Anglesey Countryfile


Anglesey

Anita Rani explores Anglesey, off the north west coast of Wales. She navigates the notorious Menai Strait and meets the fisherman who bought an island.


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In the shadow of the Snowdonia and Carneddau mountain range

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sits the stunning island of Anglesey.

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Before that magnificent bridge was built,

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the only way to get to the island was to navigate these waters and,

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as I'll be finding out, it's not quite as easy as you think.

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Matt is putting his best foot forward as he launches

:00:44.:00:48.

That's right. The Countryfile ramble for BBC Children In Need is back.

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and I'll be telling you how you can join us.

:00:55.:01:00.

Tom takes a look at the worrying state of British nature.

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More than 50 conservation and research organisations have pulled

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their data from the last 40 years to produce this,

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who are getting ready to battle it out for this year's

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the way that dog cast out round the back of those sheep

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and brought them to us in no time at all.

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I can see why John has got such a good reputation

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A glorious coastline, carved by the sea.

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Wildlife that is eye-wateringly wonderful.

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And gentle landscapes that roll on, unspoilt for miles.

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The island of Anglesey is just off the coast of North West Wales.

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It's separated from the mainland by a wide strip of water,

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At first glance, it may look like a gentle,

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it's a tidal waterway with a fearsome reputation.

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And, of course, the best and only way to experience it

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Come on, Phil, let's see what this baby's got.

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passing under the stunning Menai Suspension Bridge.

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Completed in 1826, it was the first permanent link to mainland Wales.

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As well as this being a very iconic bridge,

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it is also the gateway to the Swillies.

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In Welsh it is the Swillies, in English the Swellies.

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And the Swillies has a very formidable reputation

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Back in the day, Lord Nelson, who was familiar with these waters,

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used to refer to the Swillies as being one of the most dangerous

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So we are in it now? We are in the Swillies?

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Why did Nelson say that it was so hard to navigate?

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you match that with the speed of the current,

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you get it wrong by a margin, a small margin,

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There must have been so many shipwrecks through here.

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So through here, around the island of Anglesey,

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but how would they have navigated it in rowing boats or sail boats?

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You had to be able to read the tides,

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you had to be able to read the winds,

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you had to be able to read the currents,

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and with all of those different skills pulled together,

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We just push the throttle forward and off we go.

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'We can't see them, but lurking under this swirling water

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'are jagged rocks and dangerous sandbanks,

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'so Phil is going to give me a brief lesson in navigating the Swillies.'

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So, what we have off our side, this is a navigational marker.

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What it does, it sits atop of a rock

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and points us towards where the danger is.

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And then following that we have got what we call a transit line.

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and that gives us our safe passage all the way through the rocks.

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There they are against the left-hand pillar

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of Britannia Bridge, the southerly pillar.

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do let me know and we will turn the boat towards them. OK.

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So the markers are in line now. We follow those.

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It's proper Swallows And Amazons territory, isn't it?

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Give yourself a little dinghy and a bit of adventure,

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and you can have the time of your life through here. Fantastic.

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'Back in the day, sailing folk sought to master

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'these dangerous currents by mapping the underwater landscape.'

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They'd use one of these, a plum or a lead line.

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and they'd just put it into the water

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It could take a while. It's still going.

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I'm going to run out of... Oh, no, it's gone. There we go.

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Right, now just to chart the rest of it.

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New technology means today we can get a much more accurate view

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This is the research vessel Prince Madog, from Bangor University,

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which has a school of ocean sciences on Anglesey.

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I am meeting scientist Guy Walker-Springett.

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Hi, Guy. Hello, Anita. Lovely to see you. You too.

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So, what's all this fancy kit you've got?

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What we have here is a screenshot of the seabed

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running up the Menai Strait. This was charted using

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a piece of kit called a multi-beam echo sounder,

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This is incredible. This is state-of-the-art, isn't it?

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As you can see, there are different textures of the seabed.

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You've got this blocky-natured texture just here,

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which relates to bedrock and actual rock itself.

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You've got these long-tailed soft sediment areas.

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Look at that. Have a look from different regions, different angles.

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You can really see how treacherous it is from this angle, can't you?

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which is the only navigable route through it,

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it actually hugs the mainland side of the Menai Strait,

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which is this end, and runs around here,

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down through this small notch and through to the Menai Bridge.

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It's extraordinary to get this view of the narrow stretch of water

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could have brought about a rocky ending.

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There are tens of thousands of wild species in Britain,

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from birds to butterflies, mammals to marine life.

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Now a brand-new report is due out next week,

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bringing us up-to-date information about how they're all doing,

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That old familiar friend, our countryside,

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Plants and wildlife that have endured for centuries.

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and an entirely different story is revealed.

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and potential loss of precious wildlife.

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More than 1,000 endangered, land-dwelling and freshwater species

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are at risk of extinction from the British Isles.

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It is a sombre story told in a major new report

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due to be released this week called The State Of Nature.

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more than 50 scientific and conservation organisations

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have pooled four decades' worth of data, and Countryfile has been given

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an exclusive preview of the findings.

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suggesting the majority of British species have declined since 1970.

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Out of nearly 4,000 species included in the report,

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some that are really struggling include water voles, hedgehogs,

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turtle doves, and white-letter hairstreak butterflies.

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Some are on the up, such as bats, otters,

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red kites and silver-spotted skipper butterflies.

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But while individual species go up and down,

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Britain has lost more biodiversity than the global average.

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In fact, numbers suggest we are amongst the most

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nature-depleted countries in the world.

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And some of the most dramatic losses are in one particular habitat -

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More than half the species associated with our farmed landscape

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Mark Eaton, lead author of this report,

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was a huge increase in agricultural productivity.

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Wheat yields went up by two thirds in just two decades.

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Farmers got better at producing food.

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Crops now tend to be sown in the autumn

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which means that farmers plough their fields

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and all the seed that was on the surface

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that used to feed birds through the winter is turned underground.

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So these sorts of impacts are squeezing nature out.

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So, changes in farming practices triggered changes in nature.

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Easy to miss unless you pay close attention to the wild environment.

