Ten of the UK's most glorious natural landmarks are battling to win £17 million in Lottery funding after being granted initial support for a range of conservation and restoration projects.
The first-round passes mean the sites progress to a second round, when they submit a further, fully-developed application in pursuit of the full award.
The HLF warned that competition is "tough" at this stage, but have put each funding allocation aside in an "early level of strong financial commitment" aiming to help the nominees meet the final criteria.
(Above) Avalon Marshes – first-round pass of £1,867,900, including £95,400 development funding
More than 15,000 hectares of land in the Brue valley, west of Glastonbury, including Somerset's four national nature reserves, a special protection area for birds and 25 scheduled ancient monuments on flat open landscape, wet pasture, woodlands and prominent hills.
Water level maintenance, the restoration of traditional grazing techniques and industry features and volunteering and training programmes will be pursued in the project.
(Above) The Belfast Hills – first-round pass of £1,217,800, including £60,100 development funding
A 4,400 hectare backdrop to the Northern Irish capital. This scheme will unite the inhabitants of the rural Belfast Hills and those of the urban north and west Belfast, Lisburn, Newtownabbey and rural Antrim. Walks, species surveying and visitor guidance will actively involve local people.
(Above) Solway Wetlands – first-round pass of £1,981,700, including £98,500 development funding Image © Countryside Agency / Charlie Hedley
Cumbrian Area of Natural Beauty featuring nationally rare habitats such as salt marsh and peat bogs and a dense network of rivers, streams and ditches which are important for migratory wildfowl and wading birds as well as threatened species such as the natterjack toad.
The scheme will restore and conserve different parts of the natural and built landscape, including 12 wetland sites, improve access to the wetlands and look at long-term environmental initiatives.
(Above) The Meres and Mosses – first-round pass of £1,055,400, including £82,400 development funding
Glacial lakes, canals, wetlands, heathlands, small hills and Ice Age habitats covering 17,200 hectares across Shropshire and Cheshire.
Shropshire Wildlife Trust and its partners plan to give residents a greater insight into the importance of conserving this special area by bringing them together with landowners and environment agencies to learn more about it.
(Above) Druridge Bay – first-round pass of £1,899,100, including £81,200 development funding
Conservation and regeneration scheme on the rolling beaches of the Northumberland coastland, protecting sand dunes from erosion and connecting the area – made up of a number of former pit-villages and restored open-cast coal sites with high levels of social deprivation – back to the landscape.
The five other potential winners:
The White Cliffs of Dover – first-round pass of £1,602,200, including £57,700 development funding
Dame Vera Lynn's favourite stretch of chalk downland around Dover and Folkestone has a rich set of habitats which will be protecting with expert conservation techniques and an extensive programme of activities including themed talks, demonstrations and guided walks. An education centre will also be built.
Tees Vale and Barnard Castle – first-round pass of £1,999,700, including £87,200 development funding
Roman heartland of farmland, ancient woodlands, small villages and country parks testifying to the lead mining industry and featuring the romantic ruins of Barnard Castle, which inspired a number of distinguished writers and artists including Wordsworth, Dickens and Turner. This five-year conservation project will concentrate on the community.
Mourne Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty – first-round pass of £1,609,500, including £97,000
County Down hotspot of spectacular scenery, made up of mountains, upland heath and blanket bogs with an industrial past. The project will focus on "reconnecting people to their natural and cultural heritage" through skill-learning and improved land management.
Staffordshire Moorlands – first-round pass of £1,999,000, including £100,000 development funding
Improved land use and better transport links to allow visitors to enjoy 20,000 hectares of land around the Churnet Valley to the north-east of Stoke-on-Trent. Local people will learn new heritage skills such as dry stone walling and hedgelaying with the potential for both paid and voluntary job opportunities.
Clyde and Avon Valley – first-round pass of £2,000,000, including £100,000 development funding
A programme of practical activities will introduce the community to the traditional industries of these valleys, covering almost 13,000 hectares of central Scotland. Woodland management, stone conservation, traditional crafts and trades and soft fruit production are on the agenda in gorges famed for a rich array of birdlife.