Clare Balding uncovers the roots of a motor sport where the landscape provides the biggest challenge, while James Wong finds out how a mineral transformed part of Worcestershire.
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The green fields and hills of rural Worcestershire.
We're in traditional farming country
and you could be forgiven for thinking that nothing noisy happens around here.
But you'd be wrong.
This peaceful, pastoral scene is not what it seems.
Because under the surface lies a deep burning passion,
the need for speed.
We're in the heart of hill-climbing country
and after a bit of practice, I'll be challenging James to a race.
I guess it's ladies first.
Good luck to you both, I know you're going to need it.
Matt's also got racing on his mind,
at the Isle of Wight Round the Island Race.
Hello to the old boys from Tonbridge School! Countryfile calling!
And with the ever-growing worldwide demand for food,
such as wheat, I'll be asking whether we should be trying to guarantee
that we all have enough to eat in the future
by growing more of our own. And also on Countryfile tonight:
Down the farm, Adam's got his hands full.
Over the last few weeks, quite a few of our sows have given birth
and this is the sow's first litter and they're doing really well.
You're a good girl, aren't you?
And in Droitwich,
James is boiling up some of Worcestershire's industrial past.
There's enough salt in there for your whole canteen's fish and chips!
Worcestershire, a patchwork of fields, rolling green hills
and picturesque villages.
Deep within the county, Shelsley Walsh.
I've come to find out how a sleepy village
turns into a racetrack in one of our quirkiest rural sports.
Let's be honest, this isn't an obvious spot
for a massive motorsport event, but for over 100 years,
thousands of petrolheads have been flocking here to Shelsley Walsh
to take on the might of the hill.
It's all about car hill-climbing,
a race against the clock uphill over 1,000 yards.
And this track is world's oldest operational motorsports venue.
It all began in 1905 when a farmer
let a motorcar club use his steep track.
Little did he know that 100 years later,
it would be the international home of hill-racing.
Even Stirling Moss honed his skills here.
Soon, I'm going to be taking on the course AND James
in a head-to-head run up here but first, I want to find out more
about the history of the hill climb and its enduring appeal.
John Moody is president of the Midland Automobile Club,
so who better to tell me all about it?
The first time this was used was 1905,
so how does the time then compare to the times that they register now?
Well, the best time of the day was 77 seconds in 1905
and the current record for the hill is 22.58 seconds.
What sort of speeds are they getting up to?
Well, at that mark in the bank,
the very quick chaps are doing 130mph,
but don't forget they have then got to negotiate a 90 degree corner
and then over the finishing line, the very fastest are doing over 140mph.
I might go a little slower than that, just because
-I don't want to make James feel under too much pressure.
Shelsley hosts several race meetings a year. People come from all over the country
to compete and soak up the atmosphere.
This place has an extraordinary historical atmosphere about it.
It's been running since early in the century
and it's just the same today as it was in 1905.
If you do make a mistake, the consequences can be sort of painful,
at least on the wallet, if not in other ways, too.
I've got to take this on later today, so what advice would you give me?
Do as you're told from your instructor!
-Open your eyes now and again, that helps.
"Do as I'm told" might be the biggest problem of all.
So the most important advice I've been given
is listen to what the man tells me.
And I know just the man to give me that information,
because he lives here.
Five years ago, Simon Durling sold up to move here,
to the top of the racetrack, because he loved the sport so much.
And he's foolish enough to let me
drive up this narrow hill in one of these.
So this shall be my steed and what's she like to drive?
What do I need to think about?
Quite a lot of power, therefore when you use the accelerator,
you squeeze, you don't stamp.
Before I get my hands on the wheel,
I'm going to pick up some tips from the passenger seat.
I'm sure I'll be in safe hands with Simon.
-Far over to the right as possible.
Left, as far as you can.
Hit that drain cover. Quite late through here.
-Break as soon as you see the sleepers.
Change down to second.
-And then we stop.
I'm not going to lie to you, but I tell you,
you're such a sweet, quiet-looking person,
that I didn't actually expect that.
And when you started, I just thought, jeepers, what's he doing?!
-And then suddenly, OK, we're going to go really fast!
Made me feel a little bit sick.
'Later in the programme,
'James and I will be going head-to-head in a race'
up this historic track.
I think I've got a fair bit of practising to do
before I'm ready to take him on.
First, with food prices on the rise, there's increasing concern
that we're relying too heavily on imports for the things that we eat,
so how secure are our food supplies? John has been investigating.
70 years ago, Britain was at war, a war that affected everyone's lives.
Enemy action at sea had a drastic impact on food imports.
Shortages became part of daily life.
Memory lane for me, because the problem was so bad
that people were still having to use ration books way into the 1950s.
Now this is a picture of me when I was about 10 years old,
with my little sister and my mum. I can still remember
having to hand in my ration book every Saturday morning
to get my weekly sweets.
