Matt Baker and Ellie Harrison travel to the Wye Valley. Matt dons his walking boots for a scenic walk with a difference to uncover some of the Wye's hidden gems.
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The Wye Valley.
A landscape that combines drama with a real sense of tranquillity.
Wooded glades, a meandering river
and spectacular views make up this Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
The Wye Valley has some of the most beautiful walks in the country
and I'm going to be taking on one of its most extreme. Wish us luck.
Straddling the English and Welsh border counties,
the valley was, for centuries, shaped by industry.
But today, it's ideal for wildlife.
I'll be using some cutting-edge technology
to get a badger's-eye view of the landscape.
For many people, veal is still considered to be a cruel meat,
but times have changed, welfare has improved,
so, couldn't eating more veal prevent the wasteful deaths
of many very young farm animals. That's what I'll be investigating.
Come on, then, pigs.
'And Adam's in the mood for matchmaking on his Cotswolds farm.'
Have a look in here. This is a nine-month-old Tamworth boar.
We're just about to let him into the woods.
He's got two lovely Tamworth wives waiting for him,
so I can't wait to see how he reacts.
The serenity of the Wye Valley.
Straddling the river here is Symonds Yat.
It's home to Herefordshire's most beautiful countryside.
The Wye has cut a deep gorge into the limestone here
exposing the stunning cliff faces that make this place so special.
And what better way to experience it
than a winter walk to blow away the cobwebs?
Nothing too strenuous, just nice and gentle.
That is, unless you're with this bloke. Sven, how are you doing?
-Pleased to meet you.
'Sven Hassall is trying to make people more aware of the countryside
'by guiding them on walks with a difference.
'I'm joining him on a stretch of the Wye
'that requires nerves of steel
if I'm going to discover it's real hidden gems.'
All these ropes would suggest this is pretty extreme walking, Sven.
-What's going on here?
-We're going to go for a walk down here.
What, all the way down there, are we?
Which is a route called the Trip. It's about 100 feet.
-Happy with that?
Do you know what? I'll give it a go. Yeah, I'm happy to try it.
'Not sure what I've signed up for. Before I throw myself off a cliff,
'Sven's quite literally showing me the ropes.'
An abseiling device called belay device,
depending on what we're using it for.
Last bit of terminology - we call this end
the dead end. There's a bit of a clue in the name.
-If you let go of it, guess what's going to happen?
Let's just run through that briefing one more time.
Why is it, at this stage, you always need to pee?
-Which brings me nicely into rule one of rock climbing.
-Always look cool.
Got to be something to do with safety.
-If you can't tie a knot, tie a lot.
-And safety, third.
Safety, third. OK. As long as I'm looking cool, that's the main thing.
'On a serious note, everything is safe as houses.
'I think Sven's just trying to put me at ease.'
Now, that is a canny drop.
'I can honestly say, a walk has never made my blood pump
'as much as this.
'The only way is down, as they say.'
-OK, right, and this is the dead end, yeah?
So, both hands on the dead end.
Bum back in a comedy fashion. Shoulders back.
Let yourself out slowly.
-So, remember rule number one.
-Always look cool.
Yeah, I'm doing my best.
I'll tell you what, why don't you just stop there for a minute.
I'll hold you on the safety. It's worth taking a look.
It's a pretty unique environment.
I started climbed about 12 years ago
and ended up in the Himalayas, Africa, Canada
and this is the place I always kept coming back to.
I'm not surprised. It's absolutely breathtaking. It's amazing.
'And I've got about 100 foot of cliff-walking to enjoy the view.'
-It takes a bit to look up and look around you.
-Hard to look down.
It's definitely worth it.
As lovely as it is, I am just concentrating on the rope!
Don't look down.
There's quite a sense of loneliness, isn't there?
To be this high up above the tree tops
and just gently lowering yourself down.
Here comes the overhang. Whoa, lovely.
Nearly got a fist planted in the rock, there.
Just hanging in space. Oh, that's lovely.
Nearly there now.
And there's the ground. That's a beauty. That's it, Sven.
'Sven The Mountain Goat makes it look like a walk in the park.'
My feet were technically still in contact with the ground
so, yeah, officially, I'm still walking.
Sven's larder here.
Good one. That's an absolute belter, that, isn't it?
Oh, and you've got breakfast, as well.
This is the crag that keeps on giving.
Right, what have you got there?
One of the things I like about rock climbing is you notice things
that previously, you would have ignored.
One of the things I really like here is the edible flora,
of which there's stacks in the valley.
You can literally munch your way around the Symonds Vat valley.
But there's this thing. It's called navelwort
and you can just about see, it looks a bit like a belly button.
So, that's the navel bit and the wort is an old English name for leaf.
I'll have that one cos that one's been in my mouth, but have a taste.
I'm getting runner beans.
No-one's ever said that before, but you're right.
I thought it was like very strong cucumber.
That's an interesting taste, that.
It's not just about the edible flora. There's so much here, you know,
so much detail and we've got a good example of that here.
This is a thing called mapmakers' lichen -
otherwise known as Matt Baker's lichen, if you like! -
but this is a symbiotic relationship between a fungus and an algae.
