22/01/2012 Countryfile


22/01/2012

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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Transcript


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The Wye Valley.

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A landscape that combines drama with a real sense of tranquillity.

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Wooded glades, a meandering river

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and spectacular views make up this Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

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The Wye Valley has some of the most beautiful walks in the country

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and I'm going to be taking on one of its most extreme. Wish us luck.

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Straddling the English and Welsh border counties,

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the valley was, for centuries, shaped by industry.

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But today, it's ideal for wildlife.

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I'll be using some cutting-edge technology

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to get a badger's-eye view of the landscape.

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For many people, veal is still considered to be a cruel meat,

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but times have changed, welfare has improved,

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so, couldn't eating more veal prevent the wasteful deaths

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of many very young farm animals. That's what I'll be investigating.

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Come on, then, pigs.

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'And Adam's in the mood for matchmaking on his Cotswolds farm.'

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Have a look in here. This is a nine-month-old Tamworth boar.

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We're just about to let him into the woods.

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He's got two lovely Tamworth wives waiting for him,

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so I can't wait to see how he reacts.

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The serenity of the Wye Valley.

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Straddling the river here is Symonds Yat.

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It's home to Herefordshire's most beautiful countryside.

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The Wye has cut a deep gorge into the limestone here

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exposing the stunning cliff faces that make this place so special.

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And what better way to experience it

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than a winter walk to blow away the cobwebs?

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Nothing too strenuous, just nice and gentle.

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That is, unless you're with this bloke. Sven, how are you doing?

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-All right?

-Pleased to meet you.

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'Sven Hassall is trying to make people more aware of the countryside

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'by guiding them on walks with a difference.

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'I'm joining him on a stretch of the Wye

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'that requires nerves of steel

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if I'm going to discover it's real hidden gems.'

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All these ropes would suggest this is pretty extreme walking, Sven.

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-What's going on here?

-We're going to go for a walk down here.

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What, all the way down there, are we?

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Which is a route called the Trip. It's about 100 feet.

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-Unbelievable.

-Happy with that?

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Do you know what? I'll give it a go. Yeah, I'm happy to try it.

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'Not sure what I've signed up for. Before I throw myself off a cliff,

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'Sven's quite literally showing me the ropes.'

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An abseiling device called belay device,

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depending on what we're using it for.

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Last bit of terminology - we call this end

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the dead end. There's a bit of a clue in the name.

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-If you let go of it, guess what's going to happen?

-Great.

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Let's just run through that briefing one more time.

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THEY LAUGH

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Why is it, at this stage, you always need to pee?

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THEY LAUGH

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-Which brings me nicely into rule one of rock climbing.

-Go on.

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-Always look cool.

-Right, OK.

-Rule two?

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Got to be something to do with safety.

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-If you can't tie a knot, tie a lot.

-OK, good.

-And safety, third.

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Safety, third. OK. As long as I'm looking cool, that's the main thing.

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'On a serious note, everything is safe as houses.

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'I think Sven's just trying to put me at ease.'

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Now, that is a canny drop.

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'I can honestly say, a walk has never made my blood pump

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'as much as this.

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'The only way is down, as they say.'

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-OK, right, and this is the dead end, yeah?

-Perfect.

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So, both hands on the dead end.

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Bum back in a comedy fashion. Shoulders back.

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Let yourself out slowly.

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-So, remember rule number one.

-Yeah.

-Always look cool.

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Yeah, I'm doing my best.

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I'll tell you what, why don't you just stop there for a minute.

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I'll hold you on the safety. It's worth taking a look.

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It's a pretty unique environment.

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I started climbed about 12 years ago

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and ended up in the Himalayas, Africa, Canada

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and this is the place I always kept coming back to.

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I'm not surprised. It's absolutely breathtaking. It's amazing.

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'And I've got about 100 foot of cliff-walking to enjoy the view.'

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-It takes a bit to look up and look around you.

-Hard to look down.

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It's definitely worth it.

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As lovely as it is, I am just concentrating on the rope!

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Don't look down.

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There's quite a sense of loneliness, isn't there?

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To be this high up above the tree tops

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and just gently lowering yourself down.

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Here comes the overhang. Whoa, lovely.

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HE LAUGHS

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Nearly got a fist planted in the rock, there.

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Just hanging in space. Oh, that's lovely.

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Nearly there now.

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And there's the ground. That's a beauty. That's it, Sven.

