How perfect pictures of National Parks can help lift our spirits during the ‘dark times’ of the COVID-19 pandemic

Visits to The Great Outdoors are being curtailed during the coronavirus crisis but we can still admire some stunning scenery from afar.

By Charlie Bullough
Tuesday, 31st March 2020, 5:11 pm
WINNER: Pete Stevens’ picture of an osprey catching a fish was the winner of the 2020 ‘Inspired By Nature’ photo competition.
WINNER: Pete Stevens’ picture of an osprey catching a fish was the winner of the 2020 ‘Inspired By Nature’ photo competition.

The UK National Parks and Campaign for National Parks have released the results of their ‘Inspired By Nature’ picture competition.

The brief was to capture wildlife within any of the UK’s 15 National Parks.

The competition was held and judged before Prime Minister Boris Johnson ordered us on March 23 to stay at home bar one health walk, run or cycle ride per day, plus other stipulations. The guidelines were brought in after people were seen flocking to public parks in droves and flouting social-distancing guidelines.

A picture of Kinder Downfall in the Peak District taken during Storm Dennis was the runner up in the ‘Inspired By Nature’ photo competition. It was taken by Sam Walker and Ike Walker.

So if you are missing your social fix of walking with your mates in the Peak District or the Cairngorms then feast your eyes on the top ten pictures from the competition.

Andrew Hall, of Campaign for National Parks, said: “At this dark time we hope these pictures are a reminder there is beauty in the world. That in both normal and unprecedented times we should focus on what is important and truly share, protect and treasure them.”

The winner was Pete Stevens who photographed an osprey swooping on its fishy prey in the Cairngorms National Park.

Pete said: “I’ve always loved being out and about in Scotland and having spent a lot of time in Aviemore and the Cairngorms as I’ve grown up having been able to keep an eye on how the osprey numbers have grown as the National Park and other bodies such as the RSPB have increased awareness and protection for them. Last year was the first chance I had ever had to photograph the ospreys and it was a brilliant experience.”

The mystical, ancient Wistmans Wood in Dartmoor inspired Debra Smitham to capture the moment.

His picture, which was called ‘Breakfast to take away’, also drew praise from Cairngorms National Park Authority CEO Grant Moir. The park boss said: “I am delighted that Pete was able to visit the Cairngorms National Park and get this winning photo.

“We work with our partners in Cairngorms Nature to conserve and protect our natural heritage. The National Parks across the UK each have their own unique needs and challenges when it comes to conserving nature. They are full of people with great expertise and local knowledge who are working tirelessly to support nature and protect the land for future generations.”

The competition drew around 1,700 entries from across the 15 National Parks in the UK via social media. The subject matter ranged from outstanding wildlife shots, landscapes to people.

Judges shortlisted pictures from a variety of the UK’s National Parks, including a greedy puffin in the Pembrokeshire Coast and a magical landscape from the Brecon Beacons in Wales. There were also images of a red squirrel and a caver from the Yorkshire Dales National Park. Plus landscapes from Dartmoor and Exmoor.

Shaun Davey looked up to get this image of the ring of beech trees at Three Combes Foot in Exmoor National Park.

A remarkable picture of a waterfall blowing upwards was adjudged the runner up. Sam and Ike Walker’s shot was taken at Kinder Downfall in the Peak District during Storm Dennis.

But it was Pete Stevens’ hunting osprey, which walked away with the main prize of a feature spread in Viewpoint, Campaign for National Parks’ membership magazine.

A message from the Editor:

‘Thank you for reading this story on our website. While I have your attention, I also have an important request to make of you.

Photographer Andrew Brooks captured this scene at Dyffryn Crawnon in the Brecon Beacons.

‘In order for us to continue to provide high quality and trusted local news on this free-to-read site, I am asking you to also please purchase a copy of our newspaper.

‘Our journalists are highly trained and our content is independently regulated by IPSO to some of the most rigorous standards in the world. But being your eyes and ears comes at a price. So we need your support more than ever to buy our newspapers during this crisis.

‘With the coronavirus lockdown having a major impact on many of our local valued advertisers - and consequently the advertising that we receive - we are more reliant than ever on you helping us to provide you with news and information by buying a copy of our newspaper.

‘Thank you.’

Jason Davies' picture of puffin with its catch was taken on the Pembrokeshire Coast.
Jonathan Green's close up of a dragonfly was shortlisted by the judges.
A caver admiring the stunning view from the window in Alum Pot in the Yorkshire Dales National Park, earned Rhiannon Hobbs a place on the competition shortlist.
Deborah Clarke's shot of a red squirrel in the Yorkshire Dales National Park.
Andrew Sweeney got up early to photograph the mist clearing over West Mill Tor, Dartmoor.