Anita heads to the tiny Scottish island of Kerrera, where she joins the postmaster on her daily round and helps the shepherd round up her sheep.
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Shining jewels in the sea.
Glittering landscapes dotted around our shores.
The British Isles is made up of more than 6,000 islands.
From the wide-open landscapes of Shetland...
..to the bustle of the Channel Islands...
..each offers a different way of life.
In this programme, we'll be looking at all aspects of island life.
Today, I am in Scotland, heading to the Inner Hebrides.
And the island I'm visiting, just over there, is full of surprises.
Kerrera, the jewel in the Firth of Lorne -
a land of sweeping acres and rugged cliffs...
..pebbled coves and remote farms.
People have lived here since the Bronze Age.
These days, just 48 people call this island home.
It's a perfect place for my first real taste of island life.
And whilst I'm here, braving the elements,
I'll be looking back at some of the times Countryfile has visited
islands around our shores.
Like the time Ellie marvelled at the wildlife in the Shetland Islands...
-Can you see it off there? 30 or 40 yards offshore.
..to when Helen demonstrated her farming skills off the Welsh coast...
..and when Matt discovered a tasty surprise in Anglesey.
I'm a big fan of kiwi fruits and that...
That is beautiful.
Kerrera is the least known, yet closest of the Inner Hebrides.
It sits less than a mile off Scotland's Argyll and Bute coast.
It's just 4.5 miles long, by about a mile wide.
There are farms, a ruined castle,
spectacular views and a whole host of sheep.
And linking Kerrera to the mainland,
the ferry - the island's lifeline.
Everything comes on and off the island by boat.
Including the post.
Gill Vollum is the island's postmistress.
-Hi there, Anita. How do you do?
-Good to see you.
-Nice to meet you.
-I've got you a gift.
-Thank you very much.
-The post bag.
-Right, where's the Post Office?
-Just up in here.
-This is it?
-Yes, this is it.
-THEY LAUGH The shed?!
-Yes, the shed.
How long has this been the sorting office?
Since I started the job.
-What, five years? Four years?
-So it's just...
-And how many families have you got here?
-We've got 18 houses.
We've got the north end of the island, middle end of the island and then the south end.
-And that's it?
-Yeah. In our sheep shed.
-18 families. How many people is that?
-48 people on the island.
-12 of which are children. 13 of which are children!
-Little baby Isabella is here.
And another one on the way, which is exciting.
-So, we sort it?
-Let's see what we've got here.
-So, do you know everybody's business, Gill?
Yeah, pretty much. I try not to look at the important letters.
I try to just pop things in.
-The love letters...
-The exciting day is exam results.
That's always like... "Ooh, how are you doing?"
I always try to get to them first.
-Who's that? Jean McGregor.
Park, over here.
I think that's a love letter.
Do you reckon? I think so, too. I have high hopes for that one.
And is it always about the same amount of post that you get?
Yeah, Tuesday seems to be very little mail for some reason.
Mondays and Fridays are always really, really busy.
And if people order packages and things like that, you get lots of big parcels.
-Exciting, huge things.
-Do you get help at Christmas?
-No. Just me.
-Just me, yes.
-Right, what happens now?
-That's us done.
OK, so we are just going to put elastic bands around them all
-and then we'll go off and deliver it.
OK, so anyone gets the wrong letter today, it was my fault.
I will send them directly to you.
Yeah. It's your dodgy assistant.
-Perfect, let's go.
-All right, let's do it.
The terrain on Kerrera is rough and rugged,
with houses scattered all over the island.
There is just one road,
so delivering the post needs something a little special.
-This is fantastic!
-It's like a moon buggy.
Yes, this is my Royal Mail post buggy.
This is especially for you?
Yep, especially for me.
-To tackle these...
-To manage to get around the whole island.
-How fantastic! Shall we get in it?
-Let's do it, let's go.
Right, whilst we begin our adventure,
let's look back at a time when Adam was on another Scottish island,
where the post stopped long ago.
Right, off I go. This is going to be fun!
Seat belt on. Off we go.
ADAM: Well, I've arrived on the Orkneys,
and it's a world away from my farm on the Cotswolds.
And I'm travelling south to meet up with Cyril Annal,
whose family have owned Swona for generations.
And his farm is based on South Ronaldsay.
-You must be Cyril.
-Hi, good to meet you.
This is Alexander, my son.
-Oh, hi, good to see you.
-Nice to meet you.
How many generations have been on this farm?
Since 1600, came to Orkney first.
Goodness me! That's incredible.
Look, I have been doing a bit of research.
And I found these old photographs of the family.
-Who is this of?
-That was my Uncle Arthur in Swona.
-And that one?
-That is my grandfather.
This is over on Swona, that you own now?
-Yes, we do.
-And these cattle that were there -
domesticated, tame, being used to pull the plough...
Great pets. They all had names and everything.
And now, wild beasts of the island.
Oh, completely feral.
Crazy as can be.
Cyril and Alex go to Swona to check on the cattle's welfare a couple of times a year.
