BBC Countryfile Magazine Awards

Welcome to the BBC Countryfile Magazine Awards 2020 – your chance to celebrate the best of the British countryside!

Now in its eighth year, the annual BBC Countryfile Magazine Awards recognises the best of the British countryside, from top holiday spots to mighty landmarks and glorious gardens.  

BBC Countryfile Magazine Awards 2020 Nominations

Holiday Destination of the Year


Impressive cliffs and rock formations offer unrivalled coastal adventures. Explore pretty Stromness and the islands’ inspiring green-energy projects. Plus, the Neolithic sites of Maeshowe and Skara Brae, Viking heritage and great art and music.


Beauty in abundance, from unspoiled fishing hamlets and Trearddur Bay’s coves to the surf haven of Rhosneigr and the sandy expanses of Benllech. Plus ancient sites, wildlife reserves and a thriving local food scene, especially at Menai Bridge market.

Isle of Wight

A longstanding holiday favourite, with golden beaches, downs of wildflowers, a newly opened coast path around the whole island, pretty towns and traditional seaside fun. Plus secret woodlands, kind locals and family-friendly fossil-hunting.

Severn Valley

Britain’s longest river winds through stunning Iron Bridge with its evocative heritage of the Industrial Revolution, lovely walks and living museums. Add in the 16-mile-long Severn Valley Steam Railway for a fantastic family holiday.;


An atmospheric coast of creeks, fishing villages and artists, centred on the ancient Saxon town of Maldon, with stunning wetland wildlife and fine walking. Essex also boasts Constable country, attractive market towns and Roman ruins.

Roseberry Topping
North York Moors was our National Park of the Year for 2019 - home to the beautiful Rosebery Topping/ Credit: Getty Images

National Park of the Year

Yorkshire Dales

The Dales’ beautiful upland landscapes and glorious valleys have been enhanced by impressive wildflower meadow restoration. The park authority has shown leadership on the issue of bird-of-prey persecution, and it works hard to improve life for residents, as well as improving access and activities for visitors.


Enjoy staggering mountain vistas and wild walks as well as the world’s fastest zip wire, an inland surfing lagoon and underground trampolining centre. The park has been involved in pine marten reintroduction in North Wales and also supports local community regeneration schemes.

South Downs

Celebrating its 10th anniversary as a national park in 2019, the South Downs offers glorious rolling downland studded with historic sites and sustainable, free-spirited towns such as Lewes. Pioneering farming clusters demonstrate better ways to farm productively, with less impact on the environment.


A land of fantastic mountainscapes, deer and eagles, with glens home to famous whisky distilleries. Recent developments include recognised Dark Sky status for stargazers, and the rise of the Glenfeshie rewilding project, which has dramatically transformed more than 17,000 hectares of once-ailing forest.


Our least-populated park has rugged uplands, breathtaking coast, crystal-clear rivers and dark forests, as well as the stamp of human history with Hadrian’s Wall and many mighty medieval castles. A handsome new visitor’s centre, The Sill, offers a great gateway to exploration.

Garden and castle
Winner of Garden of the Year for 2019 - Gertrude Jekyll designed the garden so it would be at its best during the summer months, and today's gardeners stick to that concept/Credit: Getty Images

Garden of the Year

Himalayan Garden and Sculpture Park, North Yorkshire

Find 18 hectares of stunning woodland, garden, arboretum, three lakes and 1,400 varieties of rhododendron, plus pagodas, summerhouses and unique sculptures that enhance the landscape. Accessible, too.

Hill Close Gardens, Warwickshire

A beautiful urban-gardening gem – 16 restored Victorian pleasure gardens, a community cottage and characterful allotments with delightful nooks to explore. Very accessible.

Powis Castle gardens, Powys

Marvel at Italianate terraces blasted from solid rock, spectacular yew hedges, dancing statues and lavish herbaceous borders in these extravagant gardens. All framed by a huge castle, to boot.

Alnwick garden Poison garden, Northumberland

Take a thrilling guided tour into 100 of the most deadly and narcotic plants, locked behind black iron gates.... if you dare. Plus don’t miss Alnwick’s spectacular rose garden and the world’s largest cherry orchard.

Tresco Abbey Garden, Isles of Scilly

Surrounding the ruins of a medieval Benedictine Abbey, these sub-tropical gardens are home to thousands of exotic plants. Wander through ferns, orchids and palms, and admire the Valhalla collection of shipwrecked figureheads.

Hadrian's Wall, England
The spectacular Hadrian's Wall won Landmark of the Year in 2019/Credit: Getty Images

Landmark of the Year

Northumberlandia, Northumberland

Aka Lady of the North, this sculpture of a reclining woman is 400m long and 30m tall at its highest point. Set in a 19-hectare community park, it can be explored by the whole family.

