Outlander Filming Locations

April 4th, 2016
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There’s some great news for all of the Outlander fans out there, as the much awaited second season is due to premiere later on this week. For those of you who aren’t too familiar with the show, it’s a whirlwind historical drama based on Diana Gabaldon’s famous books that follow the story of Claire Randall, a World War Two nurse who gets transported back to the mid-18th century whilst celebrating her honeymoon in the Scottish Highlands.

Season 1 of the hit show was filmed entirely North of the Border and showcased some of the finest scenery and monuments that Scotland has to offer. So to celebrate the impending release of the second series we’ve been taking a look at some of these stunning filming locations.

Castle Doune

Where else is there to start than with Doune Castle, the setting of Castle Leoch. As the home of Colum and the ancestral seat of Clan Mackenzie, it’s one of the central locations of Season 1. In reality, Doune is not too far from Stirling in Central Scotland and much like the fictional Leoch, it boasts a colourful story or two having played major roles in the Wars of the Three Kingdoms and the Glencairn and Jacobite Uprisings. And as it happens, Doune is no stranger to the limelight with Outlander being the latest in a long line of productions that have been filmed there, alongside big names including Monty Python and Game of Thrones.


Next up we’ve got Culross. Arguably the most complete example of a 17th or 18th Century burgh in Scotland, Culross is a medley of winding cobbled streets and quaint traditional buildings. The eagle eyed amongst you will recognise it as the village of Cranesmuir, with the Mercat Cross area pictured above probably being the most familiar spot from the show. But that’s not it! The walled gardens at Culross Palace were also used as Claire’s herb garden and the town’s West Kirk doubled as the Black Kirk in episode 3.

Blackness Castle

Then there’s the imposing Blackness Castle in West Lothian. Overlooking the Firth of Forth, its unique appearance earned the castle its nickname of “The Ship That Never Sailed” and I think it’s fair to say that Blackness has had a fairly eventful life. Built way back in the 15th century, it has served as The Royal Burgh of Linlithgow, an official residence of the Scottish Monarchy, a state prison and an ammunition depot in World War One. In Outlander however it only has the one role, that of Fort William, the brooding base of operations for the evil Black Jack Randall and the location of Jamie’s heart-rending incarceration.

Hopefully that’s got you in the mood to tune in when Outlander finally hits the screens again later this week? Or who knows, maybe it’s even tempted you into going for your own Outlander adventure, albeit hopefully without the time travel, murder and intrigue? If that’s the case then you’ll want to take a look through our selection of Highland Cottages! They’ll give you the perfect place to unwind after a day spent following in the footsteps of Claire, Jamie and all the other Outlander characters.

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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.

Shakespeare 2016: What’s On

April 3rd, 2016
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2016 is a very special year for England’s most famous playwright, William Shakespeare. On 23rd April 2016, we will mark not only the Bard’s 452nd birthday, but also the 400th anniversary of his death and as you might expect, there are many plans in place to ensure that this special celebration goes off with a bang! If you haven’t yet been, 2016 is a fantastic year to make the literary pilgrimage to Stratford-upon-Avon to join in the festivities. Below, you’ll find just some of the special events, new openings and fascinating exhibitions that you can visit in Stratford upon Avon this year to celebrate the legacy of William Shakespeare.

Annual birthday celebrations

Every year, the streets of Stratford upon Avon are filled with crowds as Shakespeare-lovers from all over the world travel to celebrate his birthday on 23rd April. An extra special celebration is planned for 2016 with a grand Birthday Procession, street entertainers, theatre workshops and a Birthday Lunch.

Shakespeare’s Schoolroom and Guildhall

Opening this month after major restoration work, Shakespeare’s Schoolroom and Guildhall is a new insight into the life and education of William Shakespeare. This fun and interactive visitor experience will allow you to discover more about the place where Shakespeare went to school- the place where he was inspired to become a playwright.

