Best Bread Baking Courses

April 10th, 2015
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Freshly baked bread is one of life’s little luxuries. From the whole house being filled with the warming doughy scent to slathering some butter or jam on a slice of fresh-out-of-the-oven bread, there is nothing better! If you’re a bread fan who is in the mood to learn a new skill on your next UK cottage holiday, why not mix both together and book yourself on a bread baking course whilst you’re away? If this sounds like the perfect holiday activity then read on as we look at four of the best bread baking courses around.

The Thoughtful Bread Company, Bath

If you’re in Bath and fancy getting stuck in to some bread making, The Thoughtful Bread Company is the place to go! Join the company’s founder, Duncan Glendinning, on one of their fantastic baking courses to learn all the skills you need to bake your own perfect loaf from scratch! Their introduction to bread baking course takes both beginners and amateurs on a baking journey through three recipes that are created entirely by hand. You can see more information about their bakery courses on their website.

The Epsom Bakehouse, Epsom

Whether you’re a beginner wanting to learn the basics, or a seasoned baker looking to expand your repertoire to include Italian breads or sourdough, The Epsom Bakehouse has something perfect for you! Classes last for roughly four hours and include a light lunch, plus you get to take the bread you make home – perfect for sharing (or keeping to yourself!) For dates and times of upcoming courses visit The Epsom Bakehouse website.

River Cottage, Devon

With courses running throughout the year, River Cottage is the place to visit if you’d like to increase your culinary knowledge when on holiday in Devon. During the full-day bread making course at River Cottage, you will not only learn the basics of bread making but also be able to indulge in your own freshly made pizza during your lunch break. Yum! See more about this bread making course on the River Cottage website.

The Bakehouse, West Yorkshire

The Bakehouse operates as a workers’ cooperative and aims to provide Real Bread whilst providing food to the community in an ethical way. Not only this, but if you’re holidaying in West Yorkshire and fancy working on your kneading skills, The Bakehouse is the ideal location. With a choice of Basic Bread Making or Simply Sourdough, you will be able to work on existing skills or create entirely new ones! Find out more about the cooperative on their website or find course dates here.

Book a UK Self Catering Holiday

Norbury self catering holiday lodge, Peak District

Image of the kitchen in Norbury, near Alton Towers in the Peak District.

After all that kneading, proving and eating, you’ll probably want somewhere comfortable to rest your head and enjoy your baked goods! Our selection of lovely holiday cottages across the UK are perfect resting places for weary bakers who need a good night’s sleep before waking up and indulging in a toasted slab of homemade bread. Plus, all of our properties have fully stocked kitchens so you can practice your new skills from the comfort of your holiday cottage. Visit the Sykes Cottages website to browse our selection of holiday properties across the UK and Ireland.

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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.

Walk of the Month – Newborough Beach

April 9th, 2015
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For April’s edition of Walk of the Month, we’re going to be taking a trip over to Anglesey and the stunning beach and forest at Newborough. I was lucky enough to be able to spend a week in a Sykes cottage on the island last month and we actually ended up doing this walk twice whilst we were there, so you can tell how much I enjoyed it!

The area around Newborough Beach and Llanddwyn is actually owned by the Forestry Commission so there’s a small £3 toll that you have to pay in order to drive your car down to the beach, but don’t worry it’s well worth it! Not only will you be able to find stunning views out over the Llyn Peninsula from the beach but you might also be able to catch a glimpse of one of the thriving colony of red squirrels that call the woods home!

The Walk

The route that the walk follows is actually very simple and easy to navigate, and with it only being around 4 miles long and fairly flat, it should be manageable for walkers of all ages and abilities. If you’re planning on taking the pooch with you then it’s worth remembering that there are restrictions that run throughout the summer months. From the 1st of May right the way through to the end of September, dogs are prohibited from the vast majority of the beach and also from Llanddwyn Island but they can be taken on the eastern end of the beach.

The Route

The route is a simple one. The starting point is in the car park right down by the beach – if you head through the toll booth at the top of the hill you just have to keep on the road and you’ll reach it eventually.

From the car park, there is a short passage leading through the dunes which will take you out on to Newborough Beach, once you’re on the sands you’ll want to take a right and head down towards Llanddwyn Island.

Eventually you’ll reach the end of the bay but you’ll see Ynys Llanddwyn Island curve away to your left – this is where you want to go. It’s actually a tidal island so there’s no trouble walking across to it at low tide, but it can be totally cut off for a couple of hours at very high tides so make sure you check the tide times!

It’s on the island that you’ll see many of the highlights from the walk. You’ll see the remains of the old church of Saint Dwynwen, the lighthouse or the old pilot cottages that used to house the sailors who would guide boats through the treacherous Menai Straits, and there’s the stunning views out over the mountains of the mainland. Once you reach the western tip of the island, you’ll want to head back towards the mainland, either back the way that you came or by using one of the other pathways.

