Countryfile visits Northern Ireland, where HM the Queen took her first official tour to celebrate her coronation. Almost 60 years later, Matt Baker takes the same train journey.
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Captivating, unspoiled and tranquil.
Lough Neagh in Northern Ireland.
At more than 150 square miles,
it's the largest freshwater lake in the British Isles.
So naturally, it's rich in wildlife.
I'll be island-hopping across the lough
to find out which animals call this place home,
which are unwelcome visitors,
and which are very welcome, swimming thousands of miles to get here.
It was to the east of the lough, in Lisburn,
that the Queen chose for her first official tour after her Coronation.
Now, nearly 60 years on,
I'm about to embark on the same train journey as Her Majesty did.
She travelled under the power of steam,
but I've got a brand-spanking-new one to play with
with some very special passengers.
Across the Irish Sea, Tom's racing through Norfolk.
There's little better than a walk or even a run in the countryside.
I certainly love it. But how much of our land is truly accessible
and what happens if your route becomes a bit of an obstacle course?
Meanwhile, Adam's been looking for a new recruit.
Take a look at this young fella. He's an Irish Moiled bull.
I'm going to be checking him over, and if he comes up trumps,
I might fork out the cash and buy him.
But bulls like this don't come cheap.
Lough Neagh, and the rolling hills of County Antrim.
The glittering green jewel in the United Kingdom's crown.
Wide skies, big horizons, and a patchwork of fields.
Today, we are exploring this vast body of water
and the nearby countryside.
For my first stop, I'm heading east of the lough to Lisburn,
where, in 1952, they celebrated the Queen's Coronation in style.
'All over the Commonwealth, the start of a new Elizabethan era
'captured the imagination of the people.
'And nowhere more than in Lisburn.'
But it wasn't until a year later,
on the Queen's first official tour after her Coronation,
that the people of Lisburn got to meet her.
The streets were heaving with people eager to catch a glimpse
of Her Majesty and Prince Philip.
And there was one local lad
who was particularly keen to get a good view.
Harold Patterson captured the Royal visit on his cine-film camera.
Nearly 60 years on,
he is the last surviving member of the Lisburn Camera Club.
I'm meeting him at Lisburn station,
just one of the places he filmed the new Queen.
This is the camera, then, that you were filming the big day on?
-It's a beautiful thing.
-This is the camera.
Yes, that's it. It's lovely.
And it takes perfect photographs.
-16 millimetre cine camera.
-Big job for a 23-year-old!
-Did you feel the pressure that day?
I got the plane coming in, landing.
And I got her coming down from the plane.
People didn't understand how I got in to take these photographs,
because I was 15 feet from the Queen.
I got this pass, of course, to get in.
I love this, cos it says on here,
"Please facilitate Mr Harold Patterson,
"who wishes to take cine photos of the Royal visit."
And then the policeman of the day has added in fountain pen,
-"To a reasonable..."
-Yes. Well, no. He was...
'The policeman of the day was in fact the Chief Inspector of Antrim,
'an old family friend.'
I said to him one day,
"Can I get a pass to take photographs of the Queen?"
-He said he would see what he could do.
-And a few days later, I got this.
Harold's film has become a valuable historical record.
Not just of the Queen's reign, but also for the city of Lisburn.
But Harold's press pass wasn't quite access-all-areas.
One place that was out of bounds was aboard the Queen's train itself,
departing from Lisburn station.
But we're going to put that right
and relive the day with Harold on board our own special train.
Now, just have a look at this.
It's the actual Royal itinerary of the Royal train ride.
So the Queen would have received one of these,
as would all of the officials.
Just to keep everything on time.
And on the back, you can see a map of the route.
So the Queen started down here in Lisburn,
went all the way up to Londonderry, also known as Derry.
But this first little section here, up to Antrim, is no longer in use.
However, today we have been given special permission
to recreate the Royal tour in a brand-spanking-new train.
And as there's a few extra seats,
I've invited along some VIP passengers for a tea party.
-Now then, everyone, how are we doing, all right?
Nice to see you. Who's pouring?
I'm dying for a cup of tea.
At a time when television was only just emerging,
a Royal visit was the ultimate celebrity moment.
Harold has put his camera away as we retrace the royal route.
Also coming along for the ride are some of the local people
who turned out on the day,
as Her Majesty passed through the Northern Irish countryside.
It was a great occasion and the crowds gathered.
It was wonderful, in the middle of your town...
-And who did you go with?
-I went with my mother and my sister.
My mother had her basket with her and it got in everybody's way.
It was a nuisance.
So she stood in it herself and she thought it was wonderful.
She stood in the basket?
She stood in the basket with the handle in between her feet
so that nobody could stand on her feet. Which was wonderful!
Then you were there as a Girl Guide?
I was a Girl Guide. Very excited.
I was 12 years of age and hadn't been long joined the Guides.
And, in fact,
that's the very badge that I wore the day that she was here.
