04/12/2011 Countryfile


04/12/2011

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The Vale of Aylesbury.

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Rolling English countryside, reaching down to the Chilterns.

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This historic Buckinghamshire landscape is an inspiring patchwork

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of ancient woodland, chalky grassland and grand estates.

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It's easy to see, then, why it's a setting which has captured

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the imagination of some of our greatest authors and poets.

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It was where John Milton found his Paradise Lost,

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where Enid Blyton brought Noddy to life,

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and where Roald Dahl first saw the Fantastic Mr Fox.

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But it's not just fictitious animals that form part of this landscape.

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After serving their country, Jules discovers what happens

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when our faithful old horses decide to hang up their shoes for good.

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You ought to have that as a souvenir.

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You ought to take that back and put it on the wall of the station.

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John's finding out about a controversial new source of energy.

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Two miles beneath the surface here,

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there's natural gas trapped in rock,

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and getting it out involves a technique new to this country

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called fracking, which has been blamed

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for creating earthquakes and fireballs.

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But is fracking quite as bad as some people would have us believe?

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I'll be investigating.

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'And Adam's on the trail of his very own wheat harvest.'

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So there's about £4,500's worth going off down the drive,

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and that's a year's hard work.

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Hopefully, the cheque will be arriving soon.

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From its wide chalk valleys to golden beech woodlands,

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the countryside around the Vale of Aylesbury is ripe

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with rural splendour.

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And it's inspired some of our most famous writers to capture

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the essence of the landscape in their work.

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The war poet Rupert Brooke loved to walk in the Chilterns,

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often stopping at his favourite watering hole for some liquid inspiration.

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Rumour has it that the Aylesbury Vale even caught

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the attention of one William Shakespeare.

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It's thought that he wrote A Midsummer Night's Dream

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while staying in the Chilterns.

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And in this modest cottage in Chalfont St Giles,

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the poet John Milton completed his masterpiece Paradise Lost.

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With over 10,000 lines of verse,

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it might not have oodles of easy reading appeal,

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but this guy's work was in the top ten of its time.

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Oh, you must be Ellie!

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'Curator Ed Dawson is so passionate about Milton's work,

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'he reckons the poet could win a war of words with Shakespeare any day.

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'Milton came here to escape the Plague,

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'by which time he was completely blind.'

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He was overwhelmed and down in the dumps.

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He then buried himself in his great, epic poetry.

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And it was here that he finished it off.

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Was he inspired by his surroundings here in the Chilterns?

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Well, he had the countryside and the rolling Chiltern Hills explained to him.

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He would have understood what the garden and surroundings looked like,

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the flowers and so on.

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He would have been able to use his imagination to enhance that,

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because, after all, in Paradise Lost,

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you have these great descriptions of Heaven and Hell

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by a man completely blind.

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And here's the A-level English bit.

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Apparently, he was a great neologist, whatever one of those is.

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Neologism is the coining of words.

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-And there are 530-odd down to John Milton.

-530?

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What sort of words did he create?

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Well, "pandemonium" is the most famous.

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Which, of course, is Satan's headquarters in Paradise Lost.

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-Oh, I see.

-That's where it first appears.

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But humble and ordinary words like "padlock" and "fragrance"

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and "terrific" - look them up in a good, encyclopaedic dictionary,

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and they all come back to this extraordinary man.

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Milton was certainly a whiz with words,

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and 400 years later, his language lives on.

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Later, I'll be finding out

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how nature inspired one of our best-loved children's authors,

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but first, fracking may not be a word you're familiar with, yet -

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it's the key to getting at the wealth of natural gas

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we have trapped under the British Isles.

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But at what cost? John's been investigating.

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They say there are untold riches trapped in the ground

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beneath our feet - a new source of power deep down.

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It could be the answer to all our energy prayers.

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But so far, it hasn't had the best press.

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Controversial drilling operation...for natural shale gas

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has been suspended after a small earthquake near Blackpool.

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Drilling for shale gas has been put forward as a great new hope,

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a way of helping to meet our future energy needs,

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of keeping the lights on.

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But just what is it? And why are we hearing about it only now?

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'To find out more about this brand-new energy source,

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'I am meeting Professor Mike Stevenson.

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'He is a top scientist with the British Geological Survey.'

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Just what exactly is shale gas?

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Well, the gas is the same kind of gas you get in the North Sea,

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it's methane gas. It's exactly the same kind of gas,

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but coming from a different kind of rock.

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Here, the gas is in shale, which is very fine grained,

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and it has gas in between the particles.

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You have to break it up to get the gas out.

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And how much shale gas do you think there could be underneath the UK?

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In this country, the British Geological Survey

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has come up with a figure of 150 billion cubic metres.

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That's an awful lot.

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It's an awful lot, but that's just what we think might be there.

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What you can actually take out could be an awful lot less than that,

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could even be only 10% or 5% of that.

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But it could be potentially very important.

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It could be, yes, because it would be our own home-grown gas,

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as opposed to gas we import.

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Gas companies are hoping methane reserves could be even higher,

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but getting at it is tricky.

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The way it's done is called fracking.

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That means that water and sand and a specific chemical

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will be pumped into the very hard rock to fracture it.

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That will release the natural gas, which can be brought to the surface.

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A special drill is sunk down thousands of feet, then it turns

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at right angles to bore horizontally along the shale deposit.

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Small explosions open up fissures

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into which the water is pumped at pressure.

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It's this technique that is revolutionising the industry.

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Gas that was once impossible to get at can now be reached.

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It's boom time in a business worth around £20 billion a year globally,

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and Lancashire could have some of our biggest reserves.

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Well, this is an exploration rig. How do you know where to put it?

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Well, this area has had a lot of history of seismic work,

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where people have looked at and basically mapped underground.

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There have been a few other exploration wells here

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in the late '80s and '90s.

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That is how we looked at this licence area to start with.

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Can we expect to see exploration rigs

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popping up all over Lancashire now?

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The rig is only here during the drilling phase.

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This rig will drill a well

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and then it will move someplace else and drill another well.

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Once the wells are drilled, then they go into the production phase,

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and the only thing that is left is just the wellheads,

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which are only about two metres high.

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So there is not something sticking up

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that you can see for a long way on the landscape.

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And, if you do go ahead and produce methane from down here,

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will that be cheaper than bringing it in from the North Sea?

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It has reduced the price of gas.

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The price of gas in North America now

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is about a third of what it is here.

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-And is that because of shale gas?

-Yes.

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'He claims there could be more than 50 trillion cubic metres

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'of shale gas in Lancashire alone.

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'That's ten times more than

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'all the UK's conventional gas reserves put together.'

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And it's not just here.

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There are potentially rich sources of it right across the country,

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from Scotland to Devon.

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Here in the Mendip Hills of Somerset,

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there have been mines and quarries since Roman times.

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Now, most of them are worked out.

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But many people round here are really concerned that the Mendips

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could be the next area to attract fracking for shale gas.

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It may not look much on a gloomy day like today,

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but this quarry is in an area of outstanding natural beauty.

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For campaigners like Nigel Taylor, shale gas seems like bad news.

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Right behind me over my shoulder here is a site of special

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scientific interest which dates back 700,000 years, geologically.

