North Norfolk Country Tracks


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North Norfolk

Ellie Harrison journeys along the Norfolk coast. En route, she fishes for mussels, learns about a famous singing postman, and goes on the trail of a true local legend.


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This morning I'm starting a journey through the unique landscape

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of the Norfolk coast.

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It was the birth place of one of our greatest national heroes,

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Vice Admiral Horatio Nelson.

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Throughout the programme, I'm going to be visiting some of the important places from his life

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as well as exploring the area's beautiful water ways.

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I start just off the coast of King's Lynn

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before moving on to Nelson's birth place at Burnham Thorpe.

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I'll stop at the coastal town of Sheringham,

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visit the ancient city of Norwich.

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Take a boat ride through the Norfolk Broads

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and end my journey at Great Yarmouth.

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Along the way I'll be looking back at the very best of the BBC's rural programmes

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from this part of the world.

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This is Country Tracks.

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Things get under way in the early light on board a cockle and mussel fishing trawler

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with local fisherman Bob Garnett.

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What's the history of fishing in your family?

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It goes back quite a long way.

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As far as I know or remember,

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really, especially on my mother's side.

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And your sons as well?

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-Yeah. I have one son doing it now.

-He followed you into fishing?

-Yeah.

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Have you always fished out of King's Lynn?

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Yeah. We have, but we've gone round the coast a little bit

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but mainly out of King's Lynn, most of the time, yeah.

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There's quite a long-standing tradition of fishing from King's Lynn, isn't there?

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Yeah. It goes back years really, to 12th and 13th century, you know.

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Cockle and mussel fishing has been an important industry for this area for hundreds of years

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but back in 1997, a dramatic fall in numbers threatened to jeopardise the livelihoods of local fishermen.

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This is the riverside restaurant in King's Lynn of the Wash,

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the shellfish capital of the country,

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so what could be better than a plate of freshly-cooked mussels.

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But the irony is that these molluscs are not from round here.

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All the mussels in the Wash have disappeared.

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It's a mystery. No-one knows why,

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but everyone is blaming everyone else.

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The Wash, once a sea of plenty, mussels and cockles galore.

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Giant suction dredges could each hoover up eight tonnes of shellfish

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in couple of hours.

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Before this new technology, half a tonne a day would be good going.

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A fleet of dredges regularly plied the Wash.

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Were the fishermen just too plain greedy,

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for today the only mussels being processed at King's Lynn come from elsewhere, the Kent coast,

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-Wales, or even Ireland.

-Are the stocks being overfished?

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The change from traditional hand raking methods

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to mechanical suction dredging

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which is considerably more effective

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and possibly over exploiting the stocks.

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Now, to be fair, the Environment Agency doesn't put all the blame on overfishing,

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maybe that's just as well, for many point the finger at the Agency itself

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and its sand dredging operation.

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On the east coast thousands of homes are at risk from flooding,

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so the Environment Agency is building up the beaches, using

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millions of tonnes of sand taken from the Wash,

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causing the waters to become cloudy.

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I think one of the major causes is the dredging itself.

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People don't really understand that. They seem to think,

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"Well, they're just taking the sand from the the seabed,

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"there's plenty of sand," but it's not.

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There are others two blame the weather.

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Over the past few years the Wash has suffered a series of severe winter gales.

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The winds are going to be strong from a cold direction as well...

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But as many people again say it can't be the weather.

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Last winter was fine and normally stocks would have recovered.

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I would have said we had an ideal year this year

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to see an abundance of everything. We've had a cold winter,

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we had snow. We had a nice spring, sunshine.

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Then it turned to rain in May. Then we had a brilliant summer.

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I would have said there would be an abundance of everything now, but that hasn't worked out.

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Only one thing is for certain, if the mussels don't come back,

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the shellfish industry on the Wash will go broke.

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The irony is that King's Lynn was built on the back of fishing.

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At the turn of the century the Wash was the best place for mussels in the country.

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The fishermen would sail out with the tide till they grounded.

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Hand raking mussels was a tough, backbreaking job,

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but there were rich pickings.

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Although stocks would sometimes drop, they usually recovered - until now.

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It's hard to convey the scale of the natural disaster that's occurred here.

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It's all below the water.

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Let me give you a few facts and figures. In the 1970s and '80s,

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two thirds of all the mussels, half of all the shrimp, a quarter of all the cockles landed in Britain

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came from here, the Wash.

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But now the cockle beds and the mussel beds have been closed

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and an industry has been left high and dry.

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It used to be worth £2 million a year

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and that's dropped to just a couple of hundred thousand.

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For the 70 or so fishermen sailing out of King's Lynn, the outlook is grim.

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They used to divide their year fishing for cockles, mussels and shrimp, moving from one to the next.

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But with two out of the three gone,

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all that's left are memories of better days.

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The good times were, well, very good.

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We all used to make a decent living out of it.

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But because there's no cockles and mussels any more,

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we spend about three or four months of the year

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with absolutely nothing to do, or we come out here

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on the shrimps and take a chance on whether you earn anything at all.

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Nine times out of ten, maybe not nine times out of ten, but quite often,

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you'll go home barely covering the cost of the diesel in the boat.

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Already half the fleet is tied up, possibly permanently.

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Their skippers and crews forced to take jobs on land.

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A sad end for some fishing families who have been sailing the Wash for more than 1,000 years.

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The Eastern Sea Fisheries who regulate fishing here

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say they had to close the beds because stocks were fast disappearing.

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It's probably a combination of a great many factors,

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climatic changes, decreased nutrient run-off from the land.

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We've had low river flows,

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we've had factories closing, the canning factories closing down,

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they were obviously putting a certain amount of nutrient into the water

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which flows into the Wash.

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You see, the clean-up is everything that everybody wants,

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but it's not what the mussels and cockles want,

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because that's what they feed on.

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Dirty water is actually quite good for them, but obviously not for the esoteric reasons.

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Lack of nutrients, overfishing, sand dredging -

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no-one knows for sure what's gone wrong in the waters of the Wash.

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Spawning mussels produce billions of spats every year.

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What's happening to them?

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Fortunately on all sides there's a realisation that there's no one single cause

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for the decline and the bickering is beginning to stop.

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Instead, people are working together to find a solution.

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The first step is to commission an independent scientific study of all the research work

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that's been carried out on the Wash.

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There's data on the fisheries going back 100-200 years.

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There have been a large number of studies of various aspects

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in the last few years.

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No-one is entirely sure to the extent to which these have overlapped or left critical gaps.

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We're hoping, at least in our own modest way, to start pulling this together.

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But the tide is running out fast for the fishermen on the Wash.

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They can't afford to wait years for a scientific solution to be found.

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They can only hope the mussels and cockles return as mysteriously as they disappeared.

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After years of research, official studies have pointed to overfishing

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as the primary reason for the sudden drop in cockle and mussel numbers.