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Ornithologist and author James Lowen has been watching farmland birds

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since he was a boy and charting the changes in their habitat.

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Fundamentally, it's a massive decline in the species

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So for every 100 turtle doves that lived in Norfolk 25 years ago,

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there's just eight now. I mean, what a tragedy that is.

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So, what was once common has become exceptional and exciting,

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and you may need all this kit even to spot one.

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Well, exciting, but also demoralising, depressing.

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What a shame it is that the birds that we've looked after

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The loss of farmland wildlife was not deliberate.

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In the years after the Second World War,

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the government was terrified of the country going hungry again.

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Farmers were encouraged, and paid, to plough up millions of acres.

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One man who remembers all that is 66-year-old John Mitchell,

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We had to produce as much as we could then.

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This field had about 3km of hedges in it,

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which we removed to make it more efficient

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or did it just not come into the equation?

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If you mentioned wildlife when I was a boy, it was adversarial, I think.

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It was something that was in the way of your aim.

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John wouldn't have known it at the time,

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have captured an agricultural revolution on camera.

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Is that an example of the kind of pesticide use

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as regards blight spraying and insecticide spraying, yes.

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The State of Nature report is rather pointing the finger

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at your generation of farmers for this decline in wildlife.

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I don't feel guilty because I had to respond to

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and farmers and the science gave it to them, very cheaply.

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Do you think the way you did farm then resulted in less wildlife?

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but I think probably through other predators rather than farming.

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Some farmers like John feel they are not entirely to blame

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for the decline in farmland species, pointing instead to other wildlife.

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I want to put that to leading conservationist Mark Eaton.

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Many people look at the rise of predators, like birds of prey,

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and say that's what is holding down the numbers of the other species,

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and you're ignoring that. I don't think we're ignoring that.

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There's good evidence to show that, by and large,

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these species aren't having a negative impact

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and are not the causes of the declines we've seen.

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For example, many people look at the rise of sparrowhawks

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and decline in songbirds and say the two are related.

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There's good science to show that is not the fact.

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Badgers? Badgers are increasing, you're right there, and we do know -

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shouldn't ignore it - we do know that in some places

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there is an impact of predators on ground-nesting birds,

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There is a problem that has to be addressed.

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But in terms of the wider context of our report,

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which is looking at butterflies and flowers,

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and all sorts of things that we have data on,

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we know that this wider impact is happening,

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there's losses across all of nature,

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and although there is a small problem with these predators,

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it isn't the big issue, I don't want to be distracted by that.

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Whatever the cause is, one thing is clear.

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The State Of Nature report has flagged up a worrying

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general decline in our wild plants, birds, insects and animals.

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We know the problem, so what could be some of the solutions?

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Well, that's what I'll be trying to find out later.

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Now, one countryside staple that's still going strong after 40 years

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and Countryfile has the honour in two weeks of playing host

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Adam has been meeting some of the hopefuls who are competing

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This week, he's starting with Team England.

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The competitors representing England this year are poles apart,

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Junior competitor Tom Blease is based here in the mountainous

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sheep farming Mecca of the Lake District.

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But this year's senior representative, Dick Roper,

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farms several hundred miles south of here in my stomping ground

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Down in the rolling hills of Gloucestershire,

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you get a very different type of farm,

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We caught up with Dick to see how his preparations were going.

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This is where your dogs really are working dogs.

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Because over that hill now I can't see them at all.

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They've just got to do what they've got to do.

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In other words, gather all those sheep,

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not leave any behind, and bring them to me.

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I can't command them because I can't see them.

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So the trial work is very much showing off what we do every day

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at work, but there's lots of other things they do at work as well,

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which is gathering up a bunch of 350 ewes like this,

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totally out of sight, and bringing them to me.

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These are two really good flock dogs.

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Sometimes a little bit tough in competition,

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is a work dog first and a competition dog second.

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My sort of dogs, they tend not to be good until they're four or five

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because they're a little bit tough to handle.

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But this isn't the only challenge that Dick's facing

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This time last year, I started to lose the sight of my right eye

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and over the summer it has died, and so I've just got my left eye now.

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because I don't judge my distances so well.

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It's a shepherding competition, and that's what we're showing off.

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We're trying to show off our shepherding skills...

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..as well as show off the dog, obviously.

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Dick works a huge farm with more than 7,000 sheep,

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and so has a few working dogs to choose from

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I've got seven dogs, one old one and two youngsters,

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so I've got four which are capable of doing a day's work.

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These two now are my best two, Will and Pete,

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because he's just got a little bit more class than Pete.

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He's hard to handle, but he's a quality dog

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and I hope on the day he'll come up trumps.

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He's five years old, just coming into his own now for trialling.

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So I hope he's not going to let me down.

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Keep my fingers crossed and see how we go.

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Will is the latest in a long line of champion dogs that Dick has reared

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Well, my absolute favourite is this little chap called Dan.

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I'm sure these are all future champions for Dick.

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I competed at the National Championships, and I didn't actually

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feel that the eye was too much of a disadvantage.

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So I'm actually looking forward to the competition,

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and anyway, I've got a really good excuse if it all goes wrong.

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It's nice to have excuses before you start, but I think I'll be fine,

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I think I'll be good. No, you're going to do really well.

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Here's hoping all goes well for England's senior representative,

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From the rolling hills of The Cotswolds,

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I am heading to the Lakeland Fells to meet England's

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16-year-old Tom Blease and his dog Queen.

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Tom and his family moved to a 22-acre plot of land

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Tom's dad Jim, a former project manager,

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told me how Tom caught the trialling bug.

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Thomas had always wanted to have a dog ever since he was as young

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as we can remember, and at that stage it was just about

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getting a black and white collie and having a pup and a pet,

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but things kind of evolved from there, I suppose.

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He's semi-responsible for all of this, really.

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Without him, who knows whether this would have happened?

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Because he helped us get a connection with local sheep farms

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and went out and did some gathering and bringing in the sheep,

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and that was our first taste of trialling, dog trialling, really,

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and Thomas discovered he had a real love of it

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and a bit of a knack for it, and has taken it on from there.

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Hi, Tom. Good to see you. Hi, Adam, how you doing?

