Matt Baker and Clare Balding head to the North Pennines to find out what makes the area ideal shooting country. Plus, will a proposed badger cull help eradicate bovine TB?
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The North Pennines. A wild expanse of open moorland.
Dramatic dales, and tumbling waterfalls.
And at almost 1,250 square miles, it's the second largest area
of outstanding natural beauty in England and Wales.
And today, I'm hitching a ride, so I can take it all in.
It's a special place, remote,
and just the place to let loose on one of these.
Three wheels, all of this, what a combination!
Right, Mark, let's go.
While I'm off biking, Claire's hiking, along the spine of England.
The Pennine Way.
But I'm not just taking in the sights,
I'll be meeting the girls mixing guns, glamour and game.
I thought I would have a problem with shooting my first bird,
but surprisingly I didn't.
Did that sound awful? I don't know.
And with a badger cull across England
looking more like a reality, I'll asking whether it will be
an effective solution to the problem of TB in cattle.
-And down on the farm, Adam's in need of a new sheep dog.
Maud! She's heard the away command and now she can't hear me.
She's deaf as a post. She's doing it brilliantly. She just can't hear.
Maud! Ten out of ten for effort, nought out of ten for hearing!
The North Pennines.
The highest country in England outside of the Lake District.
A wild border land between Cumbria, and County Durham.
This unspoiled canvas is the reason people flock here,
to take in the view. To see the wonder of this place.
I'm travelling in style.
Now sightseeing vehicles don't come much better than this,
and I've got the perfect tour guide underneath this helmet.
-Mark, good to see you. How are you? All right?
Right. What's the plan of action today then?
We're going to have a tour of the North Pennines,
some fantastic places to see.
And we're going to start by heading over into Teesdale.
Excellent, sounds like a plan.
This is fantastic.
It's a cross between a car and motorbike,
and the great thing about travelling on a trike is that
all of your senses get to appreciate this wonderful landscape.
Even on a grey day like this.
Right now, we're travelling through County Durham.
Woo! What a spot this is.
-Good, isn't it.
So at this present moment in time,
we are on the highest road, the highest point
-and there's nobody higher on any road in England than us.
Behind us we've got Weardale. In front of us we've got Teesdale.
And I'd like to show you something else now.
I tell you what, they're champion views, aren't they.
They are absolutely spot on, aren't they?
This is probably one of the quietest roads in Britain as well.
I think it's got to be. Yeah. And one of the windiest.
Yes, absolutely right. Let's keep going.
Just beyond this point is Cow Green Reservoir.
It's a place Mark remembers visiting as a young lad.
My mum and dad used to fetch me up here when I was a kid, you know.
I just loved the place. It's absolutely fantastic.
And we're right on the border of County Durham here.
We are. The border's actually running under the water.
Cumbria on one side and Durham on the other.
-It's an incredible place, like.
It was built in 1967 for the industries of Teesside, you know,
but there was a lot of controversy about it at the time,
because there were rare Arctic alpine plants up here
and people didn't want them destroyed.
Anyway, as it was, there was only 10% of them were destroyed,
and since then it was made into a National Nature Reserve,
so it's all been protected, you know.
Yeah, and created something that is incredibly beautiful
and lots of people do come here.
The reservoir is two miles long, you know,
holds 40 million litres of water. It's a big old site, you know.
Two years ago, when we had the bad winter up here, it had
frozen over solid and there were snow drifts going across the water.
It was beautiful, but there was a set of footprints,
starting from down here, continued all the way across to the other side.
That's just unbelievable!
It's incredible, isn't it.
Yeah. I mean, the weather you get up here is pretty bleak.
We've got the wind blowing in our faces here.
And look at the clouds rolling over the top of those hills.
It is black, isn't it.
-Yeah. That's our cue to get on the trike.
-Right, let's go.
Next, we're heading southwards to one of the area's best known
In the meantime,
Claire's exploring this landscape in a more leisurely fashion.
This is fabulous walking country, and at its heart lies
one of the most famous trails in the UK, the Pennine Way.
Covering more than 260 miles, it's one of the longest,
and most spectacular trails too,
weaving its way up England's spine, all the way from Yorkshire
And there's plenty to discover.
The Pennine Way certainly earns its reputation.
It gives you the space to think, whether you're out in the open with
the hill top views, or here with the full force of the River Tees.
There is so much to enjoy.
Unsurprisingly, the North Pennines is a designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
Development officer Simon Wilson is proud of the huge opportunities for walkers.
Simon, I am big fan of the North Pennines and it is particularly popular with walkers, isn't it?
Yes. All the protected landscapes like this Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty
are really the places that people will come to get away from it all.
To walk, ride a horse, ride a bike.
And the North Pennines in particular, being so large, it has a huge amount
of public rights of way and also a huge amount of open access.
-In terms of maintaining it for the numbers of walkers that you get, it must be a full-time job?
If we take this stone on the surface.
The job of getting this here, because this is a national nature reserve and important for conservation,
we have had to fly this stone in by helicopter and then it has been laid by hand.
So, the resource, the effort, the cost is very high.
We had better make sure we get our money's worth, or I get your money's worth!