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Meanwhile, working closely with the Government's advisory body, Natural England,

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the fishermen are reinvigorating the stock numbers, by cultivating new mussel beds

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and turning back to more traditional methods of fishing.

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Great news for the local fishermen,

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but after the work replenishing stocks, there is now concern

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that they may be under threat again.

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Some people fear a new off-shore wind farm,

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the first phase of which is completed,

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could disrupt fishing grounds in the Wash again.

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How are things at the moment? Stocks wise?

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Stock's fairly good. The boats have been relaying a lot of mussels

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into the the fishery in the last few years.

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Cockle stocks have been up to the highest they've been for as far as the records go back.

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What kind of worries have you got about the wind farms?

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They're coming down building the wind farms on sites.

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They had all these plans to build the wind farms

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and then see what impact the wind farms would have on the fishery.

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They done a short study beforehand.

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They decided they're going to build some more and they haven't waited three, four, five years

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to see the effect of the wind farms on the environment.

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Once they do get built, would you not be able to fish around them,

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once they are all in place?

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They have to have cables connecting them.

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A 30-mile run of cable and it's not single cable.

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They're planning on, as we understand it, about 12 of them.

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The routes they've planned, they go through cockle beds, mussel beds,

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they go through shrimp-trawling ground.

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We won't be able to do any of those things where the cables are.

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If the new plans go ahead, and the new turbines get built,

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is there a way, is there a third way where you can accept

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that they'll be built and they can keep fishermen happy? Is there a way they can do that?

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Our concern is that as soon as there's a single accident somewhere,

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which is going to happen because there are so many of these things,

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we're going to have the Marine Coastguard Agency saying

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"This is too dangerous,

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"you can't be fishing commercially inside this area."

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Then that whole piece will be closed off to us.

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Wind farms are increasingly becoming a feature of our coastline.

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But they're rarely far from controversy.

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The representative for the farm here in the Wash is Alan Thompson.

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We've been out with some of the local fishermen this morning.

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They've expressed a few concerns.

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The first one is about the environmental impact study.

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Their feeling was that it wasn't accurate enough,

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it didn't go into enough depth, and it wasn't carried out for a long enough period of time.

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Basically, in order to gain consent

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you have to satisfy the consenting authorities

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that there will be no detrimental impact of the wind farm.

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You do that through an environmental impact assessment.

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We also did some commercial fishing assessment, using the local fishing fleet.

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We did take their views into account during the process.

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-During the survey process?

-Yeah.

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Another concern they expressed was about the piping and the cabling

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that goes into the construction process.

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They were worried they would be exposed by this really strong tide we get here,

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that their nets might snag and they might go through active mussel beds.

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We survey the routes for cables very, very accurately.

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We we have to establish where the commercial fishing beds are and avoid those.

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So the mitigation for both commercial fisheries and for certain environmentally-sensitive species

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is to avoid the area. So, we route the cable around those things.

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In relation to cables being exposed, well, we would be concerned about that as well.

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We don't want the cables snagged, so we lay these cables to a sufficient depth

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to where they're protected, sometimes of the order of two metres below the seabed.

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What I thought was interesting, was that once the construction is finished,

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they are allowed back into fish among and around the turbines,

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but they were concerned that they thought it likely that an accident would happen

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with all those obstacles, then the coastguards would not want them fishing there

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because it was a higher risk for health and safety,

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and they were worried that that area of fishing would be taken away from them completely.

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Fishing vessels will be able to go into the wind farm.

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Of course they have to do their own risk assessment, and their own assessment of risk

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as to where they're fishing.

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But we have, you know, or we will be giving them all the information necessary

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to make sure they can do that safely.

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I think we shouldn't lose sight of the fact, or the reason we're building these things,

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which is, you know, part of a Government's objective, to generate power from renewable sources,

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up to about 30% to 35% of electricity generated in the UK

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which should be by renewable sources by 2020,

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and that's because of the whole issue of climate change, which is real.

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It's ironic we're standing on this beach today, in a low-lying part of Norfolk,

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which, if you look at the studies in terms of sea-level rises,

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this area is under threat.

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If we do nothing about climate change,

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then certainly that will have a bigger impact

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than the construction of a wind farm.

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Cockles and mussels are not the only wildlife to be threatened

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in this area.

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Adam Henson came here to report on the plight of pink-footed geese.

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Today we're in north-west Norfolk.

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It's first light and it's pretty chilly.

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We're close to the coastal village of Snettisham

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and Ciaran from the RSPB has brought me here to see one of nature's most impressive sights -

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the flight of the pink-footed geese.

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It's remarkable. How many geese do you think are out there?

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A conservative estimate would be between 20 and 30,000.

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Wow! I've never seen anything like it.

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They form these incredible Vs.

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Yeah. It's an amorphous mass, then somebody must take charge.

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They come together in skeins as they head inland.

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Where are they going?

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They're heading inland to feed on the remains of the sugar-beet harvest.

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Sugar beet is a fairly widely-grown crop in north Norfolk

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and it's a really great food source for these geese.

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A lot of farmers, when they harvest the sugar beet, leave the tops and the tails on the fields

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and the geese graze on the remainder of that crop.

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Because it's such an energy-rich food source for them,

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it helps them keep in tip-top condition

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so when they leave here in spring to head back to Iceland and Greenland,

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they're in good shape to breed and to raise a family.

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-They're big open spaces out there.

-Some of the fields are really large.

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That's quite an advantage for the geese,

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because they're pretty wary, they get spooked quite easily

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and they like big, expansive open areas where they can feed and graze during the day.

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It makes them feel safe, just like being on the Wash does overnight.

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'Edward Cross is a wildlife-friendly farmer

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'who encourages the geese onto his fields.'

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There's a huge amount of geese. But you love them.

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I do. They are part of being a farmer in north-west Norfolk.

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We harvest sugar beet from September through to December, January.

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Once we've harvested it, the geese come onto the farm.

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I see pink-footed geese as part of being a farmer here.

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A couple of winters ago, Norfolk had half the world population.

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So we have a responsibility. There are huge numbers looking for food

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and we can provide them with the leftovers after a crop has been harvested.

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This helps us support the geese while keeping them off barley and wheat crops where they cause damage.

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So we can hold them here - it keeps them off neighbours' crops.

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And they're spectacular. They've been coming to this farm for 15-20 years,

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and I can't imagine a winter without them. They're just fantastic.

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The relationship between farmers and geese here in Norfolk is symbiotic.

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But it's one that could change in years to come.

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A reduction in EU subsidies presently granted to British sugar-beet farmers

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means that potentially the crop could become economically unviable for them to grow.

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Edward, how important is the beet to you on the farm?

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This is a harvested root of sugar beet and this crop is very important.

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-It's a financial mainstay of the farm and it's important for employment.

-Where do you see its future?

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If the price falls to such an extent that we can't grow it viably,

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we would have to stop growing it as a crop.