These days, no-one's physically stopping food getting into Britain,
but with a rapidly growing world population,
there's less and less of it to go round.
And that could affect our imports.
So what happens when our food supplies are cut off?
And how did we cope last time?
Historian John Martin has spent many years
researching our wartime food policy.
John, exactly what happened last time?
Why did the country find itself in such problems for food during the war?
Well, first of all, Britain in the 1930s
was heavily dependent on importing food.
You could say abnormally dependent. It depended more on imported food
than any other country except neutral Switzerland.
Prior to the war, we were importing about 75% of our food requirements.
By the end of the war, it amounted to only about 25%.
-Just how bad did it get?
-It was certainly a major crisis.
Britain could have been starved into submission,
or at least malnutrition could have been widespread.
But looking back, what I couldn't understand at the time
was why were my sweets still being rationed,
nearly 10 years after the war had finished?
Well, first of all, there's a major world food shortage after the war.
Also, starvation in countries like India meant that what food
was available from Britain had to be partly diverted to these countries.
Bread was rationed for the first time in 1946
and sugar was in short supply, largely because Britain's literally broke.
Back then, we were in the midst of a global war.
People who lived through those times might well believe that these days
our food supplies are much more secure. But are they?
Three years ago, we all got a bit of a shock
when the cost of food across the world suddenly shot up.
The reasons for the 2008 price spike still aren't completely clear,
but low stockpiles, failed harvests and high oil prices
all played a part. More than 30 countries banned the export of food
because they needed it for themselves.
And since then, things haven't got better for shoppers.
How are prices now compared to 2008?
I'd say prices in general are consistent with 2008.
'Unlike during the war, problems over global supplies
'don't mean that Britain will run out of food,
'but they do mean we'll pay more for what we're bringing in.'
-How much is imported here?
-Well, we reckon that in Britain generally,
about 60% of all the food that's sold is made here, produced here.
We have a philosophy of "British whenever we can."
But sometimes, for example, apples at this time of year,
-they're going to be imported.
-How much have they gone up?
Well, they reckon about 20% over the last couple of years.
So, you know, that could be quite a significant hike for some shoppers.
We're nowhere near as reliant on imports as we were before the war,
but price rises like those on fruit and vegetables have made many believe
that we'd be safer if we produced more of what we eat here at home.
Supermarkets like Morrisons are working closely with British farmers.
This potato crop will be going into your supermarkets?
Absolutely, yeah, we'll buy all of it, this entire crop.
Of course, you've heard arguments that supermarkets have a sort of stranglehold over farmers in Britain,
but do you think in this case it could be a force for good?
It's really important for us and our business that we've got a strong British farming industry.
We spent quite a bit of money ourselves on new research
to help farmers increase yields, if you like, for potatoes etc,
so that we can make more of the land that we have.
But despite companies like this buying more home-grown foods,
predictions are that our level of self-sufficiency will continue to drop.
For years to come, we will keep on relying on the rest of the world.
Well, what's going to happen in the future?
Will we see even greater food shortages?
Are prices going to get even higher?
I'm off to meet someone who should know.
Charles Godfray has worked on the most comprehensive report to date
on the safety of the UK's food supplies,
what's known as our food security.
How do you see the future then?
Well, we're going to see a greatly increased demand for food.
The population at the moment is a little under 7 billion.
By the middle of the century, it's going to be somewhere between 9 and 10 billion people.
Those people are going to be wealthier,
they're going to demand a diet that's more varied
and the type of foods they will demand will be the type of foods,
such as, for example, meat, which needs more resources to produce.
How much more food is the world going to have to produce
-to meet this increased demand?
-That's a complicated question
because it depends exactly what the nature of that demand is.
-Give me a rough prediction.
-Somewhere between 50% and 100% -
more food than we do at the moment.
And how would it affect people in the UK, this increased demand for food?
Well, it will increase it largely economically.
As demand goes up, we're going to see,
almost certainly, food prices going up,
and we can begin to see that happening at the moment.
We may have halved our imports since the food crisis of the 1940s
but are we still too reliant on foods from abroad?
Do predictions of global shortages
mean we should now be producing more at home?
And could we do that, even if we wanted to?
That's what I'll be asking later in the programme.
Continuing the theme of classic and historic sporting events,
Matt has been behind the scenes of the legendary Round the Island Race,
where professional and amateur sailors alike go head-to-head
on the waves off the Isle of Wight.
They come here from all over the world,
pitched in a battle against each other and the elements,
nerves and sinews straining with just one aim,
victory in one of sailing's biggest races.
The Round the Island Race
is legendary and there's thrills and spills aplenty.
Wow, you really feel like you're in it here.
This is the Isle of Wight. 16,000 sailors, nearly 2,000 boats,
all here competing for top spot in the 80th staging
of this historic race.