I'm very proud and wouldn't like to lose it.
So, was everybody pleased to see the Queen here?
Yes, everybody was so pleased
for the Queen to be coming to Northern Ireland.
There wasn't any bad feeling?
Oh, no, I never witnessed any of that at all. Everybody was out.
Now then, how is everything going over here? All right?
-It's a sentimental journey for me.
-This line is closed usually.
And so it's over 60 years ago when I came along here.
So you're enjoying yourself? What do you remember of the day, then?
-Did you get to see the Queen yourself?
-Yes, I did.
People came in at a very early hour to get a good view.
-And the whole countryside came into the town that day.
QUEEN ELIZABETH II: 'May the future bring peace, contentment
'and true happiness for the people of Northern Ireland.'
Well, while we carry on reminiscing and enjoying the scones,
Tom is down in Norfolk,
finding out just how many things can get in the way
of a great day out in the countryside.
With British landscape as beautiful as this,
it's no wonder that outdoor pursuits are becoming increasingly popular.
We can now roam across thousands of square miles of open land,
cycle, ramble over hills,
Or even running,
which is something I like to get out and do occasionally,
on the over 100,000 miles
of public access there is around this country.
The trouble is, sometimes getting through is not without its problems.
It's fine having official rights of way,
but what if those paths are blocked?
Like here. I know the path runs across this field,
but the farmer's left it pretty indistinct.
I think it does go just here, but it's pretty overgrown.
Still, I've got the right.
I have that right thanks to thousands of people
who've campaigned for public rights of way,
and that now-famous mass protest 80 years ago
on Kinder Scout in the Peak District.
But rights are worth little if you can't use the paths.
I'm supposed to be meeting a group of ramblers somewhere around here
who are going to tell me what's going on.
I think this is the path that I'm supposed to be able to get down.
Here we go.
'I'm struggling through this overgrown trail
'to find Alan Jones
'and other members of the Norfolk Area Ramblers.
'They're frequently frustrated
'at finding public paths that are difficult,
'or sometimes impossible to get through.'
Nice to see you. I can see you're doing some good works along here,
cos my legs are tingling from pushing through the nettles.
Well, you've got to try and get out of the nettles.
-So I've got to help you out, haven't I, by trampling myself?
God, this is supposed to be an open-access footpath?
This is a footpath which should be a nice clear surface to walk on.
How exceptional is it,
or is it unfortunately quite typical, this state?
This is exceptional in as much as, for another reason,
because the gate at the far end of this path has been locked,
and you can't get access from the other end.
This path has just not been used, which means that
the normal wear and tear that you get from traffic,
people walking through, hasn't been here at all.
I have tried to walk it on several occasions,
and it's just got worse and worse.
And this, OK, is difficult,
but if you get to a stile like this,
you know, you've got a real struggle on your hands.
'Badly-maintained stiles are a particular problem for ramblers.'
'This one's rotting and missing a step.'
I'm going to be cheeky here and get you to do the agility test.
-Would you mind giving it a go for me?
-Thank you very much.
As you say, it's an agility test.
I've got to get up onto this one, I've got to get my leg over here,
-balance back on that one, and get round here.
And if you'll forgive me,
quite a few people who enjoy the countryside
are more elderly citizens than yourself, indeed.
And getting a leg up over that is quite a hard ask, isn't it?
I brought my wife here two or three weeks ago
to show her what the path was like, and she just could not get over it.
'I think Alan means the stile, rather than the shock.
'But there are plenty of other obstacles on British paths
'that Alan's wife may well struggle with.
'In Norfolk alone, ramblers have identified hundreds of paths
'they want to see improved.'
Wow. This is intriguing.
'On this path, the ramblers feel
'that the hedge has been allowed to get out of control.'
'But what about the man who's responsible for it,
'local farmer Johnny Cave?'
Washpit Drove is its official name,
but it goes from anything from Green Lane,
to the Secret Path, to the Magic Path.
And one of the attractive things about the path
is that in certain places along the path,
you've got a complete overhang.
So you've got a lovely tunnel to walk through.
We did have a request a number of years ago to cut that back.
So that we would end up with two straight hedges
and a path going through the middle.
And I think, quite rightly, there was a lot of people
that didn't want that to happen, me included.
So what some people see as a bit of a problem,
others see as an asset, as a beautiful thing about this path?
-Quite a difficult balance, isn't it?
It's a very difficult balance,
and nobody wants to have hygienic paths all round the country,
straight lines and tarmac surfaces.
But what we do want is to be able to go through the path on a horse,
on a cycle, walking, without having the branches in the face.
'But it's not all down to the landowner anyway.
'Local authorities have a responsibility
'to make sure public rights of way are clear.
'So I've asked Norfolk County Councillor Bill Borrett
'to explain why this one isn't.'
Well, it's this time of year, we've had a month's rain,
-everything's growing very fast.
We have 2,500 miles of footpaths.
They can't cut them all on the same day.