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Then when the geese arrive, the only crops they'll have to eat will be things like winter barley and wheat.

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Farmers will have to frighten them off those crops. We can't afford to let them eat growing crops.

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That will create the conflict with geese and Norfolk would become a less hospitable place for them.

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How would you feel if they didn't come here for the winter?

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I'd be... Like a lot of people in Norfolk, we'd really miss them.

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Many people are used to them flying over at dawn and dusk, and come out to see them in the fields.

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It would be an empty place without them.

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It feels to me that if we don't provide a food source for them, we're letting them down as a species.

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And it's not just the pink-footed geese that could suffer.

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Sugar beet's incredibly important, not just for the geese that come here in the winter,

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but also for the birds that nest here.

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Because it's a spring-sown crop it provides a good habitat for lapwings and stone curlews to nest in.

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They're both birds that are suffering quite a lot in the UK at the moment.

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That's why it's an all-round important crop for farmers to carry on growing.

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And the risk is if the growth of sugar beet diminishes over the coming years,

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the geese will still come back in the same numbers,

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but there will be less places for them to feed, less food sources,

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they could switch to other crops, increasing conflict with farmers,

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which we don't want to see happen.

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The latest news from the RSPB is very good.

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They say pink-footed geese numbers are now on the increase in England,

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particularly in Norfolk.

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Leaving King's Lynn behind, I'm travelling 13 miles north-east

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to Burnham Thorpe.

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The reason I've come to this sleepy village

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on the banks of the River Burn

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is because it's the birthplace of one of Britain's greatest heroes,

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Vice-Admiral Horatio Nelson.

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'This is the church where Nelson's father preached.

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'Visitors looking for the house where Nelson was born, though, will be disappointed.

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'It was demolished soon after his father's death.'

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But one building that IS still standing is his local pub.

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Built in 1637, it was the first pub in the UK

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to change its name to the Lord Nelson,

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following the victorious Battle of the Nile.

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Landlord Simon Alper

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has done research into the pub's famous namesake.

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-Can you describe the relationship he had with this pub?

-Yeah.

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Most of the relationship was between the ages of 30 and 35,

0:19:500:19:56

when there was no war with France, he didn't have a ship,

0:19:560:20:00

because there were too many captains and not enough boats

0:20:000:20:03

and he'd fallen out with the people who were in the admiralty.

0:20:030:20:06

So, he was living with father and wife in the village, using the pub,

0:20:060:20:11

writing letters from here and generally living a quiet life,

0:20:110:20:17

waiting for orders.

0:20:170:20:19

-And how has the pub changed in the time...

-Well...

-..since his death?

0:20:190:20:24

The core of the pub hasn't changed very much at all.

0:20:240:20:28

This room is...pretty recognisable

0:20:280:20:32

as to how it would have been when he was using it.

0:20:320:20:36

Is there anything still here that would have been here in his day?

0:20:360:20:40

-Yes, the bench along the wall over there.

-Wow!

0:20:400:20:45

And the front entrance floor is also original to the building of the pub.

0:20:450:20:50

-Hence the wear and why it's all uneven...

-I was going to say,

0:20:500:20:53

it's quite uneven - obviously had quite a bit of footfall.

0:20:530:20:57

-Yes, it has.

-Fantastic.

0:20:570:20:59

The name of the pub is a giveaway,

0:20:590:21:01

but you also have other reminders here of Nelson.

0:21:010:21:04

We have - we have Nelson's Blood!

0:21:040:21:06

Eugh! How is that possible?

0:21:060:21:09

Um, Nelson's Blood is a spiced rum

0:21:090:21:12

that's been made in the pub for a long time.

0:21:120:21:15

It commemorates the fact that his body was put in a barrel of rum

0:21:150:21:21

to transport it from Trafalgar to Gibraltar,

0:21:210:21:25

before it was then put in a barrel of brandy,

0:21:250:21:28

because the sailors had allegedly drunk all the rum from around the body,

0:21:280:21:32

in order to get some of his spirit.

0:21:320:21:34

In the brandy, it was then transported from Gibraltar to London.

0:21:340:21:38

So what have you got in your mix that gives that sense of Nelson?

0:21:380:21:41

Well, I could tell you, but I'd have to shoot you!

0:21:410:21:44

Fair enough!

0:21:440:21:45

-It will warm you on a cold day.

-Indeed.

0:21:450:21:48

Also, for toasting the immortal memory, which is a silent toast.

0:21:480:21:51

So when we have dinners here,

0:21:510:21:53

people don't stand up and say, "The immortal memory."

0:21:530:21:56

We say, "We're going to toast the immortal memory,"

0:21:560:21:59

and everybody stands and has a moment of contemplation.

0:21:590:22:02

Let's do it properly, then.

0:22:020:22:04

-That will warm all the way down.

-It certainly is!

0:22:110:22:14

Oh-ho!

0:22:140:22:15

I'm moving east from Nelson's home town, heading for Sheringham.

0:22:160:22:21

Between the two lies Blakeney Point, famous for its seals.

0:22:210:22:25

I started doing trips when I was 11

0:22:260:22:29

and they just stuck you in the boat in those days and you was away.

0:22:290:22:34

But things weren't so good then.

0:22:340:22:36

We didn't take so many people in those days.

0:22:360:22:39

We was only running boats carrying 12.

0:22:390:22:42

And now?

0:22:420:22:43

Now the family runs four boats,

0:22:430:22:46

ranging between one carrying 25 and the biggest one carries 40.

0:22:460:22:51

We run every day from the beginning of April until the end of October,

0:22:510:22:57

then once or twice a day during winter.

0:22:570:22:59

Can you make ends meet doing this during the winter

0:22:590:23:02

or are you having to do other things, the family?

0:23:020:23:06

During the winter, all we ever do is just get our housekeeping money if we can.

0:23:060:23:11

My son does most of the trips during the winter time.

0:23:110:23:14

I only go when I feel like it, really, on a nice day.

0:23:140:23:17

This time of year, grey seals have been having their pups

0:23:170:23:21

for the last fortnight.

0:23:210:23:23

There's one over there now,

0:23:230:23:25

suckling a young one - that's probably about a week old, that one.

0:23:250:23:29

You've got a mixture here.

0:23:290:23:30

The one just here,

0:23:300:23:33

that's a common seal, a young common seal.

0:23:330:23:36

That'll be about three or four months.

0:23:360:23:38

Of course, the common seals, they have their pups July and August.

0:23:380:23:42

Do they mind you getting so close?

0:23:420:23:44

Well, as you can see now, they're lying here, not worried at all.

0:23:440:23:49

There's one or two just coming ashore, even with us here.

0:23:490:23:52

Of course, we're here every day.

0:23:520:23:55

They're used to us and they aren't worried at all.

0:23:550:23:57

-You're just part of the scenery?

-Yeah.