And what's really interesting about this one is
it grows at a very measurable rate,
so you can measure the size of it
and that shows you how long they've been uncovered for.
Commonly used in studies of glaciation.
As the glacier retreats, these are the first things that spring up on the rock.
But here, very useful to give us
an indication of when the activity stopped on the cliffs.
There are hundreds of walks for all abilities around the Wye Valley,
but most don't involve throwing yourself off a cliff.
This one continues for four and a half miles
of slightly easier terrain
but there are more challenges to come.
You don't want to slip here, do you?
Look at that.
Sven's heading off to rig my next surprise
and all will be revealed later in the programme.
But first, the chances are you've never tried veal before.
Either because you think the production of it is cruel
or you just can't find it in the shops.
This week, John is asking if it's time for that to change
and you may find some of the scenes in this film upsetting.
Each year, nearly half a million unwanted animals
are born on farms in the United Kingdom.
They're male dairy calves, bull calves,
effectively a by-product of the milk-producing process.
As unwelcome offspring, their prospects aren't good.
They're no use in a dairy herd,
most farmers see no profit in them as beef,
so many are simply slaughtered at birth.
So, why can't they be used instead to produce British veal?
They have less meat on them than animals bred for beef,
but if they're kept alive until they are suitable for veal,
surely that could make economic sense.
But there's a problem - public perception.
-Each section contains one week's intake, about 40 calves,
each in its own cubicle - its home for a lifetime.
Here, in 15 weeks, each calf will be fed to a massive 450-500 pounds,
three times the size of a normal calf.
In the past, veal hit the headlines for all the wrong reasons.
"White veal" used to be produced in the UK
by putting calves into cramped crates.
That, and the live export of animals,
led to protests, and the tragic death of a demonstrator only served highlight the issue further.
Protest did make a difference
and veal crates are now banned throughout the European Union.
But here, in Britain at least,
that doesn't seem to have changed people's attitudes.
Talk to shoppers on the high street today
and the controversy over veal is still fresh in their minds.
I don't eat veal. Never thought to even buy it.
I think it's probably pretty unethical. That's my impression.
I wouldn't buy veal, simply because of, you know,
the farming of it and whatever that they do.
In the past, I disapproved of the method of rearing it.
I still don't eat it. I never have, and I just choose not to.
So those people might be surprised that even experts
concerned with animal welfare are now backing UK-produced veal.
David Bowles is from the RSPCA.
We've moved on an awful long way in the last 20 years,
and now the RSPCA is saying to people, "Please eat veal,"
not only because it's good, but also the standards are good,
and if you don't eat it, there's not a market
for the farmer to put that animal into.
Then the other options are killing it
or sending it to the Continent,
where it's going to be reared in systems which are illegal here.
And how does British veal vary from Continental veal?
Well, in the UK, we abandoned the veal crate in 1990,
which is some 16 years before the rest of Europe.
Now, we don't, thankfully, have the veal-crate system in place.
It was a very intensive system,
and it was a great thing that it went out of production.
-So what happens now?
-We still have differences
between the way it's reared on the Continent, like in the Netherlands,
and here, particularly around bedding.
So here you tend to find veal is raised with bedding.
That's not necessarily the case on the Continent.
It's not just the lack of bedding.
There are still serious concerns
over the space given to veal calves in Europe
and over their milk-based diet.
But the way British rose veal is produced even gets the backing of Compassion In World Farming.
In fact, many people now feel that, done properly,
it's ethically correct to use bull calves for meat.
In veal production, calves are slaughtered
when they're between seven and eight months old.
That's roughly the same age as most pigs and lambs.
The wholesale price of veal is between that of beef and lamb,
but sales are just a fraction of the other two.
Currently, of the half a million bull calves born each year,
less than 1% are reared for veal.
David Tory is a fifth-generation dairy farmer.
He found himself shooting unwanted bull calves,
but then he made the big decision to rear them for veal.
Thank you, David.
Now, on many, many dairy farms, bull calves like these
would have been shot at birth, so why are yours still alive here?
We also, until about ten or 12 years ago,
were shooting our bull calves,
but I couldn't bear doing it. It was terrible for my sensibilities.
So we quickly stopped it.
We decided we had to try and find a viable alternative,
so we started to rear the bull calves from the herd up for beef.
Then, through a local partnership,
the opportunity came to start rearing for veal,
so we started to market and rear for veal, which keeps production costs down.
-You could slaughter them earlier.
-We could slaughter them earlier,
so the cash requirement was much lower.
-And is it working?
-It's working extremely well.
No farmer likes to have to kill animals just as they've been born.
No. There won't be a dairy farmer around
who got into dairy farming to shoot bull calves. Of that, I'm certain.
Dairy farmers want to rear and look after their animals,
they want to see them have a life of some sort, absolutely.
The rose veal that we produce here today is very different
from the veal that used to cause so much controversy.
But persuading those of us who eat meat to consider veal
is quite another matter.
So can it ever be a meat of the future?
That's what I'll be asking later.
ELLIE: The landscape here on the Welsh borders is simply beautiful.
I'm walking on a hilltop nature reserve high above the River Wye.
It's a great place for a stroll,
but here, as in many parts of the UK,
it's easy to walk past the signs of an animal
that has a mystique all of its own.
