Christmas Gift Ideas for Travellers

November 18th, 2014
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Like it or not, Christmas is coming. Across the world, people have begun their Christmas shopping. It’s happening people. The goose is officially getting fat.

As of today, it’s 37 days ‘til Christmas. In countdown terms, that isn’t very long. But don’t panic, because, once more, the festive folk at Sykes HQ are here to help you pick the perfect Christmas pressie.

Stocking fillers for travel-lovers

Portable Smartphone Charger

Via Google Images – Labelled for reuse

Via Google Images – Labelled for reuse

Lost in the Lakes with a flat mobile? Reach for your portable smartphone charger. These dinky gizmos pack a punch, providing 250 hours of extra standby time, 5 hours of talk time and 20 hours of music playback. Just don’t forget to charge it, else you will be up a creek without a paddle.

Recommended: iPower Station for iPod and iPhone, IWOOT, £11.99

Travel Journal

Via Flickr

Via Flickr

Like wanderers of old, you too can keep a log of your travels with a lovely travel journal. There are lots of journals – or notebooks – around that are intended for travel use; some are waterproof, others feature maps, whilst others have pockets for your bits and bobs. However you use it, a journal is a great thing to carry on your hols.

Recommended: Travel Journal, Moleskine, £17.99

Purifying Water Bottle

Via Flickr

Via Flickr

Take clean, fresh water wherever you tread with a purifying water bottle. These clever vessels purify regular tap water as you drink, removing contaminants like Chlorine to make your H2O taste better and do better. There’s a range of water purification bottles available, but we like the affordability and simplicity of the Bobble.

Recommended: Bobble, WaterBobble, £6.99

Tablet Case

Via Flickr

Via Flickr

If you’re uncomfortable with your pricey new tablet bouncing around in the boot, a case makes a great gift. There are thousands of cases available for a range of devices, and some are ideal for travel. Take the Belkin Tab 3; this rustic case cocoons your tab in tough, full-grain leather, so you can force it into a rucksack without fear of damage.

Recommended: Belkin Tab 3, Argos, £31.99

Big gifts for globetrotters

Luxury Picnic Set

Via Flickr

Via Flickr

If, like me, you take picnics seriously, consider buying your loved one a luxury picnic set this Christmas. My girlfriend received a picnic set for her birthday and I have to say, it’s transformed our alfresco luncheons. No longer do we need to prep for hours before setting off, and the horror of forgetting the corkscrew is a thing of the past.

Recommended: Piccadilly Picnic Backpack, Fortnum & Mason, £100.00


Via Flickr

Via Flickr

Binoculars may not be at the top of their wishlist, but a pair of these timeless optics will be a pleasant surprise come Christmas day. In the past, binoculars were cumbersome, used by twitchers to watch birds in flight; modern versions however are light, strong and perfect for taking in the view whilst travelling.

Recommended: Nikon Sportstar EX Binoculars, Jessops, £99.00

Portable Speakers

Via Flickr

Via Flickr

Nowadays, there’s no excuse to go without tunes on your holiday. With the introduction of portable docking stations and speakers, you really can take music anywhere – including the beach. Despite getting smaller, speakers and docks have got more sophisticated, delivering better sound and a longer battery life. One for the teenager in your life.

Recommended: Bose SoundLink Mini Portable Wireless Speaker, Currys, £159.95


Via Flickr

Via Flickr

Ah the camera, darling of tourists everywhere. From affordable compacts to high-spec SLRs, cameras are a must-pack item for the majority of holidaymakers. In recent times, the camera has been overshadowed by the smartphone, but we think there’s nothing better than grasping a proper camera in your hands. If you need some tips on how to master your new gadget, have a look at our tips for taking better holiday photographs.

Recommended: Samsung Galaxy NX3000 Compact System Camera, John Lewis, £249.95

Give the gift of a holiday

Or perhaps you’ve got bigger plans for Christmas 2014? A holiday perhaps? If so, why not book a break with Sykes Cottages? Whether you’re planning a romantic trip or a family getaway, a self-catering UK holiday makes the perfect gift, and will keep your loved ones smiling long into the New Year.

Whatever you’ve got up your sleeve this Christmas, remember: the big day is just thirty-seven sleeps away!

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.

Book a cottage getaway over New Year

November 17th, 2014
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If you’re planning to get away over New Year then you need to act fast! Our holiday cottages are booking up for the festive season so you need to move quickly if you want to get somewhere sorted. To give you a bit of inspiration, we’ve listed just some of the fantastic properties still available over New Year’s Eve. Don’t miss out!

The Byre, Northumbria

Holiday cottage in Northumbria

The Byre, Northumbria, Ref. 1783

The Byre is a characterful barn conversion in the heart of the beautiful Northumbrian countryside, offering cosy open plan accommodation for a couple or small family. If you fancy a quiet, peaceful New Year this year, then The Byre is the cottage for you, located in a small hamlet surrounded by a tranquil, rural landscape. The roaring open fire is perfect for relaxing in front of and the panoramic views across the stunning countryside will make your New Year’s Eve seem miles away from the usual crowded bars and never-ending taxi queues.

