Archive for January, 2014

Top Ten UK Attractions

Tuesday, January 21st, 2014
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Here at Sykes Cottages, we believe that Great Britain is home to some of the best attractions and days out that there is! Thousands and thousands of tourists a year come over to our fair isles to visit our most popular attractions and days out destinations, but what we at Sykes wanted to know was how many of us Britons have been to these attractions? Never ones to beat around the bush, we recently conducted a survey with YouGov to find out just that; how many of us UK adults have actually visited any of the top ten attractions in Britain? We found the results quite surprising, with less people having visited the top ten attractions than we originally thought!

The attractions that came out on top were Buckingham Palace and Edinburgh Castle, both of which 38% of UK adults have visited. At the bottom as the least visited attractions however were Durham Cathedral which only 16% of UK adults have been to, and The Royal Armouries in Leeds that only 9% of us have visited! Other places on our top ten list included The Roman Baths in Bath (29%), Stonehenge in Wiltshire (35%), Eden Project in Cornwall (21%), The National Gallery in London (33%), Caernarfon Castle in North Wales (20%) and Hadrian’s Wall in Northern England(21%).

Today on the blog, we are going to take a look at a few of the attractions that made the list and explain why we think they make a great day out!

Buckingham Palace


Image via Flickr.

Percentage of UK adults who have visited: 38%

Buckingham Palace, in my opinion, is one of those places you have to visit at least once! Whether you have five minutes or five hours spare on your trip, there is something suitable for everyone at the Palace. For those with time to spare, why not take a tour around the state rooms and view the exhibitions inside the palace. Alternatively, if time is against you, then taking a stroll around the outside of the palace is an experience in itself – don’t forget to stop to take your picture outside the gate!

The Royal Armouries in Leeds

The Royal Armouries

Image via Flickr.

Percentage of UK adults who have visited: 9%

With a wide range of exhibits and artefacts on display, it is a surprise that The Royal Armouries in Leeds came out on the bottom of the survey with just 9% of UK adults having visited the museum. The Royal Armouries in Leeds is a part of a family of four museums that are located in the UK and North America. The museum often hosts special events and exhibitions, which mean that returning visitors always have something new to see! In honour of the newest adaptation of The Hobbit franchise, ‘An Unexpected Journey’, the museum is currently exhibiting ‘The Swords of Middle Earth’ – a must visit for any fans of The Lord of The Rings and The Hobbit!

Hadrian’s Wall

Hadrians Wall

Image via Flickr.

Percentage of UK adults who have visited: 21%

Hadrian’s Wall Country stretches along the North of England, beginning at Ravenglass and ending in South Shields. Along the length of Hadrian’s Wall are a multitude of museums, heritage sites and a plethora of days out for the whole family to enjoy. History buffs and Roman enthusiasts will enjoy Birdoswald Roman Fort, the longest remaining stretch of Hadrian’s Wall with remains of the Roman Fort. It is the perfect place to soak up some history whilst refuelling in the on-site café.  So whether you just want to ‘walk the wall’, or spend some time indulging in some Roman history, Hadrian’s Wall is the perfect place to visit!

So, what we really want to know is; what is your favourite UK attraction? Do you like to meander around museums, visit historical landmarks or is getting outside and close to nature more your thing? Tweet us @sykescottages 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.

Find Yourself a Fun Day Out This January

Monday, January 20th, 2014
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I think that it’s pretty safe to say that the buzz of the festive period has most definitely passed for another year and all around the country normal service has resumed. The kids are all back in school and the work routine falling back into place, however these long hours and early nights start to add up and sometimes it’s difficult to find something to get out of the house and do. That’s why we have decided to have a look and see if we could find some fun days out on offer this January, so read on for a bit of inspiration on beating those winter blues!

Visit a Winter Garden

dunham massey stag

Via. Flickr

Although the flowers may not be in bloom and the branches will be bare there are still plenty of reasons to pay a visit to one of our country’s many glorious gardens. Many of them stay open right the way through the winter months and quite often the little sprinkling of frost caps off the beautiful scenery rather nicely. The National Trust offer a great range of guided winter walks and visits to their gardens, and if you’re smart when you choose which one to go to there’s the welcome chance to grab a lovely winter warmer at an on-site café!