But isn't it your job
to make sure this is a bit more walkable than it is?
Well, we've walked through it perfectly OK.
I'm very keen to see as many of the paths as open as possible.
You're right, we can walk through,
but my legs are tingling from the nettles,
and maybe you think I'm inadequately dressed,
but it's quite a tough walk through there, isn't it?
Well, I don't disagree that it is quite overgrown,
but it's not obstructed.
And what about this stile and this gate here?
I mean, it is quite a barrier.
It's quite difficult for people to get over. Is that adequate?
Well, I would prefer to see another foot on that stile.
As soon as we get to hear about problems like this,
the County Council enforcement team can get in touch with the landowner
and get these sort of problems sorted out.
It looks like there was another foot there at some stage,
but it's not been repaired.
'The worry is that as budgets are cut,
'councils across Britain simply won't have the money
'to monitor or maintain the many thousands of miles
'of public rights of way.'
Having the right of access to British farmland
is one of the great assets of our countryside.
I certainly really enjoy it.
But as we've seen, it does come with some tensions.
And in the next few years,
many, many more miles of route are expected to be opened up.
And later, I'll be finding out what impact that'll have.
At 20 miles long and 12 miles wide,
Loch Neagh is not just
Northern Ireland's biggest body of fresh water.
It's the largest lake in the whole of the UK.
There are countless legends about how this place was formed,
including one where the giant Finn McCool, in a rage,
scooped up a handful of earth and flung it into the Irish Sea.
What landed became the Isle Of Man,
while the hollow left behind became Loch Neagh.
At 153 square miles, with 75 miles of shoreline,
the loch is simply breathtakingly vast.
But peppered around the loch are about 250 islands.
They vary in size, but I'm heading to the biggest - Rams Island.
Nobody's lived here for nearly 100 years now.
These days it's leased and managed by a group of volunteers
who are working hard to restore the island to its former glory.
There are signs of its history
dotted around this one-mile long island.
The monks who lived here 1,000 years ago
sought refuge from Viking invaders inside the Round Tower.
Lord O'Neill bought the island in the early 19th century
for 100 guineas from a local fisherman.
Back then, it was just six acres,
so the top of the steps there was the shoreline.
Since then, the loch has been lowered four times
to make the nearby River Bann navigable by boat.
So by 1960, six acres had become 40 acres,
and all this land right the way round
meant that Rams Island got a whole lot bigger.
After the Second World War,
the island was left to rack and ruin.
This is what remains of a summer house
built for the aristocratic owners.
As the buildings crumbled, the plant life took over,
much of it non-native species.
So volunteers like Michael Savage
have spent much of their time removing foreign invaders,
like Himalayan Balsam.
-What have you had to do?
-In this area where we are at the moment,
it's mainly been removing Himalayan Balsam,
which totally overpowered everywhere.
If you look around you, you'll see there's mint growing here,
which has naturally re-established itself in this area.
Over here we have Lesser Bulrush, Marsh Marigold.
So this whole area was covered by Himalayan Balsam?
In the middle of the summer, it was up to here with balsam.
'It's not just the plants that have started taking over.
'There was a huge problem with rats on the island.
'They would eat the eggs of ground-nesting birds.
'Bait boxes are dotted all over Rams Island.
'Michael need to check them for signs of the rats' return.'
Yeah, that's fine.
So what, you wouldn't expect to find a rat in there?
No, no, but if there's been an uptake of poison...
-Which is this?
-Then you know that you've had some rats here?
-So that's a good sign, then.
-We shall leave that one where it is.
Now the rats have gone, the birds have returned.
And one of the species that really is thriving is the heron.
This is looking like quite a good spot.
-So there's some nests around here, are there?
-What have we got? One, two, three nests up there, then.
There's youngsters in all of them.
They're very, very elusive.
It's one of our success stories that we're proud of.
Records show that the herons actually disappeared here in the '70s,
and they've re-established themselves since we started this project.
There's nothing we have done to bring them here,
but they have started breeding on the island.
There's about 40 active nests in three distinctive heronries.
Round the loch, they all seem to have their own spots.
They seem to be territorial.
I work on the lake, and you sort of go down to the boat
and there's a heron starting fishing.
-Of course, once people come near them, they just take off.
-These are being a bit elusive as well, aren't they?
-They are, yep.
-Ooh, a bit quiet round here.
'We keep watch for a while longer,
'and eventually get a good look at a heron circling overhead.'
Then later, our cameraman returns and sees a little beady eye,
a heron chick that will soon fledge the nest.
Whilst Matt and I are enjoying exploring
the Loch Neagh area of Northern Ireland,
John is also on the Emerald Isle
visiting one of his favourite places.
The North Coast.
Mile after mile of golden sands, craggy headlands,
ancient ruins and gorse-topped cliffs.
It's a haven for wildlife and walkers alike,
with plenty of lovely spots to stop and enjoy the view.