But that won't be difficult.
Because the scenery around here is simply breathtaking.
In a while, I'll be finding out why this landscape is special in other ways, too.
Now, with bovine TB in England at its highest level in decades,
the Government is proposing a plan to cull badgers.
But how would this work in practice?
Tom has been investigating.
And this report contains some images you may find distressing.
It has been 30 years since the last widespread badger cull.
Thousands of animals were killed by gassing in an effort to stop the spread of bovine TB.
Since then, it has been illegal to kill them.
They have been protected under European and UK law.
They even have their own act.
But if the Government get their way, badgers could soon find themselves on the wrong end of the barrel.
I am strongly minded to allow controlled culling, carried out
by groups of farmers and landowners
as part of a science-led and carefully-managed
policy of badger control.
Bovine TB may no longer be much of a threat to humans
but it is devastating for the farming industry.
Last year, we slaughtered 25,000 infected cattle, costing taxpayers around £100 million.
Opinion is divided over the importance of badgers and the spread of TB.
But everyone agrees, with cases on the increase, something needs to be done.
We know that unless we tackle the disease in badgers, we'll never be able to eradicate it in cattle.
Now the Government is looking to sanction a cull in England. Trial culls into areas
could begin as soon as May next year.
But just how will it work? Farming Minister Jim Paice has fought for a cull since his days in opposition.
The plan is, and it is at the moment a proposal, that a group of farmers
would come together and they would carry out a cull in an area of about 150 square kilometres,
although we believe they will actually be looking at bigger areas than that.
They will have to kill at least 70% of the badgers within a six-week period.
And they will have to repeat that exercise for four years.
How is this cull going to work?
They will have two options. One is to cage-trap a badger and then shoot it.
And the other is to shoot it at a baited area. We envisage this is likely to be the majority.
And there they can be shot by a marksman, who will have had to
go through formal training and qualifications.
Now, the farmers are going to be footing most of the bill for this. Is it cost-effective for them?
It is going to be expensive for farmers to do.
But at the end of the day, it will be the farmers' decision.
If they think it is too expensive for them, they won't do it and it won't happen.
It is not the first time culling of badgers has been tested.
The Government's plan is based on an experimental trial carried out by scientists in the 1990s.
The problem is some leading scientists
believe this trial was a failure due to an effect known as perturbation.
What that refers to is the disturbance of the badger groups.
So, say if you culled some of the family that lived in this sett, here, the others might scatter.
And all that movement of badgers carries the risk of spreading the disease further.
The Government's plans revolve around trying to reduce this effect.
But not everyone is convinced.
Badger ecologist Dr Chris Cheeseman was involved in the previous trial.
Do you think the current plan is deliverable or even possible?
No, I don't. Having such a huge area, 350 square kilometres,
that is probably several thousand badgers.
And they're talking about probably getting about 70%.
I ask you, the practicalities of doing that are just enormous.
What they are proposing is a recipe for perturbation.
There are going to be winners and losers. Some farmers will be prevented from having TB.
But there will be farmers who will get TB as a result of culling.
Are you not just saying that because, in the end, you love wildlife
-and you hate the idea of them being killed?
I have no trouble whatsoever with the killing of animals - and that is what
it is, culling is killing - if there is a good reason.
Chris is an experienced marksmen and knows the challenges involved in stalking and shooting.
It is one of the things that really concerns him about the plans.
especially as badgers are nocturnal, so it will have to be done at night.
The idea is that they are attracted to a bait. Perhaps somewhere near the sett.
So, in our set-up, that gate represents where the badgers would be feeding?
You can take a shot up to 20 metres away.
You will kill one badger.
Any others will rapidly disappear.
But I would say with certainty that some of them will be wounded.
Now, if it is mortally wounded, it will probably die underground.
Now, the Government has talked about monitoring
the welfare aspects of shooting.
How on earth could you possibly monitor that?
The rifle is a much more lethal instrument, which will kill at least at a mile.
The biggest problem in a place like this is safety.
There is a lane behind us. Hidden behind the hedge.
You have a ridge that runs up the field.
If you have a badger anywhere near that ridge, you couldn't fire.
Because of the risk of the bullet travelling on.
And although the other side of the valley is a mile away,
that is well within the lethal range of a weapon like that.
But criticism of the Government's plan has left many farmers undeterred,
including Bill Harper, whose cattle graze alongside a wood full of badgers.
He heads a group of almost 1,500 farmers
on the Devon-Cornwall border who have spent several years planning for the moment a cull is authorised.
That would be a suitable site, down there. That would be a natural feeding ground for badgers.
We would add peanuts to it. And then we would keep feeding until we have got the family group together.
We would have two riflemen here. They would take the family group out.
Because the important thing to do is to take the family group out as a whole.
And then you avoid any of the perturbation that can be involved from the family being disrupted.
I guess the importance of this is, let's say if someone does miss, the bullet goes into the ground?
Very much, safety is going to be very important.
Why do you prefer this method of free shooting or controlled shooting
rather than actually having the badgers in a trap?
The trapping option is a very, very expensive and difficult operation to do.
-Surely, in terms of animal welfare, it is kinder?