Kelpies of Falkirk, Clyde and Forth

Andy Scott’s 30m-tall horse-head sculptures on the Forth and Clyde Canal represent the shape-shifting water spirits in Scottish folklore known as kelpies, and are a monument to horse-power in Scotland.

Denge Sound Mirrors, Kent

Built between 1928 and 1935, the three concrete ‘listening ears’ in RSPB Lade Pits Reserve near Dungeness are relics of a defunct defence system using acoustic mirrors to warn of enemy aircraft approaching the coast.

McCaig’s Tower, Argyll

Resembling the Roman Colosseum, this bizarre and dramatic circular building towers above Oban. Unfinished after the death of its owner John Stuart McCaig in 1902, it now houses a public park within its 200m circumference.

Singing Ringing Tree, Lancashire

Set on a beautiful hill  near Burnley, this striking musical sculpture is formed of pipes positioned in such a way that the wind blows an eerie, evocative song across the Pennines.

Forest and waterfall
Falls of Clyde Scottish Wildlife Trust won Nature Reserve of the Year in 2019/Credit: Getty Images

Nature Reserve of the Year

Northey Island, Essex

Cut off from the mainland by the tides twice a day, this wild, undisturbed saltmarsh is home to vast numbers of geese, ducks and waders in winter. It rang with the cries of Vikings during the Battle of Maldon in 991, but is now a beautiful National Trust reserve.

Mersehead, Dumfries

With a couple of hides, easy walks and a garden illustrating how to rewild yours at home, Mersehead is an accessible, user-friendly RSPB reserve. Extensive wetland and saltmarsh areas harbour waders and wintering waterfowl.

Skomer, Pembrokeshire

Run by the Wildlife Trust of South and West Wales, this is one of the best places in the UK for a close encounter with seabird colonies, especially Manx shearwaters, puffins and guillemots. Common seals and harbour porpoises throng the surrounding waters. Unbelievable bluebells in spring.

Carlton Marshes, Suffolk

The Norfolk Broads in miniature – a jigsaw of grazing marsh, fens, peat pools, short fen meadow, tall litter fen, dykes, pools and scrub, maintained by the Suffolk Wildlife Trust. Discover a fine array of flowering waterplants, wildfowl and invertebrates.

Martin Down, Hampshire, Wiltshire, Dorset

Explore 350 hectares of glorious wildflower-rich downland full of orchids, butterflies, skylarks, corn buntings and even turtle doves. This national nature reserve is riddled with ancient sites, including the Bokerley Dyke. Vernditch Chase offers some rare woodland butterflies and flowers.

Stormy beach
Sandown Bay on the Isle of Wight won Beach of the Year in 2019/Credit: Getty Images

Beach of the Year

Murlough Bay, County Down

A huge sweeping beach backed by sand dunes and the Murlough National Nature Reserve, the bay is home to lizards, birds and over 620 species of butterflies and moths. Drink in views of the magnificent Mourne Mountains and the buzzing seaside town of Newcastle.

Felixstowe Beach, Suffolk

A beautiful beach on the North Sea with lovely beach huts and old-fashioned seaside charms, with the additional drama and bustle of a commercial shipping port nearby. Two Napoleonic forts and a nature reserve add historical tales and an escape into wildness.

Freshwater West, Pembrokeshire

This stunning sandy beach is flanked by spectacular rock pools brimming with life – a perfect place for seashire foraging. The main beach offers swimming, bodyboarding, dunes, cliffs and the award-winning Café Môr. The pretty village of Angle is nearby.

Lepe Country Park and beach, Hampshire

This stony beach and campsite form part of Lepe Country Park, with views across to the Isle of Wight. Enjoy excellent coastal walks featuring pine-fringed cliffs, D-Day remains and wildflower meadows.

North Bank, Gwynedd

Close to Porthmadog on the Llŷn Peninsula, this sandbar at the end of Black Rock Sands beach offers a vast expanse of wilderness ruled by shorebirds, with spectacular views of mountains to the south-east. Its dune system is a Site of Special Scientific Interest.

Beaver in river
The Forest of Dean beaver project won Wildlife Success of the Year in 2019/Credit: Getty Images

Wildlife Success of the Year

Pine marten reintroduction, Gloucestershire

The release of 18 pine martens in the Forest of Dean heralds the return of a native carnivore to its old range, in a collaboration between Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust, Forestry England and Vincent Wildlife Trust. The spread of martens could limit grey squirrels and aid the red’s return.

White-tailed eagle reintroduction, Isle of Wight

Returning this huge bird of prey to southern England involves releasing up to 60 white-tailed eagles over a five-year period, with expectations of breeding in 2024. Roy Dennis Wildlife Foundation is helming the scheme in partnership with Forestry England.

