THREE Scottish attractions have been voted the best in Britain at a prestigious award ceremony.
Readers of the BBC Countryfile Magazine Awards voted an iconic Scottish cultural attraction near Falkirk, an uninhabited seabird sanctuary off Scotland’s east coast and a small rural inn in Dumfries and Galloway as UK favourites.
The Kelpies won Landmark of the Year, Bass Rock the Nature Reserve of the Year and The Steam Packet Inn at Whithorn came tops as Rural Pub of the Year.
The Kelpies – massive equine structures at the Helix recreational park – have become a much-loved visitor attraction since their unveiling last Spring.
They went head to head to be crowned the UK’s best landmark against stiff competition from major UK attractions including Shakespeare’s Birthplace Trust at Stratford-upon-Avon. There were no other Scottish finalists in the Landmark of The Year category.
The Bass Rock – the biggest Northern gannet colony in the world home – won the title of the UK’s Best Nature Reserve ahead of popular contenders RSPB Minsmere and the WWT London Wetland Centre.
The Steam Packet Inn on the beautiful Isle of Whithorn took first place in the Rural Pub of the Year category ahead of The Salutation Inn at Ham in Gloucestershire and The Harewood Arms at Broadbottom in Cheshire.
The Kelpies sculptor, Andy Scott said: “I am absolutely delighted with this achievement for The Kelpies. When I was doing those first little sketches all those years ago, I could only have dreamt they would have been so well received.
“I am pleased to say my greatest hopes have been met, and this award from BBC Countryfile Magazine confirms their pride of place in the Falkirk area. It’s a great reward for the hard work of a huge amount of people in bringing The Kelpies to reality. Thank you to all the readers of BBC Countryfile Magazine.”
The BBC Countryfile Magazine Award is the latest in a host of official accolades which The Kelpies have already won, including the UK National Structural Steel Award and the Saltire Award for Civil Engineering. The landmark, which is Scotland’s largest public artwork, has also been officially recognised as a National Treasure by the UK Lottery and appeared in a host of TV productions, tourism films, advertisements, and publications the world over.
In addition to the Scottish winners in the BBC Countryfile Magazine Awards, Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park took second place in the National Park of the Year category – a huge achievement considering all 15 of the UK’s national parks were competing.
There were eleven Scottish nominees across nine categories in the BBC Countryfile Magazine Awards, which are now in their fourth year.
VisitScotland Chairman Mike Cantlay said: “I am delighted that so many great Scottish nominees were shortlisted in this year’s BBC Countryfile Magazine Awards and to have three winners and one outstanding second place is a wonderful achievement.
“The Kelpies, which are a tremendous asset to Scottish tourism, certainly deserve the title of Landmark of The Year. Since their unveiling last April at a spectacular event in last year’s hugely successful Homecoming Scotland programme, these stunning sculptures have become incredibly popular and visitor numbers have surpassed expectations.
“Our congratulations also go the Bass Rock, The Steam Packet Inn and Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park on their success – and indeed to all of the Scottish finalists whose contribution to the visitor economy and our country’s tourism industry is so valued.”