We seem to have a unique relationship with badgers.
These elusive creatures are one of our biggest wild animals,
but they command a range of emotions,
from affection and respect to fear and distrust.
And the controversy caused by the link between badgers
and the spread of TB in cattle
has only served to divide opinion even further.
But how much do we actually know about these large animals
that live unseen on our moors, hills and woodlands?
'Colin Gray has studied badgers
'in this part of the world for 20 years.'
-How are you doing? All right?
-Very well, thank you.
-So you're a fan of badgers, then?
-I am indeed.
Good, good to meet a fellow fan.
What makes you so passionate about them? Why do you like them?
I got involved in badgers probably about 20 years ago and they were,
to me, a very mysterious animal,
because you never saw them much in the daytime
but you could see them going underground at night.
-And I took it from there.
-So what kind of signs have we got?
-We've got a pophole here.
-What do you call it?!
-I've called them snuffleholes before.
-Snuffleholes or popholes.
-I think I like yours better.
-Probably, the badger's got a worm out of.
-You can see the scratching here.
-That's right, yeah.
Digging away, and then underneath all this leaf litter,
-hopefully, he'll have got some worms out of that, snuffling away.
-Some of the best diggers.
Fantastic. And where are the setts?
-The main sett is here, in front of us here now.
-Shall we take a look?
'In Britain, badgers are social animals.
'They live together in groups called clans
'made up of several adults and their cubs.
'Their home is a subterranean maze of burrows known as a sett.'
-That looks like something there.
Someone's been having a dig there quite recently.
Cos they clean out the setts quite often, don't they,
so this might have been a bit of bedding cleared out.
'An undisturbed sett like this can be centuries old.'
More signs of digging,
and it's an important time of year at the moment as well, isn't it?
It is, cos the young ones are being born now.
Any time onwards now, the young ones are underground.
It's quite amazing to think, isn't it, that they're so big
and yet so well hidden and at this time of year,
-looking after the cubs.
'The badgers' sett lies within a wider territory
'which the badgers patrol in search of food.'
What about their territories?
Once they come out looking for food, how far might they go?
-They could probably go to about a mile.
-All the way down to the river, that is!
-You have to remember, they have to get water.
It's a huge territory!
I am amazed to hear from Colin that the territory of the badgers
and the sett here up on the hill extends all the way down
to the banks of the river and I am keen to put that theory to the test,
so Colin's gone off down to the river's edge
to look for signs of badgers and I am going to catch up with him
in a little while, but in the meantime, I want to find out more
about their range and I am hoping that THAT is going to help.
-What is that, Rob, up there?!
-Well, good question!
This is called a quadcopter.
As you can see, four propellers - basically,
it's a gyrostabilised helicopter fitted with a live camera.
We can move gently across the grass, inches above it,
perfect for tracing badger trails.
'To navigate around their territories,
'badgers have their own pathways crisscrossing the landscape.
'These paths are often hard to detect and follow on foot,
'which is where the technology comes in.'
-What's with the goggles?
Put them on and have a look.
Oh, wow! So that's my monitor right here?
'The quadcopter gives us the chance to identify and track
'the badger's numerous paths and its low-flying ability
'allows us to experience the badger's journey
'across their territory.'
-That was amazing, Rob!
It's a bit breezy up here but nevertheless,
-the potential is there to get really close in.
I've sent Colin down to the river -
what are the chances of you filming him?
-Not with a quadcopter, but we'll give it a go with the plane.
'Rob's remote-control plane can fly higher
'and further than the quadcopter,
'enabling us to see the extent of the wider territory
'covered by the badgers.'
When you're walking on the hill,
you can't really get a feel for how big their territory is,
but when you're pulled back like that, up in the sky,
-you can really see how big it is.
-Exactly, it's a bird's-eye view.
'Time for us to catch up with Colin.'
Hello, Colin. I can see you on the monitor. Any sign of badgers down there?
Unfortunately, there's no signs of badgers down here, Ellie,
because I think the flood water's washed all the signs away.
What about on the way down there?
Did you see any prints or runs or even any hair in fences,
anything like that?
I saw some runs and some marks of digging halfway down the hill.
-I'm going to work my way back to that point now
and see what else I can find there.
Good work, you keep looking.
'Before long, Colin's made his way back uphill.
'Let's hope he's had more luck here.'
We're buzzing over your head now.
You're just over the brow of the hill.
Can you see any sign of the badgers?
I've found some evidence of a path coming up the bank, Ellie.
There's a hole in the bracken here.
It comes across then and there's some claw marks on the grass
that are quite visible here and then a very distinct path up the bank,
going back to the sett.
-Fantastic. Thank you, Colin, that's great.
-Thank you, Ellie.
That's brilliant news.
Although we haven't concluded that badgers from this sett
go all the way down to the river,
certainly there are a myriad of paths around the sett
that take them to where they need to go and that includes water
and the most likely source would be the river, all the way down there.
That's quite an impressive territory.
After spending the day finding out about badgers -
what they do, where they go and how they get there -
the one thing I haven't done is actually see a badger,
so I'm going to hunker down here, downwind of the sett.
