Joe Crowley takes a journey through Cambridgeshire, where he goes punting on the River Cam and searches for elusive glow worms at Cherry Hinton quarry.
Browse content similar to Cambridge. Check below for episodes and series from the same categories and more!
Hello. Today I am on a journey through the low-lying lands of
Cambridgeshire, a county of watery landscapes and historic places, but
also somewhere that is very near to my heart. I begin in Cambridge,
where I will take part in a rather unusual race. I think if this was
golf you might say I am in the rough right now. Then I will
continue along the river to learn about the impact that the Cambridge
University Botanic Garden had on the creation of Charles Darwin's
ultimate theory. I will travel to Cherry Hinton chalk pit to hunt
down the rare sight of a glow worm at night. There is one. Isn't that
incredible? Matt Baker Experiences the wonders of paddle boarding on
Wicken Fen. It is like a fish tank. It is like you're floating on the
top of a giant aquarium. And the secrets of Ely Cathedral bill
revealed -- will be revealed. My journey ends at Old Hurst where I
will meet a Pharma whose diverse -- the there's a vacation plans have a
bit more bite than moss. He came at me face on.
I will also be looking back at the best of the BBC's rural programmes
from this part of the world. Welcome to Country Tracks.
Cambridgeshire is a famously flat part of the country, with the Fens
being the lowest point of the whole of the UK at nine feet below sea
level. With the gently flowing what always unbeatable countryside, it
is easy to see why this has become a county that practically demands
relaxation. And what better way to relax them punting near Cambridge
on the beautiful River Cam? -- relaxed than punting. It is an
image associated with Cambridge - lazy summer days, champagne picnics,
men in straw boaters, and given that I was a student here, one that
is close to my heart. Boy Mark -- Guy Dozer, a plan chauffeur for
nine years, is here to show me the ropes. I am trying to make it go
straight but I see a lot of people zig-zagging. When it is windy you
need to be able to control the board. You can use the pole as a
paddle, ruddering. The other ways to put the pole in at an angle. If
I put the pole in like this, keep the pole parallel with the punt. It
should go in a straight line. all about the slide through the
hand, as easy as you like. You see a few show-offs on the river. What
is their technique? One-handed punting. It slows you down but it
is quite cool. You throw your pole up, catch it and stick it back in.
The only advantage to it is that, if you have a beer or something,
you can hold on to it whilst punting.
So talk me through the punts themselves, it is quite an unusual
boat. It is unusual. It would originally have been used for
fishing on Mures land where water would have been too shallow. They
were also used for reed cutting. It does not have a keel so it only
goes one or two inches into the water, which means that you can
punt over shallow what that you could not Rover. If it is
originally a fishing boat, apostle of -- possibly for rate cut in, how
did it make its way to Oxford? Did they just make it? I do not want to
talk about Oxford! You tend to find that the two often copy each other.
When something becomes popular in Cambridge it will become, gripped -
- popular in Oxford. I think they like to be a little bit different.
Run or counter-intuitively for this leisurely activity is also the
strange tradition of racing pundits. I think it is time to give it ago.
To the next bridge? In yes. Let's try and stay dry. Now it is taking
into business. I am wildly off course. I am not really in control.
Come on! Stuck! I think if this was golf you might say I am in the
rough right now. I think I would be quicker swimming, to be honest.
And where my punting journey ends, John Craven's began in February
2009 when he took to the water to explore the colleges of Cambridge
University. Cambridge started when a group of
scholars fled here from Oxford after protesting about a hanging.
