Ideal Escapes

Find your ideal escape to visit and stay. We offer advice for you as guests and for holiday property owners. Great accommodation in amazing places...your ideal escape

Tuesday, 27 February 2018

10mile Mornington Peninsula walk from Sorrento, Victoria


3hours 30 mins
Coastal, Photography, wildlife, history, architecture

Located just 90 minutes from the centre of Melbourne this is a must do coastal walk when visiting Victoria.  We started in Sorrento, a beautiful Australian village with a fascinating history. It is believed to be the first European settlement in Victoria dating back to 1803. Sorrento has a bustling high street, stunning coastline and some of the oldest and highest limestone buildings in Australia.  There are a number of options for walking around the area so you can adapt the walk as you like.

London Bridge

London Bridge
Starting in Sorrento, head towards Sorrento Ocean Beach and up the steps to the look out.  From here you can drop down towards the beach and enjoy a stunning coastal walk towards London Bridge along quiet, remote beaches.  

From London Bridge take the steep ramp up towards the car park - (there's drinking water and toilets here) and join the Wilson Folly Walk . 

The walk is names after Capt R Wilson who is thought to simply lit a match to clear the bush for army weapons training areas.  The path takes you straight in to The Point Nepean National Park.

The park offers a network of paths and a fascinating insight in to the history of the Mornington Peninsula.  For thousands of years the Boonwurrung people lived on Point Nepean gathering shellfish and other foods along the coastline. Point Nepean has evidence of some of the earliest European settlement in Victoria. The Shepherd Hut, located in the Quarantine Station is one of the earliest intact limestone building in Victoria. It's cellar dates back to 1845.

The Quarantine Station was established in 1852 and was used until 1979, it was a re-purposed from grazing land as a haven for refugees.  The site was the home of the Army Officer Cadet School (until 1985) and the School of Army Health (until 1998).
Port Phillip was the most heavily fortified fort in the Southern Hemisphere. There are many Colonial and Commonwealth structures from the 1880's-1940s located about the park. 

From the fascinating, historical insight to Australian history you complete the walk by coming back through Portsea, home to Melbourne's rich and famous for the holiday seasons.  These imposing architectural masterpieces give you an insight into how the other half live.  
The path brings you back in to the town of Sorrento where you can choose from one of the many cafes to refuel.  


Wednesday, 7 February 2018

Suffolk Coast Forests

The Suffolk Heritage Coast isn't just about the wonderful coastline.  Scattered along the coast you will find beautiful forests and heathland to explore by foot and cycle.  The heathland offers an exceptional place for ground nesting birds.  The forest offers a diverse range of benefits for nature and humans.  From a stroll with the dog to an adrenaline fueled mountain bike session the forest enriches our lives more than we realise.

Walking in a forest naturally awakens your senses, relaxes you in a mindful way and offers rejuvenating and restorative benefits both physiologically and psychologically.

Studies show that walking in a forest can significantly reduce blood pressure and stress hormones,  One test with a group of people between 36 and 77years of age showed a reduction in systolic blood pressure from 141mmHg down to 134mmHg after spending four hours in a forest. Ideally blood pressure should be kept under 140.

I recently read an article on a Japanese concept called ‘forest bathing’ the process of soaking up the sights, smells and sounds of a natural setting to promote physiological and psychological health.  The article states that when you are feeling stressed, one of the best things to do is go walk in the forest,  I couldn't agree more.

Aside form just walking and enjoying the forests in the area there are more reasons to visit with attracts at the following Suffolk Forests and Woodland. 

Off Road Cycling - Tunstall

If you are visiting Suffolk and enjoy cycling off road Tunstall Forest has some of the best single track mountain biking I have had the joy of riding.  It's trails are endless but there is also a 10mile waymarked loop you can enjoy. The main trail has been effected by the forest harvesting operations but hopefully they will be clear by the summer to enable us to enjoy the fast sweeping trails in there again.

Nature - Minsmere

Minsmere Nature Reserve is located on the Suffolk coast close to Sizewell. Home to BBC Springwatch this 2500 acre Nature Reserve with reedbeds, wetland, woodland, grassland, shingle vegetation and heaths provides the perfect habitat for a range of wildlife and rare birds.  

Family Day out - Rendlesham

Rendlesham Forest offers a great experience for all the family. Famous for a UFO sighting in 1980 but now home to excellent cycling, fun trails and play areas it's ideal for all the family.

Enjoy it, protect it and keep our forests beautiful for everyone to enjoy.


Wednesday, 31 January 2018

Favorite foodie places on the Suffolk Coast 2018

Pubs are no longer the smokey, beer drinking establishments that they used to be.  The majority have become  "gastropubs" a term coined in 1991 by David Eyre and Mike Belben when they took over The Eagle pub in London. 