-It does have some merit.
But it is practically very difficult to manage the sort of skill that we'd need to be doing.
Doesn't this method of shooting lend credence to the idea that farmers and their shooting mates
-are basically just popping off at badgers?
-That is certainly not the case.
This needs to be done by qualified, licensed contractors who have these sort of skills.
And not many farmers have them. This is not sport.
This is the business of dealing with a diseased species
that need their numbers de-populating considerably over a quick time.
Farmers like Bill may be full of confidence but the Government
is taking a more cautious approach in the face of opposition.
Allowing farmers to shoot badgers outside a cage does risk injuring more badgers, doesn't it?
Well, we don't believe it does.
But that is, of course, why we're proposing just two trial areas to start with.
We'll have an independent science committee who will study the whole process, to really establish
whether it is firstly humane, whether it is effective in reducing the badger population significantly
and, of course, whether it is safe for the public.
If the practicalities aren't going as you had hoped, will you stop it?
Of course, there has to be an option.
If, during the course of those pilots, something is going
badly awry, we can stop them at any one time.
Secondly, if, at the end of it, they have been completed but have
not been as good as we had hoped, then, of course, we would not issue any further licence.
There is still a long way to go before many farmers get their way.
What if the proposed cull does go ahead as planned?
How much difference will it make?
I'll be finding out later.
The North Pennines. It looks calm, tranquil.
But look again and you'll see an altogether different side, as James has been finding out.
The English countryside. But not as we know it.
All the land around me is MoD-owned.
And despite the fact that it is used as a firing range,
it is also a haven for wildlife.
This training site lies in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
Walcot is not just home to some of our most precious countryside but to a pilot project for the military
is working hand-in-hand with environmentalists like the Woodland Trust.
It's a really unusual pilot. We're walking through
a newly planted forest and each of these little tubes is a tree.
There are shots going on in the background. Why partner with the MoD?
They such a large landowner.
We are planting here at Walcot 400 acres of woodland.
And it is native woodland and it is mimicking areas of woodland that have already established in this area.
Inside each of these little tubes, believable as it may be, there is a little tree.
How long is it before that pops out and becomes a mature tree and this looks much more it woodland?
We're looking at woodland in about 10 to 15 years.
It will start to really establish and look like new, native woodland.
And the woodland creation scheme here has many benefits.
It is benefiting the military because of their training requirement
but it also is benefiting the environment in the wider context.
And particularly wildlife such as the iconic black grouse, which is native to this particular area.
The fact that we have been able to put woodland creation and improve the habitat here for the long-term
can only help species such as the black grouse.
But why do the military need trees? The Defence Infrastructure Organisation, a part of the MoD,
is responsible for training areas like this one.
This is basically a field firing area.
And we conduct live firing between about 30 men.
There are 23 separate ranges on here.
Public access is restricted and the area has to be managed for livestock.
It is a delicate balancing act.
It is a very varied landscape.
It is shaped for defence requirements, at the end of the day.
But there are various sites on it of interest to many other people.
What is interesting is there is a symbiotic relationship.
Not only are you helping conservationists by planting trees,
but by having more trees, it benefits the military.
Most definitely. We do use woodland extensively with our training.
It is used for cover, we establish patrol harbour bases in there.
And men and women, through training, will actually live and operate out of woodland.
Training within the woodland involves learning how to construct these bivouacs.
It is a way of preparing soldiers for warfare.
This is where they live. Administer themselves.
And basically live in the woods. That is why we select the treed areas
to do all this from because it gives us good cover from both enemy and the elements.
So, you bring part of the kit with you but a lot of it is actually
gathered with materials that are just lying around?
Yes. Everything we try and use is all found within the woodland.
-Literally just string that around the tree.
-String it round.
-Put it on.
-Hook up there?
-Try and get it as tight as possible.
So that any water that gets on the poncho will then run off, so we keep the area dry that is around it.
Surviving outdoors usually means living on rations.
What's going on in there?
-Just cooking some stuff.
-I thought you army people were supposed to be like tearing apart local wildlife?
That looks like boil-in-the-bag?
-Mind if I try some?
Presumably, you can pick this up and walk around
and carry on eating it, and roll it up if you need to move?
Yeah, keep it fresh.
Oh, that's... This doesn't look too bad. What have I got here?
-Mock ham and noodles.
-Mock ham and noodles.
It's better than the BBC canteen, I can tell you that.
The military and conservationists may seem like unlikely bedfellows,
but on this site at least,
it's a relationship that appears to be working.
Later on Countryfile, Matt's working up a thirst
harvesting a very special crop in the North Pennines.
Over here, they're making wine, not from grapes, but from this.
Adam's struggling to show a rooky sheepdog who's boss.
And are we in for some tame weather in the week ahead?
Stay with us for the Countryfile forecast.
I'm exploring the North Pennines with the help of local trike enthusiast Mark Wilson.
To get to one of its best-known natural wonders,
I've got to travel on foot.
Now feast your eyes on this. Absolutely breathtaking.
Welcome to Low Force.
Now, what you can see here was formed 295 million years ago.
Molten rock came up from the centre of the Earth,
and settled between layers of limestone, sandstone and shale.
