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Today, I'm on a journey into one of the most undiscovered
parts of Britain, stretching as far as the eye can see behind me,
the Northumberland National Park.
My travels will take me from here at Edlingham on the outskirts of the park through the villages
of Rothbury and Otterburn into the wilderness of the Kielder Forest,
before finishing my journey near the remote village of Stannersburn.
The Northumberland National Park stretches 60 miles
from the Cheviot Hills bordering Scotland in the north to Hadrian's Wall country in the south.
It's a landscape of rolling moorlands and undulating grassland.
But it has a turbulent and bloody history.
During the 15th and 16th centuries, these border lands were raided
by English and Scottish bands crisscrossing the border looking for livestock and settlement rights.
This castle, now a ruin and popular scrambling site - and yes, you ARE allowed to
scramble, because we checked - was once a medieval manor house.
There would have been many like it around Northumberland.
But it was caught up in the conflict between England and Scotland
which rumbled on for 300 years between 1300 and 1600.
So the defences were increased and the castle was created.
And despite its crumbling walls, it's still pretty dramatic.
The national park is wild and windswept,
not the easiest place to navigate if you don't know where you're going.
So I could do with someone who knows the roads and here he comes.
Hi there! Ian Gutherson was born and bred in this part of the world.
His hobby is restoring old Morris Minor vehicles, and his latest set
of wheels is a great way to kick off my journey.
There's no seat belts! That's a bit hard.
I'm reaching round and there's nothing there. Is that legal?
Yes. They made a law in the early 60s that you had to have them
but you don't nee to have them in these old things.
-If I had it on the road a lot, I would put them in.
But it's legal even without it, because it was built before that?
-Yes. It has to pass an MOT, so yes.
-Right. Fair enough.
Ian found his 1957 Morris Minor ice-cream van on a scrap yard 12 years ago.
He spent two years lovingly restoring it and got it back on the road.
I'll be finding out just how he did that later on in the programme.
Just through those trees is an imposing country house,
built high on a rocky crag over Northumberland National Park.
It was once owned by a Victorian visionary and Michaela Strachan went to explore it.
These days, when people go house hunting, they're generally either looking
for modern home with lots of gadgets or a character home with period features.
Well, hidden away here in Northumberland is a house that can truly claim to have both.
It's Cragside, named because of its location at the foot of Debden Burn.
From 1863, it was the home of Lord Armstrong, a local industrialist
who made the house and the gardens into a showcase for his inventions.
Lord Armstrong was years ahead of his time.
He created the first ever hydroelectric power station for domestic use.
It was powered by these waters, which are man-made lakes and basically they're just enormous fuel tanks!
The water cascaded down the hillside through this pipeline into the power house below.
The water pressure was strong enough to drive this turbine and send
the power through the dynamo and convert it into electricity.
Newspapers of the time christened Cragside "the palace of a modern magician".
It was the first house in the country to be lit by electricity.
How much electricity would this particular generator actually create?
Well, in the house, I think it was 45 bulbs that
it was running, so quite a large bit of a current for 45 bulbs.
Imagine if we all had to have one of these in our basement just to do 45 light bulbs!
-How ahead of his time was Lord Armstrong?
-Well, far ahead, really.
He had a slight problem with this unit, that if there was very little
water in the lakes, obviously the lights went off in the house.
So he decided to build a gas engine house alongside this power house to run the dynamos here.
The only problem was there was no gas in the local Rothbury area,
so Armstrong, being Armstrong, built a gas works, as well.
Money was not an object to Armstrong.
I liken him to the Bill Gates of the era, and if he wanted it, he had it.
The money for Cragside came from his engineering works in Newcastle but his creations weren't just practical.
He also had a real eye for beauty.
Set on the edge of the Cheviot Hills, his 1,000-acre estate now has seven million trees,
and he took great pride in creating Cragside's unique gardens.
This Douglas fir is one of many that Lord Armstrong planted around the 1870s.
It was actually very unusual to plant coniferous forests in England at that time.
Now, this particular tree is the tallest of its type in the country and stands at 191 feet.
So, Andrew, Lord Armstrong was obviously very into his rather large garden!
Yes, he loved gardening, as did Lady Armstrong, of course, and they
not only planted a forest garden but also a formal garden, a rock garden,
a fruit garden, a kitchen garden.
He had the complete set, really.
And was he very into it himself?
I mean, did he get his fingers dirty?
Oh, yes. It is recorded that he took a hand in building waterfalls and rockwork and positioned rock.
But Lady Armstrong also took a lot of the responsibility day to day
while Lord Armstrong was away, so it was in fact a partnership between the two of them.
Is this greenhouse his? Was that built in the 1870s?
Yes. It's to Lord Armstrong's design.
It has a cast-iron roof and a timber base, and it's for the culture
of early fruit and tender fruit, and it's noted for its rotating pots.
