Julia Bradbury and John Craven explore the Snowdonia National Park. Julia combines her passion for walking with her sense of adventure when she tries her hand at scrambling.
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Snowdonia National Park.
Home to some of our mightiest mountains.
Its sweeping views have been captivating visitors
to this part of Wales for centuries.
These imposing peaks draw in millions of visitors every year.
Hikers, bikers, climbers, campers.
And today, I'm having a go at scrambling.
Apparently no eggs involved!
Beneath the peaks in a hidden valley lies a natural treasure.
The Celtic rainforest.
It's been named as one of the 60 wonders of Snowdonia National Park.
Here it rains for 200 days of the year and all the mosses
and the ancient trees
make it one of the rarest landscapes anywhere in Britain.
I'll be discovering what's being done to protect this little-known gem.
Tom's getting to grips with
one of the countryside's biggest controversies.
More than a decade after being described as Frankenstein food,
GM is back in the spotlight,
but will it be welcome in our countryside?
Could it deliver us a healthier diet?
Or even feed the world's hungry?
I'll be investigating.
And it's weather for ducks down on the farm,
but Adam's still as busy as a bee.
What a beautiful English summer's day.
It's chucking it down with rain again and my Belted Galloways,
well, they don't mind.
They're as tough as old boots.
Two of the three cows have now calved
and that means the cows are now ready to get pregnant again.
So what they need is a husband and, thankfully,
I've got one arriving this afternoon.
Snowdonia attracts around eight million visitors a year.
People come to savour the stunning landscapes or enjoy the thrills
and spills that this outdoor playground has to offer.
Covering 823 square miles of North Wales,
it's been a national park for just over 60 years.
I'm starting out in the Ogwen Valley,
on the eastern flank of one of Snowdonia's most imposing peaks.
Tryfan is one of the tallest mountains in Snowdonia,
bang on 3,000 feet,
and they say that you can't reach the summit without, at some stage,
ending up on all fours.
Well, today, I'm not going all the way to the top,
but I think I might get my hands dirty.
I've done plenty of hill walking in my time
and a bit of rock climbing but nestling somewhere
in between is a method of mountain ascent I've never attempted.
Literally showing me the ropes is guide Mike Rain
from the nearby National Mountain Centre, Plas y Brenin.
-Hi there, Mike.
-Hello, Julia. How are you today?
I'm good, thank you. I'm just delighted it's not raining.
-Well, it's in between the showers.
-So what have you got planned for me?
We're going to do some scrambling
and we're going to head up Tryfan Bach here.
-Little Tryfan in English, yeah.
'Mike leads the way, making a fairly steep climb look dead easy.'
Safety rope in place, it's my turn to follow.
OK, Julia, come on up.
At its easiest, scrambling begins when the ground gets so steep,
you have to use your hands.
But at this level, scrambling is as close to rock climbing
as you can get.
There are different classes of scramble, one, two and three.
And this is Class Three.
That's the hardest scramble, so it's approaching rock climbing.
So, it's rock climbing with boots basically.
You know what, this, for me, is just about right.
I'm not a natural rock climber. It's just a bit too scary.
-This is scary enough, but seems achievable.
-There are nice, good holds, aren't there?
There's just one slight problem.
-When we look up...
The holds are a little bit smaller, a little bit further apart.
It's a little bit steeper.
We're going to change our rope work technique a little bit.
I'm going to get you to belay me up this bit.
-Right, so if you fall, I'm in charge?
Over the years,
some of the world's best have cut their climbing teeth in Snowdonia.
Even Sir Edmund Hillary and his team trained here
before their 1953 Everest expedition, so I'm in good company.
-I'll tell you what, that is a nifty little scramble.
-Good, isn't it?
-It tests you, it really does.
-Yeah, not too easy, not too hard.
-No, that is lovely. This is it.
-This is it.
Just come back to here for us. That's lovely. Thank you. Well done.
-Thank you, Mike.
Luckily, we made it to the top just before
the legendary Welsh weather started to close in.
But, of course, a mountain can be friend or foe,
and if you're ill-equipped and ill-prepared,
then you can be a bit stuffed.
Here on nearby Snowdon, visitor numbers have increased dramatically.
Nearly 500,000 people each year
are walking on what's now Britain's busiest mountain
and that's putting increasing pressure on these guys.
What are you doing up the mountain on a day like today?
Well, today is a nice day to be here but there is such a pressure
on the mountain that we are practising certain skills,
which we use on a regular basis
simply because so many people do, unfortunately,
get into difficulty on Snowdon.
-In these conditions.
-In these conditions.
And what sort of range are we talking about?
Give me something reasonably mundane to extreme.
Well, the mundane one would be simply a twisted ankle. People are stuck.
Somebody who might be elderly and can't get off,
to the fact that somebody might be on one of the summit ridges
on a day like this, where they become cragfast and frightened
and we have to take them off the hill.
Cragfast, it just sounds wrong, doesn't it? It sounds frightening.
'The rise in call outs John and his team are attending on Snowdon
'means that, as volunteers, they struggle to cope.'
What do you get out of it personally cos you are volunteers?
I keep saying that so that people remember what a big deal it is
and what you're doing for people.
It is a big deal but I think we're all mountaineers.
