Freelance Focus interview with Huw Jenkins

Huw Jenkins is a freelance journalist based in Snowdonia, Wales. He writes about wildlife and environment, local history and culture heritage. His work has appeared in many Welsh regional magazines and on various BBC mediums.

This week, FeaturesExec caught up with Huw to discuss his work, his new book – Not Just a Pretty Place – Survival in Snowdonia – and clearing the mountain for shearing.

About your journalism:

What do you write about?
Most often it’s about wildlife and the environment which are hot topics for those of us living in the middle of Snowdonia. I’ve written about feral goats, sand lizards and hay meadows but the common feature is people and the incredible things they do in pursuit of conservation. Local history and cultural heritage are also rich seams of ideas that can bring an otherwise dull story to life.

Where are we likely to see your work?
Regional magazines in Wales, Western Mail, Daily Post, The Countryman, occasionally Country Life and frequently the local BBC website. I’m a regular contributor to BBC Radio Wales creating packages on subjects that have included fly dressing and chicken cooked in the smoke box of a steam train.

What’s the most memorable work you’ve done?
For me the greatest satisfaction comes from finding and building a great story and re-telling it in different ways. Maybe for a magazine or a newspaper then an after-dinner talk, a radio programme or occasionally TV. One of my favourites was the Sheep Poo Paper story commissioned by Country Life which was also recorded for Radio Wales. I think it’s great that these two guys have set up a successful and rapidly growing business based on ovine dung!

What’s the biggest project you’ve worked on?
Undoubtedly my first book which has just been published and is titled Not Just a Pretty Place – Survival in Snowdonia. It’s a collection of 32 stories linked by the theme of survival. Some things are thriving, such as lichens and bryophytes whilst others, arctic alpines and freshwater pearl mussels, are just hanging on. The book is generally optimistic and covers topics such as local produce, rural crafts and people in their communities. Available online from the Welsh Books Council at and soon to be available on Amazon.

I recently edited one of the stories from the book, about an epic walk to Barmouth, into a script for BBC2 Wales which was presented as part of a series called My Secret Wales.

What interview or feature would you love the chance to do?
I would like to visit and write about far flung places and communities with connections to Wales such as the Welsh community in Patagonia or the national park in Slovenia which is twinned with Snowdonia.

About you and PRs:

Where do you source ideas for articles?
Everyday life is full of amazing sights or events – if you see something nearby that catches your eye and follow it through, there is usually a story of broad appeal. The old nuclear power station that blots my horizon was the catalyst for a series of articles including the task of decommissioning, the impact on a small community losing 500 jobs, the local fishing scene, hydro electricity and bronze age trackways. You never know where a story is going to end up. Helping my neighbour the farmer to gather sheep off the mountain before shearing is a wonderful occasion and there are many others in the agricultural calendar with each local event fitting into a much bigger picture.

How can PRs be useful to you?
Keep on inviting me to events and asking me to find relevant stories that people want to read.

How and when do you like them to get in touch?
Email is best with follow-up by phone.

Do you find press conferences, trips, parties and other events useful or an interruption?
I relish every opportunity that comes my way but being based in Snowdonia I’m not rushed off my feet!

If you could make one change to the way PRs deal with you, what would it be?
Paying on time!

About you:

How would you pay the bills if you weren’t a journalist?
When I’m not being a journalist I help run our self-catering business and maintain the ancient house we live in. It’s recently been hired out as a film location for Most Haunted and ITV’s Live the Dream – helps pay the bills and is usually a lot of fun. In addition I am a director of Natur Cymru, the quarterly bilingual publication dedicated to the wildlife and environment of Wales.

If we gave you £1000, how would you spend it?
A journey to somewhere off the beaten track with lots of stories to tell.

What books are on your bedside table, magazines in your bag, or blogs on your screen?
Christmas presents I ought to read but send me to sleep!
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