Archive for March, 2011

The Sykes Cottages Guide To Berwick Upon Tweed

Wednesday, March 16th, 2011
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Many visitors on a cottage holiday are drawn to the historic stone-built border town of Berwick, which sits dramatically on the Tweed estuary and is England’s northernmost town. Changing hands between England and Scotland no less than a staggering 13 times between its capture by the Scots in the 11th century and its eventual retaking by the English in 1482, Berwick had become Scotland’s leading seaport and a place of considerable wealth and distinction.


The Sykes Cottages Guide To Matlock And Matlock Bath

Thursday, March 10th, 2011
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Many visitors on a cottage holiday head to the south-eastern fringes of the Peak District, where sister towns of Matlock and Matlock Bath jostle alongside each other in the narrow Derwent valley. Of the two, Matlock Bath holds the greater attraction for those holidaying in the area, and, thanks to its history as a genteel Spa town, feels more akin to a seaside holiday resort than rural, land-locked town. Matlock Bath enjoyed a heyday in the nineteenth century when high society brought an aristocratic ambience to this little town set in delightful, dramatic scenery. Mass tourism came with the arrival of the railway some decades later, and nowadays there are many attractions here for those staying in a Peak District holiday cottage. The steep gorge rising on either side of the town provides a good starting point. On the one side, the Heights of Abraham was once a lead mine subsequently developed for those who came to Matlock Bath to sample the waters and now a great place for families to visit. (more…)

The Sykes Cottages Guide To Tintagel And Boscastle (Part 2)

Wednesday, March 9th, 2011
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As anyone visiting one of our holiday cottages in the area may know, Boscastle was a preferred venue of Thomas Hardy, who worked on the restoration of nearby St. Juliot’s church whilst practising as an architect before he turned his hand to writing and used the village as the setting for his novel, A Pair of Blue Eyes.  Boscastle lives to the rhythm of the sea, and visitors can enjoy the stunning coastline in this area by taking a boat trip out from the harbour. Pleasure rides can bring sighting of guillemots, puffin and razorbills during breeding season, luckier still are those visitors that spot seals in local waters, while many trips head further out from the coast for some serious sea angling among shipwrecks. Walkers as well as mariners will also be rewarded with super coastal views, and there are a number of popular routes heading out from Boscastle. Willapark and Penally Point mark the two headlands which enclose the natural harbour and afford lovely views; Penally Point is also worth reaching to see the natural blow hole which forms here when there is sufficient swell to send plumes of water crashing high into the air. The Forrabury Stitches are a series of cliff top fields still farmed on a rotational basis dating from medieval times, whilst a challenging walk can be enjoyed between Boscastle and Crackington Haven. This is a trail of some seven miles, passing many natural geological splendours and taking in the highest point on the Cornish coastal path en route; Strangles Beach with its natural rock archway, the sheer black cliff face of Buckator and the Pentargon inlet waterfall. Further circular walks can be enjoyed in the area and the tourist office down by the harbour can provide route maps, whilst keen golfers can be readily accommodated at one of the region’s best courses nearby, Bowood Park Golf Club, with its 18 hole par 72 course. (more…)

The Sykes Cottages Guide To Tintagel And Boscastle (Part 1)

Tuesday, March 8th, 2011
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Most visitors on a cottage holiday head to Tintagel for a visit to one of Cornwall’s most iconic ruins, the stronghold of the Earls of Cornwall that is Tintagel castle. Perched on rocks high above the Atlantic swell, Tintagel was hewn out of the rock in the thirteenth century and has been shrouded ever since in popular myth and legend. Reputedly birthplace of King Arthur, and with a long and colourful history, the dramatic location certainly lends itself to the wilds of the imagination. Get a feel for the mystery and history of the fortress at the visitor centre before heading up the coastal path to seek out the real thing, including the waves crashing into Merlin’s cave, which is cut off twice daily by tides. The village of Tintagel itself has a couple of attractions worth a visit en route; the old Post Office is set in a traditional fourteenth century Cornish long house, and has been restored to its former state, as a post office of the Victorian era. King Arthur’s Great Halls, built in the early twentieth century by a London grocer, attempts to recreate the grand court of King Arthur, complete with guided tour and laser shows depicting the deeds of the famous Knights, a granite throne, the round table and other memorabilia from Arthurian legend. At low tide, Trebarwith Strand offers a superb sandy beach two miles south of Tintagel, whilst the rest of this coastline is rugged and largely unspoiled, making it ideal for competent walkers to enjoy. (more…)

Today Is St. David’s Day!

Tuesday, March 1st, 2011
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Although little larger than a village, so compact a centre has charming St Davids, a magnificent cathedral and growing population now mean it has official city status, and it is indeed one of the more lovely holiday cottage destinations in Wales. Its proximity to the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park, with its miles of walks and cycles, superb scenery and beaches make the St Davids area an excellent base for a holiday cottage stay. The cathedral is the focal point of the city, yet blink and you might miss it, so well shielded by the main square, this was just as the twelfth century builders intended, in order to protect it from ransack during the Middle Ages. At this time, it was a place of great pilgrimage, and many still flock here today to visit the casket believed to hold the remains of Dewi Sant, Saint David, the patron saint of Wales. Today, the cathedral and adjoining ruin of the Bishops Palace cater well for the modern pilgrim, with the recent addition of a light and airy restaurant/cafe alongside the original Cloisters. (more…)