On a journey through the South Downs, Ellie Harrison drives a classic car in Bexhill-on-Sea and visits a mixed farm which thrives on the chalky soil.
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Today I'm on a classic British journey
through the countryside of Sussex.
From here, near Bexhill-on-Sea
to the racetrack at Goodwood.
My route takes me from Bexhill-on-Sea
west to the Seven Sisters...
..on to Lancing,
and then to the village of High Salvington.
I'll head north to Ebernoe Common
before picking up some serious speed
on the track at Goodwood.
And along the way, I'll be looking back
at the best of the BBC's rural programmes
from this part of the world.
This is Country Tracks.
I'm behind the wheel of a real blast from the past.
This is a 1959 Armstrong-Siddeley Star Sapphire.
MUSIC: "Let's Misbehave" by Cole Porter
And it's no coincidence either,
because Sussex is the birthplace of British motor racing.
I'm going to be finding out more about that once I've picked up
my passenger for the first leg of my journey.
'Keith Robinson is the owner and restorer of this fabulous car,
'and he's very kindly let me into the driving seat.
'I'm heading a convoy of classic cars,
'enjoying the coastal roads just outside Bexhill-on-Sea.'
-Morning, Keith, thank you for letting me drive this.
It's an absolute beauty.
Why was it you even got this fabulous car in the first place?
It was actually thrown at me by a...
Someone kept saying that this car was parked on a driveway in the way.
I went round, we agreed a price and I bought it.
It was very sorry for itself and...
-I thought it would be a long term project.
I stripped it down, put it in boxes like you do.
My daughter came over from work one day and she said,
"You know we're getting married, Dad, I want the Armstrong."
She wanted this car for her wedding day?
-And it was in boxes.
So, consequently, we had six weeks to put it back together,
spray i, and literally, we finished it on the day of her wedding.
We got it MOT'd on the day of the wedding.
That must have been so much work to get it done.
It was a lot of pressure.
We've got all these beautiful classic cars behind us.
Are you part of a classic car group?
Yeah, we're the Bexhill Classic Car Association.
We started three years ago, and it's purely to...
just raise the profile of projects
We've got the East Sussex Transport Heritage and the Bexhill Museum,
that's just had a major re-fit.
Probably half the people of Bexhill
-have never been along to see these exhibits.
So, if we can raise the profile of those things - fantastic.
It was back in 1902
that wealthy car owners first raced their automobiles on British soil
Thousands flocked here to witness the spectacle.
It was the most original sporting idea in years.
Just imagine the smell of paraffin
and the thunder of those early motors.
How does it feel, driving along this road,
which is of course so famous for British motor racing?
This section of the road would have been the racetrack,
if they hadn't built Brooklands.
But it is still a fantastic road to drive. It's iconic.
-Thank goodness they didn't do a race track.
Beautiful with the sea and the sun shining. It's a real gem of a day.
We're now arriving at Galley Hill,
the starting line of the first ever motor race.
It was such a success that its organiser, the 8th Earl De La Warr,
whose family had moulded Bexhill into a fashionable seaside resort,
decided to make Bexhill the centre
for this crazy new sport of motor racing.
Plans were drawn up for a circuit almost reaching Beachy Head.
Unfortunately, his grand plan never saw the light of day.
But the campaign to promote Bexhill-on-Sea
as the fashionable new resort did have an impact on its skyline.
The De La Warr Pavilion was built in 1935
after a campaign to develop the site by the mayor of the day,
the 9th Earl De La Warr, son of the famous racing enthusiast.
Built in 1935,
the pavilion was the brainchild
of Bexhill's first socialist mayor -
the 9th Earl De La Warr.
He wanted to build an entertainment space,
a restaurant and a theatre for both the locals and for visitors.
Earl De La Warr launched a competition
to find the designers of the building.
And the winners were Serge Chermayeff and Erich Mendelsohn,
a Jew who'd escaped Nazi Germany.
They were leading figures in the international modernist movement.
International modernism was a school of architecture
that Erich Mendelsohn brought to this country with him.
It was all about simplicity of design,
there are no added fiddly bits to the building.
It's very straightforward, it's all about function.
So was this the first of its kind on the south coast?
It's certainly the first major international modernist building
in this country, and it's also the first large structure
with an entirely welded steel frame.
So how did a building like this go down in conservative Bexhill?
-It must have been pretty strange for the locals.
-It was a shock.
Some say a shock the town's never really got over,
but people have always been very proud of this building
because we got it and nobody else did.
Would thins have been a terribly expensive building?
They actually had to get a loan from the Ministry of Health,
which at that time was providing money for public buildings such as this.
It was considered a building that was good for you.
People could get the sun, take the air.
It also included a library as well, so it was really about self-improvement.
People could come along and read,
as well as sitting in a deckchair and playing sports up here.
De La Warr wanted to reinvigorate the town's economy, the tourist economy,
and try to get people to have their holidays here rather than going elsewhere.