Like the rest of the country, many traditional pubs have closed in Suffolk over recent years, the majority of survivors have become gastro pubs and for the foodies Suffolk has become foodie heaven offering diners locally sourced, fresh food, beautifully cooked and served in clean, renovated old pubs.

I love food.  The combination of an active lifestyle, connection with tourism and an outstanding selection of foodie places on my doorstep means I am a frequent visitor to the growing selection of great places to eat on the Suffolk Heritage Coast.

Here are some of my favorites ...

Pump Street Bakery, Orford

After a river walk or trip over to Orford Ness this place is a must to refuel your energy levels. Pump Street offers a selection of mouthwatering treats and excellent coffee.  This place is a gem.  

It has limited seating both inside and out but offers an excellent range of bakery goods (and chocolate) a little more expensive than your average bakers but well worth the extra for exceptional food.  Chocoholic? Try the brownie ... wow!

The Turks Head, Hasketon

Relaxed, warm and offering locally sourced food with the finest local ingredients.  They have a great selection of real ales and wines to wash your meal down with too.  

The pub had been renovated and converted to the highest of standards.  The decor, attentive staff and glowing open fires create a relaxing, friendly ambience. 

Dog friendly, people friendly and a good mix of local and visiting folk.

The Unruly Pig, Broomswell

This 16th century Inn is Understandably in the top 50 gastropubs and littered with awards. Their vision is to 'provide exceptional food, great wines, craft beers and really friendly service in a fun and relaxed atmosphere'  they tick every box with this list.  Diners enjoy a warm, contemporary feel and ambience. The funky, eclectic mixture of pop and local art mixed with the traditional pub feel was a brave move but it works.  Booking essential for evening meals.

The Table, Woodbridge

This funky brasserie restaurant in the market town of Woodbridge is an ideal spot for anything from a light snack to a three course meal. Excellent fusion food, relaxed ambiance and ideal for everyone form groups to individuals.  Warm in the winter and a lovely sun drenched courtyard in the summer.  I've been to the table for private functions and  evening meals with friends.  It has never disappointed.  Recommend booking, certainly for evening meals.

The Plough and Sail, Snape

Never disappointed when I have visited here (and that's a regular occurrence!).  Wholesome food done well in a relaxed atmosphere and a great location for Snape Maltings. The pub offers a number of different areas to eat with a spacious, airy restaurant, traditional pub side (allows dogs), cosy snug and outdoor courtyard. Best to book - well in advance when concerts are on.


Sunday, 9 July 2017

Cycling the Southern Coast of Ireland

The best way to see a country is by bicycle...and cycling form one end of the country to the other is going to give you the best chance to see a country at it's best.  I have taken on the Mizmal Challenge with ACT Cycling tours.

From Cork we took a drive down to Schull which gave us a good flavor of this beautiful country to wet our appetite for the 500 miles ahead. We arrived in Schull to sunshine and sheer beauty! This wonderful bay enjoys blue waters, green fields and an excellent selection of Irish bars, what more could you want?

After a night in Schull we ventured down to the southern most point, Mizen head where the first leg of our 75 Mile journey north began.  Against all warnings I'd had about the Irish weather it was another blue sky day and what a scenic day to show of this breathtaking location at its best!

The first 25 miles was a real treat, some of the most beautiful rugged coastline I have ever seen, it certainly sold Ireland to us, breathtaking.

We rolled along undulating, quiet roads and before lunch following a long gradual climb we enjoyed a beautiful descent towards a Kenmare.

Lunch was perfectly set up for the riders on arrival by our star driver Shaun, we passed a number of great looking cafes and bars in Kenmare, it was a good job we had been well fed prior or I could have spent a fortune!
A steady climb after lunch (just what was needed!) lead us up to Molls gap and another descent, it would have been awesome if it wasn’t for all the traffic! An opportunity to enjoy some views before the clouds came in!

75 miles done and we finished up in Killarney, a good selection of lively bars with traditional music and eateries to refuel ready for day two. I can’t wait to see what Ireland reveals to us tomorrow!


Thursday, 17 November 2016

Time to celebrate? ...

Got a special event coming up?  Then this is the place for you...Clermont Hall is a beautiful, regency house with 9 bedrooms in the main house and a further 9 bedrooms over three cottages on the grounds! Perfect for families, friends and corporate groups with excellent flexibility on sleeping arrangements and plenty of reception rooms to entertain! 

There’s an outdoor pool, hot tub in the garden room, and games room in the cellar to enjoy as well as the chance to submerse yourself in living like royalty for the duration on your stay.

Close to Thetford you can enjoy excellent activities in the forest with forest walks, mountain biking, segway, a high wire course and other activities and events throughout the year.