White Stork project, Sussex

Private landowners are working with conservation groups to restore 50 pairs of this once-common British bird. A phased release of 250 storks will take place in south Sussex over the next five years. So far, 25 birds have been released at Knepp Wildlands in Sussex – and 2019 saw the first nesting attempt.

Corncrake conservation, Northern Ireland

This RSPB project to manage habitat on Rathlin Island has seen two pairs of corncrakes recorded in 2019, after an absence of 30 years. Work included nettle planting and changing farming practices, especially mowing and harvesting regimes, to benefit the species.

Green attraction of the Year

Centre for Alternative Tech, Snowdonia

Dedicated to demonstrating and teaching sustainable living – from crafts and skills to farming and conservation – CAT is an inspiring, fun and hopeful project set in the beautiful Cambrian hills. Don’t miss the water-powered funicular.

Devon sculpture park, Devon

Art, seascapes and wildlife collide at this new open-air gallery that features sculptures tackling climate change. Expect challenging art from bold modern artists in a rewilded landscape just south of Exeter.

Isle of Eigg, Inner Hebrides

A beautiful, wildlife-rich Hebridean island owned entirely by its community. A model of green and sustainable living with fully renewable electricity, Eigg offers vibrant music, crafts and history.

Down House, Greater London

Naturalist Charles Darwin lived here for 40 years (1842–82) and his house and garden have been preserved to honour his life and work, which transformed our understanding of the natural world and ourselves.

Knepp Wildland, West Sussex

This Sussex farming estate rewilded itself, with the help of large herbivores, to create a magnificent wildlife paradise, home to turtle doves, nightingales and purple emperor butterflies. Visitors can now enjoy safaris through the savannah-like landscape.

Hello, hare by Ben Hartley won our Reader Photo of the Year in 2019

How it works


This year, we have asked a panel of judges with a wide and comprehensive range of expertise to look at nine categories, from wildlife success story to best national park. Our main aim was to find locations and projects that have impressed the judges within the last year or so, particularly with their commitment to protect the environment and work in a sustainable fashion. 
The judges assessed the quality of the nominations against a series of criteria - set out below. 

The judges:

  • Tom Heap, Countryfile presenter
  • Dixe Wills, Travel writer
  • Eleanor Rosamund Barraclough, Historian
  • Andrew Hall, Campaign for National Parks 
  • Phoebe Smith, Travel writer and explorer
  • Carys Matthews, Digital editor of

Public voting

Readers vote online or via a postal form in the print magazine. 

View the BBC Countryfile Magazine Awards 2020 Terms and Conditions

Winners announced

We will announced the winners of the BBC Countryfile Magazine Awards online in March 2020. 

View the winners of the 2019 awards


We have nine categories in this year's awards - here are the categories:

  1. Holiday destination
    We’re looking for an outstanding general location that you love and think deserves to be rewarded. It could be a county, a coastline, a range of hills or simply a beautiful area – but it has to have plenty to excite the countryside lover, stunning landscapes, great activities and memorable places to eat and stay.
  2. Beach
    Simple enough – which is your favourite beach and why is it so special that it deserves an award? Natural beauty and a rich cast of wildlife will be important – as is cleanliness. But most of all, it should have a ‘must-visit’ appeal.
  3. National Park
    Over the past year, which of our great protected areas do you think does the best job of conserving landscapes, wildlife and local traditions while balancing the needs of visitors and local people?
  4. Garden
    Which public garden, large or small, has risen to the challenge in 2019 and provided the perfect experience for the visitor? Beauty, innovation and sustainability are key areas the judges will be looking at.
  5. Landmark
    We’re looking for memorable, striking human-made attractions that have meaning and compliment their natural surroundings. It could be a building, a monument, and an artwork or an engineering structure.
  6. Nature reserve
    Which wonderful natural haven has brought you the most memorable wildlife encounters? Where do you like to return to again and again for your fix of  wildlife – and why? The judges are looking for reserves that demonstrate commitment to sustainably protect species and habitats while also working with local communities, schools and businesses to enhance understanding of the natural world. Accessibility for all is also important.
  7. Green attraction 
    We’re looking for new green attractions that showcase innovative ideas and have engaged the local community and visitors by making a sustainable benefit to the local area.
  8. Wildlife success
    Has a conservation story captured your imagination over the past 12 months? It could be focused on a single species or a habitat restoration project that helps a multitude of flora and fauna. We’re looking for innovative ideas that have engaged the local community and volunteers – and led to tangible success (species and habitats protected).
  9. Reader photo*
    We pick the 12 monthly winners from the last year.