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Now, you've had this meteoric rise in sheep dog trialling

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and you're up against some pretty seasoned farmers.

:19:51.:19:53.

How do you feel about that? Yeah, I'm excited.

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I'm hoping that I can get some tips off them.

:19:57.:20:01.

I've met Kip, but he's not your trialling dog of choice.

:20:02.:20:03.

He's not quite got the brain for it, I don't think.

:20:04.:20:08.

So this is the one? Yeah, this is Queen.

:20:09.:20:11.

She's two, two and a bit, and she's a great little dog.

:20:12.:20:14.

On the trialling field, it will be quite a big paddock.

:20:15.:20:18.

Here you're working in smaller fields.

:20:19.:20:20.

Will she cope? Yeah, she should do.

:20:21.:20:22.

When we're out on the fell, you know,

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there's no boundaries and gathering and stuff.

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She's generally all right as long as she can see a sheep and, yeah,

:20:31.:20:33.

Now, I'm from a farming background and I've worked sheepdogs,

:20:34.:20:38.

but the idea of going into trials, it's a different league.

:20:39.:20:41.

I suppose just by working sheep on the land and, you know,

:20:42.:20:45.

all the locals just being really helpful,

:20:46.:20:48.

Just through doing it, I suppose, and learning on the job.

:20:49.:20:55.

has been doing it for a long time but you're fairly new to the game.

:20:56.:20:59.

Do you get nervous? Yeah. Well, I have done in the past.

:21:00.:21:02.

I think I'm getting used to it now, but it's...

:21:03.:21:05.

No, I think I'll still have a bit of nerves before I get to the posts.

:21:06.:21:08.

Hopefully not, but we'll see on the day.

:21:09.:21:15.

Best of luck. Cheers, thank you very much.

:21:16.:21:20.

And that's this year's England team -

:21:21.:21:22.

seasoned pro Dick Roper from Gloucestershire

:21:23.:21:25.

and 16-year-old Cumbrian newcomer Tom Blease

:21:26.:21:31.

Earlier, we heard how the State Of Nature report,

:21:32.:21:40.

reveals a worrying decline in many British species.

:21:41.:21:45.

The State Of Nature report is not a quick read.

:21:46.:21:56.

It's 85 pages of data and research stretching back to 1970.

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Most of our wild species are falling in numbers

:22:04.:22:09.

and Britain's biodiversity is below the global average.

:22:10.:22:16.

As for what causes these losses, well, one word crops up regularly -

:22:17.:22:21.

Intensifying the way we manage land for food production has,

:22:22.:22:27.

But it also makes clear we can still save it.

:22:28.:22:38.

I want to find out what farmers can do to halt the downward spiral

:22:39.:22:42.

and that mission has brought me to a farm in Gloucestershire.

:22:43.:22:47.

This farm is all about demonstrating that you can do right by wildlife

:22:48.:22:52.

and also have profitable agriculture.

:22:53.:22:55.

Take this field. They've got an extraordinary range of things

:22:56.:22:58.

they've planted for the benefit of birds, insects and other wildlife -

:22:59.:23:03.

they've got barley, they've obviously got sunflowers -

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and it's all about providing food throughout the year.

:23:08.:23:13.

It's a demonstration farm for an organisation called Leaf,

:23:14.:23:16.

which stands for Linking Environment And Farming.

:23:17.:23:20.

And its chief executive, Caroline Drummond,

:23:21.:23:22.

Pollinating species love this because small flowers,

:23:23.:23:33.

So a good example of what this farm is doing overall,

:23:34.:23:37.

but tell me about what this place is delivering for wildlife.

:23:38.:23:40.

So they've got a fantastic range of species here.

:23:41.:23:42.

skylarks, of course, and in fact, one of my favourites,

:23:43.:23:46.

You say that farmers on the whole have been doing good things

:23:47.:23:50.

for the environment but this report paints a very different picture.

:23:51.:23:53.

Are you being too rosy in your outlook?

:23:54.:23:55.

Well, I mean, if we look at some of the stewardship schemes

:23:56.:23:58.

that have come out now, 70% of farmers have been involved

:23:59.:24:01.

in things like the creation of margins against fields,

:24:02.:24:04.

enhancing hedgerows and things like that, digging ponds.

:24:05.:24:08.

So we've actually already seen farmers take up

:24:09.:24:11.

Those efforts are largely paid for by the European Union

:24:12.:24:19.

Farmers receive money for environmental work as well as

:24:20.:24:25.

Hopefully good Mum's bees. Make lots of good honey there.

:24:26.:24:32.

John Mitchell and his son Joe are inspecting a beetle bank,

:24:33.:24:38.

40 years ago, every inch of this farm was used to grow food.

:24:39.:24:45.

Today, nearly 30 acres are managed purely for wildlife.

:24:46.:24:51.

Now, this is an unharvested field margin and what we've got in here,

:24:52.:24:56.

..wheat... We've got poppies, we've got daisies here as well

:24:57.:25:02.

to produce a lovely habitat for wildlife.

:25:03.:25:05.

What would you have thought, say, back in the 1970s

:25:06.:25:07.

"Look, we're going to pay you to produce nothing"?

:25:08.:25:11.

I'd worry what the neighbours would think of me, actually.

:25:12.:25:14.

I was brought up, you know, to feed people.

:25:15.:25:17.

Well, my point of view now is if I see birds on the farm,

:25:18.:25:20.

Following our vote to leave the European Union,

:25:21.:25:29.

the whole system of farm payments is a bit up in the air.

:25:30.:25:31.

towards supporting environmental goods. What do you think?

:25:32.:25:36.

From my point of view, if we're going do that,

:25:37.:25:38.

these agri-environment schemes have got to be worth three times,

:25:39.:25:42.

four times their value in order to compensate for you

:25:43.:25:44.

what you would lose in the direct payment.

:25:45.:25:46.

You can't be green when you're in the red.

:25:47.:25:52.

The UK Government has committed to funding all agri-environment schemes

:25:53.:25:56.

Beyond that and post-Brexit, there are no guarantees.

:25:57.:26:03.