And, as the university grew, so did its influence on both Thailand and
countryside, with many colleges pawning large stretches of farm
land. And what better way to get a feel for the place than taking a
punt right down Cambridge's river, the River Cam. Alan Dickinson is my
guide. This bridge belongs to St John's College, it is the Bridge of
Sighs. It is a replica of the Bridge of Sighs in Venice. The
students live on the right-hand side of the river and do their
exams on the left, so as they walk across the side, wishing they had
worked harder. -- they sigh. Before Trinity College came along, 35
years after St John's College started, St Johns was the biggest,
best and wealthiest, and for that reason these two colleges have a
huge rivalry. Who is the Richard? Who is the wealthiest, the biggest,
the best? We all know that Trinity College is. St John's have never
been too happy with that. They built this college purely as a show
of wealth. Trinity College are incredibly wealthy. They have
assets worth well over �2.6 billion. A lot of that is in a land. What
about famous students? Sir Isaac Newton. He studied mathematics here.
Prince Charles came here, studied architecture. He was remembered for
saying how he did not want to be treated any differently from any
other student. This is Clare College, funded by Lady Elizabeth
de Clare. It is the second oldest college in Cambridge, dates back to
1326. Lady Elizabeth de Clare was an interesting when ritual -- an
interesting woman. She was very wealthy and her wealth came from
the fact that she had been married and widowed three times by that age
was 27. Presumably to rich men. Each one was wealthy and each one
died mysteriously, so she acquired the nickname of the Black Widow.
The next college you can see, a very famous college, King's College.
It was founded in 1441 by King Henry VI because he wanted
somewhere for his boys from Eton school to go on to to further their
studies. It must be rather nice, if you're looking for a place for your
children to go to school, to be able to build somewhere like that.
And which bridge is this one? This is famously non and as the
mathematically bridge. Queen's College, at their wooden bridge.
The most famous story is that it was designed and built by Sir Isaac
Newton himself. Originally the bridge had no nuts or bolts. It was
a completely free-standing structure. The legend goes that, a
few years later, the Master of the college was a way for the weekend.
And the students were fascinated as to how the bridge when together.
They did what men do, when they do not understand something they take
it apart. They then could not put it back together again. That is why
it has nuts and bolts in it. Was it actually designed by Isaac Newton?
It was not. You're Cambridge born- and-bred, Allen. What is it like
living in a city that is so dominated by the University? It is
interesting, there is a distinct divide between what we call the
town and the gown. If you went back a few years it is very much
dominated by the universities. It has levelled itself but. And the
town and the gown live well together, in my opinion.
My trip ends at Darwin College, named after the student who change
the way we think about the natural world. It is 150 years this year
since the publication of this book. This is a first edition. It is
Charles Darwin's On The Origin Of Species, the book which introduced
the world to the concept of evolution through natural selection.
Darwin wrote his controversial book 30 years after his time as an
undergraduate at Christ's College, but his interest in natural science
started here. Now the college has commissioned a statue of him, to be
unveiled later this week. So this is Charles Darwin at the age of...
About 22, his last year at Christ's before leaving a few months later,
joining the Beagle and sailing round the world.
We're not used to seeing anything of him at this age, are we? No, it
is always the elderly man with the big white beard. I thought it would
be nice to show him as a younger students. How do you know that he
would have looked like that at 22? There is reference material for him,
it is fairly few and far between. There is a famous watercolour
portrait of him in his 30s. That was quite an important reference
point. This is the clay model that you worked on for top exactly.
is at the foundry being cast in bronze. It will be unveiled on the
bicentenary. You're a student here, is this your first big commission?
Yes. It is nice for me because the reason why I apply to come here in
particular was after reading On The Origin Of Species when I was 16.