And today I'm lucky enough to be joining them.
Despite supporting a vibrant community for generations,
the island was abandoned in the '70s,
when the difficulties of living here meant island life was unviable.
How many acres is the whole island?
About 270, roughly.
270? They have a fair roam, these cattle.
-It varies, depending on the tide.
-We might never find them.
They are here, or else they've all gone swimming.
Well, there's plenty of cowpats.
-They're definitely here.
-Oh, they will be about somewhere, hopefully.
-Is that one there?
-Oh, yes, that's one over there, yes.
That looks like a bull to me.
It's already spotted us. See him looking this way?
Yeah. And so is it safe to just walk over towards him?
-No, we'll sort of go round in a circle,
so that we don't get between that bull and the herd.
-Cos he might decide that he wants to go back to the herd with us in between.
They'll all run together and they'll not be looking at us,
they'll be looking at one another.
We have to be a bit careful.
As we cautiously circle around the bull, the herd emerges.
The main herd sticks together there.
If yous can see the white one in the middle,
she will be kind of the dominant female.
And then, way off in the distance at the other side of the loch,
-we think we've got an old bull lying down.
-Yes, I can see him.
We'll go and check him to see if he is OK.
Last summer, the dominant bull pushed him out of the herd and forced him
away from the herd and led him to the other end of the island.
-It's really interesting, watching this behaviour.
On a day like today, it looks idyllic, but, in reality,
these cattle have a tough life out here in these conditions.
It's survival of the fittest.
So, what sort of age do you think he is, Cyril?
That fella? 15 to 20.
-He is a very old gentleman.
And on a modern farm, you just wouldn't see bulls that old, would you?
You wouldn't see him. He would never be allowed to age.
He'd probably have some of the problems that humans have,
such as stiff and sore, as we all get.
And he is walking along now.
He is getting along OK and he is grazing.
An amazing shape. He is quite sort of heavy at the front end and
narrowing to the back end.
Yes, this is so that he can push,
head down and push the other one out of the way.
He's sort of more like a buffalo than a modern Aberdeen Angus.
-Certainly no tags in their ears now, is there?
They don't have to comply with all the DEFRA rules any more.
If you help me, we will go and put a tag in this one now.
I think we'll just leave the poor old fellow alone, shall we?
It's fascinating to see how the cattle have returned to their wild instincts.
But what of the people who lived on this island?
A cluster of houses stands as a memorial to a lost way of life.
At its peak, there were around 30 people living on the island in four or five houses.
The land would have been farmed, the gardens would have been immaculate,
and it would have been very well loved.
But by 1974, there were only two left - Cyril's auntie and uncle,
who were getting old, and they decided to leave, too.
And this is how they left it.
It's almost like they just walked out and left all of their belongings behind.
There's an old newspaper here from 1974.
Christmas cards. Look, even some reading glasses.
Lovely old recipe book on how to make jams.
It's as though they thought one day they'd be back.
This is their lovely old cattle shed,
where the cows and the oxen would have been brought in for the winter
and tied up by the neck and led out to work.
A very quiet, docile, domesticated animal.
Now, their descendants are running wild on the island.
ANITA: Here on Kerrera, I'm with postmistress Gill Vollum,
helping with her post round.
And we are in her special buggy,
the only way of coping with the rough terrain.
Are the roads all like this?
This is the good bit of the road.
-Full of potholes.
But it's going to be a very beautiful ride.
Oh, a big one. Whoo!
Yeah. Hold on.
You grew up on this island.
Yes, yes. Born and bred. My children will be third-generation.
-But you left the island?
Yes, I left the island. I went to uni and worked at various outdoor centres.
So, what brought you back?
I'm not quite sure. A moment of madness that's not gone away!
I love it. I can't imagine not being back.
How long does it take you to get around the island on this?
About three and a half hours. You can't go fast at all.
No, it's so slow!
-I see houses.
This is our first stop, just up here.
Where's the letterbox?
Kerrera doesn't do letterboxes.
We have toy boxes, we have a fridge, we do doorsteps...
-Yeah, a fridge. Somebody has an old fridge.
-Just leave it here?
-So, literally just propped up there would be great, thank you.
-Simple as that.
-Simple as that.
Gill's family have lived on the island for more than 40 years.
When she returned, she picked up where her dad left off.
My dad used to have the farm, used to do this job actually,
-used to be a postman as well.
-Your dad was the postman?
So I remember, as a little kid, we had a little pony,
so riding the pony and going and delivering the post in the summer holidays and things like that.
-So your dad didn't have the buggy?
-No, he certainly didn't have the buggy. It was done by foot.
-By foot or a pony?
-By foot, yes. Or by pony.
Sometimes he'd take the boat up to the north end, as well.
-Fantastic memories. And here you are.
-And here I am.
-Doing your dad's old job.
-Doing my dad's old job. Doing my dad's two old jobs, actually.
Running the farm and doing the Post Office.
There are fewer people on this island than in my extended family.
Really? Oh, my goodness.
