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BBC Countryfile magazine criticised for urging people to explore the ‘Brecon Beacons’

27 Jan 2024 5 minute read
Sgwd yr Eira. Image: Stephen Price

Stephen Price

BBC Countryfile Magazine’s Facebook account has been criticised after urging readers to explore ‘waterfall country’ and Pen y Fan in the ‘Brecon Beacons’.

One post in particular has drawn intense criticism and debate from readers – many of whom were “disappointed” in the BBC’s choice not to use the original name ‘Bannau Brycheiniog’, which was given official status in April 2023.

Facebook posts

One Facebook post from BBC Countryfile Magazine, posted on Thursday 25 January said: “Pen y Fan is one of the most popular peaks in the Brecon Beacons National Park. Most visitors hike to the mountain top from Storey Arms – but for a quieter and more rewarding route, take the path up from Taf Fechan Forest.

Image: BBC Countryfile Magazine

This links to an article from September 2023, long after the name change to Bannau Brycheiniog in April 2023 which it references at one point yet fails to use throughout, saying: “From spectacular hills and mountains to glistening waterfalls, rivers and lakes, the Brecon Beacons National Park (recently renamed Bannau Brycheiniog) in South Wales has something for everyone.”

In another post, from the same day, BBC Countryfile magazine’s Facebook has a post which says: “Waterfall Country is a must for anyone visiting the Brecon Beacons National Park. There are several options when it comes to exploring the area, including the mesmerising 5.5-mile Four Waterfalls Walk.”

Image: BBC Countryfile Magazine

This post links to an article from July 2023, three months after the name change.

In it, there is one reference to the name Bannau Brycheiniog, and yet it too continues to use ‘Brecon Beacons’ throughout.

In another post, which is a paid partnership with Darganfod Sir Gâr – Discover Carmarthenshire, BBC Countryfile Magazine asks us to “hike through history hidden in the hills of the Western Beacons…”

The link from this advert takes Facebook users to an advertorial funded by the UK Government, which tells readers: “A visit to Carmarthenshire in South West Wales isn’t complete without experiencing the natural beauty of the Western Beacons.”

Welcome to the Western Beacons

Clicking through to learn more, readers are taken to the website of Discover Carmarthenshire, where there is much mention yet again of the ‘Brecon Beacons’.

One example – the Walking in Carmarthenshire section has eight mentions of ‘Brecon Beacons’ and no mentions of ‘Bannau Brycheiniog’.

Of the many links from there, one takes visitors to www.breconbeacons.org where, itself, the terms are used interchangeably, from its logo to its content.

“Very poor”

Commenters were quick to jump on BBC Countryfile’s Pen y Fan Facebook post, with users saying: “I thought the name was changed, Bannau Brycheiniog. Very poor. For BBC to forget that.”

“Dear BBC. Please refer to the place by its proper name, which is Bannau Brycheiniog. Diolch.”

Clive Williams added: “I have difficulty in understanding the mindset of those people who cannot or will not accept that the original name (not ‘new’ name), and the official name, of the National Park and the mountain group is ‘Bannau Brycheiniog’ (Y Bannau for short).

“Those very same people do not appear to have a problem with the names of the peaks in the National Park, all of which have Welsh-only names. Pen y Fan, Corn Du and Gwaun Taf (Bwlch Duwynt) are never translated into English for those people’s ‘convenience’. And when visiting Scotland one would not even consider calling the Cairgorm Mountains the ‘Green Cairns’.

“Maybe the refusal to accept indigenous names over given English names is a reflection on the drawback of being one of the world’s minority of people who are monolingual; or the reluctance to broaden one’s knowledge; or in the case of Y Bannau, is it a something anti-Welsh? I am at a loss to understand, and curious to know.”

Pen y Fan. Image: Stephen Price

Worldwide recognition

Another user posted a link to a Nation.Cymru opinion piece which discussed the New York Times praising y Bannau Brycheiniog in its list of the best places in the world to visit.

Featuring at number 18 on the list, the national park was commended for the return to its original name which took place in April of last year – seeing its English name scrapped in favour of Bannau Brycheiniog to “underline its commitment to Welsh culture, language and heritage.”

A BBC Countryfile Magazine spokesperson said: “At BBC Countryfile Magazine, we fully acknowledge the official renaming of Bannau Brycheiniog National Park in 2023.

“We’re supporters of Welsh culture, heritage and tourism, regularly featuring Wales on our pages. Our January issue, for example, included a long feature about visiting Bannau Brycheiniog in winter, which explained the name change.

“Our recent use of the National Park’s former name on social media was an unintended consequence of republishing content written prior to the name change.
 
“We’re sorry if this has caused offence, and will make sure that in future any references to ‘the Brecon Beacons’ are checked, corrected and updated as part of the process of republishing.”