It's dusk now and I'm going to keep my voice really low
and hope that at least one of the clan comes out.
(A lot of people think that badgers hibernate in the winter
(but, in fact, they don't.
(They are a lot less active and they do rely on stores of fat
(to keep them going,
(but they will come out and forage close to the sett.
(Just not tonight for me!)
Earlier, we heard how, in the UK at least,
there's been a dramatic change in the way that we produce veal,
so are we likely to start seeing it in our supermarkets?
Every year in the UK,
hundreds of thousands of unwanted bull calves in dairy herds
are shot at birth.
Using them to produce veal could stop their lives being wasted -
trouble is, many people still associate veal with cruelty.
These days, UK-produced rose veal
even comes with the approval of animal welfare groups.
With farmers now expected to apply very high welfare standards
to what, after all, let's face it,
is just a waste product of the dairy industry,
how come we're not seeing much more veal on the shelves
all around the country?
That's partly down to farmers
choosing to slaughter bull calves at birth
rather than investing in the cost of producing veal.
Martin Brake is a dairy farmer in Somerset.
For him, rearing dairy calves as veal is not a viable option.
You've got a large dairy herd, Martin, lots of calves -
why don't you go in for producing veal?
I haven't the space, initially. I'm quite constrained.
I've only enough room to keep my young stock for replacements,
and it's something I've not done before,
so I've really no skills as far as that's concerned.
Don't you think you could make a bit of money out of veal?
I mean, dairy farmers are having a bad time of it at the moment.
Probably, but I'd still need to invest in some facilities
to do the job
and I'd have to research
to see if the level of investment was justified.
Do you think the industry should be doing more to encourage
the likes of everyone to be eating veal?
I think we could, yes, yes, because there's something there...
There's a food source that's not being used
as well as it could be currently.
And it's such a waste!
A waste of a resource, so if you can find me someone
who will take these calves, put them on through a veal unit
and rear them on up,
well done, I'd be well pleased.
'David Tory, who I met earlier is doing just that.
'He buys 50 unwanted calves each week to rear for veal,
'but a limited market makes selling hard.'
This is our veal.
Veal producers like you are facing a real uphill struggle,
aren't you, if you're going to find a mass market?
It's the perception of veal that's our greatest challenge, really.
Veal is a very tasty product, it's very tender,
nutritionally speaking it's very good for you, very low in fat,
very high in protein,
so there's no reason why the product shouldn't sell,
but we're overcoming huge perception issues
from the old veal-rearing methods.
-And also, I think, from the retailers.
If we can get it onto the supermarket shelves
and people can see it
then hopefully that will give them confidence to buy it.
'The way to change public perception is to convince everyone
'the bad old days of white veal are gone.
'Today, it's all about high-welfare British rose veal.
'But will people actually like it?
'Michelin-starred chef Russell Brown
'has agreed to prepare some veal for us.'
I hadn't had veal on the menu until three or four years ago
and then we actively sought out a producer of English rose veal.
We tend to cook it fairly rare
because it's quite a dry meat that's very low in fat.
Texture-wise, people might say it's not quite as tender
but I think what you lose on that, you gain in the flavour.
-There we go.
-What have we got here, Russell?
This is a chargrilled rump of Jurassic Coast rose veal,
white bean casserole, pickled carrots and a veal jus.
Well, it looks delicious.
-And it tastes delicious as well. It's very tender, isn't it?
-And you're right, a beefy taste to that.
-A stronger flavour than I thought.
-I'd eat this any day.
Especially with a Michelin-starred chef preparing it for me!
'It gets the thumbs-up from me, but what will our shoppers think of it?
'Back to the high street to put veal to the test.'
-Low in cholesterol? Low-fat?
-It's very tasty.
-It's absolutely lovely! Really, really nice.
What do you think?
That's very tasty, it's obviously been cooked very well.
-Perhaps we don't know how to cook it properly.
-Might you be converted?
-I could eat that! Mmm!
'It'll take more than the opinions of a few shoppers
'to make a real change,
'but major retailers are now taking this on board
'and a forum has been created to get producers talking to sellers.
'After all, making veal highly visible on meat counters
'is crucial to building a market.
'The people behind this push for veal are from the RSPCA.'
If it's such a good food, why isn't there more of it on sale?
Because it has to be economically viable for the farmer.
They have to have a route into market
and it also has to make them money.
The RSPCA understands that.
What we've started to see is retailers
and also some of the fast-food companies like McDonald's
starting to take those animals and use them in their sales.
That's important, because it encourages the farmer
to go to market
and it also drives up the price of the animal,
so they start to make a profit and it's at that stage
where you start to see the difference occurring.
The farmer decides to rear on rather than to kill the animal at birth.
If food retailers really get behind it, veal could bring new profits
to farmers and stop all that wasteful slaughter but the final decision
is down to you and me - whether we develop a taste for British veal.
Later on Countryfile,
Matt explores the hidden heritage of the Wye Valley.
I'd love to look down but I can't quite tilt my neck!
Down on the farm, the new arrivals are demanding Adam's attention.
Ooh, there's a lovely pig!
And for farmers and everyone else,
there's the Countryfile five-day forecast.
