In May 2021 I walked 8 miles into the Sussex Weald to see if I could hear a cuckoo. The weather was fine and there were loads of birds out, many of them in full song. This is an episode best listened to through headphones so you can hear the birdsong, the wind through the trees and the buzzing of bees in the woodland landscape of the High Weald. It's an immersive episode with a guided walk feel, focusing on listening to the surrounding landscape.

Birds identified here include:

  • Goldcrest
  • Chiffchaff
  • Blackcap
  • Willow warbler
  • Garden warbler
  • Blackbird
  • Crow
  • Buzzard
  • Blue tit
  • Coal tit
  • Great tit

Please support this podcast by 'buying me a coffee' on Ko-fi:

Thanks for listening and I hope you enjoy the episode.

Relevant podcasts: octopus beech in the Sussex Weald

After a month off this summer, Unlocking Landscapes is back and this time it's outside, with a guest!

In August I met up with Dr. Beth Nicholls at Bedelands Local Nature Reserve in West Sussex. Beth is a researcher on the subject of pollinating insects, with a key focus on bees. She works at the University of Sussex.

We talk about:

  • what inspired Beth to become a "bee doctor"
  • the hairiness of bees (but not wasps)
  • educating people about the importance of all pollinators
  • issues around honeybees (and Asian hornets) in the UK
  • why wasps are important, how bee-washing is employed by the corporate world
  • and the need to change how pesticides are used in the UK

Thanks for tuning in and I hope you enjoy the episode.



Beth on Twitter:

Beth's research at the University of Sussex (SE England):



In this episode I’m joined by someone you’ve never heard of, my good friend Eddie Chapman. 

Eddie is a devoted rambler and part-time rapper who lives in Glasgow, Scotland.

Eddie grew up in the Derbyshire town of Chesterfield and developed a love for the landscape through hiking in the nearby Peak District. 

He now spends his walking time bagging munros in the Scottish Highlands.

This is part one of two episodes covering a trip Eddie and I undertook across Hungary and Romania in 2015. In part one we recount our travels through the Great Hungarian Plain, en route to the Romanian Carpathians. 

It’s a light-hearted episode with recollections of unusual experiences, including owl-headed body-builders, fire water and rural sports bars. 

All this was experienced as we walked the Great Plain and fumbled our way through Europe by train.

We saw some incredible wildlife in one of Europe’s most important landscapes - the Great Hungarian Plain - and would definitely recommend it if you’re into birds. But do listen to what we did wrong!

On that note, the episode contains an important safety message: don’t take risks out on the water and always bring safety equipment with you. Don’t make the same stupid mistakes that we did if you visit the River Tisza!

Thanks for tuning in and we hope you enjoy the episode as much as we did.



Eddie's Instagram:

Blog post about this trip (2015):

Hortobagy National Park:

Unlocking Landscapes Twitter:

Advice on European train travel:


In this episode, I am delighted to welcome Chantelle Lindsay and Sam Bentley-Toon. Chantelle and Sam are environmental professionals who worked together on London Wildlife Trust’s Great North Wood project.

Chantelle and Sam share their experiences of protecting and managing south London’s ancient woodlands. They talk about their passion for volunteering and some of the challenges that woodland conservation in London involves.

We also discuss rewilding in a London context and whether beavers could possibly be returning to London.

Since recording this podcast, Sam has moved on to work on London’s rivers and Chantelle has become a minor-celebrity with her brilliant appearances on Blue Peter and a Great North Wood-focused segment on BBC’s Springwatch.

People like Sam and Chantelle are lesser known in the conservation world, but they are having big impacts at a community level. Their contribution to our understanding and enjoyment of landscapes is really special and should not be underestimated. Of course, you can say the same for many people the world over, and just it’s such a pleasure to be able to feature people like Chantelle and Sam on this podcast.

Thanks for tuning in and I hope you enjoy the episode.


Chantelle on Twitter:

London Wildlife Trust's Great North Wood Project:

London Wildlife Trust's Keeping It Wild Project:

Chris Schuler's Great North Wood episode:

This is the second part of two episodes with author Julian Hoffman. The first episode was about living with pelicans and bears in northern Greece, where Julian lives. 

Julian has published two books of non-fiction with a strong focus on landscapes, wildlife and heritage. In 2012 Julian’s debut book The Small Heart of Things was published, and in 2019 it was followed by Irreplaceable: The Fight to Save Our Wild Places

We pick up right where we left off in episode one, with a question to Julian about his experiences of getting to know local people and telling their stories through his writing.

