Matt Baker and Julia Bradbury visit the New Forest. Matt finds out how the local ponies are keeping an invasive pond weed in check, and Julia gets to grips with some big machinery.
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The New Forest in Hampshire.
A place where ponies and cattle roam free amid a landscape
of ancient woods and heathland
The New Forest is known for its ponies and trees
but there's nearly 1,000 of these - pools of water
that are just as important to the landscape.
But there's a problem, and it's this stuff.
I'll be finding out how ponies are playing their part
in keeping this invasive weed in check.
Julia's also discovering how horsepower
can help with conservation.
This big beast might look as if it could scare the horses
but, actually, it's making short work of clearing the land here.
It's a gentle giant at the forefront
of a massive conservation programme
but what's it protecting? I'll be finding out.
Meanwhile, John's up in Scotland.
Deer stalking plays a vital part of the highlands economy.
So why are huge numbers of deer being culled to make way for trees?
I'll be investigating.
And Adam's bringing home some fancy foul.
In these crates, I've got some newcomers to the farm.
And these ones lay some pretty special eggs.
Not very many people have got these.
I just hope they enjoy their new home.
The New Forest is the oldest area of man-made woodland in England.
The 219 square miles of the New Forest National Park
lie mainly in south-west Hampshire.
The New Forest isn't pure woodland -
less than half of it is covered in trees.
Most of the rest is known as lowland heath,
and it's the largest area of this rare habitat left in Europe.
Roaming that habitat are around 3,000 New Forest ponies.
Just as important are the hundreds of ponds and bogs,
possibly the most important area of freshwater wildlife in Britain.
This one was dug out to provide water for the ponies,
but all is not what it seems.
If you wade in...reach down,
you can easily grab a handful of this virulent stuff.
New Zealand Pygmy weed - a Kiwi invader
that's gradually taking over the national park's waters.
We seem from what we've got in this box, Naomi, that when there's
a lot of it, it's incredibly dense, but what harm does it do?
It tends to crowd out all of the rare species that we find
growing at the edge of these fabulous ponds
here in the New Forest.
So, when it comes in, we see that the other plants start to decline
and, eventually, when it gets to this stage,
where there's literally no room left for any of the native plants
to grow, we find that they disappear.
To start off with, we were worried that it was the ponies moving it,
because just a 2mm fragment of stem is enough to transfer this
from one pond to another.
So we thought maybe the ponies were picking it up on their feet
and then walking across and dropping it into another pond.
But actually, we've found now that all of the ponds that have it in
are located either next to a car park or next to people's houses,
so it would seem that the main vector for spread is people.
Rather than the cause,
ponies are actually keeping the weed at bay by eating it.
So far, nothing else has managed to get rid of this stuff for good.
Now they're moving onto more extreme measures, like dying ponds black.
-How much would you put in there?
-Not very much at all.
You'll be surprised. Just splosh a bit in and you'll see that
it goes black pretty much instantly.
-Just straight in like that?
-Yep. It's perfectly safe. There we go.
So, look at this.
Very quickly dyes the water
and you can see there's no light getting to that pygmy weed.
The idea being that that will stop it being able to photosynthesise,
so it won't grow any more. During the winter months,
nothing else is growing in the pond anyway -
pygmy weed grows all year round -
so now it should be stopping that growing and, by the springtime,
it will have gone and then the other plants can continue to grow.
So, what's so special about these ponds?
'Jeremy Biggs from Pond Conservation is taking me
'deep into the heart of the New Forest to find one
'that he promises is rich in rare, if tiny, species.'
Tip the contents out.
And we'll see what we can find.
-There's a little something wriggling there.
-Ah, female palmate newt.
So, two kinds of small newts in this country - the common newt,
which people often have in their garden ponds, and the palmate newt,
which actually some people do have in their gardens as well.
But this is much more the newt of acid water
and woodlands like this area here.
And just here, we've got a backswimmer as well.
Can you see it rowing around? It's got those big, long legs.
Again, it's not the ordinary one you see in your every-day garden pond.
Most people with garden ponds will have some backswimmers, probably.
This is the moorland backswimmer, that prefers acid water.
You can just about see it's got this
pointy hypodermic needle-like mouth parts,
which it sticks into its prey,
injects a poisonous saliva,
digests them from the inside, and then sucks out the juices.
-Gruesome, really, isn't it?
-Yeah, delightful way of eating!
There is just an enormous amount of life in this
little stretch of water behind us.
-When you look at this tray here, and you think...
These are real hotspots of biodiversity.
They're the smallest patches of freshwater -
tiny compared to our rivers and lakes - yet they actually have
a wider variety of species living in them than either rivers or lakes.
Despite their tiny size. They are amazing.
They may only be tiny, but some inhabitants of this pond
are as rare as anything you'd find on safari in Africa.
All in the New Forest.
And later, Julia will be using a different kind of horse power
to restore another part of the New Forest.
Right. There you go, you lot. Nice to meet you all.
So, here in the New Forest,
it's obvious that animals are playing a vital role
in regenerating this landscape,
but up in Scotland, it's a different story.
It's claimed that red deer are ruining efforts to introduce
thousands of new trees there.
John is finding out why.
The red deer. The largest land mammal in Britain.
A symbol of Scotland. The Monarch of the Glen.
But it's not just an icon.
