Matt Baker heads to Wales to celebrate the 200th anniversary of the Monmouth and Brecon canal, while Ellie Harrison meets soldiers training in the Brecon Beacons.
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The Brecon Beacons -
serene valleys and vast stretches of open moorland.
It's also home to one of the most scenic canal routes in Britain,
35 miles of idyllic countryside.
At this pace, you can just relax, enjoy it and take it all in.
I'll be exploring the historic waterways
and learning how to leg it.
This is like the weirdest treadmill ever.
The vast moorlands of this part of Wales
provide the perfect training ground for the military.
I'm embedded with some of the Army's elite soldiers,
and today they're being tested to see if they've got what it takes
to lead a section into battle.
Their aim is to take out that enemy position.
And my aim is to make it through the day.
John's investigating an alarming countryside crime.
Badger-baiting is a barbaric practice
that's been banned in this country for almost 180 years.
Even so, reports of badgers being dragged from their setts
and attacked and killed by dogs seem to be on the increase
in the British countryside.
Tonight, we've got exclusive access
as an RSPCA team tries to crack down on this cruel so-called sport.
And Adam's got his hands full with some new arrivals.
The Whiteface Dartmoor here is one of Britain's rare breeds of sheep,
with less than 1,500 breeding ewes in the country,
and I've got to say they're one of my favourites.
So there couldn't be a better place
than down here on Dartmoor during lambing time, helping out.
The Brecon Beacons - 520 square miles of isolated moorland,
foreboding peaks and valleys of fast-flowing rivers,
all sandwiched between South and Mid-Wales.
Well, this is the way to enjoy this spectacular scenery,
a 4mph cruise on a narrow boat
on one of the most picturesque canals in Britain.
The Monmouth and Brecon Canal
runs for 35 miles between Brecon and Cwmbran
but it originally continued on to Newport.
And this year, the Mon & Brec, as it's affectionately known,
is celebrating 200 years since it was completed.
There are lots of events to mark the anniversary,
but I found one with a bit of a difference.
Local brewer Buster has created a beer to mark the occasion.
Suitably enough, he's decided to deliver the ale
as they would have done when the canal first opened
two centuries ago.
-That one's obviously full. How many pints in here?
-I'll help you down with that one.
-If you grab the end of that.
One, two, three. Lovely.
Sorry, I think we'll be here for some time, mate.
HORSE NEIGHS LOUDLY
Let's take these down.
We'll roll these down. We'll be back in a second.
What gave you the idea of getting the horse and cart involved?
Well, one of the main exports down the canal from Brecon was beer
that was brewed in Brecon and then taken to the pubs
-all the way down the canal, all the way as far as Newport.
The original way of doing it...
it would have been a horse-drawn dray down to the canal basin
and then loaded onto a boat to go down the canal.
The history of the Mon & Brec is a familiar tale -
a short-lived heyday made redundant by the railways,
decline, and thankfully, resurrection.
It was originally two canals -
the Brecknock in Abergavenny and the Monmouthshire.
They were joined at Pontymoile
to enable cargo to be transported from the Brecon Beacons
all the way to the coast.
It's very peaceful but I imagine back in the day, it was busy.
It would have been busy.
The canals were the motorways of their day,
so there would have been boats on here carrying limestone, iron, coal,
as well as agricultural produce.
As well as the canal, this connected to 200 miles of tramway.
So a lot of the ironworks would have had tramways that came to the wharfs.
The wharfs would have been very busy.
They would have been loading the iron
and coal and taking agricultural produce up and down the canals.
-So the whole thing would have just been alive.
We're delivering beer all the way down the canal.
The first stop is somewhere I know they like a drink.
We have a delivery!
Can't believe these rugby players.
Right, shall we just...?
'They must be out training.' Put it in the shade.
Before the second stop further down the canal,
I'm taking over the tiller from experienced helmsman Mark Prosser.
-It's a speed limit of 5mph?
-Yeah, it's quite slow.
No point being in a rush on this canal. It's landlocked,
so going from one end to the other is as much as you can do.
It's very enjoyable. The scenery, because it's built up on a shelf,
you can look down the valley, so it's quite unique.
Absolutely. Is this an aqueduct?
Yes. We're going to cross it now.
More revs and I think you'll be there.
ENGINE SPEEDS UP
Look at this. This is the life!
It's about taking these moments.
That's what it's all about.
And lessen it.
People are coming on the canal. It's a slower pace of life
and they can just relax and move at your own pace, really.
Well, our next delivery
is going to take a bit of effort. The pub we're heading to
is half a mile from the canal,
at the top of a hill.
Right, we've got half a mile, Mark.
Nice downhill section here.
We should get the speed up down here.
It's the last bit down for a while.
Quick! Get that van!
This is it. Can we borrow your trailer?
-You can borrow the rope if you like.
-Oh, yeah, that's good.
Now we're motoring.
'I bet they didn't do this 200 years ago.
'Surely we should have just got another horse involved.'
-Is that where we're headed?
-Keep going, Groesffordd.
'Almost there, and this beer
'had better be worth it'.
Downhill a bit!