We all enjoy being out on the mountains
and really it's realising that if we didn't do it as mountaineers,
then it would fall to the police.
I'd rather be out here than asking a police constable to help on the hill.
Well, very good work that you do and, so far,
I haven't had to use you yet, but I'm pleased that you're here.
-I hope you don't have to, definitely. But enjoy your stay.
'To reduce pressure on mountain rescue teams,
'the national park, along with other groups,
'have launched a free phone app for visitors planning a trip.
'It's got useful safety advice
'and invaluable up-to-the-minute weather information
'for all of Britain's mountain ranges.
'Details of how to find it are on our website.'
There's another new initiative being trialled only on Snowdon
and it's hoped it will help walkers find their way.
What's this then?
Defacing the countryside(!)
What are you doing, Gruff?
Well, the idea is that we're putting these little discs on stiles
on the main footpaths on Snowdon.
-And that's got a grid reference on it.
-It does have, yeah.
-That's a reference where the stile is now.
-People get lost at gates?
They do. The rescue team do deal with a number of calls, not a lot,
but a number of calls where people are at a stile
but don't know where they are.
And how many of these have you got?
Around 20 at the moment, and this is one of the very last ones.
-OK, you need to finish it, though.
-You can finish it if you like, Julia.
-Excellent. What do we do? Bit of glue?
-A little bit of glue.
Yeah, a little blob. OK.
So, what do they mean, 633 and 552?
Well, every map is broken up into a number of squares.
-As you can see here, this line is number 63.
-Then we need to find number 55.
-So this is the easy bit.
-So it's 63 and 55.
-That's right. So that puts us into this box here.
What about the other two numbers, number three and number two?
Well, they refer to where you are within that box,
so you're three in from the left and two up from the top.
-And that's where we are.
Just by the little green path.
That's right. That's the big track where these stiles are.
'Later, my map-reading skills will really be put the test
'when I attempt to lead a group of walkers safely off the mountain.
When it comes to what we grow there are few things more controversial
than genetically-modified crops,
but will a new generation of GM crops help change people's minds?
Here, in Norfolk at least, summer has arrived,
and with it, a landscape brought to life.
Fields of wheat and barley stand tall
with their hope of a bountiful harvest.
It seems like the green shoots of growth are everywhere.
But alongside these more familiar sights, in some corners
of the country, controversial crops are springing up.
Genetically modified crops first appeared in our fields
in the 1990s, but they were swiftly uprooted by protesters
and rejected by a public fearful of what were dubbed Frankenstein foods.
Now, GM's back on the agenda and I'll be revealing how it's gained
the support of one of the world's richest and most influential men.
-This is your greenhouse?
-Yes. It's a beauty, isn't it?
I start my journey with research scientist Katharina Bulling.
These ones look familiar. These tomatoes look a bit off colour.
-What's going on?
-I know, they do look a bit weird.
'She's showing me how these purple tomatoes
'are being genetically bred not for their profit-making potential,
'but for the health benefits they could give you and me.'
Why do you want to make tomatoes purple?
We have taken two genes from Snapdragon, which are responsible
for this beautiful induction of dark purple pigmentation in tomatoes.
These pigments, they can prevent a number of chronic diseases,
including cancer, cardiovascular diseases, diabetes and even obesity.
If I cut them open,
you see that the pigmentation goes all the way through.
Wow! That really is a real purple, bordering on the violet there.
-That's what gives the health,
-the secret ingredient.
-They are quite beautiful.
-Although quite weird.
-It takes some time to get used to them.
We may not be eating these tomatoes for some years,
but it's typical of a new generation of GM,
healthy hybrids that it's hoped will win over the public.
Like this, barley with added zinc that boosts the immune system.
Could that mean beer that's good for you?
But these endeavours all pale in comparison
to the work of scientist Giles Oldroyd.
He's chasing what many see as the holy grail
of genetic modification, the key to which could lie in the humble pea.
It may be cutting edge, but you still need to get your hands dirty.
'We're digging for are root nodules, which are found in peas and beans.
'They convert nitrogen from the air around us
'into fuel that makes the plants develop.'
The availability of nitrogen is one of the big limitations
to plant growth globally.
And it's why we apply a lot of nitrogen in the form
-of fertilisers onto our crop lands.
-What is it you want to achieve?
I want to transfer this capability from pea plants
to cereals like wheat, maize, rice.
That would give those cereals, those key staples to feed the world,
the ability to get their fertiliser from the air.
Exactly. Make them self-fertilising, essentially.
If Giles and his team achieve this arable alchemy
of growing our stable foods without the need for expensive
nitrogen fertilisers, it would mean less pollution
and fewer carbon emissions when the fertiliser's both made and used.
Welcome to the lab, this is where we do the hard work.
'Chasing this dream is costly,
'but Countryfile can exclusively reveal that the bid to make history
'in this laboratory has just secured 10 million of backing from
'one of the world's most powerful men, Microsoft founder Bill Gates.'
The reason the foundation is funding the work is because we believe
it will have a huge benefit to subsistence farmers in Africa.
In those systems, they have very poor yields
and most of those poor yields are because of low nitrogen.
We believe if we can get nitrogen-fixing cereals,
we can allow them to grow enough food for themselves,
rather than be dependent on food aid from the developed world.