So that each fruit tree gets an equal amount of light, they can be revolved.
It's an engineer's solution to a horticultural problem.
Was he innovative in absolutely everything he did?
Yes, in every part of his life, the electricity in his house
and of course his horticulture and his engineering.
He was always looking at new ways of doing things.
And why did he want an estate up here?
Well, he'd been a sickly child, and his father, a solicitor, lived up here, and he was
brought up here to take the air and the cleaner air of the country,
and he got interested in fishing and he just loved the spot.
So how important was he during the Industrial Revolution?
Extremely important. He's up there with Stephenson and Kingdom Brunel and people of that ilk.
So why do I not remember learning about him in my history lessons?
I don't think he pushed himself forward tremendously,
like Brunel - he was a great self-publicist.
I don't think Armstrong had that in his nature.
While Brunel built the first iron bridge,
this bridge in Cragside's garden was the first anywhere in the world to be made of a prototype of steel.
You can't cross it at the moment, but it's hoped it can be reinforced
to make it once again a route across the burn.
Armstrong's innovations continued inside the house.
The incandescent light bulb was invented by Joseph Swann, a fellow inventor of Armstrong's.
And so, ever at the forefront of home improvements, he had several installed in his home.
Now, we all know about boys and their toys, and it would seem Lord Armstrong was a real bloke at heart
and had to have all the latest gadgets and must-haves in his home.
For instance, he had to have a passenger lift.
So-called "labour-saving devices" were fitted throughout the house.
The kitchen had a motorised cooking spit.
An early form of telephone was installed.
And by the 1880s, there was hot and cold running water and a Turkish bath.
Sarah, this is an incredible house. How long did it take to build?
We don't actually know entirely.
Unfortunately, the original house, we don't even know the architect.
But after about 1863, we think there are about 25 years
of different additions to create what you see now.
That's quite a long time to have the builders in!
Unbelievably long time!
And every room that you go into has interesting things in it, like this room with all the paintings.
Was he really into art as well?
Not particularly, although he was a great patron of the arts.
But the house itself is full of bits of different inventions and a very cosy feeling of the Victorian ideal
of having a house and home with big, open fireplaces and getting away from the industry of the time.
So you retreat to the country for the good of your health and your sanity, hopefully.
Armstrong was not only an inventor.
He was a great thinker and often prophetic.
In 1863, he complained that coal was used wastefully and extravagantly in all its applications.
He went on to predict that "England will cease to be a coal-producing country within 200 years".
The house is owned by the National Trust, and it's only just re-opened to the public,
ironically after being closed to allow the modern-day electrics to be brought up to standard.
And whilst it's been a big and expensive job, it has given
people a chance to take a closer look at a little bit of history.
Carolyn, was there anything interesting that you discovered
that was new whilst you were doing the electrics?
Yeah, definitely. There's a piece of timber casing here which actually
encased the first phase of wiring that Lord Armstrong put in Cragside.
And it actually worked similar to the way your fairy lights work,
so that if you took out a bulb, basically the whole lot stopped working. It was very basic!
45 light bulbs going off one wire!
Yes. Exactly. But that was really exciting, that we found that.
It must have been an incredibly big job, rewiring a house this size.
Definitely. We had to pack away all the contents, and there were over 10,000 objects.
And then there were some books, as well.
So they all had to be labelled, packaged, moved into storage.
He does have some outrageous things in his house. This is one of them.
I cannot believe this fireplace.
It is so ornate.
It is a bit of a monster. I think you either love it or you hate it.
Well, I think it's, er, very interesting!
Very impressive, definitely.
Well, Cragside really is an impressive place.
When it was built, it was a glimpse into the future.
Now it's an important part of history, and this amazing house, which was the first to be lit
by electricity in Britain, I'm sure will be illuminating visitors for many years to come.
Back on the road, I'm exploring the Northumberland National Park in a 1950s ice-cream van.
What about in the back? You've still got freezers and all sorts.
What have you got in there?
In the freezer is the spare wheel and tools.
-What, no 99s?
So how do people react when they see an ice-cream van? Do they try and flag you down?
Oh, well, we have had people asking if they could buy ice creams here.
That's fantastic! And what about the name across the side?
What's the name of the ice cream?
Tognarelli. It's the original name.
-Have you ever tried it, the ice cream?
-Have you not?
Tognarelli, or "tonyarelli", was an ice-cream factory on the west coast of England, in Cumbria.
This van was one of 15 in its fleet, which sold ice cream all over the area.
Does the company know that you've got this?
Yes. I contacted them to see if they minded if I put the original name on it.
-Yeah. They were happy?
Have you shown them pictures?
Yes, I sent them a picture, yeah.
Excellent! Excellent work.
So was it you just that restored it?
No, I had a lot of very good helpers.
Me nephew painted it and he did the welding.
My brother did the fine-tuning.
My next-door neighbour was the sign writer, and I took it to him to have it sign written.
