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Open Country

Podcast Open Country
Podcast Open Country

Open Country


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  • After Dark on the Brecon Beacons
    Long winter nights are a time for hot drinks, closed curtains and snoozing by the fire. Well, not for everyone. In the Brecon Beacons National Park in South Wales, people are up and about all through the night. Emily Knight finds out what they're up to. The Brecon Beacons are recognised as an International Dark Sky Reserve - one of two in Wales and only seventeen in the world. With minimal light pollution, it's possible to see nature as it once was - before the background glow of electric lights got in the way. Head out into the rolling hills at night and you'll see something you'll never be able to see from a city, even on the clearest of nights - the sparkling streak of the Milky Way, cutting the night in two. There's plenty more to be found by the light of the stars. From moth-trappers to starling-spotters to astro-photographers, well-armed with scarves and flasks and head-torches, the dark quiet landscape is alive with activity - if you know where to look. Presented and produced in Bristol by Emily Knight
  • Britain's Forgotten Rainforest
    Did you know that we have rainforest, lush, green rainforest, right here in the UK? Many don't, yet it's once of our most ancient - and threatened - habitats. Gnarled trees, twisted with age, covered from root to tip in mosses and lichens, epiphytic ferns dripping from every branch. Once existing in a vast swathe right down the west coast of Britain, "temperate rainforest" is one of the world's rarest habitats. There are species living here that can live nowhere else, but it's been gradually encroached on by humans for centuries. Now clinging on in small pockets, you can find patches of rainforest if you know where to look: in places like Dartmoor, West Wales and the west coast of Scotland. But there may be other patches out there - quietly enduring the passing centuries. Helen Mark takes a walk into the secret forests of Britain to find out how we can save them. In Wales, projects are underway to save and expand the Celtic Rainforests, rescuing them from invading rhododendrons, and employing some hardy (but elusive) Highland Cattle to help keep the weeds in check. And a new project is launched this year, aiming to find and map the full extend of the British rainforest for the first time. They need your help to track down every last bit of it. Presented by Helen Mark Produced in Bristol by Emily Knight
  • Until the land runs out
    This is the story of a young man called William Henry Quinn who returned from war and walked from Cornwall to Scotland. He also went to Wales, the Cotswolds and the Yorkshire Dales. It's a tale for anyone who has ever tried to regather themselves with a little help from time and landscape, but the truth of his journey is not quite all it seems. There are letters, photos and various objects including a marlin knife, all of them belonging to Lottie Davies. Miles Warde met Lottie Davies out on Dartmoor to find out who Quinn really was, and whether he walked until the land ran out. With contributions from actor Sam Weir and narrated by Kate Chaney. The producer for BBC Audio in Bristol is Miles Warde
  • The right to paddle?
    Did you buy a kayak or perhaps a paddle board after lockdown? And do you know where you can go now? According to Nick Hayes - who lives on a houseboat on the River Thames - you can only legally access around three to four percent of England's waterways. Scotland has the right to roam. Nick is the author of The Book of Trespass and uses his canoe to go shopping and take out his rubbish too. This is fine on his section of the Thames, but he has been confronted on other rivers .... so who owns our waterways, and what exactly are the rules? With further contribution from Ben Seal of British Canoeing, and produced in Bristol by Miles Warde.
  • How to build and paint a bird nest
    Blackbirds, wrens, reed warblers, yellowhammers, sparrows and crows - this is a programme about British birds and the places where they live. One day botanical painter Susan Ogilvy found a strange object on her lawn. It was damp and green, and had been blown out of a tree by a storm. Once it had dried it fluffed up into a beautiful chaffinch nest. Susan was entranced and began to paint it. "Birds follow their own architecture but they use the materials they find around them - twigs and grasses and leaves, and they use them in the spring when they are young and bendy. When we see them in the autumn they've dried up, so everything has become much more brittle." Over the last five years she's painted another seventy abandoned nests, and she's been increasingly helped by neighbours who find them, plus a local expert, Deon Warner. This programme is as much about Deon as it is about Susan herself. Together they stride out across the local Somerset landscape to see what they can find. Produced by Miles Warde with readings by Emily Knight.

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