0:23:570:23:59

The seals of Blakeney Point.

0:24:000:24:03

Seal numbers in the UK have doubled since the 1960s

0:24:030:24:08

and over half the world's population of grey seals

0:24:080:24:11

can now be found on our shores.

0:24:110:24:13

Travelling from Burnham Thorpe,

0:24:130:24:15

I've arrived in the traditional seaside town of Sheringham.

0:24:150:24:19

Sheringham has a relaxing ambience.

0:24:190:24:22

It's not a place you'd expect to find showbiz glamour.

0:24:220:24:25

# I had a girl, a very nice girl Down in Wroxham Way... #

0:24:250:24:33

But in 1966, local postman Allan Smethurst burst into the charts

0:24:330:24:38

with the classic tune Have You Got A Light, Boy?,

0:24:380:24:41

winning him an Ivor Novello Award for best novelty song of the year.

0:24:410:24:45

The song even knocked the Beatles from the top of the East Anglia hit parade.

0:24:450:24:50

Smethurst was a real postman who used to deliver the mail on these streets,

0:24:500:24:55

whilst humming songs as he made his way on his rounds.

0:24:550:24:58

But his hit brought the region's distinctive accent to the attention of the nation.

0:24:580:25:03

'Colin Burleigh is passionate about keeping that accent alive.'

0:25:030:25:07

That sounds like a Norfolk accent to me.

0:25:070:25:10

It certainly is - bred and born in Norfolk.

0:25:100:25:12

What's the difference between an accent and a dialect?

0:25:120:25:15

Accent is the sound your voice makes,

0:25:150:25:18

whereas dialect are words that...

0:25:180:25:21

perhaps my great-grandfather and great-grandmother used to use way back,

0:25:210:25:27

which sadly is now disappearing, unfortunately.

0:25:270:25:30

It's not just Norfolk that has dialect, obviously.

0:25:300:25:33

They're all over the place. Devon has a lovely dialect as well.

0:25:330:25:37

Was it the Singing Postman that made the accent so famous?

0:25:370:25:41

A lot of the people outside the area picked up on it

0:25:410:25:43

when his song Have You Got A Light, Boy? actually made the charts

0:25:430:25:47

and outsold the Beatles' record at the time.

0:25:470:25:49

People started taking note of the Norfolk accent,

0:25:490:25:53

and it certainly made Norfolk come to life, as it were.

0:25:530:25:58

And certainly the singing postman helped,

0:25:580:26:01

a great deal to do that because...

0:26:010:26:04

You notice we've stopped outside this pub?

0:26:040:26:07

-Yes. The Windham Arms.

-One of the songs, my favourite, is Have The Bottom Dropped Out?

0:26:070:26:13

About a fella that had an old boat that was 30 years old

0:26:130:26:16

and people kept asking him, "Have the bottom dropped out?"

0:26:160:26:20

In the very last verse, this pub gets a mention because on a Saturday night

0:26:200:26:23

Tommy Long used to sit here with his pint mug with nothing in it

0:26:230:26:28

and hold it up and say, "Have the bottom dropped out?"

0:26:280:26:31

Which was a cagey way of asking, "Is somebody going to buy me a drink?"

0:26:310:26:35

-Very sneaky, I like it. Let's explore more of the town.

-Certainly.

0:26:350:26:40

-Now, say "Bootiful!"

-Bootiful.

-You've got it!

0:26:440:26:48

Not quite, I need a few more lessons from you yet.

0:26:480:26:52

# Ha' the bottom dropped out?

0:26:520:26:54

# Ha' the bottom dropped out? #

0:26:570:27:00

So, Colin, can you teach me some of the phrases the Singing Postman might have used?

0:27:000:27:05

Yes, I can. I'd like you to repeat them and see.

0:27:050:27:09

-OK.

-He went to Swaffham to do a day's trar-shing for na-thing.

0:27:090:27:13

-He went to Swaffham to do a day's...

-Trar-shing.

-..trar-shing for...

0:27:130:27:19

-Na-thing.

-Na-thing.

0:27:190:27:21

-It sounds awful when I do that.

-You did very well.

-Give me an easier one.

0:27:210:27:26

-That's wholly black over Will's mother's.

-That's not easy!

-It is.

0:27:260:27:30

-Go on.

-That's wholly black over Will's mother's.

0:27:300:27:32

-Go on, let's hear it.

-That's wholly black over Will's mother's.

0:27:320:27:36

-Do you know what that means?

-No.

-It means it's going to rain over there.

0:27:360:27:40

That's where Will's mother lives. She lives wherever it's black.

0:27:400:27:44

I can barely understand you. What happens when two people from Norfolk get together?

0:27:440:27:49

Well, you usually say to them, "Do your father keep a dickey, bor?"

0:27:490:27:54

-What does that mean?

-That means, "Does your father own a donkey, boy?"

0:27:540:27:58

If he's a true Norfolk man, he'll come back with the reply,

0:27:580:28:03

"Yes, and he's looking for a fool to ride him, can you come?"

0:28:030:28:06

-Then you know you have found a local?

-A Norfolk man. Yeah.

0:28:060:28:11

That's brilliant. I love it. It's like another language.

0:28:110:28:14

So far my journey has taken me from the waters of the Wash,

0:28:240:28:28

to Nelson's birth place at Burnham Thorpe

0:28:280:28:30

and on to Sheringham. Now I'm heading into Norwich.

0:28:300:28:34

The ancient city of Norwich is steeped in history.

0:28:340:28:38

It claims the largest number of medieval churches

0:28:380:28:42

of any city in Western Europe.

0:28:420:28:44

They say there's a church for every Sunday of the year, and a pub for every day.

0:28:440:28:49

At the heart of the city, the Norman cathedral has dominated the skyline

0:28:520:28:57

for nearly 1,000 years.

0:28:570:28:59

Next door, in similar medieval splendour,

0:28:590:29:02

are the hallowed halls of Norwich School.

0:29:020:29:06

The school has a fascinating history, dating back to the foundation of the cathedral.

0:29:060:29:11

Its alumni is long and distinguished,

0:29:110:29:14

but for me, its most famous pupil is Horatio Nelson.

0:29:140:29:17

I've already drunk in the pub where Nelson drank.

0:29:170:29:21

Now I'm going to meet the head master of the school where he studied.

0:29:210:29:25

-Goodness! It's a very light chapel, isn't it?

-It's wonderful.

0:29:250:29:30

It's a wonderful space at the heart of the school.

0:29:300:29:33

-How old is it?

-1316, but since about the 1550s,

0:29:330:29:38

or from the 1550s

0:29:380:29:40

until the 1800s, this was the main school room.

0:29:400:29:44

When was Nelson here at the school?

0:29:440:29:47

We think 1766 to 1768,

0:29:470:29:50

so a couple of years between the age of eight and ten.