Do you ever worry, because it's in such pristine condition,
that you might scratch it or anything like that?
If you were worried about it, you'd wrap it up in cotton wool.
No, that's completely true.
-The other beauty I see you've got is the tax disc there - tax free!
-It's so old.
-But going like a dream. Look at this! We're cruising!
Ian takes me as far as his home town in Rothbury before it's time to say goodbye and go our separate ways.
See you again! Bye-bye!
My journey through Northumberland National Park
has taken me from Edlingham through the pretty village of Rothbury,
and now I've reached Otterburn.
This is the River Otterburn, which lends its name
to a famous local mill and perhaps even more famous local product.
This is the mill which once made the famous Otterburn tweed.
It fell victim to the recessions which hit the textile trade
in the 1960s and '70s and ground to a stop in 1974.
Otterburn is as much a British fashion tradition as Harris tweed and Pringle jumpers,
and I've come to meet the latest owner of this mill, who comes from a pretty big textile family himself.
So, Euan, before I ask you about Otterburn, your surname is Pringle.
Is that from the textile family?
It is, yes. Born and bred in the industry.
You've got this long-standing history. Is that what brought you to the mill?
Yes. I knew of this place from many years ago. I knew of its history.
I came here to visit one day and found it in what one would call
-a Mary Celeste situation.
Everything had been shut down on the night of its closure in December '74.
It lay as it was. Even the coffee cups were still lying there.
And who are the Weddell family?
The Weddell family actually owned this site for over 250 years, developed it from
the fulling-mill stage right through to the big bolt manufacturing it was until its closure in '74.
And it went on to become highly fashionable in the 1960s.
Oh, yes. One of the specialities of this place was a wonderful designer called Winnie Weddell.
She was a lovely lady who had fabulous design skills.
She went and did special tweeds
for all these top designers, and one of her favourite people was Coco Chanel.
-She developed the famous Chanel fabric that was actually developed here.
And then she also had pet designers. Her next one was Mary Quant.
All these famous long, flowing tweed coats she used to do was all made from Otterburn tweed.
There's a very famous story about Otterburn rugs and the Royal Family. Can you tell me it?
Yes. On the birth of the Princess Elizabeth, now our queen,
her grandmother, as it was in those days, who was the Queen then, she came on the phone to Otterburn mill,
cos the mill was a regular supplier of state tweeds to the Royal Family,
and demanded the manufacturing of one rug to fit the Silver Cross pram.
And the mill said, "Well, we'll have to make 20 as a minimum,"
and she said, "No, I asked for one, and you will deliver one."
So one was delivered, and then the other 19 were left in the stock
and Mr Fenwick, of the famous Fenwick store in Newcastle, who bought all his tweeds from here,
came up one day, saw them and said, "Well, I'll try and sell them for you,"
and sold them within days.
And a as result, we realised it was a fashion icon, and today we've now
made over, we think, certainly a million of these Otterburn pram rugs.
So these are the tenter frames.
-Yes, these are the original tenter frames, we believe the last remaining set anywhere in Europe...
-..if not the world.
-How old are they?
Well, I don't know about the age, but they were still used up until the mill closed in '74.
Rather elderly now.
Yes, they look a little bit rickety.
How do they work? I'm saying "tenter frames" like I know what they do.
You've all heard the expression "be on tenterhooks". These are the hooks.
So can you show me how they work?
Well, certainly. Well, they took the wet cloth after it had been all
washed and shrunk, and then they started to put them on the hooks,
-as you can see here.
All the way along. It's quite tortuous.
-Watch your fingers.
And then the bottom of the cloth was then put onto the bottom bar.
-There we go!
-And then the bottom bar, the pins were taken out.
-They dropped down to stretch the fabric.
-Ah, I see!
And this stretched it, and now you've got cloth that's been dried in the wind and sunlight. Au naturel!
This one may well have gone through this process.
Yes, this is actually an old rug that was given to us which is about 50 to 60 years old,
and it would've been dried on these tenter frames.
-It's great that they're still standing.
It's a sad sign of the times that Otterburn pram rugs are no longer made here at the mill.
It simply isn't financially viable.
Instead, they are manufactured at a factory in Yorkshire using Australian wool.
I'm in the middle of one of Britain's most remote landscapes, Northumberland National Park.
Its sprawling moorlands and sense of tranquil emptiness not only attract
ramblers and tourists, they also serve a very important and practical purpose for our armed forces.
This is Otterburn army training estate.
It's one of the largest UK firing ranges and it makes up
around 60,000 acres, one fifth of the Northumberland National Park.
And it's an unusual place for rare wildlife and important habitats.
Within the estate are 19 Sites of Special Scientific Interest and an amazing historical heritage,
from medieval villages to evidence of the many conflicts along the Scottish border.
Balancing environmental and archaeological protection
with vital military training is no easy task for Chris Livsey.