That triggered my whole passion for natural sciences. I ended up at his
old college. Darwin came to Christ's College
Cambridge and, although he was supposed to be studying theology,
he spent a lot of time that my next stop - the botanic garden. Darwin
had a fascination with plants and the study of botany. Through this
interest, he developed a friendship with botany professor John Stevens
Henslow. He introduced jar -- Darwin to the concept of variation
within species and how species could vary depending on their
environment. I am here to meet Dr Tim Upson, curator of the Botanic
Garden, to find out about the influence that John Stevens Henslow
had on Darwin. At the time, public was very much of the opinion that
God put species and creatures on earth. Why he's variation so
important to John Stevens Henslow and Charles Darwin? What is it that
they are seeing in the significance of trees that are quite similar but
basically different? John Stevens Henslow gave Darwin some of his
ideas, which ultimately translated into On The Origin Of Species. One
of the key concepts is the importance of variation. Variation,
evolution, survival of the fittest and things change in that way, not
just created by God. So it is John Stevens Henslow who planted that
seed in Darwin's mind? That is a good way of putting it. Just to
give a visual representation of what we're talking about. We have
different examples of the black pine. We see one from the Alps,
with downward sloping brunches, possibly to shed the snow. Then
there is another example of the same species that is different in
its habits. The Alpine one has low sloping branches to get rid of the
snow and the Mediterranean one has branches turned towards the sun to
catch the light? Yes. You accept variation as something
that is naturally occurring. You expect to see it and understand it.
Back then, they would not have had the same view and the idea of the
world as we have today. We do have those ideas and they are
represented here. The Botanic Gardens had been kept going and,
thanks to John Stevens Henslow laying it out and keep in it going?
Yes, this is one of the magnificent legacies, of the ideas that were
embodied here and these magnificent, It was John Stevens Henslow who
recommended Charles Darwin joined the crew of the Beagle on his
voyage around the world. This was to lay the foundation for his
famous The Origin Of The Species. Charles Darwin may have sailed
around the world, but on mac Baker's trip to this region, he
took to the water on a different type of craft.
These were once bustling, transporting goods from defendants
to Cambridge Andy Lee. But now, they are peaceful backwaters. A
small oasis for budding sports men. I have got my shorts on, and I am
holding a paddle, because I am going for a different view, not
from a boat, but from a board. The surface not up. But this is what
the best places -- one of the best ways to see this place. This man
runs tours with a difference. Working alongside staff here, he
helps visitors to enjoy the reserve in a very own traditional way. How
are you doing? Very well. The man of the reeds! Es! This is an
unusual way of getting around. when people see it for the first
time, they are surprised, but it is a fantastic way to see the fence.
have got my board, so I will put my buoyancy aid on. You need to stand
with your legs slightly bent, which will keep your feet flat on the
board. You need to keep looking ahead, and both feet pointing
forward. Is it quite stable? chances of falling in of very low.
It is flat water, hardly any wind, so you will get on great. Crack
your paddle. Is it quite deep? is about a foot deep. If you put
your right foot onto the board near the handle... Spread your feet out
a bit now. That is pretty good. Keep your knees bent. That is your
first lesson! Keep your knees bent, a look ahead, you will be fine.
is quite responsive. Very much so. Keep paddling, keep your knees bent.
If you keep looking ahead, you should be able to see down through
the water, so you will be able to see the fish. We are going! It is
like a fish tank. Yes, that is what most people say when I take them
for a paddle. It feels like you are floating along the top of a giant
aquarium. If you want to improve on your technique, because we are
going to cover a fair distance, keep your bottom arm straight and
push away with your top hand. That starts to use the muscles in your
shoulder and your back. Where does it originate from? It feels quite
tribal. Man of the jungle! It comes from her way. When they were
teaching at surfing lessons, they found it easier to stand up,
because he could see where the waves were coming from. You must
come across lots of wildlife. You creep up. You also silent. Yes, we
paddle from spring through to autumn, said you see the migrating
Nature that comes through. What big fish have you got? We have got pike
and perch. You will see a lot of DU fancy a go?! It is almost like
meditation. Yes, because you are having to think about what you are
doing, you cannot think of anything else. It completely relaxes the
mind. Have you noticed the dragonflies? They are darting
around all over the show. It is around here that you will often
find a pike. You will come across some greener plants, small tufts.
They are quite low down. The pipe will be floating above them there.
The stripes are not as random as the other plants that are in there,
We are just coming up to one of the bird-watching towers. As we come
alongside, you will notice there are holes in the side. The
woodpeckers have seen it as a giant tree. The vandals have been picking
their way through! Talking of wildlife, look what we have got!