But GM is always controversial.
Some are sceptical that this dream can deliver all it promises.
Is there an appetite to stand by genetic modification
this time around?
To find out, I've come to the heart of power, Westminster,
to see whether those with the ear of government think GM
is a technology worth pursuing.
As the Government's Chief Scientific Adviser,
Sir John Beddington's voice rises above the din of debate.
There are some people who might try
and stand in the way of this work. What do you say to them?
I think it's a real pity. The important thing here is evidence.
The sort of concerns that were raised about GM technology
some 10-15 years ago, were arguably legitimate concerns.
Untested, we didn't have the ability to properly screen
for human health effects, or environmental effects.
Arguably, the beneficiaries were individual companies. That's changed.
I think the point about it is that government science
and characters like the Gates Foundation are funding this work,
-so it will be available to all.
-'A promise to feed the world
'and cure our ills seems an offer too good to resist.'
So, why then do around a half of us remain so unconvinced about GM?
Could it end up being more of a curse than a cure?
That's what I'll be investigating later.
Deep within the Snowdonia National Park is a hidden valley,
Cwm Mynach, or Valley of the Monk,
a landscape that's inspired people for hundreds of years.
It certainly caught the imagination of a young poet, Gruffudd Antur.
He was one of 60 poets chosen to write about the 60 wonders
of the Snowdonia National Park to mark its 60th anniversary last year.
The poem reflects on the mining industry that once thrived
in the valley, but is now only remembered by the trees.
And hidden amidst a vast plantation of conifers is something
very rare indeed, a mystical Celtic rainforest.
The ancient woodlands battle against the dark, foreboding conifers,
mosses and lichens softly carpet the forest floor.
Like all good rainforests, it needs lots of moisture,
and this part of Wales gets as much as 200 days of rainfall every year.
But why is that? Weatherman David Lee should have the answer.
-It's just been raining again, David, in the rainforest.
-It has indeed.
-Why is this part of Wales so wet?
-It's the mountains.
The air comes in off the Atlantic.
It comes towards Wales, the weather just hits it and starts to rise.
You've got all this cloud here today.
As the main weather systems go across, sometimes the westerly
behind is still quite moist and we can be left with some areas of cloud.
-This is a cloud, OK?
-That's a mountain.
It's coming across the mountain, as it hits the mountain,
it rises and some little bits of rain come out.
It's these extra bits of rain that follow the main rain that keep it
-damp for so long here.
-Doesn't the wind dry things out?
Here, in amongst the trees, the wind goes and the moisture stays here.
With the cloud, the sun can't get in either,
so the moisture stays on the ground.
It's that moisture that produces perfect conditions
for some of Britain's most enigmatic flora.
Clinging to the trees and rocks is a whole other world
and botanist Ray Woods knows just how important
the Celtic rainforest is for its survival.
How is it that this little fragment of rainforest has survived?
I think we've demonstrated why.
The blocked scree here, very difficult to walk through.
The woodlands round here were turned into charcoal,
but fragments like this may just have survived.
-Because of all these boulders and moss.
As rainforests go, how do you rate this one? How significant is it?
The British rainforests are amazing. They're so rare now, though.
If you look at the numbers of species in them,
they rival some of the best of the tropical forests.
-This one boulder's got a number of lichen on it.
There's this lovely one here.
This is called the speckled sea storm lichen
cos the lobes look like the waves on the sea.
The one next to it is called a smooth loop lichen
cos its lobes have tiny loops.
This loves wet, humid conditions. And the liverworts here.
This one is very rare on a world scale.
Virtually the entire world population is in the British Isles.
-What about this one?
-This is a much more common one.
This is the common Tamarisk-moss.
All these wonderful moss cushions, they keep the soil and rocks moist.
They colour the landscape. They colour the boulders, the woods.
You're looking at lichens, mosses and liverworts.
They are the landscape and they are wonderful
and I hope more people will appreciate them,
despite the wonderful, damp, soft weather that they enjoy.
-They wouldn't be here without it.
-Not at all.
And this rare British rainforest will now be protected
because the Woodland Trust has bought 1,000 acres of Cwm Mynach.
-What's going on today then?
I'm pulling some saplings from conifers that were planted
on this ancient woodland site in the 1950s.
They are spreading through there rapidly, as you can see.
-That's quite a job you've got on your hands.
What we really want is to give these sort of things a chance,
the birch, the rowan, the oak,
the native broadleaf trees that we want to see growing here.
Why did the Trust decide to buy this forest?
This is a fragment of ancient woodland.
It's a very rare habitat, so we want to allow it to
move back towards its former glory, really.
And why concentrate on broadleaves?
What's wrong with conifers?
The problem is quite often they've been planted in very dense rows
on very fragile special habitats, like ancient woodland.
In the spring, our native wildflowers come up,
they're looking for the daylight
and you can see how dark it is under the conifers.
So, not only are you going to be pulling up all the saplings,
but you've got these great big things to chop down as well.
Yes, there are some very large spruce trees behind us.
-This is a very long-term project, isn't it?
I'm expecting to come back here when I'm a very elderly lady
and see the fruits of my labours.
But, hopefully, perhaps in 50 years' time,
the majority of this site will be covered by native broadleaf woodland.