Take a Trip to the Tropics at the Eden Project


Via. Flickr

Needless to say you won’t be able to find too many places around the United Kingdom that have a tropical climate in the middle of January. However with the temperatures  maintained at between 18 and 35 degrees in the biomes of the Eden Project you’re sure to find a bit of respite from the bracing weather outside. What’s more, on the 26th of January the Eden Project will be welcoming our four legged friends with open arms thanks to their Dogs’ Day Out event featuring shows, displays and even a free treat for the pooch!

Hit the Slopes in Scotland


Via. Flickr

Maybe you’re the kind of person who is after something to get the adrenaline pumping, if so you could always head north of the border and try out one of Scotland’s many ski resorts. They may not be as popular as their Alpine counterparts but that doesn’t mean that the resorts in Aviemore, Glencoe, Glentress and Nevis can’t offer you some fantastic snow; plus, you don’t have to track down the passport to go!

Hopefully these activities will help to put a smile back on your face, but if you’re looking for an extra strong pick me up why not treat yourself to a lovely cottage break this summer, after all January is the best time to book!

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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.

What’s Your Hidden Cornwall?

Sunday, January 19th, 2014
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To coincide with the release of our brand new video for ‘Hidden Cornwall’ the team at Sykes Cottages HQ wanted to give you a look at some of our favourite areas to visit in Cornwall. From forgotten sandy beaches which lay off the beaten track, to quaint cafes hidden down a town’s side street; there is so much to see and do in Cornwall that we are hoping this list will help inspire you to get out there and discover your very own Hidden Cornwall.

Kynance Cove

Via. Flickr

Via. Flickr

One of my favourite places in the world is the beautiful Kynance Cove in the south of Cornwall. I will never forget running down the hillside to reach the sandy beaches at the bottom and waiting patiently with bucket and spade in hand to get to the other side of the rocks when the tide was low. I spent many family holidays at Kynance Cove exploring the caves, investigating all the small rock pools and boogie boarding on the waves as they crashed against the seashore. It’s a truly magical place and with the mild Mediterranean climate looking back through family photo albums you would think we were on the Spanish coast. The walk from the car park down to Kynance Cove means that it can be a little difficult to get to but once you’re there the views are not likely to be forgotten.

Minack Theatre

Via. Flickr

Via. Flickr

Many of the Sykes Cottages team have had memorable moments in Cornwall and Carly, a reservations specialist, had the following to say on her romantic experience along the Cornwall coast:

 “My favourite place in Cornwall is the Minack Theatre. It was created by one very special and determined lady who spent years carving it into the cliff at Porthcurno and is the best place to watch Shakespeare – especially if performed by moonlight on a clear summer’s night. I have been on such a night and King Lear was completely upstaged by a school of dolphins frolicking in the bay. Gorgeous place. I would’ve got married there if I could have, it’s magical.”

Mawgan Porth

Via. Flickr

My colleague Louise, a marketing assistant here at Sykes Cottages, was more than happy to share this lovely story with me about her childhood holidays in Cornwall:

“I used to visit Cornwall a lot as a child, on family holidays and one of the nicest places that we stayed was Mawgan Porth on the North Coast. It’s much less well known than its neighbours, Newquay and Padstow, but it’s really beautiful. It’s sheltered by cliffs on either side and has an unspoilt charm about it with acres of soft sand and caves to explore. It’s quite popular with both families and surfers and I have lots of fantastic memories of playing in the sea and trying (not particularly successfully!) to boogie board with my sister.”


Via. Flickr

Via. Flickr

Not one to miss out on sharing her Cornish experiences Charlotte, our marketing team leader, filled me in on her exciting visits to one of Cornwall’s top attractions:

“When I was younger I would love spending the day at Flambards in Helston, it’s a fantastic amusement park with family rides, attractions and exhibitions. As well as the thrill of the rides and eating far too much sugar our trips to Flambards were also educational, learning about World War II in the ‘Blitz’ exhibition and marvelling at the Victorian way of life in the ‘Victorian Village’. It’s a fantastic day out and when I next get that chance to visit Cornwall it will be at the top of my ‘to do list’.