How are you doing? You are looking very good! I knew he would get it
sorted! Howl is it going? I am really enjoying it. I have had a go
for three minutes, it is like being on a door on the water! Shall I go
overboard?! Feet wide apart? And bend the knees? There we go.
lot doing it! Avoid the lilies! Look at you! It is coming back to
me! Where I'll be going to go? Let's head up there. Have you seen
any eels? No, but it is like gliding on the top of an aquarium.
I could be wearing a long skirt to do this in!
What a relaxing and peaceful way to enjoy the area.
I have left the water behind and travelled to Cherry Hinton Nature
Reserve, where I have come to look for an unusual creature. Cherry
Hinton is a strange place. It almost feels like another planet,
especially at dusk, which is when I have chosen to ride. Until the
1980s, this was a working quarry that provided hard chalk and live
for the University College in Cambridge. After the quarry's fell
into disuse, the Emir was left wild and unloved. -- every year. But
then the local wildlife trust bought it and began work to reclaim
the land for wildlife. I am here to look for in mysterious creature
that is almost impossible to find in the daytime. I have got to wait
for might fall for the search to begin. -- wait for nightfall. The
glow worm is the stuff of fairy- tales, and seeing one is a rare
opportunity that Moro Watson -- Laura Watson is here to help me to
fill. Why are we looking for glow- worms? It seems barren and Luna,
the landscape. Yes, but the glow worms really like the rough
grassland around the edges. They eat snails. There is an awful lot
of snails. The open areas are really good for the glow worms when
they are blowing, because they want to be as obvious as possible. That
is so they can attract a mate. night falls, our search begins for
the aversive -- elusive glowworm. We are scanning all corners in the
hope of spotting a magical glow. We are not actually looking for a
worm? Not at all. They are Beatles. How big? What sort of shape? They
are an inch long. The females look like a grub. The adult males look
like a black beetle. But they are hard to spot, because the males do
not gloat. They can be spotted in many different areas the crops --
across Great Britain, but they only glow in June and July. Where are we
looking? They like rough, grassy areas, generally. But in this
reserve, we have seen them out in the open. They could be anywhere!
When you look for them, do you know little hot spots? Yes. That will
help! They do not have to be near something they will eat? Not at all.
The adults do not eat. The glow- worms only eat as larvae, said they
have two years eating as many slugs and snails as possible, so they
grow big and strong, and turn into adults for a couple of weeks, the
time it takes to make -- to mate. They have big pincers. They nicked
the slugs and snails and inject an Ensign in, and they turn into a
soup, and the larvae can eat them up. Where do you think we might get
lucky? Our best bet is to head over here, towards the shorter grass.
That is where they were saying last night. That is a good tip! As our
search of the Grand intensifies, I am beginning to think we will never
spot one. Until... There is one! Fishes. There is his! -- there it
is! That is incredible. She has raised herself up, to be as visible
as possible. Yes, she will spend the day on ground level, but when
she glows, she wants to be as obvious as possible to potential
mates. What is it that makes her a blow like that? It is a chemical
reaction. It is a molecule which reacts with oxygen. The light is
the energy from that reaction. has not eaten in her current form,
so this is stored up energy which burns so brightly. As well as
attracting a mate, the glowing at the men is a warning to predators
to stay away. Glow-worms taste bad, and they contain chemicals that
cause vomiting. It is difficult to explain to people who are not here
how bright it is, because we have got a camera light, but is it
possible to hold her? She will be fine. I will gently just coax her
on to my hand. I would describe that like a lady, it is that kind
of light. Have we got a spare camera battery? This is
unscientific! But we have this light. We can see how it looks for
comparison. She has done very well, she has kept going for us! We will
gently let her go back onto a bit of grass. If we were to stay here
for the next couple of weeks, we would see a male can in? They fly
really low over the ground, searching for the females' glow
wind. When she has her wicked way, where will she go? She will lay her
eggs on the ground level and die. Shrivel up next to them, her
mission is over! Quite a glorious two weeks. Yes, it is worth it.