Originally built in 1776 for William Fortescue, Earl of Clermont and extended in 1812 for his nephew who succeeded as the Second Viscount Clermont in 1806.

William Fortescue the Earl of Clermont, was a keen sportsman and bred Aimwell who in 1785  won the Epsom Derby and three Newmarket races.

He regularly entertained the Prince of Wales and also formed a friendship with the French King and Queen.

The Earls nephew, the 2nd Viscount Clermont extended the house with the pavilion ends on either side, designed by  the architect William Pilkington, responsible for Pilkington  the distinctive Tuscan Portico on the north front and the magnificent Venetian windows which light the dining room and morning room on the south front.

Clermont Hall was passed through the family until it was acquired by Duke of Wellington in 1858. Subsequent owners included John Remington-Mills, a Brewer, and then Reginald Foster, a Tea Planter and Sir Richard Prince-Smith in 1963.

The Hall was saved from demolition in the 1970s by Philip Charles Jones and the current owners acquired the house in December 2010. The current owners have carefully carried out significant refurbishment both internally and externally to offer an outstanding place to stay, whatever the time of the year.

For a stay to remember make sure you book quick!


Friday, 7 October 2016

Beautiful ground floor cottages go live in East Anglia

The schools are all back now so why not grab a few days away before the winter really takes hold.  All this wonderful weather has really made some Sykes guests extra happy on their holidays and done wonders for our booking levels and you can pick up some great deals too!

Below are some of the latest cottages to go live in East Anglia,  all based over the ground floor so ideal for guests with limited mobility.

Walnut Barn Cottage, Holt, Norfolk

Sleeps 4

This beautifully presented two bedroom barn is perfectly positioned for exploring this popular part of the North Norfolk coastline.  Located between Cromer and Holt the property is ideal for couples, families and friends who enjoy rural life but want a perfect base for exploring the area.  Carefully renovated to retain its wonderful character features you will find this property comfortable, cosy whatever the time of the year.

Excellent for walking, cycling and exploring !

Sleeps 2-4

Kingfisher is a one bedroom property with twin beds and a sofa bed.  It is ideal for wheelchair users and those with limited mobility.  Centrally located between Thetford, Diss, Stowmarket and Bury St Edmunds this offers an excellent base for exploring.

Number 16, Lowestoft, Suffolk

Sleeps 4

Number 16 is located on a quiet holiday park near Lowestoft with a wonderful beach on your doorstep and excellent sea views from the second bedroom.  Comfortable accommodation with excellent facilities on site including an indoor pool,  if you don't want to brave the sea!


Monday, 19 September 2016

Aldeburgh Triathlon

What a fantastic day for Aldeburgh!

Having grown up in what used to be the sleepy town of Aldeburgh I never thought I would see the day 100 teams turn up to compete against each other in a 'Fun' team triathlon.  This is the second year Aldeburgh Triathlon has taken place and I'm sure it will grow year on year. 

The event organisers got this spot on with some strong athletes, fun athletes and athletes of all ages all enjoying the event - not to mention the hoards of people who came to simply support and enjoy the day.

The Swim was along the seafront, seeing 100 people dive in and compete along coastline was a wonderful sight.  Swimmers then ran up the beach to their cycling team mates outside the White Lion and transferred the chip timer to the riders who set off around the Thorpeness, Aldringham block for one of two circuits equating to a 20km ride.  The final leg was a 5km run to Thorpeness and back again along the coast path finishing with the 100s of supporters cheering the exhausted runners through the final stage and over the finish line.

A wonderful event for everyone and great to see families, friends and business' getting together teams and competing with and against one another!

Make sure you make it a date next year and support it!

The Swimmers exit after a 750m sea swim

 The Cyclists take the sharp turn at the Moat hall to begin the second lap
 Runners come in to the finish line, (Photo thanks to Andrew Gillingham)
 Two teams entered for Sax Velo, the brilliant new Saxmundam bike shop!

Why not book a nearby cottage and come a compete next year or use it for triathlon training -

Ferry Cottage  is just  over the river from Aldeburgh,  it has only been live with us for a week and we took a booking within 24hrs (for arrival withing 48hrs!) we have taken an additional 4 bookings since so make so make sure you book early! Properties in this area really do book up with us very quickly.

It is in a beautiful, quiet location and ideal for triathletes with all three disciplines being possible virtually from your doorstep!  Open water swimming in the tidal river Alde, wonderful off-road running along the river and in the nearby forests of Tunstall and Rendlesham and excellent roads for cycling.  The area is one of my favorite spots, rural yet within easy reach of the Suffolk Heritage Coast hotspots! 

Check it out and get your week secured on the Sykes Cottages website

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