Red deer are amongst the biggest players
in the Scottish national economy, and stalking them
has created a business worth more than £100 million a year.
There's an estimated 350,000 red deer in Scotland
but in some areas, so it's claimed,
numbers are falling dramatically because of shooting.
But just who's responsible?
It's not who you might think - the hunters.
Instead, they're pointing the finger at conservationists,
who want to create vast new areas of woodland here in Scotland.
And because deer threaten that plan by eating the saplings,
they're being targeted.
'No-one knows this stunning landscape better than
'professional deer-stalker Peter Fraser.
'He's using his local knowledge to take me to find some stags.'
Just noticing up there, look.
There's a whole bunch of stags on the hillside.
Aye, there's one or two nice stags up there, aye.
They're actually looking at their worst.
Their winter coats are starting to come out,
and in another two or three weeks,
their antlers will start to fall off.
Peter has been bringing people here to hunt for the past 50 years.
-It's not the shooting season now?
But if I was a client of yours, coming out,
hoping to get a stag, what would you insist upon?
-First of all, a good tweed suit.
-This is no good, what I'm wearing?
When you crawl in the heather, you can hear that noise.
And on a quiet day, the dear can hear that, and they're away.
-A piece in your pocket.
-Oh, right, yes.
-Lunch in your pocket.
-And would you insist that I was a good shot?
-The last thing you want is a wounded animal.
No, every client that comes, we go to the target first
and assess his capabilities.
If I was no good, you wouldn't let me go out and shoot a deer?
If you couldn't hit the target, no, I wouldn't take you out.
-Simple as that.
-Let's see how I do.
'The only thing in my sights today is a target, but people can pay
'up to £1,000 a day to shoot stags.'
-Squeeze it away.
So, three attempts to prove
that I'm Countryfile's answer to Clint Eastwood.
-That's in the black. Well done, John.
-In the black.
-Right in the middle?
-Goodness me! How about that?
I'm not sure I'd want to do it to a deer, though.
Well, yeah, that's not bad at all, is it? It's in the black.
-That's a good shot, John.
-That was the first time, yeah.
Any of these two shots here do the job,
with regards taking a deer out, no problem.
How concerned are you that there may not be enough fine stags to shoot,
if deer numbers keep decreasing?
It is a big concern for everybody employed in deer management -
red deer management - it is a big concern.
If numbers go down so far,
I can see people being laid off and that's the last thing we want.
How many people in the industry at the moment?
There's roughly about 2,500 paid full-time jobs in deer management,
and it takes in roughly about 105 million to the Scottish economy.
And that's quite a lot of money,
especially in this financial climate we're in.
And what's your guesstimate as to how numbers have dropped?
Well, I'm led to believe in the northeast,
there has been a 50% reduction in red deer numbers.
In fact, the Scottish Gamekeepers Association claims
that 50% decline in the northeast alone means
there's now only around 45,000 of them left there.
And they put much of the blame for that on culling to protect trees.
Many rural areas have seen a big fall in visitor numbers,
not just hunters but also people coming just to watch the deer.
'John MacPherson heads the community council in the village of Braemar.'
What impact has the drop in deer numbers had on the local economy?
To be fair, the local economy is largely based on tourism,
and it's the reaction of tourists that really makes the difference.
The big difference in my 20+ years in the village
is simply the lack of deer that are readily seen.
When I first came here, it wouldn't be unusual, 9pm,
to see up to 30 stags wandering through the village.
What reaction do you get from visitors
about the absence of deer now?
There are lots of comments in visitors' books, where visitors
have come expecting to see deer readily, and haven't found them.
I did hear the other day,
somebody had written in a visitors' book, simply,
"Oh, dear. No deer."
So, have the conservationists got it wrong
by killing so many deer to create a new habitat for trees?
That's what I'll be asking in a few minutes' time.
I'm 15 miles north of Matt on the very edge
of the New Forest at Plaitford.
This is where the woodlands open out into commons
dotted with gorse bushes and grazing ponies.
This is one of five commons in the New Forest
owned by the National Trust,
covering an area of more than 4,000 acres.
I've come here in search of a hidden landscape
that's being brought back to life.
Now, while the ponds that Matt saw rely on a few horses
to keep the vegetation at bay, they rely on quite a few more here -
143 to be precise, and it's a different kind of horsepower.
Wait until you see this beast up close.
This massive machine is at the heart of a scheme
to restore a series of mires - or bogs as they're better know.
It's clearing away trees that have been choking the site.
And it's work that can't come soon enough -
half of all the New Forest's bogs have been damaged or become overrun.
But this is conservation like I've never seen it before.
-It is quite a contraption, Dylan.
-It certainly is.
-It's sort of this digger meets a tank.
-Well, 30 tonnes in weight.
It looks as if it could be doing more harm than good.
But the machine itself, cos it floats,
actually leaves a footprint ten times less than that of my feet.
So, as I tread on, the footprint I leave is ten times more
than the actual ground pressure left on the ground by that machine.
It's actually doing a much more conservation-sensitive job
than I would do with a chainsaw.
Mires like this are essentially peat bogs fed by rainfall.
Here, trees had overrun the site,
draining essential moisture from the earth
and blocking out the sun, which much of the local wildlife depends upon.
Now this gentle giant is revealing the lowland landscape once again -
bringing light and life back to the mire.