Why don't we just empty them a bit?
Watch your backs!
Is that us?
-That's us up there.
-Well done, mate.
Look, even the neighbours are out in force.
Here we go, boys. Cheers.
Thanks very much.
-Yes, iechyd da.
'After that brief but much deserved refreshment stop,
'I'm heading back on to the barge to continue with our deliveries,
'with more leg power required in a few miles.
A cull of badgers may be causing controversy in the countryside
at the moment, but killing them for sheer pleasure -
well, that's universally condemned. John's been finding out
what's being done to clamp down on this barbaric pastime.
His investigation contains some upsetting scenes.
A brutal pastime, banned in 1835,
but still alive and thriving in our countryside today.
Badger-baiting is something that we've all heard of,
but exactly how much do we know about it
and about the people who commit this vicious crime?
And why does it seem to be on the increase in modern-day Britain?
This seemingly mindless act is carried out by gangs
who search for badger setts, root out the badgers
and throw them to powerful dogs,
often betting on how long this fight to the death will take.
It's a sport and they do it to wind down at the end of an evening.
Now, Countryfile has gained exclusive access
to the latest attempt to crack down
on this grisly crime right across the country.
It makes the public aware
that when they see a gang of men walking across a field
on a Sunday morning with dogs,
they're not out for an innocent stroll.
There could be something more sinister to it.
But I'm starting my investigation here in rural Staffordshire
as dusk draws in,
out with countryside campaigner Faye Burton.
How often do you run these patrols?
We come out most days.
It's important that we do come and check all the badger setts.
-This is a classic sett.
-It's just a big badger sett here.
'Faye's out today with the police and the RSPCA,
'searching for signs of badger-baiting activity.'
-Have you ever come across anybody at this sett?
There was a guy stood on the sett, and he'd got the Patterdale dogs
and a couple of Jack Russells and a lurcher
to see if it was a live sett.
And how do they do the baiting?
They enter the dog down the active hole.
So a terrier goes down
-and finds a badger and then what?
The guys will put one of these collars on the terrier.
That'll be already on the terrier.
-And this is a transmitter?
The guys will have one of these locators
where they'll scan the ground.
It will pick up the noise.
So they know exactly where the terrier is and the badger.
And then they start digging down?
They climb down to it, yes,
and they'll get the badger and pull it out,
chuck it on top of the ground,
and the bigger dogs set about the badger.
Faye, you come out at night to these lonely places,
often on your own, looking for these badger baiters.
-Do you ever get threatened?
-Yes, I have had death threats.
They ring up in the small hours of the evening,
telling me what they're going to do to me when they get me
-and that sort of thing.
-And you still do it?
Yes. I'm really passionate about wildlife
and I hate people breaking the law.
Well, I think you're a very brave lady.
'There are new reports of badger-baiting every week.
'In fact, during the last two years,
'there have been more than 240,
'and it's suspected this is just the tip of the iceberg.'
-Well, no sign of any badger baiters on his patrol.
That must be the big problem,
that it's difficult to actually catch them in the act?
It is very difficult to catch people in the act.
That's why we rely heavily on members of the public.
-Is it a kind of bloodlust, do you think?
-Yes, it is.
Most of the people I've spoken to
who have been arrested in relation to these sorts of crimes
are the people that tell us they enjoy it.
It's fun. They like killing things.
'Tonight, we have one final sett to check, under the cover of darkness.'
(We're going to the badger sett now, hoping to see some.
(I don't normally wear anything like this,
(but the white hair will put the badgers off, I'm told,
(so I've got this on.)
'But rather than spotting any badgers or badger baiters,
'it seems that we've stumbled across a rat run.
'One man who's had more luck than me at spotting these animals
'in their natural habitat is wildlife artist Robert Fuller.
'He's watched and painted badgers many times,
'which makes what he saw one January afternoon all the more shocking.'
As I got to the hedge here behind us,
I looked up and I could see
a group of men and large dogs,
and the dogs were worrying a badger.
I crept through the hedge here behind us with my camera.
My first reaction was to photograph what was happening.
I saw two big, large bull lurchers.
They were picking this badger off the floor and shaking it.
And a badger can weigh 15 to 18 kilos, so these are powerful dogs.
-And you kept on taking pictures?
-I kept on taking pictures.
But they spotted me and the attitude up there changed completely,
so I decided it was time to go back downstream a few hundred yards.
You look as though you're a useful kind of guy,
-but you didn't confront them?
-No, I didn't confront them.
There were eight of them, with big dogs and firearms.
They had five shotguns that day.
It's not the sort of thing you do, approaching these people.
Robert called the police,
who were able to use his photos to identify the culprits.
Six men and a teenager were found guilty of their involvement,
with sentences of up to 16 weeks in prison.
But the truth is that many of the people committing these crimes
simply never get caught.
In a few minutes, I'll be asking why this is,
and we've got exclusive access as the authorities change tactics,
turning tables on the suspects and tracking them
back to their own homes.
A myriad of river valleys and gulleys shape the southern end of the Brecon Beacons.