The Roundhouse, Somerset

Holiday cottage in Somerset

The Roundhouse, Somerset, Ref. 14576

If you’re looking for a truly romantic getaway over New Year then look no further than this stunning wooden roundhouse nestled amongst the grounds of an organic farm. This unusual cottage has been lovingly handcrafted to create a snug holiday home near Stratton-on-Fosse. The Roundhouse is the perfect place to get away from it all for New Year’s Eve with no WiFi or TV to distract you from each other’s company, and with luxury features including a four-poster bed, roll-top bath and 1940’s MK1 Rayburn to keep you warm and cosy. The grounds surrounding this cottage boast geese, ducks, cows, chickens, pigs and sheep, and guests are welcome to purchase free-range eggs and pork from the farm.

Craig Y Don, Anglesey

Holiday cottage on Anglesey

Craig Y Don, Anglesey, Ref. 3775

This spacious, seaside property is ideal for large groups looking for somewhere to get-together this New Year’s Eve. Sleeping 10, the 5 star Craig Y Don is situated in a breath-taking position overlooking the beach at Rhosneigr on Anglesey and offers the perfect place to spend a memorable New Year with friends and family. Book this property and you could bring in the New Year on Craig Y Don’s spectacular roof terrace, admiring its stunning beach and sea views.

You can see our full range of holiday cottages still available for New Year’s Eve 2014 by clicking here. For help in finding your perfect New Year’s cottage, you can also give our reservations team a call on 01244 356 695 or send us an email.

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.

Where to Celebrate Thanksgiving in the UK

November 16th, 2014
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For most of us in Britain, November 27nd will be just another day; a day spent either at work or Christmas shopping. However for the thousands of American expats living, working and studying in the UK, Thanksgiving is a day for Celebration. Living away from home in a country that doesn’t celebrate one of your favourite holidays can be hard, but not to worry as here at Sykes Cottages we know there are many places across the UK offering special Thanksgiving celebration. If you’re an American living in the UK or a Brit looking to join in the celebrations, keep reading as we highlight our favourite places to celebrate Thanksgiving in the UK.

Visit the Mayflower Steps in Plymouth

Image from Flickr.

Image from Flickr.

In 1620, the Mayflower set sail from Plymouth Barbican, carrying 102 passengers and 30 crew members across the Atlantic Ocean on a 66 day voyage to America. These pilgrims eventually settled in Plymouth Massachusetts, an area of America famous for being the birth place of Thanksgiving. Plymouth still maintains strong ties with America and every Thanksgiving hosts a special service and wreath lying on the Mayflower steps. With local pubs and restaurants offering traditional Thanksgiving dishes, it’s the ideal location to spend Thanksgiving weekend.

Enjoy a Thanksgiving dinner

Image from Flickr.

Image from Flickr.

Thanksgiving dinner is one of the highlights of the day, where families come together and share a fantastic meal which includes turkey, mashed potato, squash soup, green bean casserole and a variety of pies! There are a number of restaurants and pubs located throughout the UK taking part in the Thanksgiving celebrations by putting on special menus filled with all our favourite American dishes, so get yourself online and find your nearest participating eatery.

Attend the Thanksgiving Service at St. Paul’s Cathedral

Image from Flickr.

Image from Flickr.

London is home to a large number of American expats, so it should come as no surprise to find a number of events taking place in the capital on Thanksgiving. One of the longest running traditions in London is the Thanksgiving service hosted at St. Paul’s Cathedral every year. At the service the American Ambassador to the UK will make a speech before reading out a message from President Obama himself. It’s a wonderful event to be part of and a great way to meet new friends.

Rent a family cottage

Tan Llan in LLanelltyd, Wales. Reference 917340.

Tan Llan in LLanelltyd, Wales. Reference 917340.

Thanksgiving is all about family and being thankful for all that we have, so what better way to celebrate the holidays than to treat the family to a week or weekend away? Here at Sykes Cottages we have a number of large group properties that are perfect for a celebration at this time of year; with beautiful open fires, large dining rooms, and plenty of space in the fridge for all your Thanksgiving treats. For more information on our large cottages simply visit this page.

And there you have it, our guide to Thanksgiving in the UK. We would love to know what you’ll be getting up to this Thanksgiving so be sure to send us a tweet or comment on our Twitter and Facebook pages.


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.

Log Cabins: Perfect for an Adventure Break

November 15th, 2014
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The crisp climate of autumn is one of the best times of year to take an adventure break in the UK, and where better to get outdoors than by booking a holiday in a log cabin! Our lodges and log cabins are ideal for those looking for some adventure during the autumn, so we’ve come up with just a few suggestions on the perfect lodges for your next adventure holiday.