little further north, the home to one of the most spectacular
cathedrals in England. Ely Cathedral is indeed a magnificent
building. It is often known as the ship of the Fens, due to its
prominence in a flat and watery landscape. It is huge. The main
body of the building is 75 metres long. It is the longest nave in
Britain. But it is not the size of this beautiful building that is of
interest. Michael White shares with us the secrets of Ely Cathedral.
The parts of it that you would overlook, and that most people do
not even know are there. This is the Prior's door, an elegant door,
built around 1135, we think. It is at the sacred boundary off the
monastery. And the rough and tumble of the world outside. We think it
is Jesus warning us to be careful of the rough-and-tumble. It seems
to concentrate on the lighter side of life. Is that a kiss? Is that
somebody drinking? That is a man playing a harp. At the base, we can
see two little men In A Boat, throwing in opposite directions,
perhaps an example of modern This is one of my favourite spaces
in Ely Cathedral. The atmosphere is absolutely tremendous. It is the
Lady Chapel. It was built for the worship of the Virgin Mary and it
is probably one of the very largest of the Lady Chapels in Britain. It
is 100 feet long, 46 ft wide. The idea was that pilgrims would come
here for a final service. They would be surrounded, as if in the
ante Room To Heaven, with 147 statues. It was damaged because,
once the Reformation had a cart, Protestant religion had begun, Sts'
statues, pictures of the Saints in the windows were thought to be
idolatrous and inappropriate. So they were smashed. All of these
statues of the saints that you can see have had their heads removed.
One of the curious features about the Lady Chapel is that it has some
elements of previous religions, previous beliefs. One element, just
up here, is a figure of a green man. You can see the tendril of by be
coming out of is. He seems to represent the force of the forest,
some kind of ancient belief in the vigour of life. But it does seem
rather strange that all of the statues around us lost their heads
but Our Green man is still quite untouched. This is a wonderful,
like space now, but in the Middle Ages, with stained glass all round,
it was probably quite subdued. The piece of stained glass behind me is
really made up of remnants that had gathered in one place to give an
impression of what the whole chapel might have looked like if all of
the glass had remained. It is remarkable stained-glass in that it
contains pictures of ordinary folk - peasants with their Pudsey and
their pointy shoes, and armed men in Armagh that has been dated to
almost exactly 1325. -- armour. I am sitting in one of the alcoves
of the Lady Chapel and a of May there is a little stoned joke.
There is a smiley man. If you manage to look up and at the back
of him, he is a miserable man. One of the virtues of this huge
enclosed space is the acoustics that they created us up if I clap
you can hear that the Ecole lasts for something like seven seconds. -
- the echo. The effect of singing in the Lady Chapel is enhanced in a
magical way. Just down the road from the secrets
of Ely Cathedral, Jennie Docherty found out all about the stress ball
world of celery farming on Wicken Fen.
Wicken Fen is one of the only remnants of the original wetland
wilderness. This is what the Fens would have looked like and this is
0.1% of what were originally was here. It is a shame because we have
lost a wilderness. It is this watery environment that has created
Today much of the rich farmland is giving up to big horticulture. This
company grows 75% of all the celery that we eat. I am signing on for
the day as a picker. In this kind of farming your workforce is key.
And like so much of modern British agriculture, the company relies on
migrant workers. How are you getting on, guys? 2,000 agriculture
students from all over Europe arrive every year to plant and
harvest their crops. We will get the bikes and get going, OK? What
do you mean bikes? We are very environmentally friendly. Here is
my boss. -- Kier. Is it always a race in the morning to see who gets
there first? There is a competitive nature amongst some of the male
The company's masterstroke has been to invent a machine that takes full
advantage of the manpower. They have designed unique rigs that turn
handbagging into an outdoor production line. Inside these
mobile factories they can trim, or wash and pack the celebrate in the
field. -- celery. If I am slow and do not get paid as much, I might
also hold back these guys. Cutting Celery - just how tough can it be?
