Screen Shot 2016-02-15 at 14.29.19Northumberland National Park has won the prestigious accolade of National Park of The Year in the BBC Countryfile Magazine Awards 2015/16.

Northumberland National Park’s win follows its nomination by BBC presenter Ellie Harrison. Ellie’s nomination highlighted the National Park’s “meadows, moorland, peat bogs and ancient woodlands” and its “vivid history, solitude, dark skies and superb wildlife such as stoats, black grouse and red squirrels.”

Tony Gates, chief executive of Northumberland National Park Authority, said: “This is wonderful news for the whole of the North East. The award is great recognition for Northumberland National Park and is one that highlights our county’s outstanding natural beauty on a national stage. Huge thanks to all who voted for us and for the fantastic support we’ve had from our partners, visitors and companies across the region and to the local and regional media who have helped us so much. I’ve no doubt that the national recognition will provide a great boost to the North East tourism industry. Whilst all National Parks are different, people who voted for us have recognised that Northumberland has much that is unique and which makes us a winner.”

Glen Sanderson, chairman of Northumberland National Park Authority, said: “We are absolutely delighted to have won the National Park of the Year Award. The variety we have on offer in our National Park is totally unique. Whatever you’re looking for – flora, fauna, countryside activities, star-gazing, history, culture, or just somewhere to escape from it all – we have it in abundance. I am hugely grateful to our staff and members who have shown through their hard work and commitment that their work has been rewarded, and to the people who live and work in the Park who make the place as special as it is.”

The BBC Countryfile Magazine Awards are now in their fifth year and are a celebration of Britain’s countryside. Voting took place online via the BBC Countryfile Magazine website. Voting closed on 31 January.

Last year 1.69 million people visited the park and surrounding areas. The most popular reasons for visiting were a long walk (48%), and a short walk (45%). Next is eating out (27%), visiting a historic site (26%), visiting an attraction (21%), photography (15%), car touring (8%), and cycling/mountain biking (7%).

With fewer than 2,000 inhabitants, Northumberland National Park is the most sparsely populated UK National Park at 0.02 people per hectare.  Open access land accounts for 72% of the Park and there are 1,140km of public rights of way, and a further 90km of permissive routes.