Don’t miss these Christmas Sounds Walks on Radio 3

Escape the busy modern world with Radio 3's joyous Sound Walks into the British countryside. Radio 3 Controller Alan Davey reveals all

Radio 3 Christmas Sound Walks BBC Countryfile magazine

One of the things we do at Radio 3 is to provide a means of escape from the busyness of modern life by just inviting the listener to stop and to listen to wonders – whether of music or the external world.

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This need for ‘time out’ has never been more vital to our wellbeing. With everything that has gone on this year, for some, walking has kept so many of us sane and healthy. And yet there will also be many of our listeners who will have felt trapped at home this year, unable to experience the joyous escape of the open air. For them, we hope embarking on Radio 3 Christmas Sound Walks can help create a sense of freedom and the space to think that meditative calm of walking in the rural outdoors can bring.  All from the safety of their own living room.

Radio 3’s Christmas Day Sound Walks are broadcast on Christmas Day and Boxing day at 3pm.

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This year novelist and travel writer Horatio Clare will be bringing to life the unique luminescence of the East Coast of the UK. On Christmas day and Boxing day, listeners can enjoy the December sunrise as he walks across two gorgeous UK locations – the Pilgrim’s Path to the Holy Island of Lindisfarne followed by Lincolnshire’s The Wash.

The Slow Radio format is at the heart of what we do here at Radio 3, bringing people together for shared immersive experiences and capturing an intimate snapshot of British pastoral life. These Christmas specials have become an annual tradition on our network – following on from last year’s sound walk across Greenland’s Arctic Circle Trail, for which Horatio Clare and his Radio 3 team captured the sounds, sights and stories of the Arctic tundra.

It’s no surprise that our quest to find a suitable location for this year’s Slow Radio walks has been trickier with Covid-19, but fortunately for us – the mystical landscapes and natural sounds of the northern British countryside didn’t disappoint.

We begin our journey on Christmas Day with Chasing the sunrise along the Pilgrim’s Path to Holy Island. At first light, as winter touches Northumberland, Horatio sets out on the stunning Pilgrim’s Path to the Holy Island of Lindisfarne. With a falling tide and a rising sun he walks east across the tidal flats from the mainland to the island, once home to Cuthbert – monk and abbot of the island’s priory and patron saint of Northumbria.

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On Boxing Day we air A Lincolnshire Sunrise across The Wash. In the cold depths of the year, Horatio watches night retreat and day break at Gibraltar Point in Lincolnshire. As the sun rises in the east across the mingling of land and sea on the northern most tip of The Wash – that great bite out of the east coast of Britain – the stark, remote, unspoilt beauty of the mudflats and saltmarsh is brought to life. From the glimmer of first light to the great golden flare of the risen sun, this moment of serene natural drama reveals the vast skies and shimmering waters of one of the UK’s great wildernesses.

As the rising December sun brings warmth and light to the coast in the depths of winter, we can all take delight in the minute detail of the plants, the wildlife, the sounds and wide East Coast vistas Horatio experiences on the walks. These two programmes are permeated with music reflecting the feel and mood of the coastline, capturing the ever changing light and shifting seas and sands of these liminal places.

These upcoming specials are part of our Light in the Darkness season, an exploration on the joy of light amidst the Winter darkness during the two final weeks of December on BBC Radio 3. Light in the Darkness is about celebrating the glory of candlelight, starlight and the luminous low light of winter with illuminating programmes for this seasonal period.

As we enter the darkest days of the year, with short days and long nights, it is the time to think of the good things that can come, rediscovering the chilly joy of the outdoors and the certainty that dawn will come. Light in the darkness is a powerful thing. Whether you’ll be listening live on Christmas Day and Boxing Day, or caught up with us via BBC Sounds – we hope to enhance your Christmas with our celebration of the some of the most beautiful landscapes in Britain.

Radio 3’s Christmas Day Sound Walks are broadcast on Christmas Day and Boxing day at 3pm.

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Alan Davey, BBC Radio 3 controller