The BBC Countryfile Magazine Awards 2020 have been voted on by over 17,000 members of the public in celebration of the very best of the British countryside, from national parks, beaches and gardens to nature reserves and outstanding wildlife success stories.
The judges were looking for locations and projects that demonstrated a commitment to protect the environment and work in a sustainable way. Each of the 2020 winners will receive a beautiful, inscribed solid-oak award to display.
I have chosen to highlight just three of the nine categories that were included in the awards including some of the runners up in each of those three categories.
Holiday Destination of the Year – Isle of Wight
Boasting iconic chalk downs, golden beaches, pretty towns and villages, fascinating historic sites including medieval Carisbrooke Castle and royal residence Osborne House, secret woodlands, family friendly seaside fun and wildlife aplenty, the isle is a longstanding holiday favourite. A newly opened coast path around the entire island has added to the wealth of wonderful walks, too.
As one of the few places in the UK to have been awarded UNESCO Biosphere Reserve Status, the Isle of Wight continues to demonstrate how people work harmoniously with the natural surroundings, making it an ideal place to visit at any time of the year, where there is always something to enjoy.
Find more information about the Isle of Wight.
Te runners up in Holiday Destination of the Year were the Isle of Anglesey in North Wales and Orkney in the far north of Scotland. Unfortunately, I have not yet visited Orkney but it is on my list of destinations for this year if the current lockdown is eased later in the year.
National Park of the Year – Northumberland
From rugged uplands, crystal-clear rivers and spectacular waterfalls, hay meadows, moody woodlands and the solitude of the Cheviot Hills, our least-populated national park has diverse and stunning landscapes to discover. Rare wildlife, such as black grouse and curlews, are found here, and as an International Dark Sky Park, it’s a stargazer’s dream, with Europe’s largest area of protected night sky. The awe-inspiring Hadrian’s Wall is just one of the fascinating Roman ruins to explore, and mighty medieval castles add to the area’s rich heritage.
Find more information about the Northumberland National Park
The runners-up in National Park of the Year were Snowdonia and the Yorkshire Dales.
Beach of the Year – Freshwater West
A firm Pembrokeshire favourite, this breathtaking mile-long sandy beach is backed by an extensive system of sand dunes and flanked by spectacular rock pools brimming with life, making it perfect for family adventures. A strong swell makes it’s a surfer’s paradise – although the strong rip current means only the more experienced should ride the waves here. The thatched shack on the foreshore was used for drying seaweed to make lava bread, a Welsh speciality that’s a key ingredient at must-visit beach shack Café Môr.
Find more information about the National Trust’s Freshwater West
The runners-up in Beach of the Year were Murlough in Northern Ireland and Felixstowe on the east coast of England the latter of which I have not visited but maybe I should make another addition to my destination list.
I was fortunate enough to visit Murlough on my visit to the island of Ireland last year and what an amazing location it is. My trip started in the Mournes in County Down followed by the Antrim Coast including the Giants Causeway and then I followed the entire 1600 mile Wild Atlantic Way starting in Donegal and finishing in Kerry and Cork whilst passing through Sligo and Mayo, Galway and Clare on the way. You can follow that journey by following the links above.
Many congratulations to the winners and runners up which I hope you agree is well deserved although I am sure that all participants will have their own individual beauty, initiatives and stories to share with us all.
With restrictions on travel abroad likely to be in place for the majority if not all of this year it is an ideal opportunity to visit some of these locations if only to see what you have been missing. You never know you make like them so much that you continue to holiday in the British Isles in the future.