It really does feel like the calm before the storm here in Cowes,
but in a matter of hours, this marina will be empty
and all 1,908 yachts will be racing around the Isle of Wight.
That's 50 nautical miles through some of the trickiest waters,
and in weather like this, just getting around is no mean feat.
Back in the '30s and '40s, only a handful of boats took part, but now it's grown to be one of
the most popular sailing events in the world,
and this year's 1,900 entries is a record.
And this is what they're all vying for, the Gold Roman Bowl,
one of the most sought-after trophies in sailing.
But how difficult is it to get hold of?
Well, to find out, I'm joining three-times Olympic gold medal winner Ben Ainslie.
This is the sixth time that he's entered this race, but he's yet to win it.
That doesn't stop him being one of this year's hot favourites.
The plan is to join Ben for a practice session.
I'm just about able to scramble aboard, but in these rough seas,
the film crew have to stay on the support boat.
Ben, how important is this race for someone like yourself?
It's a big race. I mean, annually,
you get thousands of boats out every year from all round the country to come and compete here
round the Isle of Wight, and this year we've got a record entry, so the race is stronger than ever.
So I'm looking forward to a great race.
And what are your thoughts about the weather that's predicted for tomorrow?
It's supposed to be very strong winds, a bit like we've got now.
As a team, we've never actually sailed together before on this boat.
So we're really taking it through its paces today, trying to learn
the manoeuvres, how to make the boat go fast.
There's a lot to be done in a short period of time.
Ben's boat is a Ker 40.
That's half a million pounds worth of pure racing yacht, and it's fast.
But a handicap system means that a slow boat crewed by amateurs
has just as much chance of picking up the top prize.
These conditions are pretty testing.
The wind's up at 20 knots and there's a one-metre swell.
But when these fellas move, they move.
Tacking like this is about split-second timing.
On the day it's this kind of teamwork that could give them the edge.
But it's not all about speed.
It's about knowing the water, too.
That's when navigator Mike Broughton comes in.
Mike, this is where you spend quite a lot of your time, sat on the edge of this boat.
I'm leaning out as far as I can to keep the weight out and the boat keeps more upright and we go faster.
And sometimes I get shouted at for not leaning out far enough.
It does go faster if you lean further out, does it?
Yes, get the weight out, the boat will go faster.
And is it quite a hard race to navigate, this particular one?
Yeah, it is, very much so because it's a good six hours of racing, always close to the Isle of Wight.
If you think about it, it's around the Isle of Wight, so the shortest distance is going
very close to the Isle of Wight,
so right up to the rocks in some places - but without quite hitting them.
The smart money, though, is on high winds on race day.
If that happens, these lads have a secret weapon - the spinnaker.
Ten grands' worth of sail that turbocharges the yacht.
Ben called for the spinnaker to go up, which is the big, billowing sail at the front.
Now we're just leaning back as much as possible under his order.
I see the little speedo on there and we're just popping over 16, which is incredible.
As you can see, the front of the boat keeps popping down into the waves,
so we've got as much weight back as possible.
I can't believe how fast we're going, I really can't.
It takes your breath away, honestly.
How happy are you with how the boat's going today?
-50 seconds to tacking.
It's that technical that in 50 seconds we're going to tack?
Yes, if we don't tack at 50 seconds, we'll run aground and we won't be racing tomorrow!
Yes, right, fair enough! Let's do it! HE LAUGHS
Here we go, tacking in -
three, two, one. Now!
The boys can still race tomorrow.
So that's how the professionals do it. But what about the amateurs?
I've chosen to follow three teams from Tonbridge School in Kent, all taking part for the first time.
These are the Old Tonbridgians.
Like Ben, they're getting in a bit of pre-race practice.
Hello to the Old Boys from Tonbridge School.
Did you have a happy sail over here.
And how are you all faring for the race tomorrow?
Oh, thumbs-up right across the board.
There are two other teams from Tonbridge School.
The boat, Sparkling Spirit, is crewed by current pupils.
I'm Jack Morrell, crew on the Sparkling Spirit.
I'm Ollie Russell. I'm spotting on the Sparkling Spirit.
I'm George Collins and I'm navigating on the Spark...um, yuh.
-What is it, Sparkling Spirit?
-Sparkling Spirit. That's it.
Well, George, you'd better remember which boat you're on tomorrow.
The final yacht is crewed by the boys' parents, who are underplaying their chances.
We'd quite like to beat the boys, but we don't think we will.
We thought, "Oh, it's quite busy," and then the skipper said,
"You realise there'll be 20 times more boats than this tomorrow?"
We all thought, "Hmm, right, OK!" Cos we were sort of gently tacking.
And finally, here are the Old Boys of Tonbridge, or OTs as they're known.
That was a super park under pressure, by the way.
So let's meet them.
James Leahy, galley slave.
Richard Langridge, crewman.
Nick Sloan, ballast and drinks waiter.
Quentin Skinner, looking out for things to bump into.