Admittedly, I am from a very large Indian family, but still...
Yeah, it's still crazy, isn't it?
It is... I'm just... I mean, it is so beautiful,
-but just getting your head around this way of life.
-It's a very different way of life.
-And does it feel like that when you're on the island?
-No, it just feels normal.
It's not until you start talking about it to other people,
you start seeing it through other people's eyes when friends come to visit or
people come to say hi that you realise just how different it can be.
For instance, where do you get a pint of milk?
The mainland. You have to go into town for everything. The lot.
-There's no local shop?
-There's no local shop at all.
So bring everything. Be organised.
My shopping list has suddenly got a lot bigger and a lot more organised.
Not only is there no shop, there's no pub, no Post Office
and the school closed nearly 20 years ago.
But it's a growing community, and next stop is baby Isabella, the island's newest arrival.
I've brought the post. Hi there.
Oh, my goodness me!
The youngest person on the island.
-This is Isabella.
-Isabella, I have brought your post.
-Nice to meet you anyway.
The most unusual postbox I've ever seen.
It's because it's not a postbox. It's a toy box.
-Yep, so where next?
That's us finished post round, so round to Sheila's, my friend's,
-for a cup of tea, I reckon.
A good morning's work in this peaceful place.
But peace can't be taken for granted,
as Ellie found out in the Channel Islands last year,
where they were marking 70 years since the end of the Nazi occupation.
Lying to the north-east of Jersey,
just 24 square miles of patchwork fields and idyllic coastline.
For five long years,
the island was held to ransom by the demands of its captors.
We are all familiar with the stories
of the devastation and tragedy of the Second World War.
But the effect of the occupation
on the farming community of Guernsey isn't as well known.
The Guernsey tomato had been an important source of income on the island
for nearly 100 years, and an established part of the island's culture.
In the 1930s, roughly one in 15 of the population were growers.
But soon this hard-working community found themselves on the front line of the Nazi invasion.
Molly Bihet, who lived near the harbour of St Peter Port,
witnessed the German invasion of the island.
She was just nine years old.
Before the raid, it was just a nice place to be,
because there were so many people we'd meet there.
There was a lot of exporting, especially the tomatoes.
My grandfather used to go every day to have a chat.
It was a very busy place.
The summer evening of the 28th of June 1940 was no exception.
What were you doing on the day of the raid?
We'd been to a shop, buying vegetables,
and I had this cucumber.
We heard these planes coming. We thought they were British.
And we started waving. They came down very low.
And then, all of a sudden, we could see the German signs.
We could see the machine gunning,
the planes came so low over the harbour.
Where did they fly from?
They came from north.
We were terrified.
Molly and her mum hid in a neighbour's cellar,
while her grandfather and uncle, who were at the harbour,
hid under the jetty.
But for the dozens of fruit growers queueing in the port,
there was nowhere safe to run.
What happened to the tomato farmers that were there?
The lorries were all burning,
because they were full of tomatoes for exporting.
The drivers had got underneath the lorries,
thinking they were protected from the machine gunning.
Of course, they weren't.
34 civilians died from the attack and many more were injured.
But the impact of the war on the island's horticultural industry had only just begun.
Suzanne Brewer is a third-generation tomato grower.
Many of her relatives lived and worked through the occupation.
-Hi, Suzanne. Good to meet you.
How did life change for them when the occupation began?
Well, after the bombing down at the harbour,
exports of tomatoes had to stop.
The managers of the vineries had to step aside
and be told what to grow and when to grow it.
Suzanne still has her family's diaries,
which tell of the harsh reality of life at the time.
It's incredible to have these.
-Can we have a look at some of their entries in diaries?
-Yes, of course.
This is Uncle Arthur's diary from the beginning of the occupation.
"Tomatoes abound and every cow and person is confronted with the colossal task -
"that of eating 400,000 baskets of ripe fruit."
But the surplus didn't last.
By 1944 the islanders were starving and so, too, were the Nazi soldiers,
who went to extreme lengths to survive.
The tone in Uncle Arthur's diaries
from 1940 to 1945 changes quite dramatically.
"March the 31st, 1944.
"I have had four robberies within 24 hours
"and now they've been after my cow.
"No words of mine can describe the feeling of insecurity about everything, everywhere."
There was just an enormous amount of thieving going on.
And sometimes it got quite violent.
There is another entry here. Maybe, Ellie, you'd like to read it.
Where is this one?
Ah. "Then Mr Mahey told me a greenhouse robber, a soldier,
"had shot dead a German gendarmerie man
"who caught him robbing broccoli or potatoes last night."
So, they're killing each other in their desperation.
70 years on, and tomato farming under Nazi occupation is a memory held by a diminishing few.
After a post-war boom, the industry fell into decline.
In fact, there are now only a few commercial growers left on the island.
But there's a new project that's been set up,
with the aim of keeping that knowledge of the industry alive.
One of the founders of the project is Jock Pettit.
What is this project all about?
