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‘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.

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‘The church is small and stoic with rubble-stone whitewashed walls, the squat bell tower not unreminiscent of a Mediterranean chapel. Turfy ground between the church and its surrounding enclosure slopes to the top of the drystone walls, perhaps to let the sheep out but not in, though they tend to use the open gate. You can hear them munch the grass encroaching over the paving slabs. They rub against the graves, some of which are neat and spruce, while others are splintered into shards.’

Read more in the December 2019 issue of BBC Countryfile Magazine

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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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