The Pavilion was opened on 12th December 1935,
and thousands of people turned out to admire the gleaming new building.
Thelma Hunter was one of those in the crowd,
and she made full use of the new facilities the Pavilion offered.
It was a very, very good theatre.
And there were dances and, er...
Out on the lawn, there were several things happening all the time.
People in deckchairs. It was a bit new for Bexhill, you see.
And did you come dancing in the Pavilion?
Yes, I came dancing quite a lot.
There was a big hotel, next door, the Metropole.
The RAF were training there, so they all came and...
Plenty of men to dance with.
The De La Warr Pavilion was a huge influence on the design of other seaside buildings,
like Saltdean Lido along the coast, near Brighton.
Shining, streamlined, modernist buildings like ocean liners
sprang up all along the coast.
The promise of entertainment, clean beaches and bracing sea air
meant that Bexhill and the De La Warr Pavilion became a major tourist attraction.
And the easy access by train meant that in the summertime, people came in their thousands.
Yes, for sunshine and health, it's Bexhill-on-Sea,
the town on the Sussex coast that lives up to its motto.
A sunshine record invariably high, and bracing air that's a real tonic.
Here's our first glimpse of the famous De La Warr Pavilion,
the pride of Bexhill and envy of many other seaside resorts.
Sadly, Dr Beeching's closure of the railway branch lines in the 1960s
heralded hard times for Bexhill,
and the De La Warr Pavilion fell into disrepair.
By the 1970s, it was in a rather sorry state.
And it wasn't until the late 1980s that a group of locals formed the Friends of the De La Warr Pavilion,
dedicated to the protection of the building.
My son was a student of architecture,
and he said it is one of the major buildings in England.
And what about the De La Warr family?
Presumably the remaining members... Were they keen to preserve it?
Oh, yes, very, very, very keen.
When I came on the scene, it was the 11th Earl,
and he immediately agreed to be a patron,
and he was very, very helpful with fundraising through his connections.
Work began on restoring the pavilion in 2004,
and in 2005, it was re-opened as a contemporary arts centre
run by the charitable De La Warr Pavilion Trust.
Its purpose is very similar to its original purpose in 1935.
Originally it was built as a cultural centre,
a place that everybody could come to completely free of charge to enjoy,
and to bring people into Bexhill and onto the south-east coast.
And that's what we're trying to do today.
We're offering two fantastic art galleries,
a cafe and restaurant,
and this wonderful roof space and balconies that people can just sit and enjoy the fantastic view.
So has it been important for Bexhill?
I think it's incredibly important for Bexhill because it brings so many people into the town,
and therefore other businesses in the town can rise to the occasion and reap the benefits.
-And the future, are you hoping this will be around for another 70 years?
-For a lot longer than that, yes.
MUSIC: "Ain't Misbehavin'" by Fats Waller
# Ain't misbehavin'
# I'm saving my love for you. #
Moving on from the 1930s architecture of Bexhill-on-Sea,
we're edging west along the coast towards the Seven Sisters.
It's a journey through the most recent addition to our national parks -
the South Downs.
Thanks, Keith. See you again.
Keith has very kindly given me a lift to the Seven Sisters on the South Downs Way.
And what a place for a pit-stop.
It's got beautiful views
and a refreshing, cooling breeze.
In March this year, it was announced that the South Downs was to be designated national park status,
the ninth national park in England.
The decision came 60 years after it was first recommended,
and the South Downs National Park Authority
will officially come into being on 1st April this year.
It's outstandingly beautiful,
but it takes more than just beauty to become a national park.
I'm joining someone who knows the South Downs very well,
the area's project manager for Natural England.
So the South Downs has some pretty unique habitats, doesn't it?
It does. One of the most unique of those is chalk grassland.
We only have a relatively small area left on the downs now.
In fact, only around 4% of the chalk is chalk grassland.
So what distinguishes chalk grassland?
Well, chalk grassland is a very, very species-rich habitat.
And we've actually recorded up to 56 species of plant per square metre...
-..on the very, very best bits.
So this is an example of chalk grassland plants here.
What have we got?
-We've got a Pyramidal orchid.
-That's a stunner.
An orchid species that flowers late on in the year,
-sort of late June and into July.
Here we've got kidney vetch.
And that's unique in chalk grassland?
Yeah, that's a species that's typical of chalk grassland.
And you've got bird's-foot trefoil, another species that's closely related to kidney vetch.
Yeah. What is about chalk grassland that gives us 50 species per square metre?
Chalk grassland is a very, very harsh environment.
The soils are really, really thin and nutrient-poor.
And on top of that,
you quite often find the best chalk grassland on steep slopes.
So most of the nutrients are running down the slope to the bottom.
Together with that, they're often baked by the sun.
So it's very, very harsh.
All those things together favour small low-growing herbs,
and prevent any one species from dominating.
And now that the South Downs has become a national park,
will it benefit these plants because they're protected?
The national park status will give a much greater emphasis
on managing the landscape in the right way,
and restoring it where appropriate.
