Archive for April, 2013

Yorkshire Dales Three Peaks Challenge

Friday, April 12th, 2013
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With longer days and warmer weather on the way, now is a great time to get fit. Whether it’s by running, walking or a whole host of other sporty activities, better weather brings a more opportunities for exercising in the great outdoors. How about signing up for a 5k run, going walking in the countryside or challenging yourself to cycle to work? The possibilities are endless!

Views of the Yorkshire Dales

Views of the Yorkshire Dales

Here at Sykes Cottages, we are always looking to test ourselves. Last year a group of colleagues from Sykes Cottages took part in the Three Peaks Challenge where ten keen walkers attempted to walk Ben Nevis, Scafell Pike and Snowdon in twenty four hours.  This year a new test has been set, to complete the Yorkshire Three Peaks Challenge in twelve hours or less!

Ribblehead Viaduct in the Yorkshire Dales

Ribblehead Viaduct in the Yorkshire Dales

The Yorkshire Three Peaks Challenge involves climbing the hills of Pen-y-ghent, Whernside and Ingleborough in the Yorkshire Dales, approximately twenty four miles in total. The aim of many determined walkers is to complete the circular route in twelve hours or less, no easy thing when the path includes more than 3000 feet of climbing!

Whernside 030

Fancy completing the Yorkshire Three Peaks Challenge for yourself this summer? Sykes Cottages have an extensive selection of holiday cottages in the Yorkshire Dales that provide superb accommodation for walkers including a number of cottages in Horton In Ribblesdale, the starting point of the Yorkshire Three Peaks route. Pen-y-Ghent View and Hermosa are particularly well positioned for walking the famous trail.


We wish the Sykes Cottages Yorkshire Three Peaks team the very best of luck for their training! Check back to the blog in the coming weeks for updates on how the team gets on with this brave and exciting challenge!

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Sykes Cottages Spotlight on Stratford-upon-Avon

Wednesday, April 10th, 2013
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The picturesque town of Stratford-upon-Avon is an ancient market town in Warwickshire with over 800 years of history to explore. With its fascinating history and high theatrical pedigree, as well as the beautiful River Avon and top-class dining, Stratford-upon-Avon is without a doubt one of the most delightful places in England to visit.

Here are some of our favourite things to do and see while visiting Stratford-upon-Avon.

Get Up Close and Personal with ‘The Bard’

William Shakespeare (1564–1616)

Via. Flickr

It’s hard to think about England, and more specifically Stratford-upon-Avon, without thinking about Shakespeare. The world famous playwright has become synonymous with his birthplace and the town has well and truly embraced their famous son. It’s near on impossible to visit Stratford without taking in some history of The Bard, whether this be at the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, the Royal Shakespeare Company, at his final resting place, or the family home of his future bride, Anne Hathaway.

On April 20th the town will be celebrating the 449th birthday of The Bard in a manner that only his hometown could. A full day of events are planned, with everything from stage fighting and theatre movement demonstrations, to sonnet recitation on the Avon and music in the theatre, there is a way for everyone to celebrate the birthday of the famous playwright. Visit the Royal Shakespeare Company website for full details.

For the Love of Books – Stratford Literary Festival

Stratford Literary Festival

Although this literary festival is only six years old as of 2013, it is quickly becoming one of the UK’s top outings for the bookish set. This year’s festival isn’t too far away, running from Sunday, 21st April to Sunday, 5th May, 2013.
If you’ve never been to a literary festival before you might not quite know what to expect, and no it isn’t just a bunch of people wearing cardigans and reading glasses browsing through book stores. At this year’s Stratford festival you’ll find a wide selection of events, with everything from book and poetry readings, to writing workshops and social issue debates.

The full festival events calendar can be perused on the Stratford-upon-Avon Literary Festival website, with tickets sold through the Civic Hall box office.

Much Ado About Eating

The Garrick Inn, Stratford upon Avon

Via. Flickr

It isn’t all about literature and ancient history when visiting Stratford-upon-Avon though. The city is filled to the brim with great pubs, quaint tea-rooms, and elegant restaurants, making the choice of just where to eat dinner a welcomed dilemma.

For a quick bite for lunch or an afternoon pick-me-up we recommend heading to the Fourteas, a 1940’s themed tea room that is owned and operated by local couple Ian and Rachael, who met while stage managing shows at the Royal Shakespeare Company. Here you can choose from a wide selection of ethically sourced teas, old-fashioned sandwiches, and homemade cakes and pastries. For something a bit more substantial head to Sheep Street and choose from any one of the highly rated restaurants there, including Vintner, Lambs Restaurant, or Grants of Sheep Street.

Don’t be fooled into thinking that Stratford-upon-Avon is just a tourist town and not worth the visit. With its beautiful old architecture and picturesque location along the banks of the River Avon, never mind its historical significance and world-class cultural events, it would be a shame to miss it. There are regular trains from London Marylebone and with a travel time of only two hours there really is no excuse to not pop over for a visit.

If you fancy staying a little bit longer (and you really should) Sykes Cottages have a great selection of self-catering cottages in the Stratford-upon-Avon area, ranging from romantic cottages for two, to cottages large enough to accommodate the whole family, including the dog!