‘Shakespeare’s Stratford Friends’ at Shakespeare’s Birthplace

New for 2016, the new material for Shakespeare’s Stratford Friends will be on show at the Famous Beyond Words exhibition at his Birthplace. Shakespeare’s Stratford Friends will explore the man behind the playwright; focusing on his circle of family and friends, introducing him as a father, son, husband and grandfather, as well as exploring his social life in Stratford upon Avon.

Shakespeare’s New Place

Scheduled to open later this year, New Place was the family home of William Shakespeare for the last 19 years of his life. This unique experience is the only heritage attraction in Stratford upon Avon which will allow you to walk in Shakespeare’s footsteps at the peak of his literary success. New Place will shed light on Shakespeare as a family man with an abundance artefacts relating to his life here on display, many of which have never been displayed before.

Royal Shakespeare Company

The Royal Shakespeare Company’s 2016 season will include productions of Hamlet, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Cymbeline and King Lear, amongst others.  Their new exhibition, The Play’s The Thing, will also open in June 2016 at The Swan Theatre. Aiming to celebrate the magic of Shakespeare and the theatre, visitors can discover the secrets and stories from 100 years of the RSC with props, costumes, set designs, digital interactives and activities to get involved in.

Shakespeare Steps

From 23rd April until 30th October, the Royal Shakespeare Company will be running a self-guided tour for families around Stratford upon Avon called Shakespeare Steps. Follow the route to find clues that work as instructions for acting out a series of miniature plays. Discover fun facts, background stories and join in the treasure hunt challenge as you visit some of Stratford upon Avon’s best known attractions.

Book a cottage break in Stratford upon Avon

Sykes Cottages have a wide range of beautiful self-catering cottages in Stratford upon Avon for you to choose from. To browse our collection of cottages in the area please visit our website or alternatively, give our friendly reservations specialists a call on 01244 356695 and they’ll be delighted to help you plan your holiday.

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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.

Dog Owner’s Guide to Anglesey

March 31st, 2016
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Planning your next pet friendly getaway? How does a morning exploring ancient woodland sound, or how about an afternoon playing in the surf on a golden sandy beach? Perhaps we can interest you in locally sourced, award winning food served in a warm dog friendly environment? If this sounds like your idea of heaven then you and your four legged friend would love a trip to Anglesey!

Ynys Llanddwyn  Off Anglesey, North Wales

The beautiful Ynys Llanddwyn. Image by tekaybeCC 2.0

Located in North Wales, this picturesque Welsh island is ideal for a dog friendly holiday at any time of year. To help you get to know the island a little better, we’ve included everything a dog owner will need to know before holidaying on Anglesey. You can use this guide to plan your getaway or even inspire future holidays, either way we’re sure you’ll love the island as much as we do!

Getting around Anglesey

Anglesey isn’t a very big island, in fact those travelling by car are able to get from one side of the island to the other in less than one hour! For those of you that don’t drive, Anglesey offers a fantastic range of public transport options to suit you and your dog. Here are just a few ways in which you and your dog can get around the island;

Menai Bridge with couple walking under.

The Menai Bridge connects Anglesey to the mainland. Image by Denis EganCC 2.0


Did you know that one of Anglesey’s most popular tourist spots is a train station? It’s the one located in Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch. Visitors love to stop here and pose for a picture with the station sign. If you fancy taking the train to Anglesey then both Arriva Trains Wales and Virgin Trains offer services to the island. The train is a great way to get on and off Anglesey, but once you arrive we suggest using the local bus service to reach some of the smaller villages, hamlets and popular tourist attractions.


The bus service on Anglesey is very good and welcomes dogs of all shapes and sizes. You can get just about anywhere on Anglesey by bus so it’s more than worth taking this approach to travelling. The Isle of Anglesey County Council lists all the available services on their website along with bus times, simply click here for more information.


Many of the taxi firms on Anglesey would be happy to take you and your pooch around the island, however prices can be on the expensive side. We would advise only using a taxi if there are no bus services running.  A full list of the taxi firms on Anglesey can be found here.


