In this nostalgic look at life for campers, twitchers, ramblers and metal detectors, Mark Benton examines the history of the British fresh air freak.
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Look out the window.
Go on. What's out there?
Buildings, probably. Traffic. More buildings.
But look further, beyond all that,
beyond the urban sprawl.
Even beyond the suburbs.
Fields, hills, forests.
All that damp, green, cold, muddy stuff.
Perfect for walking, fishing, climbing, cycling and picnics.
So get your cagoules on people, because that's where we're going.
Welcome to the Great British Outdoors.
We love the great outdoors.
We can't wait to get out in it.
Sun on our faces,
air in our lungs, the springy mountain turf beneath our feet.
The promise of an eagle soaring overhead...
Hang on a minute! We haven't thought this through.
This is Britain.
What we actually get is rain and midges,
rain, more rain,
rain and mud.
Lots and lots of mud.
Jolly John Betjeman loved all this stuff.
"All put your macs on, run for shelter fast,
"crouch where you like until it's fine again.
"Holiday cheerfulness is unsurpassed.
"Why be put out by healthy English rain?
"Are we downhearted?
"No, we're happy still! We came here to enjoy ourselves, and we will!"
Or as Will Shakespeare had it -
"One touch of nature makes the whole world kin".
Maybe that's why we do it. I mean really, what's in it for us?
Every year, millions of us head for the British countryside.
It's cheaper, easier
and warmer to holiday abroad, lie on the beach and eat home-made pasta.
Instead, we spend a fortune to get damp and eat tinned ravioli.
What is it about the British that drives us to do this?
To feel we have to prove something, suffer a bit?
That maybe scraping the skin off our knees and eating like students will
make us healthier, happier, closer to nature?
Who wants to be close to nature anyway?
How the heck did this all start?
Having lived, struggled, frozen and died outside for thousands of years,
we quite sensibly forgot all about it once we had a cave to huddle in.
Then, when all the caves were full and stank to high heaven,
someone invented houses.
And along with a house came a door.
This door must have been there for at least 400 years.
At a stroke, the Great British Indoors was born.
And everything else, by default, became the Great British Outdoors.
Then, in the late 18th century, the Industrial Revolution happened
and we spent all our time in dark factories, where we could develop
exciting new hobbies like rickets and emphysema.
Even if people had wanted to go out for a bit of a walk, they couldn't.
Most of them didn't have money, leisure time or shoes.
For those few that did, there were no cars, no buses,
no roads, no railways and no B&Bs.
None of that mattered anyway, because while everyone was indoors,
the whole country had been stitched up by wealthy landowners so they
could carry out the essential work of hunting, riding around to check
if anyone had stolen their land, and getting richer.
Then one day, a romantic poet noticed a hill, went
for a walk up it and wrote this -
Suddenly, the outdoors was A GOOD THING.
# Let's go outside
# In the sunshine
# I know you want to but you can't say yes
# Let's go outside, let's go outside
# In the moonshine, take me to the places that I love best. #
Gradually, the idea took root that hauling your sorry backside up
a mountain in the snow was good for you, physically and spiritually.
The fact there was a lovely view from the top was by the by.
Nowadays the view from the top is the bit that matters, but we've
never quite managed to shake off the sense that this is good for us,
that sleeping next to a vole or wiping your arse with a dock leaf is
going to make us stronger, happier, better.
So, here we are. In a field.
Cunningham Camp was the first
campsite in Britain and opened in 1894, and was for men only.
Just to ram the point home, it was actually on the Isle of Man.
600 blokes turned up every week.
It was like a big festival...
Only teetotallers were allowed, and the other selling points were -
tepid water, free lantern slides
and a professional orchestra playing during every meal.
It was like Glastonbury without the hangover, or stilt-walkers.
By the 1960s, camping was king.
More people spent their holidays
under canvas than in boarding houses,
which tells you how grim those boarding houses must have been.
Tents are a shapeless tangle
of ropes, poles and fabric, that transform into a cold,
damp and uncomfortable place in which to get very little sleep.
Any form of accommodation that requires the use of a mallet
before you can go to bed can't be right, can it?
Over the years, various attempts have been made
to make tents a bit less... rubbish.
None of them have succeeded.
Back then potential buyers were seduced by
the association of camping with nookie.
It's often pretty cold on the beach, but this transparent solarium
allows over 80% of the sun's ultraviolet rays to reach the body.
But, like everything wrapped in polythene, you can look at the goods
but you can't always touch 'em.