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'Sven The Mountain Goat makes it look like a walk in the park.'

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Very invigorating.

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My feet were technically still in contact with the ground

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so, yeah, officially, I'm still walking.

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Sven's larder here.

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Good one. That's an absolute belter, that, isn't it?

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Oh, and you've got breakfast, as well.

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This is the crag that keeps on giving.

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Right, what have you got there?

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One of the things I like about rock climbing is you notice things

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that previously, you would have ignored.

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One of the things I really like here is the edible flora,

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of which there's stacks in the valley.

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You can literally munch your way around the Symonds Vat valley.

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But there's this thing. It's called navelwort

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and you can just about see, it looks a bit like a belly button.

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So, that's the navel bit and the wort is an old English name for leaf.

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I'll have that one cos that one's been in my mouth, but have a taste.

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I'm getting runner beans.

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No-one's ever said that before, but you're right.

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I thought it was like very strong cucumber.

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That's an interesting taste, that.

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It's not just about the edible flora. There's so much here, you know,

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so much detail and we've got a good example of that here.

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This is a thing called mapmakers' lichen -

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otherwise known as Matt Baker's lichen, if you like! -

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but this is a symbiotic relationship between a fungus and an algae.

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And what's really interesting about this one is

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it grows at a very measurable rate,

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so you can measure the size of it

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and that shows you how long they've been uncovered for.

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Commonly used in studies of glaciation.

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As the glacier retreats, these are the first things that spring up on the rock.

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But here, very useful to give us

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an indication of when the activity stopped on the cliffs.

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There are hundreds of walks for all abilities around the Wye Valley,

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but most don't involve throwing yourself off a cliff.

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This one continues for four and a half miles

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of slightly easier terrain

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but there are more challenges to come.

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You don't want to slip here, do you?

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Look at that.

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Sven's heading off to rig my next surprise

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and all will be revealed later in the programme.

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But first, the chances are you've never tried veal before.

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Either because you think the production of it is cruel

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or you just can't find it in the shops.

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This week, John is asking if it's time for that to change

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and you may find some of the scenes in this film upsetting.

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Each year, nearly half a million unwanted animals

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are born on farms in the United Kingdom.

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They're male dairy calves, bull calves,

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effectively a by-product of the milk-producing process.

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As unwelcome offspring, their prospects aren't good.

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They're no use in a dairy herd,

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most farmers see no profit in them as beef,

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so many are simply slaughtered at birth.

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So, why can't they be used instead to produce British veal?

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They have less meat on them than animals bred for beef,

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but if they're kept alive until they are suitable for veal,

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surely that could make economic sense.

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But there's a problem - public perception.

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-NEWSREEL:

-Each section contains one week's intake, about 40 calves,

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each in its own cubicle - its home for a lifetime.

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Here, in 15 weeks, each calf will be fed to a massive 450-500 pounds,

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three times the size of a normal calf.

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In the past, veal hit the headlines for all the wrong reasons.

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"White veal" used to be produced in the UK

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by putting calves into cramped crates.

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That, and the live export of animals,

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led to protests, and the tragic death of a demonstrator only served highlight the issue further.

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Protest did make a difference

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and veal crates are now banned throughout the European Union.

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But here, in Britain at least,

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that doesn't seem to have changed people's attitudes.

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Talk to shoppers on the high street today

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and the controversy over veal is still fresh in their minds.

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I don't eat veal. Never thought to even buy it.

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I think it's probably pretty unethical. That's my impression.

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I wouldn't buy veal, simply because of, you know,

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the farming of it and whatever that they do.

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In the past, I disapproved of the method of rearing it.

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I still don't eat it. I never have, and I just choose not to.

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So those people might be surprised that even experts

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concerned with animal welfare are now backing UK-produced veal.

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David Bowles is from the RSPCA.

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We've moved on an awful long way in the last 20 years,

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and now the RSPCA is saying to people, "Please eat veal,"

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not only because it's good, but also the standards are good,

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and if you don't eat it, there's not a market

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for the farmer to put that animal into.

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Then the other options are killing it

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or sending it to the Continent,

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where it's going to be reared in systems which are illegal here.

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And how does British veal vary from Continental veal?

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Well, in the UK, we abandoned the veal crate in 1990,

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which is some 16 years before the rest of Europe.

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Now, we don't, thankfully, have the veal-crate system in place.

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It was a very intensive system,

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and it was a great thing that it went out of production.

