The Best Places for an Autumn Break

October 4th, 2015
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Nothing quite beats an autumnal break, between the crisp morning walks and the hearty portions of comfort food, it just doesn’t get much better. Seeing as it’s that time of year again, we thought we’d give you all a bit of a helping hand and list out some of the best spots in the UK to sneak in an autumnal break, take a look and see which one you fancy.

Lake District

Of course we couldn’t leave the Lake District out could we? The Lake District is widely accepted as one of the most beautiful areas in the UK with the landscape inspiring famous figures such as Wordsworth and it only gets better in Autumn! The scenery makes the perfect backdrop for an afternoon stroll and you’ll never be short of a good country pub for a refuel.

Forest of Dean

Autumn is all about the fantastic colours on show and there’s nowhere better for that than the Forest of Dean. With seemingly endless rows of beech, oak and larch trees all steadily turning a rich golden colour, you’ll be spoilt for choice in finding the perfect photo opportunity.


And last up we’ve got a bit of a curveball. Always overshadowed by its more famous neighbours, Dorset is actually one of the best destinations for an autumn break. Its stunning coastline will give you ample opportunity for a bracing walk taking in the sights, such as the Jurassic Coast and Durdle Door, that inspired Broadchurch.

So there you go, three of our favourite areas when it comes to autumn breaks; but don’t worry if you’ve already got somewhere else in mind, we’ve got holiday cottages dotted all around the UK and Ireland, just take a look here and you’ll be able to find all of the properties available for an autumn break.

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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.

Luxury Days Out

October 2nd, 2015
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Here at Sykes Cottages, we have a wonderful selection of luxury properties ideal for special occasions, family events and romantic escapes. If you’re planning on renting one of these high-end properties for your next getaway then why not combine your stay with a luxury day out? From horse riding to day spas, the UK has a great choice of luxury activities sure to make your holiday extra special. Keep reading for a selection of these luxury days which will hopefully inspire your next getaway.

Horse riding in the New Forest

With spectacular views, open pastures and beautiful forests, the New Forest is one of Britain’s most spectacular National Parks. To make the most of this impressive park, we would suggest exploring the area on horseback.  Ride out over the open heathland at a pace that suits your skill level before your instructor guides you through leafy glades and past wild ponies and foals.

The Burley Villa School of Riding offers fantastic forest hacks for beginners and experienced riders, as well as private hacks and a variety of Western Style riding experiences. Prices start from just £40 and are suitable for riders aged seven and over.

Afternoon tea at the Barmoral

As a country obsessed with a good brew, it should come as no surprise that we’ve turned the humble cup of tea into a lavish affair. A good afternoon tea is a highly social event where friends and family can get together to have a good catch up over a pot of tea and a selection of delicious sandwiches, cakes and scones.

The Palm Court restaurant at the Barmoral in Edinburgh provides an award-winning cream tea daily, between noon and 5.30pm, with prices starting from just £35. The restaurant’s lavish interior and vintage Champagne create a wonderful atmosphere for any occasion.

Falconry in Cheshire

Falconry is a historic sport, one that takes a lot of time, knowledge and money to keep up full time. Because of this it’s not suitable for everyone but if you really love birds and want to spend the day getting to know some of nature’s most skilled hunters, then why not try a falconry experience? Learn all about birds as you come face to face with popular birds of prey used for the sport and have a go at flying them as they soar high above the wonderful Cheshire countryside.

Cheshire Falconry offer a fantastic selection of flying experiences from raptor encounters to walks through the Cheshire countryside with a team of hawks. Experiences start from just £39 and there are special junior experiences available for children aged 4-14 for just £29.

Day spa in Wales

Image provided by Tre-Ysgawen Hall

Image provided by Tre-Ysgawen Hall

With its wide open spaces, inspiring mountains and peaceful lakes, Wales really is the perfect place for a relaxing holiday. To help you unwind on your next Welsh getaway, we suggest taking a trip to one of the region’s many day spas. Indulge in a soothing back massage that targets areas prone to stress and anxiety, or simply relax in the sauna or at the pool side with a glass of bubbly; whatever you need to feel at ease, a Welsh day spa is sure to cater to your needs.

Tre-Ysgawen Hall on Anglesey has a range of day spa packages to choose from so whether you’re celebrating a special occasion or looking to escape the everyday, you’re sure to find a package to suit you. Prices start from as little as £49 and treatments are available throughout the week.

To take a look at our selection of high-end properties and start planning your next luxury getaway please click here.

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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.

Win a Pawsome Winter Getaway with Sykes Cottages and Pure Pet Food!

September 30th, 2015
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Fancy a winter getaway for you and your dog? One where you can run through the snow and hike over the hills before returning to a cosy cottage with a roaring open fire? If so we have just the thing for you – £250 worth of Sykes Cottages vouchers to spend on a cottage of your choice and a month’s supply of Pure Pet Food to take with you.

Pure pet Food

To be in with a chance of winning this fantastic prize, you simply need to pop on over to the Pure Pet Food website and enter your email address at the bottom of the page. Everyone who enters the competition will receive a £5 Pure voucher, so don’t delay! The competition winner will be announced by Pure Pet Food on October 23rd 2015.

Good Luck!

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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.

Spotlight On: Luxury Cottages In Ireland

September 29th, 2015
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For an extra special getaway in the Emerald Isle, make sure you take a look at our stunning collection of luxury holiday cottages in Ireland. Whether you’re after a grand property with opulent décor, or a five-star romantic retreat, we will find the perfect holiday home in Ireland to suit you. For a bit of inspiration, check out the three fantastic luxury cottages below.