0:29:500:29:52

He then went for a further two years to another school in Norfolk

0:29:520:29:56

-and then off to sea from the age of 12.

-That's young, isn't it!

0:29:560:29:59

He would have had his lessons in this chapel?

0:29:590:30:02

Every single one, we think. Imagine about 50 to 60 boys crammed in here,

0:30:020:30:06

having all their lessons and being taught by two masters,

0:30:060:30:09

-the high master and the usher.

-Wow!

0:30:090:30:11

What was school life like, apart from all being here in the chapel?

0:30:110:30:15

What was it like then, compared to now?

0:30:150:30:17

It was the traditional diet of the day. Most of the day in lessons,

0:30:170:30:21

learning arithmetic, geometry, Latin and Greek and divinity and very little else.

0:30:210:30:26

-Do you have anything of Nelson's at the school?

-We do.

0:30:260:30:31

We have three documents that are particularly interesting.

0:30:310:30:35

We have some orders sent to a clergyman,

0:30:350:30:38

and he was then written to in Nelson's own hand.

0:30:380:30:44

What's fascinating about this letter is that Lady Hamilton herself

0:30:440:30:47

writes a footnote, pleading with this friend to come over and be in their area.

0:30:470:30:52

-That's a particularly valuable one.

-Her handwriting is neater than his.

0:30:520:30:57

-Possibly.

-Beautiful.

-This one, we're very excited about.

0:30:570:31:02

This one has been donated to the school. It's the rendezvous signals,

0:31:020:31:06

the codes that Nelson used when signalling to the fleet.

0:31:060:31:10

Instead of saying, "See you in Cadiz," he'd put a flag saying, "67"

0:31:100:31:14

and they'd know what he meant.

0:31:140:31:16

This may even have been used in Trafalgar.

0:31:160:31:18

-So this is a really important document?

-Yes.

-You must be really proud to have this.

0:31:180:31:22

It's very exciting.

0:31:220:31:24

It feels quite impressive to be walking in the same footsteps of a man who went on to such greatness,

0:31:250:31:31

-such an extraordinary man. Do you get that sense as well?

-I really do.

0:31:310:31:35

Every day. There's a tremendous sense of history. To think of young Nelson

0:31:350:31:39

strolling around here, going into chapel, into cathedral,

0:31:390:31:42

-it's quite a thought.

-Incredible.

0:31:420:31:44

Are there any stories of what he was like as a pupil?

0:31:440:31:47

There are some, we think they're apocryphal, but they're interesting.

0:31:470:31:51

There's certainly one story about him keeping geese while he was here.

0:31:510:31:55

And getting into trouble for it.

0:31:550:31:57

Also, there's a story about stealing pears from the head master's garden

0:31:570:32:01

and when challenged about it apparently he said he felt no fear

0:32:010:32:06

and perhaps this was a sign that here was a man of courage.

0:32:060:32:09

-A future sign of greatness perhaps?

-Perhaps, maybe stretching it.

0:32:090:32:12

Travelling again, I'm heading towards Barton Broad,

0:32:160:32:19

deep in the heart of Norfolk Broads.

0:32:190:32:22

It's the perfect place for messing about on the water.

0:32:220:32:24

I wouldn't exactly say messing around.

0:32:240:32:27

Boating on the Norfolk Broads is a British institution,

0:32:270:32:31

up there on the with Brighton rock, beach huts

0:32:310:32:34

and caravans clogging up our motorways.

0:32:340:32:36

Every year thousands of people descend on these waters.

0:32:360:32:39

Most of those visitors think the Norfolk Broads are a natural habitat.

0:32:400:32:44

In fact, they're man-made and it's all because of this stuff.

0:32:440:32:48

Peat marsh, not water, used to cover the Broads. In the ninth century,

0:32:480:32:53

local people started digging it up for fuel, a practice that continued

0:32:530:32:57

for centuries, leaving behind massive trenches. A rise in sea-level

0:32:570:33:01

in the 14th century flooded it and the Broads were born.

0:33:010:33:03

But with lots of big flooded holes and carts unable to get around,

0:33:030:33:08

how did people transport goods from A to B? The answer is a wherry.

0:33:080:33:12

These magnificent boats carried thousands of tonnes of goods

0:33:120:33:16

to and from ports of the east coast. But their dominance was short-lived.

0:33:160:33:20

The Industrial Revolution brought steam trains, which killed off

0:33:200:33:24

the wherry, but whose passengers started something completely new.

0:33:240:33:28

The very trains that drove the business away from the canals

0:33:280:33:31

now brought tourists. And the Edwardians came in droves.

0:33:310:33:35

These hedonistic visitors were to transform wherries

0:33:350:33:39

from industrial cart-horse to palatial pleasure cruiser.

0:33:390:33:43

It started with the trading wherries

0:33:430:33:46

which would be stripped out and cleaned up for holidaymakers,

0:33:460:33:51

proving very popular. They gave way to the pleasure wherries

0:33:510:33:56

and they gave way to these wherry yachts, like Olive we're on now.

0:33:560:34:01

The pleasure wherries were specifically designed

0:34:010:34:04

to provide comfort and pleasure for their hirers.

0:34:040:34:09

-Can you show me about the boat?

-Yeah, of course. Delighted.

0:34:090:34:12

-Right, so what room is this?

-This is a saloon.

0:34:160:34:19

What was this used for?

0:34:190:34:20

This is where the crew would serve the meals.

0:34:200:34:24

There's a bell there. In days gone by, I think what would happen

0:34:240:34:29

is that when the crew had served the meal

0:34:290:34:32

and it was ready for the passengers,

0:34:320:34:34

-the passengers would come in here and sit down.

-Very decadent.

0:34:340:34:38

-Absolutely.

-It even has a piano.

-It's amazing. There it is, quite well-tuned.

0:34:380:34:44

Hopefully, one of the members of the passengers,

0:34:440:34:48

or possibly a member of the crew would be able to play tunes.

0:34:480:34:51

-Just going through here.

-What do we have here?

-This is the galley.

0:34:510:34:56

-Right.

-This is where the crew would do all the cooking.

0:34:560:34:59

This is gas now, but in days gone by,

0:34:590:35:01

-it would have been a paraffin cooker, I should imagine.

-Brilliant.

0:35:010:35:05

-The sleeping accommodation is here.

-Bunk beds?

0:35:050:35:09

A couple of bunk beds here.

0:35:090:35:11

-How many people would have been able to sleep on this boat?

-About 11.

0:35:110:35:15

A lot of the hires were for blokes.

0:35:150:35:18

One is not at all certain how easily females fitted into the set-up,

0:35:180:35:25

because obviously it's not exactly conducive to...

0:35:250:35:29

-To great big skirts and all that?

-Absolutely.

0:35:290:35:33

Edwardian ladies would have their bustles and rest of it.

0:35:330:35:36

It's rather amazing to think of.

