A TV series to shine a light on life in the Brecon Beacons
A Year in the Beacons tells about life through the seasons in the beautiful Brecon Beacons National Park in Wales and is narrated by actress Dame Siân Phillips.
From fall 2019 until the end of summer 2020, this new series celebrates the breathtaking scenery and the people of the Beacons as they face a year like no other. A year that has seen the flooding caused by Storm Dennis and the unprecedented changes of the Covid pandemic.
Viewers in Wales will be able to watch the series from Monday March 8 with a network release slated for later this year.
The program designers tell the story of the year through the eyes of three different groups, whose lives are intrinsically linked to the Brecon Beacons and the landscape. Harry Legge-Bourke and the staff of the Glanusk Estate; the Brecon Mountain Rescue Team and the Phillips family, who have farmed in the foothills of Pen y Fan, South Wales’ highest mountain, for over a hundred years.
Viewers will see the ups and downs that each season brings. For the Phillips family on their farm, the hard work continues all year round. They are one of the few farms with the right to graze their sheep on the slopes of Pen y Fan. Each spring they herd their herd the five miles to the mountains, before herding them again for the breeding season in the fall. It is an amazing sight that has been observed in these mountains for thousands of years. For farmer Andrew, aka Flash, it’s a chance to share a tradition with his father who ran the farm before him.
“I don’t think he’s missed a rally for sixty years,” says Andrew. “He’s been doing it since he was little.”
For Harry Legge-Bourke, there is great pressure to make the Glanusk Estate near Crickhowell, which has been in his family for seven generations, a success. Nestled in a valley between the Beacons and the Black Mountains, the 20,000 acre estate of Glanusk is one of the most beautiful in Wales. But the long lockdown causes serious financial problems for Harry as events and visitors, who help fund the estate, dry up.
Harry told the program: “You can plan a lot of things, but not a global pandemic that is going to stop you overnight, and there is this real fear ‘Harry, don’t block him'”.
But, never one to give up, Harry is launching a series of new initiatives to attract visitors, including the opening of a new trailer park and a golf course on the estate.
Harry explains: “The trailer park opened very late and at great expense last year. The hope was that it would be the cash cow. How are we going over the next 18 months?
“Are you taking another loan after another loan after another loan because the banks might turn around and say ‘no Harry, I’m sorry you’ve got enough debt already?’
“It’s a bit of a squeaky bottom moment.”
Each year, the Brecon Beacons National Park attracts over 4 million visitors, who enjoy its stunning scenery and breathtaking walks. And despite the park being closed for periods due to the national lockdown, it is proving to be a busy year for the Brecon Mountain Rescue Team who are inundated with calls for the national park to reopen.
ITV Wales cameras are filming as volunteer teams carry out a number of dramatic rescues, including saving the lives of two snowboarders who are lost and trapped in deep snow drifts.
They also show the evacuation of a man suffering from a heart attack at the top of Pen y Fan.
“I was preparing to say goodbye, but they did not give up touching me,” said the victim.
“It’s thanks to them that I’m on the road to recovery. Mountain rescuers have their biggest fan in me now. Without them, I wouldn’t be alive, he added.
The series is narrated by Dame Siân Phillips, who grew up in the west of the national park.
Jonathan Hill, Senior Network Programs Editor at ITV Cymru Wales added: “We are delighted with the series which is full of beautiful scenery and wonderful people who are fortunate enough to live in this enchanting place.
“To have such a beautiful Welsh actress lending her voice to such a magical series is the icing on the cake. I’m sure viewers will be delighted “