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Above it is a botanical site of special scientific interest.

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This is unique on the Mendip Hills. It's such a fragile ecosystem here.

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Fracking's not going to affect that?

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Can you give me the assurance of that?

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If you're breaking up the rocks below us and turning around

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and rupturing the limestone, pulling it apart,

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the backwash of it could come up into the fissures,

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could go into the caves.

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If you imagine the Mendip with layers of water disappearing

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through different passages,

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at all different heights through the Mendips -

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the Mendips are 1,000 feet tall -

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You're talking... If the water levels are dropping through

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the limestones and merging at the base in the springs there,

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we don't know yet what level they are drilling at.

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Until somebody can give us satisfactory answers,

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nobody's going to be happy.

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So, are we right to be pressing ahead?

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Later, I will be hearing about concerns about fracking

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close to our most beautiful cities.

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And I'll investigate why the process is even to blame for earthquakes.

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The Chiltern Ridgeway in Buckinghamshire.

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An ancient old trade route that has relied on horse power for centuries.

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In the rich, golden beach woodlands lying just below these hills,

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the majestic workhorse is still very much a part of this landscape today.

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Nick, you're a professional forester,

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but you decided to use working horses in your day-to-day life.

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It can't be easy.

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Easy, no, it is hard work.

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But it's a choice of conscience,

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an ecological choice as well.

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And it is fantastically traditional.

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It is, it's something that has been happening in woodlands

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for a couple of hundred years - oxen before that.

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-Who is this lovely old boy pulling these logs?

-This is Silent.

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He's a 21-year-old Clydesdale,

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and has been doing it for a good few years.

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-Working hard for your living. So how old is he again?

-He is 21.

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How many hours a day would you expect him to work?

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He will work an eight-hour day like us, but will do two hours on

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and maybe a half hour's rest, another two hours, rest again.

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So we're not overworking him.

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It does vary, depending on how far we have to drag these logs

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and how big a log we have to move.

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A horse can happily work for around 20 years,

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but then, like the rest of us,

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they want to hang up their shoes and retire.

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Which is the case for one very special group of horses

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that I am now off to visit.

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The Horse Trust is where

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many of the nation's hardest-working horses come to retire,

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including many from the police and military.

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What does the trust focus on today?

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We provide education and training, we also fund clinical research,

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but here at the home of rest, we focus on offering

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the time in respite for working horses, so horses

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that would be the taxpayers' responsibility, like army, police.

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Well, it's all very noble, but how did it start?

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We're actually the oldest equine charity in the world,

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we're 125 years old.

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We were started in 1886 by a lady who read the novel Black Beauty

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and was inspired by the plight of the working London cab horse.

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So she rented a field and started loaning healthy horses

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to cab drivers whilst offering respite care to their animals,

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bringing them back up to health and then swapping them back.

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We weren't implying there was cruelty in the way the horses were treated,

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not malicious cruelty. Rather, they were just overworked,

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and the drivers were doing their best to care for them in difficult circumstances.

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'For some, however,

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'it really has been a tragic case of animal cruelty.'

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This is Duke.

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Back in 2008, he was caught up in the infamous Spindles Farm case.

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He and many other farm animals

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were subjected to some bouts of horrific animal cruelty.

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It has been described as

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one of Britain's worst cases of animal cruelty.

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32 horses were found dead and 111 other animals had to be

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rescued from a farm in Buckinghamshire last week.

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Even though the trust has helped nurture Duke back from the brink

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of death, he has ongoing issues with colic,

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and today, the vets are going to try to diagnose his problems

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by passing a camera down him.

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He is looking a bit dopey now.

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First, the vet inserts the scope up poor old Duke's nose.

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He then has to swallow it in order to inspect

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the intestine further, all of which is pretty uncomfortable.

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Colic - basically, there are various causes of it.

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It means pain in the abdomen.

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In some cases, it will be fatal, unless they have surgery.

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In some cases, medical treatment will resolve the issue.

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Fortunately for Duke, all his cases of colic have been medical

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and we have been able to resolve them with painkillers and drugs.

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This looks nice and healthy. Just stop for a second.

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Just have a look at that. All right.

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-He's just feeling that a little bit in his gullet.

-Bits of hay.

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Little bits of food material,

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you see that nice, furry, carpet-like lining of the intestine.

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You can see a few ulcers here, just those little red spots.

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I wouldn't anticipate that that would cause

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the sort of symptoms that you have described.

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'It's good news that these ulcers aren't serious,

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'but what is troubling him is still unclear, and he'll need further investigations.'

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-Good man. There we go.

-I've got it, that's it.

-Terrific. Good boy.

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Hopefully, Duke's problems won't escalate,

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and he'll make a strong and swift recovery

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so he can hook up with the other residents out at pasture.

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Adding to those numbers are four newcomers that have just

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been retired by Greater Manchester Police.

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They are 17-year-old Jack Pridey, followed by Nickleby,

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the oldest and longest-serving of the bunch at 19 years.

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Oliver is a 17-year-old chestnut gelding, and finally, Fairfax,

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the youngest at 14, and the flightiest.

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But before they retire, there is one last job to do,

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and that is to shake off those working shoes for good.

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-So, that's it, the very last time the shoe will be on those feet.

-Yes.

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Do you know what?

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I kind of think you ought to have that as a souvenir.

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You ought to take that back and put it on the wall.

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OK, thank you!

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Between them, these chaps have a combined 50 years of service

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with the Greater Manchester Police, working in all situations,

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including the recent public disorder and football matches.

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Good boy.

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Saying their final goodbyes are head groom Ann Firth

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and officer Shane Wilson, who rode these boys regularly.

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Ah, the last time you're going to feed them.

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It's a bit of the moment, isn't it? I won't start you off!

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Now, you have memories of these horses working hard

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on the beat in all weathers, all times of day.

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That's right, I had Nickleby for a year and Jack for six months.

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Which was your favourite of the two? Impossible to say!

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They are both totally different characters.

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Jack is a very loving horse and shows you a lot of affection,

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where is Nickleby is a solid police horse.

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In the space of two weeks with my colleague

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on patrol, we detained two burglars on two separate incidents.

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On horseback?! It's a bit like the Wild West in Manchester, isn't it?

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And how long have you worked with the police force for?

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20 years in January. Exactly 20 years.

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So you have seen these deliveries happen over the years

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to various parts of the country.

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-Does it get any easier?

-No, it doesn't.

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It's wonderful, but it is a very emotional time.

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I love the welfare of the horses, and to see them come back

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into a natural environment like this is absolutely wonderful.

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Aww. Hey, at least you can keep an eye on them! They're in good hands!

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Absolutely, it is wonderful.

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All of the hard-working retired horses at the trust are here

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to live out their lives in as much comfort as possible.

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And for Duke, a moment of freedom.

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Poor old Duke, who we saw earlier with his endoscopy,

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has now recovered from his jab and is raring to go.

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Good lad. Look at that.

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That is the sort of thing that kind of makes me tingle.

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A horse like this that has had such a difficult and trying life,

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now out here in this gorgeous environment

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on a lovely winter's afternoon like this.