Now, out of that sleeping bag and start the day with a shower.
He'll need one after this.
Camping certainly doesn't lack interest - you never know what
you'll find under the groundsheet.
She seems to have found something...
Now you know what's meant by loitering within tent.
Anyway, you've dodged the clowns and finally bought a tent.
You're out there.
Good morning. Did you sleep well?
No, of course you didn't.
But that's not the point, is it?
The point is we're outdoors.
Rise and shine, it's...
quarter past four?!
That's, er, hot water, right?
No, it's not, is it?
Oh! Oooh, blimey!
As a way of waking up,
this ranks just below having your door kicked in by Special Branch.
I prefer being woken up by room service delivering
breakfast about eleven o'clock.
Where is breakfast served, by the way?
Ah, out in the field. Of course.
So what are we having?
Eggs, and eggs,
and more eggs...
Bacon! Ho ho ho!
That's more like it.
One of the really great joys of camping is the open air cooking.
The most delicious smells mingle and fill the air.
And all this without a kitchen.
-Hey, you didn't break the eggs!
-Ha ha ha!
-But that didn't stop us wanting to take one with us.
So here we are, kids, let John and Peter tell you
all about camping accessories.
You make think it looks just like an ordinary roof
rack, but just watch this. Johnny, will you give me a hand to unload?
Right, off now. Place it on the ground,
tip it up
and hey presto! It's a set of shelves.
And the sink just drops nicely into there.
And then on top of that you have a water container which just goes
on there, and by turning a tap you've got constant running water.
Ha! You're not fooling anyone, mate.
That's not a kitchen; it's a roof rack with a bucket.
If you're going camping you've got to camp in comfort, haven't you?
-I reckon so.
-Even with all this paraphernalia, for many people
camping felt a bit too much like holidaying in the Crimean War.
They didn't want trench foot and hypothermia.
They wanted net curtains and mattresses. They wanted walls.
Over a million British households own a caravan
which let them take a little piece of suburbia with them on holiday.
A few days by the sea is a thing tackled by different people
in different ways.
To some it is panic-stricken rush to the railway station with
To others it is a car crammed with buckets, spades and fretful children.
But to many a modern young couple,
the trip seems to be simplicity itself.
The caravan, built at Emsworth, Hampshire is not complicated.
Even a moron, mechanically-speaking, can fix it up in a matter of minutes.
And it provides comfortable accommodation
for two adults and a child.
It's vital statistics when raised are 6ft, 6" high,
6ft, 6" long, and 4ft 9" wide.
In other words, it's tiny.
I'd have brought one of these instead.
It's something of a caravan and something
of a car. In fact, the Homecruiser is a clever combination of both.
Thanks to a special device you can raise the roof,
then you see the plushy interior.
In fact, every mod con just behind the driving seat.
Yes, a self-contained house on four wheels. And at home everyone likes
privacy, especially at bathtime.
Just a step to the bathroom.
And this saucy little sales film would have definitely sealed
the deal for me.
Yes, it looks an interesting set-up.
Coach work's good, too.
Hey, hey! Do you mind?
Nice accessories, though.
This man is so fed up with his caravan,
he's pushing it into the river.
Oh, sorry, mate, it's amphibious. Nice try.
If you're contemplating regular river holidays in this fashion a bottle of
champagne each time can be expensive, so Alan and Ron get used to launching
her without the usual trimmings.
And if you think you've seen it all, just see how adaptable that home
on wheels, or rather waves, can be, because in this amphibious trailer
you set sail in a holiday house that floats.
The camping and caravanning boom of the '60s
also coincided with the Golden Age of another Great British obsession -
things that fold away.
This is a folding caravan. They're becoming very popular with a lot of
people for a number of reasons.
Right, well, this is the little
caravan that I've decided to buy after a year's research in looking
at caravans, because it is the only caravan I've found that suits
my purposes admirably for when away on location, for example,
so you can use it as a place to get out of the rain and keep warm.
It folds down absolutely flat
into a very small trailer, and it doesn't need 21st century
Doctor Who magic to so, in fact it only takes about 11 seconds.
So, if you'll excuse me a minute, we'll have a go.
How's that? 11 seconds!
11? No, it's not.
That's 22 seconds, actually, Doctor. You're meant to be a Time Lord.
Huh, you don't get that with David Tennant.
But not everyone loves caravans.
Even old Betjo had a pop.