As you pull it, it was the blade round -- twist the blade. You use
these for a secondary process. They go on the bottom conveyor, the butt
should look like that. It is really fast. Don't forget, you get 3p for
every one of these. So, like that? No! You have just cost us money.
You have ruined the whole thing. That all has to go on there, then?
Today's schedule is to cut 40,000 sticks of celery. With all the rigs
working at full capacity, that is 1.6 million sticks a week. There is
a lot of pressure in this job. That's right. I don't think about
This machine weighs about 30 tonnes and that is continually moving
forward at walking speed. -- and it is. If you are slow it pushes you
forward. And you have to do this for how many hours? 10. 10 ours.
You have to be tough. -- 10 hours. There is not much conversation
because we are all plug into making money. They cannot afford to have
fag breaks or anything like that. I would not mind a couple of them on
the farm! The truth behind it is that if you do not have these guys
working here it forms all run the country how are we going to get the
food to the supermarket at the right price? Without these workers
we would have to import food. We could not do it otherwise. Jimmy,
come here. Just as I am getting the hang of it, my supervisor moves me
on to driving the rig. This means that everyone will have to work at
my speed. Keep cutting. I have to cut as well? Yes. You set the pace.
Making 3p on every stick they cat, the fastest teams can double their
wage. Look how long my line is. This is really stressful because
they are all waiting on my speed, and I am behind anyway. I am coming,
I am coming! We want to cut! It is not long before all hell
breaks loose. TAPPING I am under pressure.
Not only am I losing money, I am losing the crop as well. Before I
can do any more damage, Chela pulls me out to show me the rest of the
operation. -- Kier. The celery moves to the upstairs to
Ayr of the rig. -- tier. The celery is lost in ice-cold water, bringing
its temperature down, conserving its freshness. That is the finished
product? That is it. They are ready to go to the supermarket. It goes
in this tray and it is done. Off it goes, fresh as a daisy. That's it,
finished. The celery can be on the
supermarket shelf within hours. There are lots of tough farming
jobs being done by migrant workers. And although the number of Eastern
European as is now starting to go down, the face of our farm labour
force is changing. I would like to buy a laptop. He is planning to
earn something like �3,000. long will that take him? Three
months. How long would it take at home? About eight months. So it is
well paid here? Compared to warm, yes. And he will put his money into
agriculture when he goes back on? For sure. -- back home? Many of the
students come here to work and then go home to set up their own
businesses. There are over 1,500 people engaged in agriculture here.
It is great seeing this youth and this vibrant. There is no doubt
that the abuse of modern workers does go on. Here, without it, this
business just would not survive. What these guys are doing is
amazing. OK, there is big machinery but they have used technology to
come and harvest everything and packet in the field. It is as fresh
as a daisy. You get something like that that has been picked out of
the ground and then, in six minutes, it is in a packet and on the shelf
and the same day. That his genius. At the end of a long, hard day's
picking, I earned �60. Aren't you the guy who is saving up for the
laptop? OK, guys, here is some beer. Cheers!
Amazing, the speed at which those guys can work. I am on my way to a
completely different type of farm, or one with much more snap than a
stick of celery. We have all heard of farm diversification where
farmers supplement their traditional livelihood with new
money-making ventures. One local farmer has taken this to a whole
new level. In a moment I am going to get up close and personal with
one of the most dangerous predators on the planet. First, the weather
Hello. We are still heading for one of the warmest Novembers on record.
