Archive for the ‘Wales’ Category

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, 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.


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.

Some Wonderful Welsh Treasures From Sykes

Saturday, March 1st, 2014
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As I’m sure you’re aware today is quite a big deal for Wales as it sees the celebration of the county’s patron saint, St David. Because of this we asked people why they hold Wales dear; maybe because of a treasured memory or a favourite spot they might have. We had some lovely responses back about annual visits to see family and suggestions of special places such as the Llyn Peninsula, Bala and the Mumbles which got us thinking- do we have any beautiful spots that we could recommend to you? Take a look at what we came up with!

Church Island – Anglesey

church island

via. Flickr

Tucked away in a picturesque corner of the Menai Straits, Church Island is one of the hidden jewels of Anglesey. As you have probably guessed, its name derives from a beautiful fifteenth century church that calls the island home- but that isn’t all that there is to enjoy! Church Island also boasts some absolutely stunning views of both the Menai Bridge and the Welsh Mainland, and we can personally recommend a short walk from the end of the causeway right the way through to the foot of the bridge where you’ll be treated to some amazing vistas.

Caldey Island – Pembrokeshire

caldey island

via. Flickr

Caldey Island is found just off the south west coast of Wales, not too far from the ever popular holiday destination of Tenby. Given that the two are so close you might expect Caldey Island to be bustling with visitors come the peak season, however you’re more likely to find it to be a nice tranquil haven. The island is perhaps best known for the small community of monks who reside there however there is more to Caldey than just a monastery. You can easily while away an afternoon soaking up some of the stunning views and observing some of the local wildlife, or you could even treat yourself to some of the famous Caldey island perfume and a bar of home-made chocolate from the monastery.

Portmeirion – Gwynedd


via. Flickr

Ok, chances are you’ll all know about this one but we couldn’t do a blog on special place in Wales without mentioning Portmeirion. Probably most famous for being the setting of the cult 60’s TV program The Prisoner this curiously designed village brings a taste of the Italian Riviera to North Wales with its beautiful colonnades and gaudily coloured buildings. There is an interesting sight to see around every corner, not to mention the various fantastic eateries from the Caffi Glas (Blue Café) to the Hotel Portmeirion restaurant, which was recently awarded two rosettes from the AA!

Hopefully you’ll agree with our choices of Welsh treasures, but if you have any alternative suggestions we would love to hear from you. Or if you fancy taking a little trip and discovering them for yourself why don’t you take a look at our holiday cottages in Wales!

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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.

Top Welsh Beaches

Thursday, February 27th, 2014
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In honour of the fast approaching St David’s Day, we’d like to celebrate one of Wales’ best loved features: the fabulous Welsh coast line. The beautiful Welsh coast stretches for over 850 miles, housing some of the UK’s most beloved beaches, coves and bays. With this ample selection of beaches on offer it can be hard to decide which seaside town is right for you, so to help you make this difficult decision a little easier, we’ve comprised a list of the best beaches to suit a whole range of summer activities.

Swimming at Porthmynawyd

Dinas Fach and Porthmynawyd: Picture by  Richard Law, CC.

Dinas Fach and Porthmynawyd: Picture by Richard Law, CC License.

The wonderfully clear channels and tempting hidden caves that surround Porthmynawyd make it the perfect location for swimmers; couple that with the lush green backdrop supplied by the surrounding Welsh valleys and you can’t go wrong! As Porthmynawyd is protected from the strong currents that run between the mainland and Ramsey Island, the waters make for easy swimming at any time of year.

Surfing around Llangennith

Llangennith Beach, Via. Flickr

Llangennith Beach. Via Flickr

Llangennith beach is one of the UK’s most popular surf spots. With reliable surf throughout the year and favourable winds you are sure to catch a few good waves on a day’s outing. There are a number of surf schools dotted about the area, so whether you’re looking to try something new or polish off your existing surf skills, Llangennith is the place for you!

Dog Walking on Cwmtydu

Cwmtydu Beach. Via Flickr

Cwmtydu Beach. Via Flickr

Our four legged friends love to run along pebbled shores, slide down towering sand dunes and basically get filthy in the salty surf! For a walk to remember we would suggest taking your doggy pal to Cwmtydu beach. This wonderful stretch of coast is open to dogs all year round and is perfect for photos, especially if you can catch the seals and dolphins playing in the background.

Family fun in Llandudno

Llandudno Beach. Via Flickr

Llandudno Beach. Via Flickr

I personally spent many summer days along the Llandudno coastline; watching Punch and Judy, riding the donkeys and exploring the pier. There is so much to do for children in this fantastic area that you’ll be spoilt for choice! If you’re looking for an extra special day out then visit Llandudno during the Victorian Extravaganza in May where you’ll find colourful characters and fantastic fairground rides!

Welsh Culture on Llanddwyn Island

Llanddwyn Island. Via Flickr

Llanddwyn Island. Via Flickr

Famous for being the home of St. Dwynwen, the Welsh patron saint of lovers, Llanddwyn Island is a fantastic location for discovering Welsh culture. Along with the tragic tale of St. Dwynwen the island also plays an important role in Wales’ maritime history as it was used for the shipping of Welsh slate. This is a fantastic area to visit for Welsh culture and if you head down to the beach you’ll find glorious sand and maybe even a seal or two!