Whether you're a walker on a tranquil stroll
or a thrill-seeker looking for a new challenge,
everyone can find something in this landscape for them and thousands do.
But how do you preserve the environment and not destroy it
when there are so many people trampling all over it?
OK, Rich, if you can send a group of them, that'd be great.
That's the challenge for national park ranger Helen Pye.
She's had to come up with a pretty ingenious solution.
-Hi, how are you?
This is a weird set-up to find in a national park.
-That's a very strange sound.
-What's all this about?
We've got bags coming down the chute. They're full of gravel.
And we're using the gravel to surface the path over here.
But it's been a bit of a mission getting all of it in.
We're about a 35-40 minute walk from the road,
so we've been having to bring it in on quad bikes
to the top of the gorge.
So we're throwing it down this rubble chute to the bottom.
Without the pipe, there'd be a steady stream of lorries loaded with gravel
churning up the landscape.
And without the gravel, there would be more damage
from the 177,000 visitors that come to this spot each year.
Just along the path here, where we've been resurfacing,
a whole huge area has been eroded and all the tree roots are exposed.
It's an oak and ash woodland.
There's some really important and rare species here.
-You only get a few of these habitats in the whole of the UK.
We like to call it our Celtic rainforest.
Path almost complete, Helen wants to show me where it will lead.
All this hard work's worth it to give people access
to one of nature's otherwise hidden gems.
So this is what draws them in.
Yeah. You can understand why people want to come here.
Oh, here comes the spray already.
-Oh, wow! Oh, my goodness!
This is my cinematic moment.
That's the first time I've ever done that, you know.
Helen's team is helping visitors get to their tranquil destination
without completely destroying the habitat.
For others who use this landscape as their playground,
it's ease of access that can minimise the impact on the surroundings.
Well, there we go. Right in front of us there, that's where we're going to be climbing.
Just off the car park?
Being so accessible, this is a heavily-used site.
But there's surprisingly little impact on the environment.
That's because this is a former quarry.
So, when you're ready, look for obvious holds for hands and feet.
Have a look around. Not everything's where you want it to be.
OK, well, that's a nice, easy start there.
Drawing up slightly to the right there.
-Must get used a lot, though, does it?
-It does. It's a really popular spot.
This could have anything up to 100 people here on a busy day.
But we're all here in a place where we're not doing any damage to the environment,
rather than spreading out and actually damaging multiple sites that are more sensitive.
Fantastic. Attach the karabiner.
Ring the bell. Ding a ling!
-That's how you know you've made it.
-Well done, you.
Getting to this point means I've reached the top of my climb.
I'm rather proud of myself, you know.
Well, that was hard enough, but Gary's got something even more testing in store for me.
But this time, you don't need a head for heights. Quite the opposite.
Right, Gary, this kind of get up must mean we're going caving.
We are indeed. This is Porth yr Ogof
and that's where we're going to go and have a look around.
This is a dangerous cave prone to flash flooding.
It's claimed more lives than any other cave in Britain.
But the challenging conditions draw a huge number of cavers.
The trouble is, the underground environment is even more delicate than what's on the surface.
One footstep or even fingerprint in the wrong place
and you'll leave your mark forever.
But with Gary to guide me, I think both me and the cave will be safe.
So you're almost through and you can stand up. A bit bigger, isn't it?
-Hey, yeah, this is great. Look, there's daylight.
That's always good to see.
This place is called Moonlight Chamber.
This is where we bring people when they want a little challenge.
And over here behind me is one of the squeezes we offer people.
-Oh, my God.
-This is called The Letterbox.
-People go through that gap?
Honestly, I mean, I'm game for things, I'm up for things.
But there's something about squeezing through a gap in the ground
that is the stuff of my nightmares. It's really narrow.
I'm just going to pop in, turn around, and pop back out again,
just to show you, cos I'm a bit bigger than you. Here we go.
And a lot more experienced!
-There you go.
-That's incredible. Incredible slithering.
You'll fit through with ease. It's really about whether you're willing to give it a go.
I honestly don't feel like I can.
Come on, come and have a look at least.
It's not just me, is it, though? It's the stuff of nightmares.
It's a challenge, and that's the whole idea of caving. All you do is turn your head sideways.
-Push your arms in front of you.
You're not even touching the roof.
I'm not sure I can bear it. I'm pathetic. Honestly, I feel pathetic.
It is a massive mental block.
-I'm going to pick your legs up.
-No, I don't think I'm going to do it.
-You were nearly there then.
-I'm going to grab you there. I'm not going to push.
-If you want to go, you can go.
OK, I'll go, I'll go.
I'm the bravest woman alive, I'm telling you. Yes!
-There you are.
What was it like? It wasn't that bad, was it, really?
It wasn't. If I dream about it, I'm going to give you a ring.
Caving, climbing, or just walking...
It is great we can all enjoy everything the Brecon Beacons has to offer
without damaging the landscape.
Earlier, we heard about rising reports of badger baiting in our countryside.
As John has been finding out,
there is now a major operation to tackle the problem.
His investigation contains some upsetting scenes.
