BBC Countryfile Magazine Awards 2018: The Winners!

The votes are in and we can now reveal the winners of the BBC Countryfile Magazine Awards 2018, including the country’s most-loved landmark, greatest garden and favourite country pub.

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This year almost 180,000 votes were cast by nearly 30,000 people, representing the biggest response we’ve ever had to the BBC Countryfile Magazine Awards.

To have nearly 30,000 people vote in our awards shows how passionate they are about the British countryside.
Fergus Collins, BBC Countryfile Magazine editor and judge

He added: “The shortlists, elected by readers and the BBC Countryfile Magazine judging panel, generated a completely fresh set of candidates in each category – and this created a huge amount of healthy debate during the voting period. I’d like to congratulate the 20 very worthy winners and runners up and thank everyone for taking part.”

Here is a list of the winners and runners-up in the BBC Countryfile MagazineAwards 2018

  • HOLIDAY DESTINATION OF THE YEAR 2018: Pembrokeshire Coast
  • BEACH OF THE YEAR 2018: Holkham, Norfolk
  • NATIONAL PARK OF THE YEAR 2018: Northumberland National Park
  • NATURE RESERVE OF THE YEAR 2018: Rodley Nature Reserve, Leeds
  • LANDMARK OF THE YEAR 2018: Minack Theatre, Cornwall
  • GARDEN OF THE YEAR 2018: Lost Gardens of Heligan, Cornwall
  • BOOK OF THE YEAR 2018:The Wainwrights in Colour by Andy Beck
  • COUNTRY PUB OF THE YEAR 2018: The Fox House, Longshaw, South Yorkshire
  • CONSERVATION SUCCESS OF THE YEAR 2018: The Great British Beach Clean, MCS
  • READER PHOTO OF THE YEAR 2018: Model subject by Andrew Fletcher


1

HOLIDAY DESTINATION OF THE YEAR 2018: PEMBROKESHIRE COAST

Surrounded by the sea on three sides, no part of Pembrokeshire is more than 14 miles from the coast and locals claim to have salt water in their veins. Bask on the wide sandy beaches, trek the 186 mile-long Coast Path, and don’t forget to stop in at St David’s, the smallest city in Britain.

Marls Peninsula, Pembrokeshire
Marls Peninsula, Pembrokeshire

With a wealth of natural attractions it’s no wonder that the wild coastline of Pembrokeshire has romped home with this year’s top spot. It’s a haven for marine life, with dolphins and porpoises often seen from Strumble Head, whale watching boat trips off the coast, and plentiful puffins and seals at Skomer.

Pembrokeshire has a really special place in my heart as it’s where I had my first ever scuba dive.
Judge Miranda Krestovnikoff

“Living in the South West, it’s a firm family favourite of ours, we love that the beaches are less crowded than Devon and Cornwall but the wildlife is no less spectacular with choughs, puffins and cetaceans to see offshore. The coastal path is a joy to walk and there are so many great places to eat local and seasonal produce. A worthy winner!”, she added.

2

BEACH OF THE YEAR 2018: HOLKAM, NORFOLK

Holkam Beach
A windy winter morning at Holkham Bay on the North Norfolk Coast (Getty)

Stretching for four glorious and sandy miles, Holkham Beach was a clear winner in this category. Both a beach and a nature reserve, Holkham is home to diverse and fascinating species of flora and fauna, such as great white egrets, common terns, peregrines, ringed plover, dark green fritillary butterflies and ghost swift moths.

There is something exotic about this great strand of sand backed by pine trees, sand dunes and marshes – a place for a serene beach holiday and intimate encounters with such a wide variety of wildlife.
Judge Fergus Collins

You said: “Unspoilt, golden sand, the wildlife, lovely clean sea. It is beautiful.” Louise Edwards

3

NATIONAL PARK OF THE YEAR 2018: NORTHUMBERLAND

Hadrian's Wall is a World Heritage Site in the beautiful Northumberland National Park. Popular with walkers along the Hadrian's Wall Path and Pennine Way
Northumberland was the hands down winner in this category. (Getty)

With some of the best skies for stargazing and rare wildlife, including red squirrels, otters and black grouse, Northumberland is a haven for nature lovers, and regularly performs well in the awards, winning both Holiday Destination of the Year and Beach of the Year in 2017 for Embleton Bay.