You've not only got this monstrous machine, which is very efficient,
you've got a rather big bonfire on the back of it, as well.
Cos the water table is always here, there's always wet areas,
it's very susceptible to chemical changes, changes in composition,
So the actual ash in the tub itself would change
the composition of the soil, so we take it away.
And farmers like to improve their nutrient levels,
so it helps farmers as a secondary use.
The task of clearing all seven and a half acres of bog
is down to one man - driver Pete Bugden.
Now he's about to hand over control of this massive machine to me!
-All right, Pete?
-Permission to come aboard.
-Thank you very much. what do you call her?
-Lots of things!
Too much pressure!
'With so much power at your fingertips'
it's easy to get carried away.
Look at that - I got something already!
But with Pete's guidance, I'm soon finding a gentle touch
'is what's needed to complete this gargantuan task.'
-Go on, shake off!
-Now press the middle one, rotate a bit.
-And how do I drop it?
That's it. Bottom one. Press the pedal.
In Pete's expert hands, this machine can clear an acre every five days,
and speed is essential.
Bogs are home to several species of ground-nesting birds
including snipe, whose numbers are in decline.
The hope is that they'll return here to nest this spring.
And the signs are looking good.
'I'm joining wildlife expert Matthew Oates on a stretch of mire'
that's already been cleared
and where snipe have been spotted back in the area.
We should be flashing these guys up.
-Come along, little snipes. There we go.
-There we go.
-Yeah, yeah, yeah.
-It's a pretty inhospitable environment.
Why do the snipe like it here so much?
It's partly because the food source... Oh, there's another one.
There are invertebrates for them to probe in this mud,
which is very rich in the larvae of insects and little worms
and things like that.
It's all underwater for us, today, but if you've got a long bill,
you can access it.
A long, probing - indeed, sniping - bill,
and they can find these things.
But of course, they're on the amber list.
They're on the amber list in terms of being in rapid decline -
not just here in the UK, but in Europe.
So they're what's called a Species of European Concern.
And they're here!
It's not just birdlife that's attracted
to these seemingly inhospitable conditions.
Many plants also thrive in this special landscape.
What's this lovely stuff that looks a bit like coral?
It's almost as precious as coral here in the New Forest.
Most people know it as reindeer moss,
but it's not a moss - it's a lichen.
The flowers at the moment are below ground, or even below water.
But in June, July, it pulsates, it hums with insect life
and the flora is absolutely amazing.
Come back later in the summer - you'll love it. It's paradise.
80% of the lowland bogs we have left in the UK
are found in the New Forest,
so the work being done here could be make or break
for the creatures that call this place home.
They're clearing trees here to make way for the wildlife.
But in Scotland, they're culling red deer to make way for new trees.
John has been investigating this controversial new scheme
that's got the deer-stalking industry up in arms.
We've heard about the huge amount of red deer
that are been culled in Scotland.
It's claimed to be having a massive impact on the economy -
and it's all in the name of protecting trees.
In the northeast, there has been a 50% reduction in red deer numbers.
And it's conservationists,
not hunters, who are actually behind the shooting.
So, quite simply, is there a good reason for this widespread culling?
'David Frew manages the Mar Lodge estate in the Cairngorms.
'Here, you can clearly see the damage that deer can cause.'
In the evening, the deer come down from the hill behind us,
and move onto the flats by the river to feed, to graze.
-And they've just about grazed it bare, the heather here.
The deer pressure here has been very high in the past.
So this is obviously why you built this fence.
-A strategic fence, I think you call it.
It's a strategic fence because it's open-ended.
The deer can get round it.
And you can really see the difference here, can't you,
where the deer have been banned? Everything is growing well.
Certainly the heather here is a bit longer.
But also, in front of us,
you can see some really positive pine regeneration.
Some of the stalkers I've been talking to are very concerned
about the low level of red deer numbers now.
Does it worry you as well?
The deer population in Scotland has almost trebled since the 1950s.
Deer population over the country as a whole is higher now
than it's ever been at any time in history.
We think that's unsustainable.
You can see the sort of damage that can be done.
So we're trying to achieve a balance, effectively.
So, are you at all concerned about the future of the species?
About the future of the species, I'd say no.
I think the population in Scotland is very healthy.
Fences aren't widespread across the estate
because it's effectively the size of Birmingham -
so they've resorted to culling.
And the tactics have been successful.
Here at Mar Lodge, plant and wildlife is thriving,
but the local deer population have paid the price for that.
This place has been at the centre
of one of the most controversial culls in Scotland.
Deer numbers have been reduced by more than half.
Sir Kenneth Calman is Chairman of the National Trust for Scotland,
which runs Mar Lodge.
When we arrived on the estate in 1995,
there were a lot of deer - too many, and some of them not very well.
So we had to make a decision about what to do,
and part of that was about culling.
Why do you want to regenerate the woodland here?
If you look around you, you see these wonderful 100-, 200-year-old
Caledonian Forest pines, and if you look 200 years ahead,
which is really our timescale,
I would see here a great forest with deer running freely
within it, part of it being a sporting estate
and part of it allowing huge access to the public.
That's the great long-term vision, and we're only 15 years into it,
and not surprisingly we've made one or two mistakes.
'It's claimed that, in that time on this estate,
'red deer numbers have fallen from 3,500 to 1,600
'and Sir Kenneth admits they've shot more than they needed to.'
