Browse content similar to The Wash. Check below for episodes and series from the same categories and more!
An enormous expanse of flat, flat mud,
twice a day scrubbed clean by the tide.
No wonder it's called The Wash.
Out here, the horizon seems to stretch for ever in every direction.
The sky is huge, the mudflats are vast,
and somewhere out there,
there's a point where the land meets the sea.
More than 100,000 wading birds like knot,
and dunlin come here to feed every autumn.
The mudflats are oozing with molluscs and crustaceans,
just the sort of food that waders love to eat.
RSPB warden Jim Scott is here to share this amazing sight with me.
What I love about this place is that there's always something to look at.
The place is never still.
All sorts of activity going on.
What other species are out there at the moment?
Well, we've got some
ring plover and dunlin working their way along the edge of the mud here.
As the tide pushes in beyond them, further out,
there's some bar-tailed godwits and black-tailed godwits in amongst them,
all concentrating as the tide just covers this last area of mud.
All busy feeding away, as well, as the tide is sort of coming in.
I guess it's almost like a feeding frenzy happening on the mudflats.
They're trying to get as much energy as possible before the tide comes in
and then covers that, and the feeding stops for the next half of the day.
Absolutely, yes. They're spending most of the time feeding away,
getting as much fuel on board as possible.
The fascinating thing is that they all feed in different ways.
They all have slightly different beaks, designed for that purpose.
That's right, yeah.
Things like the bar-tailed godwit, which has a great big long bill.
It probes around in the mud,
so it's going for whatever shellfish and worms
are buried deep in the mud.
We've got species like grey plover,
which is feeding more on the surface.
It has big eyes and it looks for prey on the surface,
little crabs or whatever.
Oystercatchers feed on mussels and cockles.
So no one species is really in competition with another?
There's a bit of overlap between some of the species,
but they use a wide range of techniques.
'As the birds are making the most of the mud,
'it's also my chance to get mucky
'and see the tasty morsels, which bring them here in the first place.'
Look at those.
-These are just little clams, are they?
-What's feeding on these, Jim?
-It'll be things like knot.
Knot particularly like these,
cos they're not too far from the surface.
The rag worms, they're quite big and fat.
Yeah, quite a few calories in one of those.
I think things like redshank will feed on these.
The Wash is like a giant bed and breakfast for waders.
Some check in briefly en route to sunnier destinations.
Others make themselves at home for the winter.
They haven't got long to stock up - the tide is already turning.
And as the tide races in, the birds just take off.
But the birds aren't necessarily going far.
Some rest on a nearby shingle bank,
where they run the risk of becoming a banquet themselves.
A young peregrine falcon is looking for lunch.
Once the danger's passed, the knot return to rest,
and the birds of The Wash wait for their next meal.
People come to the coast to indulge their passions.
While Miranda is away with the birds,
it's one of my ultimate heroes that's brought me here,
to the home turf of Horatio Nelson.
I think there's something mesmerising about the sea that turns us all into dreamers,
and I suspect, as a boy, Nelson was no different.
I imagine young Nelson coming here, looking out,
dreaming of dashing victories, distant battles, faraway seas.
But the truth is, not even his wildest dreams could have matched the reality of his own life.
You've got to admire Nelson.
I think he was a tactical genius.
Without his naval victories over the French in the Napoleonic Wars,
Britannia wouldn't have ruled the waves.
But mighty as Nelson's reputation is now,
he was born into humble surroundings.
On from The Wash, just a mile inland from the north Norfolk coast,
is the small village of Burnham Thorpe.
Nelson was the son of the local parson here.
In 1787, during a period of peace,
29-year-old now Captain Nelson was temporarily unemployed.
So like many of us have, he moved back home,
where he spent the next five years waiting for war.
The parsonage at Burnham Thorpe is long gone,
but its garden is still here,
and this is where he left a lasting legacy.
Frustrated not to be fighting the French,
Nelson did some digging instead.
In fact, it's said that he dug out this pond.
But he was still dreaming of the sea.
He dug this pond to represent the deck of a ship.
That's why this end is square - this is the stern, the back of the ship.
If you imagine being at the top of the crow's-nest, on top of the mast,
the whole thing narrows to a point 30-odd feet away.
That's the bow, the pointy bit of the ship.
It's a lot smaller than the gun deck of The Victory,
but you can see that if all these lilies and all the grass and slime was scraped away,
it would be quite obvious - it's shipshape.
After five landlocked years,
Nelson was recalled to the Senior Service.
Finally, he was back at sea, where he belonged,
and 10 years later, he achieved his destiny
onboard his flagship - The Victory.
