Deep in Snowdonia lies a lake across which an island once floated. In folklore this is not unusual. St Brendan’s Isles drifted around the globe for centuries, and seven of Britain’s canonised saints apparently floated to our shores on a sod. But in this case the island was real, and unusual enough for Edmund Halley the astronomer to swim out and see for himself in 1698. He described a piece of turf broken loose from the bank and buoyed up by the lightness of “broad-spreading fungous roots on its sides.”

Read more in the November 2018 edition of BBC Countryfile Magazine

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St Bride’s Bay. Cormorants roost on Stack Rocks and large vessels wait for anchorage in Milford Haven. Behind the rugged red and grey cliffs, bent sometimes into extraordinary caves, broken sometimes by sandy bays, is a hinterland of undulating pasture and isolated farms. In 1977, this was the setting for an episode of modern folklore.

Read more in the November 2018 edition of BBC Countryfile Magazine

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‘Its bark is cool and smooth. Its nobbled wood, almost pink, resembles broken coral. A mulch of needles collect in its hollows. There is a feeling of solemnity here, and serenity, perhaps even solace. That it may be one and a half rather than four thousand years old does nothing to diminish its greatness’

Read more in the October 2018 edition of BBC Countryfile Magazine

 

‘Halfway up Cadair Idris beneath a precipice often in cloud is Llyn-y-Cau. The lake lies in a glacial cirque scoured by retreating ice and dammed with gravel. Little has changed since. Wilson’s painting is still recognisable. So too are the adjustments he made to simplify the background and exaggerate the height of the precipice – probably not to suggest the emotion and drama that Romanticists would later seek, but to balance the scene in order to convey a sense of organized grandeur.’

Read more in the September 2018 issue of BBC Countryfile Magazine

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‘Land is low-lying between the Derwent and the Humber, rising only gently to meet the Yorkshire Wolds. In winter Pocklington Canal is barely discernible from the floods that swamp meadows and fen, attracting waterfowl like whimbrel, golden plover and ruff. In summer great burnet, meadow foxtail and sneezewort flourish, lapwings, curlew and snipe breed, and enriched with alluvial silt, legumes and maize ripen. Cleaving a gentle bend from East Cottingwith to Pocklington, the canal remains elusive. Everything is green – meadows give to rush and aquatic plants. Edges dissolve. But it catches your breath when you find it. The sparkling water teems with lilies and fish.’

Read more in the September 2018 edition of BBC Countryfile Magazine

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The security guard says he loves the flash-mob dancers, he says he ain’t seen nothing like that in Birmingham. He asked to come to WOMAD he says, because he’d heard it was chilled and he’s sick of trouble. He’s sick of it. He’s been stabbed four times, he says. And he’s sick of being called racist, just for chucking people out and he doesn’t know if they’re Muslim or Christian or what but if they’re acting with aggression that’s why. It’s only when they see his girlfriend that they believe, he is not, a racist. You need to understand people, he says, before you judge them.

The security guard says he likes the smell of the trees and the ground. He says when you’ve spent all your life in the city it’s amazing. He is watching some women pouring wine and says he’s supposed to confiscate that, if it was Creamfields they’d be bottling each other, but it’s different here and he’ll wait for them to drink it and then he’ll take the glass. The only thing people worry about here is recycling, he says. The security guard jumps when a woman dashes into the tent, brandishing a stick, but it’s covered in shells and she’s made it in a workshop so it’s alright, but he says it threw him for a minute. He says he’s doing a vegan festival next week and his mate’s told him he’ll have to search the bags for knives and that like normal, but he’ll have to confiscate any sausages or cheese and he says that’s blown his mind a bit.

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You can walk for hours along its paths with only mewling gulls for company, sometimes ambushed by drizzle or a Celtic mist that drenches your hair and leaves salt on your skin, but which draws your attention to the flowers at your feet and then suddenly dissipates to reveal a peregrine soaring above a glittering sea.

Read more in the August edition of BBC Countryfile Magazine

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With photography by the marvellous Giles W Bennett http://www.gileswbennett.org.uk/about/4584113654