Readers voted overwhelmingly for England’s most northerly national park, thanks to attractions including Hadrian’s Wall, the Whin Sill, the Cheviot Hills and the Sycamore Gap – the most photographed spot in the whole of the national park. Fossil hunters can visit a number of key sites, while Hareshaw Linn is a treasure trove for botanists, thanks to the 300 different types of mosses, liverworts and lichen present near its nine-metre waterfall. There are plenty of mapped walks to choose from, and guided walks available from April to October, including family-friendly options.

Judge Mark Rowe says: “Northumberland does a wonderful job of just being what it is – very empty, with big skies and landscapes and superb wildlife.

“It’s commendable that the park authority does not try to be too intrusive – people go to national parks to get away from everything and whether you’re in a remote valley by a riverside or up on the moorland you can do just that in Northumberland.”

4

NATURE RESERVE OF THE YEAR 2018: RODLEY NATURE RESERVE, LEEDS

“We’re delighted. We never expected to be nominated and we never expected to win, especially as we were up against some very stiff competition. It’s wonderful news!”

Nature reserve
Rodley Nature Reserve is entirely staffed by volunteers. (Humphrey Bolton)

A David among Goliaths, Rodley Nature Reserve in Leeds took first place in this category thanks to the evocative story of its incredible transformation from a water treatment works into a haven for wetland wildlife. Oystercatchers, little grebes, reed warblers, water rails and more can all be seen at the site, which is run entirely by volunteers.

Judge Fergus Collins says: “This is a massive triumph for the volunteers who maintain the site. Right on the edge of Leeds, this previously little-known wetland jewel brings the wild to a huge number of urban and suburban people as well as providing an important stop-over for migrant birds and crucial breeding habitat for wildfowl, amphibians and invertebrates.”

5

LANDMARK OF THE YEAR 2018: MINACK THEATRE, CORNWALL

Minack theatre

The drama of the Cornish coast is a fine backdrop for performances at the Minack. (Getty)

We challenge you to attend a performance at this glorious open air theatre and not be distracted by the wild Cornish coastline, or the pods of dolphins and porpoises playing in the waters below. The brainchild of Rowena Cade, who lived at Minack House, built the theatre with her gardener, by moving earth and granite boulders to form the terraces that now encircle the stage. The Minack saw its first performance in 1932. Some 80,000 people now visit each year, and it’s open annually from March to September, taking advantage of Cornwall’s mild weather before the winter winds return.

Judge Miranda Krestovnikoff says: “I remember my first visit to the Minack – watching Shakespeare with dolphins porpoising in the blue waters as a back drop – unforgettable! Taking my family there a few years ago, it was no less magical with lizards scurrying around the walls and wonderful succulents.”

You said: “One of my favourite landmarks is the Minack Theatre in Cornwall, for its spectacular location, the amazing achievement of one women, whose vision it was to build it, and the lasting images of the productions and the beauty of the place.” Butterfly Girl, via Twitter

6

GARDEN OF THE YEAR 2018: LOST GARDENS OF HELIGAN, CORNWALL

“We are very honoured to have been voted Countryfile Magazine’s Garden of the Year. This represents a lot of hard work across our whole team throughout the year. We would like to thank everybody who voted for us. To be recognised by such a discerning audience makes us all feel proud.”

The woodland garden at the Lost Garden of Heligan, nr St Austell, Cornwall, Great Britain.
The woodland garden at the Lost Garden of Heligan, nr St Austell, Cornwall, Great Britain.
One of the most famous restorations of an English garden ever undertaken, Heligan now draws horticulturalists from all over the world to marvel at its rare plant collections. Heligan had been developed as a garden for centuries, but after many of its gardeners sadly lost their lives in the First World War the grounds gradually deteriorated and became overgrown.

Eden Project founder Sir Tim Smith hacked back the site in 1990 with John Willis, a descendant of the original family who owned the mansion, and discovered a gardener’s paradise. Reopened two years later, today visitors can enjoy the ‘jungle’, bamboo tunnels and ancient woodland, and vast tree ferns that thrive thanks to the uniquely temperate climate.

Judge Mark Rowe said: “A really deserving winner. Despite its popularity, Heligan retains a really local feel and the story behind its re-discovery and restoration is heart-warming.”