The important thing is that these areas of chalk grassland
are not only important for bio-diversity, but they're also important for access.
So Seven Sisters Country Park... This park gets in excess of 250,000 visitors a year.
So it's a very, very important site.
But also managing for chalk grassland, recreating chalk grassland
actually protects the aquifer,
and almost 100% of the water that's drunk in all the coastal communities,
Brighton, Littlehampton, Worthing,
comes from the chalk.
So there's all these things come together, making the management really important here.
Keep heading west from here through the South Downs, and you'll reach the beauty spot at Devil's Dyke.
You can walk it, but if you're starting from a well-known coastal resort, there is an alternative.
Brighton's been the first choice for a day out for centuries.
It's got beaches, shops, funfairs, of course, it's got the pier.
It's pretty much got something for everybody.
But if you've had enough of the waves and enough of the funfairs,
you can catch one of these out to the country.
The Victorians were perhaps the forerunners of the Countryfile viewer.
They loved to get out of town, into the country.
Route 77 leaves the pier every half hour for the seven-mile trip to the Downs.
But first, it runs along the seafront to Saltdean.
On a sunny day, life takes on a new dimension
from the top deck of an open-top bus.
Even naked bathing's OK.
They call this "the bus to freedom."
And, after all, this is Brighton.
Now, that just behind me is Brighton's famous Palace Pier,
and just over that way is the rather decrepit-looking West Pier that recently burnt down.
Now, it's set to be refurbished, but by the looks of things, they could have a pretty big job on their hands.
Another open-top bus?!
Bus rides have never been so much fun!
Hello! PASSENGERS SHOUT
This is the first time I've ever been on the 77 route.
But it's pretty good at the moment, yeah.
I'm taking my niece's children to Devil's Dyke,
which, normally I'd go by car, but the children love it on an open-top bus.
So we thought we'd do that today.
The shops, the Georgian and Victorian villas,
they're all part of Brighton.
But I wanted to get out of the city, and it doesn't take long.
We've found that through having such an interesting type of bus, an open-top bus,
45% of our passengers actually do have access to a car.
So we're even helping to reduce congestion and pollution
by getting people out of their cars and onto the bus,
because we're providing the sort of bus that even car drivers
will happily use to go for trips to the countryside.
They will put themselves out to get on this bus.
-So it's not only a great day out, but it's environmentally friendly, too.
People come up here for all sorts of reasons. Some come for the bus ride.
Others come to do a long walk and then catch another bus
from somewhere else along the Downs back to Brighton.
We've had people come up here for teddy bears' picnics, blackberrying,
collecting wood for their fire - it's amazing.
Somebody actually had a apiary, they said, and they came up here to collect wood
so that they could use it for smoking the bees.
-They just came on the 77...
-..to collect the wood and then go home?
That's right. The most amazing one I came across was actually somebody who had hang-glided all the way
from Devil's Dyke down to the sea front, and got on the bus to come back with his hang-gliding pack.
Everybody thought he'd been rambling but when we asked where he'd been,
-he said, "Oh, I just hang-glided down from the Dyke and caught the bus back again."
The change from town to country is almost instant.
Quite suddenly, Brighton is left far behind, and we're on the top of the South Downs.
It's an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
We're currently at one of the highest points in this area,
and, as you can see, there's a mix of arable fields and grass and chalk grassland.
It's changed a lot in the last 20 or 30 years,
and part of our job is to try and develop new ways
to manage the landscape with landowners and farmers and the Government
to try and enhance its ecology and its landscape quality, basically.
And this is Devil's Dyke, with plenty to explore.
From sea level, the bus has climbed up nearly 700 feet.
On a clear day, so they say,
you can see the Isle of Wight and Windsor Castle.
And even if you can't,
the views are certainly worth the price of a bus fare.
Devil's Dyke is strictly the name of the hillfort.
The whole area's been owned by the National Trust since 1995,
and I'm on my way to meet one of the wardens.
So tell me about what Devil's Dyke would have been like in its heyday.
Well, in Victorian and in Edwardian times,
it was basically a theme park, so there were up to 30,000 people
-in a bank holiday weekend.
-What? Up all around here?
-All around the top.
-And what sort of infrastructure would they have had?
Well, loads of public transport -
The 19th century landowners provided more than just fresh air and a pub to attract visitors.
In those days, Dyke Park had its own railway station,
and the crowds could come by horse-drawn bus to the top of the hill.
There was an amusement park with an aerial railway across the Devil's Punchbowl,
and all kinds of other attractions, but virtually nothing remains today.
Well, Ben, believe it or not, this is actually the platform and engine house of a steep grade,
narrow-gauge railway that went straight down the hill there,
down those steep slopes, to the village of Poynings below.
And what sort of period was that in?
We're talking about 1897 - a great Victorian bit of engineering.
Alas, by 1907, it had closed down.
-And why was that?