If the target is to be reached - of 25% more woodland cover
in Scotland by 2050, is that going to mean
that many more deer are going to be killed
on estates around the country?
I don't think that's necessary,
because we've learned a significant amount of lessons
from what's happened in Mar Lodge.
These lessons can be translated across the country
and, in that learning process, we can reduce the culls to a minimum.
But has the culling already gone too far?
Jamie Hammond monitors deer numbers for Scottish Natural Heritage,
which is overseeing the national tree-planting initiative
and which has supported the culling.
What have you got there, Jamie?
This is a hand-held thermal-imaging camera which detects heat sources.
It's something we use for wildlife census work -
particularly deer - in terms of counting them.
It looks like a giant pair of binoculars!
That's exactly what it is.
You look through it, it has a range up to about 3,000 metres
and it will detect heat sources -
whether that's a mouse, a hare, a person, a deer.
Don't see any wildlife at the moment.
-We're not seeing any at the moment.
-Would it work on me?
-It would do.
-Give us an idea of what happens.
-Step back. There we go.
-I see how it works now.
-And on this screen, there's some deer.
This is the sort of thing we would be recording with this equipment.
-This is a group of red deer.
-Would that be at night?
Yeah, we typically do this at night, partly because,
in terms of equipment and low temperatures, it works better,
and also deer are much more active nocturnally,
so it's a good time to find them.
I've been hearing that red deer numbers have dropped
dramatically recently. Is that backed up by your research?
I don't think we can say dramatically.
There's no doubt that some parts of Scotland
have seen declining red deer numbers.
I've heard 50% in some places.
Yes, there's been a decline in some areas, but I wouldn't go as far
to say there's been a 50% decrease in red deer numbers nationally,
cos there are still a number of places in Scotland
where they're doing incredibly well
and numbers are continuing to grow and expand into new areas.
But stalkers like Peter Fraser are still adamant
there just aren't enough deer left to support their business.
-Deer numbers, they say, are actually increasing.
They're not increasing here, that's for sure.
If you're speaking about deer numbers,
it'll be the roe deer numbers.
It's definitely not red deer, because they are down in many areas.
There has been a big explosion of roe deer and that is a problem now
in the low-lying areas, but definitely not up here.
-So, things are just as bad as they have been?
Things are just as bad - there's no doubt about that.
Lessons have been learnt
and conservationists are still determined to plant many more trees.
But further compromises may be needed to reduce
the threat to Scotland's greatest wildlife asset.
Later on tonight's Countryfile, Adam's checking on the chickens...
This one's very friendly. She'll sit on your shoulder like a parrot.
-..Matt's struggling to become a smuggler...
-Is that right?
-No, other way.
-Other way! Are you sure?
-You're the expert!
I never said I was an expert!
..and if you're planning to get out and about in the week ahead,
you'll want the Countryfile five-day forecast.
Of the millions of visitors to the New Forest each year,
a large number will explore the forest using
the 100 miles of quiet, traffic free trails...
..whether on two feet or two wheels.
I've been purposefully kept in the dark about this.
All I was told to bring was my running trainers, a map,
and they've hired me this bike.
Not sure I like the sound of it.
To tell me all about what I'm up to is Jon Mayne.
-You all right?
-Now, what AM I doing here with this?
Today, you're doing an adventure race. You've got an hour
to get as many checkpoints as you can on foot and bike.
We're going to get a bit muddy,
you'll probably get a bit of wet thrown in
and hopefully have quite a bit of fun.
So, how would this sport differ from, say, a triathlon?
The key difference with adventure racing is, firstly,
it's on a soft road - so you'll be trail running
and mountain biking - and secondly, there's a navigational aspect.
When you're out on the course, you'll see there's control points
on the map and numbered, and when you get there,
you'll see a control like this with big red tape on it,
and you've got an electronic timing chip on your wrist,
you'll dib into it and that will recognise that you've been there.
You don't have to go one, two, three, four, five -
-you can go in any order?
-You can go in any order you like, which means
that as soon as you start, there might be 100, 200 people
on the start line, but within 20 minutes, you'll be on your own,
in the forest or in the mountains, and that's what makes it so special.
Adventure Racing is believed to have started in 1998.
Few people may have heard of it but it has gone global.
It's also a test of endurance, with races of more than 5 hours long.
Thankfully Jon, along with his wife Sam,
run shorter courses for novices like me.
I kind of tried adventure racing a few years ago.
Being someone who's not super fit or into any specific sport,
I found it really difficult.
The smallest adventure race I could find was five hours,
which was really, really long and almost killed me.
So, when I finished...
I had two children and left my job and I thought,
"There's a gap in the market for this" -
for beginners, or someone who just wants to try it.
So, we came up with the concept of a two-hour adventure race,
so breaking into the market for beginners, basically.
Are there any issues about going across any open countryside
-and where you're allowed to go?
-There is and there isn't.
If we come to an area like this, we use public rights of way,
bridleways, which the public can use anyway.
We speak to the local Forestry Commission, local land owners,
just to let them know that we're in the area
and if there's any concerns.
-Is the New Forest really good for this?
-It's fantastic, yeah.
They want to get people out into the open, and so do we, so it's perfect.
Adventure racers can compete individually or in teams.