When you’re off the island you’re presented with several choices, you can take a left and head through to Maltraeth Bay, the next beach up the coastline, and have a wander there. Or you can head across the dunes and up to the forest path that runs parallel to the beach and will drop you off back at the car park, then there’s also the option of heading back along the beach to the starting point.

Rent an Anglesey Cottage with Sykes

Well how does that sound to you? Good? Then you’ll want to have a look at our Angelsey cottages! We’ve got a wide variety available all over the island, from cosy couples retreats in Beaumaris to properties fit for the whole family in Cemaes Bay, why don’t you check them out?

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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.

Sykes’ Spotlight on: Laugharne Weekend

April 7th, 2015
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If you fancy doing something a little different at the end of this week, then Laugharne Weekend is definitely worth looking into. This arts festival is held in the pretty Welsh town of Laugharne every spring and offers a fantastic mix of musicians, authors and comedians.

Laugharne Weekend

What makes Laugharne Weekend really special is the eccentricity of Laugharne itself. This West Wales town embodies all that is wonderful about Welsh creativity and helps bring together extraordinary talent from all over the world to celebrate the arts. Deliberately small-scale, Laugharne Weekend maintains an intimacy and quirkiness that eludes many other famous arts events, making a point to include the locality. Welsh poet, Dylan Thomas, who lived in Laugharne and who is a key inspiration for the festival, affectionately described the town as “timeless, beautiful, barmy”. Indeed, Laugharne has barely changed since he lived there and it is often said that if he were ever to return, he would recognise it immediately.

Laugharne Weekend Event Information

Dates:  10th- 12th April 2015


Prices: Weekend tickets cost £75.00 or you can buy single event tickets here

Line-up includes: Omid Djalili, Meic Stevens, Jenny Colgan, Eddie Butler, Topper Headon and Terry Williams

Cottage accommodation available for Laugharne Weekend

If you are planning on heading to Laugharne Weekend and you need accommodation, we do have some lovely holiday cottages close to Laugharne still available. See below for more details!

Meadow View

Holiday cottage in Laugharne

Meadow View, Laugharne, Ref. 4088

Pretty holiday cottage on the owner’s smallholding where you can be at one with nature and get up close to the many animals kept on the farm, including owls, ducks, horses, cows and geese. Meadow View is perfect for a family holiday and children will love the access to the cottage’s large meadow area with swings and slides for them to play on!

Dylan’s Court

Holiday cottage in Laugharne

Dylan’s Court, Laugharne, Ref. 4135

Dylan’s Court is a spacious, modern holiday home located just 2 miles from the Laugharne Weekend site. There are plenty of lovely walks from the doorstep of this cottage, where you can enjoy spectacular views of both the countryside and coast. The beautiful 7-mile stretch of sandy beach at Pendine is also close by.

Barn Cottage

Holiday cottage in Laugharne

Barn Cottage, Laugharne, Ref. 4184

If you’re looking for accommodation for Laugharne Weekend then Barn Cottage is a brilliant choice. Situated just a short drive from Laugharne, this bright and airy cottage also boasts plenty of great facilities including a storage unit for bikes and a games room with pool table and darts.

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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.

Sykes’ Spotlight on Yurts

April 6th, 2015
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If you’re looking for a holiday let that offers a little something different but is still luxurious and romantic, then we have just the thing: yurts! Here at Sykes Cottages, we have a stylish selection of yurts, which year after year prove to be extremely popular with customers and it’s not very hard to see why!

The Rowan Yurt | Ref: 917044

The Rowan Yurt | Ref: 917044

With comfortable furnishings, spectacular views and an array of facilities on offer, these yurts are ideal for a special occasion or romantic getaway. We’ve included some more information on three of our yurts below but for details and availability on all of our yurts, make sure to visit our UK Holiday Yurts Page.

The Lakeside Yurt

Beckford, Heart of England

The Lakeside Yurt - Ref 6017

The Lakeside Yurt | Ref: 6017

Along with Island Yurt and Lakeview Yurt, The Lakeside Yurt is located on the shores of a picturesque fishing lake surrounded by the Gloucestershire countryside. Each yurt is completely private and comes with a fantastic outdoor area complete with BBQ and hot tub. Sleeping just two people, these yurts are prefect for couples looking to escape the hustle and bustle of city life for a few days or a week.

The Roundhouse

Stratton-on-the-Fosse, Dorset and Somerset

The Roundhouse | Ref: 14576

The Roundhouse | Ref: 14576

Set on the grounds of a 40-acre organic farm, The Roundhouse offers guests a completely different holiday experience. Not only are there numerous walks from the doorstep and great cycle paths nearby but on a rainy day the yurt itself provides top quality accommodation. Within the yurt you will find a handmade four poster bed, roll-top bath, comfortable sitting area and dining area complete with chandelier!