Edible Guernsey is about bringing the infrastructure and expertise
that was left over from the decline of the growing industries here
and using them to teach people about food education and provide food security.
And starting with children, then?
Children certainly getting involved is fantastic,
because food education obviously starts young.
We've got people like Nigel as a mentor.
There's a few others who have significant expertise in growing on the island.
But we import most of our food.
So we saw an opportunity to try and produce food locally.
The tomato industry may be almost gone,
but the knowledge gained by the growers of Guernsey in good times and bad
will now hopefully live on.
ANITA: I'm taking a look at island life.
And I've come to Kerrera,
a small island just off the west coast of Scotland.
Sheep farming is one of the island's mainstays.
There are three farms and a smallholding on the island.
And they are all run by women,
daughters who have succeeded their fathers on the family farm.
Postie Gill, who we met earlier, and her best friend, Sheila,
are neighbours, and both run their family farms.
Well, Sheila, thanks for the coffee.
-We deserve it after all that hard work delivering the post.
So, you two have been friends for how long?
-Oh, yes, 30 years.
So, what are your memories of growing up on this unique little island?
There were normally disasters with the pair of us involved.
-We got ourselves into some right pickles.
You must have had a really unique childhood. Very free, I'd imagine.
-It was very, very free.
-We went to primary school here as well, so that was quite unique.
There were 13 of us in the primary school. And we just roamed as a pack, really.
-Both of you are mums.
-You've both got two boys.
-How did you meet your husbands?
Tell me they're not from the island!
Sheila dragged me out to go to a wedding.
And then we went up to the local pub and Tim was there with some friends.
-And that's how Tim and I met.
-My husband is South African.
Came over here to coach rugby and... that's how I met him, really.
So, you've basically dragged men, who...
-Kicking and screaming.
-Kicking and screaming.
-Back into the hills.
"Come and live where we grew up on this island with hardly anybody."
But do they love it? They must do.
-Yeah, they do. Now they do. They have warmed to it slowly.
I mean, I have to say, just having spent just the morning with you, Gill,
there is magic in the air here. There is really something special about this place.
And I know you are both working farmers, so there's work to be done, isn't there?
-What are we doing?
-Giving Gill some sheep back.
That shouldn't be on my farm!
Yeah, our fences are fairly rubbish, so my sheep keep diving into Sheila's land.
-So every now and then, we play sheep trumps and come and get our sheep back.
-Yeah. Your turn.
All right, so what's the plan?
Need to get Gill's sheep from that pen, through these two gates, back into here.
-Sounds easy enough.
-I think we will need this one shut,
-cos Gill's sheep are quite good at jumping.
Don't go down that way.
-It's going beautifully.
-It's OK. I've got it.
-Quick, she's got it!
This is proper sheep tackling.
Good skills, my darling.
That got quite dramatic. THEY LAUGH
Sheila, you are my hero.
-I saved you!
And I will be back with Sheila in just a moment.
Before then, here's a reminder of the time John spent a day with
another female farmer on a very different type of island farm.
JOHN: Just off the coast of Northern Ireland lies the island of Rathlin.
At just six miles long and one mile wide,
the island is small in size, but rich in wildlife.
Its beauty doesn't stop at this rugged coastline.
Perhaps its greatest asset lies hidden beneath the surface of the sea.
Here, the Atlantic Ocean meets the Irish Sea
and the mingling of these waters provides the perfect setting for
one of the most dynamic, most productive ecosystems
on our planet - a forest of kelp.
And the one here on Rathlin is truly spectacular.
Just off its shores, this vast resource of seaweed
provides a nutrient-rich and protective habitat for marine life.
And though its value to wildlife is widely known, in recent years,
people have been exploring the potential health benefits of this edible seaweed.
Keen to make the most of this growing market,
Kate Burns set up the UK's first kelp farm here on Rathlin in 2013.
Well, here we are, Kate, on this beautiful,
rocky shoreline, on a kelp hunt!
-Indeed we are.
-Why kelp? What's so special about kelp?
Well, kelp is a superfood that we haven't really been eating much in
the British Isles, and it's only now that we are realising
A, how good it is for you, and B, actually what a great food product it makes.
So, what is so good about it?
Well, it's got more calcium and iron than any other vegetable.
It is high in protein, in vitamin D, in roughage.
-It doesn't look very nice.
-No, it doesn't, actually!
And when we farm it, it's different and you will see that later on.
-And also, how we cook it makes it very palatable indeed.
Kelp is very much a staple of Asian cuisine,
but Kate is taking a more European approach.
She is targeting gastronomes with her selection of
ready-to-eat kelp tagliatelle and pesto.
And although her crop grows out at sea, the work begins here on shore.
So, what exactly are we looking for then?
Well, we are looking for kelp which has spores on it.
And, at the moment, we are looking for sugar kelp.
In the month of February, it's the kind of kelp which is ready to release spores.
-That's some sugar kelp there.
-But it hasn't got any spores on it.
-Oh, right. So that's no good.
-Here's a piece here.
-Here's a piece.
-So, where are the spores, then?