Now, while I've been throwing myself off sheer drops in the Wye Valley,
Jules is headed to a forest which has a surprise at its heart.
Deep in the woodlands of the Herefordshire countryside
lies a bit of an oasis, something you might not necessarily expect -
I say "apparently" because the powers-that-be at Countryfile HQ
have given me nothing more
than a grid reference and a brief description.
I'm looking for a forest in which - wait for it! -
is a man called Sherwood.
You couldn't make it up, really!
And I am being honest with you here
when I say I haven't got a clue what I'm going to find.
It's a sawmill, it's got to be a sawmill.
An old bus.
Sherwood! HE LAUGHS
Nice to see you, sir! How are you?
All right, thank you, yes.
Now, I've been told absolutely nothing about where we are,
what you're doing here, but driving in, piles of timber everywhere,
we're in this lovely forest - I mean, clearly,
you must be some sort of woodsman.
Hmm, yes, haven't always been a woodsman.
I was in industry for 19 years before I was lucky enough to escape.
-Is this home?
-It is home, yes. I've been in that bus now since 1989...
-..and I've been here since 1996.
-Come on, show me round!
-Come on! Let's have a look!
-Erm, here we go, past the brewery.
-I'll explain everything shortly.
You'll need plenty of that up here.
How many acres have you got here in total, then?
40 acres, which is plenty to play in.
Plenty to play in?! Plenty to get lost in!
'Let's get this straight. Sherwood left the rat race 15 years ago
'to live in a bus in a forest on his own.
'He tells me he now makes his living making charcoal,
'restoring buildings and he also runs training courses in woodland crafts.'
-There's the hens.
-I love it!
But, I'm still in the dark about where he's leading me.
You're joking, what is this?
A workshop with a small space at the end for accommodation.
This is the kind of thing I've always dreamt of.
This clearing I've created,
all of the timber that came from here is all going to go back into the house.
I absolutely salute your ambition for this. I love it.
-Thank you very much.
-I absolutely love it.
When you get inside this, it really does start to come to life.
That's when you can appreciate just how tall it is.
-And you haven't had to do it all on your own.
How are you?
How'd you get them in, what's in it for them?
I lured them in with the promise of beer and food. It seems to work.
This is the homebrew we saw earlier?
That's the reason for the brewery. I get a lot out of it, too.
I think we're all teaching each other.
A lot of the skills that I've acquired,
I've learned from other people, not from books.
Hopefully, some of what I know I can pass back to them.
It's always a pleasure to work with wood. It's as simple as that.
Getting the tools out, selecting the right piece and seeing the joy
when you deliver what it is you've made.
How long is it going to take you to finish this off?
I don't want to rush this.
So much of my life is spent rushing to finish
and meeting other people's deadlines.
I haven't set myself a deadline.
I want this to be a joy and it won't be if I feel under pressure,
even if it's self-imposed.
'When finished, the workshop will boast three good-sized rooms,
'one for living accommodation and two for his woodwork
'and the walls will be made of straw bales.'
This looks like a job about to happen.
This is a larch tree, which unfortunately got blown down in the last couple of days.
I need a piece to make one of the beams in the house.
-It's done the hard work for us.
-It's chosen the direction it's going to fall in,
we don't have to decide.
Although, a good job it went that way and not that way?
That would have ruined someone's sleep, wouldn't it?
-Who lives in there?
-That's Jack, he's one of the volunteers
and fortunately he's not here this week.
Yes, it could have given him a nasty surprise.
A very nasty surprise.
What do we need to do with this?
Clean off the branches, cut it to length and you can carry it out.
-All on my own?
-All on your own. You might get a little bit of help.
'Building materials don't get more locally sourced than this.
'The only energy used today, apart from a couple of machines,
'is mine and the team's.' Beautiful.
-'Music to my ears.'
'It also gives me the opportunity
'to catch up with the other folk helping in Sherwood's forest.'
-This is fabulous. Wow! Hi, everybody.
This is clearly the centre of operations, isn't it?
-It's where most of the work is done.
-Who's in charge of the kitchen?
-Ah, well, Tom today.
-Is that right?
Hello, Tom, nice to see you.
What is in it for you, Tom, as a volunteer?
The way of life. Everything is connected.
Everything that goes into the house comes out of the woods.
Waste, we stick on the fire
and that goes into baking our bread and keeping our tea.
Not to draw out the Robin Hood analogy too far,
but you are creating what seems to be a very happy band of men,
and women in the corner there.
-Who have we got there?
-That's another convict.
Did you say another convict?
-See her ball and chain, she can't go far.
-What are you making, Jo?
I'm making a teaspoon.
-With so many visitors, I thought we needed some more.
That's terrific. Nothing goes to waste, does it?
No, not even the small bits. We have an application for those.
'But there's no rest for the wicked.
'Tom's going to show me the structure from a different perspective.
'Let's hope I've got a head for heights.'
-Wow! How about it? Amazing!
-A nice place to watch the sunset.
You get a real sense of the architecture of the whole structure.
Let's get the tape out.
Yes, four by two.
Four by two.
140 and a half.
'As it's the middle of winter,
'there's not enough light for a full day's work.
'After a little more measuring and drilling, it's time to down tools.