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-So what happens now?

-We still have differences

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between the way it's reared on the Continent, like in the Netherlands,

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and here, particularly around bedding.

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So here you tend to find veal is raised with bedding.

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That's not necessarily the case on the Continent.

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It's not just the lack of bedding.

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There are still serious concerns

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over the space given to veal calves in Europe

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and over their milk-based diet.

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But the way British rose veal is produced even gets the backing of Compassion In World Farming.

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In fact, many people now feel that, done properly,

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it's ethically correct to use bull calves for meat.

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In veal production, calves are slaughtered

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when they're between seven and eight months old.

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That's roughly the same age as most pigs and lambs.

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The wholesale price of veal is between that of beef and lamb,

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but sales are just a fraction of the other two.

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Currently, of the half a million bull calves born each year,

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less than 1% are reared for veal.

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David Tory is a fifth-generation dairy farmer.

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He found himself shooting unwanted bull calves,

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but then he made the big decision to rear them for veal.

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Thank you, David.

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Now, on many, many dairy farms, bull calves like these

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would have been shot at birth, so why are yours still alive here?

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We also, until about ten or 12 years ago,

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were shooting our bull calves,

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but I couldn't bear doing it. It was terrible for my sensibilities.

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So we quickly stopped it.

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We decided we had to try and find a viable alternative,

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so we started to rear the bull calves from the herd up for beef.

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Then, through a local partnership,

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the opportunity came to start rearing for veal,

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so we started to market and rear for veal, which keeps production costs down.

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-You could slaughter them earlier.

-We could slaughter them earlier,

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so the cash requirement was much lower.

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-And is it working?

-It's working extremely well.

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No farmer likes to have to kill animals just as they've been born.

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No. There won't be a dairy farmer around

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who got into dairy farming to shoot bull calves. Of that, I'm certain.

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Dairy farmers want to rear and look after their animals,

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they want to see them have a life of some sort, absolutely.

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The rose veal that we produce here today is very different

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from the veal that used to cause so much controversy.

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But persuading those of us who eat meat to consider veal

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is quite another matter.

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So can it ever be a meat of the future?

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That's what I'll be asking later.

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ELLIE: The landscape here on the Welsh borders is simply beautiful.

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I'm walking on a hilltop nature reserve high above the River Wye.

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It's a great place for a stroll,

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but here, as in many parts of the UK,

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it's easy to walk past the signs of an animal

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that has a mystique all of its own.

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We seem to have a unique relationship with badgers.

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These elusive creatures are one of our biggest wild animals,

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but they command a range of emotions,

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from affection and respect to fear and distrust.

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And the controversy caused by the link between badgers

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and the spread of TB in cattle

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has only served to divide opinion even further.

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But how much do we actually know about these large animals

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that live unseen on our moors, hills and woodlands?

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'Colin Gray has studied badgers

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'in this part of the world for 20 years.'

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-How are you doing? All right?

-Very well, thank you.

-Good!

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-So you're a fan of badgers, then?

-I am indeed.

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Good, good to meet a fellow fan.

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What makes you so passionate about them? Why do you like them?

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I got involved in badgers probably about 20 years ago and they were,

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to me, a very mysterious animal,

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because you never saw them much in the daytime

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but you could see them going underground at night.

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-Yeah.

-And I took it from there.

-So what kind of signs have we got?

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-We've got a pophole here.

-What do you call it?!

-A pophole.

-A pophole?

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-I've called them snuffleholes before.

-Snuffleholes or popholes.

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-I think I like yours better.

-Probably, the badger's got a worm out of.

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-You can see the scratching here.

-That's right, yeah.

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Digging away, and then underneath all this leaf litter,

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-hopefully, he'll have got some worms out of that, snuffling away.

-Yep.

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-Some of the best diggers.

-That's right.

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Fantastic. And where are the setts?

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-The main sett is here, in front of us here now.

-Brilliant.

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-Shall we take a look?

-Yep.

-Great.

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'In Britain, badgers are social animals.

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'They live together in groups called clans

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'made up of several adults and their cubs.

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'Their home is a subterranean maze of burrows known as a sett.'

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-That looks like something there.

-Yes.

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Someone's been having a dig there quite recently.

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Cos they clean out the setts quite often, don't they,

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so this might have been a bit of bedding cleared out.

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'An undisturbed sett like this can be centuries old.'

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More signs of digging,

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and it's an important time of year at the moment as well, isn't it?

