Cast your vote to help Falls of Clyde win Countryfile Magazine’s Reserve of the Year

On the trail...the nature reserve in the heart of Clydesdale is no longer a hidden jewel in the crown as more and more people are discovering its treasures. (Pic: Scottish Wildlife Trust).
On the trail...the nature reserve in the heart of Clydesdale is no longer a hidden jewel in the crown as more and more people are discovering its treasures. (Pic: Scottish Wildlife Trust).

The Falls of Clyde Wildlife Reserve is in the running for a prestigious national award.

Managed by the Scottish Wildlife Trust, it has been nominated for Reserve of the Year in Countryfile Magazine’s 2019 awards.

Beauty spot...the Falls of Clyde are stunning at any time of year and the wildlife reserve they lie within has become a very busy tourist attraction. One of those visitors was so moved they nominated the reserve for the Countryfile Magazine award. (Pic: Scottish Wildlife Trust)

Beauty spot...the Falls of Clyde are stunning at any time of year and the wildlife reserve they lie within has become a very busy tourist attraction. One of those visitors was so moved they nominated the reserve for the Countryfile Magazine award. (Pic: Scottish Wildlife Trust)

However, the reserve needs YOUR help to be in with a chance of winning.

Lyndsay Mark, the visitor experience manager, said: “We were delighted to learn that we’d been nominated by a magazine reader.

“The nomination is great recognition of the importance of the reserve for amazing wildlife including otters and dippers, as well as thousands of visitors who are inspired by the wonderful woodland walks, dramatic waterfalls, engaging public events and our informative visitor centre each year.

“But we’re in good company in our category with competition including Findhorn Bay LNR in Moray and Suffolk Wildlife Trust’s Carlton Marshes.

Picturesque attraction...the reserve is a jewel in the crown here in Clydesdale and now it is receiving national recognition. (Pic: Scottish Wildlife Trust)

Picturesque attraction...the reserve is a jewel in the crown here in Clydesdale and now it is receiving national recognition. (Pic: Scottish Wildlife Trust)

“That’s why we’re now appealing for Gazette readers to get behind us and vote for the reserve before midnight on February 17.

“Email registration is required to vote but, even including that hurdle, the process should take no more than a minute or so.

“We’d really appreciate it if locals would get behind us and take the time to vote.”

Nominations were gathered from readers of the BBC Countryfile Magazine, both online and via a form in the print magazine.

A panel of six judges then whittled them down to a shortlist of five in each category.

Judges assessed the quality of the nominations against a series of criteria.

The judging panel included Countryfile and Farming Today presenter Charlotte Smith, BBC Countryfile Magazine editor Fergus Collins, historian and TV and radio presenter Eleanor Rosamund Barraclough, BBC Countryfile Magazine online editor Carys Matthews, author and rural affairs journalist Mark Rowe and adventurer Phoebe Smith.

Readers can vote online or via a postal form in the print magazine. Voting closes at 11.59pm on Sunday, February 17.

Winners will be announced in the May edition of the magazine.

To show your support for the Falls of Clyde, make sure you cast your vote by midnight on February 17 at countryfile.awardsplatform.com.

Fergus Collins, editor of BBC Countryfile Magazine, said: “Congratulations to everyone who has been shortlisted.

“It was a tough judging process so they can all justly feel proud at being part of this celebration of the best of the British countryside.

“Now it’s up to readers and website visitors to vote on their favourites in each category. I anticipate some closely fought contests!”

Charlotte Smith, Countryfile presenter, enjoyed the judging process.

She said: “It was a joy to sit in a small room with some lovely and interesting people and chunter about our favourite places. I made notes and will be checking out some of the other judges’ recommendations.

“Making decisions on the shortlist was significantly harder but we’ve found some fantastic parts of the country to visit.”

The Falls of Clyde Wildlife Reserve team are now busy preparing for the start of their 2019 events season.

Clare Toner will be joining them next month as Clyde Valley reserves ranger.

And a host of events have been lined up to attract visitors to the beauty spot.

Lyndsay said: “We’ve done a lot of work in the last few months preparing for the new season.

“We’ve improved some of the pathways and cleared them and the boardwalks of leaves and fallen branches.

“Pupils from Holy Cross High School in Hamilton also helped us create a new pond to attract even more wildlife. They put in a lot of hard work for which we were very grateful – it looks fantastic.

“We’ve also spent some time replacing trees with native species – improving the habitat for our wildlife and visitors alike.”

All of this hard labour takes elbow grease, though, so Lyndsay is keen to hear from anyone who is willing to roll up their sleeves.

She added: “I would be delighted to hear from people who would like to get involved at Falls of Clyde, whether it be helping with events, admin, badger surveying or even opening up our visitor centre.

“March to August is our busiest time but volunteers are invaluable in helping us on the reserve, year round.”

If you are interested in volunteering at the reserve, please email lmark@scottishwildlifetrust.org.uk.

Reserve dates for your diary

March to August is the busiest time on the reserve so new ranger Clare Toner is joining the team at a perfect time.

She will lead a packed schedule of activities on the reserve in the next few months.

And Lyndsay Mark, the visitor experience manager, helped us compile a diary of not-to-be missed events for readers.

Saturdays Feb 9, March 2 and April 6, 10am to noon: Wildlife Watch group (5-13 year olds). Perfect club for young nature lovers. Meet at the Falls of Clyde Visitor centre.

Monday, April 22, Easter Duck Race: Help raise money for the Falls of Clyde by buying a duck at this annual Easter event. Ducks are raced down the Mill Lade in New Lanark.

The race begins at 3pm and ducks are sold from 1pm onwards in the village.

Scottish Badger Week, May 4 to 12: The aim is to celebrate and raise awareness of this iconic species and the threats they face with a week-long programme of national events.

Badger watches start on May 4 from 7pm to 10pm when visitors can enjoy an evening walk to the outdoor badger viewing area following a clue trail to the secret sett!

It’s a 45-minute walk with the chance to view badgers, bats and other nocturnal creatures. But if you can’t make that date, you can contact the ranger to arrange a date to suit. Perfect for those aged five and over but booking is essential.

July and August, Dipper Watching: Weekend events along the river.

Also look out for the Magical Wizard School at Hallowe’en and Elf School at Christmas.

Nature themed birthday parties are also organised throughout the year.

Tickets for badger watches and events can be purchased at www.scottishwildlifetrust.org.uk/events. Booking goes live later this month.