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Doing what horses should do - relaxing,

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and enjoying the evening sunshine.

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A good old roll!

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Earlier, we heard about the huge resources of natural gas

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still trapped beneath our feet.

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But the method used to get at it is proving highly controversial.

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So, is it safe? Here's John.

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It's reckoned there could be trillions of cubic feet of gas

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locked away down deep beneath our landscape.

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Enough, perhaps, to keep our lights on for decades.

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But getting it is tricky and controversial.

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It's claimed it can lead to flaming taps, polluted water,

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and even earth tremors.

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A controversial drilling operation for natural shale gas

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has been suspended after a small earthquake near Blackpool.

0:19:470:19:51

What happened in Lancashire has been blamed on hydraulic fracturing,

0:19:510:19:55

or fracking. That's the high-tech method of breaking up the shale

0:19:550:19:59

thousands of feet down to get to the gas.

0:19:590:20:02

It was May this year when those tremors were felt,

0:20:020:20:05

and fracking was stopped immediately.

0:20:050:20:07

The company concerned has held its hands up.

0:20:070:20:11

No doubt the earthquakes were caused by your fracking.

0:20:110:20:15

Two of them, we did five altogether, and two of them

0:20:150:20:18

did have seismic activity that was related to the operation.

0:20:180:20:22

They were very small, they don't actually rate

0:20:220:20:27

as an earthquake that would cause damage or injury or anything.

0:20:270:20:30

But what we have done with this study is looked at different ways

0:20:300:20:34

of doing the treatments a bit differently,

0:20:340:20:37

and also being able to monitor all the operations so you can see

0:20:370:20:40

anything coming, before it even becomes

0:20:400:20:43

something small like the ones we already had.

0:20:430:20:45

A report into the tremors is currently being studied by the Government, so, at the moment,

0:20:470:20:51

only test drilling is happening at this Southport site.

0:20:510:20:56

It's miles from where the earthquakes happened,

0:20:560:20:58

but tremors aren't the only concern about fracking.

0:20:580:21:01

What about the cocktail of chemicals, water and sand

0:21:010:21:04

being pumped into the ground?

0:21:040:21:06

The city of Bath. People have come here to take the waters

0:21:070:21:11

since Roman times.

0:21:110:21:12

There are fears that, should the quest for shale gas come to

0:21:120:21:16

the nearby Mendip Hills, all this could be under threat.

0:21:160:21:20

How would fracking here in the Mendips affect

0:21:200:21:23

the water in Bristol and Bath?

0:21:230:21:27

I'm concerned that, if they're going to start drilling

0:21:270:21:31

down into the Mendip plateau, and interfering with the aquifers,

0:21:310:21:35

they are going to pollute the springs

0:21:350:21:37

and water that runs across to Bath.

0:21:370:21:39

They're going to back flush their fluids,

0:21:390:21:42

and that could break out into the watercourses underground.

0:21:420:21:45

70% of the water that people in Bath and Bristol drink,

0:21:450:21:50

and the surrounding areas, comes from the Mendip Hills.

0:21:500:21:53

And one of the biggest tourist attractions around here

0:21:530:21:56

are the Roman baths and Bath itself. Could they be threatened?

0:21:560:22:00

If the water is interrupted by the fracking methods

0:22:000:22:04

and is diverted underground,

0:22:040:22:07

or if we lose the source of its actual heating -

0:22:070:22:10

because bear in mind it is coming off the Mendips,

0:22:100:22:13

going deep down into the underground systems and being super heated

0:22:130:22:17

before it goes to Bath - what happens if that water gets diverted?

0:22:170:22:21

We end up going to have a cold bath in Bath.

0:22:210:22:24

And what about those spectacular flaming taps?

0:22:260:22:29

Could flammable gas really get into our water?

0:22:290:22:32

Well, those pictures from America of flames coming out of water taps,

0:22:330:22:39

that's pretty frightening.

0:22:390:22:41

Most geologists feel

0:22:410:22:43

the chances of methane from that far below coming almost two miles

0:22:430:22:47

up through very compressed, very high density rocks, is unlikely.

0:22:470:22:53

-Would it be possible? To see flaming taps in the UK?

-I don't think so.

0:22:530:22:58

Certainly not natural amounts of methane could cause that.

0:22:580:23:03

That still leaves fears over earthquakes.

0:23:030:23:05

Mike Stevenson says we really shouldn't be worried.

0:23:050:23:09

There are natural earthquakes in this area,

0:23:090:23:11

as there are all over Britain.

0:23:110:23:12

In the last 15 years,

0:23:120:23:14

there have been 30 earthquakes

0:23:140:23:16

of the size that happened here due to fracking.

0:23:160:23:19

-In the UK?

-Yes, and they happen naturally.

0:23:190:23:23

So we need to know what is a natural level before we can start

0:23:230:23:26

blaming people for causing earthquakes.

0:23:260:23:30

Because fracking is so new, I can well understand all the concerns,

0:23:340:23:38

even though scientists are saying it is highly unlikely that aquifers

0:23:380:23:42

will be contaminated or that we will see flames coming out of water taps.

0:23:420:23:46

But the gas industry says

0:23:460:23:48

the chemicals it's using are all perfectly safe.

0:23:480:23:51

But there is another concern,

0:23:510:23:53

and it is nothing to do with how they get the gas out of the ground.

0:23:530:23:56

I personally am not so concerned about the process of fracking.

0:23:560:24:00

I think with a very stringent and very carefully-developed

0:24:000:24:03

regulatory framework, we can deal with those sorts of sets of impacts.

0:24:030:24:07

My principal issue, and the game changer for me

0:24:070:24:09

in terms of shale gas, is the relation to climate change.

0:24:090:24:13

Prof Kevin Anderson is a climate scientist

0:24:130:24:15

who thinks using shale gas is a backwards step.

0:24:150:24:17

The UK Government has very stringent commitments

0:24:170:24:20

to make significant reductions in carbon-dioxide emissions.

0:24:200:24:23

20% by 2020.

0:24:230:24:25

Yes, but more significantly,

0:24:250:24:27

we would have to have

0:24:270:24:28

a de-carbonised electricity system by 2030 -

0:24:280:24:31

the Government's own committee on climate change say that.

0:24:310:24:35

So we can show, mathematically,

0:24:350:24:36

you cannot reconcile the development of shale gas in the UK

0:24:360:24:39

with the Government's commitment to climate change.

0:24:390:24:42

-Is that because it is yet another fossil fuel?

-It is, yes.

0:24:420:24:45

It may be slightly better than coal, but it is a high-carbon fuel,

0:24:450:24:48

and we should now be making the transition rapidly to zero or

0:24:480:24:52

very low-carbon fuels, and shale gas cannot be part of that portfolio.

0:24:520:24:55

For others, shale gas could be as important to our energy needs

0:24:550:25:00

as the discovery of North Sea oil and gas.

0:25:000:25:04

The Government believes it can ensure this new power source is both clean and safe.

0:25:040:25:09

I have been hearing a lot of concerns about fracking.

0:25:090:25:12

So, you can guarantee there won't be gas or chemicals

0:25:120:25:15

getting into our drinking water?