Anglesey is a haven for cyclists as you can get anywhere by bike! This is a fantastic way to travel around the island and we highly suggest this option as not only will you get to see some of Anglesey’s best scenery, but you’ll also be doing wonders for your carbon footprint. If you don’t have a bike but fancy cycling round the island then you can hire a bike from Cybi Bikes.

Days out with your dog

There are plenty of dog friendly things to do on Anglesey from exploring the sandy beach to discovering dense forests. To help inspire your day out selection, we’re put together a list of some of our favourite pastimes for dogs and their owners on the island.

Golden sandy beach with a blue sky and fisherman near the sea

Image of Trearddur Bay by Edward ReynoldsCC 2.0


Anglesey is great for dog owners looking to stretch their legs with plenty of open spaces for you and your energetic pet to explore. The Anglesey Coastal Path is a great route to get you started, however at 127.5 miles long, we suggest only taking up one or two routes and not the whole circular trail! The sandy marshes at Red Wharf Bay, tall pine forest at Newborough beach and stunning Beaumaris Castle are all great places to start!


As an island, Anglesey is not short of beaches but if you’re worried about seasonal restrictions then don’t be, as Anglesey has many beaches that welcome dogs all year round. You’ll find a full list of Anglesey’s dog friendly beaches by visiting thebeachguide.co.uk.


Does your dog like to pay fetch? A visit to one of Anglesey’s forests could see you coming back with a few new sticks for your next game! Newborough Forest is probably the most well-known forest on the island and definitely worth the trip; with its tall pine trees and moss covered mounds the atmosphere here is truly magical.

Dog friendly pubs

Anglesey is known for its friendly hospitality towards both visitors and their dogs. If you’re looking for a somewhere to wet your whistle, enjoy a nice pub dinner and even a biscuit for the pooch, then here is our selection of the best pet friendly pubs on Anglesey.

Pub with white tones walls and blue trim around the doors and windows

The Black Lion, a dog friendly pub in Llanfaethlu. Image by David CottamCC 2.0

Ty Dderw

Located in a converted farm house with panoramic views towards the sea and over the countryside, Ty Dderw is fantastic for a pick me up when out exploring The Anglesey Coastal Path. The Ty Dderw offers a wonderful menu if you’re looking for a bite to eat and as dogs are welcome in the bar area there is no need to leave your four-legged friend behind come dinner time.

Contact: 01248 410777 / tydderw@gmail.com / www.tydderwinn.moonfruit.com

The White Eagle

The White Eagle in Rhoscolyn is well-known for its friendly hospitality. The pub famously welcomes both owners and their dogs and even has a special doggy dining room where you can enjoy a bite to eat and the dog can enjoy a biscuit or two.

Contact: 01407 860267 / www.white-eagle.co.uk

The Black Lion

If you’re looking for locally sourced produce then The Black Lion is the pub for you. This establishment prides itself on showcasing the best that Anglesey has to offer. Team their fantastic food and ale with a dog friendly bar and you have the makings of a fantastic night out.

Contact: 01407 730718 / info@blacklionanglesey.co.uk / blacklionanglesey.com

The Tavern on the Bay

Located in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, The Tavern on the Bay can’t be beat when it comes to dining with a view. This very special gastro-pub not only offers wonderful scenery, but a fantastic menu and dog friendly atmosphere too!

Contact: 01248 582751 / info@thetavernonthebay.co.uk / thetavernonthebay.co.uk

The Anglesey Arms

With a beautiful garden and wonderful views of Menai Bridge, the Anglesey Arms is the perfect place for a relaxing pint with your dog. This venue’s atmosphere is second to none and they even have a fantastic events calendar featuring live music and quiz nights

Contact: 01248 712305 / www.anglesey-arms.co.uk

Owain Glyndwr

The Owain Glyndwr welcomes owners and their pets into the pub when they stop in on their way to or from the beach. The pub serves a superb variety of local cask ales and there is also a lovely selection of homemade meals and snacks on the menu – perfect!