-Unfortunately, people used it to bypass the attractions at the top of the hill,
because there were cheaper tea rooms down in the beautiful village of Poynings.
So the landlord of the hotel shot himself in the foot a bit there, and went out of business.
'Today, Devil's Dyke is a wonderful natural feature, but how was it formed?'
Well, back at the end of the Ice Age,
all this chalkland, which is normally permeable,
was actually frozen solid.
Then in the summers, which were quite short, it would start to melt,
and then you'd get the rivers and the erosion.
So then it would get worn away. It could even happen literally in a matter of days -
a great big slump causing this huge valley you see in front of you.
It's difficult to get perspective. How deep and how long is it?
It's the longest valley of its type in England.
It's almost a kilometre long and about 100 metres deep.
How has the land use changed throughout the years?
Quite a great deal.
It was stable for about 3,000 years.
Farms such as Saddlescombe, in the distance there,
the home of shepherding, which kept the grass grazed short,
and made it the fantastic habitat it was.
But after the Second World War,
when that all changed, the scrub around us started to encroach,
and that's changing the ecology, so we need to manage that.
So there's obviously a fine balance between protecting the environment and allowing people to visit.
So what sort of effect does the number 77 bus,
bringing people from Brighton straight up here, have on the land?
It's making a big difference.
A positive one or a negative one?
A positive one, definitely. With so many people coming up -
cos it's still very popular, it's the big site for people in Brighton -
obviously that's a lot of cars, so the more people
we can get out of their cars and onto the bus the better.
Who could fail to be inspired by countryside like this?
Constable called it "the most marvellous views in the world,"
Kipling described "those whale-backed Downs
"and the blue goodness of the wooded Weald below."
-So it certainly has inspired a good number of people. It inspires me.
-It's absolutely stunning.
Ben enjoying some of the best scenery the South Downs has to offer.
I'm lucky enough to be enjoying some of the same wonderful Sussex scenery
on a similarly stunning day.
I'm travelling west
into the agricultural fields of Lancing.
I've come to visit Applesham Farm -
850 acres of land nestled in the heart
of the new South Downs National Park.
Drawing over a million visitors a year,
the South Downs is popular with holidaymakers, nature enthusiasts
and ramblers, but it's also a working environment
that's been shaped by an ancient way of life -
Hugh, what are you doing here?
I'm basically weighing and handling lambs
to select lambs for sale next week.
-How are they coming up? So the heavier ones will go, will they?
-Yes. Anything over 33 kilos...
-..will go next week, and obviously, they'll keep growing,
and every week, we'll be drawing the next heaviest.
Fantastic. Don't let me stop you. You're obviously very busy.
So what kind of farm do you have here?
We're a traditional mixed farm - arable, sheep and beef.
We're running about 350 ewes and...
-Calving just over 70 suckler cows.
-So what are the main challenges of farming on the South Downs?
The weather's quite important to us, and you can see from today that we're quite exposed up here.
-Even in the summer, it's always a degree or two colder up here with the wind.
And also the soil type up here. You can see behind you, the ploughed field
is a very white chalky soil - very thin, poor soils in places, so we're not on the best of ground
up here, but we do have some good ground in amongst it.
They're quite vocal, aren't they? That one was really shouting about it.
-Yeah, I think they want to go back to Mum.
-Oh, I see!
Making a right old racket.
Now that the South Downs has been awarded national park status,
do you know how that might affect the farm here?
It's difficult to know really until it happens. They're still in the process of setting it up.
-I don't think it'll affect us too much.
-Farming's been going on in the South Downs
-for hundreds of years, hasn't it?
-It has, yeah. Our family's been here over 100 years now.
So, yeah, it's an integral part of the Downs, really. It's our factory floor.
It's where we're producing our living from so, yes, it's obviously very important to us.
So how was lambing this year?
Very good. We lamb outside in April
and obviously, we had some very good weather in April
which helped survival rates greatly.
So, yeah, we had a good lambing and the lambs have grown well
and, at the moment, the prices are very good.
So, yeah, it's been very good.
Did you have many orphans?
No, we managed to foster everything off this year.
We fostered triplet lambs onto singles.
So why can't a mother have all three lambs?
Basically, a ewe has only got two teats
so if you've got three lambs,
three are fighting over the two teats all the time.
It's unusual to be able to foster them all. We did it two years ago.
Last year, we ended up with about five that we couldn't foster.
-So this year was a successful year, then?
Yeah, it was good.
Ooh, calmed down.
And how do you get a mother to take on a lamb that isn't hers?
Basically, we do it during lambing.
When we see a single ewe lambing, we grab a triplet lamb
and then you cover the lamb that you want to foster in the ewe's birth fluids
-and they pretty well take them straight away.
-It sort of fools them into thinking it's their own lamb.
-It's been very successful doing it that way.
-And it's good for you not having to hand rear.
There's a lot of work to it and it costs a lot of money to do it
and the lambs are much better on a ewe than being fed off a bottle.
-Last one, then?
-And that can wait for another week.
