STREAMS of Wonder - Looking for the Heart of the Yorkshire Dales takes as its inspiration 'slow television'. BBC programmes which have followed reindeer migration and our very own DalesBus have proved to be a big hit. Here, writer and countryside campaigner, Colin Speakman reviews what is a very different film of the Dales.

This a very different film about the Yorkshire Dales compared with the usual travelogue, with anodyne music and predictable voice over.

It is an hour-long celebration of the astonishing beauty of the landscape of the Yorkshire Dales by a group of Dales people who call themselves the Moonbeams Collective - led by singer song-writer poet and musician Jon Avison.

Jon has both a local farming and a national park background, but what permeates every second of this extraordinary film is a passion for the richness and beauty not only of the landscape, but the culture and the people who have shaped that landscape -and continue to do so.

This film does not follow a narrative in the conventional sense. It is a series of visual cameos, or themes, bringing together all the many different strands that make the Yorkshire Dales so unique and a very special part of England.

The streams - and rivers and tarns - of the title are of course there, as are the rocks, caves, trees, and magnificent moorland and mountains summits, whether under the snows and blue skies of winter or greens or golds of Spring and Autumn.

Influenced by the BBC's Slow Travel All Aboard the County Bus series, which was screened in 2017, and which featured a small blue DalesBus travelling through Swaledale, a key theme of the film is about slowing down.

Whereas too often film makers offer the viewer everything in two second flashes – suggesting the concentration time of a flea – Streams of Wonder is about deepening experience by slowing it down – slow food, slow travel, slow art.

The stunningly lovely photography is allowed to speak for itself. Images are not rushed – but lingered over. Words are poetry, spoken or imaged as white words on the screen, Music is subtle and unobtrusive – guitar, instrumental and piano music, reinforcing the mood of tranquillity.

Though the film is all about a sense of place, rivers, waterfalls, hills, crags, caves, villages – are not identified. Viewers have to work out locations for themselves

The photography is both stunningly beautiful and subtle. An enclosed track through snow mysteriously transforms to summer green, the white heat of a hammer-beaten poker becomes the bright rays of a sunrise over the fells, a ruined castle suddenly wins new towers.

But this is no piece of backward nostalgia. The Dales are celebrated for what they are today - vibrant and successful communities where farmers, drystone wallers, painters, blacksmiths, print-makers practice their craft, where hay time bailing machines with their headlamps in the dusk are as evocative as flower-rich meadows on a summer day. Paragliders competing with kestrels launching themselves from crag tops and fell runners splashing the way across a river are as much part of the Dales experience as shimmering light through autumn beech woods.

One clever visually unifying device is that of young woman in a fawn duffle coat and woolly hat – in all weathers wearing the identical same outfit - walking slowly into and through the evocative riverside, meadow, woodland or moorland landscapes. She is there in almost every scene. It is only at the end we see her face – Poppy, enjoying a well-earned pint in the Falcon Inn in Arncliffe.

What this film is really about can be best expressed by the German word “Heimat” a word difficult to translate into English but which roughly means the place you belong to, which you feel part of. The words “I am the Land” of the poem on the screen expresses this perfectly as does the phrase at the start and close of the film – “I am who I am” – the landscape.

This touches something deep in our consciousness. At a time of terrifying and increasingly bitter divisions within our society, Streams of Wonder offers a very different vision of what it is to belong to Yorkshire, and to England. This is a celebration of a rich cultural heritage we can all share, and can feel justifiably proud of. Being English isn’t about waving flags and threatening others, it is about recognising what makes our land and our culture so very special. It about rejoicing in that rich, living heritage, knowing that we can celebrate and share it with others. In so doing it will not be diluted but be made stronger and more inclusive. It is something to be proud of.

Ultimately, this is something the founding fathers of our National Parks 70 years ago intuitively knew and understood. It’s about far more than planning regulations and visitor management, essential are these are to protect that heritage. It is about communicating and sharing that rich culture, both with future generations and with the many millions of people who live in our great cities and conurbations.

In this remarkable film The Moonbeams have done just that.

Streams of Wonder costs £14, including post and packaging, and can be ordered online at:, or from Brooklands, Long Preston, Skipton, BD23 4RA