0:25:150:25:16

There is no question of relaxing any of the environmental

0:25:160:25:19

regulations that we have in order to protect clean water.

0:25:190:25:23

Most have been established at European Union level,

0:25:230:25:25

and that has given us very good, clean water.

0:25:250:25:28

We intend to keep it that way.

0:25:280:25:30

Shale gas could have an impact on your 20% target for reducing carbon.

0:25:300:25:34

I don't think shale gas would have an impact adversely on our target,

0:25:340:25:39

precisely because in the long run we would be looking to use

0:25:390:25:42

gas in the context of carbon capture and storage to generate electricity.

0:25:420:25:48

Obviously, if we can decarbonise our electricity supply,

0:25:480:25:51

rely on renewables, nuclear, and on clean coal and gas,

0:25:510:25:56

by carbon capture and storage,

0:25:560:25:58

then we can go on using these deposits

0:25:580:26:00

for a very long time to come.

0:26:000:26:02

Undoubtedly, shale gas has huge potential,

0:26:020:26:06

but, at the moment, carbon capture just is not commercially viable.

0:26:060:26:09

And for many, there are still serious questions to be answered

0:26:090:26:12

before shale gas can be seen as an answer to our future energy demands.

0:26:120:26:18

Later on show, Adam discovers how his wheat gets turned into bread.

0:26:200:26:25

It's just incredible, I've never seen anything like it.

0:26:250:26:28

I'll be on the trail of children's author Roald Dahl,

0:26:280:26:31

a man who managed to create

0:26:310:26:33

a flushbunkingly gloryumptious world of whimsy

0:26:330:26:35

that I've never grown out of.

0:26:350:26:38

And we'll be tracking down

0:26:390:26:40

the Countryfile weather forecast for the week ahead.

0:26:400:26:44

Magnificent beech woods and charming brick and flint villages

0:26:580:27:01

are quintessentially Chilterns landscape.

0:27:010:27:04

But the beauty of Buckinghamshire's buildings comes

0:27:040:27:08

from the ground beneath,

0:27:080:27:09

and I'm going to see just how the clay that's unique to the Chilterns

0:27:090:27:13

goes from underground to overground.

0:27:130:27:16

In a region short of building stone, the rich, red clay

0:27:180:27:21

harnessed from beneath the hills make perfect bricks.

0:27:210:27:24

The land belongs to the Matthews family,

0:27:240:27:28

who have been hand making bricks in the area for the last 90-odd years.

0:27:280:27:31

Stuart Brown is a clay digger

0:27:310:27:34

who has been digging very big holes for them since he was a lad.

0:27:340:27:38

Stuart, is this pure clay you've been digging out?

0:27:380:27:43

No, this is what we call loam. We mix this with the clay.

0:27:430:27:46

We use about a quarter to a third of it,

0:27:460:27:48

-depending on how strong the clay is.

-How strong the clay is?

0:27:480:27:52

When you dig the clay from the top of the ground, it's a lot stronger

0:27:520:27:55

than when you get in the ground, because it is a lot milder.

0:27:550:27:59

And how do you know what proportion of each you need?

0:27:590:28:02

-It's like a sixth sense.

-And what's going to happen

0:28:020:28:06

when you end up exhausting all of the clay and loam that you have?

0:28:060:28:10

Well, there are other sites to move onto.

0:28:100:28:13

It's in pockets, like small veins. Some of it's big, some small.

0:28:130:28:17

Once you start, you can then follow the veins through the land.

0:28:170:28:21

'A bit like surface mining, really. The clay here is pretty special.

0:28:210:28:26

'Normally, clay forms gently in layers of mud in a lake,

0:28:260:28:30

'but this stuff was created

0:28:300:28:31

'when a glacial flood tore through the Chilterns,

0:28:310:28:34

'dragging mud and rocks along with it, spreading its deposits.'

0:28:340:28:37

But it's not just the clay from down there

0:28:370:28:39

that is important in making the bricks.

0:28:390:28:41

The trees that tower above me here also play their part.

0:28:410:28:45

It was once a major industry, but now this place is

0:28:470:28:51

one of a handful of traditional brick makers left.

0:28:510:28:53

The beech trees from the wood are used

0:28:550:28:57

to fire the kilns that harden the bricks.

0:28:570:28:59

I'm meeting Jim Matthews, who runs the place.

0:28:590:29:03

So, you are still using a lot of the same resources

0:29:030:29:05

and skills that your grandfather would have used.

0:29:050:29:07

It's pretty much exactly the same as it was in his time.

0:29:070:29:10

There are a few other things like forklifts and electric motors,

0:29:100:29:13

but the process is the same.

0:29:130:29:16

And your grandfather was a bit of an eco-man himself.

0:29:160:29:19

He was very passionate about particularly the habitat

0:29:190:29:23

and maintaining the woodlands.

0:29:230:29:25

He actually wrote this book, which is like a journal for us

0:29:250:29:30

as a family to keep...

0:29:300:29:31

It is beautifully written. Look at that!

0:29:310:29:34

It has almost instructions to us that have been passed down.

0:29:340:29:37

"Think twice before you destroy."

0:29:370:29:40

So, we are careful to replant far more than we take,

0:29:400:29:43

and we have actually replanted

0:29:430:29:46

a net gain of 35 acres of native species, broadleaf woodland,

0:29:460:29:49

in the last 15 years.

0:29:490:29:51

As was his granddad's wish,

0:29:510:29:53

the whole operation is run with conservation in mind.

0:29:530:29:56

By replicating the traditional methods used,

0:29:560:30:00

the factory makes bricks that preserve the look so typical of the area.

0:30:000:30:04

The wood-firing leaves a distinctive smoky effect that you just don't get

0:30:040:30:08

with modern oil-fired kilns. But as well as the bog standards,

0:30:080:30:12

they make ornate specials,

0:30:120:30:13

often matching original bricks hundreds of years old.

0:30:130:30:16

It's like Geppetto's workshop in here!

0:30:160:30:18

Andy Hales will show me how.

0:30:180:30:20

-Good and cold.

-Just roll it. Roll it away. That's it, let go.

0:30:200:30:23

Now, pick it up.

0:30:230:30:24

Yeah, little bit of a drag. Now, bang it down hard.

0:30:280:30:30

This is quite culinary.

0:30:300:30:32

Wire bow that little bit of excess clay off.

0:30:320:30:34

Once these beauties have been shaped, it's time to bake them

0:30:340:30:38

in a hot kiln for 24 hours at 1,000 degrees centigrade.

0:30:380:30:41

That's gas mark 36 to you and me!

0:30:410:30:43

-Sandcastles!

-There we are.

0:30:440:30:46

-Ta-da!

-And I could sell that one.

0:30:460:30:49

Really?!

0:30:490:30:50

The distinctive reddy hues of these Chiltern bricks have been used

0:30:510:30:55

on many a stately pile.

0:30:550:30:57

Hampton Court and Mapledurham House all boast

0:30:570:31:01

a bit of traditional Buckinghamshire brickwork.

0:31:010:31:03

But from grand houses and little cottages right back to ground level,

0:31:030:31:07

this might not look like a lot at the moment,

0:31:070:31:09

but the boys return all the land from which they got their clay

0:31:090:31:13

back to wildlife ponds, to agriculture and to native woodland.