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UK Cycling Holidays with Sykes Cottages

Monday, April 8th, 2013
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Following the recent success of Bradley Wiggins and Mark Cavendish in the Tour de France and the news that Le Tour will start in Yorkshire in 2014, cycling holidays are all the rage. From super-fit, competitive road cyclists to families with tow bars and trailers, the UK is a dream playground for those exploring on two wheels.

As a keen cyclist, here is my pick of the best cycling routes in the UK, whatever type of cycling holiday you’re planning!

Where the Ride Ends


Ride the Solar System in York

…perfect for families…

The six mile, traffic-free and virtually flat route between York and Selby is a fantastic ride for families.  There’s no need for a map as the route is well sign-posted so you can just enjoy the beautiful countryside which stretches the entire length of this former railway track.  The scale model of the solar system is what really makes this route great for little legs; start at the sun which is eight feet in diameter and suspended above the track.  You’ll find plenty of information at every planet as well as numerous places to stop for a picnic so you can really make a day of it.  You’ll also find a wealth of great family activities in York like the free Railway Museum and the Jorvik Viking Centre.  Why not take a look at our holiday cottages in Yorkshire for inspiration for your next family holiday?


Scale model of the solar system on a bike route

Bedgebury Forest, Kent

…ideal for mountain bikers…

So the south of England may not be known as particularly challenging territory but prepare to be surprised in Kent where Bedgebury Forest offers something for mountain bikers of all abilities.  The 2000 acre forest not far from Tunbridge Wells offers 10km of family friendly paths, adapted bikes for disabled cyclists and bike showers for those particularly muddy days!  The real excitement is the 12km single track path which after a gentle ascent promises twisting, speedy descents interspersed with sharp climbs and challenging jumps.  There’s also a separate free ride area with a great selection of dirt jumps and table tops which are satisfyingly tough!  If this has got your adrenaline flowing, click here for our full range of south coast holiday cottages.


Tweed and Ettrick Valleys, Scottish Borders

…one for road cyclists…

The Scottish Borders provide enviable road cycling opportunities for those looking to emulate their Team Sky heroes.  From 200 mile routes requiring you to cycle around the clock to shorter but equally tricky routes, the mystically beautiful Borders has it all.  For a route which is easily achievable while you’re on holiday, try the 42 mile circular ride through the Tweed and Ettrick Valleys.  The route begins between Selkirk and Galashiels and takes in Innerleithen on the return of what is a challenging but visually stunning loop.  Fortunately, there are plenty of places to stop off for a breather en route as well as the impressive Bowhill House and Country Estate.

Sunlight on hills, Scottish borders, 2010

Find a cottage

Two wheels are one of the best ways to discover the UK’s gorgeous countryside as well as a great way to get the whole family in the great outdoors.  Finding a cottage for a cycling holiday is easy with Sykes as almost half of our holiday cottages are located in excellent cycling destinations the length and breadth of the country.  Many of our cottages also offer secure bike storage so after a hard day in the saddle, you can rest easy knowing that your two wheels are safe.  You could even choose a cottage with a hot tub, what better way to soothe aching muscles at the end of the day!

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Sunday Snapshots: Edinbane,Isle of Skye

Sunday, April 7th, 2013
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Today’s Sunday Snapshot comes from Edinbane on the Isle of Skye. This perfectly serene view of Loch Greshornish and the surrounding unspoilt countryside is a true delight at any time of year and staying nearby provides the ideal location for walking, getting close to nature and even catching a glimpse of the famous Northern Lights.

Click here to see our full selection of holiday cottages on the Isle of Skye.

Florin Cottage - Greshornish, Edinbane, Isle of Skye

Florin Cottage – Greshornish, Edinbane, Isle of Skye

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Springtime Daffodils in the Lake District

Friday, April 5th, 2013
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All over the UK the first signs of spring are in the air, with blue skies, fluffy white clouds and the fresh feeling of springtime all around. Over Easter almost all of the country was treated to beautiful weather and although we have just come out of the coldest March in the UK since 1962, the weather in the first week of April has been promising. Fingers crossed we can look forward to more bright sunny days for the rest of the month and well into summer 2013!


Beautiful Spring Daffodils

Beautiful Spring Daffodils


One of the most iconic images of springtime is the daffodil. These stunning, sunshine yellow flowers break through the grey of winter and remind us all that summer days are on the way. As William Wordsworth wrote in his famous poem, Daffodils:

I wandered lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o’er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, of golden daffodils;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.




Nowhere are daffodils more iconic than in the Lake District, especially around Ullswater, the lake that inspired Wordsworth to write his well known poem. At this time of year the shoreline of the lake is covered with golden daffodils, providing a striking and colourful panorama and attracting countless tourists to the area. To learn more about the different flowers in bloom in the Lake District throughout the year, visit the Lake District National Park Website.




Here at Sykes Cottages our Ullswater cottages are amongst our most popular, with steam boat rides on the nine mile long lake, wonderful walking in the fells and visits to the The Dalemain Estate, and it’s gorgeous gardens particularly popular.

Inspired to book a last minute break this springtime? Get in touch with us as soon as you can to enquire about availability in our cottages in the Lake District this spring and who knows, you could be enjoying the stunning scenery of the Lake District this spring too!

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