How long has this been an army training base here at Otterburn?
Well, the modern military has been here since 1911.
It was primarily denoted as an artillery range.
However, as global conflict has changed and as the nation's need for defence has changed, the training
area has adapted and modified itself into what it is today, which is an all-arms training area.
So what activities are going on?
We can take anything from a soldier with his personal rifle right the way
up to artillery systems and multi-launch rocket systems.
We also take attack helicopter and fast jets.
The only things we really can't do are the main battle tanks and that's because of our soft ground.
And also we can't do ground-to-air because of the air restrictions.
The wildlife and history of the Cheviots
aren't the only things sharing the landscape with the military.
Frankie Walton is one of the 31 tenant farmers who live and work within the army firing range.
Frankie, what's it like being a tenant farmer on an MoD farm?
Well, I'm not a tenant farmer anywhere else, but I would say
definitely it's very different from other tenant farmers.
We have to work rather strange hours.
It often entails four or five o'clock starts in the morning, because we have to move sheep out
of the road where the army are going to be landing their ammunition.
Whether it's rifles or whether it's mortars or whatever, we have to have the sheep shifted, and we have to be
off the ranges often by nine o'clock in the morning and we're not allowed on again till five o'clock at night.
You think, what do we do during the rest of the day? It's all the usual farming practices.
Today, you see, we're clipping and paw-running and the lambs are getting
dosed, so there's always jobs to keep us all going.
I would say one of the difficulties from a farmer's point of view is that we have to have...
Well, I would say the sheep are well shepherded.
I think nationally it's about one shepherd to 1,200 or 1,300 sheep now,
but we run at about one shepherd per 600 or 700.
But there are benefits and the Army do look after us.
They give us a full month off at lambing time, and this is absolutely very important.
What sort of communication do you have between yourself and the Army?
We get regular firing papers. These come out weekly, so we know exactly what's on.
Now, we have a chap who liaises directly with us, as well.
He comes if there's anything special, any big exercise. He comes and he tells us exactly.
He comes to see every single shepherd and every tenant
so there's no chance of anybody being in the wrong place at the wrong time.
And how do the livestock cope? Do they get used to it?
I'm sure I don't get used to it quite as much as the sheep and cattle.
You never see them flinch at all. I can sometimes jump fairly high!
The livestock may not be too concerned but military activities in national parks
have always been controversial.
Yet the Ministry of Defence maintain that environmental issues and public access take a very high priority.
First and foremost, we are a military training area,
but we do have these wider estate issues such as nature conservation, archaeology and public access.
Our ethos, really, is balance,
balance in providing a first-class training area for our troops so they
can meet the defence need but also the aspirations of our key partners
such as the Northumberland National Park Authority, Natural England and English Heritage.
How do you work that around? Do you have areas that are out of bounds at some time of year?
-How does it work?
-There is a bylawed area.
When we're live-firing, we shut an area off under military bylaws.
We denote that to the general public by raising red flags, red lamps at night.
We put out a lot of information, public warning notices, and also
we direct people where they can go, when they can't go, at certain times.
One would imagine one of the UK's biggest firing ranges would be blown to pieces.
It actually looks an incredible, beautiful landscape.
Yeah, it's a fantastic landscape. Although the majority of the area
is used for military training, the actual impact that takes place is confined to quite small areas.
These have historically taken place in those areas, so it's very well managed.
For an area that provides some of this country's best
artillery training, much of it looks peaceful and untouched.
The strict control of access has certainly helped preserve the distinct variety of habitats here.
Although some compromises have to be made, in general, it's a balance that seems to be working.
My journey through this remote region has certainly been a peaceful one so far.
I'm in the heart of Northumberland National Park, exploring a rugged,
unspoilt and relatively unexplored corner or rural Britain.
I've just entered Kielder Forest, and it's a startling contrast
to the vast moorlands I crossed earlier.
The scale of Kielder Forest is pretty breathtaking, 250 square
miles, making it the largest man-made forest in northern Europe.
It's been owned and managed by the Forestry Commission since the 1920s, when the first trees were planted.
Before that, it was open moorland.
So in the last 80 or 90 years, the landscape has changed pretty dramatically.
The foresters work full time harvesting this timber,
mostly Sitka spruce, working up to 10 hours a day felling trees.
Max McLaughlan is their manager.
How old are the trees that are being felled now?
These were planted in 1973, would you believe?
Just trying to do some quick maths!
-36 years old?
-They're incredibly tall.
They are. They grow very quickly.
This is one of the ideal environments for this species, which is Sitka spruce.
Originally, the Sitka comes from western North America.
In its natural environment, it grows in very similar conditions to what we have here.
Mild conditions, quite wet.
On these sites, specifically here, we've got quite a nice slope.
So, the drainage is good. They'll grow very fast.
36 years old and it's time for them to be felled.
That's very impressive. And what will this timber be used for?