Lodge on the Lake, Lake District

Log cabin in Lake District

Lodge on the Lake, Lake District, Ref. 31127

Lodge on the Lake is a stunning property in a quiet holiday park on the shores of Windermere. Sleeping 6, this luxury log cabin offers unrivalled views across the lake, which you can take advantage of from many of the rooms and also the spectacular deck to the front and side of the cabin. At Lodge on the Lake, you can enjoy many activities just a stone’s throw from your log cabin! The decking offers access to your own private beach area, where guests can enjoy swimming and fishing. More active guests can also use the holiday park’s facilities to explore Windermere by boat or try their hand at water-skiing or kayaking. Of course, if you travel outside the holiday park, the spectacular landscape of the Lake District is also on your doorstep, with endless opportunities for walking, cycling and hiking.

The Beeches, Pembrokeshire

Log cabin in Pembrokeshire

The Beeches, Pembrokeshire, Ref. 23608

The Beeches is a 5 star log cabin nestled among 30 acres of ancient woodland near Narbeth, with plenty of scope for an unforgettable adventure break. From here, you’ll have access to Pembrokeshire’s beautiful coastline with mile after mile of quiet sandy beaches to explore and you’ll also be able to walk as much of the Pembrokeshire Coast National Path as you please! The Beeches offers the perfect base for an active holiday with cosy, comfortable accommodation sleeping 4, WiFi to keep in touch with the outside world and plan the next day’s adventures, and an outdoor Jacuzzi to relax in.

No. 4 Elm Drive, Lincolnshire

Log cabin in Lincolnshire

No. 4 Elm Drive, Lincolnshire, Ref. 916145

Set within the tranquil Tattershall Lakes County Park, No. 4 Elm Drive is surrounded by 365 acres of woodland and lakes. The accommodation is bright and airy with patio doors leading to a decked veranda overlooking one of the many lakes in the park. After a day of adventurous activities, guests will also find a bubbling hot tub waiting for them on the veranda, where they can relax and soak their tired muscles! The many facilities in the park include a gym, swimming pool and spa, whilst also offering visitors the opportunity to try watersports such as jet-skiing in the dedicated 45 acre jet-skiing lake and wakeboarding in the park’s 60 acre water-skiing and wakeboarding lake.

Here at Sykes, we have a fantastic range of cottages for walking holidays and cottages suitable for cycling holidays so if you’re interested in learning more then please contact our dedicated reservations team on 01244 356 695. You can also see our full range of lodges and log cabins by visiting our website.

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.

The Mountains of Britain and Ireland

November 14th, 2014
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For today’s instalment of the blog, we’re looking at the biggest mountains of the United Kingdom and Ireland. From the North of Scotland to Snowdonia and all the way to Macgillycuddy’s Reeks in the west of  the Emerald Isle, we’ve tracked down the highest peaks in order to give you some information about them.

Ben Nevis

via. Flickr

via. Flickr

  • Height – 1,344m
  • Location – Grampian Mountains, Scotland

Overlooking the stunning scenery of Loch Linnhe, Ben Nevis is the highest peak in the whole of the British Isles. Its name derives from the Gaelic Beann Neibheis although no one is quite sure what this means with suggestions ranging fromVenomous Mountain to the Mountain of Heaven. With an estimated 100,000 climbers making their way up to the summit, Ben Nevis is one of the most popular mountains in Britain as well as the highest; if you join them, you’ll be able to find some of the most stunning panoramas around as well as the remains of deserted observatory used around the turn of the twentieth century.



via. Flickr

  • Height – 1,038m
  • Location – Macgillycuddy’s Reeks, Ireland

Standing at the heart of the Macgillycuddy’s Reeks mountain range in Co. Kerry is the highest mountain in all of Ireland – Carrauntoohil. There are three main pathways to follow if you fancy pitting yourself against it; the Devil’s Ladder, Brother O’Shea’s Gully and the Caher route. If you are going to try it, make sure you’re well prepared as the proximity to the Atlantic Ocean makes for extremely changeable weather condititions.


Scafell Pike

scafell pike

via. Flickr

  • Height – 938m
  • Location – Southern Fells, England

It may only be a few metres taller than its similarly named neighbour, Scafell, but it’s enough to make Scafell Pike the highest point in all of England. As climbs go, it isn’t the most strenuous, so when there’s the opportunity to experience the views that inspired Coleridge, Wordsworth and plenty others you certainly won’t regret setting aside a few hours to make your way to the summit. On a clear day at the top you may be able to catch a glimpse of Wales, Ireland, Scotland and even the Isle of Man – there can’t be many places that can make that claim!



via. Flickr

  • Height – 1,085 m
  • Location – Snowdonia, Wales

The highest peak in Britain that isn’t part of the Scottish Highlands, Snowdon is probably the busiest mountain in the country with hundreds of thousands making their way up it every year. With a state of the art visitor centre at the top, not to mention its own railway, it draws in droves of people wanting to get a taste of the stunning views from the top. However depending on the time of year it can be quite a tricky climb, with Sir Edmund Hillary even using some of the steeper sections in his training to best Mount Everest!

So there you go, the lowdown on the highest peaks of the British Isles. We hope that you’ve enjoyed reading it, and maybe even learnt something new about them – and who knows, maybe you even fancy climbing on of them yourself! If that is the case make sure you take a look at our website so that you can find yourself a nice cosy cottage to put your feet up at the end of the day.

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.