Wil ac Aeron – Gwlad Y Ceirw

S4C | 1 x 60minutes | Cwmni Da/Hay Productions

Wil and Aeron take on the task of shepherding deer in the extremes of the Arctic on a journey across 200 miles of snow-covered territory in biting cold weather.

The two young farmers from Machynlleth, Wil Hendreseifion and Aeron Pughe are well used to looking after large flocks of sheep and competing in international shearing competitions but the challenge they face in Wil ac Aeron – Gwlad y Ceirw presents them with a whole new experience.

The two friends take on the task of shepherding deer in the extremes of the Arctic in the programme which has a strong Christmas flavour with snow, bells and presents as well as the reindeer playing a part in a story of fun and adventure.

Their base is among the Sami people in the land of the midnight sun in the far north of Norway. The challenge facing Wil and Aeron involves marshalling several hundred deer on their journey across 200 miles of snow-covered territory in biting cold weather.

Every spring the deer move from the low-lying winter grazing land over the open mountains of the plateau to the northern coastal country where they calve over the summer months. Wil and Aeron guide the flocks of deer on their journey riding on ski-doos which are perfect vehicles in frozen snow but tend to get stuck in the soft variety.

Before journey’s end the two get the chance to shepherd the deer on their own in temperatures reaching as low as -15 degrees centigrade. How do they get on and how does the task compare to the work of shepherding a flock of sheep?

Wil and Aeron stay with two Sami families who give them a warm welcome. As well as showing the two how to shepherd deer, the Samis teach them to speak a little of their language and they take them on a fishing trip showing them how to catch their evening meal through holes in the ice.

“We never felt we were strangers,” says Aeron. “They were very welcoming and ready to teach us everything. It was an experience that will stay in my heart forever. They are people who are happy with the little they have. I’m more aware than ever of how fortunate we are. I complain less often these days.”

Having said that, the two agree that they had ‘a bellyful of the snow’ and of falling over in the snow with almost every step they took.

Wil and Aeron are familiar to S4C viewers from appearances on programmes like Noson Lawen and Ffermwyr Ifanc o’r Grand. They’ve both travelled extensively to compete in sheep shearing competitions and Wil won a scholarship from Hybu Cig Cymru to travel in South America. Aeron is also well-known in the role of the character Ben Dant in S4C’s children’s service Cyw.

Aeron is one of three brothers who help out looking after sheep and cattle on their parents’ farm near the village of Darowen, near Machynlleth. Wil is a full-time farmer also keeping sheep and cattle on his farm in Llanwrin, near Machynlleth.