Archives for category: BBC Countryfile Magazine

It’s not as if the south Gower coast is otherwise unremarkable; maritime grassland atop limestone rock that’s been scoured into beaches and bone caves, yielding to an expansive sea with Devon fizzing on the horizon. But Three Cliffs Bay is a bit special. The cliffs are triangles of a single promontory swimming out like a dragon to guard a bay brightly ringed by Pennard Pill, which has squirmed through the saltmarsh to reach it. At high tide, Great Tor in the west grants seclusion. But at the tide’s ebb, Three Cliffs Bay merges with Tor Bay, Oxwich Bay and Pobbles Bay, to create one vast dazzling magnitude of sand.

Read more in the January 2020 edition of BBC Countryfile Magazine


The Heart of Wales is a venerable line. A two (often one) carriage trundler that just escaped Beeching’s axe, the guards are courteous, request stops are frequent and trees sometimes tap on the windows; a branch line in more than one sense. The passengers, chatting in English or Welsh, aren’t in a hurry. They’ve been shopping, walking, or watching the rugby. Kerry and Wendy from Llandybie are enjoying free winter travel offered to Welsh bus-pass holders. And hikers George and Dave, are doing the Heart of Wales Line Trail.

Read more in the December 2019 edition of BBC Countryfile Magazine


Ruins remember what is lost. The bereft settlements. The toppled kingdoms. Castell y Bere is no longer the example of Welsh potency it was when built by Llywelyn ap Iorwerth in 1220, shortly after he was recognised by Henry III as Prince of all Wales. Relations between the two soon soured, and Henry began a campaign against Wales he upheld even after Llywelyn’s death. Now bats make forays through the portcullis. Moths ambush the rock-cut ditch, rusty-back ferns and navelwort scale the keep, ragwort crowns the towers, and algae festers in the well.

Read more in the November 2019 edition of BBC Countryfile Magazine


‘Llyn Cynwch is a conversation between the elements – an expression of light, an intervention of rain, a murmur of breeze. The undersides of overhanging leaves reflect light from its surface. Tree trunks stripe its bed with shadows interrupted by ripples. The broadleaf woodland on its bank casts reflections and shade, suggesting the water is deep and dark, though elsewhere it’s ethereal, consulting the clouds or dazzling in agreement with the sun.’

Read more in the August 2019 edition of BBC Countryfile Magazine

The small, stony and seal-frequented coves of Cwm Tydu and Cwm Silio are hugged by low cliffs whose strata is twisted into smiles. Characteristically for Ceredigion, a sliver of maritime grassland is sandwiched between the coast and a landscape of pasture, small farms and villages cleft by wooded river valleys and scored by scant narrow lanes which make driving here in summer inadvisable.

Read more in the June 2019 edition of BBC Countryfile Magazine


‘Above the falls, the Berwyns, bare and blasted, hold snow for longer than anywhere else in Wales. It’s easy up there to envisage the Ice Age in which the falls were created and the valleys gouged. Easier to imagine the frozen tundra of frigid winds, stunted shrubs, horses, Arctic foxes, lemmings and steppe pika that replaced the glaciers, than the forest which replaced it.’

Read more in the January 2019 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



‘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


‘There is a part of the river just above the falls which balloons slightly so that its edges are shallow and clear, disturbed only by wavelets even while the main channel is turbulent white-water. Here at the edge a grey wagtail works its way up the stones of a miniature waterfall, its yellow under-plumage contrasted by green moss, poised and apparently undisturbed by the river’s tumult.’

Read more in BBC Countryfile Magazine, July 2018


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