The weather pattern has changed in the last week - more mobility and
more unsettled weather. That is the way it is going to stay over the
week ahead. We will find showers or longer spells of rain coupled with
spells of strong or even gale-force winds. The weather that we have had
in the last 24-hours is pulling away and heading to Scandinavia. It
is an improving story for the rest of the day as the winds become
lighter and we get more sunshine. There are still some showers in
Northern Ireland. It will feel colder than yesterday, called a in
Scotland, too. -- colder. More sunshine for the eastern side of
Scotland. Showers in the West. There may be some rain dripping
into the Midlands. Much more sunshine east of the Pennines and a
sunny afternoon in East Anglia and the south-east. The wind will be
lightest in the south-west. It will be generally dry and sunny across
most of Wales. The wind continued to ease. Where we have clear skies,
temperatures will fall quickly overnight. The wind will fresh and
again and blow more cloud into Northern Ireland and Scotland,
lifting temperatures. There will be a widespread ground frost across
England and Wales. Many rural areas will be below freezing. Maybe some
mist and fog in the south-east of England first thing. Tomorrow the
story is one of freshening south to south-westerly winds, blowing in
more cloud and patchy rain. Their heaviest will be in western
Scotland later. It gets even windier on Monday night and into
Tuesday. And it gets wetter as these weather front become aligned
in the north-west. Another 70 mm of rain in Scotland on Tuesday.
Because of that we have an early warning that there could be some
local flooding. Some strong winds will blow when milder rare. -- will
There will be some sunshine allow up -- around on Wednesday,
particularly in the east. Showers are more likely in the West. Some
of those could be wintery in Scotland, and not just on the hills.
We move into a time of uncertainty towards the end of the week as we
head to Thursday. Low pressure is on the scene, lot of pressure
fronts. A lot of doubt about the detail. Essentially it looks like
Thursday could be pretty wet. A lot of heavy rain around. As that
clears from the north-west of Scotland, we may briefly see a
spell of snow. Colombe pressure -- the low pressure responsible for
that pulls away and we have just a brief respite on Friday. There is
another low pressure coming in from the Atlantic. December could turn a
bit chillier than we have been used to. More rain to come in the week
ahead and it will still be Today, I have been travelling
through Cambridgeshire. In Cambridge, I enjoyed a relaxing
punt along the River Cam and learned about Charles Darwin's time
at university. A captured the sight of a group -- glow worm at Cherry
Hinton, and the secrets of Ely Cathedral were revealed, but now I
am at Old Hurst, about to meet some extraordinary farm animals.
This farm has been in the family since 1898, but it was the BSE
crisis that forced Andy Johnson to diversify. He has been looking for
a suitable alternative to cattle, and he thinks he may have found it.
It is not pigs. It is for more unusual. -- far more. It is dinner-
time at Old Hurst, and Andy has the unenviable task of feeding his four
Nile crocodiles. I am not quite sure what to make of this! Argue a
few sandwiches short of a picnic?! I have brought them in for waste
disposal and for production of high-quality meat. Along with that,
crocodiles are one of the few animals with no by-product. The
skin is useful, there is demand for the scales, and you will always
have a demand for crocodile teeth. Everything is saleable. Is it
dangerous? It must be dangerous. Working with all livestock is
dangerous. You know that they can be a threat, so you are more alert.
I always carry this board. They could bite through it, but if I
stood here without it, he could lock on my leg. An easy target. You
stand behind a shield, you feel happy. I do not know if I would
feel happy! They are not just one of the largest and most dangerous
types of crocodile, they are one of the planet's most lethal predators.
They mainly live in Asia and Africa. They are responsible for killing
hundreds of humans every year. Let's get a bit of meat. What is it
you are feeding? Editor of rabbit and pork. We always try to
encourage them to come quite high, because it gives you a good chance
to inspect their belly, make sure the Health and everything is fine.