Whispering Willows, County Donegal

This idyllic thatched cottage is a picture-perfect luxury retreat for couples, nestled in a tranquil part of Donegal just outside Carndonagh. Whispering Willows is utterly charming with its traditional features, cosy woodburner to curl up in front of, and a roll top bath perfect for sipping champagne amongst the bubbles. The pretty town of Carndonagh with its restaurants, bars and pubs is just a mile from the cottage and if you fancy a romantic evening stroll, the stunning beach Malin Head is also within easy reach.

Lough Arrow View, County Sligo

If you’re looking for a large luxury cottage where all your family and friends can convene, Lough Arrow View is ideal. Sleeping 12, this bright and contemporary holiday home is located close to Castlebaldwin in County Sligo and boasts panoramic views across Lough Arrow from its windows. There’s a large open plan living area where the whole group can relax and chat together, as well as a modern kitchen and dining area, four bathrooms and five bedrooms- plenty of space for the whole party to enjoy.

River Mountain View, County Cork

This beautiful country cottage is set next to a working livestock farm in the heart of Cork’s countryside. There are four bedrooms, three bathrooms, a large contemporary kitchen with dining area, and a lavish living area with sumptuous, comfy sofas and an open fire. However, the real jewel in the crown of River Mountain View is its outlook; from the garden, you can enjoy sweeping views of the Boggeragh Mountains out to the Owentaraglin River.

To browse our full range of luxury cottages in Ireland, please visit our website. We’ve opulent holiday cottages to suit everyone, whether you’re looking for an indulgent romantic getaway or a lavish holiday with the family!

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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.

Recipes For Baking With Children

September 26th, 2015
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Looking to try something a little different with the kids this weekend? If so, why not try a spot of baking? Great for rainy days, baking not only provides hours of fun but also teaches children valuable cooking skills. We’ve listed a selection of easy baking recipes below to help get you started; who knows, your little one may be a future contestant on the Great British Bake Off!


This extremely easy brownie recipe is great for children, it allows them to get involved in kitchen activities and rewards them with a tasty chocolate treat. The following recipe will make between 16 and 20 brownies, depending on portion size and takes around 45 minutes from start to finish.


  • 175g caster sugar
  • 100g unsalted butter
  • 75g plain flour
  • 50g cocoa powder
  • 4 tbsp chocolate chips
  • 3 tbsp milk
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • 2 large eggs, beaten


  1. Preheat the oven to 180C/gas mark 4 and line a 20cm square, deep baking tin with baking parchment.
  2. Beat together the sugar and butter with an electric whisk before adding the eggs one at a time.
  3. Sift in flour, cocoa powder and baking powder to the egg mixture before adding the milk. Mix everything together then stir in the chocolate chips before pouring the mixture into the baking tin.
  4. Level off the mixture and place in the oven for 30 minutes, until the top is set. Remove from the oven and cool completely before cutting into small squares and serve.


Children love pizza, it’s a quick and easy meal that tastes great and is fantastic for sharing. If you feel like making your own homemade pizza then we would suggest the following recipe. It takes around 40 minutes to make and at the end you’ll have two delicious pizzas perfect for a family of four.


For the base

  • 300g strong bread flour
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp instant yeast
  • 1 tsp salt

For the tomato sauce

  • 100ml passata
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • Handful fresh basil

For the topping

  • 125g mozzarella, sliced
  • Handful cherry tomatoes
  • Handful grated parmesan


  1. Start by making the base. Sift the flour into a large bowl then stir in the instant yeast and salt. Make a well in the mixture and pour in 200ml of warm water along with the olive oil. Bring the mixture together with a wooden spoon until you have a soft, wet dough. Tip the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for around five minutes until the dough is smooth. Cover the dough with a tea towel and leave to one side.
  2. Make the tomato sauce by mixing together the passata, garlic and basil before seasoning to taste. Leave to sit at room temperature until ready to use.
  3. Split the dough into two then start rolling it out on a lightly floured surface until the rounds are about 25cm across. Make sure the dough is very thin otherwise it will not bake in the oven. Place the rounds onto floured baking sheets.
  4. Preheat the oven to 220C/gas mark 8 and place another backing sheet or an upturned baking tray onto the top shelf of the oven.
  5. Top the dough with a layer of the tomato sauce before scattering over the cheese and cherry tomatoes and drizzle with olive oil. Place one of the pizzas onto the preheated sheet/upturned oven tray and bake for 8-10 minutes. Remove the pizza from the oven before repeating this step with the remaining pizza.

Gingerbread Men

Christmas is fast approaching and what better treat to enjoy over the festive period than gingerbread men?  This recipe is very easy to make and a lot of fun to decorate. You can make 20 gingerbread men from this recipe and from start to finish the process, should take around two hours.


  • 350g plain flour
  • 175g soft brown sugar
  • 125g butter
  • 4 tbsp golden syrup
  • 2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 egg

To Decorate

  • Writing icing
  • Cake decorations


  1. Sift together the flour, ginger, bicarbonate of soda and cinnamon into the bowl of a food processor. Add the butter and blend well until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Add the sugar and stir through.
  2. Beat the golden syrup and egg together then add to the breadcrumb mixture. Pulse in the food processor until the mixture comes together. Tip the dough out and knead until smooth. Wrap in cling film and leave to chill in the fridge for 15 minutes whilst you preheat the oven to 180C/Gas mark 4 and line two baking trays with greaseproof paper.
  3. Take the dough from the fridge and remove the cling film. Roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface until around 0.5cm. Using gingerbread man cutters, cut out 20 gingerbread men and put them on the baking try, leaving space between each.
  4. Bake in the oven until light golden-brown. Take the gingerbread men from the oven and leave to cool on the try for ten minutes before moving to a wire rack. Once the gingerbread men are completely cooled, decorate with the writing icing and cake decorations.
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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.