As these top layers have eroded over time,
you're left with this chunky, solid sill that you can see here
for all of the water and the kayaks to tumble over.
Low Force waterfall is quite famous in these parts.
It's the little sister of nearby High Force,
England's largest waterfall.
People come from all over the world to kayak here,
but for this group of autistic youngsters,
it's so much more than just a playground.
Having a young person stand on the edge of a cliff or paddling off a waterfall,
they've got the same fears that you and I would be exposed to.
What they sometimes don't connect with is the consequence.
We teach them there is cause and consequence by using the environment.
And then maybe take skills that they're learning here into their everyday life?
Yes, and what we're looking for is independent skills,
so fastening a zip or maybe putting on a wetsuit for the first time,
it's an unpleasant experience for most of us, putting on a wetsuit,
but for somebody with autism there may be sensory difficulties,
where something touching the skin might seem irritating or a burning sensation.
Just using that as an experience, they can take that forward.
Today, 17-year-old Jamie is going to kayak down the five-metre drop of the waterfall.
It's his first time.
Off he goes!
And he's done it.
-How was that?
-Excellent. How did it feel coming over the top there? I couldn't believe my eyes!
I was a bit nervous at first, then I just, I just did it.
It was like going straight off a cliff.
As well as kayaking, the youngsters make use of the water in other ways,
giving them a sense of independence and a taste of the real outdoors.
I saw you swimming down there today. What's the water like?
-Is it cold?
-You going to have a swim?
-Do you know, I didn't bring my wetsuit today.
In a while, I'll be heading further afield to meet the couple
producing an unusual type of red wine.
Earlier in the programme,
Tom was looking at the possibility of killing badgers in England
to help stem the spreading of bovine TB,
which is claiming the lives of thousands of cattle
at a cost to us of around £100 million a year,
but how effective would it be?
We've already heard concerns about the practicalities
and welfare issues of carrying out a badger cull in England.
Bang, you'll kill one badger,
but I would say with certainty that some of them will be wounded.
But many farmers are convinced it's the only option.
This is not sport, this is business of dealing with a diseased species.
But, if a cull does go ahead as planned,
will the results be worth the effort and expense?
Eileen and Adrian Palmer have run a dairy farm in Devon
for over 20 years, and are no strangers to bovine TB.
They've lost six cows this year, worth £1,500 each.
One of those was our very best cow,
so it's like the cow you would not want to lose.
We couldn't believe it. We were very upset about that.
The Government's plan is to cull 70% of badgers in each target area.
They believe that that will reduce bovine TB in that area by 16% over nine years.
For Eileen, that reduction would have meant that just one of the six cows
she's lost in the last year would have been spared.
16% is absolutely miniscule, so, you know,
because it's so small, you wouldn't know whether that was going to happen naturally
or whether it was because of the cull.
In a way, it's good to have something positive,
because when you're faced with this and there's nothing happening,
you're just feeling that you're in a trap.
Something may be better than nothing for farmers,
but are the badgers paying a high price for such a small gain?
16%, is it really worth it, the death of all that wildlife?
Don't forget, we're killing 25,000 cattle a year because of TB.
People talk about wildlife and welfare,
nobody talks about the welfare of the cattle that are being killed.
But the point is, it's not on its own.
What we announced a few weeks ago was a consultation on a range of measures.
Badger culling is only one part, and all the others will be in place,
and we believe that together, they will make a very dramatic reduction.
But there is something else the Government needs to consider, too.
It's a potential stumbling block that could even prevent
the cull from even getting off the ground.
In a recent poll of around 1,000 people commissioned by the BBC,
over 60% of those surveyed were against a cull.
The Badger Trust have succeeded in stopping a similar cull in Wales.
You will see on your right there, there's a badger path.
And they come and go along those paths, probably for centuries.
What would your reaction be if that cull goes ahead?
It would be very disappointing.
What can you actually do to try and stop it as an organisation?
When the minister has finally made a decision, and the Government
is set on having a cull,
then we can challenge that decision in court.
-Nevertheless, you would agree that badgers do carry TB?
The problem is, not that. The problem is, what do you do about it, without making the situation worse?
And what's being proposed to be done about it at the moment
is quite frankly, against every serious scientific study.
-Aren't you saying we should just let the badgers go scot-free?
-No, it's not scot-free.
They've got a place in the scheme of things.
If you kill them, that does spread the disease even further.
The Badger Trust believe the solution lies in stricter movement controls to contain the disease amongst cattle,
plus badger vaccination, still in its infancy.
Against such opposition, a cull is a bold but risky strategy.
If you're the government seen to be responsible for killing these animals, is that tough politically?
-You'll stick with it nonetheless?
None of us want to make this decision, but we believe that it's the right way forward.
Governing is sometimes about tough decisions
and we have to put the whole thing in context.
Badgers are not threatened, they are lovely,
but they're not endangered species in our countryside,
and we believe we can do this and need to do this
if we're to get rid of the biggest cattle disease we have in this country now.
Alongside the proposed cull,
the Government is investing both its hopes and money
in developing a TB vaccine for cattle, but this is still several years away,
and some experts believe it won't be 100% effective.