Here's one over here that needs some shifting, I think.
Maybe this is a bit big for us, though.
One less little pine spruce!
Just in time, this last fragment of dark, damp, wonderful
Celtic rainforest has been saved, and now it will thrive and grow.
This quite stunning rainforest is just
one of the wonders of Snowdonia,
and Julia is now meeting Jan Davies
who set out to photograph all 60 of them,
as part of the celebrations for the park's 60th anniversary.
Jan's travelled over 8,000 miles in pursuit of
perfect pictures of Snowdonia's wonders.
Now, with the project almost complete, she's offered to show me
some of her favourites.
What were you looking for in each location?
I was looking for a particular detail or an inspiration, light.
I would draw on my own memories as well,
because I've lived in Snowdonia and worked here.
I know this is going to be very tricky, but if I had to push you
and make you choose your top two photographs, which would they be?
Well, I particularly like this image
and this was the first image that I took.
It's of the wild, the mountain goats, the feral goats of Snowdonia.
-Stunning lighting here.
And I'd been with this small herd for about four or five hours,
just hanging out with them.
It was a really hot day,
so they didn't want to go out of the shade and I think, finally,
he just went, "Oh, go on, then. "Take a photo of me."
-And that was his pose?
-That was his pose.
The next one that I really love is this one.
-And this is a natural outcrop of rock here?
It's called The Cantilever.
There's a lot of photos of this particular place and when I took
this photo, I really wanted to make a minimal image of a landscape.
The deadline for our own photographic competition is fast approaching.
The theme is "walk on the wild side."
We've had thousands of entries
and these are just some of the ones that have caught our eye so far.
It's shaping up to be a fabulous competition so far,
but you've only got one week left to enter.
Here's John with the details.
Our competition isn't open to professionals
and entries must not have won any other competitions,
because what we're looking for is original work.
You can enter up to four photos,
which must have been taken in the UK.
Please write your name, address and daytime and evening phone number
on the back of each photo, with a note of where it was taken.
And then all you have to do is send your entries to:
Whoever takes the winning photo,
as voted for by Countryfile viewers,
can choose from a range of the latest photographic equipment,
to the value of £1,000.
The person who takes the picture the judges like best
gets to pick equipment to the value of £500.
The full terms and conditions are on our website, where you'll
also find details of the BBC's code of conduct for competitions.
The closing date is July 22nd
and I'm sorry, but we can't return any entries.
So, the best of luck.
Jan, you're a professional photographer,
so you can't enter our photographic competition
but you can give our viewers at home some tips,
which is why I've brought you out into this quite wild weather.
So where do we start?
Well, the first thing is to get out and not let the rain stop you.
Jan wants to show me a simple way to make a photograph
of moving water look a little more artistic.
So how will the shutter speed effect taking a photograph
of this rapidly moving water?
Well, if you use a fast shutter speed, 500,
then you're going to get a much sharper image.
So, if we use a slower shutter speed,
I'll just adjust my settings...
With the shutter speed now set at one 60th of a second,
the movement of the water takes on a whole new look.
-So it's much milkier. The water looks much milkier.
I mean, you can really see
-the movement of the water now, can't you, the swirling?
-Nice tip. Thanks, Jan.
Shall we go swimming now?
Later on, I'll be up Snowdon in an area known as the Horns,
getting to grips with life as a mountain leader,
and here's what else is coming up on the show.
Down on Adam's farm, Eric the bull's struggling to find his feet.
Come on, Eric. Up you get, fella. Come on then. Come on, boy.
-Which leg is it he's lame on?
-I think it's front left.
Can Adam put a spring back into Eric's step?
And will the weather have us jumping for joy?
Find out with the Countryfile five-day forecast.
First, though, Tom's investigating why a new wave of GM research
promising a healthier, more prosperous future has many of us unconvinced.
Fields of green turning gold,
but could these crops one day be grown with genetic modification?
Only if we want them,
and the public doesn't exactly seem to hunger for GM.
So what is it that's worrying us and are those fears justified?
Many of us see it as unnatural and are worried that eating it could
somehow make us sick but, in reality, could it?
Well, across the world, countries including the USA and China
already grow and eat it with no ill effects.
But here in Europe, and in Britain in particular,
we remain stubbornly opposed.
This is dangerous contamination of the countryside.
Peter Melchett was one of the demonstrators
who took direct action to destroy crops back in the 1990s.
Now the director of policy for the Soil Association,
he thinks the key question is not should we fear it,
but is there a future in it?
How have your opinions changed about GM
since that famous shot of you decontaminating a field?
I suppose they've changed in that it seems much less relevant now.
I think there are more fundamental problems but the key thing is,
people don't want to eat it and we've got better, newer technologies,
like one called micro-assisted selection which basically means
we now understand the DNA.
We can use conventional normal crop breeding to get these new traits.
And if you look at all the crops which are starting to solve problems
for the poor farmers in Africa, they've almost all, if not all,
been developed not using GM.
So are we wasting our time and money on genetic modification?
Should we be abandoning it in favour of using cheaper
and more effective ways of more conventional cross-breeding instead?
The man who advises the Government isn't convinced.