Well, can you see that black, dark line down the middle of it?
Like a spine going down?
-It looks like a spine. That's actually spores.
Out in the ocean, kelp reproduces naturally,
but Kate is taking a more hi-tech approach.
Hers is cultivated in a lab before being transferred out to sea
to grow into adult plants.
First, the spores collected on the beach are cut out and cleaned.
Then they are chilled for 24 hours
before being released into sterile sea water.
When they release, they become zooplankton for 24 hours.
And they have tails and they are male and female and they swim.
And they look for something to attach to.
And if they don't attach within 24 hours, they die.
-So you put string down for them?
-We put spools of string in the lab.
-And, after about 35 days,
they are 1mm or 2mm long and we transplant them to ropes
at sea, in our licensed kelp farm.
ANITA: John, off the coast of Northern Ireland back in March,
finding out how seaweed is giving a boost to commerce on the island of Rathlin.
Here on the Hebridean island of Kerrera, it's all about sheep.
Sheila McGregor is getting ready to move some of her thousand-odd ewes.
Given my sheep wrangling skills, I'm sure she'll appreciate my help.
Sheila, that is seriously impressive.
-I mean, the dog is impressive.
-But the whistling is as well.
It all sounds the same to me.
How long does it take to train the dog to do that?
It's depends on the dog. But it takes about, I don't know,
about six months, to get them fully trained.
And then they just get better and better and then
they start knowing better than you and then they just go off and they'll gather the field on its own.
She'll come into this field and she's off and I'm like, "Come back! Not ready yet."
-So it's instinctive?
-It's instinctive, yeah.
-You can see she's poised.
-She ready, yep.
-Is she waiting for you to whistle?
So give me a couple of commands.
Let's see if I can hear the difference.
Do one and then do...
SHEILA WHISTLES COMMANDS
-So that has told her...
-So that is "coming up".
And then, when she's had enough, "sit down". So...
-That's "coming to me".
Oh, hello! Hello!
Come and say hello.
Flo. Come here. Oh, let's meet...
Oh, Flo, you are brilliant.
Is it quite an isolating job?
Because you are living on this island, you are sort of isolated as it is.
-And on top of that, you're doing something that is solitary.
It can be, but I've got Gill over the hill.
I'm kind of used to the quietness of it all.
So I don't feel isolated.
And it does feel like a proper community here.
-It's like everybody knows everybody.
-Everybody does know everybody.
And everybody knows what everybody else is doing and it's like...
But that's part and parcel of living here. So, yeah, it's good.
Shall we get down there and march these sheep where they need to be?
-The safest way is this way.
But before we get stuck in,
here's a look back to the time Ellie was on another Scottish island
looking for beasts of a very different kind.
ELLIE: This is Shetland.
A sub-Arctic archipelago of Scotland
and the UK's most northern habitation.
Its largest island is known simply as Mainland,
with its capital, Lerwick, at the heart.
Around 22,000 people live on this remote outpost
scattered some 100 miles off the north coast of Scotland.
And at this time of year, the daylight is almost endless.
The island's position in the North Atlantic mean they play host to more
than a million breeding birds every year.
But it's not just birds which make the most of this rocky outcrop.
I am heading to the island of Fetlar,
known locally as the "Garden of Shetland",
in the hope of spotting some of its extra special residents.
It's the greenest of all the islands and with only 81 residents,
local lad and naturalist Brydon Thomason has been enchanted
by the wildlife here since he was a toddler.
Fingers crossed, today he is going to show me one of Shetland's
most famous residents - the European otter.
-How are you doing?
-You all right?
Yes, nice to meet you.
-How are you doing?
-So, any sign?
I have actually just spotted one just up ahead.
-It's quite a way off at the moment.
But, as we move towards it, we'll try and keep our voices down.
You know, they are very sensitive to any noise, or especially scent.
-They are very scent sensitive.
-If we just crouch down here, Ellie, for a minute.
We'll have a little scan again.
OK, so there it is actually up again now, Ellie.
So, if you just look... See in line with that headland?
If you just come straight down...
-Can you see it off there?
-30 or 40 yards offshore.
It's just foraging. We refer to this as patch fishing, I guess.
They've got favourite little areas of seabed.
It could be a reef or it could be a kelp forest
that they will forage on every day.
They know their shoreline just intimately.
It's exciting for me, you know, because otters, down south,
are only out at night.
Yeah, I mean, that's one of the big attractions for people
watching otters in Shetland. They do tend to be diurnal.
They're foraging through the daylight hours.
And so, what is it about Shetland
that is really ideal for otters and for wildlife in general?
I suppose, looking at today as a perfect example,
the shorelines, the lack of pollution, the lack of disturbance.
I've seen a glimpse of an otter,
but I know you've got some amazing shots on your laptop.
Yeah, let's have a little look.
This is footage that you've picked up from a camera trap.
Yeah, the camera is hidden in amongst the boulders here.
And this is an area we would call a lie up here,
where otters come up and they spraint and they groom.
And you can see them writhing around in the grass there.
