The annual awards celebrate the British countryside and its people, from great heritage attractions and favourite holiday destinations to the best nature reserves and the finest rural pubs.
The finalists include Gilfach Farm Nature Reserve, near Rhayader in the nature reserve of the year and the Brecon Beacons in the holiday destination of the year.
The five nature reserve of the year finalists were nominated by Brett Westwood, naturalist and BBC Radio 4 presenter. Gilfach is a hill farm of open moorland, flower-rich grassland and oak woodland sitting in the Marteg Valley.
Mr Westwood says:
“Gilfach is the best of Welsh wildlife distilled in one glorious and accessible reserve. Swift-flowing ottery streams where dippers and grey wagtails flirt course through old meadows bright with mountain pansies. Redstarts and pied flycatchers flit through oakwoods and dark green fritillaries speed across heathery moors as red kites glide like wraiths.”
The Brecon Beacons is also one of five finalists in the holiday destination of the year category nominated by Anita Rani, BBC Countryfile presenter.
“A simply stunning part of Wales,” she says. “The highest peak in South Wales, Pen Y Fan (886m) offers a lovely and achievable climb. I stayed in a cottage at the base of the mountain with a group of friends and made everyone get up after a late night to walk up to the summit. They called me names at first – but they did it and loved it.
“It’s a beautiful part of the world that feels wild and remote, with sensational views from the hills.”
This year’s awards feature 12 categories and launch in the February 2017 issue of BBC Countryfile Magazine. Experts in each field were asked to draw up a shortlist of nominees in each category.
Members of the public now vote for their countryside favourites on the BBC Countryfile Magazine website – http://www.countryfile.com/awards – or via post, sending the form in the February issue of the magazine to BBC Countryfile Magazine, Tower House, Fairfax Street, Bristol, BS1 3BN.
Voting closes on February 28 and winners will be announced mid-March in an online ceremony and will appear in the May issue of the magazine, on sale on April 7. Each winner receives a beautiful wooden plaque.
Editor Fergus Collins says:
“The awards provide a wonderful opportunity to pay tribute to the best of the British countryside. Our experts have nominated a range of exceptional contenders and I look forward to hearing our readers’ views and discovering which nominees prove the popular favourites.”