'And it's a chance for me to find out
'why these last few months have been so special for Sherwood.'
I spent 15 years living and working in this woodland.
Mainly with one helper and they've gone home at five o'clock.
But this summer,
I've had people here, living in my world, without a break all summer.
The evenings filled with music and laughter and people playing guitars.
It's been quite a joyful time, really. I've been very blessed.
You know, when I came out here this morning all I knew
was that I was looking for a forest and a man named Sherwood.
But, as you can see, I discovered a lot more than that.
'It's not just Sherwood who's made his home
'in these Herefordshire woods,
'nestled deep in the forest in the Golden Valley,
'a family of pigs are also thriving under the canopy of the trees.
'Adam's taking a break from his normal farm duties to find out
'what life is like for pigs living in the woods.'
I've got about 70 pigs of four different breeds
on my farm in the Cotswolds.
Some live outdoors and others we bring into the sheds to fatten up.
When I heard about a man
who keeps all his rare breed pigs out in woodland,
I couldn't resist the opportunity to come and check it out.
Ray Harris has been farming pigs in these woods for over 15 years.
He thinks there are real benefits to rearing them this way.
-How are you?
-Hello, Adam, nice to meet you.
-Good to meet you.
-Nice to meet you too.
-What a lovely Tamworth sow, isn't she gorgeous?
She's getting on a bit now but yes, she's really good.
We've just weaned a litter off her.
You're keeping pigs,
but your background is forestry. How did it all come about?
The idea is that the pigs are actually a tool
we use in the woodlands to help the ecosystem of the forestry.
In the spring, when you've got the shoots coming through,
especially in the Herefordshire area, where we are now,
you get a lot of bramble.
If the woodland activities have opened up space in the forestry,
the canopy has gone.
If you can get in there and start to control the woodlands
by using the pigs, hopefully a lot more of these flowers
and a lot more different habitat is there for the wildlife as well.
I keep Tamworths at home and they can be quite destructive.
They'll wreck pasture. Do they cause a lot of damage?
If they are left here for too long.
That's the idea of sectioning different areas.
If you put them into the wood to free range,
then you've got no control on the areas that they are to manage.
-Are they happy in the woods?
-Take a look for yourself. They love it.
This is their habitat.
'In another woodland, high up
'on the hilltop, Ray keeps two young female Tamworths.
'Every five years, Ray starts a new bloodline to prevent interbreeding.
'Today, one fortunate Tamworth boar will be making this his new home.'
-Why have you got the boar in here?
-I've just recently purchased him
and it's going to be his first time to be released into the woodland.
-Anything could happen?
-It could do, it could do.
I'm hoping everything goes to plan and he'll settle in really well.
All right, then, fella.
He's so lucky, he's got a lake, wonderful woodland,
a fantastic view and two beautiful wives.
Come on then, boy, come and meet your lovely ladies.
Come on, then. That's it.
-He certainly seems very happy.
-He's loving it, isn't he?
Already those instincts are kicking in,
first time in the woodlands, first time to water.
-Is he going to cross the water, do you think?
-I don't know.
There again, look at him now. He's actually in there, isn't he?
-He is loving it.
-He is really enjoying that.
I'm chuffed to bits with that.
This chomping, and all the froth around the mouth,
that's him asserting his dominance to the females, isn't it?
It is, and there's been no nastiness about it.
They've taken to him really well.
He's been up to them, really smelling around them
-and none of this argy-bargy which sometimes occurs.
-They can fight, can't they?
Yes, a little bit of damage could be caused.
Looks like there's a bit of love in the air.
-I think so. He's trying to mate up with her now, isn't he?
-Would she be in season, do you think?
-I don't think she is yet
but she is standing for him.
We'll just have to mark the date down.
It's paradise for pigs, isn't it? It couldn't be better.
If I was a pig, this is where I would want to live.
Yes, I love coming up here and feeding them.
Look, he's in the water now.
It's been an eye-opener
-seeing pigs living like this.
-It's been a privilege having you here.
We'll have to see if we can fix something back at home,
-get mine into the woods.
-Best place for them.
I've got lots of work to do so I better head for home.
-Thanks very much.
I think Ray's got a wonderful set-up here.
It's great way for those pigs to live.
Pigs give birth all year round
and I've got some sows at home that have given birth recently
so I need to get back, there's plenty of jobs to be done.
I keep lots of pigs on this farm and every one of them
presents a challenge.
Looking after young pigs
is a bit like looking after a gang of misbehaving teenagers.
Come on, then. These are my kunekune pigs.
They're a New Zealand bush pig
and one of the smallest pigs in this country now.
They're a great smallholder's pig - because they're little themselves,
they don't take up very much room. They're very easy to handle,
they're quite quiet and these piglets here are about a month old.
They all belong to this sow. She's got ten of them. They're very sweet.
They come in all sorts of colours.
There's a lovely pig.
I love keeping them, they're just great little pigs, really.
They live out here very happily.
We'll take them off their mother in about another month
and then she'll go back to the boar
and the gestation period of a pig from mating to birth
is three months, three weeks and three days.
They've got a shelter over there and water over there.
