You just need a peek at the South Downs to see why it was designated as the UK’s latest national park in 2010.
And, thanks to the park authority’s annual photography competition, we get quite a peek!
This year’s competition encouraged shutterbugs to submit their work under the theme “My Tranquil Haven”.
The judging panel was made up of award-winning photographers Finn Hopson, Carlotta Luke and Rachael Talibart, alongside Nick Heasman, Countryside Policy Manager for the South Downs National Park Authority, and SDNPA member Doug Jones.
They were looking for entries that captured a moment of peace and serenity in a turbulent year.
Tim Kahane took top spot — and the £250 prize — with this photo, taken at Chanctonbury Ring.
“I grew up in the shadow of the South Downs, and their contour has been the backdrop to my life,” Tim said.
“Every day the school bus would follow their line, and every day Chanctonbury Ring would dominate the skyline. This emphatic grouping of trees high on a scarp hillside and alone in their mythical company remains an iconic landmark in my life.
“The Downlands are a constant source of inspiration. My photograph of Chanctonbury Ring on a winter’s afternoon is an essence of my relationship with those memories and the landscape. A fraction of a second in 80 million years of evolution.”
“I’ve always found water soothing,” Lindsey Chadwick said. “There’s something about its gentle flow that calms the mind. Especially at dawn when there’s no-one around except you and the birds.
“I took the photo early one midsummer’s morning on one of my favourite sections of the South Downs Way.
“I’ve always loved the South Downs National Park. But this year, the Park has come to mean more to me than ever before. Its beauty has been an endless source of comfort whenever I’ve been able to go there for a walk.”
“The first lockdown we spent at home,” Botond Adjoran said. “At the beginning we really enjoyed the time spent together. We baked pizzas, we read stories to my five-year-old daughter.
“But after a few weeks it became really annoying, so we started to plan an adventure.
“We needed a challenge. After the easing of the lockdown we decided to hike the South Downs Way. We didn’t have time to do all the 100 miles, but in five days we managed to hike nearly half of the route. We definitely will continue the adventure – we plan to finish the South Downs Way in spring.”
The Wildlife category
Winning the wildlife category was Richard Murray, with this amazing photograph taken in Selbourne, Hampshire.
“I visited this location on numerous occasions to photograph local hares and formed a good understanding of their movements in the area,” Richard said.
“On the morning I took the photograph the landscape was transformed by a light dusting of snow.
“I sat still for well over an hour in a field verge with the snow falling around me. I was frozen and about to give up when my patience was rewarded as a drove of hares appeared across the field in front of me.
“Looking through my camera’s viewfinder and seeing these majestic animals in the falling snow sprinting towards me was an unforgettable experience.
“I feel incredibly privileged to live so close to the South Downs National Park and to have access to such a wide variety of beautiful landscapes and animals to photograph in the area.
“ To have won the wildlife category of the South Downs Photography Competition is a surprise and huge honour.”
For more on South Downs National Park, click here to visit their website.
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