0:31:130:31:17

Not only are Jim and the boys maintaining

0:31:170:31:20

the tradition of hand-making the bricks that characterise the area,

0:31:200:31:24

but they're also leaving a legacy for the landscape.

0:31:240:31:27

Now, over in the Cotswolds,

0:31:310:31:33

it's been a busy year for Adam out in the arable fields.

0:31:330:31:35

Today, he's on a journey to discover what happens to his milling wheat

0:31:350:31:39

once it leaves the farm. But before he does that,

0:31:390:31:41

the animals need a bit of attention.

0:31:410:31:43

Not you, cow! You're staying out!

0:31:450:31:48

Come on, goats!

0:31:490:31:51

As the winter months are drawing in, the days are getting shorter,

0:31:510:31:54

the nights are getting colder and wetter,

0:31:540:31:56

it's time these goats came into the shed.

0:31:560:31:58

Like many of the other animals, we house them for the winter.

0:31:580:32:02

Goats have got hair, not wool, so unlike sheep,

0:32:020:32:04

they haven't got a greasy, woolly fleece to keep them warm all winter.

0:32:040:32:08

They really come from arid countries, where it's warm and dry.

0:32:080:32:12

So, they suffer from the cold a bit. Come on, girls.

0:32:120:32:14

They're all females out here, apart from one Billy goat,

0:32:140:32:18

who's got an unusual way of attracting the ladies.

0:32:180:32:21

At this time of year, male goats really stink.

0:32:210:32:24

They're covered in pheromones, and rather disgustingly,

0:32:240:32:27

they wee on themselves. You think it makes you smell lovely, don't you,

0:32:270:32:31

but it doesn't. You stink!

0:32:310:32:33

Goats are one of the first animals to be domesticated, or tamed,

0:32:330:32:37

and they're so good at coming to a bucket of food,

0:32:370:32:39

you can pretty much do anything with them.

0:32:390:32:42

And food is exactly what I'm using to entice them

0:32:450:32:48

to their new home for the winter.

0:32:480:32:49

Come on, goats!

0:32:490:32:51

This is their winter housing, and it's a nice, airy, open shed

0:32:590:33:02

with lots of natural light and movement of air,

0:33:020:33:05

which is important for the health of the goats.

0:33:050:33:07

You don't want it too foggy in here,

0:33:070:33:09

otherwise there's a risk of them getting pneumonia.

0:33:090:33:12

And they like to be in groups, goats. They're herd animals.

0:33:120:33:16

They don't like to be isolated.

0:33:160:33:17

They just live like this happily all winter.

0:33:170:33:20

There's just one last job I've got to do.

0:33:200:33:23

Believe it or not, they need a pedicure, which we do twice a year.

0:33:230:33:26

Goats can get quite long toenails that curl right over,

0:33:260:33:30

and we just trim off the excess hoof.

0:33:300:33:33

Sometimes when they grow right over, it traps in dirt,

0:33:340:33:39

and they get foot rot.

0:33:390:33:42

These ones are very good feet.

0:33:430:33:45

There you go, all done.

0:33:470:33:48

With the goats all settled in for the winter,

0:33:480:33:52

it's time to put in a bit of halter training with my cows.

0:33:520:33:55

This one I've got, is a Belted Galloway, and Mike's got a Gloucester.

0:33:550:33:59

Belted Galloways come in three colours.

0:33:590:34:02

Black and white, red and white and dun and white.

0:34:020:34:04

This one is obviously black and white, and she's well marked -

0:34:040:34:07

a lovely big belt round her middle and over her tummy.

0:34:070:34:10

And she's called Paprika. She's a bit fiery.

0:34:110:34:15

And while she's small like this, while she's little,

0:34:150:34:18

I'm stronger than she is, and she learns to respect the halter

0:34:180:34:21

and learns that she can't get away.

0:34:210:34:23

But this Belty, when she's mature, she'll weigh as much as that bull.

0:34:230:34:27

And obviously be quite difficult to control.

0:34:270:34:30

Then, you can slip a halter on them and they seem to remember,

0:34:300:34:33

so if you've got a problem with them,

0:34:330:34:35

something in their eye or mastitis

0:34:350:34:37

or you just want to take them to a show,

0:34:370:34:39

you just put a halter on, and off you go.

0:34:390:34:41

That's the plan, anyway.

0:34:420:34:43

There we go, job done.

0:34:480:34:49

With the calves safely back indoors, I can turn my attention to my wheat.

0:34:490:34:53

It's been in these stores since August,

0:34:530:34:55

and is now ready to come out.

0:34:550:34:57

I'm hoping the milling wheat will make the grade

0:34:570:35:00

and could be turned into flour for making bread.

0:35:000:35:02

We've worked hard producing it,

0:35:020:35:03

so I don't want it ending up just as animal feed.

0:35:030:35:06

Martin's just loading a lorry-load of milling wheat.

0:35:080:35:10

This was grown on the farm. We've got about 700 tons of it.

0:35:100:35:13

Milling wheat is grown to quite a high specification,

0:35:130:35:16

particularly the protein. It needs to be over 12%

0:35:160:35:19

to be able to make it into bread.

0:35:190:35:21

We've got in the store here, we've got about 700 tons below.

0:35:210:35:24

Once it comes into the store, the job isn't done.

0:35:240:35:27

We have to look after it, it has to be kept cool and dry

0:35:270:35:30

so it doesn't go mouldy.

0:35:300:35:31

But once it's on the lorry and gone, it's a weight off our mind.

0:35:310:35:35

Because this is a precious load for us.

0:35:350:35:37

It represents 12 months of hard graft.

0:35:370:35:40

This milling wheat is really valuable stuff.

0:35:400:35:43

The price fluctuates all the time, depending on the world market

0:35:430:35:46

and what the grain prices are in Europe.

0:35:460:35:49

At the moment, it's worth about £155 a ton.

0:35:490:35:52

This lorry holds 29 tons, so there's about four and a half grand's worth

0:35:520:35:56

that'll be going off down the drive.

0:35:560:35:58

That's a year's hard work, and hopefully,

0:35:580:36:01

a cheque'll be arriving soon.

0:36:010:36:03

And this is normally the end of the process for us.

0:36:030:36:06

We sell our grain to a merchant and we never see it again.

0:36:060:36:09

But I'm keen to find out what happens when it leaves my farm.

0:36:110:36:14

I'm on my way to Southampton Docks,

0:36:190:36:21

to one of the largest mills in the UK.

0:36:210:36:23

That's where my wheat's going at the moment.

0:36:230:36:25

I've heard it's an amazing set-up.

0:36:250:36:27

It's supposed to be huge, so I'm really looking forward to seeing it.

0:36:270:36:30

Wow, this place is bigger than I expected.

0:36:380:36:40

There must be some pretty impressive machines behind those walls.

0:36:400:36:44

I can't wait to get inside.

0:36:440:36:45

I'm meeting Gary Sharkey.

0:36:450:36:47

He's worked in the grain trade for 27 years,

0:36:470:36:49

so he knows the industry inside-out.