0:35:360:35:39

But I think it was very much the part of the Edwardian holiday experience.

0:35:390:35:44

But of course, not everyone could afford the luxuries of Olive

0:35:440:35:49

and in the '30s,

0:35:490:35:50

there was a demand for smaller, cheaper, more economical boats.

0:35:500:35:53

Now, 70 years on, they're still made at Hunter's Yard on Womack Water.

0:35:530:35:58

'But there's not many people left making lullaby class boats. Maybe they could do with a willing helper?'

0:35:580:36:04

Graham, what are you doing now?

0:36:060:36:08

We need to put another plank on above this one.

0:36:080:36:11

I've put a spoil board on here. I've got a block

0:36:110:36:14

which I am a now going to mark the shape of this other plank onto there.

0:36:140:36:19

-Can I have a go?

-Course you can.

-Brilliant.

0:36:190:36:22

I know there aren't that many places that make these traditional boats.

0:36:220:36:25

Is there a danger of this craft dying out?

0:36:250:36:28

There is a danger, although at the yard here, we took on an apprentice five years ago.

0:36:280:36:34

Hopefully, we'll continue the tradition at this yard if nowhere else, really.

0:36:340:36:39

The next thing we have to do is remove this and then put it back on to our planking stock.

0:36:390:36:44

Then we mark this edge onto there and we'll cut the new plank out.

0:36:440:36:48

Right, so I just undo that...

0:36:480:36:50

Perfect!

0:36:510:36:53

And this is the finished product.

0:36:570:37:00

I've come down to meet some holidaymakers

0:37:000:37:02

who are part of a group that have been sailing here for over years.

0:37:020:37:05

-Hi, guys.

-Hello.

-Hi.

-Nice to meet you.

-Come aboard.

0:37:050:37:10

-Brilliant.

-Welcome aboard.

-What's the first thing we have to do today?

0:37:100:37:14

The first thing we have to do is take the mast down on this boat

0:37:140:37:17

in order to get the bridge there.

0:37:170:37:19

How long have you been coming along on the Broads?

0:37:260:37:28

I've been coming here 14 years. As a group, this is year 51.

0:37:280:37:35

51 years!

0:37:350:37:37

For a week in every September.

0:37:370:37:39

What are the advantages of a holiday like this?

0:37:390:37:41

The advantages... The fact that this boat is without an engine,

0:37:410:37:48

there are no creature comforts at all.

0:37:480:37:51

We get away from absolutely everything.

0:37:510:37:54

-It's very low, isn't it?

-It is!

0:37:540:37:56

-You can see all the scrapes where other people have...

-Absolutely.

0:37:560:38:00

-The water is particularly high.

-Yeah.

0:38:000:38:02

Wow! We're through.

0:38:020:38:04

Are we able to put up the mast now?

0:38:040:38:06

That's right, we have to go across to the bank, moor up and put the mast up.

0:38:060:38:10

-It doesn't have an engine. It's like a giant punt.

-Absolutely.

0:38:100:38:14

It's quite a manual holiday here, isn't it?

0:38:140:38:17

Yes, when the wind doesn't blow, it's hard work sometimes.

0:38:170:38:19

Is this quite heavy?

0:38:200:38:22

Oh! We're all there.

0:38:220:38:24

'Luckily the winds are picking up, so I help the crew put up the mast so they can get under sail.

0:38:240:38:30

'As I cast them off, it's easy to see the lasting appeal of a traditional

0:38:300:38:35

'Broads holiday and its truly beautiful boats.'

0:38:350:38:38

The wherry boats are a peaceful and environmentally-friendly ways to get around the Broads,

0:38:430:38:49

but I'm about to take a trip in a modern and hi-tech equivalent.

0:38:490:38:53

Named after the Egyptian sun god Ra, this is the world's first solar-powered passenger boat.

0:38:540:39:01

Ra has been ferrying sun worshippers on the Norfolk Broads since 2000.

0:39:010:39:05

She traverses the waterways of the nature reserve, silently storing

0:39:050:39:10

power captured in the seven rows of panels overhead and providing

0:39:100:39:13

passengers with the opportunity to view the restoration taking place on the Barton Broads.

0:39:130:39:19

I'm here with Dan Hoare, the Waterways conservation officer.

0:39:190:39:23

What made you commission this ground-breaking, fantastic boat?

0:39:230:39:27

The design of this solar boat enables passengers to come out on Barton Broads

0:39:270:39:31

experience the waterways without the need to own a boat.

0:39:310:39:35

Why not go for a regular boat?

0:39:350:39:37

The design of this one is ground breaking and it does showcase

0:39:370:39:40

the kind of innovation available for boat design and carbon-neutral,

0:39:400:39:45

carbon-free ways of powering craft on the Broads.

0:39:450:39:48

And it stays as quiet as this?

0:39:480:39:50

Indeed, yes.

0:39:500:39:51

It enables people to get right up close to the wildlife on the Broads,

0:39:510:39:56

otters, all the wildlife you see on the Broads here.

0:39:560:39:59

You can really get up close in this boat.

0:39:590:40:02

It hasn't always been this way.

0:40:020:40:04

The Broads have needed restoration in recent years, why?

0:40:040:40:07

The shallow lakes were very susceptible to nutrients, so

0:40:070:40:10

nitrates, phosphates, generally rare in the natural environment

0:40:100:40:15

but increased human use of the landscape, agriculture and sewage being

0:40:150:40:19

discharged into the rivers has meant in the bottom of the Broads,

0:40:190:40:24

the sediment has trapped a lot of this nutrient and that has stimulated

0:40:240:40:29

algae to grow within the water column.

0:40:290:40:31

This algae, these microscopic plants mop up the excess nutrients.

0:40:310:40:36

Once they get established, they turn the water cloudy green,

0:40:360:40:41

which limits then other life in the lake,

0:40:410:40:43

especially the water plants that grow from the bottom of these lakes.

0:40:430:40:47

The water plants really provide the habitat that you need to support

0:40:470:40:52

the fish and the birds that it's famous for.

0:40:520:40:55

What's this structure we're coming up against?

0:40:550:40:58

This is part of the restoration work.

0:40:580:41:01

The water fleas that naturally live in these lakes are

0:41:010:41:05

the main consumers of the algae.

0:41:050:41:07

These little chaps eat the green algae

0:41:070:41:10

which were fuelled by the excess nutrients.

0:41:100:41:13

So, to give them a bit of a break and reduce the amount of

0:41:130:41:16

predation by fish on the water fleas,

0:41:160:41:20

these barriers were installed in little calm bays

0:41:200:41:23

and the fish were removed from this side and put back into the main Broad

0:41:230:41:27

and this gives the ecosystem a chance to correct itself

0:41:270:41:31

and get the water clear again.

0:41:310:41:33

Because this boat is so quiet we've managed to get very close

0:41:330:41:36

to some of the birds, the birdwatching is fantastic.