"Where yonder villa hogs the sea was open cliff to you and me
"The many-coloured caras fill the salty marsh to Shilla Mill,
"And foreground to the hanging wood, are toilets, where the cattle stood."
What you're trying to say, John, is "get off my scenery".
And he calls them "caras" to make it scan. That's cheating.
"Perhaps one day a wave will break, Before the breakfaster awake,
"And sweep the caras out to sea, The oil, the tar, and you and me,
"And leave in windy, criss-cross motion, A waste of undulating ocean."
Let it go, John.
But campers really look down on caravans.
For a start, they've got doors.
You can't be outdoors if you've got a door!
They've got heating, electricity, toilets, televisions...
What happened to the suffering, mmm?
But frankly, the campers should put a sock in it.
After all, they're not having the real wilderness
experience they think they are.
If you want to know what it's like with all the creatures
and none of the comforts, here's ex-Blue Peter presenter,
the former Chief Scout, Peter Duncan.
He's taken up the challenge to spend a week living in the wild
with just a bit of help from survival expert, Lofty Wiseman.
-That's home for a few days, is it?
-Yeah. You want me to lead the way?
-I think so,
-Here we go then.
Has it got an outside toilet?
Erm, I think so.
Lots of sticks for the shelter.
So we sleep on top of that?
So, there you are, the real deal.
Right, come on, we can't sit around this campsite all day.
What do you mean, "we can"?
Well, we're not going to. We're not here to enjoy ourselves, remember.
We've got things to do.
I quite fancy a walk,
but that's not outdoors enough.
I'm going to have to go for a ramble instead.
But rambling's no walk in the park.
You need boots.
Good quality leather boots and shoes with reasonably stout soles, the feet
encased in woollen, are the order.
A few light hob nails are an advantage, even for easy walking.
And don't wear silkstocking, says Tom Stevenson, open-air
correspondent of the Daily Herald.
Well, that's the boots sorted what else do we need?
Woollen sweater, preferably the sort that mother makes, silk cravat,
and a long-skirted wind jacket made like a lot of pockets sewn together.
Countrymen can't have too many pockets.
I favour a heavy, green,
water-proof jacket, worn by the Norwegian cod fishers in the Arctic,
which has over-trousers, also waterproof, you can wear with it.
So that's hobnailed boots, a silk cravat, trousers from
Norway, jumpers from mother...
Oh, there's something missing, er, a nice gun, maybe?
So we're all dressed up and ready to go!
American cardiologist Paul Dudley White thought that...
Right, Paul. Let's ramble.
We're free to wander where we like, aren't we?
Most open countryside was and still is private land.
The likes of you and me had to keeps our grubby boots off it.
They might not look like it, but this lot were
the frontline troops in a class war.
This is Kinder Scout in the Peak District.
Nice, isn't it?
It's owned by the local duke, and he thought so, too.
Back in 1932, the British Workers
Sports Federation staged a mass trespass here and threatened
to overthrow the established order simply by going for a walk.
They're all there, these ramblers. Tall and short,
fat and lean, some in shorts, some in kilts and some in their Sunday best.
They've all come here to make their protest.
Still they come, there's many a stout soul going over the hill.
They soon came face to face with the duke's gamekeepers.
There was a bit of argy-bargy, and some of the ramblers found
themselves back indoors at Her Majesty's pleasure.
But the rambling genie was out of the bottle.
Whether dukes and landowners liked it or not, change was on the way.
In postwar Britain, the public were heading for the hills in their
thousands, but they needed to behave themselves out there.
They needed a code. Fortunately, the Country Code was easy to crack.
There's a nice line of conduct amongst ramblers which makes a jaunt
enjoyable not only for themselves but for those who come after.
Shutting gates and keeping to the path are two little points
in the rambler's code which should always be observed. Take notice.
Oh, Joe, I have enjoyed our country walk.
Yes, we've come a long way, Petunia.
Look, you can see our tracks right across that yellow cornfield.
Oh, yes! It's ever so nice in this field.
But I'm glad those cows have gone.
They've taken themselves off for a walk down t'road.
-Look, through that gate I opened, the one marked private.
The hedges and walls in the country aren't just for decoration.
They're functional ones to keep sheep
and cattle safe and away from all the crops the farmer grows.
Our little Bingo is having a lovely time
playing with those sheep.
The exercise will do him good.
Most dogs enjoy a day in the country.
But their exuberance isn't always appreciated by the locals.
Do you know, there's a farmer down there with a purple face?
I expect it's all that sun and the open-air life, Joe.