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It is, cos the young ones are being born now.

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Any time onwards now, the young ones are underground.

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It's quite amazing to think, isn't it, that they're so big

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and yet so well hidden and at this time of year,

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-looking after the cubs.

-Yeah.

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'The badgers' sett lies within a wider territory

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'which the badgers patrol in search of food.'

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What about their territories?

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Once they come out looking for food, how far might they go?

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-They could probably go to about a mile.

-Wow!

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-All the way down to the river, that is!

-That's right.

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-You have to remember, they have to get water.

-Right, yeah.

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It's a huge territory!

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I am amazed to hear from Colin that the territory of the badgers

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and the sett here up on the hill extends all the way down

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to the banks of the river and I am keen to put that theory to the test,

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so Colin's gone off down to the river's edge

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to look for signs of badgers and I am going to catch up with him

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in a little while, but in the meantime, I want to find out more

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about their range and I am hoping that THAT is going to help.

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-What is that, Rob, up there?!

-Well, good question!

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This is called a quadcopter.

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As you can see, four propellers - basically,

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it's a gyrostabilised helicopter fitted with a live camera.

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We can move gently across the grass, inches above it,

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perfect for tracing badger trails.

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'To navigate around their territories,

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'badgers have their own pathways crisscrossing the landscape.

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'These paths are often hard to detect and follow on foot,

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'which is where the technology comes in.'

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-What's with the goggles?

-The goggles?

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Put them on and have a look.

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Oh, wow! So that's my monitor right here?

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'The quadcopter gives us the chance to identify and track

0:17:590:18:03

'the badger's numerous paths and its low-flying ability

0:18:030:18:07

'allows us to experience the badger's journey

0:18:070:18:10

'across their territory.'

0:18:100:18:11

-That was amazing, Rob!

-Excellent.

0:18:130:18:15

It's a bit breezy up here but nevertheless,

0:18:150:18:18

-the potential is there to get really close in.

-That's incredible.

0:18:180:18:21

I've sent Colin down to the river -

0:18:210:18:23

what are the chances of you filming him?

0:18:230:18:25

-Not with a quadcopter, but we'll give it a go with the plane.

-Cool.

0:18:250:18:29

'Rob's remote-control plane can fly higher

0:18:290:18:32

'and further than the quadcopter,

0:18:320:18:34

'enabling us to see the extent of the wider territory

0:18:340:18:37

'covered by the badgers.'

0:18:370:18:38

When you're walking on the hill,

0:18:460:18:48

you can't really get a feel for how big their territory is,

0:18:480:18:51

but when you're pulled back like that, up in the sky,

0:18:510:18:54

-you can really see how big it is.

-Exactly, it's a bird's-eye view.

0:18:540:18:57

'Time for us to catch up with Colin.'

0:19:010:19:03

Hello, Colin. I can see you on the monitor. Any sign of badgers down there?

0:19:030:19:07

Unfortunately, there's no signs of badgers down here, Ellie,

0:19:070:19:11

because I think the flood water's washed all the signs away.

0:19:110:19:14

What about on the way down there?

0:19:140:19:16

Did you see any prints or runs or even any hair in fences,

0:19:160:19:19

anything like that?

0:19:190:19:20

I saw some runs and some marks of digging halfway down the hill.

0:19:200:19:26

-Good signs.

-I'm going to work my way back to that point now

0:19:260:19:31

and see what else I can find there.

0:19:310:19:33

Good work, you keep looking.

0:19:330:19:36

'Before long, Colin's made his way back uphill.

0:19:360:19:39

'Let's hope he's had more luck here.'

0:19:390:19:42

We're buzzing over your head now.

0:19:420:19:44

You're just over the brow of the hill.

0:19:440:19:45

Can you see any sign of the badgers?

0:19:450:19:47

I've found some evidence of a path coming up the bank, Ellie.

0:19:470:19:51

There's a hole in the bracken here.

0:19:510:19:53

It comes across then and there's some claw marks on the grass

0:19:530:19:56

that are quite visible here and then a very distinct path up the bank,

0:19:560:20:00

going back to the sett.

0:20:000:20:02

-Fantastic. Thank you, Colin, that's great.

-Thank you, Ellie.

0:20:020:20:06

That's brilliant news.