But Mark Eaton, the man leading the State Of Nature report,

:26:04.:26:07.

says that's exactly what's needed - guarantees.

:26:08.:26:11.

We need to shift funding, the public funding that goes into this,

:26:12.:26:15.

towards enabling farmers to farm in a sustainable way

:26:16.:26:18.

that's good for food production, good for wildlife.

:26:19.:26:21.

We just need to grasp the opportunity we've been presented now

:26:22.:26:26.

with both hands and make our farming better for us all.

:26:27.:26:32.

The State Of Nature report sends out a bold message

:26:33.:26:36.

that agricultural change was the main driver of decline in wildlife

:26:37.:26:40.

But whether it continues to be in the next 40 years, well,

:26:41.:26:48.

that depends on governments, farmers,

:26:49.:26:51.

because we all have a stake in the state of nature.

:26:52.:27:05.

I'm visiting Anglesey and exploring the Menai Strait,

:27:06.:27:09.

the stretch of water that separates it from mainland Wales.

:27:10.:27:13.

But Anglesey isn't the only island around here.

:27:14.:27:16.

This little house is perched on a rocky outcrop

:27:17.:27:18.

This is the teeny, tiny Ynys Gorad Goch,

:27:19.:27:24.

This watery idyll is owned by Peter Betts.

:27:25.:27:31.

So this is it, king of the castle. This is your place. This is it.

:27:32.:27:34.

24 years ago. And why did you buy it?

:27:35.:27:38.

Why? Because I've always loved fishing

:27:39.:27:41.

and I've always restored listed buildings and this was derelict

:27:42.:27:46.

at the time and had been bare for a long time.

:27:47.:27:48.

Yeah, lots of people like fishing, lots of people restore buildings,

:27:49.:27:51.

but not everyone thinks to buy an island.

:27:52.:27:54.

I mean, you are in the middle of the Swellies here.

:27:55.:27:57.

It's just you. I mean, what's it like living here?

:27:58.:27:59.

Fantastic. It's nice in the winter, it's great in the summer.

:28:00.:28:03.

We've got fish records going back to about 1550.

:28:04.:28:09.

Do you feel like a bit of a hermit living here yourself?

:28:10.:28:11.

No, not at all. It's lovely to be here.

:28:12.:28:13.

It's only two minutes by boat to the land, so it's very simple for us

:28:14.:28:16.

It's tremendous. And that's your view -

:28:17.:28:23.

and you've got the Menai Bridge on the other.

:28:24.:28:26.

The monks who used to live here took advantage of the tidal waters

:28:27.:28:37.

to catch fish. It's a tradition that Peter is keeping alive.

:28:38.:28:42.

And what's this here? This is the fish trap.

:28:43.:28:44.

When the fish come into here, they're held in

:28:45.:28:54.

by this large wall, which is a dry-stone wall,

:28:55.:28:57.

the fish get stuck in the trap and the fishermen,

:28:58.:29:02.

the monks that were here, would come in and pick them up and take them

:29:03.:29:04.

You catch little fish, it catches lots of whitebait.

:29:05.:29:10.

And there is a history of whitebait here, is there? There is.

:29:11.:29:13.

it was called Whitebait Island for a while and people used to walk down

:29:14.:29:18.

from the lay-by, stand at the bottom and ring a bell,

:29:19.:29:21.

and the old man would row across and pick them up

:29:22.:29:23.

And they were charged a shilling for a whitebait tea.

:29:24.:29:27.

How nice! We caught some whitebait this morning,

:29:28.:29:30.

so if you'd like to try some, we can do it for you.

:29:31.:29:33.

I can't leave this island and not have some whitebait.

:29:34.:29:38.

If you want, you can cook it yourself.

:29:39.:29:40.

Yeah. And we've rubbed it in flour and now you're going to cook it.

:29:41.:29:49.

So that's hot oil back there. Hot oil.

:29:50.:29:50.

I'm only going to do a bit. I've never cooked whitebait before.

:29:51.:29:53.

Shall I just dunk it in, see what happens?

:29:54.:29:54.

Just dunk it in. How long does it need?

:29:55.:29:56.

POT SIZZLES Woohoo!

:29:57.:29:59.

This is the way to cook it, isn't it? Outdoors.

:30:00.:30:02.

It's going to be beautiful. It's getting nice and brown now.

:30:03.:30:06.

We've got a few more there. On the towel.

:30:07.:30:10.

Little bit of salt. Anglesey sea salt.

:30:11.:30:15.

Cheers. Cheers. Oh, that's delicious.

:30:16.:30:26.

Beautiful. We are eating whitebait on the island that has been eating

:30:27.:30:29.

Freshly caught. This morning.

:30:30.:30:33.

Earlier, Adam met Team England, who are hoping to claim the title

:30:34.:30:41.

Now he's heading north to meet the Scottish pairing who have their own

:30:42.:30:46.

Much of Scotland's wild and inaccessible uplands

:30:47.:30:55.

Having a good dog on this kind of rough ground

:30:56.:31:00.

And no-one knows that better than senior competitor John McKillop,

:31:01.:31:07.

who manages the farms on this huge Highland estate

:31:08.:31:10.

that runs right down to the banks of Loch Ness itself.

:31:11.:31:15.

high in the hills on the kind of ground he works all year round.

:31:16.:31:21.

but there is a certain amount of arable

:31:22.:31:31.

land where we make about 1,000 bales of silage.

:31:32.:31:34.

It's incredible, isn't it? It's a huge scale.

:31:35.:31:37.

Well, there's 1,600 breeding ewes on it and

:31:38.:31:43.

Yeah. So when you go to gather them and bring them all in,

:31:44.:31:53.

Quite often, they are out of sight, a long distance away.

:31:54.:32:10.

I think it does. I think it probably gives me an advantage insomuch as

:32:11.:32:18.

when you are working in tricky situations where sheep can get away,

:32:19.:32:22.

you have got to have sheep sense, where you can read the sheep.

:32:23.:32:25.

You're actually working with your own mind,

:32:26.:32:27.

Yeah. Can I watch you running one of your dogs?

:32:28.:32:35.