Now he's doing one of those country dances.
-Well, I don't think he looks very friendly.
-Maybe you're right.
It can't be anything we've done.
The Country Code can only do so much.
Decades after Kinder Scout, there's still the odd bit of argy-bargy
-You get on that road there.
I'm going here.
Over my dead body. There is no foot road
where you cut a hole in the hedge.
There has never been a foot road in that field.
When did you see me cut this?
-Last time you was here.
-I did, you big liar.
Let her go, then.
Go on. There's a road there.
Go on, get up that road.
Oh, there must be a solution to all this aggravation.
I know, let's go and kill things.
They all have their rallying cries.
Hunting - Tally Ho!
Shooting - Pull!
Man invented hunting out of necessity in the Iron Age
when fast food was really nippy. We had to chase everything we ate
until we invented fencing to keep our dinner in one place.
But we've developed a taste for the chase and started hunting stuff
we couldn't even eat.
Not big things like Buffalo.
We didn't have any of them.
We had little things like foxes.
There's nothing like hunting after Christmas
and in this case hounds met at Tunbridge Wells, the pack,
you know. Met plenty of friends, by the look of it.
Of course, however well you did at Christmas,
there's no harm in a stirrup cup. Hair of the hound that bit you, what?
When it comes to looking beautiful,
hunting has an unfair advantage over other sports.
To begin with there's no such thing as an ugly horse.
And the people who go hunting can dress themselves in a splendid pink
that almost persuades you there's no such thing as an ugly man, either.
Hunting needs its own kit, of course.
You need horses, hounds, ridiculous outfits,
posh accents, loads and loads of land, and some peasants.
And who had all these things?
Well, the upper classes. Fancy that.
Bouncing about on the back of a horse has an effect on
the glands, and I think that hunting makes people rather highly sexed.
Yoiks! Tally-ho! Doing plenty of that clears the throat, what?
Tally-ho, gone away.
Packs streaming out
across the fields, thundering hooves, the thin, high note of the horn,
the whole atmosphere of a medieval tapestry brought to life.
You have to admit that hunting has got something that,
say, golf hasn't got.
The peasants were allowed to join in the fun doing things like
picking up hats.
Oh, it's great fun.
-What's in it for the fox?
-The fox isn't in the least vindictive.
He knows that when he's chased by heaps of horses and dozens of dogs,
it's fine sport, and a good time is had by all.
As the day draws to a close, the huntsmen show the local kids
a good time, too.
It's not until the evening that the fun really begins. Then they take
a pile of pennies and turn them over the fire into hot pennies,
and really hot. Then the ladies of the hunt throw
them down to the waiting children.
The first boy or girl who can hold one can keep it.
And would you believe it?
The kids think it more fun than the hunt.
Fishing is altogether more sedate and doesn't involve hot metal.
3 million of us regularly huddle on riverbanks and piers to do it.
As an unknown fisherman once said...
Look at them, eh, sitting in the rain like
cats looking at a goldfish bowl.
Fox hunting might be bloodthirsty and cruel,
but it's a bit livelier than this.
Oh, that's not very big.
How long is a piece of string?
Still, at least with fishing you can eat what you catch.
Which reminds me, I'm hungry.
Isn't it odd how camp food always tastes so good?
Black and burnt sausages, tea with grass floating in it, stew
that looks like nothing on earth, and they're all marvellous when
you've cooked it yourself on a paraffin stove or on a camp fire.
I like it better when there's a hamper involved.
Oh, there's something about
the picnic because you know what picnics are...
Oh, no, that's sailors.
But you know what I mean.
Picnics conjure up memories of meadows,
rolling fields, butterflies, flowers in a gentle breeze.
A comfy blanket.
There's a wasp! There's there wasp!
Get it off me! Get it off! Hang on, that's a cow pat.
-Oh, bloody hell.
How does that work?
Oh, it's that one.
Oh, well, at least we've got some proper grub.
Lovely summer weather makes you want to spend long days in the country,
but does your husband grouse because the picnic food you give him isn't
as appetising as the meals prepared in your kitchen?
If he does, perhaps it's your own fault.
This little lady's picnic dishes
are guaranteed to make the most hardened gourmet's mouth water.
Little baskets can be made out of cucumbers.
There's a tremendous scope for imagination with regards
to the filling, but just to give you an idea, what about a mixture
of grated cheese with mayonnaise with perhaps a little flavouring?
We don't suggest you can use the basket to do your shopping
when you've eaten the inside, but they do look neat, don't they?