0:36:490:36:51

-Gary, hi.

-Hi, morning.

0:36:510:36:52

So, this is the first stop as my wheat comes to the mill, is it?

0:36:520:36:56

Yes, as each lorry arrives at the mill,

0:36:560:36:58

it comes here to the weighbridge.

0:36:580:37:00

We take samples from each lorry, and then it goes

0:37:000:37:02

straight into the laboratory behind us for testing and analysing.

0:37:020:37:06

-Can we have a look in there?

-Yes, we can.

0:37:060:37:08

So, what we're looking for here

0:37:080:37:10

is the cleanliness of the grain, the smell.

0:37:100:37:13

What we'd like to make sure there isn't in there are things like mice,

0:37:130:37:16

insects, stones, rat droppings,

0:37:160:37:20

as an example we found before.

0:37:200:37:23

-And smell is important, then?

-Smell is very important.

0:37:230:37:26

Let's have a little smell, then.

0:37:260:37:28

You don't want it to be mouldy. It smells pretty good to me.

0:37:300:37:33

We've had in the past, actually, we had one sample many years ago

0:37:330:37:36

where it took on the taint of a creosote fence

0:37:360:37:38

from outside the farmer's shed.

0:37:380:37:41

So, it takes on a lot of smell, it can.

0:37:410:37:43

Yep, a good, clean sample.

0:37:430:37:45

Lovely. Just like the stuff from my farm, I expect.

0:37:450:37:48

I'm sure!

0:37:480:37:50

Fortunately for me, my wheat does make the grade, and begins its journey into the factory.

0:37:500:37:54

Goodness me. When you think of a flour mill,

0:37:540:37:57

a lot of people would think of Windy Miller

0:37:570:37:59

and his old windmill, wouldn't they?

0:37:590:38:01

This is multi-million-pound technology these days.

0:38:010:38:04

We're producing lots of different flours on site.

0:38:040:38:07

This is a control panel that runs all four mills.

0:38:070:38:10

You can see we have quality data

0:38:100:38:12

-all the way through to the finished flour on the end here.

-Crikey.

0:38:120:38:15

Like something out of Star Trek. How many types of flour are you actually producing?

0:38:150:38:19

We produce over 200 types of flour on this site alone.

0:38:190:38:22

But the machines are so noisy.

0:38:220:38:24

You can't hear a thing!

0:38:240:38:26

So we communicate using our own sort of sign language.

0:38:260:38:29

From what I gather, this is what's happening.

0:38:290:38:32

The grain passes through the top of this machine and the wheatberries are broken open.

0:38:320:38:36

It's then sucked up some pipes, five floors to the top of the mill.

0:38:360:38:40

It's sifted and then ground down in these machines to extract the flour.

0:38:400:38:45

The wheat's shaken up in this large container.

0:38:450:38:48

Basically, it's one massive sieve.

0:38:480:38:50

It's just incredible, I've never seen anything like it!

0:38:500:38:53

The flour now starts the next part of its journey, into the bakery.

0:38:530:38:57

This is the flour that you saw leave the mill.

0:38:570:39:00

And now we're here at the bakery.

0:39:000:39:02

And this will be added to what to make the bread?

0:39:020:39:05

Typically, water, yeast, salt, they're the main ingredients.

0:39:050:39:09

And how many loaves are you putting through this place at one time?

0:39:090:39:13

A typical bakery line will produce between four and 10,000 loaves,

0:39:130:39:17

depending on its size, each hour.

0:39:170:39:19

-Wow, that's a lot of bread, isn't it?

-Yes.

0:39:190:39:21

So, can we see some loaves being made?

0:39:210:39:23

The whole process takes about three and a quarter hours,

0:39:230:39:25

-but we'll do it a bit quicker for you.

-Thanks very much.

0:39:250:39:28

A lorry-load of wheat like mine will make around 50,000 loaves of bread.

0:39:280:39:32

Wow, that's the biggest dough mixture I've ever seen.

0:39:330:39:36

Uniformity is crucial. Every piece needs to weigh the same.

0:39:360:39:39

Bread!

0:39:400:39:42

914 grams. Excellent. Well within our specification.

0:39:420:39:46

-In the bin?

-In the bin, please.

0:39:460:39:48

OK, so here we are at the front end of the oven,

0:39:550:39:57

and the bread's ready to go and travel through the 48 degrees.

0:39:570:40:00

-So, in these trays, there's loaves ready to go?

-In each... Here we go.

0:40:000:40:05

-The dough's already started to rise.

-Already started to rise.

-Great.

0:40:050:40:08

To provide that perfect loaf at the end of the oven.

0:40:080:40:11

So, here we are, the final product. Go ahead, try one.

0:40:210:40:24

-Is that all right?

-Yep.

0:40:240:40:25

It's amazing to think that all the work that's gone into

0:40:250:40:28

growing the wheat and then coming here with the process,

0:40:280:40:31

it's huge, isn't it? Over a year's work.

0:40:310:40:33

Over a year's work for you, and maybe another year of marketing

0:40:330:40:36

it before the actual flour sees us in the bakery,

0:40:360:40:39

so coming up for two years.

0:40:390:40:40

Next time I'm tucking into my sandwiches, I'll think of you.

0:40:400:40:43

I thought it was me doing all the hard work! Great stuff.

0:40:430:40:46

Next week, I'm back on the farm,

0:40:460:40:47

putting the rest of the animals to bed for the winter,

0:40:470:40:50

and I'll be finding out the results of my TB test.

0:40:500:40:53

Recently, local girl Helen returned home to Cumbria

0:40:540:40:57

to one of the country's oldest traditional agricultural shows,

0:40:570:41:02

and while she was there,

0:41:020:41:03

she was able to surprise one show-goer in particular.

0:41:030:41:06

# We are rowing around Lakeland

0:41:080:41:11

# What a pleasure and a joy

0:41:110:41:13

# The hills, the fens, the valleys

0:41:130:41:16

# I have loved since a boy

0:41:160:41:18

# Generations quickly pass

0:41:180:41:20

# Nature's beauty stays the same

0:41:200:41:23

# A piece of Heaven here on Earth

0:41:230:41:25

# And Lakeland, that's the name. #

0:41:250:41:28

CHEERING AND APPLAUSE

0:41:280:41:30

It's been a great day.

0:41:300:41:32

I spent it amongst the hills at home,

0:41:320:41:35

in a very special place, untouched by time.

0:41:350:41:37

I'm in Wasdale in wild West Cumbria, and it's here you'll find

0:41:400:41:43

England's highest mountain,

0:41:430:41:45

somewhere hidden in the clouds, its deepest lake, and this,

0:41:450:41:50

one of the best little country shows in the land.

0:41:500:41:53

The Wasdale Shepherds' Meet dates back to the 1700s.

0:41:530:41:56

It's stayed true to its rural roots.

0:41:560:41:58

There's hundreds of Herdwick sheep on show, there's vintage tractors,

0:41:580:42:04

old farm machinery

0:42:040:42:06

and these, the traditional tool of the hill shepherd - the crook.

0:42:060:42:10

They take crooks seriously in these parts.

0:42:110:42:15

Competition for first prize is fierce.