It's used for a number of products.
We go from roof joists, structural type material,
down through packaging palettes, that type of thing,
fencing materials, down to pulpwood that goes to make paper and card.
This guy in the background is doing what looks like an incredibly skilled job.
I'm so impressed with the machinery, for starters.
Presumably, hundreds of years ago, it would have taken a lot longer than this.
It would have taken a considerably longer time.
Weasel, the man that's driving the machine, he's been working
in this type of environment on these types of machines for about 15 years.
He's built up a level of experience and as you can see working here, it looks like second nature.
All of the movements are smooth and everything that's being done is very efficient.
But it's quite a complex task. He's assisted in the fact that this machine is very modern.
It was bought within the last four months or so. It's highly computer controlled.
So on the measuring of the logs is measured by computer, through the felling head.
It still takes the skilled operator to move the crane
and to make decisions based on timber quality as well.
Even earlier, before it had hit the ground, it was already being passed
through, being chopped up and all the bark being taken off.
The bark is coming off at this time of year because the sap is rising.
So, as the tree moves the the felling read, because there's sap between
the bark and the timber itself, it's quite a slippy environment.
As the tree moves through, the bark tends to slip off.
If it was in the depths of winter, when the sap isn't rising, most of these stems would still
have their bark on because the tree is in a dormant phase then. The sap isn't rising.
-It's quite hypnotic to watch, I've found, sitting here watching the trees come down.
One thing they really strikes me is the sheer isolation up here.
Weasel can work for hours without seeing a single soul.
Certainly not a job for everybody.
What we've just seen is clear felling, which as the name suggests,
is where the harvester goes through and clears everything.
Elsewhere in the forest, the trees are managed differently. We can see an example of that here.
Max, how are the trees managed where we're standing now?
It's a different approach really.
The site we were on the clear felling, that's where, as you say, we take all the trees off.
The major constraint on our management is tree stability.
That's to do with wind.
On the higher elevations, on the softer soils, if we were to thin,
which is what we've done here, the trees would blow over. They just aren't that stable.
At lower elevations, were we're now, we're lower down the hill, we're on
slightly better soil, the trees have a better rooting structure. It gives us more opportunities.
One of the opportunities is if we thin, and we manage under what we call continuous cover basis.
We've thinned these trees, we've removed a proportion,
we've tried to favour the trees with the better crowns.
They produce more seed and as you can see, we get plenty of new generation coming through.
These trees have all grown naturally. They've come from seed in surrounding trees.
And they've colonised on their own?
They've colonised the space because there's sufficient light to let them do it.
But there's enough tree canopy, it's still maintaining forest
conditions to give them the correct environment they grown in.
All the work you're putting in now, you're not going to see the results.
Presumably, you'll be long since retired by then?
I'll be turning up my toes long before that!
Do you mind that, that you don't get to see it?
No, because you can see the effect of work here already.
We're still at an early stage but you can see the regeneration.
A forester 70 years ago made a good decision and planted these trees here.
They were the right trees for the site. You can see that they've grown well.
I hope that the decisions I make in the management of a site like this will similarly be the right decision,
and someone will come along behind me and inherit what will hopefully be
a good standard of timber and trees in the future. So no, it's not a problem.
I'm in the heart of the great Kielder Forest, north Europe's largest man-made forest and close
by, surrounded by the trees, lies Europe's largest man-made lake, Kielder Water.
Not so long ago, Mikchela Strachan spent a day there.
This is Kielder Water
and it's the largest man-made reservoir in Europe.
It officially opened 25 years ago, and since then, it's been a special
place for anyone who enjoys wild open spaces.
There used to be a path that went on the way round the lake.
But sadly, it's not stood the test of time.
That's going to change with the new path, called the Lakeside Way.
The Lakeside Way is to improve access
to the lake shore, as the name would suggest.
It's the lesser parts of the lake shore.
People can't generally get to the north side for example, very easily.
There always has been a track here.
It's sort of become overgrown. Some of it's actually in the
reservoir now, through subsidence and what have you.
But we found that we had an opportunity here.
We needed to create something that was bespoke, more or less
for the function that we wanted it to perform.
How much of it's done already?
There's about 10 miles of it done already.
We'll be starting once again with the construction programme in April of this year.
We hope to have the entire shoreline complete in the next two to three years.
Obviously, around a lake like this, you were going to see lots of wildlife.
What should I look for on my ten-mile walk?
There are a lot of birds of prey in this particular area. You may be fortunate and see some deer.
And you might see some red squirrels.
Sometimes, the path goes into the vast coniferous forest that surrounds the lake.
For the red squirrels, it's one of the last safe havens in England.
Throughout the country, the reds are threatened by their larger cousins, the greys.
How you manage the forest to favour red squirrels?
Really, it's about managing the energy supply
and the seed in the trees.
Something like 70 to 80% of the forest is Sitka spruce.