It's a picnic, love. Can you knock up some sausage rolls?
Sausage rolls are easy.
When you've made the pastry, put the meat in.
It's a good idea to pace the edges with beaten up eggs.
The rolls should be done in about 10 minutes.
No wonder our cook looks pleased.
She's made a really appetising picnic lunch, and so can you if you try.
Of course, we've got Gregg's for that now.
Being British, we can take the fun out of anything, even picnics.
Let's take a peep at the picnic of the future.
Tomorrow's hikers are carrying all they need for a good, hot meal.
The secret is all in a few small tins.
There's not even a tin opener to get left behind,
and everything is dehydrated.
In a little while, those handfuls of dehydrated food will
have absorbed enough water to bring them back to their original form.
Dinner is served. Two lovely platefuls of meat and three veg,
looking as fresh as if they'd never seen a tin in their life.
They eat better than that on a space shuttle.
Perhaps you too will be enjoying the picnic of the future in a year
or two. Who knows?
The crucial thing about getting
a proper British picnic right is to choose your spot.
You want somewhere scenic
and relaxing yet not too far from the road.
Let's get back to Peter Duncan.
It's no picnic for him.
Hey, we've got sausage rolls, mate.
-What are you having?
-I was so hungry.
'Food was becoming an obsession.
'This was the first of many strange foods I was to eat. Bulrushes.'
It's full of protein, so if you can get seeds, it's excellent to eat.
This is stinging nettle. It's particularly useful.
This is like spinach. Full of vitamins and minerals.
Knowing what to eat is one thing.
Actually eating it is another.
What you've got to make sure, once the tide's gone out,
all this stuff here, they're all dead 'uns, obviously.
Anything still clinging that's firmly closed, OK, pick them.
Still anchored, that's good to eat.
We're going to boil that up, and it's really nutritious.
There's no poisonous seaweeds, but some have irritating hairs.
It didn't look very nourishing but it was my best meal for six days.
Where did you find that?
In fairness to Gregg's, they wouldn't sell you that.
And when you finish your picnic, the best thing to do with all the litter
is leave it behind. Well, otherwise it wouldn't be litter, would it?
The British devotion to litter makes us the envy of the world.
Who else would take an old mattress halfway up
a mountainside to dump it?
That sort of thing takes commitment.
They were just wondering whether to take their litter home or leave it
under a convenient boulder.
They've found the answer.
Nowadays we just get told to Keep Britain Tidy.
But in the 1930s, the Chew Valley moor wardens had a more medieval
solution to the litter lout.
The moor wardens' movement, which began about a year ago,
is solely and entirely
an educational movement.
We're going to symbolise our movement by taking the litter lout
hanging there on the gibbet.
We're going to bring him down here in the place of judgment
and we're going to burn him.
I hope they cleared that lot up when they'd done.
Anyway, no time for hanging around.
Get that litter in the bin. We've got more stuff to do - rugged stuff.
There's something about the great outdoors that compels
adults to dress children in uniforms and make them do something intrepid.
Robert Baden Powell came up with this idea when he noticed that other
countries had healthier soldiers.
He thought that scouting for boys
were transform feeble British youngsters into men fit for war.
I'm so glad to see you turn out smart and clean
and evidently efficient.
It all began in Dorset in 1907, when 20 boys got together to tie
knots and go around the local village offering to carry
your shopping and wash your horse.
As Baden Powell also said...
Like take some long trousers in case it snowed.
Meet winter campers from the 2nd Westminster and the 20th Ealing
troop, proving just how tough they'd come in the scouting movement these
days and what wonderful scenery you can enjoy if you press on regardless
and learn to live under canvas even when the blizzard blows all round.
Shorts and snow - what were they thinking?
Girls soon got in on the act and were taught important outdoor skills
like tying yet more knots,
pretending how to have a broken arm...
and four-way synchronised dancing.
By the '60s, the girls were as rugged as the boys.
At one time, it would have been unthinkable to see young ladies,
especially Guides, clambering about over rock faces.
Today it's all part of the programme
to develop mental and physical qualities. And have fun, too.
But if these
boys and girls hadn't been transformed into model citizens
through stressful outdoor activities by the age of 15,
they could be sent for further treatment.
This is the Upward Bound School at Eskdale in Cumberland
where they'll make a man and a mountaineer out of any young lad who
goes there for a four-week course in character training through adventure
and truly spartan experience.
It's all a sort of motivational kick up the backside for youngsters.
