HOLIDAY DESTINATION OF THE YEAR

Nominated by Anita Rani, BBC Countryfile presenter

12th January 2017
hols

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1) The New Forest, Hampshire 

The New Forest is gorgeous – you can get to it from London quickly and disappear into the middle of nowhere. The first time I saw wild ponies, it took my breath away. I’ve stayed in a range of places, from a hobbit hole in a garden, to treats such as Lime Wood, which offers amazing food, spa and sauna, and The Pig in Brockenhurst, with its kitchen garden and fine fare. Wherever I am, I’ve always had a wonderful time.

2) Malhamdale, Yorkshire 

Yorkshire is in my blood, and it’s the most beautiful county, in my admittedly biased opinion. Malhamdale in particular is my favourite place on earth, and has been since childhood. It’s like a piece of Middle Earth, with the huge limestone rockface of Malham Cove rising out of the earth, and breathtaking Gordale Scar, an enormous gorge in which you feel humbled by nature. It suits everyone, whether you’re a hardcore walker or on a family day out.

3) Isle of Mull, Scotland

The second largest island of the Inner Hebrides, this wildlife wonderland is a haven for white-tailed eagles, red deer, otters, seals, dolphins, minke whales – and even the lesser-spotted Tom Heap, who is a frequent visitor. I love remoteness and this is my dream destination. Mull has a stunning landscape of beautiful bays, rugged coast, rocky peaks and green slopes, as well as pretty Tobermory harbour, with its charming multicoloured houses. It’s the ideal place for anyone wishing to get away from it all. 

4) Brecon Beacons, Wales

A simply stunning part of Wales. 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.

5) Northumberland Coast 

The beauty of Northumberland’s coast just blows me away. It’s a hidden treasure of Great Britain. The shoreline is incredibly dramatic, with wide expanses of sand interspersed by majestic castles, such as Dunstanburgh, Lindisfarne and Bamburgh, giving it a beautifully mysterious quality. There are pretty harbour villages too, such as Seahouses and Craster, and the rum-producing market town of Alnwick. I can’t sing the praises of this glorious stretch of coast enough. 

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