289 episodes

Countryside magazine featuring the people and wildlife that shape the landscape of the British Isles

Open Country BBC

    • Science

Countryside magazine featuring the people and wildlife that shape the landscape of the British Isles

    Halsway Manor

    Halsway Manor

    Helen Mark heads to the Quantock Hills to visit the national centre for folk arts and meet some of the people taking part in a 'Winter Warmer' celebration of music and dance. She meets musician Becki Driscoll whose track 'Cold Light' was composed in the summer house at the Manor, and asks Chief Executive Crispian Cook about the history of this residential haven for folk arts. Helen catches Moira Gutteridge for a chat just as she's about to lead a walk, and high on top of the Quantocks she speaks to Philip Comer, Chair of the 'Friends of the Quantocks' about the area, the grazing rights on common land and why it's not a good idea to feed the wild ponies. Roger and Nanette Phipps tell Helen why the spot for the Maypole is currently taken up with flower bulbs, and how according to local legend dragons may still lurk in the surrounding hills. There's also time for a spot of sword-dancing which is not as easy as it's made to look.

    The music is performed by Becki Driscoll, Ted Morse, Peter and Moira Gutteridge and Mary Rhodes.

    Producer: Toby Field

    • 24 min
    Tintagel

    Tintagel

    Helen Mark visits Tintagel in Cornwall to cross the new bridge which now links the castle to the mainland. She discovers its links with the legends of King Arthur, the way that this myth has shaped the buildings we now see in this landscape and the people who live there and finds that the real historic importance of this part of the UK is only just beginning to be understood.

    • 24 min
    Ryebank Fields

    Ryebank Fields

    Ryebank Fields is a small patch of land in Chorlton in the south of Manchester. Spanning around eleven acres this overgrown piece of grassland has become a favourite spot for the community's families to wander, explore and play. But this much-loved spot is now under threat. The owners, Manchester Metropolitan University, want to sell the land for development into housing and invest the money back into their existing inner-city site.

    Campaigner Julie Ryan tells her she used to play there as a child before taking her own children there. She says it's her go-to place when she's stressed out, and together with campaigner Tara Parry they take Helen Mark on a tour. Tara describes Ryebank as the "green lungs" of Manchester and talks about why the land could have a future as a community garden and orchard. Steve Silver and Helen walk around the oak trees that he planted at the turn of the Millennium and says that he'd love it to be renamed "Silver's Wood" in the future. All three herald Ryebank as a habitat for wildlife and plantlife. Archaeologist Dr. Michael Nevell shows Helen the historic Nico Ditch and separates fact from folklore about its status and significance. Dr. Rebecca Taylor tells Helen about her work looking into the benefits of semi-wild green spaces in cities and how planners could consider the non-monetary value of these spaces in the future. Helen also speaks to Michael Taylor from Manchester Metropolitan University who argues that the money from the sale of Ryebank can be invested back into the University's inner-city campus and cites the sustainable measures that will be put in place as part of any development.

    Presenter: Helen Mark
    Producer: Toby Field

    • 24 min
    The Chilterns - a new National Landscape?

    The Chilterns - a new National Landscape?

    Ian Marchant visits the Chilterns to test out some of the ideas for new ‘National Landscapes’ in the recent government-commissioned Glover Review into England’s National Parks. What barriers do some people face when it comes to visiting the countryside? (Hint: it’s not just owning a pair of wellies). And why does spending a night under the stars for every child matter for the protection of the countryside?

    Ian meets the author of the new review, Julian Glover, in a wet wood above Wendover, just a stone's throw from the Prime Minister's country residence, Chequers. Julian is confident that the government will support his recommendations, one of which is to improve access to the countryside for people from diverse backgrounds. This includes High Wycombe born-and-bred Sadia Hussain, who loves the countryside but understands some of the barriers faced by people like her parents, who settled here from Pakistan. To them, the countryside has a different meaning and set of associations. And it also includes Layla Ashraf-Carr, a Chiltern Ranger. Born in Singapore, Layla suspects the Malay side of her family might have preferred her to be a lawyer or a doctor rather than a custodian of the natural landscape.

    Ian also meets farmer Ian Waller, who loves his worms and his flock of Herdwick sheep, and historian and teacher Stuart King, who can explain how the landscape of the Chilterns allowed the local furniture making industry to flourish.
    Producer Mary Ward-Lowery

    • 24 min
    Planting Trees to Save the Planet in Cumbria

    Planting Trees to Save the Planet in Cumbria

    Helen mark meets teenage environmental campaigner Amy Bray in her native Cumbria as she plants trees to help halt climate change. Amy has inspired her community to take action with a no plastic shop and helped to raise awareness with a mass fell climbing. Helen helps her as she takes on her latest challenge - to plant more trees and help to create natural flood defences as well as absorb carbon

    • 24 min
    Skateboarding in the Woods

    Skateboarding in the Woods

    Ruth Sanderson discovers a skateboarding camp, deep in the Forest of Dean. Camp Hillcrest mixes urban pursuits with forest living, and Ruth visits when the residential camp is in full swing. Kids come to be fully immersed in everything about skating culture, all in the idyllic setting of the Gloucestershire woods. The owner, Tom Seaton, tells Ruth how he has discovered this combination of urban skate vibe mixed with forest school activities engages children who otherwise wouldn't be attracted to the countryside, and gives them a unique experience.

    Produced by Beatrice Fenton

    • 24 min

Customer Reviews

Jeffmb77 ,

Pigeon folk not for nature??

I refer to the episode 5th Dec 2019, secret life of pigeons... it was pleasant to listen to the pigeon folk telling tales past and present about their pigeon racing hobby. However, when the subject of Peregrine Falcons came up the mood soured, as the racers voiced their barely vailed hate towards these beautiful creatures! The simple fact is this is the Falcons world, and pigeons are their prey. To moan about them like they are a pest or vermin, and to fire fireworks at them, is all frankly disgusting. Racing is a dying hobby they say.... Certainly the racers disregard for true nature is something I’d welcome dying out...

lingl0ngling ,

Pigeons

That pigeon episode was great, more stuff like that please

Thruxton John ,

Rewam

Why are the current programmes not showing up as podcasts??

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