Polzeath Beach and the Eden Project

The Eden Project: taken by Holly

The Eden Project: taken by Holly

Sitting at the desk behind me, our marketing analyst Holly delighted me with her stories about exploring Cornwall during her time at Universtiy:

“During the 3 years at Exeter University I’d explore more of the South West then I’d done in my entire life. My two favourite spots I’d visited were Polzeath Beach and the Eden projectDuring my first year I took a day trip to Polzeath to do some surfing. I loved the quaint atmosphere that surrounds the town, with the houses nestled away in the hillside, the long sandy beaches with its rolling waves and the friendly people really brought this place alive. In my final weeks of being a student, on a road trip around Cornwall, my friends and I stopped at the Eden Project. I’d heard a lot about it but I was still unsure what it was other than being big, weird looking domes. These stunning biomes housed all kinds of plants and insects from all over the world but my favourite part was the WEEE art sculpture. This 7 metre high giant robot structure was made entirely of Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment hence WEEE. I’ve barely touched the surface of Cornwall and I can’t wait to explore more.”

I’m sure you will have had your own fantastic experiences in Cornwall that have provided you with wonderful memories, so why not share them with us? We would love to hear from you, so please feel free to connect with us on facebook or join the conversation on twitter using #hiddencornwall.

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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 Spotlight on: Ashdown Forest

Saturday, January 18th, 2014
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On 18th January 1882, AA Milne, the creator and author of Winnie The Pooh, was born and it is on this date annually that we celebrate Winnie The Pooh Day. Yes, today is the national awareness day of our favourite tubby, red t-shirt wearing, honey loving bear! As a lifelong fan of his adventures and loveable nature, I am excited to spend my day eating honey and trying to catch a Heffalump!

Original Winnie The Pooh

The Original Winnie The Pooh and friends now live in The New York Public Library.
Image via Flickr.

Here at the Sykes blog, in honour of Winnie the Pooh day, we are taking a look at the ‘real’ Hundred Acre Wood; Ashdown Forest. An area of outstanding natural beauty as well as an area of special scientific interest, Ashdown Forest covers over 6,500 acres and stretches across Sussex, Kent and Surrey! The Forest and its surrounding areas are full of things to do so the area is the perfect place for a UK getaway. Here are some of the things that you can get up to in and around Ashdown Forest…

Walking in Ashdown Forest

Walkin Ashdown Forest

Image via Flickr.

Perhaps one of the best ways to navigate a forest, and experience all of the nature that it has to offer is by putting on a pair of comfortable shoes and going for a walk. Whether you want a leisurely stroll on your own, a family ramble or even if you’d like to join a guided walk; Ashdown Forest is a great place to do it! If getting fit was one of your new year’s resolutions, joining one of the forest’s healthy walks can be a great way of keeping your resolution whilst learning about the beautiful scenery and wildlife you will pass. If a health walk is not your thing, or you’re going to Ashdown Forest with the kids, you might prefer to take a few steps in Winnie the Pooh’s footsteps by picking up a map from Pooh Corner and taking a wander through Winnie and friend’s old haunts.

Art in Ashdown Forest


Image via Flickr.

The Ashdown Forest Centre is mostly used as an information centre for visitors to the forest; however the centre also regularly plays host to exhibitions of local artists or photographers. This means that the centre is the perfect place to go for any art buffs wanting to hide from the elements, should the weather take a turn for the worse. Sometimes items in the exhibitions will be available for sale, so you might even be able to pick up a new focal piece for the living room wall whilst you’re there!

Wildlife in the Forest

Common Lizard

Image via Flickr.

Covering such a large expanse of land, it is no surprise that Ashdown Forest is home to a variety of animals. From deer and sheep to snakes and lizards, there are many species that call this forest home. In the thirteenth century, Ashdown Forest was used as a Deer hunting wood, however between then and now the population of Deer in the forest has fluctuated.  Bird watchers will be in their element as Ashdown Forest is home to a large number of birds including song thrush and woodlarks as well as migrant species such as tree pipits and the common redstart.

Nearby Entertainment

Train Dining

Image via Flickr.

The area of Ashdown Forest plays host to a number of entertainment venues, so if you want to spend your evening with a bit of noise then heading to one of these might be the answer! From Elvis and Take That tribute acts to Opera evenings, the entertainment venues around Ashdown Forest are sure to have an event catering to any taste. If you’re in the area for a celebration, why not dine in luxury on the Bluebell Railway; a Pullmans train carriage offering afternoon teas, Sunday lunches and dining for other special occasions. The train departs from and returns to Sheffield Park station and more information can be seen on their website here.

If Ashdown Forest sounds like the perfect place to spend time on your next cottage holiday, why not take a look at Sykes Cottages selection of holiday cottages in Kent and Sussex and book your holiday cottage today!

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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.

