Appropriately, Ystwyth means supple in English, because with its shifting currents braiding silvery sands, its course changes often and it is never quite the same as when you last saw it. In spate its levels fluctuate dramatically. Plants like alpine pennycress take root and then vanish. From its boggy source in the Cambrian Mountains to Aberyswtwyth where it slips quietly into the Rheidol, Afon Ystwyth is a secretive stream.

Read more in BBC Countryfile Magazine, Special Issue, Autumn 2017

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Photos by the lovely Giles W Bennett


Soaring in linguistic isolation among other Snowdonia Mountains such as Tryfan, Glyder Fawr and Carnedd Gwenllian, is Cnicht. Its name – the Anglo Saxon word for ‘knight’ was bestowed on it not by local Welsh people, but by medieval sailors who noted its resemblance when viewed from the sea to a fourteenth century bassinet helmet. From the coast it looks so perilous and pointy among the swoops and crests that surround it like lemon-meringue, that pyramidal Cnicht is also known as ‘The Welsh Matterhorn’ though at a sixth of that Alpine great’s height, it is rather more easy to climb.

Read more in the October 2017 edition of BBC Countryfile Magazine



Clutched in the calcerous grip of the Great Orme and Little Orme headlands is Llandudno, where a seafront crescent of palm trees and grand icecream-block-like hotels seems to continue the colours of the Ormes’ vegetation-cloaked limestone pavement.

Mountains brood inland, and behind the hotels, sheltering from the mountains and the sea, bistros hunker beneath ornate arcades. But the brave pier, wave-raked and salt-assaulted, marches boldly into the bay.

Read more in the August 2017 issue of BBC Countryfile Magazine

A cold cloud swirls down from the hills and cloaks the chapel, the slagheaps, the grey stone and pebbledash houses and the brightly coloured playground. The roads are empty, and the school quiet, its roof ripped off by Storm Barbara. This is Rhosgadfan, where Kate Roberts spent her childhood on the slopes of Moel Tryfan and Moel Smytho” and is the setting for her earlier novels including Feet in Chains and Tea in the Heather. Suddenly the cloud dissolves. The sea glitters, skylarks rise over the moors, children laugh on the swings and the mountains are revealed.

Read more in the July edition of BBC Countryfile Magazine 2017

‘Firelight flickers over faces and gilds the silhouette of a bicycle tossed to the ground as we join a small crowd of people sitting on strawbales around a musician and his acoustic guitar. Suddenly I’m awash with serene joy and equanimity. I often get this feeling at festivals – like I do after days spent hiking – a kind of fusion with the landscape, but at festivals it’s also about shared human spirit…’

Read more in the June edition of BBC Countryfile Magazine

‘Independent by nature, Corsica began life as part of the Alps but broke free about twenty million years ago to slowly migrate across the Mediterranean. Several hiking routes cross this fascinating island, including the GR20 – allegedly Europe’s most gruelling trek; a goat-track which scrambles from north to south across the peaks of an alpine chain. By contrast the Mare a Mare Nord is a challenging but more manageable mule-path which takes you into beautiful mountain country from Moriani Plage in the east to the west-coast fishing port of Carghese. ‘

Read more in the Spring edition of Country Walking magazine.

‘At lunch, we squeeze into the tiny tearoom, and the conversation becomes nostalgic. ‘Whatever happened’ says Jan wistfully, ‘to those bacon-flavoured piglet crisps they sold in the canal shop?’ Chris recalls wandering about the Beacons with a chicken-paste sandwich and a sauce bottle of squash, prompting Ray to remember making fishing weights at home. ‘Sometimes the lead would explode out of the fire’ he laughs ‘and get stuck in the coconut matting. It got so heavy my Mam had to throw it out!”

Read more in BBC Countryfile Magazine, April 2017