It has been outlawed for more than 170 years,
yet today, reports of badger baiting are on the rise.
The truth is, it is impossible for the authorities to patrol vast areas
of countryside night and day in the hope of catching baiters red-handed.
That is why, out of hundreds of reported cases last year,
hardly any resulted in successful prosecutions.
'So now they have decided it is time to change tactics.'
There is an ongoing investigation with regards to someone
who has allegedly been involved in badger baiting.
It is 6am and police and the RSPCA are preparing
to head out on a raid as part of a crackdown on the crime.
Countryfile has exclusive access.
If you park there, you can see him drive up
and it gives you an idea when to do the knock.
Leading the operation is RSPCA chief inspector Ian Briggs.
Where we're going, he is suspected of keeping dogs there
specifically for badger-digging.
It's a remote location.
That's done deliberately to keep these dogs out of view.
That is his place over there. I want to see if he is there.
You see the white containers?
That is his place.
Although he doesn't live here, the suspect uses a lock-up on the site.
I need to have a look through the binoculars, one final shufty.
Ian's checking whether he's there.
Either way, he will be going in.
He suspects there is evidence here of badger baiting
and cruelty to an animal that is often overlooked in these cases.
Badgers aren't the only targets of this brutal type of crime.
The other, often almost forgotten victims,
whose suffering also calls into question
the morality of these culprits - the dogs.
Kate the terrier came here a year ago after being seized from baiters.
She had been used to pin the badgers down in their setts
and got some horrific injuries in the process.
The more closely you look at her,
we can see it is her nose,
above the eyes and the eye nearest you, it is all pink.
Clearly, she had injuries sustained
when she was being put down badger setts.
Badgers are extremely strong and the damage they can do is amazing.
Kate's wounds have healed,
but this RSPCA footage shows just how horrific
the injuries sustained by these dogs can be.
You can see the injury to the lower jaw.
If an owner took a dog with those injuries to a vet, the vet would be suspicious.
Those types of people don't want vets being suspicious
and perhaps contacting ourselves.
They will either not treat them at all,
or they will self-medicate in their own homes.
But it's a happier ending for Kate.
-She will find an owner, then?
We have already had several offers from people to give her a new home.
People were very keen. She is such a friendly dog.
If you think about what she has been put through, by humans.
She still, as you can see, loves us.
People love her as a result.
It is exactly this type of cruelty that Ian Briggs
and his colleagues aim to tackle during the crackdown.
I'm going to go around the back.
There is no sign of the suspect.
But they have decided it is time to move in.
He's got kennels.
See that terrier at the end?
The team spot a dog around the back of the enclosure
and head in for a closer look.
There is a terrier but, initially,
no sign of the larger lurcher-type dogs that Ian was hoping to find.
But then from one of the containers, there is the sound of barking.
We've obviously got at least one dog in there.
There is another one at the back. There are poultry.
The police are trying to get access because this is all padlocked.
Whatever is in there,
it seems the owner certainly wants it keeping under lock and key.
But with vital evidence suspected to be inside,
the police have come prepared.
Inside are two larger dogs, that Ian thought might be kept there,
and it's immediately obvious they've been involved in fighting.
This is a lurcher cross.
On the forelegs and underneath the muzzle,
you get scarring there from badgers, from fighting with badgers.
You see, it's inflamed, it's a pinky colour,
it's got some scabs on the end of his nose, that's pink as well -
they're all fairly fresh wounds.
So we'll get him away, get a vet to look at him.
To help piece together the case against their suspect,
the team hope to match these dogs to images of badger baiting
that they've already seized from his computer.
It looks like we've got, erm,
two dogs that we're looking for from photographs that we've got.
This link could help bring charges against him.
All the dogs will be taken to a safe location as the case continues.
It's about highlighting the issue of badger digging
and ramping up the pressure on these people.
Today has been a really good day.
We've got some key pieces of evidence that we needed
and I'm confident that we will get a prosecution out of it.
The raid has been a success, just part of this crackdown
in which another 90 addresses across the country will be checked out.
Although it's unrealistic to hope
that after nearly 180 years of flouting the law,
badger baiting will be wiped out by initiatives like this,
they do seem to signal a major change
in the fight against this crime.
The hunters are becoming the hunted -
could it at least be the beginning of the end
of this disgraceful pastime, which taints our countryside?
The Brecon and Monmouth canal
is enjoyed by thousands of visitors every year
and it's easy to see why -
it passes through some of the most beautiful countryside
in the National Park and it's very relaxing indeed.
But things are about to get a bit more extreme
because up ahead is a 300-metre tunnel, and I'll be using
traditional methods to get through it - these legs.
So, while I get warmed up,
why don't you have a look at what is coming up
on tonight's Countryfile?
Easter is a time of new beginnings
and down on Adam's farm, new life is arriving thick and fast.
It's quite amazing
that a little tiny pig like this
will grow into a great big sow like this!
Ellie's put through her paces by the Army's elite squaddies.
I'm in pieces and in total admiration!
And find out what the holiday weather will be like
with the Countryfile five-day forecast.