Ten Things Couples Should do in Cornwall

Friday, January 17th, 2014
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I’ve always thought of Cornwall as the quintessential UK family holiday destination. Perhaps it’s because of the county’s plethora of safe, family friendly beaches or its multitude of award winning visitor attractions. Or, maybe it’s just the weather. Either way, if you’re thinking of booking a summer holiday in Cornwall with the kids, there’ll be plenty of child friendly activities for you to discover. But what does Cornwall have to offer couples? If like me, you quite like the idea of a romantic sojourn down to the South West with your beloved, then I’m here to let you know about all the great things that every couple should do on their Cornish cottage holiday.

1. Go Wild Swimming at Golitha Falls

Via Flickr

Via Flickr

Looking to take the plunge on your cottage holiday in Cornwall? Forget the public swimming baths and opt for a wild swim at the Golitha Falls. This serene stretch of water is the ideal place for an all- natural dunk thanks to its accompanying ancient woodland, secret plunge pool and sandy riverbed.

2. Take a stroll on the South West Coast Path

Frequently described as the ‘walk of a lifetime’, Cornwall’s South West Coast Path is unlike any other walking route in the UK. Covering 630 miles, this cliff top path offers spirit lifting vistas, limitless heritage and enough wildlife to keep even the most devoted twitcher happy.

3. Uncover the history of Prideaux Place

Get your Cornish culture fix with a daytrip to Prideaux Place, a four hundred year old country house overlooking the charming fishing harbour of Padstow. Built in the Elizabethan style, this wonderful old shack boasts sumptuous interiors and peaceful gardens which inspired the writings of wistful romance author, Rosamunde Pilcher.

4. Eat Stargazey Pie in Mousehole

Via Flickr

Via Flickr

Visiting the coastal village of Mousehole has been a dream of mine since reading The Mousehole Cat as a young’un, so naturally it had to make the shortlist. Loiter amongst the village’s cobbled byways, spread your beach towel on the harbour’s soft sands, or tuck into a portion of Stargazey Pie as you uncover the delights of this historic Cornish village.

5. Set Sail off Tresco Island

Lying 30 miles off the Cornish Coast, Tresco is one of five inhabited islands of the Isle of Scilly. This beautiful little isle is famed for its tropical flora, sandy beaches and crystal clear azure waters, which make it the perfect place to learn how to sail.

6. Hate Walking? Try a Cornish heritage Safari

From St Nectan’s Glen to Tintagel Castle, there’s a lot to discover in Cornwall. If you’re worried your feet aren’t up to the challenge, why not book a jeep excursion with Cornish Heritage Safaris? From the comfort of an air conditioned cabin, you’ll be able to get closer to the some of the unique heritage and natural beauty that help make Cornwall such an invigorating holiday destination.

7. Enjoy a secret snooze at Kynance Cove

Via Flickr

Via Flickr

Thought to be one of the South West’s best kept secrets, Kynance Cove on the Lizard Peninsula is undoubtedly Cornwall’s most secluded bay. A favourite amongst romantic poets, this isolated cove offers uninterrupted peace and quiet well away from the bustle of the tourist trail. Frolic on the white sand, snorkel in the turquoise waters or revel in a few chapters of your beach literature on your visit to this serene stretch of Cornish coastline.

8. Conquer the Coast

Coasteering: A guided adventure experience which sees plucky travellers traverse some of Cornwall’s most hair-raising cliffs, inlets and caves. If you and your partner wake up feeling fearless during your Cornish cottage holiday, this exciting outdoor activity could be just what you’re looking for!

9. See a show at the Minack Theatre

Carved into the granite cliffs of Porthcurno Bay, the Minack Theatre is arguably one of the UK’s most famous open air theatres. During the summer months, plays and musicals are held here and the theatre’s sub-tropical gardens provide a great place for some pre-show exploration!

10. All aboard the Bodmin & Wenford Railway

Via Flickr

Via Flickr

Experience the nostalgia of a bygone era with a daytrip on the Bodmin & Renford Railway. Relax as you chug gently along through 13 miles of stunning Cornish countryside aboard one of the service’s charming steam locomotives, taking in rousing views of the world-famous Bodmin Moor.

So there you go then, a sneak peak at what’s on offer should you choose to book a Cornish cottage holiday for you and your other half. Of course, there’s plenty more to see in Cornwall, so why not take a look at our Discover Cornwall to find out what else you can discover on your cottage holiday.

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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.