Contact: 01928 810710 / contact@ogdllanddona.co.uk / www.ogdllanddona.co.uk

Dog supplies

It happens to us all; you arrive at your holiday accommodation only to find you left an essential item at home! If this happens to you when you visit Anglesey with your dog then don’t worry as there are plenty of pet stores on the island. We’ve listed some good to know pet stores and services below just in case of emergencies.

Food and toys

For a fantastic selection of food and toys we suggest visiting Farm and Pet Place in Llangefni. This large store has everything you need in one place, from tasty treats to squeaky balls! So if you’ve forgotten your dog’s favourite toy or food, then we suggest visiting this one stop shop.


We don’t want to think about it, but you can never be too prepared for an accident. If your four legged friend gets themselves in to trouble whilst visiting Anglesey then help is at hand as there are a number of vets located on the island who can help you. You’ll find a full list of Anglesey vets here.

Dog sitting service

The whole point of a dog friendly holiday is to enjoy time with your pet, but if you fancy a night out or visiting an attraction that doesn’t welcome dogs then we suggest investing in a pet sitter. For a small fee, you’ll be able to leave your dog with a friendly professional who will keep them entertained whilst you explore the island. You can find a great selection of pet sitters on Anglesey by visiting Yelp.

Dog friendly accommodation

The West Wing 918878

The spectacular view from The West Wing (Ref, 918878), a dog friendly property in Rhosneigr, Anglesey.

When visiting Anglesey with your pooch you’re going to need somewhere to stay, luckily here at Sykes Cottages we have a selection of nearly 90 dog friendly cottages to choose from on the island. Our pet friendly cottages are more than happy to welcome your four legged friend to stay and with many of these cottages located next to great walking routes, we’re sure your dog will approve.

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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.

Dog Friendly Cottages for National Pet Month

March 28th, 2016
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April marks the start of National Pet Month, a campaign now in its 27th year that aims to celebrate the joyful impact that our pets have on our lives every day. This year is set to be focused on responsible pet ownership and how important it is for pet owners to provide the best care possible for their animals. We’re all huge animal lovers here at Sykes Cottages and that’s why we’re committed to providing good quality holidays where you can bring your furry friend along with you. From the Scottish Highlands to Cornwall, here are just some of our pet friendly cottages that you can choose from.

Looe Island View, Cornwall

See it here: Ref. 919242

Looe Island View is a stylish family holiday home on a hillside location with spectacular panoramic views of the sea, all the way out to Looe Island. It’s just a 10 minute walk to the lovely, sheltered beach at Downderry which allows dogs all year round. The property is beautifully furnished with a stunning outdoor terrace overlooking the bay.

Rosemary Cottage, Norfolk

See it here: Ref. 922964

Rosemary Cottage is located just 400 yards from the wonderful, award-winning beach at Sea Palling, where dogs are welcome all year round. This lovely dog-friendly cottage is bright, spacious and contemporary combined with beautiful traditional features including exposed wooden beams and oak flooring. The kitchen opens out into a pretty enclosed garden, perfect for dogs to play in. The nearest shops and pubs are also just less than 2 minutes’ walk.

Hope Cottage, Yorkshire Dales

See it here: Ref. 921810

Hope Cottage is a luxury barn conversion set amongst stunning Yorkshire Dales countryside. Offering uninterrupted views that stretch as far as the Three Peaks, this lovely holiday home is well suited for a relaxing break with your pets. The spacious, enclosed grounds are ideal for letting the dogs run about in and the private hot tub overlooking the lush green fields is the perfect place to unwind whilst enjoying the views. There are excellent walks straight from the doorstep so your dog will never run out of new places to explore!

Tyddyn, Snowdonia

See it here: Ref. 18501

Beautiful detached farmhouse with distant sea views on one side and mountain views on the other. Tyddyn has plenty of character with open stonework, inglenook fireplace and Welsh slate floors so if you’re looking for a traditional Welsh cottage, look no further! The farmhouse kitchen is perfect for socialising whilst cooking and you can rest easy knowing the secure, enclosed garden will keep your pets safe. Snowdonia National Park and its ample walking opportunities is just on your doorstep.