Like Downhill Beach, which stretches for nearly ten miles,
making it one of the longest beaches in Europe.
And when the Queen passed by here
back in 1953,
on her first official tour of Northern Ireland,
the Royal train stopped at Downhill
so that her Majesty could have a picnic.
And as the Queen enjoyed her picnic in the sunshine,
she must have noticed
that temple-like building over there, perched high on the cliff.
But I wonder if anybody told her the fascinating story behind it?
It balances ever-closer to the eroding cliffs
and was built more than 200 years ago
by a remarkable man,
Frederick Augustus Hervey, the Protestant Bishop of Derry.
He was much-admired locally,
but upset his entire family and the establishment.
He treated his religious duties very lightly,
pursuing the finer things in life, including the ladies,
and building a large art collection.
He then inherited an enormous sum of money and an Earldom.
In a very, very short space of time
he went from being a humble English clergyman in Suffolk
to being incredibly wealthy.
Richard Branson-esque levels of wealth.
So he had as much money as he wanted and could do what he wanted
-and what he wanted to do was this.
-And why a temple-like building?
He'd been on the Grand Tour in Italy,
admiring architecture and paintings and buying quite a lot of it.
He spotted a temple in Tivoli, the Temple of Vesta,
and he decided that he wanted the temple
and he was going to take it down, brick-by-brick, and build it here,
but the Pope said, "No, you can't have the Temple of Vesta in Tivoli."
-So he got his architect to copy it
and this is a close copy of the Temple of Vesta in Tivoli.
'Named The Mussenden Temple,
'as a memorial to a female cousin who died while it was being built,
'it became a dominant feature on the Bishop's estate
'and was used mainly for entertaining.'
Wow! This is impressive, isn't it?
And wonderful harp music to greet us as well.
-Very atmospheric, isn't it?
-How would it have looked in the Bishop's day?
What you are seeing now is the bare brick underneath lovely plasterwork.
There would have been columns, pillars, bookshelves,
paintings, fine furnishing.
It would have been very, very opulent and luxurious.
-So it certainly wasn't a folly. It was a building put to use?
You could have come here and read books
and enjoyed whatever music was being played.
You would have spent time looking out over the sea,
contemplating the beauty of nature
-and how good life was when you had this amount of money!
'Bishop Hervey spent much of his later life
'travelling around Europe,
'but when he was here at Downhill
'his guests would have been serenaded much like this.'
-This harp looks very familiar.
-Well, you obviously take a drink if you've spotted that!
-A little bit of Irish stout now and again.
The shape of this harp is very, very typical of this area.
What was called the Downhill Harp,
a harp left by one of the harpists who actually used to play here,
ended up in Dublin at quite a famous brewery
and ended up as the symbol of a certain beverage.
So that's the harp on the label, is it?
-Yes, indeed. Makes you feel thirsty looking at it!
-It certainly does.
The temple stands in splendid isolation
just a short distance from the grand house
that the bishop built for himself
and from the back here, it looks like a fortified castle.
But from the front there's a surprise.
It's in the style of a Georgian mansion.
Now it's just a shell and it really is hard to imagine
how grand this place used to be in its heyday.
'Luckily, these university students
'have been meticulously gathering information
'about every tiny corner of the house
'to help us get a better picture of two centuries ago.'
The house has been in ruins for years now.
The roof was taken off, more's the pity, cos it's pouring down now.
This, would you believe, used to be the drawing room.
So, Peter, how on earth are you and your team restoring this place?
Well, first of all, on a computer, the students went out,
they did a lot of research -
photography, drew sketches, plans, floor plans.
Another student collated all that into, research...
Wow, that is really impressive, isn't it?!
..which I then build on the computer.
That's the house as it was in the Bishop's time?
-Yes, around the 1800s.
-What about the inside?
Well, this shot here is the gallery,
which is just looking down towards the sea.
And that's where he kept all his fine paintings?
All his paintings, his statues,
his whole art collection was housed in there.
-He had Titians and Rembrandts.
-You name it.
-And now it's just in ruins.
It's just four walls, really.
With his keen eye for the arts and for science,
as well as for the ladies,
Bishop Hervey certainly used his vast wealth
to enjoy life to the full.
But he could have never guessed that his extravagant monument
would one day serve as a backdrop
for a queen having a picnic down on the beach.
I've been enjoying a very special train journey
through the Northern Irish countryside.
This is the very same route that Queen Elizabeth took
nearly 60 years ago, on her first official tour after she was crowned.
While Her Majesty was on a steam train,
I'm on board a brand new diesel.
Well, as this train is being laid on for us
and we don't have any deadlines to hit, it all seems very relaxed.
Even the door is open to the cab,
so I'm going to have a word with Beau, the driver.
-Now then, Beau, how are you doing, all right?
-Very well, thanks, Matt.
I have to say, you look very clean and relaxed.
These modern trains, I tell you what, unbelievable, aren't they?