John has represented Scotland nine times and has won

:32:36.:32:43.

he's using his experienced seven-year-old dog Joe.

:32:44.:32:50.

We'd struggle to see what Joe can do up in the hills

:32:51.:32:53.

to one of his lower-lying silage fields to demonstrate just what

:32:54.:32:58.

Will he be able to find some somewhere?

:32:59.:33:04.

Yeah, there should be sheep over there in the trees.

:33:05.:33:06.

That's, what? Nearly half a mile away, isn't it?

:33:07.:33:09.

Maybe not quite, but it's quite a distance.

:33:10.:33:11.

I'm sure he'll find them. OK, let's see him go.

:33:12.:33:14.

Oh, you can really see the way what the dog has learnt up in the

:33:15.:33:25.

mountains is coming into its own here with a really wide outcast,

:33:26.:33:28.

Here he comes with the sheep now, John.

:33:29.:33:34.

This trialling must take up a lot of your time.

:33:35.:33:56.

It does, it takes most weekends up, yes, during the summer.

:33:57.:34:00.

And in the winter, we have the nursery trials for the young dogs.

:34:01.:34:02.

Stand, stand! And what do the family think?

:34:03.:34:05.

They are a big support to me, always have been.

:34:06.:34:08.

I've been told that this is your lucky crook.

:34:09.:34:17.

I actually bought this little stick for Jane, my wife.

:34:18.:34:23.

And I was fortunate enough to win the Scottish National with it.

:34:24.:34:26.

So... Well, make sure you don't forget it

:34:27.:34:28.

for the One Man And His Dog competition.

:34:29.:34:30.

That's right. And best of luck on the day.

:34:31.:34:32.

OK, thanks very much. Cheers. Thanks.

:34:33.:34:34.

With several Scottish titles under his belt,

:34:35.:34:36.

senior competitor John McKillop and his dog, Joe,

:34:37.:34:39.

could do well in this year's competition.

:34:40.:34:43.

15-year-old Jocky Welsh and his dog are this year's junior Scottish

:34:44.:34:47.

competitors. They farm several hours south of John in lowland Ayrshire.

:34:48.:34:52.

They are lovely, these Scottish blackface.

:34:53.:34:54.

Jock hails from a well-known dog trialling family, and like John,

:34:55.:35:06.

in some very challenging countryside.

:35:07.:35:15.

Now, your family's been working sheepdogs for a long time.

:35:16.:35:19.

Does that put pressure on you or do you feel some help from it?

:35:20.:35:22.

Yeah, there's a lot of help coming from them, but,

:35:23.:35:25.

yeah, there is a bit of pressure but it makes you a wee bit better,

:35:26.:35:29.

Aye. You were never tempted to move away and do something different?

:35:30.:35:36.

No, I just kind of started working with dogs when I was about 11,

:35:37.:35:40.

Jock, this is a pretty unforgiving environment to train a sheepdog in.

:35:41.:35:47.

Yeah, there's lots of burns and hills and...

:35:48.:35:51.

It's not easy. And you sometimes lose sight of your sheepdog?

:35:52.:35:56.

Yeah, yeah, sometimes they disappear in wet bits and bracken and stuff

:35:57.:36:02.

but you just keep whistling and hope!

:36:03.:36:08.

It's great to see dogs working this rough farmland.

:36:09.:36:12.

Jocky has a few well-managed fields where it is easier to put Nell

:36:13.:36:19.

What are the advantages of training a dog down here, then?

:36:20.:36:24.

Well, you just get better contact with the sheep.

:36:25.:36:27.

It's just easier to train when you're closer.

:36:28.:36:30.

Yeah, you can just nip out for 15 minutes at night, just easy.

:36:31.:36:35.

So tell me about your little bitch, then.

:36:36.:36:37.

It's not often you get to see a red Border collie.

:36:38.:36:39.

He gave me her when she was just a pup.

:36:40.:36:46.

She's a wee bit sensitive but if you just play it cool with her,

:36:47.:36:52.

she is fine. You don't want to shout at her too much, then?

:36:53.:36:54.

I put a wee bit of polish on her for the trial field!

:36:55.:37:04.

So when you talk about polish, you've got to shed sheep,

:37:05.:37:07.

haven't you, split them up, put them into pens, through gates?

:37:08.:37:11.

Quite a lot of technical stuff you have to do on the trialling day.

:37:12.:37:14.

Aye, just slow them down a wee bit from their work because they're

:37:15.:37:17.

normally going a wee bit faster but if you can slow them down,

:37:18.:37:20.

it's much better. So you've got a puppy from your grandfather,

:37:21.:37:23.

you're third-generation One Man And His Dog,

:37:24.:37:26.

Yeah, there's a bit of pressure but I'll try my hardest anyway.

:37:27.:37:30.

So here's the duo representing Scotland

:37:31.:37:38.

Red Nell and 15-year-old handler Jocky Welsh,

:37:39.:37:45.

and two-time Scottish champion John McKillop and his dog, Joe.

:37:46.:37:57.

Last year, we launched the Countryfile Ramble

:37:58.:38:00.

for BBC Children In Need and you took part in your thousands.

:38:01.:38:04.

For one weekend, all across the land,

:38:05.:38:07.

you put on your boots and headed out into the countryside to do your bit.

:38:08.:38:13.

From mountain to dale, from coast to coast, wherever you were,

:38:14.:38:16.

you put on your own rambles and you did us proud.

:38:17.:38:20.

Whether rambling or donating from home,

:38:21.:38:24.

you helped us raise almost ?1 million.

:38:25.:38:29.

It was a truly incredible sight but it was just the beginning.

:38:30.:38:33.

Because this year, the rambles are back and with your help,

:38:34.:38:37.

we want to make them bigger and better than ever as we celebrate the

:38:38.:38:41.

power of the countryside and its people to help transform lives.

:38:42.:38:48.

Saturday the 8th and Sunday the 9th of October.

:38:49.:38:53.

And once again, the Countryfile gang will be leading the way.

:38:54.:38:57.

We have already got our own rambles planned and would love some of you

:38:58.:39:03.

I'll be swapping the farm for forest in the South Downs,

:39:04.:39:08.

on the border of Hampshire and Surrey.

