‘Without the auks, you can see the Precambrian rock is bent from the earth’s movements into grimaces and smiles. Rust-red, blue-grey and yellow, it has a strange toughened texture, somewhat akin to partially melted plastic. Scanning it for birds, there appear to be none. And then, there’s a slight movement, barely a blur, almost imagined. A rock pipit, perfectly camouflaged, has emerged from a crevice to feed off the cliff surface.’

Read more in the January 2018 edition of BBC Countryfile Magazine




In north Pembrokeshire, a lane striped with moss between high hedge-banks stitched with thorn, dips, meets a stream, and arrives at a whitewashed building; Melin Tregwynt, one of eight working wool mills in Wales.

Woven Welsh wool was part of an important cottage industry for hundreds of years, and by the Industrial Age was worn by colliers and steelworkers. But even then, most mills were small and attached to farms.

Read more in the December 2017 issue of BBC Countryfile Magazine

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‘On arrival, passengers are still smitten by the Mynach Falls crashing into the gorge beneath the gloriously gothic Devil’s Bridge, which has more than a dash of the Victorian sublime. More importantly, this woodland is (save for the odd rhododendron) little changed since the retreat of the glaciers. Preserved by its vertiginous slopes, slender birch and lichen-fissured sessile-oaks with epiphytes a-tremble, still reach for the light, just as they did 10,000 years ago when pine martens were abundant.’

Read more in the November edition of BBC Countryfile Magazine


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 http://www.gileswbennett.org.uk/

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