They are a lot easier to drive
and a lot cleaner than the old trains were, yes.
Mind you, this line's in good nick. What is it used for these days?
We use it for training,
for trainee drivers on their first three weeks out driving.
We can bring them up here, drive backwards and forwards,
gives them a bit of experience driving trains.
You must see quite a lot of wildlife as well down here.
Yes, we see foxes and badgers
and rabbits and squirrels and sometimes sparrowhawks.
Can I press any of those buttons up there?
They look very inviting. Is that the horn?
You can blow the horn. That is it.
Oh, the alarms have gone off and everything.
-That is just an alarm to tell me we're coming to a signal here.
And how far is it to the end of this little section?
To Antrim, it should be about another half a mile.
We should be there in a few minutes.
Well, in half a mile I will be hopping off
to head up to the castle and help out with some final preparations
for a Jubilee celebration.
Before that, I just have a quick announcement to make.
Here's what else is coming up on tonight's programme.
Ellie is going fishing for some slippery delicacies.
-Here is another one coming.
Adam is choosing names for Eric the bull's new calves.
Madge, Maisie, Maud, Meg, Moo-ha-ha, was a good one.
And we will have the Countryfile weather forecast for the week ahead.
Public rights of way are one of the joys of the British countryside.
As Tom has discovered though,
that joy can turn to anger when they get blocked,
but that's not the only problem that comes with our public paths.
This is just one of thousands of places across the country
that give you an idea how richly endowed we are for footpaths.
And, as someone who likes to get out in the countryside,
it is really exciting. I wonder what is up there?
I could go for an adventure down there maybe.
But all these different possibilities for me to have fun
also mean someone else has got to maintain them
and there is a change coming round the corner
that is going to make that an even bigger challenge.
'As well as official rights of way,
'there are unregistered and historic paths
'criss-crossing the countryside.
'For 30 years, people have been able to apply
'to get these official status'
'but there are new proposals aimed at speeding that process up.
'However, any path not registered by 2026 could be lost for ever.
'Local councils are making those decisions.'
Well, in the short term, the county council has to assess every claim.
So everybody who thinks that there may be a right of way
that is not recognised on the definitive map
will put in an application to the county council.
-So you have a judgment of Solomon to go on there.
And they look at the evidence that is produced because,
obviously, we have to be fair to the landowner as well as the people.
There has to be some evidence of the path.
Do you expect there will be an expansion in the rights of way?
It has been a process that has been ongoing over the last few years
and I think we've had 50 applications in
and the county council has looked at 25 of them so far.
'The race to register new paths by 2026 can get controversial.
'Applications are frequently disputed
'and those disputes cost money to settle.'
'Julian Flood has experienced a fight that many more of us
'could face in the future.'
-So where was the proposed path?
-Well, in the wood.
If you follow me, it's about 10 yards from my back door to be precise.
'Six years ago, an application was made to register a trail
'through the woodland next to Julian's house.'
So why was it thought there could be a path through here?
Well, the 1777 enclosure map showed, through this wood,
"A road for Miss Foulkes" and, on the basis of that road for Miss Foulkes,
the applicant said it was a footway.
Nobody knew it existed until this old map turned up.
And why were you so set against it?
Well, you can see. 10 yards outside my back door.
In a wood, anybody can walk past.
If I'm not in the house, look around the corner.
People could have seen you brushing your teeth in your bathroom.
-Or even dancing naked in the rain.
-Whatever takes your fancy!
What did this cost you, in effect,
not just in your pocket, but also emotionally?
Well, £5,000 directly from me.
Total for ratepayers and the rest of the people £50,000.
And in terms...
I became obsessive.
This is my house.
This is not just where I live, it's what I am.
And, because of that, I was determined to defend it.
'No-one wants ramblers seeing something they shouldn't
'through a bathroom window,
'but there are other issues at stake here.
'For farmers like Ross Haddow,
'newly-registered paths could impact on his ability to use his land.'
Between now and 2026,
there is an opportunity to open up new rights of way
for historical reasons, lost ways, or those regularly walked,
what do you think about that?
A cross-field path presents all sorts of issues.
It would be sad if somebody could find a right
across the middle of that field, giving me a huge headache.
And that would, I think, change us negatively to think about access.
All the tools to do the job here.
'But Ross has found another way.
'He has chosen to create so-called permissive paths
'that suit both his needs and those of ramblers.
'Working with the community, he created trails where he feels
'they work best, even in spots where it makes farming a little harder.'
A lot of paths that you see across fields, farmers often don't like.
In fact, they plough across them. You have done quite the reverse!
You have opened one up across an arable fields.
Yes, now there are two nice parts of the walk on the farm
that we have connected with this path
and we have given a commitment to do that,
even understanding that it would split these fields.
But most permissive paths are created with money
from farm grant schemes, schemes which have now ended.
So when the money stops coming in,
the paths could be moved or even closed.
It's not a perfect long-term solution.