:39:09.:39:11.

While I'll be exploring the vast vistas

:39:12.:39:14.

and wide-open spaces of the Black Mountains in Wales.

:39:15.:39:19.

This year, my ramble will be taking in the countryside around Scotland's

:39:20.:39:23.

And I'll be leading a coastal ramble in Northern Ireland,

:39:24.:39:31.

one that promises some simply stunning views.

:39:32.:39:38.

You can apply to join these presenter-led rambles right now.

:39:39.:39:42.

Simply visit the BBC Countryfile website...

:39:43.:39:48.

Entry is free and you have until midnight on Saturday the 17th of

:39:49.:39:54.

Places will be limited, so get your entries in quickly.

:39:55.:40:01.

Winners will be decided at random in a draw once the deadline has closed.

:40:02.:40:07.

But as well as some of you joining us,

:40:08.:40:10.

what we really want is for as many of you as possible

:40:11.:40:13.

to organise your own sponsored rambles.

:40:14.:40:19.

For one weekend, we want the countryside to be filled with

:40:20.:40:22.

Countryfile viewers, because we know that what we can achieve when we

:40:23.:40:27.

So, please, join in and do what you can.

:40:28.:40:32.

It doesn't matter if it's a mile or a marathon.

:40:33.:40:34.

And every penny that you raise whilst rambling will help families

:40:35.:40:39.

The Shilston family live near Esher in Surrey.

:40:40.:40:49.

Mum Carla, dad Simon and children Betsy, Johnny

:40:50.:40:54.

This close-knit family had their world turned upside down

:40:55.:41:10.

I think it was two years ago that he got diagnosed with

:41:11.:41:17.

I noticed when walking our new dog that my left foot was

:41:18.:41:24.

So I just thought it was an old injury and just, you know,

:41:25.:41:28.

Motor neurone disease is a rare condition affecting around

:41:29.:41:36.

It stops the motor nerves in the brain and spine from telling

:41:37.:41:42.

the muscles what to do. There is no cure,

:41:43.:41:45.

and Simon probably only has about 18 months left to live.

:41:46.:41:50.

We went in. He said, "From your results, from the examinations,

:41:51.:41:54.

"I can confirm you've got motor neurone disease."

:41:55.:41:57.

And I think, as much as you think it's coming,

:41:58.:42:00.

when a professional actually tells you face-to-face,

:42:01.:42:03.

I think we were just absolutely shellshocked.

:42:04.:42:08.

I think sometimes still, now, I can't quite believe

:42:09.:42:11.

But you notice on a daily basis how things stop working.

:42:12.:42:19.

then it was the whole of that same leg and then the other leg just went

:42:20.:42:24.

very quickly. And this hand was fine, and now, you can see,

:42:25.:42:28.

it has just stopped working like that.

:42:29.:42:30.

The family had always been incredibly active,

:42:31.:42:38.

Every weekend, rain or shine, get in the car, off we go, walking. Yeah.

:42:39.:42:47.

Youngest twin Nancy has got lots of fond memories of

:42:48.:42:51.

We walked eight miles, so three to Margate,

:42:52.:42:56.

two around Margate and three back because there is this really,

:42:57.:43:00.

really good, old-fashioned sweet shop.

:43:01.:43:04.

Being in a house that is very female dominated,

:43:05.:43:12.

those two kind of stuck together and I think Johnny's felt

:43:13.:43:15.

For Johnny, he understands it better in terms of the severity of it.

:43:16.:43:22.

I know what will happen in the end, but it's, you know,

:43:23.:43:26.

It's like, it's not very nice to see it every day,

:43:27.:43:31.

Every now and then, I think it hits them hard.

:43:32.:43:42.

They have this reality check of, actually,

:43:43.:43:45.

"Will Daddy be around on my 12th birthday?"

:43:46.:43:49.

It is still hard for them to take in.

:43:50.:43:58.

because she's not going to really remember Daddy very well.

:43:59.:44:04.

After the diagnosis confirmed that Simon had motor neurone disease,

:44:05.:44:08.

he was referred to the Princess Alice Hospice in Surrey,

:44:09.:44:12.

which receives vital funding from Children In Need.

:44:13.:44:16.

They cater for both the patient and the broader family.

:44:17.:44:20.

I think the whole idea of going to a hospice is, oh, gosh,

:44:21.:44:23.

it's doom and gloom, but it is beautiful.

:44:24.:44:26.

The grounds, the staff, it is a place of serenity.

:44:27.:44:34.

The hospice provides essential help for children, too.

:44:35.:44:38.

counsellor Caroline Scollick spends time with the children, to help them

:44:39.:44:48.

deal with the situation and to help them with their feelings.

:44:49.:44:52.

Caroline's been seeing us for nearly a year now.

:44:53.:44:56.

On the first page, you have got all about me.

:44:57.:44:59.

It's all about you. And then you've got all about Daddy,

:45:00.:45:04.

where he was born and who his best friend is,

:45:05.:45:06.

She's just got this air of calmness which...

:45:07.:45:13.

It's so reassuring to know that the girls can talk to somebody else

:45:14.:45:17.

about this. It's... It's lovely, really lovely.

:45:18.:45:25.

"it's just better to cry or let it out than keep it inside and get

:45:26.:45:30.

I love him very much and he probably loves me very much.

:45:31.:45:38.

I don't think there's any "probably" about it.

:45:39.:45:40.

I think he does love you all very much.

:45:41.:45:44.

I think of what's happening now and the happy times,

:45:45.:45:48.

not in the future and stuff like that.

:45:49.:45:50.

We talk and we show them that it's OK to cry.

:45:51.:45:59.

We show them that it's good to laugh, it's good to get the giggles,

:46:00.:46:03.

you know? So we try and keep things as...

:46:04.:46:07.

We just have to take each day as it comes with them, you know?

:46:08.:46:13.

But I can still talk. I can still breathe and I can still enjoy life.

:46:14.:46:17.

Caroline's caring support is helping Simon,

:46:18.:46:21.

Carla and the children to cope with this impossible time and they are

:46:22.:46:25.

just one of the many families the caring staff at

:46:26.:46:28.