It's great to see a thriving mixed farm at work.
The chalky Sussex soil is also being used in less traditional ways
but always subject to the weather.
Unlike over in France, vineyards in the South Downs
in the past have had to put up with unpredictable, ever-changing weather
rather than a stable climate.
Since the Ice Age, which ended 10,000 years ago,
lasting changes in average temperature and rainfall
haven't really been noticeable in anyone's lifetime.
But now that could all change.
So the south of England could be as warm as the Champagne region
in France with the ideal conditions to make fine wine.
It seems that grapes are particularly sensitive to climatic variation.
Richard, is the idea that grape vines are a good indicator of climate a new idea?
No, it's not.
Some 2,000 years ago, in Roman times,
someone was writing about how they could use vines
to map changing climate. in my own research
I've been able to confirm this because I've mapped the ebb and flow of vineyards
across the British countryside, showing a correlation
with temperature change for some 2,000 years.
You mentioned the Romans. They had a lot of settlements around here.
There was a villa at Bignor.
Would they have had vineyards?
I think one could speculate that almost every Roman villa
would have had a vineyard for nostalgic reasons
for the early Roman settlers.
There's very good evidence that there were commercial vineyards
of the Roman period, right up as far as Lincoln.
Some were producing up to 10,000 bottles,
in modern size, of wine a year.
So what climatic stage are we at now?
Well, we've come out of the little Ice Age,
and the temperature has almost got back to what it was in Roman times.
Remember that the ice sheets of 10,000 years ago had long gone,
when grapes only survived right down in the South East of England.
Then, by the time the Romans left,
the vines had advanced right up to the north,
to the Humber in the north and the Severn in the west.
Then in the colder centuries of the Middle Ages
grape vines were squeezed south once more.
Until the weather warmed up a bit more, and they went north again,
during the Industrial Revolution, about 200 years ago.
In this vineyard, in the South Downs, not very far from Nyetimber,
they're growing a wide range of grape varieties.
And how well do vines grow in the UK?
Very well. Some varieties are very well adapted.
And then others struggle a bit.
If you like at, say, we've got some Pinot Noir here.
That does very, very well for sparkling wine in the UK.
But only one year in three here can we produce good red wine with it.
Whereas on this side here, we've got Riesling,
a German variety. Again, last year, it ripened really well.
But it was the first time I've ever seen it really ripen.
Have you noticed varieties changing as the climate changes?
Oh yeah, certainly. I've been here since '88 in the UK.
I was trained in Bordeaux.
And over the years I've definitely seen an improvement in climate.
Better vintages and good ripening.
What about the theory that if the climate warms up,
the French will get worse at wine production
and it's going to get better here?
I think there's definitely going to be a shift
in the northern-most reaches of wine production, if you like.
That's where we are at present.
But that's going to change.
We'll definitely be able to grow more adventurous classic varieties here
and I hope produce even better wine.
Of course, it's not just the weather that governs how well grapes grow.
The soil is crucial too.
So how important is geology to wine production?
Very important. When you look at it, vines grow on rocks of every type
and every age, so superficially you'd think it's not important at all.
But in fact, geology together with climate
control the soil in which the vines grow
and the landscape in which they stand.
And what have we got here?
Well, this rock is a bit of greensand.
That might surprise you as it doesn't look very green
either at the outcrop or hand specimen
but it's got the green mineral in it when it's fresh, called glauconite
which has got a lot of iron, potassium, nutrients in it like that.
And a lot of vineyards flourish on this greensand rock.
Not just here in England but also in France.
And the advantage of it is that it's quite well drained.
It's got good permeability, so the vines can not have water-logged roots
as they don't like that.
So as well as the geology and the soils,
the whole aspect is very important to growing wine, isn't it?
That's right. And it's that dreaded word the French use,
"terroir", if one's allowed to say that on English television.
But it's the integration of geology, climate
and local micro-climatic controls.
So what we need is "terroir." That's the care and expertise
that gives fine French wines their character
and maybe the French will come down to the South Downs and help,
because there will be ideal sites here.
Could we soon be tasting wine from all parts of the UK?
I expect my children will be drinking Manchester Merlot
and Sheffield Shiraz and my grandchildren will probably drink
Glasgow Gewurztraminer, with Icelandic whisky to follow.
In the last five years, the acreage of vineyards in the UK
has grown by 45%.
With its reputation on the up, the future for British wine production
I'm on a journey through the countryside of Sussex.
I've reached the very edge of the national park
and the village of High Salvington.
I'm on my way to meet a quartet of men, who've dedicated
part of their lives to restoring a local landmark
from a crumbling facade to a working piece of history.
By 1976, after 226 years on the skyline,
High Salvington Mill had become a relic. Unloved and derelict.
Then a band of men came together to rescue it.
And so began a continuing love affair with this old building.
Roger came in, you came in right in the early days, didn't you?
-At one time, it was just you and I.
-It was, yes.
It was heavy going at times.