-They are actually using scent glands as well to mark their territory.
-So this is a dog, you can see him...
-Oh, some grooming.
-See him grooming.
-Dogs are very solitary.
They spend their days just on their lonesome.
Rarely do they interact with the families.
You see him sprainting there on the rocks before he goes.
-Oh, yeah. Sprainting.
-And then he bimbles off down
and carries on with his daily business.
I just caught my first glimpse of a Fetlar otter.
It seems luck is on my side.
The wildlife here is in great shape.
ANITA: I'm getting a taste of island life here on Kerrera,
a small island just off the west coast of Scotland.
And right now that means helping farmer Sheila McGregor.
Do you think one of your sons will take over?
-Oh, that would be nice, yep.
-SHE WHISTLES TO SHEEPDOG
But, I mean, if they don't want to, I can't make them.
But ideally, that would be good.
Sheila, this is quite some sight.
-I've never experienced anything like this before.
Hundreds of sheep marching up a country lane.
-Into the mist.
-Into the mist, I know, it's very dramatic-looking today.
-They are totally happy.
-That's the main thing.
And I am happy now. Everything has been done. I feel relieved.
Well, these sheep sound happy, don't they? And I know there's more work to be done.
But first, here's another chance to see Matt making a surprising discovery in Anglesey.
Back in the Middle Ages, Anglesey was so productive
that it was known as the breadbasket of Wales.
But, as I'm about to explore,
conditions here today are ripe for some very specialist harvests.
I'm heading to a small plot of land that's a long way from
the traditional kitchen garden.
Keith and Kathryn Selfe moved here to retire five years ago.
Keith was hankering for a quieter life,
but green-fingered Kathryn had other ideas.
She started a business growing exotic fruit.
We've got kiwi fruit, bananas, oranges, lemons, limes.
-So, all exotic, then?
It was never meant, was it, for plants, this polytunnel?
-No, it wasn't.
That's why it's got extra wide doors and extra height.
-It was to put Lily May in, my boat.
But it never made it.
-Bananas came in, and in, and in...
-Nothing to do with me!
So, Keith built a second polytunnel,
which Kathryn also filled with fruiting greenery.
Four years later, Lily May is still in need of some TLC.
Poor Keith. He doesn't even like fruit!
One banana a year and that's about it.
There's no chance of me eating the profits.
-We'll go to the vegetables.
-Show me what you've grown outside.
Keeping Kathryn's beloved plants fruitful in their new,
more temperate home in Anglesey needs extra care and attention.
As the cold weather tightens its grip,
it's time to bed this tropical beauties down for the winter,
with the help of a secret ingredient from the Anglesey seaside - seaweed.
Give it a good bed down.
Right the way around the edges.
The seaweed actually works as a slow-release fertiliser.
We could actually leave them out all year.
-They are hardy enough.
But where we use the fruit to make produce, by taking them in,
it gives them a bit of a head start in the spring.
-So we get a much higher yield from each plant.
OK. Right, we will go and put that one in the tunnel.
One kiwi plant produces around 90 fruit in a season.
So, with 100 plants, that's 9,000 kiwis a year.
-Keith, shall I just pop this on here?
-Yes, fine. Just on there.
-There we are.
-That'll be it for winter now.
-Well, there's another 95 to go.
-So there's certainly no room for the boat this year.
-Er, I think I need a big workshop, don't you?
Time to find out what happens to all of those kiwis.
Over the past three years,
Kathryn has handmade 6,353 pots of award-winning jams and preserves.
Well, Kathryn, this is a very tasty way of dealing with how productive
-your kiwi plants are.
-It certainly is, Matt.
Yes, we make kiwi fruit jam.
-Along with a lot of others as well.
And our range has gradually increased, as we source new recipe ideas.
What is your secret, then?
Good, fresh ingredients, no artificial colourings, preservatives.
So everything that goes in the jar is 100% natural.
Kathryn wants to increase jam production to 3,000 pots a year.
I'm a big fan of Kiwi fruits and that...
that is beautiful.
And she has grand designs for another part of their retirement home.
We've just got planning permission now to actually, dare I say it,
turn the garage into a commercial kitchen.
-Not Keith's garage!
-He's lost his polytunnel.
-Now he's losing his garage.
-And now he's going to lose his garage, yes.
With the jam business going places, it looks like Keith's boat, Lily May,
will be high and dry for a little longer.
ANITA: Rocky inlets and rugged cliffs.
Isolated farms and rich pasture.
The island of Kerrera has a charm all of its own.
One that's loved by Sheila's sister, Ann,
who also lives and works on the island.
-Good job there, Ann.
What are they being herded up for?
I've just got to check each of their mouths to make sure that all their teeth are fine.
-You're being the dentist?
-Yeah, the dentist.
-Why do you have to check their teeth?
If they're missing any teeth at all, they will struggle through the winter,
not able to eat any grass, and they could lose a lot of condition.
What happens if you do find one with...?
We just have to sell it, have to let it go. It'll struggle through the winter.