Princess Alice Hospice, funded by Children In Need, is helping.

:46:29.:46:33.

She looks at the whole picture of everything.

:46:34.:46:38.

When I'm upset that he's got motor neurone disease,

:46:39.:46:48.

he says that, "I'm the one that has got it and I'm not worrying,"

:46:49.:46:51.

The Princess Alice Hospice is just one of thousands of projects that

:46:52.:47:10.

rely on funding from Children In Need.

:47:11.:47:12.

Of course, we know that some of you won't be able to go on a ramble but

:47:13.:47:15.

Please donate now, if you are able, because your contribution could help

:47:16.:47:22.

Suzy and Betsy get that vital support that they need.

:47:23.:48:05.

So either donate now or join our Children In Need Countryfile Ramble

:48:06.:48:17.

We want you all to get ready to ramble and to get out there

:48:18.:48:26.

on Saturday the 8th and Sunday the 9th of October.

:48:27.:48:31.

Whether you want to head out with some friends or go it alone.

:48:32.:48:36.

Maybe you'd like to ramble in fancy dress or ride on four legs.

:48:37.:48:43.

However you do it, do it your way but, please, do ramble.

:48:44.:48:46.

..to download a sponsorship form and find all the information that you

:48:47.:48:54.

Now, we all love getting out into our glorious countryside,

:48:55.:48:58.

let's join together and give that passion

:48:59.:49:03.

Now, if you're thinking of getting in a bit of walking this week,

:49:04.:49:08.

you'll need to know what the weather's doing,

:49:09.:49:10.

If you are rambling this week, there is a view hazard to watch out for,

:49:11.:49:31.

hill fog, lightning in the West, dehydration, because of the heat

:49:32.:49:35.

that will return this week further east.

:49:36.:49:38.

We may be into the meteorological autumn but some has other ideas,

:49:39.:49:46.

coming back, could see 31 degrees on Tuesday, looking at a lot of heat

:49:47.:49:50.

and humidity returning, particularly to England and Wales, this is not

:49:51.:49:52.

true across the country, further west, it will be different. Sundry

:49:53.:49:57.

showers, fairly brisk southerly wind, and some fog around over the

:49:58.:50:01.

hills, because of this weather front, meandering across the western

:50:02.:50:06.

side of the country, for much of the waste, to the east of that,

:50:07.:50:09.

southerly wind. -- for much of the week. Southerly wind stretching from

:50:10.:50:14.

North Africa, through Iberia, and France, into our shores.

:50:15.:50:18.

Exceptionally high temperatures for this time of year. If we get 31,

:50:19.:50:23.

that'll be the first time in about 40 years. 23 today, very pleasant

:50:24.:50:27.

out there for most, even the cloud in the north has only just started

:50:28.:50:31.

to bring rain into western Scotland, it may well be the wind which is

:50:32.:50:34.

more of a feature, they'll force winds or even sillier. With lighter

:50:35.:50:39.

wind, further east, it will not be as cool as last night, but there

:50:40.:50:43.

could be more fog for the morning rush, at this time of year, as the

:50:44.:50:47.

nights draw in, we will linger through the rush. Could cause travel

:50:48.:50:51.

problems. Tomorrow looks set fair for many, more cloud, bright rather

:50:52.:50:56.

than sunny, potentially the odd rogue shower, no more, except for

:50:57.:51:01.

Northern Ireland and then west and central Scotland, through the day,

:51:02.:51:05.

the rain will turn heavier. The humidity is building, even with more

:51:06.:51:09.

cloud further east it is warmer. We keep the feet of southerly wind into

:51:10.:51:13.

Tuesday, we can see the weather front, still stuck there, in the

:51:14.:51:18.

West, does not know quite what to do with itself. A lot of caveatss for

:51:19.:51:22.

the forecast, where and when the heaviest rain will be, stay tuned.

:51:23.:51:27.

Tuesday we will see heavier pulses running up the western side of

:51:28.:51:30.

Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, but warm rain, further

:51:31.:51:34.

east, that is when we see the potential peak in the temperatures.

:51:35.:51:37.

Tuesday, that is when we will see the hottest weather. Goes

:51:38.:51:42.

hand-in-hand with uncomfortable nights, these temperatures on

:51:43.:51:45.

Tuesday night normally what we would see during the day at this time of

:51:46.:51:48.

year, you can expect Wednesday and Thursday night to be pretty similar.

:51:49.:51:51.

Wednesday whether pretty similar, as to the sunshine will be in central

:51:52.:51:57.

and eastern areas, risk of southerly downpours and showers around further

:51:58.:52:01.

west, Northern Ireland and Scotland, similarly so as we move into

:52:02.:52:04.

Thursday. Starting to cut off the southerly flow by that point.

:52:05.:52:08.

Low-pressure winding up. That will eventually culminate in a breakdown

:52:09.:52:13.

of the heat. Again, quite cloudy, muddy across many Western and

:52:14.:52:17.

Northern areas, later on, the potential for something heavier and

:52:18.:52:21.

boundary to develop. We will pick up an easterly breeze coming off the

:52:22.:52:25.

North Sea. Cooling down in north-east Scotland and the East of

:52:26.:52:28.

England. Finally, by the end of the week, Friday, that weather will be

:52:29.:52:33.

pushed in from the Atlantic, clearing out the hot, humid, hazy

:52:34.:52:38.

error, bringing in the Atlantic air. It will go with a bang, there could

:52:39.:52:41.

be big showers and thunderstorms around when it happens. There are

:52:42.:52:45.

some uncertainties for the week ahead, stay tuned if you are

:52:46.:52:46.

rambling or you I've been navigating

:52:47.:52:56.

the treacherous Menai Strait... ..and sampling a local

:52:57.:53:02.

delicacy, whitebait. I've come inland but I haven't quite

:53:03.:53:06.

left the waters behind because I'm here to search out an alien-like

:53:07.:53:14.

creature that lives in the muddy depths of this marsh, which means

:53:15.:53:18.

I'm going to have to get in... Meet Chris Wynne,

:53:19.:53:22.

a man who loves leeches. He's working for

:53:23.:53:29.