It's impossible to walk through this village without constantly
catching glimpses and reminders of the life and times of Nelson.
As a parson's son, the church in Burnham Thorpe would have been a second home for Nelson,
so it's fitting that memorabilia of my hero hangs from every wall.
And there's the man himself -
a bust of Nelson -
and he's looking over the graves of his mother and father.
Now, the great warrior wanted, at the end of everything,
to rest in peace in this church beside the graves of his mother and father,
but that didn't happen.
Nelson's mortal remains are in St Paul's Cathedral.
Nelson's great adventures took him far from home shores,
but these beaches have their own epic tale to tell.
At low tide, they expose the remains of mysterious hidden forests.
Nick's exploring evidence of a lost landscape.
This is Titchwell Beach on the north Norfolk coast,
and I'm heading for that dark area down by the sea.
I think it might hold some clues.
I'm looking for signs that this shape-shifting coastline
only reveals on a very low spring tide -
evidence that this area hasn't always been a sandy beach.
This looks very like a bed of ancient peat.
It's been scoured clean of sand by successive tides.
It's black and...
if you press your thumb into it,
it's spongy and water squeezes out.
It's old reed swamp, brushwood, bits of tree.
Look at that! A perfectly preserved piece of tree root.
It's Mesolithic - 7,000, 8,000, 9,000 years old -
part of a submerged forest.
Almost 100 years ago,
the study of these tree stumps became an obsession for one man,
determined to make sense of a riddle written into these sands.
In 1913, a retired Victorian geologist, Clement Reid,
published his work on Britain's submerged forests.
In his book, Reid revealed that he'd found ancient forests all along the east coast.
Noah's Woods, the locals called them -
trees submerged by a great flood.
His research led Reid to a remarkable conclusion.
He said the discovery of tree stumps here at low tide,
proved that forests once stretched far, far offshore,
way out into the North Sea.
Surprisingly, Reid's writing on the submerged forests didn't make much of a splash at the time.
Now, 100 years later, scientists are beginning to take Clement Reid's little book very seriously.
In the book, Reid proposes an amazing idea.
His maps speculate that Britain was once connected to Europe
by land that stretched across the North Sea, over the Dogger Bank.
Reid imagined there was no sea here, the water locked up in ice during the last ice age.
After years of studies, the existence of this land bridge was confirmed.
But only recently have a team at Birmingham University
used core samples from the sea bed to reveal the detail of the complex landscape lost to the sea.
'Simon Fitch is going to show me where this lost territory - now dubbed Doggerland - once was,
'and what it looked like.'
So here we are, Simon. bobbing around on a fishing boat in the North Sea,
but 7,000, 8,000, 9,000 years ago, we couldn't have done this.
-We'd have been on land.
-Yeah, we'd have been
actually sitting on the big plane of Doggerland,
with the rivers, the trees behind us, and the little hills.
It would have been a diverse landscape we'd have been sitting on.
Just off our coast, there's a lost world.
Mighty rivers once ran through Doggerland,
a wetland paradise rich with fish and birdlife to feed the early Europeans.
Around 10,000 years ago, as the ice started to melt, sea level rose.
Doggerland were submerged.
Its residents moved on, some into Britain,
which became an island as Doggerland disappeared.
But it left clues - submerged forests along the coast,
an ancient message Reid decoded in his slim volume full of big ideas.
But the ancient flood that engulfed Doggerland
wasn't the end of the story in Reid's remarkable writings.
He said that following the slow flooding of Doggerland,
the coastline here in Norfolk was also radically different to what we see today.
In his book, Reid speculated that the vast estuary once cut deep into the heart of Norfolk.
Well, I grew up in Norfolk, sailing and canoeing this huge wetland,
and for some time now I've been looking out for signs of that lost great estuary.
Today the landscape of this part of Norfolk is just that - land.
But go back 2,000 years and I believe there wasn't just a river here,
but a vast estuary to rival The Thames.
Clues to the existence of the estuary date back to Roman times
when two forts were built to guard this enormous inlet from marauders.
This is one of them. It's called Burgh Castle and it's enormous.
Just look at the scale of it!
'Look at the position of the fort now in the middle of a field, guarding nothing
'and it doesn't make any sense.
'I think these walls once stood at the entrance of a thriving Roman seaport.'
This is where the great estuary must have been.
It helped make this one of the most important parts of Britain.
This would have been a trading haven to rival The Thames.
But around 1,000 years ago, the estuary silted up
and the coast re-wrote itself, leaving the river we see today.
Another chapter in the epic shape-shifting story of this shore
that Clement Reid first worked out in his little book of submerged forests.