Whilst Ellie and I are exploring the Brecon Beacons,
Jules has been to the Pennines in Lancashire, to find out about
an entire community that was evicted 80 years ago.
In the 1930s, this place was a thriving hilltop farming community.
But, sadly, that isn't the case any more.
The farmers and their families were forced to leave the homes
they'd lived in for generations, but why?
Local historian David Clayton has been researching the story.
I'm meeting him at Ratten Clough farm.
-David, nice to see you, sir. What a day, a typical Pennine day!
-Am I seeing it at its best?
-Yes, you are -
-distinctive and characteristic, I'd say.
-I suppose in some ways,
it goes to the heart of the kind of lifestyle that was lived out here.
I think we're almost 1,000ft high here,
and in an area of about five square miles,
which we call Brinscall Moor, there were something like 50 farms,
and this was the normal way to live, I guess,
up here, with sheep, of course, and your family here.
But a pretty brutal life, at that.
Well, it was very healthy, if I may persuade you, actually!
Because you had plenty of pure water and pure fresh air,
and exercise, so many of the people I found
when I started to look them up on the census returns
lived and farmed into their 70s and 80s.
And I've even a lady standing here, thereabouts, in 1929,
who was 90 years old, still feeding her poultry.
But of course, up here now, nothing but, well, glorious ruins -
-what happened to remove the community here?
-There was a relationship
between the farmers and the owners here,
and the ownership changed. In 1902, there was a compulsory purchase
by Liverpool Corporation Water Works,
and Liverpool Corporation decided that for purity of water supplies
after an outbreak of typhoid in Maidstone,
to purchase and to persuade the farming community
that it was time to leave,
and they did that by subtle means. It wasn't a Highland Clearances.
You begin to plant trees on what had been the pastureland
and the meadowland -
they couldn't feed their cattle either in summer or over winter -
or the sheep or the poultry.
The deliberate forestation of the moor that David described
is what really put paid to these communities, and here it is -
huge swathes of woodland now planted
over the remains of the settlement here.
Vera Briggs was a child living on the moor at the time
of the relocation, as were her friends Dorothy and Barbara.
They've come together to remember their childhoods.
Vera, I believe I've just seen
-a building that you used to know very well.
-Yes, Ratten Clough.
I remember what it were like when I were young,
going in through the porch, big room on the right,
er...always had geraniums in the window!
I can remember the furniture.
There was a horsehair sofa under the back window.
Was it comfortable, do you think?
No, I don't think so!
-Grandad always had a rocking chair beside the fire.
-I lived on the moors.
-What was it like, Dorothy?
-See, we've been thinking it must have been grim...
-No, it wasn't.
I enjoyed it. Pleased myself, I could roam about.
I used to get lost up the moors!
My mum said I used to toddle off and get lost.
I always found my way home.
You'd walk on the moors, perhaps just your shoes on, some wellies -
nothing, no walking boots, no special clothing, nothing.
Grandma, goodness knows how she brought six children up.
-But they did!
-With stone floors, no heating, no water,
they had to carry the water from the brook.
And peat, they cut peat for the fires.
We had no water, running water.
But my dad piped it, there was a stream down by the side,
-so he piped it.
-You were modern, weren't you?!
This is why Dorothy said she had such a great time,
-because you had all mod cons!
-Yeah! We didn't have electricity!
Not much remains of the buildings on the moor
but memories of people are harder to erase.
Harold Gomersall and his daughter Linda are keen to tell me
what makes their family story so special -
particularly the life of Harold's grandmother.
-What was her name?
-Elizabeth Jane Wyatt.
And she was a governess for the owner of the farm's children.
While she was there, she met Thomas Dixon,
who was the foreman of the farm.
So, this is an interesting match, Linda, isn't it?
It's gorgeous, it's a love story,
it's like a sort of Jane Eyre-ish thing about it.
What do you know about day-to-day life?
I know there's a journal in existence...
-I have the journal right here.
-This is the original?
and I think it's probably the first time it's been back up here
since Elizabeth Jane left.
What sort of things are in it...? Have you looked at this, Linda?
-I have, I've looked at it often.
-This is in 1911, actually.
It's fine day, baking, saw Aunt Kate off on the train at Chorley.
So, every little detail of every day...
Yes. "Father set the seeds in the garden."
And then there was the Bible that Linda's got.
I've got the family Bible and it's...all the children are listed.
How many children were there?
There was 14 all together, the first one was stillborn,
and there was two boys killed in the war, which I'd been to see.
The First World War, and she wrote a poem about them.
It's called Two Graves Across The Sea.
"There are two spots in France's eye That seem so near to me
"And down beneath...
"..And if I'd wings, I'd now fly
"And by their graves would kneel.
"They went away...
"..At the last, we'll meet again
"And grasp each other's hand
"When we've crossed the flowing river To the bright and better land."
I don't know about you two, but I get the distinct impression
that we're not alone here at the moment.
-Do you ever get that feeling?
I think she guided me through the woods there when I was coming back.
-I tell you something, I think Elizabeth Jane's my guardian angel.
Because we was so much... Can I say in love with each other?
As a small child, I loved my grandmother.