One thing is for sure, whether they are impossibly impassable
or still seeking a permanent place on the map, if we do not use paths,
then there is a danger we could lose them.
This, believe it or not, is a public footpath
and while it is a rather extreme example,
it does show what can happen
if those who are supposed to look after our rights of access
don't do their job properly
and also, we don't register the paths.
Here goes. A bit of Livingstone in the jungle.
'If impenetrable paths bother you,
'or you want to find out about the registration of routes
'then you'll find help on our website.'
Adam keeps many different breeds of cow on his Cotswolds farm
and his stock bulls are his most powerful and prized possessions.
He is in search of a new addition to his herd of Irish Moiled cattle,
but will he find the perfect bull for his ladies?
But first, Adam's got a big decision to make
about Eric the bull's new baby daughters.
This is Eric, my Highland bull. And I absolutely adore him.
He's just magnificent.
I bought him at the Oban sales and he was reserve in his class,
so he's a really good example of the breed.
And he's shedding his winter coat now.
The birds quite often pick up their hair and use it for nesting
and you can see he's getting his summer coat
and he's looking in really good condition now.
But he's not just here for show, he's got a job to do -
He's a breeding bull.
And several weeks ago, it was a big moment.
The first of Eric's offspring arrived on the farm - two female calves.
We name all the animals on the farm
and this year, we're using the letter M for the Highlands.
And I asked to the viewers to write in with names
for the two female Highland calves
and I was inundated with the response.
There were just thousands of replies.
Thank you so much for all the effort that you've gone to writing in.
Some popular ones are Madge, Maisie, Maude, Meg, Mia, Molly, Morag,
Scottish for Mary is Mhairi, that was a very popular one.
We've got some seasonal ones. Molympic.
We've got Merica, of course, female for Eric.
Marmalade, Marzipan, Moo-ha-ha was a good one.
We've got Majesty, that goes with the Jubilee.
But the first name that I've chosen,
which is a very popular one, is Maisie.
And that's Scottish for Margaret and means pearl.
And then the second name I've chosen is Mavourna,
also a Scottish name,
which means "my little darling."
They're great names. I'm very, very pleased with them.
And since the birth of the two females,
I've now had this little blond male calf born,
one of Eric's sons that, hopefully,
will grow on to be a big strong bull
and I'll take him to the Oban sales in a couple of years time.
I've decided to name that one myself. And he's called McGee.
So I've got Maisie, Mavourna and McGee.
And I think they're lovely.
While my Highlands are enjoying the outdoors,
not all my cattle have been turned out yet.
These cattle have been in the shed since last November
and we've turned out some of the cattle in the spring
but had to keep some of them in
because the weather's been so atrocious.
The ground is really wet and there's hardly any grass,
and it's only now that the grass has started to grow
and the ground is drying up a bit. So, I'm going to get these lot out.
These are White Parks
and they're all steers, which means they're castrated males
and they are being reared for beef.
So, they'll go out onto the grass and be ready for beef
come the autumn, around September time.
Right then, boys. Let's get you loaded.
Come here, mate.
Go on, boys.
That's two. I'll try and squeeze the third one on.
I couldn't get that White Park steer up
so I've put the Highland on the back.
She's got horns, so I'll keep her separate.
All right, Mrs.
Very good, mate.
Oh, they're jumping around, they absolutely love it.
It's a shame we couldn't have got them out earlier
but they're very happy now.
These are my Irish Moils.
They're the first rare breed of cattle
that I've introduced to the farm since I took on my dad's collection
and they're lovely animals. They're an Irish smallholder breed, really,
quite good at producing milk and beef,
known as a dual-purpose animal.
And there's very few of them left in the country,
so we have to be careful with the bloodlines and inbreeding.
My Irish Moil stock bull has lived on the farm for two years,
but these days, we need to keep him separated from the rest of the herd.
He's playing hell with these shelters we've put out for the lambs.
Incredibly powerful beast, but he's lovely and quiet, really.
And he's related to two of my cows
and so, now, I'm going to sell him on.
He'll go to someone else's herd
and make a lovely bull for a different Irish Moil breeder.
So, what I need to do now is introduce a fresh bloodline
and get myself a new bull.
Farming's no different to most businesses.
We use a lot of technology, including, of course, computers.
In fact, a lot of my time is spent
sitting at this desk in front of my computer.
And it comes in quite handy when you want to buy livestock,
because people can send you photographs of the animals.
I've got a young Irish Moil bull here that looks very, very good.
And there's him and there's his dad, who was a show winner.
Now, the young bull is only 16 months old but I think he looks pretty good.
He's got everything going for him.
But you never know until you've seen them in the flesh.
So I'm off to have a look.
I've brought the trailer with me
and, hopefully, if the bull's as good as he looks in the photographs
and a deal can be done, I'll load him up and take him home,
because I've got some cows waiting for a new husband.
I just hope he's within my budget.
I've come to meet Chris Ball.