0:20:060:20:07

Although we haven't concluded that badgers from this sett

0:20:070:20:10

go all the way down to the river,

0:20:100:20:12

certainly there are a myriad of paths around the sett

0:20:120:20:14

that take them to where they need to go and that includes water

0:20:140:20:17

and the most likely source would be the river, all the way down there.

0:20:170:20:21

That's quite an impressive territory.

0:20:210:20:23

After spending the day finding out about badgers -

0:20:270:20:30

what they do, where they go and how they get there -

0:20:300:20:32

the one thing I haven't done is actually see a badger,

0:20:320:20:35

so I'm going to hunker down here, downwind of the sett.

0:20:350:20:38

It's dusk now and I'm going to keep my voice really low

0:20:380:20:41

and hope that at least one of the clan comes out.

0:20:410:20:44

(A lot of people think that badgers hibernate in the winter

0:20:480:20:52

(but, in fact, they don't.

0:20:520:20:54

(They are a lot less active and they do rely on stores of fat

0:20:540:20:58

(to keep them going,

0:20:580:20:59

(but they will come out and forage close to the sett.

0:20:590:21:02

(Just not tonight for me!)

0:21:020:21:04

Earlier, we heard how, in the UK at least,

0:21:090:21:11

there's been a dramatic change in the way that we produce veal,

0:21:110:21:15

so are we likely to start seeing it in our supermarkets?

0:21:150:21:18

Here's John.

0:21:180:21:20

Every year in the UK,

0:21:230:21:25

hundreds of thousands of unwanted bull calves in dairy herds

0:21:250:21:30

are shot at birth.

0:21:300:21:31

Using them to produce veal could stop their lives being wasted -

0:21:310:21:35

trouble is, many people still associate veal with cruelty.

0:21:350:21:39

These days, UK-produced rose veal

0:21:390:21:42

even comes with the approval of animal welfare groups.

0:21:420:21:46

With farmers now expected to apply very high welfare standards

0:21:460:21:51

to what, after all, let's face it,

0:21:510:21:53

is just a waste product of the dairy industry,

0:21:530:21:56

how come we're not seeing much more veal on the shelves

0:21:560:21:59

all around the country?

0:21:590:22:01

That's partly down to farmers

0:22:010:22:02

choosing to slaughter bull calves at birth

0:22:020:22:05

rather than investing in the cost of producing veal.

0:22:050:22:09

Martin Brake is a dairy farmer in Somerset.

0:22:090:22:12

For him, rearing dairy calves as veal is not a viable option.

0:22:120:22:16

You've got a large dairy herd, Martin, lots of calves -

0:22:160:22:20

why don't you go in for producing veal?

0:22:200:22:23

I haven't the space, initially. I'm quite constrained.

0:22:230:22:27

I've only enough room to keep my young stock for replacements,

0:22:270:22:31

and it's something I've not done before,

0:22:310:22:34

so I've really no skills as far as that's concerned.

0:22:340:22:36

Don't you think you could make a bit of money out of veal?

0:22:360:22:39

I mean, dairy farmers are having a bad time of it at the moment.

0:22:390:22:42

Probably, but I'd still need to invest in some facilities

0:22:420:22:46

to do the job

0:22:460:22:47

and I'd have to research

0:22:470:22:50

to see if the level of investment was justified.

0:22:500:22:54

Do you think the industry should be doing more to encourage

0:22:540:22:58

the likes of everyone to be eating veal?

0:22:580:23:03

I think we could, yes, yes, because there's something there...

0:23:030:23:07

There's a food source that's not being used

0:23:070:23:11

as well as it could be currently.

0:23:110:23:13

And it's such a waste!

0:23:130:23:14

A waste of a resource, so if you can find me someone

0:23:140:23:17

who will take these calves, put them on through a veal unit

0:23:170:23:19

and rear them on up,

0:23:190:23:21

well done, I'd be well pleased.

0:23:210:23:24

'David Tory, who I met earlier is doing just that.

0:23:240:23:27

'He buys 50 unwanted calves each week to rear for veal,

0:23:270:23:31

'but a limited market makes selling hard.'

0:23:310:23:34

This is our veal.

0:23:340:23:36

Veal producers like you are facing a real uphill struggle,

0:23:360:23:40

aren't you, if you're going to find a mass market?

0:23:400:23:43

Yeah, absolutely.

0:23:430:23:44

It's the perception of veal that's our greatest challenge, really.