-So, that one was OK.
-That one is fine. Healthy teeth. See, they've got no teeth at the top,
so you want the bottom teeth to be behind the top jaw.
Oh, steady on. Show us your teeth, go on. Cheese!
-So she is fine. She's got all her teeth.
-She's brushed them well!
-She's brushed well.
You've worked on this farm your whole life as well, Ann.
Yes, uh-huh. Came over here when I was six months old,
so 31 years now we've been here for, so...
There's a lot of women that run farms on this island.
Yeah, I know, there is. It's brilliant, though.
That's the way you kind of want it. You know? Show the men up.
-We'll show them how it's done.
-100% with you.
-And what type of sheep are these?
These ones are Cheviots.
Cheviots. and they are very good for this sort of land?
Yeah, they are a hill sheep, so you want them for this sort of land that we've got on Kerrera.
Cheviots, blackfaces, they kind of do with hill ground, so they do well here.
So, you've been on the island pretty much your entire life.
Now, I know that your sister and I know that Gill have managed to ensnare
men from the mainland and bring them over.
-In fact, your brother-in-law is all the way from South Africa.
-How about you?
-No-one in my life at the moment.
Just me in my house on a Saturday night, fire on, dogs on my lap, watching the TV.
I'll be on my own for ever, I think, at this rate.
I know it's a very different programme, but Ann is 31.
She's gorgeous, she is great with sheep.
And she is single.
So, if you fancy living on an island...
ANITA: I'm on Kerrera,
a small island off the Scottish coast, near Oban.
It's where I've been enjoying a slice of island life.
-It's OK. I've got it.
-Great, she's got it.
-I saved you!
On Kerrera, there's no community centre, there's no pub,
there's no church, so where do the islanders get together?
The tearoom. And I guess it's signposted.
Nearly there. Let's hope it's carrot.
The tearoom is run by Aideen and Martin Shields.
They were city dwellers
who both gave up busy careers on the mainland to live the island life.
So, I am intrigued by the two of you,
because you're not islanders born and bred.
You moved to this place.
-So what is the story? What was the pull?
Well, it was probably eight years ago I came here with a band I sang with,
just completely randomly, and we met some amazing people.
Some people we are still friends with today.
And I think it was a number of years later that we were here with your father, weren't we?
Well, we came to Oban with my father and our friend told us that
The Tea Garden, the business, was up for sale.
Now, I hadn't been to the island before, but it sounded like the right thing.
It was the right opportunity at the right stage in our lives.
So, you'd been here once. You'd never been here.
-You heard that the tearoom was for sale,
but you decided that it was the one for you.
-I trusted his experience.
It was a bit of a leap of faith, it has to be said.
Everybody thought we were mental.
So what did you do before you moved here?
I was working as a performer in a theatre show called Stomp,
which is a great show. It was a dream come true for me.
But I was on tour with them for eight years and I chose to leave Stomp,
-come to Scotland to be with him.
-She moved for love, Martin.
I think so, yes.
Yes. So this really is a completely different...
Completely different, but, actually,
I'm still using all the same tools of the job.
I'm still using brooms and pots and pans and dustbins.
But for the things that they are actually designed to be used for, these days.
And you are not alone, are you? You do have...
Well, people just want to be here with you.
We do. We couldn't do it alone.
Like, on a busy day, we could have up to 100 people come in here.
So we do need some help.
So we get friends and family and people from all over the world coming to stay with us.
We have a lovely helper here for a few months, Izzy,
who I think you might meet.
She's kind of busy at the moment. So maybe you could go and help her?
-She's making up some new accommodation for visiting guests in the Bell Tent.
Gosh! For these lovely island people, you're not half slave drivers, are you?
-"Make the scones, help over there!" THEY LAUGH
-All right, I'll see you later.
-How are you doing?
-Great, how are you?
-Yeah, very well.
-Do you need a hand?
-That would be lovely.
Right... So, Izzy, where are you from?
I am from Philadelphia in the United States.
A long way from home?
-A bit, yeah.
-So what brought you here?
So I came to work to do a work exchange here with Martin and Aideen,
to work at the cafe, room and board.
And I was originally only supposed to stay for about three weeks
and I ended up staying for three months,
-because I just fell in love with the island and the islanders.
But this isn't your first time, is it?
This is not, no. So this is my second time back.
What's the draw of the island?
The island is absolutely stunning.
I love getting to wake up here every single day,
and the view, and it's just so beautiful and lovely.
And I think the islanders bring so much to it as well.
They are such a close-knit community,
but they were so welcoming when I first came.
And when I came back, it was like coming home.
So, what to do your friends think about you being here?
They are very jealous.
-They don't think you're bonkers?
-Not at all, no.
They want to come and visit all the time.
-Tell them, "You're welcome," if they can make a bed.
Get here and get hands-on.
-Right, well, I'm going to see if Aideen and Martin need a hand in the kitchen as well.
-Of course. Thanks for the help.
-Nice to meet you, Izzy.
Vibrant communities are what keeps islands like Kerrera going.