Some of those opposed to GM also argue that there are now more
sophisticated techniques that we can deploy to achieve the same results,
that plant science doesn't really need GM any more.
Being quite frank, that's nonsense.
There are techniques which use the knowledge of plant genomics to
significantly improve what you might call conventional breeding.
It's called micro-assisted breeding
and that actually can genuinely bring benefits,
but some of the technology that we need to use
does involve taking genes from one organism into another,
and that is really, truly important.
So, according to Sir John, we need both,
but other battles also rumble on.
A recent protest at the UK's only open-air GM wheat trial
criticised scientists for risking cross-contamination
with conventional crops.
As an organic farmer of nearly 900 acres,
this issue is a real concern to Peter Melchett.
It's not just the contamination of field.
That can be a problem that depends on the crop.
What we've found, from experience, in America particularly,
is that you get contamination at every stage in the food chain.
So in America they lost the whole of a long grain rice crop
because the seed was contaminated with a GM variety
which hadn't been cleared for animal or human consumption.
It's very difficult, in a complex food chain, to keep things separate.
Some farmers may be against this research,
but the National Farmers' Union
wants to give landowners overall a choice.
And, across the world, GM now accounts for 10% of
food crops planted over an area three times the size of France.
So, do any of these crops make it to Britain?
Well, in this country, it isn't allowed in our fresh produce,
but if you think that means your diet's GM-free, think again.
GM can be used in our animal feed, so it could be eaten by the pigs
in our breakfast bacon or, indeed, fed to the dairy cows to make milk.
And GM is also used in the process to make rennet,
for much of our hard cheese.
So, if we're happy to eat meat fed on a GM diet, how would we react,
say, if genetically modified fruit and veg went on sale tomorrow?
People just don't want to touch them with a bargepole.
They see them as some Frankenstein food.
Food industry expert Dr Charlie Clutterbuck works with the supermarkets.
He says that despite lacking hard facts,
persistent public fears over the health effects of GM
inform what shops are prepared to stock on their shelves.
About two years ago, most of the retailers went to the Government
and said, "Look, if people want cheap food,"
and remember this was just after the price hikes of 2008/9,
"Then we've got to persuade them that GM will keep some of the prices down."
So, in private, they're saying one thing to the Government
but in public...
Yes, they don't want to be seen to be the first ones to
go down this road.
And it seems they've got good cause for concern.
A recent survey showed that six in ten of us
are worried about genetically modified ingredients in foods.
And 71% of people think it's important that retailers
have policies not allowing GM ingredients in food.
When Sainsbury's brought in tomato paste in the mid-'90s
alongside traditional tomato paste, saying this is cheaper but it's GM,
not only did it not sell but everybody got fearful
because the consumers felt it was toxic.
-It contaminated the brand?
You advise some retailers today about the world of food.
-When you say, "Why not GM?"
-They recoil in horror.
They don't want to enter that debate at all.
It seems that although our world-class scientists
might be in demand to develop genetic modification,
out on the street, there's still not much appetite for it yet.
Something has changed in the 15 years since GM was last on the menu.
We're now much more worried about whether we'll have
enough of this - food to feed the world's growing population.
If GM is going to find a way onto our plates,
it must be based on fact, not scientific hype or groundless fears.
Snowdonia is a place of outstanding natural beauty
and, whilst Julia has been taking in the splendour of the mountains,
I've been exploring the countryside beneath.
To many of us, hay meadows,
with their wonderful mixture of wildflowers and wispy grasses,
are romantic places.
They conjure up dreams of hazy summers in days long gone by.
But, of course, their original purpose was to provide a hay crop
as fodder for farm animals.
But they've become a threatened habitat
and huge swathes of this important natural environment have disappeared,
presenting a challenge to landowners like the National Trust.
Are they going to disappear altogether, then?
No. And we're very keen to do as much as we possibly can
to ensure that they don't.
For the last ten years,
the Trust in Wales has been working hard to try and re-establish
some of the meadows and look after the special places that
already exist, and try and make sure we can look after
species like this, the wood bitter-vetch.
-That's pretty unusual, isn't it?
It's quite a rarity because it needs to have time to set its seed to carry on.
So if it's too heavily grazed at this time of year,
then it just doesn't come back.
-It's a lovely little flower, isn't it?
-It is. It is.
-What else have we got here?
We've got the hay rattle, which is parasitic.
It does take the nutrients from the grasses,
so it allows these other things to come through.
And how important do you reckon it is to create
more and more of these flower-rich meadows?
Well, I suppose, if you're looking at it from a biodiversity point of view, it's essential.
There's so many different species here that provide food
for so many other different species, so much wildlife.
That's what gives us the opportunity to look after the various wildlife,
that is significantly important to us here in Snowdonia.
One National Trust farm that's currently returning
its meadows to their former glory is Blaen y Nant, Ogwen Valley.
It's an organic upland farm, run by Shepherd Gwyn Thomas.
Until now, Gwyn grew ryegrass as silage for his animals.
Now, you're turning this field back into a classic hay meadow.
Why are you doing that?
It's been farmed for hundreds of years, with a simple system
and I'd like to try and revert back to that.
I think if my grandparents and great-grandparents
have survived with a good mix of herbs and traditional grasses,
then I'm sure my animals will benefit.