And Keith, you're kind of in charge of the whole thing, is that right?
For my sins, yes. All that matters is who beats who.
Are OTs going to beat everybody
or are the parents going to take the bragging rights?
In next week's programme, amateurs and professionals alike are
battling the elements in the roughest conditions seen in decades. Whoa!
Will the Tonbridge teams cope with these seas and will Ben Ainslie
battle through to win his first Round the Island Race?
Later on Countryfile, Adam's got two lovesick bulls on the farm.
Eric is threatening the other bull, telling him to stay away from his cows.
And what are my chances of beating James in our hill-climbing race?
That does not sound like a man going slowly.
Plus we'll have the weather forecast for the week ahead.
Deep in the Worcestershire countryside lies Droitwich Spa.
This sedate market town was once the centre of a lucrative trade
thanks to a vast brine lake hundreds of feet underground.
The lake's been a source
of salt for thousands of years, and by the Industrial Revolution,
extraction was big business.
Precious for its preservative properties,
salt was at one point more valuable than gold.
Even the Romans came to Droitwich for salt.
Legionnaires worth their salt were paid in it.
It was entrepreneur, John Corbett, who in the 19th century
turned salt extraction into a major industry.
I'm meeting his great, great granddaughter to find out more
about the Salt King at Impney,
the grand chateaux that Corbett built with the fortune he made from salt.
This is such a spectacular building.
Corbett's approach to salt manufacture was revolutionary.
He pumped water into the ground to release the deposits
before sucking it back up and using evaporation to retrieve the salt.
Was this a process of his invention?
Yes, he got these evaporation pans.
It was a very hot and steamy process
but it was more efficient, at the time.
It was incredibly hard labour.
It was also quite dangerous work.
People had been known to fall into the boiling brine.
It was perilous.
So, salt made him very wealthy but he was very generous with it too.
His workforce had a dispensary built for their medical needs,
they had a school, he built a school for them.
Erm, there was a chaplain and a doctor on hand,
especially employed to look after their needs.
In return, he expected them to work extremely hard, not to be wasteful,
to keep the standard and quality of his salt, the best that could be produced.
I imagine it's difficult for us nowadays to appreciate quite how important salt was,
because we think of it as a flavouring additive.
In the days before refrigeration, it was key to the preservation of food, keeping it fresh and healthy to eat.
Absolutely. It was incredibly precious.
And...it's hard to imagine the sort of things they would have to go without if salt was not available.
Corbett was the Bill Gates of his day
and lavished much of his money on good causes.
The natural Droitwich brine which made John Corbett so wealthy,
contains about two-and-a-half pounds of salt water per gallon.
That's an amazing 15 times saltier than sea water,
and rivalled only by that of the Dead Sea.
So just how much salt can you get from Droitwich brine?
Well, I'm about to find out with the help of a local primary school.
Alan Davie is showing the children how to get salt by boiling up brine extracted from reserves
hundreds of feet under the town.
It's a salt pancake.
That's a good centimetre, I guess,
right on the bottom of that pan,
from maybe less than a litre of water.
Could be about 10 plates full of chips.
There's enough salt for your whole canteen's chips, look at that.
Salt wasn't only used for industry.
In 1876, Droitwich opened its first brine baths in a bid to become a spa town.
The salty water was advertised as a cure for all ills.
It's said it was so salty, you could float a fully laden tea-tray in it.
Then, in the 1930s, this place opened, the Droitwich Lido,
a saltwater pool using the same brine that made Corbett a rich man.
Nowadays, the brine's diluted
and they chuck in a bit of chlorine for good measure.
In its heyday, the Lido claimed to be the seaside-come-to-Droitwich.
I'm not sure about that but it's just the job after that bag of chips I ate earlier!
Now if swimming is your idea of a good workout,
then the BBC's Big Splash campaign can help you.
It's all about inspiring the nation to swim.
For details, go to our website.
Earlier, John was looking at concerns over the security of our food supplies here in the UK.
Should we be producing more of our own food
and could we, if we wanted to?
I've been hearing how a huge rise in the world's population
could threaten the future of Britain's food suppliers
because around 40% of what we eat, is imported.
Our last major food crisis came during the Second World War,
when rationing helped prevent the possibility of starvation.
So how did we recover from that?
Firstly, we have a scientific and technological revelation after the war
which raises agricultural productivity quite significantly.
Crop yields after the war rise rapidly.
We've got tractors, sprays, chemicals, land re-organisation,
all of which ensures what is a silent revolution in agriculture.
This meant Britain was able to produce much of its own food
during the second half of the 20th century.
In fact, until relatively recently, more than three-quarters of it was home-grown.
During the past decade, we've become more reliant again on imported food,
so should we then be producing more of our own?
According to a national survey conducted by Countryfile,
you certainly seem to think so.
Almost half the people questioned felt that food production
most deserved the use of more British farmland in the future.