0:23:440:23:47

Veal is a very tasty product, it's very tender,

0:23:470:23:49

nutritionally speaking it's very good for you, very low in fat,

0:23:490:23:53

very high in protein,

0:23:530:23:54

so there's no reason why the product shouldn't sell,

0:23:540:23:57

but we're overcoming huge perception issues

0:23:570:23:59

from the old veal-rearing methods.

0:23:590:24:01

-And also, I think, from the retailers.

-Absolutely.

0:24:010:24:04

If we can get it onto the supermarket shelves

0:24:040:24:07

and people can see it

0:24:070:24:08

then hopefully that will give them confidence to buy it.

0:24:080:24:11

'The way to change public perception is to convince everyone

0:24:110:24:14

'the bad old days of white veal are gone.

0:24:140:24:17

'Today, it's all about high-welfare British rose veal.

0:24:170:24:20

'But will people actually like it?

0:24:200:24:22

'Michelin-starred chef Russell Brown

0:24:220:24:25

'has agreed to prepare some veal for us.'

0:24:250:24:29

I hadn't had veal on the menu until three or four years ago

0:24:290:24:32

and then we actively sought out a producer of English rose veal.

0:24:320:24:35

We tend to cook it fairly rare

0:24:390:24:41

because it's quite a dry meat that's very low in fat.

0:24:410:24:45

Texture-wise, people might say it's not quite as tender

0:24:460:24:50

but I think what you lose on that, you gain in the flavour.

0:24:500:24:54

-There we go.

-What have we got here, Russell?

0:24:580:25:02

This is a chargrilled rump of Jurassic Coast rose veal,

0:25:020:25:06

white bean casserole, pickled carrots and a veal jus.

0:25:060:25:10

Well, it looks delicious.

0:25:100:25:11

-And it tastes delicious as well. It's very tender, isn't it?

-Yes.

0:25:180:25:22

-And you're right, a beefy taste to that.

-Yep.

-Quite a...

0:25:220:25:27

-A stronger flavour than I thought.

-Yeah. Yeah.

-Lovely.

-Good.

0:25:270:25:30

-I'd eat this any day.

-Good.

-Mmm.

0:25:300:25:33

Especially with a Michelin-starred chef preparing it for me!

0:25:330:25:36

THEY LAUGH

0:25:360:25:38

'It gets the thumbs-up from me, but what will our shoppers think of it?

0:25:380:25:42

'Back to the high street to put veal to the test.'

0:25:420:25:45

-It's low-fat.

-Low in cholesterol? Low-fat?

0:25:470:25:53

-It's very tasty.

-It's absolutely lovely! Really, really nice.

0:25:550:25:59

What do you think?

0:25:590:26:01

That's very tasty, it's obviously been cooked very well.

0:26:010:26:03

-Perhaps we don't know how to cook it properly.

-Very succulent.

-Yeah.

0:26:030:26:07

-Might you be converted?

-I could eat that! Mmm!

0:26:070:26:10

'It'll take more than the opinions of a few shoppers

0:26:120:26:15

'to make a real change,

0:26:150:26:16

'but major retailers are now taking this on board

0:26:160:26:19

'and a forum has been created to get producers talking to sellers.

0:26:190:26:23

'After all, making veal highly visible on meat counters

0:26:230:26:27

'is crucial to building a market.

0:26:270:26:30

'The people behind this push for veal are from the RSPCA.'

0:26:300:26:33

If it's such a good food, why isn't there more of it on sale?

0:26:330:26:38

Because it has to be economically viable for the farmer.

0:26:380:26:42

They have to have a route into market

0:26:420:26:43

and it also has to make them money.

0:26:430:26:46

The RSPCA understands that.

0:26:460:26:48

What we've started to see is retailers

0:26:480:26:50

and also some of the fast-food companies like McDonald's

0:26:500:26:53

starting to take those animals and use them in their sales.

0:26:530:26:56

That's important, because it encourages the farmer

0:26:560:26:59

to go to market

0:26:590:27:01

and it also drives up the price of the animal,

0:27:010:27:03

so they start to make a profit and it's at that stage

0:27:030:27:06

where you start to see the difference occurring.

0:27:060:27:09

The farmer decides to rear on rather than to kill the animal at birth.

0:27:090:27:13

If food retailers really get behind it, veal could bring new profits

0:27:130:27:17

to farmers and stop all that wasteful slaughter but the final decision

0:27:170:27:21

is down to you and me - whether we develop a taste for British veal.