It is the only time of the week you can play with them. Where did you
learn all of this? They were not quite so big when we got them! We
learned on small animals. Have they ever bitten you? Since they have
been this size, we have been lucky. If it will bite, it will take
something off. The teeth work like the perforations on your car tax
disc. They break the skin, and they twist and take a mouthful off, is
it to swallow. They cannot chew like a dog. This Mail decided that
they would have a fight, and I could see our investment disappear,
so I waded in, I grabbed their tails, and he turned around, his
mouth wide open, and came at me. 18 inches from my face, he stopped
dead. I believe they have got a certain amount of respect for us.
Nothing else give you a kick to work with it. It is satisfying with
cows and pigs, but to work with these, it is the ultimate buzz, you
feel there is more of an When you are talking about waste
products, you feed them all sorts from the farm, what sort of things?
From the poultry industry, if you are taking chicken breasts of,
you're left with a carcass, which is mainly bone, but with flesh on
it. They can take backbone, digest it, and turn it back into meat.
They can use what no other animal can. They Digest bone? Bones and
teeth. Their stomach acid is the strongest known. They have not
killed any crocodiles on site, but you do sell crocodile meat? We buy
some from South Africa or Zimbabwe. It has proved quite popular. The
best way to protect any animal is to make it acceptable on the table.
Cows, pigs, sheep, anything we eat, it never becomes endangered.
finish feeding them, and then we What to most people expect? They do
not think it will be like this? That is the problem, everybody
thinks it will be red meat. They are shocked at to see that it looks
like fish. Very high protein. Some research believes this is what
changed monkey into man, the rich protein, that helped develop the
brain. Where is it eaten? Not in the northern hemisphere, but pretty
much everywhere else, Africa, Asia, Australia, South America. The
southern states of North America as well. It has been a while since I
had this. I remembered it was the texture of fish. It is like fish
with the texture of pork, and very mild in flavour. It responds well
to marinading. It is good, it is dense. I cannot quite put my finger
on what it tastes like. It varies. We are not slaughtering our own,
this was produced in Zimbabwe. This is fed on fish waste, which gives
it a fishy flavour. We have had some South Africa and, which was
fed more chicken and pork. That had a totally different flavour. So,
the diet plays a big park. Is it up there with your pork sausages?
Nothing ever beats sirloin steak, but that is the only meat to be
knighted in history! With this being the first and only crocodile
farm in the UK, it is an experimental journey. He has not
been able to hatch a viable egg, but with eight currently in the
incubator, maybe this will be his year. To be able to get the meat we
were tasting, you have to be able to breed them. How hard is it?
got through the first stage, the Mail has been copulating with the
females, and they can lay eggs. Now, we have to teach ourselves to hatch
the X. We need to run at 98, 99% humidity. If we go over that, which
ran the embryos and we try them out. And, choosing the right temperature.
The first ones we had, we want to keep them for breeding stock.
temperature of the eight dictates the sex of the baby crocodile?
That is amazing. Can we have a look? The main thing that, once
they are laid, they are kept at the same angle and not handled. These
are 90 days, the incubation period. They only have a few more weeks
before they are due to hatch, but if they are viable, the crocodiles
that will emerge will only be the length of a pencil. You have got no
idea how this is going? You are just hoping? We had bandying around
the outside in the early days, the centre of the aid going a different
colour from the ends, which are supposed to be a sign of fertility,
but 90 days is a long time to wait. If we have done anything wrong in
that process, we could have written them off all. It could be another
10 years to get it right. Good luck!
My journey has come to an end. I cannot believe what I found. From
beautiful waterways and wildlife to incredible history. This
fascinating county has more to offer than anybody could imagine.
What a lovely journey, Cambridge it is somewhere I am fond of all. It
Joe Crowley takes a journey through Cambridgeshire. Starting out in Cambridge on the River Cam, Joe begins with a lesson in punting, before visiting the university botanic gardens to discover their impact on Charles Darwin's theories. Next stop is a late night visit to Cherry Hinton quarry, where Joe searches for the elusive glow worms reputed to live there. After a glimpse of Ely cathedral, Joe's final destination is Old Hurst, where he meets a farmer whose diversification plans have more bite than the average smallholding.