Today we're racing in 5 pairs, and here's my opposition.
I am Team Orange today. Just off to meet my team-mate now.
He comes from a great pedigree. How are you doing, Nick?
-Good, how are you?
-Team Orange, there you go.
-Thank you very much.
This is the funny part.
I've been teamed up with World Champion 2009.
I'm going to drag you down, I'm so sorry about that.
-Oh, you'll be fine.
-So, tell me, how did you get into all this?
I'd just left university and I was working in an office in London,
and I was starting to put a bit of weight on.
One night I was watching TV and I saw a race called
the Eco Challenge, which is a really old adventure race,
one of the first races. I thought it looked amazing.
So I went on the internet the next day,
got a few mates from university, went onto a race, came last -
we had an absolute shocker. We really loved it,
had a great time, and said,
"I wonder how we can get better at this",
so we bought decent mountain bikes
and, over 12 years, we improved quite a lot.
I can't put this off any longer. A blast on the hooter and we're away.
That's a right pace!
These people are FIT!
Once on the flat, it's not too hard, just avoiding the branches
and stumps of the New Forest.
But then some obstacles really slow you down.
Oh, my God.
Oh, this is boggy.
Can you see that? Oh, my goodness, that's bubbling.
Through the bog and the first check-in clocks up
some much needed points.
This is our easy terrain!
But now the pace is really starting to hurt.
-No breaks. No breaks allowed.
I'm in so much trouble. Hanging.
Nick decides to change our tactics
and we head back towards the bikes ahead of the other teams.
-And that's not the end. OK, what are we...
I'm in a world of pain. I don't know where to go.
We're going to go down this technical bit of downhill here.
-OK, I'll follow you.
-Just take your time.
I'm happier on a bike. Ooh, ooh.
Having said that... There we go. Yes!
On the mountain bike, we pick up pace
but it's not long before we see some of our rivals -
also now on two wheels.
Oh, you shouldn't have.
Lovely. Thank you.
I'm wetter now.
Remember, first over the finish line isn't necessarily the winner.
It all depends on the points each team picks up
at the check-ins around the course.
Hopefully, my slow pace won't leave us with the wooden spoon.
While we all recover,
Sam and Jon combine the timings with the points.
Cycling, I loved, even though I got two flies in my eyes
and that is definitely a man's saddle.
But the running damn near killed me.
Even at Nick's charity pace!
And the winner is... Well, not orange - we managed...
That's really good. Well done.
I've enjoyed my debut adventure race, but it will be a while
before I try it again - I think I'll need a few months to recover first.
The New Forest has 26 miles of coastline.
And running from the Solent, right into the heart of the National Park
is the River Beaulieu.
This river is 12 miles long and, if you travel halfway along it
upstream, you'll arrive here at Buckler's Hard.
The same family has owned the village for almost 300 years.
But the original grand plans for this place never came to fruition.
Well, Buckler's Hard village first started out as a sugar-import town,
by my ancestor John, Duke of Montagu in the 1720s.
He had this idea that he was going to build a freeport here,
and import sugar from the West Indies.
Unfortunately, his plan was a complete disaster.
When he got to the West Indies,
he found the French had already got the island and his party
was repelled back, and he lost a lot of money in the venture.
But the port was finished,
and in the 18th century, when war with France
meant the royal shipyards were overrun, Buckler's Hard
rose to glory, producing great naval vessels for the Napoleonic Wars.
At the time, there was a great increase in the demand
for the navy to build ships, and they did a survey of the south coast
and found this excellent river here and thought, what a good place
for a private yard to build men-of-war ships for the navy.
In total, 13 Royal Navy vessels were built here
that served in the Napoleonic Wars, including the Agamemnon
which was said to be Admiral Nelson's favourite ship.
The last of those great naval ships set sail from here in 1814,
but this place still echoes with reminders of its shipbuilding past.
All around here, mighty oaks still stand
in what were great forests that surrounded the estate.
These trees provided timbers for the frames
that were the heart and soul of the old naval ships,
'and were prized by the craftsmen,
'known as shipwrights, who built them.
'Marine archaeologist Damian Goodburn knows all about these men
'and their ancient art.'
This is the sort of thing that people will often think of
when they think of an English oak tree.
Big girth - bit like me - with branches coming out.
It's useful for certain things in shipbuilding.
Where the branch joins the stem,
you can make a bracket or knee out of that.
What's a knee?
Say that's the cross-section of a ship,
it has a series of beams that go across,
and where those beams touch the side of the ship,
there has to be a near-right-angle bracket.
And those are called knees, like my knee there, you know,
hence the name.
So you're actually looking at the tree in its entirety
and visualising which bit of the ship...
Yeah, that's one of the skills that shipwrights used to have -
surveyors and shipwrights might be wandering through,
noting down what was where,
so when the demand came - often very suddenly -
during a war or something, they'd know where to go straight away.
-See, that's a good job to me.
-It is. It's a pleasant job now.
A tree-hugger's dream.
It's nearly 200 years since the last of these trees was used
to build the great Napoleonic ships.
But thanks to Damian and his colleagues
the craft of the shipwright is returning
to the shadow of these pontoons.
Eventually, we hope to lay out a skeleton of a ship,
as would have been seen here on the building slits
where vessels were actually built.
This project will give students of marine archaeology the chance
to get hands-on with the techniques
and tools used by shipwrights all those years ago.