He's been farming Irish Moil cattle for over 15 years.
He has one of the finest herds in the country.
-Nice to meet you.
They look really lovely. How many have you got?
We've got about 40 altogether including the steers.
And the history of the Irish Moil
is that, at one time, it was very rare.
It became almost extinct.
They got down in the early '70s due to the fact they were,
sort of, dual-purpose rather than extreme beef, extreme dairy,
down to 30 breeding females on two farms in northern Ireland.
And then the Rare Breeds Survival Trust got involved
and, since then, we've progressed up to at least 550 breeding females,
possibly slightly even more and, so, obviously,
well over 1,000 animals, so, yes, we're doing very well.
-Where's this bull?
-Right, we'll see if we can find him.
-Excuse me, team.
-Beautiful grassy field, and they're stood in the mud.
Good lad. Good lad.
Well, I'm very impressed. There's not many people
who could walk up to a young bull like that
-and slip a halter on him.
-We did a deal earlier that if I could catch on in the field,
as long as I gave him some nuts afterwards, that was all right.
-He's a good colour, isn't he?
-He's a great colour.
He's about the perfect markings for an Irish Moil.
So, can you walk up for me, Chris,
-so I can see him moving?
It's important that the legs are straight.
You don't want them twisted out or twisted in.
And he's got quite nice legs, front and back.
He's got a nice top line, too.
Nice straight back, that means he's got good bone structure.
His tail head here is perhaps a little bit high,
but he's a teenager and he's going to fill out a lot more
and grow into a beefier bull than he is at the moment.
He needs another eight months to fill himself out a bit
and that will come with good management.
What sort of money do you want for him?
I'd be looking... I'd like £1,000.
Being a farmer, I always like to negotiate a little bit so...
if you could knock a couple of hundred quid off that,
I'd load him up and take him today.
Well, I'm sure we can agree on a price at some stage
over a cup of coffee.
Chris says his goodbyes
and there's one final person who wants to see him off.
Right, do you mind if I just call in my Margaret
for her final goodbyes? She's been highly involved.
Of course. Are you going to miss him, Margaret?
Definitely going to miss him.
He's been a grand chap and a great friend, haven't you?
So you look after yourself. Well done. Good lad. Good luck.
-Right, let's get him loaded.
-Come on, Stefan.
What a good boy.
I'm chuffed to bits with my new bull, Stefan.
I just hope the ladies back on the farm like him.
Come and see your new wives.
Well, he's asserting his authority there, puffing himself up,
making himself look big and butch and getting sideways onto the cows
so he looks even bigger.
When a bull turns up their top lip,
they're scenting the air to see if the cows are in season,
but I don't think that one is yet. He's looking lovely, actually.
Although he's young, he's only 16 months old,
he stands up next to them quite nicely.
Hopefully, Margaret and Chris will be pleased with his new home.
He's got four lovely ladies to look after.
I'm sure he'll be very happy here on top of the Cotswolds.
Next week, I'm heading to Malham in North Yorkshire
to see some Belted Galloway cattle that graze the uplands.
Lough Neagh in the heart of Northern Ireland
is the UK's biggest lake.
Since the 17th century,
sand dredged from the bed of the Lough
has been used for house-building.
Today, the sand extracted and the products it makes
is a £100 million business.
But there is another product closely associated with Lough Neagh
that doesn't have a particularly big reputation
beyond the banks of the Lough here in the UK,
but it does have a reputation worldwide.
The Lough Neagh eel. And its story begins 4,000 miles west of here.
The Sargasso Sea off Mexico is where the eels breed.
The young fry then drift on the warm currents of the Gulf Stream
back over the Atlantic and into the Lough,
up the River Bann as young elvers.
Six nights a week for the past 40 years,
Owen Duran has headed out onto the Lough
setting lines to catch these much-travelled eels.
It's the next morning now
and they're back out to see what they've caught.
I'm as happy as the flowers in May.
I wouldn't do anything else, only what I'm doing.
Money doesn't come into it.
You live anyway, despite of what you get.
You know, but it's...you know.
We like it and that's it.
So, this method using this line here,
is that the traditional method for catching them?
-It's been going on on Lough Neagh for years.
Hundreds of years, line fishing.
Here's another one coming.
Do you eat them?
'Demand for the eels comes from Germany and the Netherlands.
'400 tonnes are shipped out each year.
'The European Union has recognised the importance
'of the Lough Neagh Eel.
'Its name is now protected,
'a first for any product in Northern Ireland.
'And it puts the eel on a par with the Cornish pasty,
'champagne and Parma ham.
'Owen has been kind enough to let me have a few eels
'to take to my next destination.'
Right, I'm heading off to a different island now.
Not only to deliver these eels, but also some post, shopping and...
The journey to the island
is an opportunity to soak up the atmosphere.
Check out this horizon here.
It's quite disconcerting, really,
because there are times when you can't see the land
and it feels like you're in the middle of the sea,
and yet it's like a millpond.
