The Callanish Standing Stones on the Isle of Lewis
The Callanish Standing Stones on the Isle of Lewis

Five stunning Scottish sites in the running for prestigious tourism award

Several stunning Scottish locations are in the running for a coveted award.

The Old Forge, Callanish Stones, Loch Druidibeg, Luskentyre Beach and Speyside have been named as finalists in the BBC Countryfile Magazine Awards 2018, writes Stacey Wylie.

The public vote is now open and runs until 5 March, and national tourism organisation, VisitScotland, is urging the public to cast their vote.

The Callanish Standing Stones on the Isle of Lewis

Countryfile readers were asked to suggest ‘the greatest sites in the countryside’ and a panel of experts, including BBC Countyfile presenter John Craven and author and rural affairs journalist Mark Rowe, whittled down the nominees to a shortlist of five per category.

· The Old Forge, mainland Britain’s most remote pub – based in the Highlands – has been shortlisted as Pub of the Year. Judge Phoebe Smith said: ‘It’s set in a beautiful landscape looking out to the islands – a great reward for the effort it takes to get there and have that pint.’

· The Callanish Stones on the Isle of Lewis is a finalist in the Landmark of the Year category. The 5,000-year-old stones, with their ‘awe-inspiring ancient mystery,’ are a ‘stunning landmark,’ according to judge Mark Rowe.

Loch Druidibeg National Nature Reserve on the Isle of South Uist

· Loch Druidibeg on South Uist is up for Nature Reserve of the Year. Described by judge Mark Rowe as a site of ‘austere beauty,’ the loch is managed by Scottish Natural Heritage and is a Site of Special Scientific Interest, a Special Protection Area and a Special Area of Conservation.

· Luskentyre Beach on the Isle of Harris has been shortlisted for Beach of the Year. The magazine describes the beach as ‘heavenly’ and one of the ‘most spectacular beaches on Harris.’

· Speyside is a finalist for Holiday Destination of the Year and is described in the shortlisting as ‘one of the loveliest parts of the British Isles.’ Judge Fergus Collins called it ‘a proper taste of Highlands.’

Now in their seventh year, the BBC Countryfile Magazine Awards 2018 are a celebration of the British countryside and its people, from mighty landmarks and outstanding national parks to the best nature reserves and finest rural pubs.

Last year’s awards saw Abernethy Forest, Strathspey, Highlands named Nature Reserve of The Year and Inverewe Gardens in Wester Ross taking the title Garden of The Year.

Looking towards Luskentyre from Seilebost, Isle of Harris

Malcolm Roughead, chief executive of VisitScotland, said: ‘We’re delighted that Scotland once again features prominently in the prestigious BBC Countryfile Magazine Awards.

‘It’s Scotland’s wonderful mix of awe-inspiring landscapes, stunning beaches, wondrous wildlife and fascinating heritage and culture that draw millions of visitors every year, so it is little wonder that readers and judges have nominated some of our outstanding attractions among the UK’s greatest countryside sites.

‘Each of them richly deserve to be crowned national winners and I would encourage as many people as possible to take the time to vote for these outstanding Scottish sites.’

Judge Mark Rowe said: ‘The BBC Countryfile Magazine Awards are about celebrating the joy, wonder and care we all share for the landscapes, wildlife and communities of rural Britain. The shortlists comprise some familiar names and locations as well as more than a few underdogs and intriguing nominations – and they come from all corners of the UK.’

For more on the awards and to vote, click HERE.