And this is where I came to...
where she wanted me to play a mouth organ every night.
And I had to learn off by heart with this thing -
I'm not a musician - Home Sweet Home.
Before she'd go to sleep of a night-time,
I had to play this to her.
-Brilliant. And it reminded her of being here.
-Yes, I should think so.
-But she was a marvellous person. Absolutely marvellous.
Elizabeth's story is just one glimpse
into the lives of the people of Brinscall Moor.
Gone, but never forgotten.
In the Cotswolds, Adam's wrestling with dozens of newborns on the farm.
Lambing season is here and my ewes are giving birth round the clock.
If that's not enough, my pigs are getting in on the action too.
This is one of my Kunekune sows.
They are a lovely friendly breed of pig.
A lot of pigs chase you out of the pen and try and bite
if you are sat next to her like this with freshly born piglets.
These are just two days old.
Aren't you lovely?
Kunekune is a very small breed.
Good for the smallholder, they are good for pets,
they are a New Zealand bush pig originally.
Kunekune is Maori for fat and round. They do get quite fat and round.
It's quite amazing that a little tiny pig like this
will grow into a great big sow like this.
You are very sweet, aren't you? She's had a good-size litter too.
Unlike this old girl. This is one of my Gloucester Old Spot sows.
Although the Kunekune has done well and had 11 piglets,
this one has only had four which is disappointing.
They're a couple of weeks old now.
They love being outside.
I am going to turn out onto the grass now the weather has warmed up. They should be fine.
Piglets make a fuss when you pick them up.
They squeal, calling to their mum. She is not bothered at all.
Right, that's it.
Now then, missus. Come on, babies, follow your mum. Come on. Yes.
It's taken them no time at all to settle in out here.
They are already digging up the soil and chewing on bits of turf.
Very happy to be out.
With the pigs enjoying the outdoors, I'm off to the lambing shed.
Lambing is well underway.
There's a Cotswold just given birth to a single here.
The lamb's only quarter of an hour old and it is already on its feet
trying to suckle on the ewe which is a good sign.
I've put a paint spray mark on the side of the ewes
and the same number on her lambs.
If it's written in red, we know she's only got one.
If it's written in blue, we know she's got two.
That Cotswold lamb is going to the wrong mother.
It's leaving its own mother and going over to the Dartmoor.
A ewe will only suckle her own lambs. She'll sniff them
and if they smell like her own she'll let them feed. If they don't, she will nudge them away.
That little Cotswold is being pushed to the side by the Dartmoor
and now it is going back to its own mother.
There we are. It's suckling now which is perfect.
These are Whiteface Dartmoors - a really hardy, tough breed.
Traditionally they lamb out on Dartmoor and great survivors,
tough as old boots.
My Whiteface Dartmoors have the luxury of lambing in a lambing shed.
But on Dartmoor traditionally they lamb them outdoors.
I'm heading down there to meet a farmer to show me how it's done.
I love coming down here.
It's not far from where I went to agricultural college.
I know the area fairly well.
There's wonderful farming country
but it's a different landscape to where I come from in the Cotswolds.
It is also home to the sheep that bears its name -
the Whiteface Dartmoor.
I bought my own flock here two years ago.
The breed is still quite new to me. I'm keen to get to know them better.
If one person should be able to help me out, it is Clyde Coaker.
What a stunning place to work and live.
How many generations have been farming here?
I'm the sixth generation to be farming here.
I've got two young children which will be the seventh.
Lambing here is well underway with new arrivals daily.
Two lovely little wet sloppy lambs.
Yes, just been born. 20 minutes ago the second one dropped.
-They are lambing out here 24/7? Just looking after themselves?
We keep an eye on them
and help when needed but it is better to lamb outdoors we feel.
When we bring them in the sheds we worry about bacteria and more human contact.
It's more natural here to just let them get on with it
and assist where necessary.
-Is that little one all right?
-Yes, fine. He is not on his feet yet.
-But he soon will be.
-If the weather comes in horrible...
-It's a beautiful day today but it does get rough at times?
-How do they cope lambing in that?
-They cope reasonably well.
We try and lamb the sheep in a sheltered field
if the weather's going to be rough.
Sheep, being sheep, sometimes do lamb in a silly place,
but the older ewes generally look after themselves and manage well.
-Shall I grab that other lamb?
Although born outside,
the lambs will spend their first night in the shed -
out of the cold and away from the foxes.
It shows what a good mother she's had. She's following beautifully.
Isn't she lovely? They're wonderful, aren't they?
-There we go. Nice warm spot.
-How long will you keep her in for?
We will leave this ewe and her lambs in certainly for tonight.
Maybe tomorrow night as well. We'll see how the lambs are doing,
what the weather is like, but I will get her out as soon as I can.
The shed is full of healthy young lambs. Like me, Clyde's been lucky.
He has he has escaped the Schmallenberg Virus too -
a disease that has been casting a shadow over lambing
on so many other farms this year.
This lady could give birth any time now. She's well on.
Yeah. The water bag is there.
She has been scanned already, so we know she's going to have twins.