0:41:360:41:39

I think this should be the future of water travel.

0:41:390:41:41

It's certainly a classy way to glide through the water.

0:41:410:41:44

Traditionally these Broadlands were managed by the people who farmed and fished them.

0:41:480:41:52

The reeds that grew in these wetlands supplied a thriving thatching industry,

0:41:520:41:57

but as that declined so did the art of re-cutting.

0:41:570:41:59

Eric's been cutting reeds for nearly 40 years, but the man-made

0:41:590:42:04

reed beds have been here for centuries.

0:42:040:42:06

The cut reed is sold to thatchers.

0:42:060:42:09

It's a prized traditional roofing material.

0:42:090:42:12

Even though it has to compete with imported reed, it's much in demand.

0:42:120:42:16

Today Eric cuts reed with a modern machine,

0:42:160:42:19

but has fond memories of the old traditions.

0:42:190:42:23

So, when you first started doing this job,

0:42:230:42:26

were there a lot of reed cutters?

0:42:260:42:27

Yes, three full-time marsh man on the estate when I first come.

0:42:270:42:31

The old man, the old general,

0:42:310:42:33

he was the main man and he taught me how to reed cut.

0:42:330:42:36

But you have to put up with the cold, wet, snow, ice.

0:42:360:42:40

You have to be a bit hard, you know, to do this job.

0:42:400:42:45

I'm a farmer back at home, do you think I could put up with it?

0:42:450:42:50

Well, it took me about a couple of years to learn it, from the old man.

0:42:500:42:54

Things are a bit easier now regarding machinery,

0:42:540:42:57

but I still think the old ways are still good ways.

0:42:570:43:00

You always mow with the wind.

0:43:020:43:04

Never fight the wind.

0:43:040:43:06

'There's reed as far as the eye can see.

0:43:060:43:08

'Surely we haven't got to cut all this lot just that old scythe?'

0:43:080:43:12

A little spit in the hand.

0:43:140:43:16

Always keep it low.

0:43:160:43:18

If you go like that, you'll break it every five minutes,

0:43:180:43:22

you always keep the heel down.

0:43:220:43:24

-There, Adam, have a little go. See how you get on with it.

-OK.

0:43:260:43:30

-As I say, keep your heel down, boy.

-Right-oh.

0:43:300:43:35

-Keep you fit this, Eric!

-Yeah.

0:43:420:43:44

Look, you're leaving about a foot,

0:43:440:43:47

the very bit you need, the hard bit.

0:43:470:43:50

As you go along in life, you would learn you need that bit right down tight.

0:43:500:43:55

Yeah, it's where the money is, I suppose.

0:43:550:43:57

You've done fairly well for a first time.

0:43:570:43:59

You have to remember, you have to do eight hours.

0:43:590:44:03

-You gotta do eight hours!

-Yeah!

0:44:050:44:07

The Broads authority which manages around 4,000 acres of fen,

0:44:130:44:17

commissioned research which showed

0:44:170:44:19

about a quarter of that area has potential for commercial development.

0:44:190:44:24

Is the reed cutting important for the sustainability of the reed and the wildlife?

0:44:240:44:28

Apart from commercial reeding and sage cutting everything else we have

0:44:280:44:31

to manage by just putting money in and doing it either by hand or

0:44:310:44:36

by machinery, we have to develop machinery and we don't have any use for the products.

0:44:360:44:40

The reed and sage industry is the only truly

0:44:400:44:43

sustainable form of management that we've got in the Broad Fens at the moment.

0:44:430:44:47

What would happen if you didn't do it?

0:44:470:44:49

If you don't do it gradually you get a lot of build-up of dead vegetation

0:44:490:44:54

and the sites dry out gradually. Eventually you get trees coming.

0:44:540:44:57

You lose the actual species which have developed through man's cutting

0:44:570:45:02

them, things like the swallow tail butterfly, the classic species.

0:45:020:45:07

But there's a huge host of others.

0:45:070:45:08

The biten, the bearded tit...

0:45:090:45:12

and the marsh harrier all depend on the reed beds for their habitat.

0:45:120:45:17

Now, Adam, this is the technical bit, this is the bit where the skill is needed.

0:45:170:45:22

You've cut the reed.

0:45:220:45:23

The next bit is dressing the reed.

0:45:230:45:25

Very important to dress the reed well so you get all the rubbish out,

0:45:250:45:29

so the when the thatcher get the bunch of reed, there's no bits in it.

0:45:290:45:32

You get a bit of the tarn, look.

0:45:320:45:34

You always work with the wind so you don't fight the wind.

0:45:340:45:38

Down on the board, let your reed flow down.

0:45:380:45:41

You make it look very easy.

0:45:440:45:46

-Well, if I had a pound for every brush, I'd be a rich man.

-THEY CHUCKLE

0:45:460:45:52

Tuck it under your arm. That's right.

0:45:520:45:55

-Is that about a bundle?

-No, you want a shade more.

0:45:570:46:01

-My muscles aren't as big as yours, Eric, so...

-Oh, dear!

0:46:010:46:07

Yeah, tie it like that. You'd need a bunch like that.

0:46:100:46:15

-You can see the comparison, look.

-What a model!

0:46:150:46:18

-I'll give you a mark out of ten!

-LAUGHING

0:46:180:46:24

Eric reckons to cut and tie up 100 bunches a day would be good going,

0:46:240:46:30

so I'm just a bit short of the target.

0:46:300:46:32

-OK.

-I'll carry mine and that will be it.

0:46:330:46:37

-LAUGHING

-That will do, then.

0:46:370:46:41

The traditional ways have nearly all gone, but is there really a living to be made today by cutting reeds?

0:46:410:46:48

There's about 16 cutters currently in the Broads working.

0:46:480:46:53

Over half of them are at or beyond retirement age, but still working.

0:46:530:46:58

Obviously, over the next ten years or so there's a replacement element,

0:46:580:47:03

but there's also the potential to double the amount that is currently cut.

0:47:030:47:07

Billy Burgess is a reed cutter fresh to the trade.

0:47:070:47:11

He uses modern equipment owned by a newly formed cooperative of reed and seg cutters.

0:47:110:47:16

He's left a well-paid job to cut reed, even in weather like this.

0:47:160:47:20

-What was being a welder like?

-That was OK.

0:47:200:47:23

Long hours, expected to do a lot of overtime. I used to get burnt,

0:47:230:47:28

your face'd be black every time you came home with the dirt and grime,

0:47:280:47:32

and wearing ear plugs throughout the day, 10, 12 hours a day some days.

0:47:320:47:36

So this is very different, but how is the money?

0:47:360:47:40

It's about half of what I'm used to, but I'm sure I can adapt and I am.

0:47:400:47:45

Is there enough room on the Norfolk Broads for more reed cutters to join in?