Then Bob came and sort of made Three Musketeers or whatever.
We did have just a framework for a long time.
Because the floors were taken up.
Health and Safety wouldn't have liked what we did!
Wow! This is beautiful in here!
-Hi there. Can you show me around? This is amazing.
I'll just pop this in there.
-Fine, well this is the spout floor of the mill.
This is a post mill. That means the whole mill is balanced on a post.
-One post. And this is the post.
It goes down to the floor, almost.
And the whole weight of the mill is taken on that one piece of wood
-going across there.
And we are hanging on this floor from the corner posts
-and these tie bars that you can see around us.
-And yet it's as sturdy as anything.
And if I lift up that, we might have a bit of flour coming out.
-So this is a working mill? It's not just for show?
-Yes, we tended to use, up until now, all our own stuff, didn't we?
Yes, bring your own toolbox.
With everything in it.
-That's a trapdoor.
There's one up there as well.
-If you drop a rope down through there...
-Through the holes?
Right, and get your sack of grain on the bottom,
you can actually use the wind to bring it upstairs
-but in order to do that we've got to go upstairs.
-Lead the way.
I've got a background in engineering. Marine engineering.
And I tended to gravitate to saying, "Well, why don't we do it this way?"
And that's what's happened.
Basically, they've gone along with me without getting too frustrated.
So that's it. And it's gone on like that.
This is the other end, or other side of the trapdoor there.
We can imagine that going down through the floor there.
Going down through the next floor.
-The ground, in effect.
Tying a bag of grain on, and then you bring it up
by turning this thing round,
and as it comes up, it lifts the trapdoors open.
You can imagine your bag of grain coming up.
And it automatically closes afterwards.
-Making light work of those heavy bags?
-Well yes, quite.
Mind you, we don't often use it.
So just on the other side of this is where the sails are?
Right, the sails will be on the front there.
The sails turn this big shaft, these wheels as well.
This wheel, we built ourselves. It's an exact copy of the original.
The new brake wheel built by the volunteers
had to be brought up the mill steps in two halves
and through two floors before being fitted around the wind shaft.
It then had to be accurately positioned and the cogs finely shaped
to fit the stone nut pinion.
Quite an interesting story behind that, because the chap at the time
said to me, "Oh, you're a teacher of craft. Can you build a wheel?"
And I said, "Hmm, never tried a wheel, but perhaps."
And then I said, "Yes, I think I can build a wheel."
And he said, "It's going to be ten foot in diameter."
And I said, "Well, you didn't say that to start with!"
I said, "I'm sure we can manage, even if it is ten foot in diameter."
And he said, "Come along and have a look at it.
So we saw the old wheel and I said, "You didn't tell me it had cogs too!"
And so anyhow, it had 138 cogs in it.
And we took it on and it took us three years to build
and I think you've seen how we humped that thing up the steps of the mill
-and got it into place, but it was quite a job.
-It was a job! Yeah.
But it was a further five years before it could be installed
and finished, as the wind shaft had to be repaired
using outside contractors.
And this is where the flour actually gets ground?
Yes, this is the hopper. You put your grain in there.
There's your stone and that's after the last grind we did, in there.
And if I wanted to set the stones ready for grinding...
Ooh, that's heavy!
Bung it into the sprattle, tighten it up like that.
And I'll get it right tight. Then you're ready for the wind
to drive the wind shaft and turn this.
We all look at it and quite seriously we are proud of it.
-And although we've worked our insides out at times...
And the other thing is, it's very nice on a Sunday morning
when we're working out here, we sit down, we all have an allotment,
and people say like Last Of The Summer Wine, you know?
And we sit down, and look at the mill and it's ticking over. And you think,
"Gosh, it does look nice." It's that sort of thing.
-It's our train set.
-Yes. Big boys' toys.
Thanks to the hard work and devotion of these men
High Salvington Mill looks like it will be lighting up the horizon
for generations to come.
Restoration is not only limited to buildings. Just north of here,
work has been going on to restore a rare population of bats.
With natural habitat increasingly under threat
the search is constantly on to find new alternative safe refuges
for Britain's wildlife.
And sometimes, they can be in the strangest places.
Like this, a relic from World War II.
It's a pillbox, built to withstand all kinds of bombardment.
The walls are more than a metre thick.
So not surprisingly, there are still quite a few of these things
scattered around the countryside. But this was the first
to be specially adapted to welcome an airborne invader.
We're talking bats.
So many of their traditional roosting places, like barns and lofts,
have been converted into homes for humans
that they're fast running out of places to stay.
Frank, what gave the idea of using a pillbox as a refuge for bats?
Looking around, following the bats, looking at what they were doing
and where they were going, and this pillbox was being used
a small amount, but not really the intensive use that you find in winter hibernation sites.
Conditions, it turned out, were just not quite right.
So Frank decided a makeover was needed to turn it into a place
that bats could happily call home.