-If we bide our time we may see the birth of the lamb.
When a ewe has started lambing like this would you keep a careful
eye on her, or just leave her to get on with it?
-We just let her get on with it.
-That's exactly what we'll do.
Just enough time to go and look at some rams.
I'm hoping Clyde can give me tips on what to look for.
-They are very well behaved, aren't they?
-There you go.
-They're smart-looking boys.
-These are just a year old?
-That's right. 12 months old.
I was told once they needed short, thick ears. What's that about?
It's a breed characteristic - the short, thick ear
is supposed to suggest that it will be a tough animal
and a true Dartmoor.
Now, this one's got a lovely fleece.
Is the wool still very important in the Dartmoor?
It is, it's very important,
especially for the Whiteface Dartmoor,
it's what the breed was bred to do, to produce top-quality wool.
Which one would you choose?
Well, they've all got strengths and weaknesses, like everything else.
The ram you just pointed out
has got a nice fleece, erm,
and is probably my favourite of the three, I would say.
-This one's got a little black spot on his ear. Does that matter?
-Yes, a guinea spot.
It doesn't matter at all.
Some people think it's quite nice. Tradition says it adds a guinea to the value, so...
-A pound and five pence, which in the old days would have been a lot of money.
He seems to be a lovely ram
and it's great to get some tips on what to look for and breed for
because I'm a complete novice and I don't need one this year
but I'm going to come and see you next year.
Yeah, if you're sure I can't persuade you to take this one back with you, Adam!
I don't know - the trouble is, I couldn't afford it, could I?
Well, we can come to a deal.
'After all, rams like this cost around £500 each.
'Meanwhile, back in the field, things are hotting up.'
This ewe is having contractions now,
you can see her tummy's rising as she pushes
and as a shepherd,
what you're looking for is the little nose and two feet to make sure it's correctly presented
and at the moment, I can't see anything yet.
'But a few minutes later, it's all happening
'and with a helping hand from Clyde, a baby lamb is soon born.'
She's given birth to the lamb but it's the first time she's lambed.
And now she's just going over to start licking it.
And she's licking it dry. It's wet and warm, she's got to lick it,
get it dry and encourage it to get to its feet.
Natural instinct. This ewe has never done this before.
Ten minutes later,
there's another one.
It's the perfect end to my visit to Clyde's farm.
Next week, I'll be welcoming some new workers to the farm -
honeybees that'll be pollinating my crops.
200 years ago, the Monmouth and Brecon Canal
carried heavy cargo from the Brecon Beacons
towards the Severn Estuary.
These days, it carries a lighter load - visitors,
looking for a tranquil way to explore the national park.
Right, here comes the geography bit.
The Monmouth and Brecon Canal is a contour canal,
and that means that it follows the topography of the landscape
so that its engineers, Thomas Dartford and his son Thomas Jr,
could avoid costly engineering work such as tunnels and locks.
In fact, this lock here is one of only six
along the whole stretch of the canal.
Is that all right, Mark?
The canal flows through the Usk Valley but actually runs above the River Usk,
giving spectacular views
at almost every twist and turn of its 35 miles.
We're now approaching the Ashford Tunnel,
which is the longest of two tunnels along the canal at 343m.
Now, when the canal first opened,
horses would tow the working barges along
from the towpath.
Thing is, there's no towpath inside the tunnel,
so the horses would be disconnected at one end,
they'd go up over the top
and meet the boats at the other side,
but you've lost your power, so you're left with a conundrum -
how do you get through the tunnel?
The name given to the technique
of pushing the barge through a tunnel using your feet
and this tunnel is so tight, you have to lie on your back.
-Side by side?
-Yeah, and then pushing right in the middle there.
-Oh, I see, yeah, keep it level.
-Keep a steady pace.
-Keep you fit!
Yeah, as if we haven't done enough exercise today.
I know, with those barrels.
-I hope there's another barrel of beer at the end of it.
-I do hope so.
We're sort of climbing. We're not getting anywhere.
There's the air vent, the halfway point!
Let's not stop and dwell on it.
This is like the weirdest treadmill ever.
That's a good pace. Let's just step it out from there.
It just feels like walking, doesn't it?
My fitness is letting me down.
Doing good, man, you're doing good.
Whoops! That's a bit of mortar.
-I can see the daylight.
-Sensing that change in the air.
Get the arms up. Watch your head on this bit.
We've done it, we've done it.
It's so nice to see clouds as opposed to stone and your boots.
Oh, my word. Wonderful stuff.
Well, shortly, Ellie will be getting all out of breath
as she practices some manoeuvres with the Army,
but first let's see what the weather has got in store for hours
in the week ahead with the Countryfile forecast.
Right, start that engine up!
This week, Matt and I are exploring the rolling, rugged landscape of the Brecon Beacons.
But I'm about to enter a part of the national park
none of its four million visitors will ever see.
Sennybridge, a military training ground and certainly no playground.
Today it's the training ground for future commanders of the British Army,
soldiers especially selected for their leadership potential
are put through their paces in an intense 16 week training course
to see if they've got what it takes to lead men into battle on the front line.