88% felt the UK was too reliant on other countries for our food.
As our population increases, can Britain produce more of what we eat?
As we saw last week, our fields are needed for other things,
such as biofuels, as well as for food.
The big question is, how do we grow more
on the limited amount of land that we've got in this country?
Creating higher, better yields, means turning to science for some ingenious solutions.
Researchers believe that something like this,
a footwear waterproofer, could be one of the answers.
At Harper Adams University College in Shropshire,
crop scientist, Peter Kettlewell,
has been pioneering a technique to produce drought-resistant wheat.
How does a waterproofer like this actually help with growing wheat?
It'll do exactly the same as it will on your shoes.
It'll waterproof them.
With wheat, what we're trying to do is not stop water getting in,
we're trying to stop water getting out.
That plant needs that water to survive and grow.
So we get more grains, more yield, more food.
-Don't they use waterproofing on fruit?
-That's right, yes.
The biggest use probably is on these things,
your citrus fruit that you buy.
If every farmer had had this in Britain this year,
they might have been getting a better wheat yield.
That's absolutely right.
We've had the driest spring since 1893
and we can't rely on having enough rain all the time, even in this country.
So far, we've only been doing this research literally in this field.
What we need to do now, is try it in different places,
and see that it does work elsewhere.
But that needs money.
In the mid-'80s, major cuts in public funding
for agricultural research had a massive impact. Productivity slowed down.
In recent years, funding has increased.
But are we getting the best value from the £420 million a year of taxpayers' money?
Many millions of pounds are being spent on agricultural research, but is it going in the right places?
I think, at the moment, it's not going in the right places,
in so far as we need to have investment in the laboratory,
but also investment in the field.
At the moment, money's going more into the lab than into the field?
It's about getting the balance right. If farmers can't pick up the advances in technology
and apply them in the field, what's the point of the investment? That's what they're crying out for.
Shouldn't you be putting more money into it?
Farmers do invest in their own research and have been doing for a number of years.
It's something they'll look to consider to increase over time
if that is something that is needed.
'As long as someone pays for it, research in new technology
'seem to offer our best hope of producing more.
'According to the experts, supplying too much of our own food
'would actually cause its own problems.
'If Britain was 100% self-sufficient, just one bad harvest
'could leave us facing shortages as severe as those during the war.
'Yet relying on the rest of the world to feed us
'doesn't come with any guarantees either.'
Finding enough food is going to be a huge global problem,
so how is what happens everywhere else going to affect us here in the UK?
We're a small island here, but we live in a global food system.
The prices we pay for food in the UK,
the decisions the farmers make to decide what crops to grow
depend on what happens all around the world.
For the last couple of years, we've seen wheat prices being very high.
One of the reasons for that is that there have been droughts in wheat in Australia
and droughts in parts of central Asia.
Many of the areas where wheat is grown require underground water
-and that's going to run out in ten or 20 years.
-What's your prediction?
Are we going to be able to feed people in the future?
I'm an optimist. I think we can do,
but only if really critical decisions are made.
It really is a critical time.
The decisions that we make in the next couple of decades
will have effects that will ripple down the centuries.
'It's almost impossible to separate the future of our food supplies from global food security.
'But what we can do is provide research to help every country produce more,
'hopefully preventing the predicted food crisis from becoming our problem as well.
'And if you want to find out more, tune into Farming Today
'on Radio 4, every morning this week at a quarter to six.'
Still to come on Countryfile, James and I go head-to-head in our rural motor race.
-Oh, that's a good start(!)
And find out if the weather's going to be a non-starter
with the Countryfile forecast.
Today, we've been exploring the rather savoury past of Droitwich.
But now I'm looking at the legacy the salt industry left behind -
Until the railways took over, the canals were the only way
of getting this precious mineral out of the country.
In their day, they were a major trade route,
but with the decline of salt extraction, they fell into disrepair.
That was until the 1970s, when a major restoration project aimed to open up the network again.
Jason, I'm very jealous about your job. This is beautiful.
-Good to meet you.
-And you. Hi, James.
Just walk me through how you restore a canal network. What do you have to do?
We've restored nine broad-beam locks on the barge canal,
using lime mortar to make sure they're as original as possible.
We've had to tunnel under the A449 dual-carriageway.
That was a huge construction job. We created 500, 700 metres of new canal
and the new bridge that we're passing through now.
We're trying to get the planting right. We've gone to a lot of effort
to make sure we retain as much
of the natural environment to get the balance between modern use
and the wildlife.
'But in just a few places, the canal hasn't followed its original route
'and I'm off to find out more.
'I'm meeting conservationist Paul Wilkinson
'in a section of the old canal that's now home to some rather special amphibians.'
I don't think I've ever seen a newt in real life.
We'll sort that out! OK. Good stuff.
'I'm told this place is full of newts.