There's no smoking and no drinking for the Outward Bounders
at this school.
They're there to learn self-reliance and a capacity for facing hardship
and hazards of all kinds.
The day begins with this 7:30 run, and it's all right - any ice
in the stream will get caught up in the chute.
The theory was that if teenagers insisted on being surly
and difficult, they could jolly well do it outside in cold water.
Supplementary to the normal school curriculum, the emphasis here is on
character-building, enabling a boy to discover for himself his
capacity in every field of endeavour.
Through adventure he meets face to face the tests and hazards of life.
At last, they stand midway between heaven and earth, along with
their own personal pride of achievement.
Yet the effect has really much greater.
Having lived with nature they've discovered its beauty.
Having gained self-confidence, they've discovered a useful purpose
in life, a happy sign for the future of the youth of today.
Well, that's the theory.
What do the boys really think?
'When we started out we intended to have a pretty good time there,
'but all the walking and that got you down a lot.'
'You don't really feel it, you just kind of go into a hypnotic trance.
'You kind of walk, walk, walk, walk, and you don't really get anywhere.
'All the countryside looks exactly the same. All the bridges
'look exactly the same and all the streams look exactly the same.
'I got a bit cold and wet and me hands froze to me haversack.'
At least you didn't have to do this.
The boys are dumped 70 miles from the school and given
three days to find their way back.
Three days? They'd have the mountain rescue
called out within the hour now.
Some people enjoyed this type of trauma so much that once
they grow up they do it voluntarily.
Orienteering, for example. This involves running around
on steep hills while reading a map and a compass at the same time.
Uh-oh! He's forgotten his egg and spoon.
He'll have to go back for that.
The sport was originally developed by people trying to find their way
home from the pub after six pints and was called disorienteering.
That's why this this event was sponsored by a beer company.
If the great British outdoors is just too, well,
outdoors for you, why not find yourself a cave?
Potholing presents its physical
problems, but a fear of the unknown must be conquered too, when you're
crawling about almost blindly in the darkness of subterranean corridors.
Potholing has the perfect balance between indoors and outdoors.
It has walls, floors and a ceiling,
yet retains all the cold, damp discomfort of being in the open air.
Let's see how Peter Duncan is getting on with his rugged stuff.
He's probably been dreaming about having his own cave for days now.
'At dawn on the fifth day of my ordeal, instructor Lofty Wiseman
returned after two days'.
-Cold, was it?
-Freezing. My feet are like blocks of ice.
'Lofty decided it was time to make a bid to reach civilisation and safety,
-'and that meant heading for the coast'.
-You going to miss that thing?
'I'd become very attached
'to my shelter, and the forest had felt like home.
'But to survive, I had to move on'.
-How far have we come?
-Oh, a few miles.
'I'd never felt as bad as I did at this moment.
'I began to think Lofty was deliberately making life tougher
'than need be to wear me down.
'I was so tired, I could hardly think straight.
'I just did what was necessary to survive another night in the open'.
Looks fit for a guinea pig. I don't know about a human being!
I always thought the only things you needed to survive in the wilderness
were a hat, a Swiss Army knife and a pub.
For a start, how are we going to do any cooking?
The boys of Mount House School
at Tavistock in Devon, on a pioneering course with Ross Salmon.
They learn the art of cooking without utensils.
How to cook an egg, for example.
Hang on, that knife's definitely a utensil, you little cheat.
-It takes a real man to appreciate an egg like that.
Spoon - utensil.
This is Monkey's Delight, a flour and water mixture that is wrapped around
a stick and cooked over the fire.
In schoolboy style, you can stuff all sorts of things in the middle -
bananas, jam, any old thing, and still be sure of rapturous
munching noises from your clientele.
Mmm, scorched dough.
Ray Mears is pretty rugged.
He doesn't need scorched dough or any utensils.
That's a really good find. I didn't expect to find these.
This is horse chestnut. Of course, the leaves of these make a good soap.
So I'm going to take a few with me for later.
Don't normally expect to see this plant growing in the open.
This is wood sorrel, and it loves the shade. It's a good find.
Tastes of apple peel.
Really refreshing on a hike.
There's loads of sphagnum moss
thriving on the edge of the river here.
This plant has been used for centuries as a wound dressing.
Interestingly, in this area, children during the last war
were sent out to gather this to make emergency field dressings.
So that's soap, apple peel and, er...wound dressing.
The scorched dough is starting to look rather good.