Here we are. This is the adze.
The archetypal shipwright's tool that many people have heard of.
In the 18th century, this is the tool the shipwrights used
for smoothing the timber, so we can get rid of the rough bits.
Well, I couldn't leave here without testing
my own skills as a shipwright.
Do it gently. You're trying to kiss the timber and come out again.
So it's a long parabola, rather than the chopping action.
I think I'm a long way off being a shipwrighter,
but come back in about five years and I might have managed a bench.
In the 18th century, it took 100 men two years
to turn out a full naval vessel.
I've got a feeling that even without my help,
this more modest project might take a little longer to complete,
but it's fantastic to think that the shores of Buckler's Hard
will soon be ringing out to the sound of shipbuilding once again.
Adam keeps a lot of rare-breed chickens on his farm,
and is looking to add some unusual egg-laying hens to his collection.
But first, out in the field, his arable crops are benefitting
from a special feed.
We check round the livestock on the farm every day,
and I've just been round some ewes in this field.
-I've got Dolly the dog with me.
-She's not one of the working team,
but she loves to come out on the farm.
On a dry day like today,
we've got lots of tractors working out in the fields.
There's one contractor here with a really big bit of kit,
doing a job that not everyone loves. I can almost smell it from here.
This is chicken muck that's come from a big poultry farm down south.
We buy it in and the contractor's going to spread it
on the fields for us.
It digs it up with a bucket and sticks it into the spreader.
Farmers have been using farmyard manure as a form of fertiliser
on their crops for centuries.
This chicken muck is a really good natural source of fertiliser.
There's 150 acres to do,
so it should take the contractor a couple of days.
This field is growing winter wheats
that'll go for milling for making bread.
At this time of year, when the day lengths are getting longer,
there's more sunshine, the soil is warming up
and the plant really wants to start growing away.
We'll be harvesting this in about five months' time,
so it's got a lot of growing to do. And so it needs plenty of nutrients,
and that's what this chicken muck delivers.
It's got nitrogen, phosphate and potash,
as well as things like sulphur and copper and zinc.
These guys are working incredibly hard.
They've got a lot of chickens back on their farm -
a lot of muck to spread.
I've only got a few chickens, and most of them are pets.
I keep half a dozen different rare breeds of poultry,
partly because I'm a rare-breeds enthusiast.
Whether it's a pig or a sheep or a chicken,
I just love to see these old-fashioned breeds.
I've got two different types here - the lavender pekins
and the buff orpingtons.
These rare breeds don't lay very many eggs - maybe 100 eggs a year -
whereas in a commercial egg-laying system,
they wants their birds to be laying 300 eggs in a year.
That's the reason they've become rare.
These pekins are really lovely. Come here. They're so friendly.
This is a fully grown lavender pekin hen
and they've got these feathery feet. They're like an ornamental chicken -
really beautiful to look at.
This one's very friendly. She'll sit on your shoulder like a parrot.
People have been selectively breeding from chickens for years,
and because they lay quite a lot of eggs, you can choose separate traits
from chickens very, very quickly and change them.
So we've got our commercial broiler - the meat chicken -
and then laying hens.
And in all the traditional rare breeds,
there's a whole array of colours and shapes and sizes.
Even in the pekin, there's lavender, black, white, cuckoo, partridge.
It's just extraordinary.
My son, Alfie, loves these lavenders.
He even brings them in the house, puts them on his shoulder,
walking around the house like he's got a parrot. Come on, off you go.
As much as I love my rare-breed chickens,
they don't lay enough eggs.
So what I need are some highly productive hens
that will produce eggs for most of the year.
I'm off to meet an old farming friend of mine,
who I've known since I was at agricultural college.
He's from Holcombe Rogus, on the Devon/Somerset border.
He breeds laying hens, and he's got all sorts of different types,
so I'm hoping he's got what I'm after.
There's just one problem - when I was at college,
I knew him as Turkey Frank, and I still don't know his proper name!
-Nice to see you. All right?
All those years since college, you haven't change a bit.
-Bit of a silver fox now.
-No, no. It's black.
In my mind, I've still got perfectly black hair, I'm sure.
When we were at college, you were known as Turkey Frank.
-I never really knew your proper name.
-Andrew Gable, proper name.
I've a few names in between, but Andrew Gable you can call me now,
just for today.
Why was it Turkey Frank? I know because you're a turkey farmer.
Frank was from school, and we did a lot of turkeys for years,
I suppose, and we'd try to sell them at college at Christmas,
so I suppose I got that nickname.
-Could be worse!
-I'll call you Andrew from now on.
-Thank you very much.
I'm told that you're the man -
if I want some good-quality laying hens - you're the man for the job.
Yeah, we do three egg-laying colours.
We do brown-egg-laying birds, white-egg-laying birds
and also bluey-green-egg-laying birds.
Sounds lovely, that's what I'm after -
I'd love to have some birds laying different-coloured eggs.
All of Andrew's chickens are free range,
so, every morning they're let out
'and have the freedom of the open fields.'
Walk away, they'll come out.
They look really lovely out. What breed are these?
These are white leghorns, they lay white eggs.
They lay up to about 300 eggs a year.
They're very prolific and a great bird to have just on eggs.
They look very healthy - I suppose that's very important to you.
