A Year in the Beacons chronicles life over the changing seasons in Wales’ beautiful Brecon Beacons National Park and is narrated by actress Dame Siân Phillips.
Starting in Autumn 2019 and filming through to the end of Summer 2020, this new series celebrates the breathtaking landscape and the people of the Beacons, as they face a year like no other. A year that saw floods caused by Storm Dennis and the unprecedented changes of the Covid pandemic.
Viewers in Wales will be able to see the series from Monday 8th March with a network outing planned for later in the year.
Programme makers 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 more than a hundred years.
Viewers will see the highs and lows that each season brings. For the Phillips family at their farm, the hard work goes on all year round. They are one of only a handful of farms with rights to graze their sheep on the slopes of Pen y Fan. Every spring they herd their flock the five miles to the mountains, before gathering them again for breeding season in the autumn. It is an amazing spectacle that has been witnessed in these mountains for thousands of years. For farmer Andrew, aka Flash, it’s a chance to share in a tradition with his father who ran the farm before him.
“I don’t think he’s missed a gathering for sixty years,” says Andrew. “He’s been doing it since he was a boy.”
For Harry Legge-Bourke, the pressure is on to make a success of the Glanusk estate near Crickhowell, that has been in his family for seven generations. Nestled in a valley between the Beacons and the Black Mountains, the 20,000 acres Glanusk estate is one of most beautiful in Wales. But the lengthy lockdown causes major financial concerns for Harry as the events and visitors, which help fund the estate, dry up.
Harry told the programme: “You can plan for a lot of things but not a global pandemic which is going to shut you down overnight, and there is that real fear ‘Harry, don’t cock it up’”.
But, never one to give up, Harry launches a string of new initiatives to attract visitors including opening a new touring caravan park and golf course on the estate.
Harry explains: “The caravan park opened last year very late and at vast expense. The hope was this would be the cash cow. How do we get through this next 18 months?
“Do you take out another loan after another loan after another loan because the banks might turn around and say ‘no, Harry, I’m sorry you are already in debt enough?.
“It’s a bit of a squeaky bottom moment.”
Every year the Brecon Beacons National Park attracts over 4 million visitors, who enjoy its wonderful scenery and breathtaking walks. And despite the park closing for periods due to the national lockdown, it proves to be a busy year for the Brecon Mountain Rescue Team who are inundated with call outs as the National Park is reopened.
ITV Wales cameras film as the volunteer crews 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 who has suffered a heart attack on the summit of Pen y Fan.
“I was preparing to say goodbye, but they didn’t give up getting to me,” explains the casualty.
“It’s thanks to them that I’m well on the road to recovery. The mountain rescue people have their biggest fan in me now. If it wasn’t for them I wouldn’t be alive, he added.
The series is narrated by Dame Siân Phillips, who grew up on the western edge of the national park.
Jonathan Hill, Editor, Network Programmes at ITV Cymru Wales added: “We are thrilled with the series which is full of beautiful scenery and wonderful people who are lucky enough to call this enchanting place home.
“Having such a wonderful Welsh actress lending her voice to such a magical series is the icing on the cake. I’m sure viewers will be enchanted “