A PRISTINE National Trust reserve has been shortlisted for a prestigious award celebrating the best of the British countryside.

The ninth annual BBC Countryfile Magazine has now opened the polls for the public to vote on which landmarks they admire.

Northey Island, an undisturbed saltmarsh near Maldon, has been nominated in the category of Nature Reserve of the Year.

A spokesman said: “Cut off from the mainland by the tides twice a day, this wild, undisturbed saltmarsh is home to vast numbers of geese, ducks and waders in winter.

“It rang with the cries of Vikings during the Battle of Maldon in 991, but is now a beautiful National Trust reserve.”

The island was recently crowned winner in the nature conservation category of the Maldon District Conservation and Design Awards.

As part of the National Trust’s goal to maintain the saltmarsh over the next century, the project aimed to reform a section of mudbank with sediment dredged from the Maldon Harbour.

The magazine has put together a panel of expert judges including Countryfile presenter Tom Heap.

Mr Heap said: “I see a lot of the country in my job, but judging these awards really opened my eyes to further beauty spots and admirable green schemes.”

Magazine editor Fergus Collins added: “This is probably the strongest line-up yet in the eight years we have been running these awards.

“Our expert judging panel spent many hours honing the contenders and we ended up with shortlists that truly celebrate the best of the British countryside.”

Voting opened this week and the polls will close at midnight on Friday, February 28.

Winners will be announced on Monday, March 9 and will feature in the May issue of BBC Countryfile Magazine.

For details, visit countryfile.com/awards.