'While the kunekunes enjoy the outdoors,
'one of my Gloucester old spot sows
'is in the comfort of the stable with her new litter.
'Mike and I need to ear-tag the piglets.
'As Mum's very protective of them, we need to separate her from her young.'
Whoa, little one, whoa, whoa, whoa!
Just hold their noses so they don't bite me,
and so they don't squeal too much.
Gloucestershire old spots are our county breed and they're famous
for grazing the apple orchards of the Avon Vale and they say
the apples dropping from the trees bruised their skin
and gave them these black spots,
so we put the tags in the ears. Mike's just put
some surgical spirits on, and then it's just like
having your ear pierced, hardly feels it going in,
and on the tag is an individual number
and on the back is our pig herd number.
That's just a bit of antiseptic to stop it going septic.
'With that job done,
'it's time to turn my attention to some of my larger pigs -
'they're almost ready for market.'
These pigs here are about five months old,
and back in the summer,
my little ginger friend here had a bit of a rocky start.
'Fortunately, one of my Gloucester old spots sows came to the rescue.'
She's adopted this little Tamworth
that was outside and got kicked by one of my Exmoor ponies.
I thought it was going to die
and I put it in with this sow who had recently farrowed,
and she now loves it
and it's suckling with all its new little brothers and sisters.
Because she's only had five, there's plenty of milk to go round.
'And that was last summer.'
This one was the one that was adopted onto her and this Tamworth is really lovely.
It's doing very, very well.
The Tamworths are different to the Gloucester.
They've got pricky ears and they're quite alert -
they're the same breed as Ray's got running around in the woods -
and the Gloucester has these floppy ears,
which means they're slightly more docile.
Often they can't see and they bump into things.
Right, this pig weighs about 58, 59 kilos.
For pork, we want them to be 70, 75, so he's still got about three weeks to go.
This is one of the adopted sisters
to that Tamworth, she's a Gloucester old spot
and she weighs about 10 kilos lighter,
but she's a couple of weeks younger, so that makes about sense,
and really, I suppose,
it may seem a bit strange,
trying to save a pig's life and then rearing it,
and sending it off for meat, but that's what farming's all about.
We care for these animals
and we love them and we want to do well by them
during their lives and then produce a good product at the end of the day.
'Next week, I'm heading to Wales to see how farmers moved livestock
'before the time of motorised transport.'
'Earlier, I was experiencing the beauty of the Wye Valley
'in a rather extreme way
'on a walk with a bit of a difference.'
As lovely as it is, I am just concentrating
on the rope. Don't look down.
'But I'm told, where we're heading, it's all going to be worth it.
'Sven, my guide, has set up a little surprise at the end of the trek.
'We're heading for Pancake Caves.' Right, so the "walk" continues!
-I lied, actually, there's no walking on this one.
-Oh, right, OK.
-I'm going to lower you on this one.
I have to say, this is probably the most memorable walk
-that I've ever been on.
-OK, Matt, when you're ready.
-Come on down.
-Just pop under there for me.
Oh, my word!
Are you lowering me into there, are you?
That is a drop and a half. How far is that down there?
-You've got about 20 foot of squeezed chimney.
And then at some point, your feet are going to dangle in space
-and you're going to have another 20 feet to the cave.
This is the ultimate in trust, then?
There's obviously a limit of the people you can actually get into this bit.
Depends on how much you like your cake.
I think there's a view down there, but I've never really looked.
I was going to say, I'd love to look down, but I can't tilt my neck.
-Got a nice view of the rock, anyway!
My feet are, my knees are...
Right, so just let me know when you're on the floor.
And whoo! Oh, my goodness me!
Look at this.
That is incredible.
Look at this place. Cool.
OK, so it wasn't walking, but it's pretty cool, isn't it?
-It's some place, innit, this?
-What do you reckon?
-So, this is Pancake Caves, then, is it?
-Yeah, this is the Pancake Caves.
-And why is it called Pancake Caves?
But it's pretty special, isn't it?
Yeah. I mean, there's gorgeous scenery outside,
but you've saved the best till last.
-So this is one of a number of caves in the valley.
They're all naturally formed, but almost all of them have been subject
-to some mining at some point or other.
Mining stopped here about 200 years ago.
It wasn't just for the rock.
We've been mining here for iron, coal, all sorts.
Take a look at these.
Oh, look. Mini stalactites.
So what we've got here is, um... the rock is limestone.
It's sedimentary rock made up of... the main thing is calcium carbonate.
It's just the remains of billions of marine creatures
and you can see the water seeps through it over time
and dissolves the minerals and when it gets to a low point
as it's doing here, it drops off,
but, in doing so, leaves some of the minerals behind
and that's where your stalactites grow.
If you take a look at these, Matt...
If you imagine the rate of growth of these, it's O.18 millimetres a year,
so, something like this,
you're looking at easily 200 years of history.
It's incredibly humbling, actually.
It's amazing. What's really cool as well,
if you look at your feet, when the water drips off,
it leaves some calcium carbonate behind, which forms a stalactite...
-..but not all of it is left behind,
some of it continues onto the floor.
That's where you can see the drops there.
Eventually you'll get the opposite building up,
a lot slower, because less calcium carbonate is coming down, but you'll get stalagmites growing back up.
