BBC Countryfile Magazine Awards 2018: Holiday Destination of the Year

These are the five finalists for BBC Countryfile Magazine Awards Holiday Destination of the Year category. Voting has now closed and we will be announcing the winners on 15th March

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1) The Forest of Bowland AONB

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Fairsnap and Totridge fells viewed from Longridge fell, Lancashire

Dramatic open peat moorland, deep valleys and barren gritstone fells, as well as neat lowlands criss-crossed with drystone walls and pretty stone villages, the Forest of Bowland AONB covers 312 square miles of rural Lancashire and Yorkshire.

Judge John Craven says: “At the very centre of mainland Britain, this is one of the most unspoiled of all holiday destinations in the UK. Although I’m a little worried that by nominating it, it might become too popular!”

You said: “Peaceful, quiet and unspoilt” Stephanie Gornall

2) Pembrokeshire Coast

"Picturesque view of boats in Tenby Harbour, with its clusters of colourful painted houses, and Castle Hill"

With inviting beaches and a wild coastline, along with cetacean spotting from Strumble Head, puffins in Skomer and the smallest city in Britain at St David’s, Pembrokeshire has the lot.

Judge Miranda Krestovnikoff says: “Wildlife, wildlife, wildlife. Plus stunning coastline, incredible birdlife, beautiful beaches that aren’t as busy as they are in Cornwall – it’s just wall to wall wonder.”

You said: “Spectacular views with boat trips to see puffins and dolphins.” Rachel Mullet

3) Isle of Wight

Overlooking the beach at Freshwater Bay on the Isle Of Wight England UK Europe

The largest island in England has been popular with holidaymakers since Victorian times.

With a mild climate, stunning coastal scenery and vintage seaside charm, it’s a natural nominee, offering cycling across the island, superb fossil hunting, great walking and food trails and good farm shops.

Judge Mark Rowe said: “A favourite bucket-and-spade destination, the Isle of Wight’s charm extends to wonderful food, walking and cycling. The island is doing a lot of work reinvigorating its coastal paths, making use of the fact it’s part of the English Coastal Corridor. So you’ll soon be able to walk into the creeks you can’t quite manage at the moment. All in all, it’s a really rather lovely place.”

You said: “I go to the Isle of Wight for amazing food, friendly people and great signposted walks.” Sue Scott

4) Suffolk

Kersey, Suffolk, England

Miles of untouched coastline, huge skies, castles, nature reserves, mighty rivers, medieval towns and gallons of rustic charm, Suffolk presents an intoxicating variety of places to explore.

Step back in time in the timber-framed Suffolk Wool Towns, paddle the Suffolk Broads at Waveney Valley or immerse yourself in nature at Orford Ness or Minsmere.

Judge Phoebe Smith says: “The quieter side of East Anglia has bird reserves, nature reserves, beautiful little villages and the people are incredibly friendly, with honesty boxes where you can get fruit. Wonderfully welcoming.”

You said: “Lovely people, wonderful farmland scenery, amazing coast and brilliant birding.” Fi Sharp

5) Speyside

The River Spey at Grantown-on-Spey in the Moray region of Scotland looking towards the Cromdale Hills. Over 100miles long, the river is famous for salmon fishing and passes through whisky country at an average speed of over 30mph, making it the fastest flowing river in the United Kingdom. AdobeRGB colorspace.

One of the loveliest parts of the British Isles, Speyside is overlooked by some of the country’s highest mountains, beneath which lie some of Scotland’s grandest pine forests.

The river Spey links the Moray coast with the edge of the Grampian mountains in the Cairngorms National Park, passing through Speyside’s attractive villages and famous malt whisky distilleries.

If you are so inclined, you can walk the Speyside Way, one of Scotland’s four long-distance trails, spending a week soaking up all the highlights.

Judge Fergus Collins says: “With a dense concentration of single malt whiskey distilleries, Speyside has its obvious attractions, but this is a landscape of dancing rivers, accessible mountains, eagles and leaping salmon. A proper taste of Highlands but perhaps lacking the crowds of the more famous regions.”

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You said: “So much for visitors to do and gorgeous scenery to match. Great for walking and cycling. Even an inland beach at Loch Morlich.” Steven Mitchell