0:42:150:42:18

The guy they all have to beat is Dennis Wall.

0:42:180:42:20

How do you get this from a sheep's horn?

0:42:200:42:24

Well, this is a sheep horn as we would get hold of it,

0:42:250:42:28

straight from the sheep, so to speak.

0:42:280:42:30

So, we boil it and flatten it.

0:42:310:42:33

We can then put it in blocks like that,

0:42:360:42:39

and incorporate in this jig. That's a bottle jack. And that's ten tons.

0:42:390:42:43

So we then jack it up, and when it reaches that top bar,

0:42:430:42:47

it'll simply force the horn into the shape of the blocks.

0:42:470:42:51

It's got nowhere else to go.

0:42:510:42:53

Once you've got your basic shape, it's time to file it down.

0:42:530:42:58

Don't tell Dennis, but I'm getting a few tips from his main rival,

0:42:580:43:02

Bob Cannon.

0:43:020:43:03

Dennis is just loitering behind us, Bob, but he's your competition.

0:43:050:43:10

Yes, strong competition, yes, yes.

0:43:100:43:14

I hear he's got a bit of a reputation.

0:43:140:43:16

He wins, I win, six of one and half a dozen of the other.

0:43:160:43:20

I can never imagine Man United and Man City

0:43:200:43:22

being underneath the same tarpaulin!

0:43:220:43:24

-You don't mind working alongside him?

-No, not at all!

0:43:240:43:28

No, it's friendly rivals.

0:43:280:43:30

I think I may have caught the bark!

0:43:360:43:38

Oops, I think I'd better beat a hasty retreat,

0:43:380:43:41

but I'll be back later, not so much to see who's won - nope,

0:43:410:43:45

I've got a special surprise for one of the show-goers.

0:43:450:43:49

OK, then.

0:43:490:43:51

Wasdale's a proper shepherds' meet.

0:43:560:43:58

Tracey Harrison is a local lass, and her Herdwicks have done well today.

0:43:580:44:02

So, you've won all these today?

0:44:020:44:04

Yeah, these are all our gimmer sheep.

0:44:040:44:06

As you can see, we've got quite a few red rosettes,

0:44:060:44:09

so we're really pleased.

0:44:090:44:10

But there's been a lot of good competition.

0:44:100:44:12

I think there's more sheep here than I've ever seen been shown,

0:44:120:44:16

so it's good for the shepherds' meet, it keeps everything going, keeps people coming back.

0:44:160:44:20

And what makes you come and show your sheep?

0:44:200:44:23

It's a day out!

0:44:230:44:24

And you work all year to breed your sheep, and you look after them,

0:44:240:44:29

and it's chance to show them off. A social event, see everybody,

0:44:290:44:32

and it also promotes your stock for when you sell them at the market.

0:44:320:44:37

One of the highlights of the show is the fell race,

0:44:390:44:42

one of the toughest in the calendar.

0:44:420:44:45

Near 2,000 feet sheer up Kirk Fell.

0:44:450:44:49

Looking on is the greatest fell runner of them all, Joss Naylor,

0:44:490:44:53

shepherd and living legend.

0:44:530:44:56

-Are you still running now?

-I am.

0:44:590:45:02

I did the mountain trial about three weeks ago for the 49th time,

0:45:020:45:06

and I enjoyed it.

0:45:060:45:09

I hope next year I'll be fit enough to do my 50th one.

0:45:090:45:13

-I'll have to keep working at it.

-How old are you now?

0:45:130:45:15

75, but age doesn't matter, I don't think about that.

0:45:150:45:20

Will you carry on training or just do events?

0:45:200:45:24

I still do my training. I like to get out in the fells.

0:45:240:45:29

-I don't do a lot of events.

-Did you not fancy doing this today?

0:45:290:45:32

It's too snotty and that. It's a young man's run, that, today.

0:45:320:45:36

I've been up and down there dozens of times.

0:45:360:45:39

We can't see because of the fog. What's it like up there?

0:45:390:45:42

Up there, it's hand-on-knee stuff for a lot of people.

0:45:420:45:46

If you started walking, you'll walk the lot after that.

0:45:460:45:48

Anybody who sets off up there running and they start walking,

0:45:480:45:51

that's them finished until they get to the top,

0:45:510:45:54

because they don't get to start running again - it's that steep.

0:45:540:45:57

It's one of the steepest mountains in the Lake District.

0:45:570:46:00

It'll be very, very greasy underfoot, and they'll have to be very careful.

0:46:000:46:05

I've seen a few people come down with bloody knees already.

0:46:050:46:08

That's right.

0:46:080:46:09

-Nice to see you.

-Well done, mate. Magic.

-Cheers, mate.

0:46:090:46:13

-It's cleared up, up there.

-That's good. The top is clear.

0:46:130:46:17

Well, maybe I should give it a go, then.

0:46:170:46:19

Get this tackle on the way, lass!

0:46:190:46:21

Fell running can be dangerous. Only a few weeks ago,

0:46:210:46:25

it claimed the life of one of the sport's true greats, Bill Smith.

0:46:250:46:29

Apart from a few cuts and bruises,

0:46:290:46:31

no-one has come to any grief at the show today,

0:46:310:46:35

and away from the fell race, Dennis's crooks have come out on top.

0:46:350:46:38

I think it's first! It's a Herdwick horn as well.

0:46:380:46:41

They also made this year's Countryfile calendar.

0:46:440:46:47

The picture was taken at last year's Wasdale show by this fellow,

0:46:470:46:51

Derek Young, and he's about to get a bit of a surprise.

0:46:510:46:54

-Here you are again, Derek, taking photographs.

-Yeah.

0:46:540:46:57

It was a bit different this time last year, though, wasn't it?

0:46:570:47:00

It certainly was. It was a lovely day last year.

0:47:000:47:03

Unfortunately, today, our sunshine is in liquid form.

0:47:030:47:06

We can see last year's picture in the calendar. How does that feel?

0:47:060:47:10

Very pleased, very pleased with it.

0:47:100:47:12

Right then, come on, tell me about these crooks.

0:47:120:47:15

What was it that caught your eye

0:47:150:47:17

and made you think, "I'm going to snap these"?

0:47:170:47:19

I took a picture of the crooks a few years ago when I was here.

0:47:190:47:22

It was OK, but I always felt it could be better.

0:47:220:47:25

So, last year I came back and I took the picture and thought it looked OK,

0:47:250:47:29

particularly because the winning crooks had been set up so nicely,

0:47:290:47:33

and it was facing such a lovely, low sun.

0:47:330:47:36

I was very fortunate.

0:47:360:47:38

Well, I can tell you that not only has your photograph made

0:47:380:47:42

the calendar, it was actually judged the judges' favourite.

0:47:420:47:46

-Wow.

-Huge congratulations. Here's a signed picture for you.

0:47:460:47:50

John Craven has autographed it on the back, especially for you.

0:47:500:47:53

Brilliant, thank you.

0:47:530:47:55

And you also get £500 worth of photographic equipment.

0:47:550:48:00

We can get you a new rain cover.

0:48:000:48:03

He had a little sandwich bag before!