We get into some pretty deep topics in this episode including:

  • How the mathematics of life mean you can only connect with a handful of places in a meaningful way
  • The poverty of language around ‘brownfields’
  • Convincing politicians to pretend they’re jumping spiders!
  • Life-altering experiences in the North Kent Marshes
  • Oliver Rackham and the loss of meaning in the landscape
  • The importance of local green spaces in the pandemic and beyond

Massive thank you to Julian for his time and consideration in putting these two episodes together. Please support Julian by purchasing his book and following him on social media. Hope you enjoy!


Julian Hoffman:



Save Swanscombe Marshes:

Unlocking Landscapes Twitter:


Daniel's Twitter:

Intro music by Daniel Greenwood:

This is part one of two episodes with author Julian Hoffman. This episode focuses on Julian's life in northern Greece where he encounters European brown bears in his day to day life. We also discuss the local accents of wrens(!), particularly Liverpudlian wrens.

Julian has published two books. In 2012 The Small Heart of Things was published and in 2019 it was followed by Irreplaceable: The Fight to Save Our Wild Places

I’m a big fan of both of these books. Julian does that rare thing for a nature writer and centres communities within the landscape. Irreplaceable is a great example of this, with Julian writing about local people the world over battling to save special places, habitats and species. 

Irreplaceable was the Highly Commended Finalist for the 2020 Wainwright Prize for Writing on Global Conservation

Julian details how he came to live in Prespa, how he became a writer there after working with his wife as a market gardener, toiling away in the open fields growing fruit and vegetables, and getting to know the locals.

Thanks so much for bearing with us and I hope you enjoy the episode.



Julian Hoffman:


The Wren Boys:

Unlocking Landscapes Twitter:



In this shorter episode I recorded a circular walk from home, checking up on an old beech tree in an area of woodland known as the Sussex Weald.

This is the first outdoor pod for Unlocking Landscapes, with lots of natural soundscapes to enjoy: mud, ice, streams, bog and birdsong.

The areas of interest here are:

  • Woodland streams, known in this area as 'gills'
  • Heathlands and plantations
  • Wood ants
  • Sphagnum moss bogs
  • Ancient and veteran trees, especially beech (Fagus sylvatica)

I'd love to know what you think  of this type of episode and if you'd like to hear more in future.

Thanks so much for listening and I hope you enjoy.



Episode recorded and edited by Daniel Greenwood in the West Sussex High Weald

High Weald Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty:

Unlocking Landscapes website

Unlocking Landscapes Twitter

In this episode of Unlocking Landscapes I speak to photographer Raki Nikahetiya. Raki lives in New Delhi and practices what he terms 'interdisciplinary photography'. His photographic work focuses on documentary, landscape, wildlife and other digital art forms. He is currently working on a project with the University of Barcelona on the subject of... cave paintings and petri dishes!

Raki talks about life in India where agrarian protests are raging and people are coming to terms with the Covid-19 pandemic. He also describes his upbringing in rural Sri Lanka and how that has inspired his work as a photographer and a community conservationist working with indigenous communities in Sri Lanka and Mozambique.

You can follow Raki's work through the links below:




In January 2021, at what we hope is the height of the UK’s Covid crisis I spoke to author Chris Schüler over Zoom about his upcoming book on London’s historic Great North Wood.

Chris has been a regular volunteer at Sydenham Hill Wood Local Nature Reserve in south-east London since 2011. His most recent book, Along the Amber Route: St Petersburg to Venice, published in February 2020, has been shortlisted for the Bookmark Book of the Year 2020 and the longlisted for the Jewish Quarterly-Wingate Prize 2021. 

He is also the author of Writers, Lovers, Soldiers, Spies: A History of the Authors’ Club of London, 1891–2016, and three illustrated histories of cartography. He has written on literature, travel and the arts for The Independent, The Independent on Sunday, The Tablet, The Financial Times and the New Statesman, served as Chairman of the Authors’ Club from 2008 to 2015, and was elected a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society in 2011. 

Chris’s upcoming book It’s a historical account of the Great North Wood, a cluster of ancient woodlands and green spaces that connect five boroughs in south London. 

In this episode we talk about the following things:

  • What inspired Chris to write the book and how he went about it
  • How the Great North Wood (GNW) was managed
  • How the GNW differs from other southern English wooded landscapes such as the Sussex Weald
  • The violent history of the GNW
  • How the plague impacted people living in the GNW
  • The GNW’s celebrities
  • Some of the now rare species recorded in the GNW centuries ago
  • The concerns about invasive species are not as new as we think
  • The attempts to eradicate hedgehogs and polecats
  • How the GNW will be viewed in 100 years


Links to references:

This is the introduction to the Unlocking Landscapes podcast. This short recording introduces your host for the pod and outlines some of the themes and ideas you should be expect to hear about with the podcast going forward. Thanks for listening!

Podbean App

Play this podcast on Podbean App