So, you'll be returning it, really,
to the way it was in your grandfather's day.
I would like to think so, yes. Yes.
My dream is to maybe one day lay on my back
listening to the tractor cut the grass,
and looking around at all these different flowers and grasses,
and then smelling it after it's been cut.
Proper hay meadow. Proper old-fashioned hay.
Although, at the moment, there are only a dozen different plant species,
in time, Gwyn's hay meadow could have many, many more.
There are 1,143 native species in Wales and that's official,
because it's just become the first country in the world
to collect the DNA of all its flowering plants.
Behind this amazing endeavour is the National Botanic Garden of Wales.
And I'm meeting the project's leader, Dr Natasha de Vere.
-Good to see you.
Now, a fascinating project, this,
but why do you need to know the DNA of every wild flower in Wales?
Well, it's the things you can do with it.
Now that we've got this database,
whenever we have a tiny fragment of material, a leaf, seed,
a single pollen grain, we can identify plant species.
So, for example, we're looking at pollinators.
We know they're facing huge declines.
If we could find out where they go, it would help their conservation.
And we can do that because we can take, say, a bee,
the pollen it's carried on its body, and use that as a record of its day
because we can DNA-barcode all the plants it's visited.
Do you get information from elsewhere?
This is a sample of, uh, sheep poo that I collected earlier.
-The things you have to do!
So, with DNA barcoding,
a farmer might want to know what exactly is his sheep eating.
So we can DNA-barcode the contents of this
to find out what the sheep has had for dinner.
By using DNA profiling, it should be possible to discover
whether animals choose to eat plants that are good for them.
Gwyn certainly thinks so.
Well, I've been hearing, Gwyn, that this small field of yours
has got a rather unusual name. What is it?
Well, it's called Hospital Field,
Cae Ysbyty in Welsh.
And this is apparently where all the ailing animals were put to recover.
Funnily enough, I had a young goat, a young goat kid
that wasn't well, and he wasn't well for two or three days.
And, being organic, we don't treat them with anything
unless they're really in need of it.
So I brought him in here and after three or four days here, grazing,
he was up and about and he's back with his mother now, doing well.
So I don't know.
There are lots and lots of plants within this half an acre
that can be of benefit to animals.
But it's not just animals that seem to know which plants make them better.
People have been harnessing the healing powers of nature
for centuries, cooking up all kinds of concoctions.
Well, Pip, as somebody who's studied herbs for many years now,
you must think there's something special about Hospital Field.
Well, there's something special about any field which has lots
of wild plants growing in it,
and that's because it's an organic farm and it's been left to grow.
There are many, many species there.
But many wild species of plants have healing properties.
-Well, you've brought some of your herbs with you.
We've made a healing salve with plantain. This is plantain.
It's an anti-inflammatory and healing herb.
We've shredded it up with beeswax and organic sunflower oil,
cooked it for a while and then strained some out.
And this is, what, for cuts and scratches, things like that?
That's right, yeah. You can put a bit on.
-Or for skin diseases as well.
And also for hay fever, you can put it up your nose.
The beeswax and oil makes a barrier but, also,
-the plantain is good for the mucous membranes.
-And a lot of hay fever around at the moment.
So, for that reason, we've made a tincture.
We've got some elderflower, we've got some eyebright,
and some thyme.
And then we've used mead because honey's good against hay fever.
-So here's some that we strained out for you to try, John.
Well, I feel a bit of a fraud, Pip,
because I don't suffer from hay fever, but I do like to mead, so...
-It actually taste very nice, for medicine.
Our relationship with plants is a long one.
We've used them for clothing, for food and for medicine.
Now, with the help of DNA analysis,
our knowledge of all they have to offer will only get better.
From the foothills of Snowdon to the rolling hills of the Cotswolds,
where the weather's causing havoc on Adam's farm.
Nice weather for ducks!
It's raining on my farm.
This is a field that we've left for hay, which is basically
allowing the grass to grow so it comes up to flowering.
And then we cut it and let it dry in the sunshine but, of course,
it's been chucking it down with rain for the last few weeks,
and the grass has grown long, but now the crop has gone flat
and, underneath here, it'll start to go mouldy and die off,
which is just terrible.
What you want is to cut the grass at its optimum time,
so there's lots of sugars in it and it makes sweet hay.
But now, this is not good at all.
And the forecast is awful.
Doesn't sound like we're going to get any dry weather for a while.
Not quite sure what I'm going to do, really.
Come on, then
And it's not just us.
Farmers up and down the country
are experiencing similar problems this summer.
Since my belted Galloway calves were born a couple of weeks ago,
all they've known is rain.
Not that this hardy breed seem too bothered.
These are my three belted Galloway calves.
We've got the three colours, the red, the black and the tan.
They're really lovely. And they've had two little calves so far.
There's one more due to calve but, sadly,
I lost my belted Galloway bull a couple of years ago to TB.
So I went up to the Yorkshire Dales in search of a new one.
Adam, how are you doing? BOTH: Good to see you again.
In the shadow of Malham Cove, I met my old college mate Neil Heseltine.
We gathered his herd off the hill and I selected a bull.
I quite like the look of that black one there.
I was so impressed by Neil's herd that I bought a bull from him, and he's bringing it down.