Despite all Ray's talents, Professor Stephen Hawking is
of the opinion that:
Sorry, Ray. This crowd have taken the idea of getting back to nature
just that little bit further.
For them, the less Gore-Tex, the better.
This is nudism as the nudist likes to see it - sun and fresh air,
with fun and games for all the family.
These naturists - that's the label
they prefer - are members of the Manchester Sun and Air Society.
Each fine weekend, a hundred campers pitch their tents,
park their caravans, take off their clothes and relax.
I bet they didn't take long to pack. "Let me see, what shall we take?
"Shoes, socks...yeah, that's it. Let's go".
For the die-hard nudist, catching
the sun on a cloudy day can be a chilly, uphill struggle.
Isn't it rather wishful thinking, sunbathing on a day like this?
Well, the sun does come out, and when it does, it's very pleasant.
-It's not cold.
-It's not cold?
No. Well, I'm used to it.
This is a vivid illustration of the phrase "Health and safety
"will have a field day".
But isn't it a real case for clothes, doing a job like that?
Could be, of course.
But...it's obvious, I'm puffing.
It's a warm job.
You probably perspire.
It's easier to perspire, more comfortable, shall we say, than to be
lumbered with a boiler suit and wellingtons and the usual garb.
A pair of pants would do, mate.
And look at this.
That man isn't wearing any eye protection.
Isn't that dangerous with no clothes on?
I suppose several jobs are.
The most dangerous job a naturist can do is to fry sausages.
Not this, then?
Sometimes, while you're in the countryside, resting
from your exertions, if you're quiet, and still, and very lucky,
you may catch a fleeting glimpse of something wild.
A flash of fur, the glint of a yellow eye,
the musky scent of things that live in dark, warm places.
These are the locals.
And this is the Abbots Bromley Horn Dance.
The date of the Horn Dance is every year on the first Monday after
the first Sunday following 4th September.
We always turn out on the date as it comes, no matter what the weather is.
They're not really even dancing. I mean, it's nice, fellas,
but it's no Strictly.
I've seen old Jim do this dance
in the yard for 36 years, and still we don't know what it's all about.
might end up in Gloucestershire, chasing a bit of cheese down a hill.
This is basically extreme picnicking.
There's another lot coming down in a minute, with the pickle.
"Sorry, Mrs Parsons, I can't come to school today.
"I've, er, broke me leg chasing a cheese".
In Tetbury, they race up and down while carrying 60lb sacks of wool.
Oh, this is knackering.
There must be stuff to do outdoors if you're, you know, a little less
The best way of getting around the countryside is by car.
But technically, that's indoors.
What you really need to do is get rid of the roof,
the walls, the doors, the engine and two of the wheels.
Or you could just get a bike.
If you're not aching enough after a few days
of rambling, climbing, caving
and sleeping in fields, try cycling.
That'll do the trick.
Out from the towns stream the cyclists,
seeking sun, air and exercise in the countryside.
What a rest cure those wide horizons,
how ennobling to the mind the gracious expanses of rural beauty.
Anyway, you can't deny that beauty is there in the countryside
for those who have time to see it.
The villages of England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland
all lovely in their charm.
And the waterways, limpid,
iridescent, translucent - forgive me, it must be a touch of spring.
The lanes winding through the gentle folds of the hills. How delightfully
they vary the succession of unexcitingly flat roads.
What would life be without its ups and downs? What would life be?
Thank goodness we're reaching the down.
Coasting downhill on a push bike. Is there any more wonderful sensation?
And the joy of cycling is the freedom.
You can go anywhere.
Cyclists who have explored the paradise of
the valley stop, foxed for a moment by the full ford.
It's only a bit of water, you lightweights.
Maybe they will have to make a detour, for the evening is getting
late. It is time to turn home.
If you're scared of a little stream
like that, you'd better not get on one of these.
Boats were invented by the Greeks as a way of travelling on water
without getting wet.
Since then, they've become popular as a way
of enjoying the great outdoors while holding a gin and tonic.
Now, that's progress.
These ladies are the Norfolk Broads,
and they've kidnapped a photographer called Eric.
The photographer, by the way, is Eric,
and he's one of the chaps who work on those Come To Britain posters,
drawing the attention of visitors from overseas to the attractions of
the English countryside - in this case, the Norfolk Broads.
The added, um, decoration,
is provided by girls from London's Windmill Theatre.
Eric was eventually released in exchange for two cardigans
and his woolly hat.
It's not as warm as it looks out there.
involves quite a bit of jargon, and John Betjeman knows the lot.