With so many unknowns, it's difficult to escape the conclusion
that this is a bit of a gamble, not only for the future of our cattle,
but also some of our favourite wildlife.
With all that, the stakes could not be higher.
As summer edges to a close, a new type of visitor is drawn to the wild moors of the North Pennines,
because this is shooting country, home to the red grouse.
The shooting season started a few weeks ago, and every weekend now,
these moors embrace huge shooting parties who come from all over the world,
and they pay handsomely for the privilege.
But not all of them are your stereotypical country gent.
Meet the Cover Girls, an all-female shooting club.
People make a lot of assumptions that aren't correct with shooting.
Things have changed.
A lot of women become attracted to it,
and they've realised that they can be equal to men doing it.
It's not a physical encumbrance in any way. The UK's number one down-the-line shot is a woman.
Claire and her friends are part of a growing trend of women taking up the sport.
I'm going to find out why, but first, I have to get the right kit.
I've been told that with shooting,
it's as much about what you wear and how you look
as it is about the gun you carry, and this just won't cut it.
-Nice to see you. How are you?
-Yeah, good. Let's have a look at this.
It's all tweed, and everything always has been tweed, hasn't it?
It's been tweed, it started off with the aristocracy about 200 years ago,
and developed from there. It used to hold a lot of water.
They now develop it with Teflon-coated fibres,
so it doesn't hold any water.
-It used to smell as well, let's be honest.
-It did when it got wetter and wetter.
In terms of colour, I guess you're trying to camouflage yourself.
Yeah, you want to blend into your environment.
-Do I have to wear trousers or shorts?
-All right. (What are breeks?)
Luckily, James has already picked out a few suggestions for me.
See what this all looks like.
Well, it's not my normal look, but then, this isn't a normal day.
High up on the moors, the team are ready and waiting.
-Nice to meet you all.
I won't shake hands, cos obviously your hands are full.
-Now, you look glamorous. I don't look glamorous. But I'm warm.
-I am. Which I'm pleased about.
Shooting wild grouse takes skill, and I won't be trying it myself.
As the women get to work under the beady eye of gamekeeper Alun Edwards,
mine is a watching brief.
Keep moving forward, keep moving.
Key to the whole process are the dogs,
who track down the grouse and flush them out.
So they will sweep an area from left to right.
It's literally air scent, they can pull onto birds a long way away.
Then they'll hold themselves?
They'll point. The traditional point is a leg up.
Fran's dogs actually set, which means they drop on their haunches.
There is two different styles.
You're using Gordon setters.
They look almost jealous that it's not them out there working.
It is. They can't wait for their turn, in fact.
So Jane, what's happening now?
She pointed on top of the hill, and she's just pulled forward
so the guns are ready to shoot anything that comes up.
There, there, there!
It's a miss.
These are fast, low-flying birds, and there are strict rules about safety.
We've been on the go for about an hour and a half now.
It was really hard work walking through the heather
and the boggy patches and jumping over streams.
Like a serious gym workout.
The dogs have been working hard as well
and they've been flushing out some grouse,
but so far, no shots have been landed on target.
It's not easy. So what attracts these women to the sport of shooting?
Women like interior designer Tessa Ferguson.
For me, it's about being outside.
I'm very office-bound as a person. It's fantastic to get out in the countryside.
Generally, it's a very male sport. Do you feel unusual doing it?
Um... I used to, but I quite like it in a way.
It's nice to, I don't know, just be part of any group.
Have you got significantly better at shooting?
It really is just about practice. I don't get an awful lot of practice.
No, I wouldn't say I'm getting that much better.
Something tells me that the women aren't as competitive as the men,
and for businesswoman Helen Humphreys too, it's not all about the kill.
I'm a townie. I'm not used to being in the countryside, particularly.
It's a wonderful day out, and I mean, look at this, it's incredible.
And it's surprising, there are lots of reasons why women don't shoot,
but a lot of people would find it a bit bloodthirsty, but you don't?
No. I thought I would have a problem with shooting my first bird,
but surprisingly, I didn't. Does that sound awful? I don't know.
It's a good thing she's not squeamish,
because the dogs found more grouse and Tessa is lining up.
This time, she's right on target.
This is one of roughly 600 grouse that will be shot on this moor this season,
and gamekeeper Alun Edwards says it's absolutely necessary.
Shooting is a very important part of the management of the grouse moor.
You're taking off a harvestable surplus.
Without that, the numbers would build up to a point where
they would get disease, and they would die out.
I understand the arguments completely about management,
but do you have any dilemma at all about people shooting red grouse for sport? For the pleasure of it?
No, I simply... I don't, frankly, for one very, very good reason.
If we don't have the sport element to it,
which brings in the economics, the finance, the money,
to stand up and support the management,
to support the rural communities, the people you have seen round you today,
all require the finance to be able to live in these remote, rural communities, which do struggle.
Another thing Alun's keen to point out is that every single bird shot is eaten,
some sooner than others.
This isn't going to be every woman's idea of the perfect weekend in the country,
but this is the modern face of shooting.
The days when a woman's only role was carrying the bags are well and truly over.
