Archive for the ‘Wales’ Category

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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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.

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.

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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