-And then they'll connect like columns eventually.
-But we won't be here to see this one.
-That's for sure.
In a moment, Ellie will be taking to the water
to find out how a restoration project
is making the most of the valley's industrial past
and creating a playground for canoeists,
but first if you're planning on making the most of the landscape
for the week ahead,
let's see what the weather's got in store with the Countryfile forecast.
'Matt and I have been exploring the wilds of the Wye Valley,
'one of the most dramatic landscapes in Britain.
'I've been finding out
'about the secret life of one of our biggest native wild animals,
'while Matt's been going to the extreme on a scenic walk,
'but he's not having all the fun
'because I'm going to be taking on the might of the River Wye.'
It's one of the most popular rivers for kayakers in the UK.
The navigable part stretches uninterrupted for 100 miles.
I'm just going to paddle a small section of it.
It's very windy today and, as you can see,
the river's already swollen, so there will be some challenges.
I've got a camera on my helmet and a couple on the boat so you can enjoy the journey with me.
'I'm not doing this on my own.
'Paul Howells is my guide.
'He's been paddling this stretch of the river for over 40 years,
'so I'm in safe hands.'
So, Paul, you know this area incredibly well.
How has it changed over the years?
-Well, it's very much now a tourist destination.
-How did it used to be?
Well, just a very industrial, commercial area
from iron ore smelting
to the mining, shipping transport up and down to Hereford, etc.
God, that's quite hard to imagine now - it looks so serene,
it looks like it's always been this way,
-but it looked different, didn't it?
'I thought I might face some challenges
'on the river today, and I was right.
'It wasn't long before the elements got the better of me.'
It's so windy today!
-Right, hang on, I need to right...
Grab hold of the front of my boat.
-That was, er, not quite intended.
-Hang on to your boat.
'I've kayaked a lot in the past but that was quite a moment.
'The cold water really takes your breath away.
'Thankfully, Paul was on hand to help.'
So, Paul, apart from the fact that you can get a very fresh wash,
what makes this area so appealing for canoeists and kayakers?
Two things, really. One is the river's a free right of navigation,
so that means you can just get on and paddle down the river,
and then the other appeal is the Symonds Yat Rapids,
and many of our great white-water paddlers
have started at some point at Symonds Yat.
'The rapids further downstream were formed
'when iron-ore slag was dumped into the river
'during the industrial era.
'It created an island which forced the water into a channel,
'but in recent years, erosion has threatened the island's
'and the rapids' very existence.
'Working with the Environment Agency,
'an action group, chaired by Paul, set about protecting the island.
'Time to get my feet on dry land.'
Whoo! At least I've warmed up.
'I'm meeting David Holland to get a progress report
'on the final phase of the project.'
-Are you all right there, David?
-Hello, Ellie, how are you?
-It's a bit treacherous down here.
-A bit slippy, yes, yes.
-So what work are you doing?
-We've been coppicing some of the larger trees
to take some of the weight out of them,
so they don't get pulled out during big floods.
Is that what you've got here, some of what's left of that work?
Yes, these are live willow branches.
We're going to be working on the island
to try and stabilise the island from erosion.
My goodness! That looks very vulnerable
with the river flowing this fast and high.
Most of it is underwater, the water's flowing fast over it
-and it's actively eroding at quite a rapid rate.
-Let's take one of these -
these willow bundles - what happens to this?
As I say, this is a live branch, so when it's laid in the river or on the soil...
We lay it down like this?
Yes, we'll drop it in here, then we'll sink it down.
Willow has got the amazing ability
to regrow where you lay it down and the branch touches the soil,
the plant will start grow again from a cutting.
In these big floods, the fine sediment gets trapped
amongst the roughness of the branches,
and then you'll get grasses coming in
which will stabilise the bank and start to build up the island.
It's critical to keeping the rapids going.
-If the island goes, the rapids go.
'And it's those rapids that draw
'thousands of tourists here each year,
'even a hardcore few on a cold day in January.'
Well, they can't have ALL the fun.
I definitely want a piece of that.
After all, what's the worst that can happen?
I've already been wet today.
Head for the waves now, on the left.
-There's some white water!
I'm telling you, it's fast!
I thought I might find you here
-by the emergency lifeline.
-Yes, very funny.
-It was very cold.
-You dried off, then?
-I have at last!
I'm very happy to say that that's all we've got time for from the beautiful Wye Valley.
The memories you're going take away from this place.
Next week, we'll be on Guernsey in the Channel Islands,
harvesting a local delicacy.
-Hope you can join us then.
Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd
E-mail [email protected]
Matt Baker and Ellie Harrison travel to the Wye Valley, with its gently picturesque countryside. Matt dons his walking boots for a scenic walk with a difference to uncover some of the Wye's hidden gems. It is a walk that requires a head for heights and nerves of steel.
Ellie takes to the water to find out how a restoration project is capitalising on the valley's industrial heritage to create rapids for canoeists. Back on dry land, she uses some cutting edge technology to get a badger's eye view of the landscape.
Adam Henson is also in Herefordshire. He meets a forester farming his herd of pigs in the woods. After the controversy of the past, John Craven asks whether it is time for people to consider buying veal again.