Definitely. You can tell from their big red comb
that they're healthy birds. The healthier they are,
the more eggs they'll lay. Bigger eggs, better quality, better shell.
So, yeah, we try to keep them as healthy as we can.
Some of these would be perfect for me,
if I can take maybe six to eight of these, that'd be great.
Well, that's my white egg layers.
All I need now are some other colours.
-Look at all these!
-Plenty in here.
We'll shut the gate, cos they're quite lively when they get going.
These are young birds, are they? These will go out later.
These are about 17 weeks old, they'll soon go out
to the laying shed and they'll start to lay in about four weeks.
The ones you really want are the Fenton blue,
which is this light-brown one.
This is the Fenton blue.
Yeah, about 80% of them lay a bluey-green egg
and I'm trying to breed them
with a little head tuft on so they look a bit quirky.
What breeds have you used to develop this Fenton blue, as you call it?
I used a cream legbar, which is a blue-egg-laying bird,
but I want to get better egg numbers,
better quality of the shell and also the colour, really.
-What other breeds?
-Another breed of chicken with feathers which,
if I told you, I'd have to shoot you.
-Your secret ingredient?
-Top secret, that one.
What about the brown-egg-laying ones?
If I was you, I'd have the cuckoo maran, which is down here,
which is also called speckled.
They lay brown eggs and you get a good number of them
-and they're very popular here.
Well, I like the look of the chickens, but before I load some up,
I want to see the different-coloured eggs they produce.
What are you looking for in a really good laying hen?
Number and size of eggs it lays, quality of the shell -
you want a thick shell - and the colour, really, you want kind of
pure white, darkish brown and a good bluey-green, not too wishy-washy.
How do you get that stamp on? Is this the machine here?
-You put them through there in trays.
-It's squirting it down
onto the top of the egg?
Yeah. It's got my unique number of the farm, so you can trace me back.
Now, how about the taste? Is there any difference between the colours?
Let me know, it's probably the best way. They all taste beautiful.
I'll do a taste test and let you know.
My birds that I'm taking home, I should get the array of colours
and they'll be laying regularly of a good-size egg hopefully.
Yeah, yours will start to lay in two or three weeks' time.
Small to start with, then they get bigger to this kind of size
within six to eight weeks, and you're away.
Before I leave, I can't resist the opportunity
to check out some of Andrews's new chicks.
These are three days old.
-So these'll go into your laying-hen system?
These'll be laying at kind of 22, weeks, so it's very quick.
It's lovely to see the mixture of colours. Wonderful.
-Thank you so much for showing me round.
Suppose we better grab my hens and I'll head for home.
-Get your crates, we'll try to catch them up.
-Cheers, Turkey Frank, or should I say Chicken Andrew?
If I don't get eggs in a couple of weeks, I'll be on the blower.
-If you get a lot, bring them back to me.
-Cheers! See you.
And back on my farm, it's time to see
if they like their new home.
Freedom. Go on.
There you go. There you go, ladies.
There you are. Look at this.
Only been in the car a couple of hours and we've got eggs already!
These are great! So these are the white ones from the white leghorns.
All I need now is some brown ones and some green ones.
And these hens should lay 300 eggs each a year.
They'll put my rare breeds to shame.
Looks like this project could be quite successful.
Next week, I'll be taking some of my rare-breed cattle
back out into the fields for the summer.
In the heart of the New Forest is the village of Buckler's Hard.
As we've discovered,
it was home to the ship builders who worked here in the 18th century.
But number 81 isn't like the other cottages here.
Welcome to the Chapel of St Mary.
And there's still regular services that go on here.
In fact, we've got to be quite quick, because there is one due in.
They have recently discovered a much more seedier side.
During the renovations,
they put down a new floor and discovered a cellar down here.
It's a bit of a tight squeeze -
we can't get our big cameras down - but I do have this
handy camera here, so I'll take you for a trip down under.
As they dug, they discovered this 18th-century glasswork.
Look at these bottles here. The tops and bottoms there.
But that's not all.
Clay pipes here, local pottery and a George IV coin.
So, with all the traffic of the smugglers
along the Beaulieu River, that could be the proof that this chapel,
which was then just a cottage,
could have been the centre of the operation.
In a moment, we'll be finding out more
about these unscrupulous villains, but before then,
here's the Countryfile forecast for the week ahead.
The New Forest.
Hunting grounds created for William the Conqueror 1,000 years ago.
Nowadays, it's grazed by ponies and enjoyed by millions of visitors.
And running into the heart of the forest from the Solent,
the Beaulieu River.
While the boats on the water may well have changed
over the last 250 years, the surroundings haven't,
and all of these tiny little creeks and marshes provided
the perfect secret landing spots for smugglers.
At Buckler's Hard, smugglers supplied the New Inn
as well as many of the cottages, right under the nose
of customs officers and military stationed on this part of the river.
Steve Marshall is a local historian
with a particular interest in smuggling.
-Steve, how are you doing? All right? Very nice to see you.
It does beg the question,
why are you sat with a pistol outside the pub?
-Just a standard warm New Forest welcome, that's all.
So, you think this possibly could previously have been
owned by a smuggler.
Yeah, we think all the evidence points in that direction.
It was found in the mud down on the coast here a few years ago,
and it's not a military or naval pattern, so it's an unusual gun.