"They've taken our wind
"Oh, no, she's going about
"Stand by to gybe
"Ready about. Leo!
"Out there, it's solitude
"They can't build on the sea."
Looks lovely, John, but a bit dull, possibly?
Whoa! Hang on a minute! I want one of those!
That's more like it.
Actually, I'm getting a bit dizzy.
Ah...bliss, tranquillity, harmony.
-What the bloody hell's that?
Oh, it's them.
Throughout the year, the promise of treasure flushes out Britain's
metal detectors, an estimated quarter of a million of them.
Hold on, he's found something.
That means there's something down there?
There it is. Hey!
-It's a bit grubby.
-You have that.
-The secret of metal detecting is
to have very, very low expectations.
That's a lump of iron.
That's a great big lump of iron.
It's a big key.
So, 10p - "Hmm".
Lump of iron - "Hmm".
Actual gold - "Hmm".
All right, I get it.
You're not meant to enjoy this, are you?
Oh, that sounds good, doesn't it?
Oh, yes, it's a Roman coin.
No, no, mate, you've got it wrong.
You're far too happy.
Next time, try giving it more of a sense of vague disappointment.
"Roman coin. Oh".
We'll wait till we get it home, and then we'll wash it under the tap
and have another look at it. What do you say? OK?
Now, this lot have turned vague disappointment into
an art form. They like
to sit indoors and look at the outdoors through a little window.
They're called birdwatchers.
They sit in something called a hide.
It's not exactly clear what they're hiding from.
Unless you're a worm, birds aren't actually all that dangerous.
These are twitchers, and they're
on the trail of a really rare bird that's hardly ever seen in Britain.
There it is! There it is!
The less patient amongst us can just fly their own paper birds
on a bit of string.
There's nothing on earth quite as relaxing as flying a kite.
So, we've found ways of making it stressful,
frightening and dangerous. Brilliant!
'His next kite was a giant - so big, its framework was made of
'thick aluminium tubes.
'I couldn't believe these would ever fly.
'The spine of the kite is two aluminium tubes bolted together,
'and the sails are the strongest polythene that Peter can find.
'When I saw the full size of the kite, I realised it was huge.'
'The kite took off so suddenly, things quickly got out of control.
'As the kite shot up, David hung on, then let go.
'Then Peter was lifted several feet off the ground.
'The kite had shot up into the sky at a fantastic speed, and up
'there the wind was much stronger than anyone had bargained for.
'Suddenly, disaster struck.
'The giant kite had pierced the ground, and as it eventually
'keeled over, we all went off sadly to inspect the damage.'
Well, a disappointing end to a challenging day.
Oh, God, let's just get back to the campsite.
Tired, wet, aching...
this is what we came out here for.
Let's head back.
I say head, I mean trudge.
Tell you what I'm ready for -
a lovely hot bath, a pint and a delicious dinner.
Oh, no. I forgot.
We're still camping.
All you've had to eat today is two crackers, a square of
Kendal mint cake and half a wasp.
If you don't eat in the next half hour, you'll probably die.
Right, what's for tea?
Oh, bloody hell.
I think I might just have a nice cup of cocoa and go to bed.
The best thing about sleeping under the stars is...the stars.
But let's face it, you're not going to see them.
It's quarter past seven and you're knackered.
The sun comes up in half an hour.
Get your head down.
Life on a campsite has its own natural rhythm.
You sleep when it's dark and rise at the crack of dawn.
It's getting back to nature.
What are you doing here, anyway? You could be
warm and comfy and well fed, a cold beer in your hand
and a warm bed waiting for you.
You could be...indoors.
Oh, that's better, isn't it?
No rain, no mud, no...naked lumberjacks.
But hang on a second.
Don't you think maybe you're missing something? Something like...this?
Look at it, it's fantastic.
Yeah, it can be cold, wet and muddy.
But it's worth it, isn't it?
So get your cagoule on and get out there.
Fly a kite.
Chase a cheese.
Wake up in a tent.
Because only then, when you unzip that canvas and feel
the crisp bite of the morning air on your face, will you see this.
Only then are you truly alive.
Only then are you really, truly,
in the Great British Outdoors.
Subtitles by RED BEE MEDIA LTD
E-mail: [email protected]
Mud, midges, barbed wire - just why do us Brits love the great outdoors?
In this nostalgic look at life for campers, twitchers, ramblers and metal detectors, Mark Benton examines the history of the British fresh air freak.