7

BOOK OF THE YEAR 2018: THE WAINWRIGHTS IN COLOUR BY ANDY BECK

Artist Andy Beck has taken Alfred Wainwright’s illustrations of the Lakeland Fells and breathed new life into them with a series of stunning watercolour sketches of every view Wainwright ever captured. The book, which was 10 years in the making, is all the more impressive for being entirely self-funded and self-published, and was the runaway winner in this category.

The Wainwrights in Colour_1

Judge Fergus Collins said: “Inspired by the work of Alfred Wainwright, artist Andy Beck’s The Wainwrights in Colour is a vibrant collection of watercolour sketches depicting every illustration drawn by A.W in his Pictorial Guides to the Lakeland Fells.”

You said: “When I received my copy I spent an evening reading the book, found my maps and looked to see where the locations were – had I been there? What memories did it evoke? I keep going back to it and seeing more each time.” ER Redfern

8

COUNTRY PUB OF THE YEAR 2018: THE FOX HOUSE, LONGSHAW, SOUTH YORKSHIRE

Country pub
The Fox House pub Longshaw Sheffield England UK (Alamy)

Only a few years off its 250th birthday, the Fox House has been welcoming weary travellers since 1773, when it was a favourite stop for stagecoach passengers passing through the Peak District. It was a worthy winner in this closely fought category, offering hearty food and cask ales to ramblers stopping off from one of the many local walks.

Judge John Craven says: “My favourite country pub is always the last one I visited that ticks all the boxes marked ‘great’ – location, welcome, home-cooked food, local beers and ambience. The Fox is a classic country pub.”

9

CONSERVATION SUCCESS OF THE YEAR 2018: THE GREAT BRITISH BEACH CLEAN

“What a boost to the project and our brilliant volunteers in the Marine Conservation Society’s 25th year of cleaning the UK’s beaches, at a time when we MUST do something about marine litter”, says Marine Conservation Society

Two male environmentalists removing litter from seashore
Two male environmentalists removing litter from seashore

With increasing awareness of the dangers of plastic debris to marine life, it’s no wonder that the Great British Beach Clean weekend was so popular with our readers. In fact, it took the most votes in any category, by a country mile. The Marine Conservation Society spearheads this annual survey weekend, which last September saw almost 7,000 people remove 255,209 pieces of litter from 339 beaches, recording every item. Waste is monitored and traced back to manufacturers, who are urged to make their packaging more environmentally friendly.

Riding a new wave of public awareness partly triggered by the Blue Planet IIseries, the MCS is continuing the push for litter-free beaches, and you can join in. Aside from the annual survey weekend, clean-up events continue throughout the year. Just visit www.mcsuk.org/beachwatch/events to find one near you.

Judge Fergus Collins said: ““With the problem of plastic in our rivers and seas growing ever greater, it’s no surprise that such an inclusive, positive campaign should win this category. Any visitor to any beach – or any wild place for that matter – should be part of this.”

READER PHOTO OF THE YEAR 2018: MODEL SUBJECT BY ANDREW FLETCHER

Robin on frosted pine branch
Robin on frosted pine branch

Andrew Fletcher’s stunning image of a robin perched on a frosty branch took first place in a closely run contest that saw only a handful of votes difference between the top two spots.

At the time the image was taken, in Leyburn, North Yorkshire, Andrew said: “I was taking photos of the frosty branches when the robin came and perched on them. I thought he’d be gone before I could change the camera settings but he stayed for a few minutes to let me photograph him!”

BBC Countryfile Magazine art editor Tim Bates said: “I think robins, more than any other bird, really appeal to the British public and it was no surprise to see this little chap win our contest this year. Capturing the bird puffed up to stay warm on this wintery day, you really see the detail in the features. With the frosty evergreen background this made for a lovely photo.”

BBC Countryfile Magazine picture editor Hilary Clothier said: “Andrew Fletcher’s ‘Model subject’ portrays an intimate moment photographed with patience and skill. He manages to capture the beautiful details of the robin’s delicate colourful feathers, contrasting with the crisp white frost on the leaves. A great photograph.”

How voting for the awards works

This was the first year where nominations were taken from our readers, before being narrowed down to a shortlist by our expert judges. Readers then cast their votes online and by post. The nominee with the most votes won.

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