It has quite small cones like this.
About 10% of the forest has Norway spruce, which has larger cones like these.
If we have too much energy in the seeds in the forest,
if we'd large seeded broad leaves like oak and ash, it would become very attractive to grey squirrels.
As it is, with mainly conifers, the greys can't find enough energy in the forest to make it their home.
So it favours the red squirrels, but not the greys.
You can see and where the red squirrels have been, when you look
at cones that have been eaten by the squirrels.
These are Norway spruce cones, stripped by red squirrels, that I found in the forest this morning.
What are my chances of seeing a red squirrel today?
Walk quietly, go to a part of the forest that there have not been too many other people there before
and keep your eyes open. And your ears too!
Very often, it's the noise of them scurrying about in a tree or eating a cone that draws attention to them.
From squirrels to something a little bit bigger.
And for this experience, I need to change my hat.
A lot of the path has been designated as a bridle path.
Despite the fact that I'm a little bit of a rusty horse rider, it seems only fair that I give it a go.
So, this gorgeous horse is Stilton, and to make sure that I don't fall
off and keep me on a tight reign, this is Ron. Good morning, Ron.
Well, my horse seems keen! Are we off?
Good girl. Good girl.
So, Ron, how much of this path is now suitable for horses?
It starts at the present moment from Hawkhirst all the way down to Down,
which is approximately nine miles.
Is it quite an easy ride for, well, I'm not a novice, but for a rusty horse rider like myself?
There's plenty of hills and bridges to go over.
If you've got the right horse you'll have no problem going over them.
So, Ron, do you think these new paths are going to be really popular for riders?
Yes, I do, once people realise that they can be ridden.
Is riding on bridle paths generally as popular as it ever was?
Yeah, it's popular. It's just that this part of the country and where
we're situated, a lot of people don't even know Kielder exists.
Well, that view isn't too shabby, is it?
-No, it isn't.
You can hire a trekking horse for a day or just a few hours here on
Kielder, or if you've got one, bring your own.
It's 27 miles all around the lake.
We've just come around Bull Crag Peninsula to the widest part of Kielder Water.
This is where I say goodbye to Ron and my lovely horse, Stilton.
The idea for the path comes from the Kielder Partnership.
One of the partners is the Calvert Trust, which
offers people with disabilities a wide range of outdoor experiences.
-Hello, everybody. This looks like a very cool way to travel.
How much of this path will be accessible to this golf buggy?
-In time, all of it.
-Really, so you can get all the way round?
What about for wheelchair users?
It still classed as off-road at the moment so this is where the
buggies come in and take people out and about.
It's fantastic because I presume you can get people with all sorts of disabilities into this.
Physical, sensory, all sorts, people with wheelchairs can get strapped in.
We've got special harnesses. So we can take them out in the countryside.
It obviously brings people to the countryside that otherwise would find it difficult.
-That's right, yeah.
-Are you having a good time?
-Have you been here before?
So this has enabled you to get further out into the countryside?
Yes, the countryside.
-And you enjoy the countryside?
-Well, good to see you.
I'd like to hop on and get a lift but I see there's no room so I'll carry on walking.
-Have a good ride, bye.
-Thank you, goodbye.
The Lakeside Way doesn't just appeal to people into outdoor pursuits.
If art is more your thing then you might be surprised to hear there's
also something to whet your appetite, called the Art and Architecture Tour.
Now most people when they see a lake like this would think outdoor pursuits,
boating, fishing, whatever. Who came up with the idea to put a bit of art in the park as well?
Originally the Kielder Partnership decided that
as part of the tourism provision it would be quite good to have some extra things for people to look at.
The programme started out being relatively small scale, but the project's have gradually got more and
more elaborate as they've gone along, but they include things like architectural shelters like the
Kielder Belvedere, which won lots of prizes, a piece we've just finished called Mirage by a
Japanese sculptor and we're working on an observatory at the moment so there's lots and lots of different
pieces of work, some of them are small and you'd say it's a sculpture, and some of them are structural
and you say, that's a building, is it art or is it a piece of architecture?
It's time for another change of hat for another ride, but this path isn't for horses, it's for bikers.
This is the first set of mountain-bike trails in Kielder Forest and Water park.
When you come round the lake trail, which you've looked at already,
you then come on to the first set of mountain-bike trails and this is
a training route to give you confidence on what level of mountain bike trail you'd like to go on.
Our blue grade trail is for beginners and families and then we come into the more aggressive trail,
intermediate grade, which is red, and finishing off to the top end of the trail which is black.
You're trying to appeal to walkers, bikers, horse-riders and even the golf buggies.
Is that going to cause problems because obviously it doesn't always marry,
having people on bikes while people are trying to walk?
That's why the mountain bike trail at Kielder's so important
that the leisure riders won't cause conflict between the other
users on the Lakeside Way, but for mountain bikers enjoyment of the course hurtling around.