'Time for a paddle to see what I can net.'
Oh, there are signs of life!
How common are these newts?
The smooth newts are reasonably widespread and common.
Great crests are obviously protected.
'And first catch, a smooth newt.'
They're almost close to leaving the water now.
They're going very much like the adult colour.
Those gills will be absorbed back into the head
and they'll get lungs and stop breathing underwater and start to breathe air.
-Look at that!
-You've got something exciting there.
Fantastic, well done. A great crested newt.
That's got a really wide tail. That's much bigger than the last one.
Yes. Let me get him in there so we don't do him any harm.
That is a great crested newt tadpole, which I wasn't expecting to catch today.
'Paul's licensed to survey newts, so I'm OK to do this under his supervision.
'Great crested newts are protected. It's illegal to catch or disturb them.'
It's almost one of those tropical guppies with a colourful wide tail. Look at that.
They behave like a fish - out in the open in the water, catching water fleas.
That's where the fish pick them off, so they're after ponds,
big, with lots of food, but without fish. Those are rare habitats.
-Is that part of the reason they're under threat?
'It's not just the wildlife that's benefiting from this restoration.
'John Weston runs a family dairy farm that backs onto the canal.
'But work's about to start here on a very different venture.'
Five years ago, when the council proposed
the restoration of these new canals, they identified
one particular field of ours for a possible site for a marina,
so over the last five years we've been following it up
and getting planning permission and we're about to start construction.
'Today, I'll be helping John and son-in-law Nick
'drive the cows out of the field for the very last time.
'But first, I want to find out more about that marina
'and the plan to moor 238 narrow boats here.'
We're trying to create a real countryside feel. Eventually,
by spring next year, we'll have boats moored up, really.
That's a really quick turnaround.
-This is the tree we're underneath right at the moment?
We're lucky the canal literally just goes past your piece of land, right there.
You're going to have just as many moorings as cows.
Well, not far away! Hopefully, if things go well
and the joys of the British weather help us along as well,
we shall be opening next spring.
Time to say goodbye to the cows and hello to the boats,
in this field at least.
And it's all thanks to the restoration of the canal.
This dairy farming business is pretty easy. Even I can do this!
We just need to get them out! THEY LAUGH
Now, the lambs on Adam's farm are almost fully grown.
But there's no rest in sight,
as there are dozens of newly-born piglets to look after.
I've got about 12 different sows of various breeds -
this is an Iron Age. Pigs breed all year round.
Their gestation period is three months, three weeks and three days.
And this sow has had a lovely litter. She's had 11 piglets.
In a commercial system,
modern day sows are having anything from 16, even 20 piglets at a time.
So they're really producing a lot of pork.
With the rare breeds, it's more about taste and quality than numbers.
But we still need them to have good-sized litters.
There's a good old girl. Done well, haven't you?
'Some of the other breeds have had disappointingly small litters this time,
'particularly my Tamworth.'
Part of the reason I keep rare breeds is for conservation.
But the other reason is to produce meat.
And a sow like this costs a lot of money to keep all year round.
So she needs to give me a return in lots of piglets and four isn't enough.
What I'll do is wean these in about six weeks' time,
put her straight back to the boar and hopefully her next litter will be bigger.
If she keeps having small litters, she'll have to go.
'It seems tough, but farming is a business.
'The animals kept for breeding have to be the best.'
This Gloucester Old Spot sow hasn't done too well either.
She's only given birth to five piglets.
But she's made up for it because she's adopted this little Tamworth
that was outside and got kicked by one of my Exmoor ponies.
I thought it was going to die and I put it in with this sow who'd recently fallowed
and she now loves it and it's suckling with all its new little brothers and sisters.
Because she's only had five, there's plenty of milk to go round.
'At just a couple of weeks old, our piglets will start to eat solid food too.
'Over the next few months, they'll grow really quickly.'
I've got some pigs along here from a previous litter. They're about five months old now.
They need weighing because they're nearly ready to go for pork.
So, we want them to be between 70 and 75 kilos to make good pork
and this one weighs 72, 73, so it's about right.
I could maybe keep it for another week to put on a little more meat,
but I reckon it's ready to go, so I'll mark this one.
And we'll take it to the butcher's next week.
You can tell these other two aren't nearly as big.
They're not the weight yet but I'll weigh them to see how well they're growing.
That's it. There's a good pig.
So, that's 50, 55.5 kilos.
What we do is write down the weight and the date that we've weighed them
and work out how much weight they're putting on every day
and then their food that we need to feed them.
So that's tag number 1,504. That's 57.5 kilos.
That's still got a good month to go before it gets up to the weight of that other one.
'Out in the fields, the lambs born this spring can survive on grass now,
'so it's time to wean them away from the ewes.
'I need to round them up into the handling pens
'and as usual, my dog Pearl is happy to help.'
What I've got to do now is sort out the ewes from the lambs.
