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factual
OPEN COUNTRY
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Open Country
Sat  6.10 - 6.35am
Thurs 1.30 - 2.00pm (rpt)
Local people making their corner of rural Britain unique
This week
Saturday 31st March 2007
Listen to this programme in full
Cwm Idwal
In this week’s Open Country,
Iolo Williams
is in the large glaciated cirque of Cwm Idwal
in Snowdonia.
Just east of Bethesda in North Wales, Cwm Idwal is surrounded by spectacular three thousand foot peaks with its lake Llyn Idwal in the centre.

There are all year round attractions for the naturalist but at this time of year, all eyes are looking for the arctic alpine plants which grow on the boulder scree, especially the purple saxifrage, a sure sign that Spring has arrived. Hywel Roberts, of the Countryside Council of Wales also leads Iolo to see the mountain goats thriving now in the warmer winters and they climb high up the cliffs in hope of a catching a glimpse of the ravens and peregrine falcons which nest in the high crags.

Geologist Ray Roberts explains how the rocks of Cwm Idwal record the dramatic effect of the volcanoes and the explosive activity which occurred around 450 million years ago. As mountain building continued the rocks within Cwm Idwal were deformed into a large down-fold called the Idwal Syncline. Later glaciers covered the area carving out the magnificent U-shaped valleys, like Nant Francon, close by.

The rocks of Cwm Idwal are irresistible to climbers. Local mountaineer, Sam Roberts learnt his skills on the renound Idwal slabs, and many of the early Everest expeditions did their training on the slabs and all around the peaks and cliffs of the cwm.
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