It's arriving this afternoon, which is very exciting.
I love getting new animals on the farm.
But Neil has warned me that he's a bit of a feisty fella.
On the farm, jobs stack up whatever the weather.
We're still halter-training my two budding movie stars,
Kylie and Kyla, for their walk-on parts in a new TV drama.
-Walk on, then.
We're getting them used to a few voice commands.
They're making good progress and, between them,
they can pull a cart now.
Oh, this weather! It's horrendous, isn't it?
BOTH: Walk on, then.
It's all practice, practice, practice with these two.
Just so they get used to pulling the cart,
we're adding more weight every day.
And they're coming along quite well.
-Walk on. Walk on.
OK, the idea is to not have too much tension in the rope.
You have to pull to get them to go but, once they're walking,
-the reward is to slacken off.
So, if they carry on at this rate, they'll be stealing the show.
-Round here and back onto the track.
'And, right on cue, Neil's arrived with my bull.'
That'll be all right there.
-How are you, Neil?
-OK. Good to see you again. How's things?
-How was the journey?
-It's been great, actually, yeah.
-Much better than I thought, to be honest.
-How's the bull?
He's all right, actually. He seems to have travelled down really well.
In fact, we just pulled up earlier and he was laid down in the trailer.
He was just a little bit frisky, like I said when we inspected him,
but he seems to have calmed down a bit so, hopefully,
he won't go through the fences!
Let's hope so! I don't want a mad Yorkshire beast with me.
I've been looking forward to seeing him. Has he got a name?
Yeah. He's called Butland's Cracker.
-Yeah, short for crackers.
You've sold it to me, he's going to do so well. Crackers. Crikey!
Let's see how he goes.
-I've got the cows here so he should be able to walk down the tailboard and see them.
He'll just go to them and, hopefully, he'll settle down overnight.
You'll have to see if he looks any different, Adam.
Oh, you lively beast! Go on.
Go on, boy. Stand back a bit.
Go on, boy.
Go on, boy.
Go on, boy.
God! He's... I can see why you called him Crackers.
He's looking good, Neil.
I wasn't quite sure what to do there.
I'm glad I had a stick in my hand.
Yeah! It's a good job you did have, to be honest.
Erm, yeah, I think the journey's obviously just unsettled him
a little bit, but he looks to have calmed down now,
and he's got a cow or two to keep him company.
Yeah, that's what he needs.
You can never be too careful with them, though, you know.
-You've got to always respect bulls.
'There's no doubting his condition. He's a fine looking beast.
'Neil's also had him tested for TB and other diseases,
'and he's 100 percent healthy.'
I've got a few jobs to do on the farm. Fancy giving me a hand?
-Yeah, no problem. Guided tour?
From one bull to another.
My Highland bull Eric has gone lame.
He's hurt his hoof and I'm worried
the damp weather has caused an infection.
I want to take a closer look but,
to do that, we need to walk him to the cattle crush.
So, Eric's gone a bit lame, just when you needed him to do some work?
Yeah, he's just gone a bit sore on his front foot,
so you might be able to give me a hand with that.
-Well, let's have a try. He doesn't look too keen, does he?
Come on, then, Eric. Up you get, fella. Come on, then. Come on, boy.
-He's lovely and quiet.
-Which leg is it he's lame on?
I think it's front left. Let's just walk him up and see.
Yeah, it's looking that way, yeah.
You'd think that would encourage him to bull cows,
-cos he could take the weight off his front foot!
Stand on his back legs all day!
I wonder whether we should take him with a cow so he's got a bit of company.
Yeah, I think he'll be a bit quieter, won't he!
-If we bring that cow and her little...
-Has she got a calf?
Come on, then. Don't make life more difficult for yourself.
Come on, then. Good boy.
-Slightly more placid than old Cracker, isn't he?
'To help keep Eric calm, I'm bringing along a cow and her bull calf,
'little Magee, one of Eric's sons born earlier this year.'
Go on, Magee!
Go on. Go on. Take him on.
-He's got a big fat neck.
That was easier than I thought.
We've had some terrible lameness in our sheep.
-Their feet just haven't got dry.
-Come on, fella.
-Well, it's the worst thing, isn't it, for feet, the weather?
So if I just see if I can persuade him to lift his foot up. That's it.
Woah now. There now. There's a good fella.
With cloven-footed animals, like cattle, goats and sheep,
they have two big toes,
and with a gap in between in the muddy conditions we've had,
the wet weather, it can get infected in between, and can be smelly.
Although, actually, that doesn't smell too bad.
It's a little bit warm.
The way he's touching when you touch between the cleats,
would make you think he is a little bit sore.
-Yeah, that's sore. He doesn't like that, does he?
Let's get a bit of spray in there.
This is an antiseptic spray.
'To be on the safe side, I'm giving him an antibiotic as well,
'to clear up any infection.'
There's a good boy. Hardly felt a thing, did he?
No, he didn't flinch at all.
-It's amazing how they learn to handle that.
-Yeah, it is, isn't it?
Go on, then.
-Hopefully, we've done a bit of good,
-Well, I hope so, yes.
-That injection'll help. If there is any infection there, that should get on top of it.
We'll leave him by the pens for a day or two and just see how he gets on.
