Llefydd Sanctaidd

A place for refuge - Llefydd Sanctaidd on S4C

History, traditions, religion and beliefs; these subjects will all play a part in Llefydd Sanctaidd (Sacred Places), a new series for S4C presented by Ifor ap Glyn, starting Sunday, 20 January.

During the series Ifor will travel round the UK on the trail of sacred places, visiting locations with fascinating stories that live on today.

These sacred places vary from ruins to islands and from trees to caves. The first programme in the series concentrates on locations associated with water. The journey begins in a beautiful spot high above the Conwy Valley. The water in the well at Llangelynnin is said to have healing qualities beneficial to sick children.

"From there we go north to Loch Ness to trace the history of St Columba," says Ifor, who has visited thirty eight sacred places while filming the series. "St Columba was a missionary among the Picts, an ancient people in Scotland. According to legend he was the first to challenge the infamous Loch Ness monster!"

From Loch Ness, Ifor moves on to Holystone, a secluded village in Northumberland, and a holy well which dates back to Roman times. In Holystone Nick Mayhew-Smith, author of Britain's Holiest Places and advisor on the series, will join Ifor to talk about Saint Ninian, one of the last missionaries in Roman times.

Strangely enough Ifor's earliest memory is of being in a sacred place - at his brother's christening in Willesden Green chapel in London when he was three years old. The fourth location on the journey is Holywell, and here Ifor find himself in a christening again, but one in which he plays a more central role this time.

"The well in Holywell is a healing well which dates back to the 7th century, and I decided to be fully immersed! I knew the temperature was constant through the year but it was only after I got in that they told me what that temperature was - only 5 degrees! Suffering that was an experience in itself - the biggest impression it made on me was how dreadfully cold it was!"

Following that refreshing experience Ifor goes on to visit Buxton where he visits a holy well and and Bradwell-on-Sea, where he looks at water as a means of transport for missionaries.

"These sacred places are wonderfully peaceful - we visit the cathedral in Coventry in one programme; it's right in the bustling centre of the city and was once bombed. But somehow even there, it's an island, an oasis of silence in the noisy city."

Now, with the aid of the new Llefydd Sanctaidd app you can set off on your own pilgrimage to one of the 37 sacred places visited during the series. Using the device's GPS technology, you can follow a route to each site, browse images, and read about the history of some of Britain's most sacred buildings, shrines, and natural features. Each location becomes easily accessible with full directions, maps and visitor information - everything you need for a great day out all in one place.

Download the app free of charge now, from itunes.com/llefyddsanctaidd