Landmark of the Year: Bamburgh Castle, Northumberland
Landscape photographer Guy Edwardes comments: “Great to see Bamburgh Castle triumph in this category. It is a true icon of Northumberland and a location that I’ve been photographing for many years. Both windswept and easily accessible, I’m not at all surprised that it picked up the most votes. I’m looking forward to returning at the end of the month to photograph it once again!”
Holiday Destination of the Year: Dumfries and Galloway, Scotland
In his nomination, our expert Dixe Wills described Dumfries and Galloway as “an overlooked corner whose time has come”. And how right he was. Readers voted resoundingly for Dumfries and Galloway as winner of Holiday Destination of the Year due to its plentiful charms – tranquil forests, astonishing wildlife, wonderful beaches, lochs and streams, plus the UK’s original Dark Sky Park.
Wildlife Success Story of the Year: Hen Harrier
“Really? The hen harrier?” some might query – and fairly, since it is hardly thriving. But this most hard pressed of raptors saw glimmers of hope in 2015, with an increase from three breeding pairs to six, and our readers have voted to celebrate this slight upturn in its fortunes.
National Park of the Year: Northumberland
From dark-sky stargazing to wild-goat walks, Northumberland National Park offers an abundance of glorious isolation, rich wildlife and varied terrain, with meadows, moorland, peat bog, ancient woodland and still-wild coastline.
Heritage Site of the Year: Hadrian’s Wall
“What a worthy winner,” comments our expert John Craven. “Hadrian’s Wall has been part of our cultural heritage and definitive landscape for almost 2,000 years and it’s good to know our readers, like me, regard it as one of this nation’s great treasures.”
It’s easy to see why Hadrian’s Wall would win Heritage Site of the Year, or indeed Heritage Site of the past two millenia.
This historic marvel stretches 73 miles from the Solway Firth to Wallsend, and was built by the Romans at the behest of Emperor Hadrian, with constructing commencing in 122AD. Declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1987, a significant portion of the stone wall still stands, offering a fascinating insight into the life of the legions and Roman military strategy. Not only can visitors admire the world-class archeology, the area also offers spectacular landscapes and vibrant wildlife – and great pubs.
Nature Reserve of the Year: Bass Rock
Winner of Nature Reserve of the Year for the second year in a row, and by an impressive margin. At Bass Rock, viewers behold a gannet-drenched stone kingdom in the Firth of Forth.
This 320-million-year old volcanic island off the coast of North Berwick is the largest single rock gannetry in the world, inhabited by more than 150,000 birds during breeding season. Says naturalist Simon Barnes: “You think nature is not for you and then you go to Bass Rock and see how wonderful and how easy it can be. Bass Rock is a portal, open to everyone. It says: ‘Welcome to the wild world. Come in and find a lifetime of joys’.”
Garden of the Year: Holker Hall, Cumbria
The Elizabethan Gothic Holker Hall’s 18th-century landscape park and gardens (part woodland, part formal gardens) have recently been complimented by the addition of the Pagan Grove amphitheatre, designed by notable landscape architect Kim Wilkie.
Reader Photo of the Year: View Through the Wall by Lesley Hextall
While walking on a sunny day towards Old John Tower in Bradgate Park, Leicestershire, Lesley spotted a hole in the wall around a copse, became curious and peered through, to be confronted by an equally curious fallow deer looking directly back.
Pub of the Year: Applecross Inn, Scotland
It may have been the most farflung of our pubs (well, depending on your perspective – if you live in the tiny village of Applecross it’s your local), but that didn’t stop The Applecross Inn winning by a country mile. This is clearly a beloved and memorable pub.
Our expert Fiona Stapley, editor of the Good Pub Guide, agrees: “The Applecross is very special and the drive to it –well even though I saw it many moons ago, I will remember forever. The landlady Judith Fish is great!”
This pub has adherents from far and wide, who have crossed its threshold in sore need of refreshments after epic walks in the surrounding spectacular scenery, to be met with warmth and nourishment. This no-nonsense friendly bar, with its exposed stone walls, simple furnishings and woodburning stove, offers top quality fish, 50 malt whiskies and glorious shoreside gardens, along with seven en-suite rooms with sea views. www.applecross.uk.com/inn/
Outdoor Brand of the Year: Berghaus
Berghaus wins for a second year in a row, with its excellent range of well-priced, well-made kit specifically designed for use in the UK.
Beach of the Year: Sand Beach, Wester Ross
Some might have thought that a distant beach on the outskirts of Wester Ross would be overlooked in beach-popularity contest. But our well-travelled readers voted in their droves to ensure that the remote Sand Beach, nestled near the village of Applecross in Wester Ross, came storming home with the lion’s share of the votes.