And the lambs will go on to some very good pasture
and the ewes will go on to some poor pasture,
so their milk dries up and they don't get mastitis,
then they'll have a couple of months' break,
ready to go back to the rams so they lamb again in the spring.
'Mike and I weigh the lambs so we can work out
'how much longer they need to fatten up on grass.
'They all have electronic ID tags in their ears,
'so we can keep a record of their progress.'
I remember this little lamb being born because he's number one on his side.
It's a Norfolk Horn.
-How heavy is he?
-He's 37.5 kilos.
-He feels pretty good.
-He's almost there.
Almost there, ready for the butcher. A nice lamb.
It's a strange concept,
helping the lamb when its born and seeing it through its life
and knowing it's going to go to the butcher, but it's something to be proud of.
We've given it a good life and created some lovely meat.
'Whilst most of our lambs go for meat, the best ewe lambs will stay on the farm.'
So with our flock, what we do is breed our own replacements.
Females like this Dartmoor will have a blue dot on
and she'll be kept in the flock.
She'll be going to the ram next autumn. Not this coming year, but the following autumn,
and then she'll be giving birth on this farm in two years' time.
These lambs will go away into the field and graze quite happily,
but the ewes will call for them for a day or two.
It seems a bit mean, but the ewes have got to have a rest
before we get them pregnant again and they lamb the following spring.
'Our lambs needs to fatten up before they go to the butcher,
'so we're putting them onto our best pasture.'
This field was cut for hay about a week ago
and the grass is starting to grow now the rain has come.
There are young, short, sweet shoots of grass for the lambs to eat
and they'll absolutely love it out there.
'A couple of weeks ago, I moved our Highland bull Eric back in with the heifers.
'I'm hoping he'll get them all in calf soon
'so they'll give birth in the spring.
'He's been a quiet boy for the last few months.
'But now he's in with the ladies, he's found his voice again.'
Eric's making this grumbling noise and looking over there because I've got another bull over there.
At this time of year, when the cows are coming into season,
they moan at each other and threaten each other from a few fields away.
The other night, I had a bit of a surprise.
There was a hell of a din going on and bulls roaring
and I came out here because I knew there was trouble.
The old bull had jumped over the fence into the road
and come over two more fences to get in with Eric and his cows,
and one of the old cows that I've now had to separate out was bulling - she was in season.
And the old bull beat Eric up and went off with one of his wives!
Bacchus is the bull that got onto Eric's patch,
and as he fathered many of the cows, we don't want him mating with them.
Dad's offered to give me a hand catching him.
-I don't want any more bullfights here so we need to move him away from Eric.
-Don't you moan at me, you old devil!
-It's all noise and no action.
Shall we take them all up to the gate and cut the cows back?
Yeah, I think that's a good idea. Then we'll get the bull down the alleyway on his own.
-He won't want to leave them.
-I know. That's what I was thinking.
Ever so quiet, aren't you? There's a good boy.
Wouldn't have thought that when I was chasing him around at midnight the other night!
Go on, then. All together. Go on.
Go on, then. Go on.
Once he's in, we've got him.
-Don't change your mind!
Although Bacchus is on his best behaviour today, he's a powerful beast, so we have to be careful.
We're moving him to the other side of the farm, as far away from Eric as possible.
I'm going to put this bull in the barn now where he'll be locked up
safe from causing any more damage and serving any other cows that we don't want him to.
I'll probably get another steer to keep him company.
Go on, then, fellow. Good boy. In you go.
In you go. There's a good boy.
In you go.
Right. He's definitely not getting out of there.
Next week, it's all hands on deck, as it's harvest time for our crops.
After the dry spring, I just hope they've recovered.
Thank you to everybody who's entered the Countryfile Photographic Competition,
which we've called Best In Show. Haven't we, Abigail? We've been amazed at the quality of the photos.
They're fantastic, and the very best of them are going to make it into
the Countryfile calendar for 2012
which is sold in aid of Children In Need.
If you haven't yet entered, you've just got one week left to do so.
Here's John with a final reminder of what to do.
Here's just a taster of some of the pictures that we've received so far.
We're absolutely delighted with the response,
and if you still want to enter, well, you better move quickly.
The closing date is Friday the 12th of August.
Let me remind you of the rules and how to enter.
The best photo in each class will be put to the viewers' vote.
The person who takes the winning photo will be declared Best In Show
and gets to choose from a range of the latest photographic equipment
to the value of £1,000.
Whoever takes the judges' favourite photo will get to choose equipment
to the value of £500.
Our competition isn't open to professionals.
Your entries mustn't have been offered for sale or won other competitions.
That's because we want something original.
You can enter up to four photos which must be taken in the UK.
Please write your name, address and daytime and evening phone number
on the back of each photo with a note of which class
you want it to be judged in.
Each photo can only be entered in one class.