North Wales Wildlife Trust, catching the little suckers

:53:30.:53:31.

for a survey. Right, Chris. I made it

:53:32.:53:35.

through the bog. This is a very technical method,

:53:36.:53:38.

wiggling my net about very gently, just mimicking the movements

:53:39.:53:45.

of animals in the water, Leeches used to be regarded

:53:46.:53:49.

as a medical cure-all. 200 years ago, ladies even

:53:50.:53:56.

paddled in marshes like this But now this variety, the medicinal

:53:57.:54:00.

leech, is a rare creature. There's only about 20 sites

:54:01.:54:08.

in the whole of the UK. As you can see, around us,

:54:09.:54:13.

we've got this nice pond here, which is great but the medicinal

:54:14.:54:15.

leeches are down in the water and in the mud and

:54:16.:54:18.

in amongst the vegetation, really hard to find them.

:54:19.:54:20.

It would be hard to find a person. If I were to get lost here, it might

:54:21.:54:23.

take all day tracking me. What they can detect through

:54:24.:54:27.

the water is the movement, the pressure waves that go through

:54:28.:54:32.

the water from movement, so it could be my net

:54:33.:54:35.

or a cow or a horse or anything like that, and they sort of

:54:36.:54:38.

find their prey, they attach with their suckers

:54:39.:54:40.

and they have three sets of teeth and then they release anaesthetics

:54:41.:54:43.

as they bite you, And then they release

:54:44.:54:46.

anticoagulants, and this is the really important

:54:47.:54:49.

chemical that they have. It's a very powerful anticoagulant

:54:50.:54:51.

so the blood will just flow. So they're quite amazing,

:54:52.:54:54.

really, aren't they? Yeah. Really, really amazing and then

:54:55.:54:56.

they can eat, or take in, about nine to 11 times their own

:54:57.:55:01.

volume in blood which is... I always think it's like a lion

:55:02.:55:04.

eating an elephant in one sitting. So they can keep that blood more or

:55:05.:55:08.

less fresh so they can eat it for weeks or months. The whole thing

:55:09.:55:10.

is just amazingly complex. I have to say, I did come here

:55:11.:55:14.

a little bit sceptical about this whole leech business but these

:55:15.:55:17.

sound absolutely remarkable. That's why they call him

:55:18.:55:21.

the leech man of Anglesey. Chris can't find one so I'll let him

:55:22.:55:35.

carry on hunting while I am meeting Hannah Shaw, from the

:55:36.:55:42.

Freshwater Habitats Trust, for a close encounter

:55:43.:55:45.

with her pet leech, Leslie. Hannah, it's not every day you meet

:55:46.:55:50.

a woman with a pet leech. What's the attraction?

:55:51.:55:53.

Well, they are just... and they're a

:55:54.:55:56.

really interesting creature. Oh, he's coming out.

:55:57.:56:01.

What type of leech is this? Well, this is a medicinal leech

:56:02.:56:06.

but it's actually... It's not the native

:56:07.:56:09.

medicinal leech. And does it make a good pet?

:56:10.:56:11.

Is it a he or is it a she? They have got eight eyes on the

:56:12.:56:15.

front, so they've got four down this You are obviously having

:56:16.:56:22.

to handle it very carefully. What would happen if it got onto

:56:23.:56:28.

your finger or your hand? Well, she would just find a suitable

:56:29.:56:32.

place and then start to attach and work her jaws

:56:33.:56:38.

to suck my blood, really. Well, you just gently would pull

:56:39.:56:41.

them off. You would bleed for quite a long

:56:42.:56:45.

time afterwards because of the That's why they're good

:56:46.:56:50.

in medical use as well, because you're not getting

:56:51.:56:54.

a blood clot there and it allows capillaries to heal

:56:55.:56:57.

in an amputated finger. They are amazing creatures, really,

:56:58.:57:00.

for something so strange. Well, Anglesey has got these

:57:01.:57:04.

lovely fens and the wetlands, which is one of the reasons why the

:57:05.:57:10.

medicinal leech has become so rare, because the wetlands have been

:57:11.:57:13.

drained for agricultural to see a rare native

:57:14.:57:17.

medicinal leech. Right on cue,

:57:18.:57:27.

Chris has a treat for me. There's one in there. Is there?

:57:28.:57:29.

Yeah, yeah. It's hanging onto the tray.

:57:30.:57:33.

What fantastic markings! It's got orange stripes, and you

:57:34.:57:44.

can't really see them in the light but there are pale blue stripes

:57:45.:57:48.

as well, down the side. Success. Yes, it's good

:57:49.:57:50.

to find that here. I know you've got a few more to find

:57:51.:57:54.

so I'm going to leave you... Well, Anglesey has been

:57:55.:57:59.

quite the adventure. But that's it from this gorgeous

:58:00.:58:05.

and diverse Welsh island. Next week,

:58:06.:58:08.

John is in Buckinghamshire, discovering how Roald Dahl

:58:09.:58:11.

was inspired 50 years ago,

:58:12.:58:56.

they became superstars in astronomy,

:58:57.:59:00.

Anita Rani is exploring Anglesey. She navigates the notorious Menai Strait and meets the fisherman who bought an island. She also gets up close with a wild, bloodsucking creature.

Countryfile will soon be playing host to the 40th-anniversary edition of One Man and His Dog. The best shepherds and their canine companions from England, Wales, Ireland and Scotland will be competing, all hoping to be crowned champions. Adam Henson has been meeting the teams as the prepare for the big day, and in this episode he catches up with the English and Scottish contenders.

Matt Baker wears in his walking boots as he launches 2016's Countryfile Ramble for BBC Children in Need. Taking place over one weekend in October, the event aims to cover the countryside in Countryfile viewers, all rambling across rural Britain to raise vital funds for the charity. Matt and his fellow presenters John Craven, Anita Rani, Ellie Harrison and Adam Henson will be leading the way on rambles of their own, where they will be joined by youngsters who have benefited from Children in Need funding. Viewers can show their support by putting on their own sponsored rambles.

And Tom Heap gets a first look at the biggest ever report investigating the state of Britain's wildlife.


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