A great adrenalin burst, great scenery, fantastic trails,
but you don't want any other users on these trails.
You want them to be specific for bikers.
Away from the bike trail on the route of the lakeside way the path
is a little less strenuous for cyclists and one of the most popular stretches is the old railway track.
Now there's a plan to reopen part of the line with steam trains once again.
Tim, obviously it's not going to go along the same path as the Lakeside Way, but how close will it be?
It'll parallel with some of the Lakeside Way at the lakeside.
The thing about the railway is it starts on the old track bed
along the side, alongside the water, that will meet with the Lakeside Way so there's an interaction there.
You can decide you've had enough walking or cycling.
All the trains will carry a cycle track so you can chuck your muddy
bike in the thing, that's fine, but then the railway goes two miles
away from the water, up over the lovely viaduct of 1862, down into the village.
I'm exploring Northumberland's National Park.
Starting in Edlingham, I've headed west into the wilderness.
And on to the great expanse of Kielder Forest.
I've seen how the trees have been harvested by the Forestry Commission,
but just as many trees are going out are also going back in, so the next stage is to prepare the ground for
the saplings, which is what's going on behind me and to see the complete
cycle of forest life I'm now going to get to plant my very own tree.
-Hi, Marie, you look busy.
-Hello, nice to meet you.
-How are you doing?
-Not too bad, thanks.
-Good. What are you planting here?
-We're planting some spruce today.
Is that what came out of this spot already, been harvested?
Yes, that's right. We've generally put back the same species
we take out, but we do have a policy
of trying to diversify as well, so where the sites dictate or we can get
some better land, we'll put in some other species as well so, but on the site today we're looking at spruce.
How many of these will go in?
On a particular day each planter will try to get in about 1,500 a day.
On a good day, maybe 2,000. They can really be motoring some days.
That's incredibly quick.
-What's the technique for getting them in so quickly?
Basically just putting a slit in the ground with the spade like so,
put the tree in to the slit there, make sure the roots are in
and the tree's upright and the tree's at the right depth
and filling back with your foot to make sure it's upright and on to the next one.
-Nothing like doing garden planting then.
-Not at all, no.
You spend a lot of time in your home garden putting in potted plants
compost, fertiliser, but not at all with these.
It's a commercial operation, we want to get them in,
-make sure they're going to grow but not spend too much time on them.
-That was a matter of seconds.
-Get to the next one. Can I have a go?
-Yes. No problem.
OK. Down to this spot here?
Yeah. If you just want to move in the centre of the mound.
-Right. Nice and soft.
There's a nice tree for you.
That's it, straight in behind.
That's it, spot on.
-I don't know about that, probably about ten in a day at my speed.
I'm tempted to look at it for a while and be proud, but actually we've got to move on, move on.
Move on, yes. Plenty more to do today.
That's good. Job done.
Job done. Only another 1,480 to go.
Lead the way!
It's amazing that these tiny saplings can survive
in such a harsh environment and mind-boggling to think this enormous forest was planted by hand.
But Kielder isn't just about trees.
At any one time a quarter of the area of Kielder is open space,
including England's largest blanket bog.
Every winter thousands of British wading birds come to feed here on the Northumberland coast.
But come the spring they fly 50 miles inland to nest here
at Kielder, or they would do if there were enough feeding pools, and that's the problem.
The first thing, insert the brass pricker into the primer cartridge, three or four inches.
Just insert that gently, horizontally into the hole we've prepared
and it'll probably go 100 ft in the air. Honestly.
Confused? Time for an explanation.
Nationally, if you take them as a whole,
most breeding species of waders are on the decrease, or stable.
They aren't having a good time of it as a whole.
Why is that?
Generally, it's the drying out of habitats, for whatever reason,
be it drainage, being the planting of trees on moorland, be it increased agriculture.
A whole selection of reasons, but gradually the birds are being more
and more confined to nature reserves in a lot of places.
That's the system checked.
Now we'll attach this and we're ready to go.
-Not too much pressure.
-Not too much pressure.
-That's fine, and that's ready to go.
To attract waders back to their breeding grounds at Kielder,
rangers have come off with a unique system of transforming dry moorland into more enticing boggy pools.
How did you come up with the idea of creating these ponds on the moor?
Quite simply there was a lack of natural water up here,
which is important for the successful breeding of waders.
-We decided that, in order to improve breeding success, we needed to create some pools.
-How did you first do it?
We've had a couple of goes.
You can do it using a digger but as you know we're a long way from the
road and there's also difficulty getting the machine up here.
We've also tried using elbows and damming up ditches but that's labour-intensive.
Which is where explosives come in.
With the help of dynamite, they've created over 100 feeding ponds on this moor.
This is one of the pools once it's full of water.
It may look pretty gloomy and uninviting,
but it contains all the vital ingredients to provide a healthy start for young wading birds.