They obviously didn't mess about, then,
if they were armed and all of that.
It was the organised crime of its day.
There were big stakes involved
and people were prepared to go to quite extreme lengths
to protect their business.
People that were thought to be informing,
or people in the customs service who were being too efficient
could find themselves on - at best - quite a nasty beating
and, at worst, could be murdered to keep them out of the way, or to
-send out a message to other people saying, "Don't mess with us."
And what were these smugglers actually like?
Well, we wanted you to find out.
So we've raided the Countryfile fancy-dress wardrobe
and Steve and I are going to do a bit of smuggling re-enacting.
-There we are.
Have to be honest, Steve, I'd rather be in that one there,
as opposed to the man-powered version, but we'll try. Right.
-How good are you at rowing?
We'll soon find out, won't we?
-Is that right?
-No, other way.
-Are you sure?
-You're the expert!
-I never said I was an expert!
Now go that way, No in, now in. Other way!
I keep losing me rowlock.
Matt's dodgy escapades might be off to a less-than-ship-shape start,
but the waters off the south coast are still a smuggling hotspot today.
So, while Matt is uncovering secrets of smugglers past,
I'm heading up the Beaulieu River
to get a taste of 21st-century crime-fighting upon the waves.
Meet the Hampshire police marine unit.
Their job is to keep the waterways safe and secure.
And that could mean facing anything
from modern-day smuggling to terrorism.
Here comes my ride.
Good day to catch some crims on the water - that's what I hope.
Don't laugh, Kerry! It's a serious business!
Well, we're not overrun with criminals, fortunately.
I'm getting the feeling this isn't going to be
the adrenalin-fuelled ride I was hoping for.
So this is your little kitchen away from your own kitchen at home?
That's the one.
We spend about...between six and up to eight hours on the boat a day,
so it's quite important that we've got some of the home comforts.
Absolutely. It's very important that you and Nick get on, as well.
Well, either that or one of us has got to be good at swimming!
But for Police Constables Nick McKinnon and Kerry Murray,
this is by no means a life messing about on the water.
There are millions of pounds of property here,
providing tempting targets for criminals, and the summertime brings
a surge of activity for thefts and other waterborne crime.
Patrolling this beat is a mammoth task.
What sort of area do you guys cover?
We cover the whole of the counties of Hampshire
and the Isle of Wight, the coastline.
-It is, it's a massive area.
-It's over 250 navigable miles of coastline.
-And how many vehicles?
Our fleet consists of the three launchers that you see.
With the area they have to patrol, policing our coastline
really does seem to be the blue line stretched thin.
And although I've joined them on the genteel waters of Beaulieu river,
this unit deals with its fair share of frontline crime.
Smuggling - still an issue for you?
Not so much for us on the bigger cases -
that's more the UK Border Agency.
However, there are things like people smuggling contraband -
smuggling on a smaller scale which we have to keep an eye out for.
There are plenty of little inlets and nooks and crannies where,
if people did have the intention to smuggle,
they very easily could do in this landscape, couldn't they?
Yeah, by the nature of the geography of where it is,
quite sparsely populated on the coast and you need the help
of the people because of the nature of the coastline in general.
Twitching curtains on board a boat.
Great, yeah, that's a way of putting it.
It's quite clear, talking to these guys, that they rely
very much on the community
and people sharing information with them.
So I almost feel duty-bound to tell them
about somebody I think might be up to no good.
Although these two are looking more like hapless cabin boys
than hardened criminals.
Ah, I think we've been rumbled.
What Matt doesn't know is that this sting
has been organised by the marine unit's newest recruit.
I've just seen Matt out of the window,
and he's really not sure if this is for real or not.
What's that lot down there?
-If you're referring to this...
-What is it?
-To be honest...I haven't a clue.
-Do us a favour.
We were asked to carry it.
-Can I ask you to jump on board a sec?
-That is the honest truth!
-Take a seat. Can I leave you with that line?
Right, grab a seat, mate.
Time for Officer Bradbury to get her man.
I-I-I-I-I knew it!
That's the one!
He's the dirty pirate!
-Oh, dear. What a laugh.
-Cuff him, please.
I'm going to get you do to exactly what I want now, Baker Boy.
-Right, look into the camera and say, "Happy Mother's Day."
-Happy Mother's Day.
-There we go, it worked.
-Oh, dear me.
Well, that's all we've got time for in the New Forest.
Next week, we'll be in Leicestershire,
-close to your home county.
-Yes, yes. yes. I'll be in Melton Mowbray,
finding out why it is the capital of rural food.
And I'll be lending a hand -
if I can get them out of these handcuffs -
on a farm that's keeping it very much in the family.
-That does suit you.
-You do like it?
-That's it anyway.
-Bye! Have you got the keys for these?
Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd
Matt Baker and Julia Bradbury visit the New Forest. Matt finds out how the local ponies are keeping an invasive pond weed in check, and Julia gets to grips with some big machinery to help clear the land for a special conservation project. Ellie Harrison is also in the New Forest, getting out of breath as she discovers the delights of adventure racing.
John Craven is in Scotland, where deer-stalking is a vital part of the Highland's economy. He investigates why huge numbers of them are being culled to make way for trees. Adam Henson keeps lots of rare breed chickens on his farm in the Cotswolds, but this week he looks to add some unusual egg-laying hens to his collection.