In a few moments, why Clare's walk-through the North Pennines left her awestruck.
You look at that and you think,
this is a landscape that was made for mammoths and dinosaurs.
You want to be enormous, not for us,
you just feel so tiny in it and so useless in a way.
And if you're out and about in the week ahead,
don't miss the Countryfile forecast.
Now Adam's got a lot of sheep on the farm,
so it's vital he has the right dogs to work them.
His girls are struggling with the farm duties,
so he's decided to look for a new dog.
Will he find what he's looking for?
One of the challenges of modern-day farming is making it pay,
and often the key to that is getting jobs done efficiently and at the right time.
We usually shear our sheep in May, June time.
Today, we've decided to get our ewe lamb flock in and shear them,
and hopefully, they'll grow on better during the winter.
What we're doing is an autumn shear, and it's no easy task.
So I've brought in some of the best boys I can find.
Neighbouring farmer Eddie and his team.
If anybody can do the job well, it's these guys.
-How's it going, Eddie?
-Not so bad, Adam, not so bad.
We could have chosen a bit more of a shady spot for you.
Well, you could, but these trees will keep the sun off us later, when we really get into it.
-And how are they shearing?
-They're sharing good. The heat is helping it.
The lanolin is rising from the wool, making it soft. Tremendous wool. It's got everything going for it.
This is only the second time we've tried this autumn shearing. You've been doing it for ages.
Oh, yeah, works exceptionally well. It keeps the sheep happier in the hot days of autumn,
and keeps them cleaner when it gets very wet, and snowy.
They can move easier. They don't get clogged down with a wet, heavy fleece.
I'm thinking about it financially.
Now the price of wool's gone up, and I know you're doing this for free.
-I should make a bit of money out of these fleeces!
-You don't change, do you?!
You'll get about £1 for this fleece, which will nearly cover the shearing, Adam, but not quite.
That's a good job done.
Eddie here can shear a couple of hundred in a day,
and then we've got a Kiwi over here, a New Zealander, he'll shear about 300 in a day.
I remember when I first started how difficult it is,
bending over, shearing away, learning the technique,
and I can still only shear 80 in a day. I'm pretty slow.
So it's much quicker to get these guys in and get it all done in one morning.
They are shearing a sheep in about a minute, a minute and a half.
Just incredible speed. I'll go and gather up these lambs. I'll leave you to it.
Right, time to get Pearl and Maude working.
Not that they always do what they're told these days.
Here, Pearl, Pearl. Pearl.
HE WHISTLES Away.
Maude! She's heard the away command, and now she can't hear me.
She's deaf as a post. She's doing it brilliantly, she just can't hear.
10 out of 10 for effort! Nought out of 10 for hearing.
'Oh, well, if you need a job doing, then do it yourself.'
This is Maud, she's 13 years old. She was very, very good in her day.
And then this is her daughter, Pearl, who is eight years old.
She hasn't quite got it, either. She is only sort of half-decent.
I have Milly, as well, who Mike uses a lot.
She's very good in the yards, but not so good in the field.
So I think it's time I went sheepdog shopping. Come on, girls.
Hello, Bully Boy. That will do, leave him alone. Here!
Having a trusty, good-working sheepdog on the farm when you have
a couple of thousand sheep, like I have, is absolutely essential.
It's the best way of moving sheep from field to field and getting them into the pens to work on them.
I need a new dog but I haven't got the time to train a young dog and bring it on,
so I need a fully-trained dog.
I'm off to meet professional sheepdog trainer Alison Smith, who thinks
she might have just what I'm looking for.
She knows exactly how to turn border collies into fully-trained working dogs.
And she's got more than a few to look after.
Goodness me, Alison, how many dogs have you got here?
There's about 18 or 19 out here at the moment.
What a sight! I don't think I've seen so many collies in one place! What got you into doing this?
I started training sheepdogs when I got to about nine.
I'm a farmer's daughter, so I've grown up with sheep and dogs.
It's great you've got such a large selection.
I'm after another dog and I haven't got the time to take a puppy until it's 18 months old and fully trained,
so I am looking for a part or fully-trained dog.
I have got a fully-trained dog.
-He's called... Do you want the name?
-Has he got a funny name?
-Call him over.
-I can see why he's called Stumpy. He's got no tail.
How did that happen?
The breeder thinks that his mum chewed it off
when he was born in a bit of over-zealous cleaning.
-Is he pretty good?
-He's a very useful flock dog, useful farm dog as well.
On the farm at home we've got all bitches, all females,
so really a dog, I think, is going to stir it up a bit and cause problems.
-Have you got any bitches available?
-I do have a young bitch over there.
Bethan, come here, come here, darling. Good girl.
She's sweet, isn't she?
She's just 14 months now, fairly well into her training
but still very green as regard to flock work.
Just needs time and bringing on, really.
'Bethan isn't fully trained, but I'm keen to see her put through her paces.
'But before that, Alison is going to show me
'what one of her most experienced dogs can do.'
This is Meg.
-And how good is she?
-She's really talented, especially for her age,
-she not yet three years old.
I could do with that one. Can I buy her?
