Peter Owen-Jones takes us on a personal journey into heart of the UK’s newest National Park - the South Downs. From the iconic Seven Sisters cliffs to Winchester Cathedral, he experiences an extraordinary year following the wildlife and the people who live in the park. Opened in 2011, the South Downs is already the most visited National Park in the UK and this first-time film captures a stunning portrait of what was described by William Blake as ‘England’s mountains green’.
A vicar at the eastern end of the park, Owen-Jones has a deep passion for the Downs. As he journeys along the South Downs Way, he reveals a land that has been shaped by man ever since the end of the last Ice Age. From some of the largest Neolithic forts and burial mounds in the British Isles, to the birthplace of the Iron industry, Owen-Jones explores how man’s relationship with the South Downs has evolved through time to create one of Britain’s richest and most diverse landscapes.
Across the year he follows the lives of those who still live and work in the Downs; Peter Hall, one of the founders of the English wine-making industry; Katherine Birch, a young wildlife ranger who looks after a haunting ancient forest; And Peter’s friend, sheep famer Andrew Barr, who’s traditional grazing helps keep the chalk grasslands intact. The grasslands are home to a profusion of rare butterflies and orchids that can be found nowhere else in the world. Taking over a thousand years to mature, they have been described as “Britain’s own miniature rainforest”.
As he journeys through the seasons Owen-Jones reveals more of the South Downs natural treasures; a 2,000 year-old woodland that explodes with pollen, rare heathland that is home to every one of the UK’s reptiles and amphibians, and a wood that has more kinds of bats living in it than anywhere else in the UK.
The landscapes of the South Downs are recognized the world over, and now they are at last protected, the story of the UK’s newest National Park can finally be told.
'English eccentric Peter Owen-Jones spends a year wandering his beloved South Downs to make an unashamedly personal film that combines his own poetic worldview with stunning footage of a land shaped by man since Neolithic times. It’s a practical as well as beautiful guide to an area of exquisite natural bounty' - Helen Stewart, The Sunday Times