0:47:450:47:51

There's a good future. There's so much demand for our reed,

0:47:510:47:55

they can't get enough Norfolk reed in the county.

0:47:550:47:57

It's certainly a hard life out in all weathers, at the same time quite romantic,

0:48:030:48:08

amongst the wide open scenery and the wildlife.

0:48:080:48:11

But a reed cutter's wage only comes from the amount of reed they can cut and sell.

0:48:110:48:17

If the tradition of reed cutting is safe in the hands of people like Billy,

0:48:170:48:21

I think I'll let them keep the reed to themselves and head for home.

0:48:210:48:26

Since 2005, Norfolk reed cutters have received a government grant

0:48:270:48:32

enabling the purchase of new equipment

0:48:320:48:35

with a scheme now in place to train a new generation of reed cutters.

0:48:350:48:41

Leaving Barton Broad behind, I'm heading to my final destination,

0:48:410:48:45

Great Yarmouth.

0:48:450:48:47

I've arrived at the final spot of my journey, Great Yarmouth, the most easterly town on the Norfolk coast.

0:49:010:49:07

It was the place to which Vice Admiral Horatio Nelson returned victorious

0:49:070:49:12

after the Battle of Copenhagen and the Battle of the Nile.

0:49:120:49:15

Great Yarmouth is also home to a vibrant tourist economy,

0:49:150:49:17

but beyond the buzz of the kiss me quick hats and the candy floss

0:49:170:49:20

came a new excitement in the 1960s at the discovery of the North Sea gas fields.

0:49:200:49:26

I'll be finding out more about that after the Country Tracks weather for the week ahead.

0:49:260:49:32

.

0:51:500:51:57

My journey along the Norfolk coast has taken me

0:52:050:52:08

from King's Lynn through Nelson's birthplace at Burnham Thorpe and the small town of Sheringham.

0:52:080:52:14

I visited the ancient city of Norwich, then took a boat ride through the Norfolk Broads.

0:52:140:52:20

I've now reached my last stop, Great Yarmouth.

0:52:200:52:23

ORGAN MUSIC PLAYS

0:52:240:52:26

Great Yarmouth is well established as a traditional British seaside destination.

0:52:300:52:35

Its bright lights and golden sands make it ever popular with families.

0:52:350:52:39

In the 1960s, Yarmouth also became the unlikely location for a latter-day gold rush

0:52:390:52:45

when natural gas was discovered in the southern North Sea.

0:52:450:52:49

I'm meeting a local man who experienced first hand

0:52:500:52:53

the impact this new industry had on this traditional coastal resort.

0:52:530:52:57

I'd just left school. I intended to be a butcher. I ended up in the merchant navy.

0:52:570:53:02

-How did you get from butcher to Navy?

-An argument with the boss in the shop.

0:53:020:53:07

-Sounds reasonable.

-And ended up, as I say, in the merchant navy.

0:53:070:53:13

In about '67, I'd had enough of going away for a long period of time

0:53:130:53:18

and they were working ships out of here for the gas.

0:53:180:53:21

They were doing two weeks on and a week off. I thought, "I'll have some of that."

0:53:210:53:24

Working from the port here in Great Yarmouth, leaving here and going out to platforms

0:53:240:53:30

and dropping the supplies off or pipes or drill bits or whatever,

0:53:300:53:34

-then returning to Yarmouth.

-You were glad you made the change from the navy to the rigs?

0:53:340:53:38

-Yeah.

-How did Great Yarmouth change at the start of that gas rush?

0:53:380:53:43

Well, I mean, that was...

0:53:430:53:45

There we were fishing one minute and the next minute there was lots of Americans about.

0:53:450:53:51

The whole town really did change.

0:53:510:53:54

Large numbers of skilled workers were required to operate the many rigs appearing in the North Sea.

0:53:540:53:59

Experienced oil prospectors came from Texas to commence the drilling and train the British workers.

0:53:590:54:05

One American who was drawn to Great Yarmouth during the boom years still lives here today.

0:54:050:54:11

You've travelled around the world and you come from America.

0:54:110:54:13

What did you think of the place when you got here?

0:54:130:54:16

It was totally different, a complete culture shock.

0:54:160:54:19

The English people had never worked in the oil industry.

0:54:190:54:22

They didn't know anything about drilling, the technology, the tools, the equipment,

0:54:220:54:26

how to put the programmes together.

0:54:260:54:28

The Americans brought that expertise from the Gulf of Mexico

0:54:280:54:32

and other places around the world.

0:54:320:54:34

What was amazing though, in a short period of time, five to ten years,

0:54:340:54:38

we had many British people who had trained up and were probably better than the Americans they replaced.

0:54:380:54:44

We worked hard, we played hard.

0:54:440:54:47

-We were on seven days a week, 24 hours a day.

-Wow.

0:54:470:54:50

When you had a break, there were a lot of social activities, a bowling league, a softball league,

0:54:500:54:57

different companies put on barbecues at different times.

0:54:570:55:00

When I say a barbecue, they invited everyone in the oil industry from this area,

0:55:000:55:05

so you'd have 50 to 200 people at a company barbecue.

0:55:050:55:09

They were fantastic events. It was a real social network.

0:55:090:55:12

What about the future of the power industry here?

0:55:120:55:15

It's diversifying. The gas in the southern North Sea is not quite depleted,

0:55:150:55:20

but it's certainly not anywhere near the scale it used to be.

0:55:200:55:23

As you can see, behind us, windfarms have been installed.

0:55:230:55:26

There's a lot of future for windfarm installation.

0:55:260:55:30

There's also a lot of wave energy being developed now.

0:55:300:55:34

Yarmouth will play a part in that. It has the infrastructure and technology to support those type of things.

0:55:340:55:40

It's a matter of people getting together to do it.

0:55:400:55:43

After the oil rush, a lot of Americans went back to America, but you stayed.

0:55:430:55:47

-Why did you stay here?

-Mainly because my wife was English and by that time we had set up a home here.

0:55:470:55:53

We had lots of commitments - family, friends and social life.

0:55:530:55:57

Plus I'd been gone so long I don't fit into the American way of life.

0:55:570:56:01

-I'm not quite British and not quite American any more. I'm in between the two.

-An honorary Brit?

0:56:010:56:07

I suppose so. I get to pay all the taxes.

0:56:070:56:11

With the strange story of the Great Yarmouth gas rush, I've reached the end of my journey.

0:56:160:56:22

It's been a journey full of surprises and beautiful seascapes,

0:56:220:56:26

and it's shown me what makes the Norfolk coast a special place.

0:56:260:56:31

Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd

0:56:440:56:47

Ellie Harrison goes on a journey along the Norfolk coast.

En route, she goes fishing for mussels, learns about famous singing postman Alan Smethurst, and goes on the trail of a true local legend, Admiral Lord Nelson.

She ends her journey in Great Yarmouth, with the strange story of the town's 1970s gas rush.