A little privacy at Watwick Bay

Watwick Bay. Via Flickr

Watwick Bay. Via Flickr

This wonderfully remote bay in south Wales is perfect for a romantic stroll along the sands or even a full day relaxing in the sunshine with your favourite book as you observe the little boats bobbing along the shore. The hours will simply tick away at this secluded sanctuary and as the area is so quiet you can even try your hand at fishing during the early morning or mind evening.

This fantastic selection of beaches are easily accessible from anywhere in the UK so there is really no reason not to visit the Welsh coast this summer. If you’re looking for a picturesque place to stay whilst you explore the dazzling coastline then take a look at out Welsh coastal cottages. This wonderful selection of cottages are available for booking now and offer a fantastic alternative to a stuffy hotel room, with plenty of space for your bucket, spade and trusty surfboard!

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Nicole Jones-Gerrard

By Nicole Jones-Gerrard

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 husband.

Sykes Cottages Favourite Welsh Recipes

Tuesday, February 25th, 2014
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In honour of St David’s day on Saturday, and this week being Wales Tourism Week 2014, we are celebrating all things Welsh with a week full of Wales-inspired blog posts. We thought that we’d start off by tickling the taste buds and featuring some Welsh recipes; Wales has inspired many a tasty dish of food from Welsh Cakes and Bira Brith to Cawl and Welsh rarebit and today we’re sharing a few of our favourites!


Image via Flickr.


Bara Brith


  • 300g Mixed Fruit
  • 200g Light Muscovado Sugar
  • The zest of one orange
  • 250ml Hot black tea
  • 350g Self-raising flour
  • 2 Table spoon of mixed spice
  • 1 Beaten large egg
  • 50g Butter, plus a little extra to grease and serve


  1. Put the fruit, sugar and orange zest into a bowl. Pour in the tea then stir everything together and leave to one side to soak over night.
  2. The next day, heat the oven to gas mark 3 (160C) then grease and line the base and sides of a 900g loaf tin with baking parchment.
  3. Put the flour and spice into a bowl then beat in the soaked fruit and liquid mixture. Add the egg, then the butter and beat until you have a stiff batter then pour into the loaf tin.
  4. Bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes, covering with baking parchment if the top starts to look too dark. Use a skewer to check if it is cooked, if the skewer doesn’t come out clean then give it another 10 or so minutes in the oven.
  5. Leave to cool then serve sliced. We think it is best enjoyed with a slathering of butter and a cup of tea.


Image via Flickr.

Glamorgan Sausages


  • 225g Breadcrumbs
  • 125g grated cheese
  • Three medium eggs beaten
  • Milk
  • Salt & pepper
  • ¼ Tablespoon of dry mustard
  • 175g Shredded leek that has been sautéed in butter
  • A heaped tablespoon of chopped parsley
  • For the coating
  • 100g Breadcrumbs
  • 1 Medium egg
  • 4 Tablespoons of milk
  • Vegetable oil


  1. Put the breadcrumbs, cheese seasoning, leeks, mustard and parsley into a bowl and mix well. Add the beaten eggs to the mixture and mix together to form a firm dough, if the mixture gets dry then add a little bit of milk.
  2. Divide the dough into 16 and make each portion into a sausage shape.
  3. For the coating
  4. Beat the egg and the milk together then place the breadcrumbs on a plate and season. Take one sausage at a time and coat it in the egg mixture then roll it in the breadcrumbs. Leave the sausages to chill for half an hour.
  5. To cook
  6. Heat a little oil in a frying pan then add a few sausages at a time. Cook over a medium heat until golden all over. Ensure that the heat is not too high as the sausages may burn and won’t be cooked through.

Image via Flickr.

Welsh Rarebit Muffins


  • 225g Self raising flour
  • 50g Plain flour
  • 1 Tablespoon of Baking powder
  • ¼ Tablespoon of bicarbonate of soda
  • ½ Tablespoon of salt
  • ½ Tablespoon of mustard powder
  • 50g Strong grated cheese
  • 50g Strong cubed cheese
  • 6 Tablespoons of vegetable oil
  • 150g of Greek yogurt
  • 125ml of Milk
  • 1 Egg
  • 1 Tablespoon of Worcestershire sauce


  1. Pre-heat the oven to 200C (Gas mark 6)
  2. Mix together all of the dry ingredients in a bowl, then in a separate bowl mix together the cheese and wet ingredients.
  3. Once mixed, combine both sets of ingredients together and divide between 12 muffin cases.
  4. Cook for 20-25 minutes or until golden before removing and cooling slightly.
  5. Tuck in and enjoy!

We hope that our favourite Welsh inspired recipes have tickled your taste buds and have inspired you to cook up a feast this weekend! Why not spend St Davids day in Wales and book a self catering holiday? And if you try out one of these recipes, don’t forget to tweet us and let us know!

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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.