Those were open firing slates and the wind could blow straight through
and that was taking all the humidity out of the building
so it was very dry inside. So closing those slits off
slowed the air flow through the building.
-So it was too dry and too draught?
Everything that's been done has been done to try and compensate for that
and close the air in, slow the temperature change
and keep the humidity high. And that's what bats like.
-That's what they've taken to.
-What do you do inside?
There's lots of things done inside. Come and have a look.
This is a bit of a challenge, Frank!
It's actually very useful. It deters an awful lot of intrusion
during the winter when the bats don't really want to be disturbed.
So it lets bats in but stops any unwanted people getting in?
Exactly. JOHN LAUGHS
-Not the easiest place to get into, Frank, is it?
-Where are the bats?
-Well, it is in the middle of summer now,
and we wouldn't expect bats to be in here apart from the occasional visit.
Winter is the time for bats in here.
-So we can come in here safely and not disturb anything.
-We're not disturbing anything.
-How many would be in here in winter?
-At peak coldness,
-in, say, January, you might have a dozen bats in here.
-And you've built this for them.
-Sort of bedrooms!
-Yes, they've each got their individual little holes.
And the bats crawl up into those,
and that actually stabilises the humidity even more than in the body of the pillbox.
Dozens of pillboxes have now been converted into shelters
as part of the nationwide campaign
to give Britain's bats a more secure future.
All 16 species are threatened, and though manmade structures are one solution,
there are still problems to be solved all the year round
in their natural habitat.
Although there are no bats in the pillboxes right now,
in this ancient woodland a few miles away,
as dusk begins to fall, they're all around,
including three very rare species.
And ironically, although this land is owned by the Sussex Wildlife Trust,
their future here is by no means certain.
The great hurricane of 1987 brought destruction at Ebernoe Common, and now there's a storm
between bat-lovers and the Trust over plans to cut back the holly
that's grown there ever since.
Holly is good news for bats,
but bad news for the wood's important collection of lichens.
The holly seems to be out of control.
It looks as though it really needs to be cut back.
There is an awful lot of it, but in actual fact,
this is of direct benefit to very, very rare bats.
They use the forest in different ways,
but that really dense cover is what they need.
The problem with the holly is it's relatively new here.
Ebernoe's a "wood pasture" -
it's been grazed for thousands of years.
The holly's only come about since it stopped being grazed, about 1950,
and particularly since the '87 storm,
and it's making the habitat change quite rapidly.
Ebernoe is really important for lichens.
It's got over 270 species, and the holly is shading them out.
It's a real dilemma. Which come first? The lichens are threatened,
but so are rare species of bat,
like this barbastelle, which Frank is very carefully handling.
We know five colonies in the British Isles - five breeding colonies -
so that's probably around 500 bats.
A guesstimate of the population for the whole of the British Isles
is between five and ten thousand.
Part of the problem is that our nature reserves
are lifeboats in a sea of land that is no longer any good for wildlife.
That really puts the pressure on them in a way that simply wouldn't have happened 100 years ago.
Finding another site like this these days is almost an impossibility.
-So it could be the end, really, for it.
-Well, it could well, yes.
The final decision about the bats, the lichen and the holly
rests with the Government's conservation advisors, English Nature.
But just a couple of days ago, Ebernoe was named
as one of Britain's most important wildlife sites.
Let's hope that's a good omen all round.
My journey has now brought me
to the ancient woodlands of Ebernoe Common.
I've followed in John's footsteps to Ebernoe Common,
an area just inside the new national park boundary.
The cutting of holly here stopped over nine years ago, allowing the understorey to re-establish
and offer better cover for the bats.
I'm catching up with Frank to see what his research over the last ten years has shown.
-Hi, Frank. Good to meet you.
So how have barbastelle numbers been doing since John was here last?
It's been a long, nice story of success, actually, really.
-Do you have any clue as to the actual numbers?
We count these things in breeding females. Bat biology is complicated.
The males and females don't live together at all. So all the females live together.
And, er...as a way of coping
with the available space - in holes in trees and things like that -
they limit their little groupings to about 25 animals,
and you have several groupings of these 25-odd animals scattered around the woodland.
-I call them subgroups, but they're all part of the same colony, really.
-So how many in the colony?
-I think there's about 80 breeding females.
-So numbers have really gone up.
-And what work have you been doing to study the bats?
Um...well, we put on radio tags.
Most of the work that's been done in here
has been based on these tiny radio tags glued on the back of the bat.
-And you've been filming them, as well.
How we get to know how many bats there are in a roost
is by following the radio tag back,
and that tells us there's a hole in a tree there - the bats are in there.
And then the following night, you go along with an infrared camcorder, set it all up,
with an infrared floodlight,
and you can then film the colony, and by doing it with a camera like this,
you can, um... CAMERA BEEPS
-You can see what's going on in the roost.
-It'll come up in a tick.
-There we go.
And you can see
that's a fissure in a big oak tree.
-The bats are all tucked up in that fissure.
Yeah. Yeah, they will come flipping out of there,
one after the other, very rapidly, actually.
