One May evening, already enchanted by hedgerows and estuarine coast, I ducked into Whitehill Down and was overwhelmed. The meadow was almost too glorious – an innate memory of something now so rare (we have lost 97% of flower-rich hay meadows) it was almost intangible. But Whitehill Down is no dream. You’ll find it sandwiched by the A477 and Afon Tâf, halfway between Sanclêr (St Clears) and Lacharn (Laugharne). Drivers might miss it, but Wales Coast Path walkers will not – the path goes right through.

Read more in the May 2021 edition of BBC Countryfile Magazine

But maybe you’ll let your mind wander, as you cruise along this wavy-edged clearly-marked route, whooshing through puddles and weaving around ornate rusting lampposts with the westerly wind at your back (take note if planning a there-and-back journey). There are icecream shacks. There are old fashioned puddings at Fortes in Llandrillo-yn-Rhos. There are fairgrounds and rock pools and concrete sea defences that resemble Jacks and Fivestone pieces tumbled by giants. There are turnstones, and fishermen strung hopefully along the seafront, along which a brown wave slaps and rolls, barely breaking, full of sparkles.’

Read more in the April 2021 edition of BBC Countryfile Magazine

Red admirals, commas, peacocks and small tortoiseshells. Speckled woods, small whites and brimstones – even in March there are butterflies at Llanymynech Rocks, and this is just the beginning. In April, pearl-bordered fritillaries, grizzled skippers, holly blues, large whites, green-veined whites and orange tips will emerge. In fact, come summer’s end (climate allowing), 32 species of butterfly will have fluttered about Llanymynech’s old limestone quarries, heath and woods.

Read more in the March 2021 edition of BBC Countryfile Magazine

You’ll perhaps see Atlantic grey seals hauled up in the stony coves of Cwm Tydu, Cwm Silio and Cwm Soden, where the rock strata is extraordinarily squeezed and squashed into grimaces and smiles, before arriving into Cei Newydd. Once a ship-building town like the rest, with a rope-walk and navigation schools, shipwrights and sailmakers, Cei Newydd – with its eateries and regular buses is a jaunty place to finish, despite being sadly no longer inhabited, by captains of the last square-riggers.

Read more in the February 2021 edition of BBC Countryfile Magazine

‘They trickle through trees like oil paint; quavers on a music score of twigs. If they’ve noticed me they are too busy interacting to let on – chasing each other, frisking their tails, making strange ‘chuk-chuk’ sounds. Their tails are loaded paint brushes, tinting the dawn, a Pre-Raphaelite russet contrast to the moss.’

Read more in the January 2021 issue of BBC Countryfile Magazine.

Now rhododendron has crept in, and beneath a dozen dark Douglas Firs, the duff floor is soft as stale bran flakes. A spindly stand of Norway Spruce survives somehow on boggy ground and a few Western Red Cedars, Wellingtonia and Noble Firs snaffle the light. The goat willow, like one or two other straggly broadleafs, struggles for expression between the conifers. But this abandoned pocket is more alive than it seems.

Read more in the Winter 2020 edition of The Centre for Alternative Technology’s magazine; Clean Slate.

‘From deep within a mass of worm-riddled timber apparently shipwrecked in squally showers on Stiperstones, a small spiky green leaf somehow sprouts. There is life in this old holly yet.

Holly enriches our folklore. Some claim it was a goblin and lightning deterrent, and others that it was allowed to grow tall and prickly to hinder witches who got about the countryside by walking on hedges.’

Read more in the December 2020 issue of BBC Countryfile Magazine

‘When seen from Garn Goch – a coarse sandstone hill mantled with glacial till and topped with an Iron Age hillfort, the small village of Bethlehem appears as a huddle of shining buildings in the gloriously sprawling Tywi Valley. If you have a romantic bent, I find that squinting gives the tawny hills a desert-like patina, and makes the simple white buildings not unreminiscent of Palestinian homes.’

Read more in the December issue of BBC Countryfile Magazine.

‘They crowd in, these cloud-skirmished hills. Some are conifer-black. Others have grass pelts from which rocks protrude like broken bones, and ponds that glint on their summits. Quarries yawn. Raptors scream. Sheep scatter. These are wild enough hills alright, even without their historical association with the Red-haired Bandits of Mawddwy – Gwylliaid Cochion Mawddwy, in Welsh.’

Read more in the November 2020 edition of BBC Countryfile Magazine

‘Melangell, so the story goes, an Irish princess who crossed the sea to escape an arranged marriage, found refuge in Cwm Pennant – a Welsh valley embraced by the Berwyn Mountains. Nowadays, red kite and rooks carve arcs in its sky, wrens sing, squirrels traverse its trees, and pheasants – well pheasants are everywhere. Deep in the valley’s heart, surrounded by gnarled and fissured yews, is the Shrine Church of Saint Melangell. It was built in the 11th century to replace a 7th-century wooden structure and contains the oldest Romanesque shrine in northern Europe, which allegedly harbours Melangell’s relics.’

Read more in the November 2020 edition of BBC Countryfile Magazine

Photo by Rev Chris Browne