0:48:030:48:06

When the show is over and the last of the rosettes have all been won,

0:48:080:48:11

there's one final act, a song -

0:48:110:48:14

a traditional Lakeland air, sung by this man, Pat Temple,

0:48:140:48:19

the last of his kind, the last of the old-style shepherd singers

0:48:190:48:23

who sang at the end of shows like Wasdale.

0:48:230:48:27

# Work and leisure hand-in-hand

0:48:270:48:29

# A treat for the world to see

0:48:290:48:32

# We're roving round Lakeland

0:48:320:48:35

# What a pleasure and a joy

0:48:350:48:37

# The hills, the farms, the valleys

0:48:370:48:40

# I have loved since a boy

0:48:400:48:42

# Generations quickly pass

0:48:420:48:44

# Nature's beauty stays the same

0:48:440:48:47

# A piece of Heaven here on Earth

0:48:470:48:50

# And Lakeland, that's the name. #

0:48:500:48:51

Thank you.

0:48:510:48:53

APPLAUSE

0:48:530:48:54

If you'd like Derek's prize-winning By Hook Or By Crook hanging

0:48:590:49:02

on your wall in July next year, well, you need to buy

0:49:020:49:05

a Countryfile calendar, sold in aid of Children in Need.

0:49:050:49:09

Here's how you can get your hands on one.

0:49:090:49:12

The calendar costs £9, and a minimum of £4

0:49:150:49:17

from each sale will go to Children in Need.

0:49:170:49:22

You can order it right now on our website, that's...

0:49:220:49:25

Or you can call the order line on...

0:49:290:49:31

You can also order by post. Send your name, address and check to...

0:49:360:49:40

Please make your cheques payable to BBC Countryfile Calendar.

0:49:480:49:52

In a moment, I'll be visiting a few of the locations

0:49:590:50:02

that inspired some of Roald Dahl's best-loved children's stories.

0:50:020:50:06

But first, here's the Countryfile forecast for the week ahead.

0:50:060:50:10

Earlier, I heard how the landscape here in the Vale of Aylesbury

0:53:100:53:14

inspired many a poet to write.

0:53:140:53:16

I visited the home of John Milton,

0:53:160:53:18

who was to Buckinghamshire what Shakespeare was to Warwickshire.

0:53:180:53:22

The landscape didn't just inspire highbrow poetry,

0:53:230:53:27

but also lashings of lovely children's literature.

0:53:270:53:30

Enid Blyton wrote the Famous Five here.

0:53:300:53:32

But it's another literary great that I'm here to find out about,

0:53:320:53:36

a man who managed to create a flushbunkingly gloriumptious world of whimsy

0:53:360:53:40

that I've never grown out of.

0:53:400:53:43

Roald Dahl, a man remembered as one of the most successful

0:53:430:53:47

and beloved children's writers of all time,

0:53:470:53:49

who lived here at Gypsy House in Great Missenden.

0:53:490:53:54

His works are littered with references

0:53:540:53:56

to the village and his surroundings.

0:53:560:53:58

The shiny red pumps of the garage on the high street gave inspiration

0:53:580:54:02

for Danny The Champion Of The World.

0:54:020:54:04

"My father owned the filling station and the caravan

0:54:040:54:07

"and the small field behind, but that was about all he owned in the world."

0:54:070:54:11

And there's yet more magic within the bricks and mortar of this place.

0:54:110:54:15

This house was the inspiration for Sophie's orphanage in the BFG,

0:54:160:54:20

which I have to say is one of my personal faves.

0:54:200:54:23

This museum was opened to honour the man himself,

0:54:280:54:32

and I've got a golden ticket to delve into their private archive

0:54:320:54:35

and take a sneaky peek at some of his original scribblings.

0:54:350:54:38

I'm meeting archivist Jane Branfield, wearer of white gloves

0:54:410:54:46

and privileged bearer of keys to a world of pure imagination.

0:54:460:54:50

Jane, he really was inspired by the natural world

0:54:500:54:53

and his landscape, wasn't he?

0:54:530:54:55

Yes, Roald always had a tremendous love of nature,

0:54:550:54:58

and you can see this even from when he was a very small boy.

0:54:580:55:01

-We've got all the letters he wrote to his mother.

-Oh, wow.

0:55:010:55:05

And these early ones...

0:55:050:55:07

-Look at the handwriting, it's very neat for a young man.

-I know.

0:55:080:55:12

Notice he signs them all, "Boy,"

0:55:120:55:14

-probably because he had three sisters.

-The boy of the family.

0:55:140:55:18

The letters are full of references to the nature walks

0:55:180:55:22

he goes on with his friends. In this letter,

0:55:220:55:24

he's particularly smitten with Mr Nicholl's lecture on owls.

0:55:240:55:29

"Mr Nichol gave us a fine lecture last night on birds.

0:55:310:55:34

"He told us how owls eat mice, they eat the whole mouse, skin and all,

0:55:340:55:38

"and then all the skin and bones goes into a sort of little parcel

0:55:380:55:41

"inside him, and he puts it on the ground, and these are called pellets.

0:55:410:55:45

"And he showed us some pictures."

0:55:450:55:47

-This here is one of Roald Dahl's ideas books.

-Wow.

0:55:470:55:51

This is the original idea for James And The Giant Peach.

0:55:510:55:54

As you can see, it's very faint and it says,

0:55:540:55:57

"The cherry that wouldn't stop growing. A fairy story."

0:55:570:56:00

So, it was going to be a cherry to begin with.

0:56:000:56:02

Yes, yes, it was. We know that from other sources, too.

0:56:020:56:05

And then he settled on the peach, I think because it was softer.

0:56:050:56:09

Those animals could burrow in a bit better. Yeah, easier to cave into.

0:56:090:56:12

That's amazing.

0:56:120:56:14

Dahl would lock himself away in his writing hut in the garden

0:56:160:56:19

to pen his magical tales.

0:56:190:56:21

And rumour has it, he'd tell his children that wolves

0:56:210:56:24

lived inside, so they were too scared to come in and distract him.

0:56:240:56:28

From his home at Gypsy House, Dahl would walk here,

0:56:320:56:35

through Angling Springwood.

0:56:350:56:37

The name itself sounds pure fairytale, doesn't it?

0:56:370:56:40

It was here that he apparently took inspiration for Fantastic Mr Fox.

0:56:400:56:45

And so the story ends,

0:57:030:57:05

here at the local church in the village that meant so much to Dahl.

0:57:050:57:08

"We have tears in our eyes as we wave our goodbyes.

0:57:080:57:14

"We so loved being with you, we three.

0:57:140:57:18

"So do please now and then come and see us again,

0:57:180:57:21

"the Giraffe and the Pelly and me."

0:57:210:57:25

That's it from the literary landscape,

0:57:320:57:35

here in the Vale of Aylesbury.

0:57:350:57:37

Next week, I'll be off-roading with a difference

0:57:370:57:40

around the shores of Loch Lomond,

0:57:400:57:42

and Matt will be swimming with horses

0:57:420:57:44

around the islands of the loch.

0:57:440:57:46

I hope you can join us then, bye-bye.

0:57:460:57:48

Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd

0:57:550:57:59

E-mail [email protected]

0:57:590:58:02

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