What has your study taught you more about the bats, and also about how to study bats in the future?
One of the great things which has come out of this study
has been the fact that these bats
are not only relying on these nice, sheltered woods to spend their days during the summer,
but they're going and feeding in very different habitats elsewhere, and they need to get from A to B.
One of the insights Frank gained through his research
was that the bats used the same flight lines each day,
travelling up to 20km in search of food.
Bats need cover to make their flights safe from predators.
As the countryside has been farmed,
hedgerows and trees have become more scarce,
meaning much of this essential cover has been lost.
Part of Frank's work is to restore these flight lines
by replanting trees and expanding existing hedgerows.
As soon as you get these connecting features between bits of woodland,
and other areas of meadow and swamp and things like that,
it means things can move about in a way that they were restricted from doing before.
My journey began behind the wheel of a car,
and fittingly, it'll end behind the wheel of a car.
Only this time, it'll be slightly more hair-raising.
MUSIC: BBC Formula One theme
My journey has taken me from the birthplace of motor racing,
west to the Seven Sisters,
across the South Downs to Lancing,
and then to the village of High Salvington.
Heading north, I visited Ebernoe Common,
before arriving at my final destination - Goodwood.
Goodwood opened in the summer of 1948,
hosting Britain's first post-war motor-race meeting at a permanent venue.
motor racing legends such as Stirling Moss immortalised the track here.
But in August 1966, Goodwood closed its doors to contemporary motor racing.
It was the end of a remarkable chapter, but not the end of the story.
Sometimes, the smell of petrol
and the sound of engines still fill the air.
I've never really considered myself a petrol-headed speed demon,
but maybe I've got latent talents that I can unleash on the track.
And the best of it is, I get to choose my weapon.
Goodwood holds special track days
when anyone who fancies taking on the famous 2.4-mile motor circuit
can live out their high-octane fantasies.
There's a selection of dream machines,
from classics to the latest supercar.
As for me, well, I've always fancied driving a Ferrari.
Gavin, I've never, ever raced before.
-Is it just pretty straightforward - get in and drive around?
-It's exactly that.
We've got a one-way system. There's nothing coming the other way.
There's no T-junctions, anything like that.
The great news is we can drive on the left, on the right, down the middle.
So provided you don't try and go too fast, we'll be absolutely fine.
-That's an amazing sound coming from that car!
-It is brilliant.
These cars have got V8 engines, 400 horsepower,
so they're fantastic cars.
-Listen to that roar!
-Up to 8,000 revs.
That's a Lamborghini going past. That's a V12.
-A six-litre, V12 engine in there.
-It is safe, though, isn't it?
-It's a very fast car.
-It's very safe.
I'm going to keep you under control, basically.
-As long as you don't go absolutely mental, we'll be fine.
-I will drive like I'm driving Miss Daisy.
-Excellent! There are the keys.
-Wonderful. Thank you.
Keep to the right, just like driving on a motorway.
Have a look in the mirrors. If it's clear, which it is, move out to the outside.
Wow! It's got such power!
It's got lots of power - 400 horsepower.
-Gosh! Sorry, I'm being a bit puny.
-What we're trying to do is join these cones together. OK?
-The real key is to look as far ahead as you can.
-Shall I go into fourth?
We'll just get through this corner, then put it into fourth gear.
'I'm driving a Ferrari 360
'with a 3.6-litre, V8 engine screaming behind me.'
'It does 0 to 60 in 4.5 seconds,
'and can hit speeds of up to 180mph.'
Let's go. Hard down. SHE LAUGHS
Oh, no! Oh, my goodness! No!
-On the brakes now.
-Brakes again. Brake, brake, brake. Bit harder.
It's a bit obvious, but the faster you go, the harder you have to brake.
That's true. I'm not used to that much braking.
-OK. Out here.
-So drop it into four...
..and then perhaps into three, in fact.
-I think we'll go into the pits this time.
-I'm sweating buckets here!
-I've never known anything like it!
-So perhaps if you want to put it into second, actually.
-That's very good.
-So nice and slow.
-Really slow it through the pits.
-Careful we don't take any doors off.
-I'm in a left-hand, so I keep erring onto the wrong side.
Wow! That was great!
-I'll show you how it's really done now, Ellie!
These speeds are SO exhilarating!
It's very balky on fifth gear, sixth gear.
It won't go into sixth.
I started my journey through the South Downs
in a very different kind of car.
Travelling through its rolling hills, I met its working people,
discovered its fragile ecosystems and its hidden treasures.
the road led here, to the famous track at Goodwood,
where the pace of things suddenly increased.
What a way to end the journey!
Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd
On a journey through the South Downs Ellie Harrison drives a classic car in Bexhill-on-Sea, visits a mixed farm which thrives on the chalky soil, and finds out if a rare group of bats have thrived in the ancient woodland of Ebernoe Common. Finally, Ellie picks up some serious speed racing around the track at Goodwood.