trips navigating the thrills, spills and tumbling rapids of the River Dee.  Paddle furiously through the rapids, meander gently on calm sections of river as you take in the peaceful surroundings on this 4km stretch of river all under the watchful eye of experienced and friendly guides.  White water tubing comes highly recommended by staff here at Sykes Cottages!

 

 

Life in the fast lane

Once home to the largest slate quarry in the world, Penrhyn Quarry near Bethesda is today the proud holder of a much more exhilarating accolade; the longest and fastest zip line in Europe.  Given the fact that zip lines were first erected here to extract rock, it seems perfectly fitting that now part of the quarry has been decommissioned, the zip lines have remained part of the landscape here.  Zip World Snowdonia offers participants an unbeatable bird’s eye view of the working quarry, the piercingly blue lake and the surrounding area, it’s even possible to catch a glimpse of the Isle of Man on a clear day.  So what’s in store?  You’ll be strapped into a harness, don a pair of goggles and assume the zip lining position as you reach speeds of 100mph more than 500ft in the air.  This is sightseeing with a difference!



If we’ve given you a taste for an action-packed trip to North Wales, why not take a look at our holiday cottages?  Our great selection of North Wales cottages guarantees something for everyone and as we’re based just over the border in Chester, our friendly team of holiday cottage advisors have a wealth of local recommendations to share.

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Sykes’ Spotlight on Hay-on-Wye

Monday, May 13th, 2013
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While the small town of Hay-on-Wye may be known as the ‘Town of Books’, this borderland town offers a wealth of attractions for the holidaymaker, book lover or not. Here’s our guide to this small but charming town located in the very north of the Brecon Beacons National Park.

 

Find a holiday cottage in Hay-on-Wye

 

Curl up with a good book on holiday

No mention of Hay-on-Wye would be complete without reference to the town’s literary connections.  The town itself has more than thirty second-hand bookshops, that’s a human to shop ratio of about 50:1, making it the perfect place to rummage around for that prized first edition.  The town comes alive in early summer when thousands of bookworms descend for the famous literary festival.  This year’s Hay Festival begins on 23rd June and promises 11 days of talks and workshops covering topics from science through to philosophy and everything in between.  In addition to literary favourites such as Quentin Blake, Irvine Welsh and Caitlin Moran, there is also a walking festival and a wealth of children’s activities from cooking to vocal coaching.

 
Make-do book shop in Hay-on-Wye
 

Experience the great outdoors from your holiday cottage

Given that Hay-on-Wye lies in the Brecon Beacons National Park, it comes as little surprise that the surrounding area is equally fantastic for those looking for an active break.  Offa’s Dyke, a 177 mile national trail, passes through Hay-on-Wye and offers keen walkers an opportunity to walk on a path with more than 1200 years of history.  The National Park Authority arranges guided walks suitable for all abilities through the Brecons and the area is also popular with mountain bikers.  You can even try your hand at gorge walking and hang gliding from the Hay Bluff!  For budding astronomers, the National Park is also one of the only dark sky reserves in the world; where better to train your telescope on a dark night and relax under a blanket of stars?  You could also take a look at our selection of cottages in the Brecon Beacons, ideally located for an active holiday.

 
brecon beacons, wales
 

Great days out near Hay-on-Wye

It’s not just old and dusty books you’ll find in Hay-on-Wye but a number of crumbling castles and pretty churches just a short drive away from the town.  Arthur’s Stone is a fantastic family day for those with an active imagination.  This Neolithic burial chamber is more than 5000 years old and is said that King Arthur slew a giant here.  Given Hay’s position on the English and Welsh border, it’s little wonder that this area has seen a very bloody history.  Very little remains of the town’s castle today but the habitable sections are today the home of numerous second-hand books; what better marriage of history and books in this literary town?

 
Hay Castle
 

Inspired to make the literary pilgrimage to Hay for the festival?  Why not take a look at our holiday cottages which are perfectly located for the festival and the surrounding borderlands.  You could even choose the aptly-named Poet’s Corner for your holiday to Hay!

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