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Frank
Frank
29 days ago

It’s all intentional just to antagonise y Cymry. They know exactky what tgey are doing.

Rhddwen y Sais
Rhddwen y Sais
29 days ago
Reply to  Frank

Does anyone in England get upset when we name Chester, Caer on roadsigns or refer to England as Lloeger?

Frank
Frank
29 days ago
Reply to  Rhddwen y Sais

I don’t know, do you?

Riki
Riki
29 days ago
Reply to  Rhddwen y Sais

It’s completely different as English isn’t in danger of going extinct. Or doesn’t have another government actively seeking to replace it. Ours do!!!!

Rhddwen y Sais
Rhddwen y Sais
29 days ago
Reply to  Riki

Do you know of other nations whose language is under threat who expect local landmarks to be only called by the home language name?

Gareth
Gareth
29 days ago
Reply to  Rhddwen y Sais

Australia and New Zealand, where Uluru is universally known instead of Ayres rock in Australia, while an example in NZ would be Britomart station has been renamed, Waitemata railway station. Just 2 examples for you, there are dozens more.

Riki
Riki
29 days ago
Reply to  Rhddwen y Sais

Brittany, and Native American names are also under severe pressure and replacement. There is a lot of this that also goes on in China, where they demand a common language to replace all the different languages and dialects. China is made up of dozens of different languages as it’s a nation of different “Chinese” people. It happens more often than you’d expect or wish.

Iago Traferth
Iago Traferth
29 days ago
Reply to  Riki

In Brittany French names’ come first then Breton in small letters under the French, hence Diwedd Y Byd comes under Finisterre. There is no great push for Breton names to take precedence. Are vwe in Wales unique in demanding people who cannot pronounce Welsh names are required to use them even outside WALES!

CapM
CapM
28 days ago
Reply to  Iago Traferth

 Are we in Cymru unique in demanding people who can pronounce Cymric names be required to use non-Cymric ones even inside CYMRU!

Iago Traferth
Iago Traferth
28 days ago
Reply to  CapM

Are you saying people should choose for themselves or are you demanding they chose what you want them to choose?

CapM
CapM
28 days ago
Reply to  Iago Traferth

It would be a good thing if people chose to use Bannau Brycheiniog rather than Brecon Beacons.

It’s already a good thing that first language English speakers chose to use –
Zimbabwe rather than Rhodesia.
Sri Lanka rather than Ceylon
Kyiv rather than Kiev
Taulupe Falatau rather than Toby Falatau

No “demanding” they do so is or has been involved, however there are those who chose to continue to use Rhodesia, Ceylon, Kiev, Toby, Brecon Beacons.

Frank
Frank
27 days ago
Reply to  CapM

The English “demanded” that English only was spoken by children in our schools at one time. Any child speaking Welsh was punished.

Gareth
Gareth
28 days ago
Reply to  Iago Traferth

The French Gov are currently facing legal action, as they ban parents from naming their children with Breton names, I cannot pronounce names in many foreign languages, but no one, either in Cymru or abroad have ” demanded” I use their language in or outside Cymru, neither do we. We are reclaiming our heritage just like India has with Mumbai and Colcatta, if you choose to ignore the wishes of India to use the old colonial name , that is up to you. In my opinion it is all about respect.

Iago Traferth
Iago Traferth
28 days ago
Reply to  Gareth

I thought this was all about demanding the BBC only use Welsh names even when broadcasting in England

CapM
CapM
28 days ago
Reply to  Iago Traferth

The first “B” in BBC stands for British not English as some seem to think.
There are even BBC staff and associates who are also under that, let’s be generous to them,,,,misapprehension. Poor dabs.

Iago Traferth
Iago Traferth
27 days ago
Reply to  CapM

The programme is in British English. The language most people in Britain use.

Iago Traferth
Iago Traferth
27 days ago
Reply to  CapM

Defunding the BBC would sort the problem for us both.

CapM
CapM
27 days ago
Reply to  Iago Traferth

As someone has pointed out BBC Countryside Magazine isn’t a part of the BBC anymore.

Defunding the BBC would end with GBBies “News” type channels replacing it. That would be a bigger problem on many counts.
Would you see it as a problem?

Iago Traferth
Iago Traferth
27 days ago
Reply to  CapM

Countryside Magazine you know more than I never heard of it. Pryd mae Cymru yn rhydd no more BBC – defunded.

CapM
CapM
27 days ago
Reply to  Iago Traferth

Replaced by a funded Cymru Broadcasting Corporation or a vacuum filled with GBBies “News” type channels.
Which would you prefer?

Nathan
Nathan
28 days ago
Reply to  Frank

It’s this victim mentality that is going to destroy the language, nothing else.