Afraid she's not for sale!
And you used fairly standard commands for sheepdogs,
-away, to the right, to the left.
-What's your stop command?
-Stop command is stand.
-OK. And you transfer those to whistle?
Yes, they're all on whistle as well as voice.
-OK. Well maybe we should see her go.
-She's going pretty quick.
Get a little "out" there, that sends her right out.
-Just to make sure she squares out properly.
-She's going beautifully round behind them.
That's your stop command.
-That's walk on, I assume.
I wouldn't be able to get Pearl to do this, you know! She's very good.
Lovely balance between the dog and the sheep because you don't want the sheep racing along too fast.
That's right, keep the dog back.
That's round to the right. And a stop.
What a good girl. Round to left.
Fantastic. And here we are.
Magic, sheep are back already.
She's really tidy, isn't she?
Really responsive to your whistles.
Yes, she's very sharp and a really, really good listener.
'Next up, Bethan.
'I'm not sure she'll put on such a faultless performance.'
What sort of commands can you give her?
Mostly voice, still. We're just starting whistle commands
so she's got a stop whistle and a walk on whistle.
But no flank whistles as yet.
-She knows her left and right, her away and come back.
-She does, yes.
Away, away. Away.
A nice little out run.
She steady there, that's nice.
She's not flying in and biting the sheep or anything.
That's the stop.
Come by, keep, keep!
With a lot of work, she could really
come to something. She's still a bit young,
-a bit inexperienced.
Well, that was very impressive.
For a young dog, excellent.
Do you think she might work for me?
Let's give it a go and find out.
Let's see if she'll fetch those sheep. Stand.
Stand. Away. Away.
Bethan, Bethan. Bethan!
Ha ha! Here.
Here. Come here.
'She's not taking a blind bit of notice.'
It's not going to work at all!
-And do you think she would come to me if I took her home and she bonded?
-Yes, I'm sure she would.
It's simply because I'm here, you're somebody new,
she's not familiar with you.
What I'm looking for is the whole deal,
and she's still a little bit inexperienced so there's quite a lot of work still to be done on her.
-Ideally, I want a fully-trained dog that I can get to work fairly quickly.
I'm quite interested in your other bitch.
-She's not for sale, is she?
-No, I'm afraid she's not, sorry!
Oh well, never mind. I think I'll leave little Bethan with you.
Come on, Beth.
'So, my search for a new sheepdog goes on.'
The dramatic sweep of the North Pennines belies a gentle side.
Away from its craggy hills and exposed moors,
one locally-grown crop is used to produce something rather unusual.
Over here, they're making wine. Not from grapes, but from this.
'And it's provided a welcome new market for beetroot grower Neil Hodgson.'
It's been on the decline but maybe this beetroot wine might revive it.
-Have you tried this wine, then?
-No, I haven't.
-I'd have a go, but...
-I'd have a go! As if it's some kind of challenge!
-OK, well while I'm here, I'll give you a hand picking some.
-How many kilos have you got so far this week?
-This is the beginning.
-This is the start!
Oh, right! Look at that one.
It's a beauty.
'Just a couple more, then I'm taking these over to a man who makes
'wine from fruit and veg.'
I've got a delivery of Neil's winemaking beetroot for you.
That's great. The first thing we have to do
is to wash them thoroughly, get all the soil off.
-So we can't use these, then.
-We can't use those.
-But we have some that we did earlier.
These now go into the mill to be chopped.
-It's a powerful machine.
-Yes, it chops them very finely.
How long does this process take, then,
to make a bottle of beetroot wine?
It takes about a month fermenting and then
about a month settling.
And how many beetroot in one bottle of wine?
-Probably about two or three beetroot.
Just one more for luck.
There we go. Right, come this way.
Pour the beetroot in here.
-It splashes everywhere, doesn't it?
-Yes. You don't want it on your clothes.
Why did you think about making beetroot wine?
Well, we realised from our own veg patch that beetroot grows
easily up here so we thought, why not?
It has a great colour, let's do something with it.
'But does it taste as good as it looks?'
It's lovely. That goes down very well.
You could easily drink a large quantity of that!
-Especially warmed up.
-I'm thinking about it.
-That's lovely, actually.
But it is very earthy, it's quite thick,
and I don't know whether Clare would go for the red or a white,
so I might actually take some of that elderflower and apple.
-Lovely. Thank you... I tell you what, I'll just have one last little...
Mmm. Little sip. Anyway, to your health and all the very best with your wines.
It's wonderful. Thank you so much indeed.
And just one last little bit.
That is that absolutely delightful.
In a moment, Clare is going to be continuing her journey
along the Pennine Way, but if you want a taste of the great outdoors,
we have teamed up with a range of companies that offer activities all across the UK.
All you have to do is log on to our website and click on "Things To Do."
Shortly, I am going to meet up with Clare
so she can taste this lovely wine.
But first, here's the Countryfile weather forecast for the week ahead.
Right, Mark, helmet on, and we'll crack on.
'I'm walking along the Pennine Way in County Durham,
through the hills on the banks of the River Tees.
This is a unique landscape and I'm meeting its custodians.
-You picked a grand day to come up.