Then all you have to do is send your entries to -
The full terms and conditions are on our website,
as well as details of the BBC's code of conduct for competitions.
Please write to us enclosing a stamped addressed envelope if you want a copy of the rules.
In a moment, I'll be revving up and raring to go up the Shelsley Walsh hill.
First, here's a look at the weather for the week ahead.
This week, we've been exploring the Worcestershire countryside and I've been finding out
about the oldest operational motorsport venue in the world, Shelsley Walsh.
It's race time now. James and I are going head-to-head.
James, your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to drive as fast as you can up a very steep hill.
-It's just over half a mile long. Straight up the hill.
-The whole way up.
-How hard can it be?
-Put your foot down and go.
-It's not difficult. Don't even think about it.
-Good luck. You'll need it.
In order to have any chance of beating Clare, I've teamed up
with record-breaking hill-racing champion Martin Groves in his Jaguar XFR Le Mans.
And I'm with the man who lives and breathes this hill,
Simon Durling, in his lighter, nippier Morgan Aero 8.
Martin, beneath your mild-mannered exterior, I hear you're a bit of a driving demon.
-I've been known to put a car up this course fairly quickly.
The outright record I currently hold is 22.58 seconds.
That's an average speed of just over 90mph.
Obviously I do want to go faster than James, but my mother says it's really
unattractive when I get competitive, so I've got to pretend that I don't really mind.
I've got my own strategy worked out. But there's something Martin needs to know first.
I've never driven anything before, apart from a golf buggy when I was 16 and I made that capsize.
-But I've got a plan!
We're both wearing helmets, Clare's never going to know...
-Do you want to swap seats?
-That sounds like a good plan.
Plan hatched. I wonder how Clare's getting on.
I'm getting my first practice run on the track.
I'd rather have my visor up... CRUNCH!
-That's a good start(!)
-This racing business really isn't that hard.
-James, she's got no chance.
Ooh, my word. Sorry.
I need to get the old gear changes in a bit sooner, don't I?
-You've only just sat here.
-'That's my training done.
'Next time I drive this course, I'll have my race face on.
'Just time for a few last-minute tips.'
-As you're coming out of Top S, don't be too fierce on the throttle.
-Look at you two swots!
-How's it going?
-Oh, hi, James.
Yeah, it's fine. Have you been practising?
You don't really need practising. It's just a hill.
-You are kidding?
-You just put your foot down.
-That's one way of looking at it.
-I'll see you at the top of the hill later on. It's ladies first,
so good luck to both of you. I know you'll need it.
-I'll see you in a little bit.
-See you round.
-Seriously fired up now? Really?
And this is it, race time.
Fastest one up the hill wins. I'm ready.
-Good luck, Clare!
'Not a bad start. Happy with that.'
-Stay in this gear.
The track is wet now. This is taking every ounce of my concentration.
Stay off the throttle.
That's brilliant. Now floor it.
'And before I know it, the finish is in sight.'
41 seconds 37.
My hand is actually shaking.
That's because of concentrating so hard.
If your hand isn't shaking or you aren't shaking slightly
-when you get to the top then you haven't gone fast enough.
-He'll do well to beat that.
But of course, what Clare doesn't know is I can't drive.
Instead I've got my own Stig, Martin, the course record holder, at the wheel.
ENGINE ROARS He's gunning it, isn't he?
-This is so much fun.
That does not sound like a man going slowly.
Here he comes, here he comes. He's got his indicator on.
One, two, three, go!
-He's nailed it, hasn't he?
-He's destroyed me.
-I'm afraid so.
-Clare Balding, eat my dust.
How's that, Clare?
He's smashed it, hasn't he?
-Not bad for someone who's never driven before.
-That wasn't you! That wasn't you!
I couldn't even figure out how to get this helmet on.
I was looking at the clock and thinking, "He's smashed this!"
-Were you never going to do it?
-I was never going to do it. I've never driven before.
-I have no idea how to drive.
-You don't drive?
I've never had a lesson, or been in a car.
You do not drive?
Did you lot know this? I'm thinking, "How can he be that quick?"
and I'm watching you come up going, "He hasn't even been up here and he's absolutely flying!"
Thanks a lot(!) And that is all we've got time for this week.
Next Sunday, Matt will be back on the high seas
in the Round The Island Race, and John's going to be in Hardy country.
-Well done, James.
-Thank you very much.
Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd
E-mail [email protected]
Clare Balding heads to Worcestershire to uncover the rural roots of a motor sport where the landscape provides the biggest challenge, while James Wong finds out how a humble mineral transformed the fortunes of a corner of the county. Matt Baker takes to the Solent to meet the amateurs vying with top professionals in the Round the Island sailing race.
Across on the mainland, Adam's lambs are almost grown but it's his piglets that are keeping him on his toes. Plus with food prices on the rise, John Craven investigates the UK's reliance on imports and asks if we should be producing more of the food we eat.