And the same is true for the islands all around our shores,
as Helen found out when she visited Bardsey Island
off the west coast of Wales.
HELEN: I'm catching a lift on the boat that supplies the island.
There's plenty of day-trippers making the crossing, too.
And what a day for it!
Bardsey is a tranquil, unspoiled island,
but it is still a working island.
Only ten people live here
and when the boat comes in, they are all down to greet it.
-Hello. Oh, hello, nice to meet you.
Emyr Roberts is the island warden.
He's the guy that keeps the holiday cottages supplied.
If you need it, Emyr's got it.
It's all basic, good stuff, you know,
like fruit and veg and stuff like that.
Do you not order goodies, sweets and chocolates?
Not too much. They are, you know, they are treats.
So, what do you do in the winter for food, then?
Well, I've got a pretty good store of it up there.
I bottle it and freeze it
and whatever you can do to preserve it, you know?
And it can be quite an interesting diet.
-One last thing.
-Oh, we can't forget the vinegar.
Oh, that's very important.
And we'll find out why in a minute.
-OK, so this is your store?
-This is the store.
I thought this would be full of canned foods, but it's supplies.
I mean, you must have 300 sponge scourers in here!
I guess you do need a poker, don't you?
These are very useful things.
-What are they? Oh, gloves.
I'm not even going to ask! I'm not even going to ask!
Emyr, your garden is phenomenal.
Well, it's coming now. It's coming.
Is this because you like growing veg,
or because you need to grow all this veg?
A bit of both, really. It will all get eaten.
You know, it's not easy to get veg here in the winter.
I can't imagine you'd ever need to go to a shop again.
Oh, my word!
Look at all the pickling!
Pickled carrots, pickled beetroot, pickled...
What? Have you pickled raspberries?
Yeah, yeah. God, they're lovely.
So, this is where all the vinegar goes.
Wow! That's a lot of pickled items.
Pickled beans, pickled cherries, pickled...
It's a pickling factory!
Self-sufficiency has been the name of the game here for islanders down the years.
"There's a green track, lined with meadowsweet.
"Stone houses, ramparts to the weather.
"Small fields that run all one-way west to the sea,
"inviting feet to make new paths to their own discovered places."
Those words were written by Christine Evans -
Colin the boatman's mum and celebrated poet.
The island has been inspirational
to her since she set up home here in the 1970s.
How does this landscape, then, affect your poems?
I think it started me writing,
because of the sense of inclusiveness,
the sense of everything in balance.
And the way in which, you know, your senses are all made more alert,
because you send so much time out of doors.
And this is still a place of pilgrimage, isn't it?
Yes. For 1,000 years, we had the monastery and we had monks.
There was a tradition that if you were buried here,
or you died on your way here, your soul wouldn't go to hell.
But Bardsey's story is not just about the past.
New arrivals are looking to the future.
The Porter family came here from England four years ago
to live a different life.
Ben and Rachel are taught from home, which means lessons happen outside.
Pretty good, eh?
They are all kept busy running the island farm.
There are 400 sheep, 25 Welsh Black cattle,
and a couple of goats for milk.
Dad Steve is on his own today, and being a farmer's daughter,
I've been roped in to lend a hand and let off a little steam.
Hup! CATTLE BELLOW
We're moving at them onto rare maritime pasture.
It is found in few places and provides vital habitat for the island's sea bird populations.
How do you rate life here?
I mean, the combination of
the environment that we live in,
the great challenges of farming on a nature reserve
and the wildlife that comes through here,
the migrating birds - it's a tremendous place to live.
-Is there anything you'd swap it for?
My time on Bardsey is up.
But I reckon one day I'll be back,
making another pilgrimage to this very special place.
ANITA: Our islands are special places,
offering a different way of life.
Young people are their lifeblood.
But when they grow up, they often move on,
making it harder for smaller islands to survive.
Here on Kerrera, with baby Isabella and all these guys running around,
the future for this island is looking pretty good.
And that is great to see.
Here comes tea!
I've had a fantastic time on Kerrera,
with all three generations of islanders.
Next week, Matt, Sean and Naomi
will be celebrating the 60th anniversary
of the Duke of Edinburgh Awards,
and Helen has a very special royal appointment.
So, do join us then. Bye for now.
Who ate all the brownie? It's all gone!
Countryfile is on the tiny Scottish island of Kerrera. Sitting just half a kilometre from the mainland but a world away from the hustle and bustle, Kerrera is the archetypal Scottish Island. There are rugged cliffs, wide-open beaches and remote farmsteads.
Anita spends a day getting to know the locals and getting under the skin of island life. She joins postmaster Gill Vollum as she goes about her daily round - not easy when there's only one half-finished road on the island. She helps shepherd Sheila McGregor round up her sheep and hears that all the farms on Kerrera are run by women. And she stops for a welcome cup of tea at the tea room that serves as the community hub. Anita meets owners Aideen Gallagher and Martin Shields who quit busy jobs on the mainland and finds out what living the island dream is like for them.