-Couldn't be better.
'Martin Furness and his team from Natural England are managing
'a vast 20,000-acre nature reserve.
'The lime-rich soil creates an ideal environment
'for rare flora and fauna.'
You see here, it's wet and flush with the lime-rich water coming out of the bank.
You get these species growing here.
We've got Alpine bartsia. We've got bird's-eye primrose, which is just about over now.
It's best to come May-June time to see those.
Lovely little pink flowers.
We've got yellow mountain saxifrage here.
And down here we've got some Grass-of-Parnassus,
which isn't a grass, but it's a lovely little flower.
Isn't that so pretty?
All those lines, sort of veins inside the petals, it's gorgeous.
So this is sort of a crossroads
for flora that you would find at the, sort of, extremes.
Northern Arctic plants at their southern limit
and southern continental plants are at their northern limit.
So you get that crossover, so it's unique.
You don't get this assemblage of plants anywhere else in the country, so it's unique.
Not all the plants here are so welcome.
If left unchecked, these thick rushes would take over,
choking out the rare flowers.
So Martin and the team have work to do.
Martin, that is not like any mower I've ever seen.
No, it's an Alpine tractor. The ground is that soft you couldn't get a conventional tractor on
without marking up the ground.
How much of this will you cut?
Probably a couple of hectares overall,
but right across this piece, we'll just cut out little areas
and we'll get to every piece about once every three years.
Hopefully that will be enough to allow the wild flowers to thrive.
But they're not the only thing that Natural England is protecting here.
Further down the valley,
a fight is also on to save England's largest juniper woodland.
-The black ones here.
-The black ones are the ripe ones.
-Just crush it between your fingers and give it a smell.
Cor, that smells of really strong black pepper.
Very distinct, isn't it?
-A bit of a hint of gin there, though.
-A bit of gin.
How come there are loads on here that look like they are
a long way off being ripe?
The green ones are this year's berries
and the blue ones are last year's berries,
so it is two years before the berries actually ripe to picking.
You can see there's more green ones than blue ones
because they're favoured by the birds.
-Are they very difficult to manage?
-Yes, they are.
If you look all round here, the bushes are all old, mature bushes.
There's no young, regenerating bushes coming through,
due to mainly, on here, it's rabbits.
Seedlings try to get established and the rabbits eat them, so they're a bit of a problem.
Junipers are mostly found further north,
so these 15,000 bushes are highly prized.
Today, we're harvesting their berries to help them survive.
They'll be grown in a nursery before being replanted again here,
provided that the seeds are healthy.
You can have a bush that's absolutely festooned with berries but not always
the seeds are viable.
Cut one through the equator,
we should be able to see the seeds inside.
What are we looking for?
You just see the white inside there, on the point of the blade?
And that's good.
That is good, they are viable seeds.
This rare woodland is my last stop on the Pennine Way.
But my journey isn't quite finished.
Before I hang up my boots, I'm heading for the hills.
This is Hartside Top, where I've been promised
some of the best views in the whole of the Pennines.
As views go,
this is immense, in every sense.
We are 1,800 feet above sea level so you get blown by the wind a bit.
But, my word, it's worth it for this. The panorama
takes in the Lake District over there.
Straight ahead, you go across the Eden Valley to the Solway Firth.
And on the right you can see to Scotland. You can see for nearly 40 miles.
You look at that and you think,
"This is a landscape that was made for mammoths and dinosaurs."
You want to be enormous. Not for us, just feel so tiny in it,
and so useless in a way.
'And all I need now, is someone to share it with.'
-Clare, how are you doing?
-I'm so glad you're here. Look at this.
Isn't it absolutely beautiful?
-It's gorgeous and the light's been amazing.
I've been sampling breathtaking views all day,
and these, look. I brought you a little present.
-Are they for me?
-Yes, they are. Not your unusual wines.
This is elderflower and apple, and this one is beetroot.
-Mulled wine, oh, that'll be nice and warming.
-It is, absolutely gorgeous.
That's all for this week. Next week we're going to be in Monmouthshire.
I'm going to the agricultural show to see the best of country life.
And we'll reveal the final 12 photos
in this year's Countryfile photographic competition.
There are some stunning photos in that, so please join us if you can.
-Bye-bye for now. Right.
-Just one thing.
You've been at this, haven't you?
Well, it was their last bottle, and I did have to sample before I left.
-So you drank half of it.
-Well... We'll leave it there. See you.
Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd
E-mail [email protected]
Matt Baker and Clare Balding head to the North Pennines for a hike and bike tour. Matt hitches a ride on a trike to visit some of the spectacular sights here. He drops in at a winery where beetroot is the main ingredient. Clare's on foot, finding out what makes this place ideal shooting country. As the season gets underway, she meets a group of women mixing glamour with game shooting. James Wong is also in the Pennines. He's discovering how planting trees is helping to train soldiers and increase the UK's woodland cover. Elsewhere, with bovine TB in England at its highest level in decades, the government is proposing killing badgers as a solution. If a cull goes ahead, how will it work in practice and what impact it will have - Tom Heap investigates. Down on the farm, Adam is in search of a new sheepdog.