Wader chicks love larvae, they love little caterpillar,
little bit of vegetable matter, they like nothing better than plodding about in a couple of inches of water,
feeding on the surface, poking their bills into the soft earth, gradually collecting enough insects.
They don't get fed at all off their parents, they get all their ingredients purely from the pools
and the little marshy areas around about them.
But now to the blowing up bit.
So we've set the charge, checked the line, connected it all up, is there anything left to do?
We've got to check the wind direction, make sure we're firing
from an upwind direction, so the peat dissipates away
-from us and that's it, ready to go.
-Otherwise it'll drop all over our heads?
-All over our heads.
# So come on let me entertain you... #
Another step to restoring the countryside.
Trouble is, if we want more wading birds,
-we'll have to blow up a lot more holes!
-Yes, I'm afraid so.
Three, two, one...
# Let me entertain you. #
Adam Henson creating new habitats for bird life.
Peat bog is a precious natural resource and we've been assured
by the Forestry Commission that the explosions in that film didn't degrade the site.
I've come to the end of my travels
through Northumberland National Park.
My last stop is the home
of Brian and Veronica De Sully.
Brian and Veronica swapped the urban sprawl of Newcastle...
..for a landscape of forest and moorland.
Their once derelict farmhouse has taken a lot of work, but from the comfort of their renovated lounge,
we're all taking a trip down memory lane in front of the telly.
Many people dream of turning their backs on the strain of urban living,
starting afresh in the countryside and there's an increasing number who are turning that dream into reality.
Over the next few months, Adam will be following the progress of one such couple -
Brian and Veronica De Sully - and on his first visit,
he got to see their rural idyll in Northumberland.
I found it!
-You didn't get lost.
-No, it's a long old track, isn't it?
-It certainly is, yes.
-Is that the only way in?
No, there's actually another way through from the top of the dam and through the the forestry road,
but it's quite difficult to find if you don't know it.
-What a wonderful spot, an incredible place. Can I have a look round?
-Certainly, come this way.
Well, this is the living room.
It's a big space, isn't it? Lots of room.
-Certainly is, yes.
-How big is the house?
-How many bedrooms are there?
-Three at the moment.
When we break through into the barn next door, we'll have more room.
-What's through there?
-This will be the kitchen.
-Quite a lot of imagination, I think.
-And you've got another staircase there.
It really intrigues me, the staircase. It must've been the servants' at one time.
-So will you get servants?
-I wish I could!
-That's my job!
It's roomy but there's an awful lot of work to do and I can't help
thinking Brian and Veronica must be pretty brave to take this on.
-I'm relieved to see Brian has got some of the bare essentials in already.
-Look at that.
We've come a hell of a long way.
Haven't we just.
But it's not only inside. The outside could do with a spot of work, too.
Presumably it's going to cost a fortune?
-An awful lot.
But it's a long period, it's not one of these quick fixes.
We can't sort of do it now and say it's going to be finished next year.
Hopefully we'll be living in it next year but how many rooms we'll be living in is another matter.
It could be 18 months, two years, maybe even three years before it's how we want it.
-It's nice to think we've brought it back to life again.
-I think we saved it.
But Brian and Veronica's farmhouse has come a long way and they're looking right at home.
I'm interested to find out just how easy it is to settle into such a remote part of the world.
-So what's community life like these days?
-It's actually very good.
One thing we do like about living out here is there's a community,
a close-knit community, but it does have its quirks.
There's some new people that have just taken over the Holly Bush
and I walked in there the other day for a pint,
and I was a bit slow on the uptake because the wife and the daughter
turned round and thought I was a rock star from Yes.
-It must be the long hair and good looks, I think.
-It's got to be.
-What do you reckon, pet?
What other community activities are you involved with?
Quite a lot. The nice thing about this is we're too far away to be
a commuter village and there's very much a community up here.
We've joined the local wine group.
That good, isn't it?
That's a monthly booze up.
-By any other name!
And we know a lot of people locally, and it's great. Everyone is lovely.
-Yes. It's really good.
-So any regrets about the move?
None whatsoever, none whatsoever.
What have been the biggest challenges, would you say?
I think being torn between getting the house done and doing stuff with the land.
I did want to do an awful lot with the land, but sadly that has fallen by the wayside to a certain extent.
We've got some friends of ours who have brought up some cattle to help us out with that.
We've got some goats, but we're still struggling on with the house.
On the thing that we saw, I said three years, well three years on
we're living in it but it's nowhere near finished yet!
-In good time.
-In good time, yes.
-I couldn't have done it without you.
-I've got a timescale.
-18 months and it'll be finished.
-That's the deadline now!
To explore this vast and empty landscape is to feel a little bit lost.
I feel very small surrounded by Kielder's
dense forest on the one side and Northumberland's moors on the other.
But sometimes, as Brian and Veronica will certainly tell you, it's good to lose yourself.
Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd
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