It's quite extraordinary, really.
I'm heading to Coney Island,
the only inhabited island on Lough Neagh.
And the population is just one.
And there's the only resident now, Peter McClelland.
-There you go, Peter.
-Thank you very much indeed.
I wasn't expecting you to deliver it.
Special Countryfile delivery service, how about that?
You're very welcome to Coney Island.
Thanks. I'm going to have a look around.
Yeah, it's a beautiful place.
So what does your job entail here, then?
If it's done on Coney Island, I do it. If it's not done, it's my fault.
So there's a level of responsibility you don't get every day.
-So you're the president of the island?
-Pretty much, yeah.
I'm the warden of Coney Island.
So, what's it like living here all by yourself?
Oh, it's very interesting.
-It's a different way of life, I can tell you that.
One minute, you're on your own, next minute,
you get hundreds of people around you.
During the winter, you can be stranded out here.
During the winter of 2010-2011, the Lough froze, totally,
from 3rd December right through to 3rd January.
-And I was froze out here.
-Did you not mind?
-Oh, not at all.
Good book and a bit of classical music and that's me, happy as a pea.
-What about mod cons?
-Oh, I've none of those.
King Edward VII once stayed on the island in a cottage
that Peter now shares with about 500 bats in the rafters.
They're the latest residents
of an island that has welcomed royal visitors, St Patrick,
and even anti-British rebel prisoners.
But it's another visitor that I've invited to the island today.
Danny Millar is one of Ireland's best-known chefs.
Award-winning and Michelin-starred,
he trained in Germany, so should know a thing or two
about Lough Neagh eels.
-Hi, how are you?
-I'm good, you?
Is that your usual cooking conditions?
No, but still cooking some of Northern Ireland's finest.
Do you get to cook this very often? Do you have it in your restaurant?
Yeah, we do indeed.
It's great finger-food as well.
I think it's great for parties, barbecuing.
I think it's very versatile, just a wee bit...cos it's eel,
they're a little bit afraid, bit apprehensive,
see it coming at them, so...
Do you think that's what it is?
It's really popular in Europe but not so much over here.
Why do you think that is?
I think we're a bit more of the squeamish bunch
than our European neighbours. They're a bit more hands-on.
We see anything that's a little bit alive and slithery,
and we tend to run away from.
-Is that one nearly ready?
-That's quick, isn't it?
-How long was that? A few minutes?
-A few minutes either side.
I've done this one in soy, in a Japanese style.
They love their fish.
And while Danny's plating that up,
there's just time to remind you
about our annual photographic competition.
This year the theme is A Walk On The Wild Side,
so we're looking for wildlife,
wild landscapes, or even wild weather.
The best 12 will be put together
to create the 2013 Countryfile calendar,
sold in aid of Children In Need
and if you haven't entered yet,
here's John with the reminder of what you need to do.
Our competition isn't open to professionals
and entries must not have won any other competitions
because what we're looking for is original work.
You can enter up to four photos which must have been taken in the UK.
Please write your name, address,
and a daytime and evening phone number on the back of each photo
with a note of where it was taken.
And then all you have to do is send your entries to...
Whoever takes the winning photo,
as voted for by Countryfile viewers,
can choose from a range of the latest photographic equipment
to the value of £1,000.
And the person who takes the picture the judges like best
gets to pick equipment to the value of £500.
The full terms and conditions are on our website,
where you'll also find details
of the BBC's code of conduct for competitions.
The closing date is July 22nd
and, I'm sorry, but we can't return any entries.
So, the best of luck.
Back on Coney Island, the Lough Neagh eels are ready for tasting.
-So, how do you do it?
-I think it's best...
-just getting stuck in. Like a rib.
So, glamorous style, then.
Look at that!
I know I'm biased, cos I just cooked it, but I thought so!
Right then, let me be the judge of that.
That's not a texture I'm used to.
-It's more solid than fish.
No, it is, it's a very firm flesh.
Mmm. That's good.
Well, if you're planning a barbecue this week, you'll want to know
what the weather has in store. here's the Countryfile forecast.
Countryfile visits Northern Ireland, where HM the Queen took her first official tour to celebrate her coronation. Now, almost 60 years later, Matt Baker takes the same train journey she did, and meets some of the local people who were there to welcome her. The end of his journey is Antrim, where he visits the castle and grounds and helps get them ready for a special jubilee ceremony.
Ellie Harrison is island-hopping around Lough Neagh, the largest lough in the British Isles. She is looking for local wildlife, including nesting herons, and she fishes for the local speciality: eels. John Craven is at one of his favourite locations, the north Antrim coast, where he explores Mussenden Temple and learns about the eccentric Bishop of Derry who commissioned it.
Tom Heap is out and about in Norfolk, finding out just how many things can get in the way of a great day out in the countryside; and Adam is on his farm in the Cotswolds, where he reveals the names he has chosen from thousands of suggestions for his Highland calves.