Many of the top military personnel currently fighting in Afghanistan
have had their mettle tested over this terrain.
Even the SAS use the hills for their gruelling selection of recruits.
Major Grant Hayward is in charge of their training.
Why the Brecon Beacons? It doesn't really look like the terrain we see on TV in Afghanistan.
What Brecons offers us literally on the doorstep is
a terrain that is diverse in terms of very arduous for the soldiers,
in terms of doing their training, but also climatically very challenging, as well,
and it's easy to go from subzero temperatures to a very hot day,
so really, I think, if they prepare themselves here for operations,
they can be prepared to do operations anywhere in the world.
And what does their training involve?
My particular part of this course is to take them from a soldier
with leadership potential to give them the training and education
that ultimately will qualify them to be a section commander,
that means in charge of, for the first time, 8 to 10 soldiers.
The troops have been out for seven days and nights
in this tough terrain already.
I want to get a feel for the challenges they face,
starting with the kit.
This is the new body armour.
Next, we have the webbing.
OK, this carries the guys' water, food, ammunition.
Next, we have the SA80 rifle.
I can confirm I've never held one of these before.
This is a typical, British-issued daysack.
That's crazy-heavy! And you have to be running in this?!
-The guys will be crawling in that, as well.
It's one thing wearing all this gear, quite another moving in it.
How do you feel? What's going through your mind now?
I'm in pieces, I'm IN pieces and in total admiration! Oh, my God!
This landscape is perfect for us with this equipment
so we can blend in, use the folds in the ground.
The guys use that to their advantage
to get as close to the enemy position as possible.
-It's a good training ground?
-An excellent training ground.
But the 75,000 acres aren't just for military training,
they're managed for livestock and wildlife as well.
In charge of that task is Commandant Eddie Mahony.
We have 15,000 troops coming through here each month, would you believe?
-Wow! Every month?!
There's a company's worth of men in this area at the moment,
lying up, but you don't realise cos it's quiet.
That's quite spooky to think like that!
But for that, we must make sure
we've got a robust rural management plan in place.
We've planted some 70 miles of hedges over the last ten years.
Plantations - since 1970 we've planted a further 180
and they're now mature enough,
and what that allows us to do
is assist with wildlife and at the same time,
allow our troops to use them for harbour areas or manoeuvring.
Yes, the priority is military training, but at the same time,
we want to work in harmony with the military and conservation.
Yeah, I've heard skylarks today and seen red kites all over,
-so obviously a good habitat.
It's a great success story
and a privilege to be here working and see the place thrive
both as a military perspective and a conservation perspective.
So peaceful, isn't it?
But not for long.
The trainee commanders are about to start their mission for the day,
storming an enemy holed up in an isolated Welsh farmhouse.
This isn't training now.
It's a test of their ability to lead a team and complete their objectives.
As it can make or break careers, I'm only allowed to observe.
Thankfully, not in the full kit, so hopefully I'll be able to keep up.
They do this huge flanking manoeuvre down the hill.
They're absolutely legging it!
I haven't got any gear on but I still couldn't keep up!
The Brecon Beacons are famous army training grounds
and you can see why,
they've got so many different features in the landscape that are useful.
Down here, we've got this kind of divot.
There's a stream system, all the trees.
A lot of variation in one landscape, which is really useful.
They're just making their final plans now to make the last assault...
COMMANDER SHOUTS ORDERS
..to attack the enemy position. Here we go!
They're firing blanks but it sounds very real.
You go in!
Three, Section Commander.
Forwards to me... Duffy!
Remember, these are experienced soldiers.
This is about finding future leaders
and only the cream of the crop will make it.
Can you imagine doing this for real with real fire?
Real enemies who really hated you?
Charlie, follow on.
So how's it going?
Your lads were the ones that just went into the building.
Yeah, that's right.
-From my perspective, the student actually did pretty well.
They got stuck in, used their grenades and weapon systems
and in a relatively quick time,
the building had been cleared and secured.
-Great, so overall you're happy?
Job done and in just five weeks from now,
the troops that successfully complete this course
could be leading on the front line.
But wherever they are in the world and whatever environment,
the landscape of the Brecon Beacons
will have played a large part in getting them there.
That's it from Countryfile this week.
Next week, we'll be in the South Pennines,
where Matt will be jumping off boulders on a mountain bike
and I will be enjoying the hospitality of the Pennine Way
with poet Simon Armitage.
See you then.
Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd
Matt Baker heads to Wales to celebrate the 200th anniversary of the Monmouth and Brecon canal, while Ellie Harrison discovers why the Brecon Beacons provide the perfect terrain for soldiers training for international conflicts.
Down on the farm, Adam is keeping a close eye on his indoor lambing sheds, but he still finds time for a trip to Dartmoor to learn about the rare breed sheep which give birth outside. Meanwhile, Jules Hudson is at the other end of the country in Lancashire, discovering why a thriving farming community was evicted from the land eighty years ago.
Plus John Craven investigates why badger baiting is on the rise in the British countryside and reveals what is being done to clamp down on this barbaric practice.