Riki
Riki
28 days ago
Reply to  Nathan

Some victims are actually Victims though, aren’t they? Are you now denying how the language became the way it has?

Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
29 days ago

Send Iolo round…

Richard Davies
Richard Davies
29 days ago

I agree with this article but people need to be aware that despite it being “BBC Countryfile” it isn’t published by the BBC (it was one of many forced privatisations of multiple BBC assets by the tories) so there is no point directing anger at the BBC in this case!

Richard E
Richard E
29 days ago

The clue is on the name of the offending organisation! 🇬🇧 BRITISH Broadcasting Corporation…. What you expect ?

Riki
Riki
29 days ago
Reply to  Richard E

English! British pre-dates English usage by over a millennia and was first used to describe us.

Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
29 days ago

The fact is we have the loveliest waterfalls in the World, the joy of them and the rivers that leap from their parapets was beyond words in my youth…

Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
29 days ago
Reply to  Mab Meirion

The Archers on telley, a post war government information service, the purpose to encourage the populace to grow more food…a bit like the monasteries back in the twelfth century…

see Abaty Cymer 1198-9 under the patronage of Maredudd ap Cynan…

But not in the flesh obviously…

Linda Jones
Linda Jones
29 days ago

Typical English arrogance in my opinion

Iago Traferth
Iago Traferth
29 days ago
Reply to  Linda Jones

Arrogance wanting to use their own language. HO HO HO

CapM
CapM
28 days ago
Reply to  Iago Traferth

Who are these people you refer to for whom using “National Park” is not good enough.
Must be 100% in ‘their own language’ and 0% in any other especially if it’s Cymraeg.

Iago Traferth
Iago Traferth
28 days ago
Reply to  CapM

You are making things up.

Karl
Karl
28 days ago
Reply to  Iago Traferth

You wouldn’t like it if someone translated your name Iago into the hebrew Jacob. Translating names is disrespect. If people cannot pronounce, tough luck. Sick of the culture thefts.

Stephen
Stephen
28 days ago
Reply to  Linda Jones

I bet you’ve never worked or lived anywhere other than in Wales and therefore your views are based on your insular life. Wales is supposed to be a country of friendly welcoming people, but you wouldn’t think it with comments like yours.

Brian
Brian
29 days ago

I am Welsh and the Brecon beacons is what i have always called them and always will,those of you crying on here need to get a life and stop moaning.

Frank
Frank
29 days ago
Reply to  Brian

So if you are used to always calling something by a name you don’t ever change that? Let me think. Do you still call the king of England Prince Charles?

Brian
Brian
29 days ago
Reply to  Frank

No i just call him big ears,as i always have .

Gareth
Gareth
28 days ago
Reply to  Brian

I am a Cymro, and will always call them Bannau Brycheiniog, proud of my country, proud of my language.

Stephen
Stephen
28 days ago
Reply to  Brian

Completely agree. More important things to worry about. We could go all the way back to whatever the Romans called the mountain range in AD400, something in Latin no doubt.

Fi yn unig
Fi yn unig
29 days ago

Pen-y-Fan hasn’t been corrupted in terms of its’ name and spelling but I suspect if the articles were in audible form, we would hear ‘penny fan’ like a cheap whirring hand held face cooling device bought at a charity shop. It may take more time but Bannau Brycheiniog and Eryri will take hold if we stand firm and keep them in daily use. Signage with F.K.A (Formerly Known As) Brecon Beacons and Snowdon would help for a decade then drop the F.K.A.

Burt smith
Burt smith
28 days ago

Some people need to get a life

Dom
Dom
28 days ago

That’s because no-one can actually pronounce it. If these articles helped non-Welsh speakers actually learn how to pronounce it properly people would start to do it.

CapM
CapM
28 days ago
Reply to  Dom

“If these articles helped non-Welsh speakers actually learn how to pronounce it properly …..”

If you view the Countryfile programme on Bannau Brycheiniog National Park (still available on BBNC iPlayer) you can hear lots of people pronouncing the name correctly. Including quite a few English people.

So great you can now start to do it.

Dave
Dave
28 days ago

Bannau Brycheiniog is the Welsh name, Brecon Beacons is the English name. This magazine is published in English. End of discussion.

It baffles me why a some people believe they are entitled to dictate the phrasing/wording of another language. Can you imagine Germany insisting we call Munich, München?

How long before you get people wanting to stop the French people referring to Wales as Pays de Galles and say Cymru instead? It’s laughable.

CapM
CapM
27 days ago
Reply to  Dave

Shouldn’t you have put “End of discussion” after your last sentence rather than after your first.

Magdalen Bray
Magdalen Bray
27 days ago

I thought the title meant that Cymri people would be upset by the prospect of hundreds of tourists trampling every where, leaving mess…

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