Colhay Studio, Cornwall

See it here: Ref. 928808

This former art studio in a sleepy Cornwall hamlet is surrounded by water gardens, with walkways across the ponds and waterfall; perfect for a calming break in Cornwall with your pet. Upstairs, the mezzanine bedroom has its own balcony with far reaching, uninterrupted views over Dartmoor. The Cornish coastline with its world-renowned beaches is just a short drive away.

We want to make sure that your holiday with your pet is the best that it can be so we regularly write blog posts on dog friendly activities, pubs, days out and beaches. Take a look at our Top 10 dog friendly beaches for summer or our guide to dog friendly walks around the UK.  For more information on all of our pet friendly cottages- we’ve over 3,400- please visit the pet friendly section on our website. Browse our website today or give one of our friendly reservation specialists a call to see how we can help.

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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.

Walk of the Month: Llanberis Lake

March 26th, 2016
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Can you believe we’re on our third Walk of the Month of 2016 already? In just a few days’ time it will be April and then summer will be here before you know it! To help make the most of the crisp spring weather whilst it lasts, we’ve pulled together a fantastic walk around the iconic Llanberis Lake in North Wales.

Clear blue lake reflecting the green mountains and clear blue sky above.

A fantastic image of Llyn Padarn taken by Hefin OwenCC 2.0

Llanberis Lake, known as Llyn Padarn, is approximately two miles long and 94 feet at its deepest point. Surrounded by some of the best scenery in Snowdonia, this picturesque walk offers plenty of opportunity for pictures, wildlife spotting and even a dip in the lake if you’re feeling adventurous!

The Walk

This walk follows a circular route around Llyn Padarn and will take between two and three hours to complete, depending on your level of fitness. The majority of the walk is over level ground, however the path can be loose underfoot in areas and there are some tricky stone steps along the way. It can be a little windy down by the lake so we suggest a warm jacket and sensible shoes for this walk.

The Route

Park in the car park (there is a small charge) then make your way north along the A4086. You will soon come to a fork in the road, at this point head right toward the track bed of an abandoned railway. Follow this track as far as the railway tunnel and take the steps to the right of the tunnel entrance to the upper level. From here, follow the path through a set of wooded gates and continue along the lakeside trail.

Silhouette of a lonely tree infront of a reflective lake with mountains and blue sky

Image of Llyn Padarn at sunset by Hefin OwenCC 2.0

Continue along the lakeside trail until you reach the head of the lake; at this point cross over the River Rhythallt making sure to admire the spectacular backdrop. Follow the road as it climbs towards the village of Fachwen, make your way through Fachwen keeping your eye out for a blue telephone kiosk. Take the path opposite the phone kiosk and descend the steps to the road below. The trail continues along the lane passing through wonderful woodlands before descending to a low point at a river crossing.

Cross the stream and follow the path until you come to a fork, take the left fork that ascends some rough stone steps. The path will take you back up through the woodland before exiting the trees at its highest point and offering amazing views.

From here it’s all downhill paths; continue along your path through the woods and into the old hospital grounds and gardens. Leave the hospital grounds via the wooden steps down to another lakeside car park. Here you will see the Welsh National Slate Museum, take the road that leaves the south eastern point of the museum area and cross the bridge towards the fields. Continue through the fields until you reach the A4086 and then your car park.

To view the route map and original walk please click here.

Rent a Cottage in Llanberis with Sykes Cottages

Modern kitchen/living space with over hanging light

The living space at Beudy Hywel (Ref. 6145) in Llanrug near Llanberis

If this walk has inspired you to visit North Wales this year then why not book a stay in one of our Llanberis holiday cottages? With nearly 30 holiday lets located within five miles of Llanberis, we’re sure to have something to suit your requirements. From large stylish properties sleeping 16 to small intimate cottages for two, these holiday homes are ideal for exploring Llanberis and the rest of the Snowdonia National Park.

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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.