The Rowan Yurt

Hepworth, Yorkshire Dales

The Rowan Yurt | Ref: 917044

The Rowan Yurt | Ref: 917044

The Rowan Yurt is ideally situated, close to both the Peak District and the Yorkshire Dales National Park, making it the perfect spot for walking, sightseeing or even just a peaceful escape. Secluded without being isolated, this is our top pick for a romantic getaway as the yurt has been thoughtfully decorated to include a king-size double bed, wood burning stove and fabulous outdoor decked area featuring a BBQ and hot tub.

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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.

Britain’s Best Bridges

April 5th, 2015
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You may well have noticed over the last few weeks that Royal Mail have been celebrating some of Britain’s finest bridges through a limited edition of stamps. All in all, there are ten bridges from all around the country that were selected to be commemorated. They came in all shapes and sizes, from footbridges in the Cumbrian countryside to record-breaking structures big enough to carry thousands of people everyday. Here at Sykes, we thought we’d do our bit to celebrate the best bridges in the land and so we’ve taken a look at each of the chosen few to try and learn a bit about them; take a look and see if you learn anything new.

Pulteney Bridge

Pulteney Bridge in Bath was built in the second half of the eighteenth century in order to connect the city to Bathwick, just on the over side of the River Avon. It is one of just four bridges in the whole world that has a row of shops running down each side of it, something that the designers first saw in their trips to Venice and Florence with the world famous Rialto and Ponte Vecchio.

Craigellachie Bridge

Designed by the renowned engineer and architect, Thomas Telford over two hundred years ago, the Craigellachie Bridge is one of the most famous spots throughout the whole of Moray. Found just outside of the famous whisky producing village in Abelour, Craigellachie is the oldest remaining cast iron bridge in the whole of Scotland.

Menai Suspension Bridge

We’ve got another of Telford’s bridges for the next in the list!  The Menai Suspension Bridge was the first fixed crossing of the fast flowing waters of the Menai Straits and it provided a much needed lifeline to the inhabitants of Anglesey. It was later joined by the Britannia Bridge and together they form two of the most photographed spots of the island.

Tees Transporter Bridge

The fourth bridge to have been commemorated was the Tees Transporter. It’s the furthest downstream crossing of the River Tees and connects Middlesbrough to Port Clarence. It carries a gondola large enough to fit around 200 people or nine cars.

Humber Bridge

We’re staying in the North East for the next of the bridges. At its point of completion, the Humber Bridge was the longest of its kind in the whole world, although since then it has slipped down to 7th in the list. It’s estimated that over 100,000 cars cross the bridge every single week, thereby opening up a previously remote area of the country both socially and economically.

Peace Bridge

Crossing the River Foyle, Peace Bridge forms part of the regeneration programme of Derry-Londonderry in Northern Ireland. It crosses from the city centre through to Ebrington Square, and brings together communities that were traditionally seen as being on different sides of the Northern Irish conflicts.

Tarr Steps

Tucked away in the Exmoor National Park is Tarr Steps. A traditional clapper bridge, Tarr Steps is made up of 17 stone slabs, each weighing between one and two tonnes. It had previously been suggested that Tarr Steps was a few thousand years old however more recent studies date it to sometime in the 15th or 16th centuries.

Row Bridge

It might not match up to some of the other bridges in the list in terms of its size but Row Bridge certainly makes up for it in scenery. Situated not too far from the Wasdale Head Inn in Gosforth, the bridge is one of the most scenic spots in the area. A traditionally made packhorse bridge, constructed from local slate and rocks in the mid 18th century, to cross the babbling Mosedale Beck Row Bridge now forms a part of one of the most popular Fell Walking spots in the area.

High Level Bridge

For the next bridge we’re going to be heading back up to the North East and Newcastle in particular this time. The High Level Bridge was built by Robert Stephenson to connect the main city to Gateshead, just on the other side of the Tyne. The bridge’s main claim to fame lies in it being the first in the world to combine both road and rail traffic.

Royal Border Bridge

For the final bridge we’ve got another Stephenson creation. Spanning the River Tweed in Northumberland, the Royal Borders Bridge was built for the York, Newcastle and Berwick Railway in the middle of the 19th century. As part of the bridge’s 160th birthday celebrations back in 2010, it saw a bit of a makeover and, as you can see above is now illuminated each evening by multi-coloured lights.

So there you have it, the Sykes Cottages round-up of the most iconic bridges in the country and I think you’ll agree that they’re all worthy of celebrating! Maybe you have a favourite, or have been to see one of them? If that’s the case we’d love to know! Or maybe you’re interested in getting the stamps yourself? If you are make sure that you head over to the Royal Mail website where you’ll be able to find some more information.

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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.