‘It’s a funny little site’ says Andrew Roberts, the National Trust ranger who cares for Mosshill and the ponies which graze it in winter.  Neither farmland nor technicolour dazzle, this meadow is uneven and rocky. ‘But’ Andrew continues, ‘botanically it is very important. In early summer we’ve got orchids – butterfly, early purple, and a record of frog orchid. There’s betony and yellow rattle, then come August-September, devil’s-bit scabious.’

Read more in the May 2020 edition of BBC Countryfile Magazine

Photograph by Plantlife http://www.plantlife.org.uk

At night, the old town is dark except for a few lights reflected in the rain. Streets disappear into a perspective of dripping wires and gangi-dori. The old town, with its scent of red pine, is like an abandoned piece of antique furniture with quiet sliding drawers and grainy gold lustre, full of rainy temples, and dignified folded people slipping into shadows behind mysterious doors. But it is a magic box and I can’t get in.

Extract from The Murmuration. Read more in An Open Door; New Travel Writing for a Precarious Century, Edited by Steven Lovatt, published by Parthian, May 2022

“‘The Murmuration’ by Julie Brominicks, on the other hand, is an episodic account of a ‘Brit on a scholarship’ to Japan that deals expertly with questions of identity and belonging.” From review by Josh Weeks for Wales Arts Review https://www.walesartsreview.org/an-open-door-ed-steven-lovatt-travel-writing/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=an-open-door-ed-steven-lovatt-travel-writing

The ponds welcome rain with a gentle hiss. A drop lands on a water lily leaf and rolls to the centre where more raindrops accumulate and enlarge until, too heavy at last, they slide into the water through the slit in the leaf. I am watching a frog watching me. Despite being overcast, it is luminous, poetic even, under the trees by the lily ponds…

Being both popular and environmentally sensitive, Llynnoedd Bosherston (Bosherston Lily Ponds) in the western extremity of Sir Benfro (Pembrokeshire) is one place that to visit, deserves careful and imaginative planning. The ponds are special, forming one of very few hard water mesotrophic lakes in Wales. They are spring-fed, so lucid, but artificial – created by the Cawdors of Stagbwll (Stackpole), in testament to that period zest for water features. Weirs were built across three adjacent valleys to slow the water’s flow to the sea, and the resultant ponds stocked with lilies and fish. But it is the underlying limestone which is responsible for the concentration of calcium carbonates which encourage the growth of the stoneworts that are sensitive to nutrient enrichment. The combination of natural ecology and human intervention has resulted in a biodiverse-rich site (12 species of bat, 40 species of dragonfly, 30 species of butterfly) – that requires continued stewardship. 

Read more in the May 2022 edition of BBC Countryfile Magazine

Walking weekends nourish body and soul. Trekking just that little bit further increases our exposure to fresh air and the restorative phytoncides plants release, while the satisfaction that accompanies singing muscles, tingling skin and a hearty appetite at the end of the day is a truth universally acknowledged. Where we might differ in opinion of course, is how then, best to relax. For some, nothing less than a lavish meal you don’t have to cook and a comfortable bed followed by a big fried breakfast will do. Others prefer to extend their rapport with the wild by sleeping outdoors – and camping is certainly a cheap option.

Read more in the April 2022 edition of BBC Countryfile Magazine

Gold light floods the grazing land between the two woodlands, saturated by an avian soundtrack so tangible it is almost visible – a cloud of chirrups, whistles, warbles and trills. Dawn-fresh dewy grass shimmers.

You might not expect these tired old inter-war plantations to be the setting for such an ebullient dawn chorus. The Corsican pines in Coedwig Pen-bre are diseased and wind-stunted, while those in its nursery wood Coed Pen-y-Bedd, are ivy-swaddled as jungle-swamped temples. But even these veterans provide homes for greater-spotted woodpeckers, blackbirds, owls, and common crossbills. More importantly, as forest management continues to evolve (with a Coedwig Pen-bre Recovery Plan) they are belted by broadleaf coppice and scrub from which the majority of the birdsong emanates.

Read more in the March 2022 edition of BBC Countryfile Magazine

It is a wow moment. The walk here was impressive, with its views to Eryri (Snowdonia) summits – but now that I am peering into Moel Tryfan Quarry, I am stunned.

It is the colours that are beautifully shocking. The detergent-blue reservoir lying in a crushed ring of purple slate is encircled by green-gold grass and snow-powdered peaks roaring up to a bruised sky.

I have walked here before – I remember being saluted by a passing scrambler-bike rider, and swirling cloud revealing waste tips and walls – I already knew the quarry had drama; but I had not before seen its true colours.

Now cloud dissolves the hues, leaving only a memory – and slate waste underfoot that clatters or shatters, fragile yet resilient.

Read more in the March 2022 edition of BBC Countryfile Magazine

Last month a fellow writer contacted me. He found ‘the recent flowering of solo women walkers’ to be an interesting phenomenon and would appreciate my views.  

This comment was the last of so many pertaining to ‘women walking’, that have come my way in the nine years that I have been a hiker-who-writes (as opposed to a hiker who doesn’t), that I figured it was finally time to get my head around the subject which I have hitherto ignored. After all, to me, hiking (or long distance walking) is a leisure pursuit which has nothing to do with gender. Like playing the violin, you either do it or you don’t, and you either prefer to do it alone or in company. End of – or so I thought.

Read more in the New Welsh Review

https://newwelshreview.com/solo-women-walking-so-what

As the last scene concludes we are left with a notion of red. Red skirt, red-coats, red fox, red bracken, red sky. Techni-colour was brand new when Gone to Earth was released in 1950, and the cinematography vivid.   

Read more in the February 2022 edition of BBC Countryfile Magazine

Just as light seems to be vanishing it reappears, reflected back by the sea. To eyes that have adjusted to winter and tuned into the subtleties of dusk and dawn, there can sometimes appear to be more light than usual, in winter. It is an illusion of course. While snow and frost is no longer guaranteed, winter still delivers longer nights replete with the magic of flame and fairy-light. Meanwhile outdoor winter light is so subtle, so ethereal, so much rarer, it is lovelier to me than summer sun. Beaches, where shifting seas swallow the light and shine it back like a lantern just when you think it’s all gone, are excellent places to appreciate its vagaries.

Read more in the January 2022 edition of BBC Countryfile Magazine

‘Two years before the domestic fuel burning regulations were announced, Guy Mayer reversed up mum’s drive, up-ended his truck, and her first firewood delivery slid out with a biscuity clatter. Golden brown and still warm from the kiln, the logs burned brightly in her new stove.

The regulations (which took effect in May 2021) did not mean curtains for firewood producers like Guy, whose logs already met the required 20% maximum moisture content. Instead, they tackle the particularly high level of air pollution associated with burning wet wood (and coal), which homeowners in England (regulations vary slightly between devolved nations) are no longer permitted to do. And not surprisingly – government data published in February revealed that domestic wood burning is the biggest source of small particulate air pollution in the UK – despite just 8% of us burning wood at home, according to a second report. Which introduces another issue. There is simply not enough land to provide wood fuel for very many homes.’

Read more in the December 2021 issue of BBC Countryfile Magazine