Iconic Island sites shortlisted for BBC Countryfile Awards

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Some of the Outer Hebrides’ most iconic visitor attractions have been named as finalists in the BBC Countryfile Magazine Awards 2018.

The Callanish Stones, Loch Druidibeg and Luskentyre Beach will compete for the coveted awards in a public vote which begins on 19 January and runs until 5 March, and national tourism organisation, VisitScotland, is urging the public to cast their vote.

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 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.

He adds: “You can go there all times of year and you’ll see alignment with the sun. Above all, it’s just a remarkable spectacle.”

Loch Druidibeg on South Uist is up for Nature Reserve of the Year.

Managed by Scottish Natural Heritage, the loch is a Site of Special Scientific Interest, a Special Protection Area and a Special Area of Conservation.

Described by judge Mark Rowe as a site of “austere beauty”, he adds: “It’s fantastic for wildlife watching, with birds of prey zipping everywhere, golden plover, and swans, geese and ducks on the water.

“This is the edge of the British Isles and it really looks the part.”

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”.

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.

Alan MacKenzie, Island Manager for VisitScotland, said: “We’re delighted that the Outer Hebrides feature prominently in the prestigious BBC Countryfile Magazine Awards.

“Our beautiful landscapes, enviable beaches, wondrous wildlife and fascinating past draw huge numbers of visitors to the islands every year, so it is little wonder that the Callanish Stones, Loch Druidibeg and Luskentyre Beach have been shortlisted as some of the UK’s greatest countryside attractions.

“It would be wonderful if these Outer Hebrides attractions were proclaimed national winners and I would encourage as many people as possible to take the time to vote.”

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, go to: website