-Great. Well, thanks for your help.
-Yeah, no problem.
Next week, I'll be visiting a dairy farm that's run by robots.
Any excuse to get out of the wet!
When you're out here in Snowdonia, you need to be prepared.
Right clothing, map, compass,
and then you hope and pray that Mother Nature is going to play fair.
I'm on my way to meet some trainee mountain leaders
who are learning to navigate in all weathers.
But, first, here's the Countryfile forecast for the next five days.
The mountains of Snowdonia are the perfect playground
for lovers of the great outdoors.
But if you come here ill-prepared or ill-equipped,
the consequences can be serious.
It sounds obvious but when things turn bad,
the ability to find your way off the mountain can save your life.
Here on Snowdon's privately-owned eastern slopes,
I'm joining a group who are learning how to do just that.
-What are we up to?
Well, we're trying to work out where we are and we're doing that by
trying to identify some features on the ground.
What we can then do is pick out those features and try and match them to what we see on the map.
And that'll help give us a much better fix and a clearer picture of exactly where we are.
Does this come naturally to all of you? Are you a good map reader?
-Er, no, I've had to learn the skills.
-And easy or hard?
It is just a lot of practice.
I'm a bit out of practice myself so Carlo begins by explaining how
to match the landscape to features on the map.
If we look out in front of us here, what have we got?
-We've got a lake, we've got water...
And what have we got over there?
-We've got a bridge, a footpath.
And can we pick those features out on the map?
Well, I'm guessing that that's that one. Am I right with scale?
-Yeah, that's right.
But in order to help confirm that as well, or confirm it further,
we've actually got some really good what we call topographical features.
Lumps and bumps might be another way of describing that.
The lumps and bumps are shown on the map by the faint brown contour lines.
The closer together they are, the steeper the hill.
We can then turn the map
so that it all kind of fits with everything that we see around us.
What it now allows us to do is have a better picture
of the scenery in front of us compared to the map.
And, from that, we can now start to work out exactly where we are.
Now we know where we are,
we can start navigating ourselves off the mountain.
This bit is pretty straightforward because, fortunately,
we can see exactly where we're going.
That's fairly simple, obviously.
We followed the map, we could see where we were going, which helped.
But it's getting a bit misty now.
One of the little skills that we could use now,
given the fact that it's getting a little bit more misty,
is to use a compass bearing and that would then allow us to stay on track,
even if the mist does come down and we start to lose visibility.
With our compasses set, Lucy takes the lead.
Come on, guys. Keep up!
Quite bossy, isn't she?
Are you a natural born leader, Lucy?
I try my best!
Luckily, it's not getting mistier, but Lucy hasn't chosen an easy route.
It's very damp underfoot now. Quite boggy, which makes it hard work.
I'm quite pleased I'm not leading this group.
'Hmm, think I spoke too soon.'
How do you fancy your turn now, Julia?
I knew you were going to say that.
Well, really, it's up to these guys,
because what time do you want to be home?
-Got all day.
-Well, why don't we do a nice, easy leg?
From here, and it's quite realistic given the conditions,
why don't you take us from here down to the car park,
where we can pick up the vehicles, go and have a nice cup of tea?
Just remember - hot cut of tea, hot cup of tea, hot cup of tea. Follow me, guys.
With the car park almost in sight, it's pretty easy from here on in.
Had it been a misty day, or night-time,
it would have been a different story.
You see, I always make sure that I go out with somebody who's very good
with a map and a compass, because I seriously would not survive.
It's so easy for the weather to close in
and for you to look around
and just not have a clue about where to go next.
See, I'm lucky. It's brightened up. Visibility is good.
I can actually see my destination. It's all worked out very well.
-Come on, guys. We really are nearly there.
-Yes! Let's go!
This is it. Solid ground.
It might not have been the toughest navigational challenge in the world,
but at least it's given me a chance to brush up those vital map reading skills.
-How did we do, Carlo?
-Well done. Very good.
-Everybody's done really well today.
-Well done, guys.
Thank you very much for sharing your experience with me.
-I'm sure you're all going to be expert leaders one day.
That's it from Snowdonia.
Next week, I'm going to be reunited with Mr Baker in Shropshire,
the birthplace of the modern-day Olympic Games.
And you can guess there will be games of our own to be played.
But, now, I'm going to navigate my way to a hot bath. Bye-bye.
Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd
Julia Bradbury and John Craven explore the Snowdonia National Park. It is home to some of our mightiest mountains, which overlook an extraordinary countryside. Its sweeping views have been captivating visitors for centuries. Julia ventures on to Snowdon to combine her passion for walking with her sense of adventure when she tries her hand at scrambling. When you're out on the mountain, you need to be prepared; Julia also learns about a new scheme to aid walkers out on the ranges, and gets to grips with life as a mountain leader.
Beneath its peaks, John discovers a hidden valley that reveals a Celtic rainforest. Its damp conditions make it a special place for some of our finest and rarest plants.
Elsewhere, Tom Heap investigates genetically modified crops. More than a decade after being described as 'Frankenstein food', GM is back in the spotlight. Tom finds out whether a new generation of GM crops really will give us a healthier, more prosperous future. And down on the farm, Adam's new Belted Galloway bull finally arrives.