0:27:210:27:25

Later on Countryfile,

0:27:270:27:29

Matt explores the hidden heritage of the Wye Valley.

0:27:290:27:32

I'd love to look down but I can't quite tilt my neck!

0:27:320:27:35

Down on the farm, the new arrivals are demanding Adam's attention.

0:27:350:27:38

Ooh, there's a lovely pig!

0:27:380:27:41

And for farmers and everyone else,

0:27:410:27:43

there's the Countryfile five-day forecast.

0:27:430:27:46

Now, while I've been throwing myself off sheer drops in the Wye Valley,

0:27:540:27:58

Jules is headed to a forest which has a surprise at its heart.

0:27:580:28:01

Deep in the woodlands of the Herefordshire countryside

0:28:030:28:08

lies a bit of an oasis, something you might not necessarily expect -

0:28:080:28:12

apparently!

0:28:120:28:13

I say "apparently" because the powers-that-be at Countryfile HQ

0:28:130:28:17

have given me nothing more

0:28:170:28:18

than a grid reference and a brief description.

0:28:180:28:21

I'm looking for a forest in which - wait for it! -

0:28:210:28:24

is a man called Sherwood.

0:28:240:28:26

You couldn't make it up, really!

0:28:260:28:29

And I am being honest with you here

0:28:290:28:31

when I say I haven't got a clue what I'm going to find.

0:28:310:28:35

HE LAUGHS

0:28:350:28:37

It's a sawmill, it's got to be a sawmill.

0:28:400:28:43

Of sorts.

0:28:450:28:46

An old bus.

0:28:520:28:53

Hello?

0:28:570:28:58

Sherwood! HE LAUGHS

0:29:020:29:04

Nice to see you, sir! How are you?

0:29:040:29:06

All right, thank you, yes.

0:29:060:29:08

Now, I've been told absolutely nothing about where we are,

0:29:080:29:12

what you're doing here, but driving in, piles of timber everywhere,

0:29:120:29:16

we're in this lovely forest - I mean, clearly,

0:29:160:29:18

you must be some sort of woodsman.

0:29:180:29:20

Hmm, yes, haven't always been a woodsman.

0:29:200:29:22

I was in industry for 19 years before I was lucky enough to escape.

0:29:220:29:27

-Is this home?

-It is home, yes. I've been in that bus now since 1989...

0:29:270:29:34

-Fantastic.

-..and I've been here since 1996.

-Come on, show me round!

0:29:340:29:38

-Come on! Let's have a look!

-OK. OK.

0:29:380:29:42

-Erm, here we go, past the brewery.

-The brewery?!

0:29:430:29:45

-I'll explain everything shortly.

-Home brew?

-Yeah.

0:29:450:29:48

You'll need plenty of that up here.

0:29:480:29:51

How many acres have you got here in total, then?

0:29:510:29:54

40 acres, which is plenty to play in.

0:29:540:29:57

Plenty to play in?! Plenty to get lost in!

0:29:570:30:00

'Let's get this straight. Sherwood left the rat race 15 years ago

0:30:000:30:03

'to live in a bus in a forest on his own.

0:30:030:30:08

'He tells me he now makes his living making charcoal,

0:30:080:30:11

'restoring buildings and he also runs training courses in woodland crafts.'

0:30:110:30:15

-There's the hens.

-I love it!

0:30:150:30:18

But, I'm still in the dark about where he's leading me.

0:30:180:30:21

You're joking, what is this?

0:30:210:30:23

A workshop with a small space at the end for accommodation.

0:30:260:30:32

This is the kind of thing I've always dreamt of.

0:30:320:30:34

This clearing I've created,

0:30:340:30:36

all of the timber that came from here is all going to go back into the house.

0:30:360:30:41

I absolutely salute your ambition for this. I love it.

0:30:410:30:44

-Thank you very much.

-I absolutely love it.

0:30:440:30:47

When you get inside this, it really does start to come to life.

0:30:470:30:51

That's when you can appreciate just how tall it is.

0:30:510:30:53

-And you haven't had to do it all on your own.

-No.

-Hi, guys.

0:30:530:30:56

How are you?

0:30:560:30:58

How'd you get them in, what's in it for them?

0:30:580:31:01

I lured them in with the promise of beer and food. It seems to work.

0:31:010:31:03

This is the homebrew we saw earlier?

0:31:030:31:05

That's the reason for the brewery. I get a lot out of it, too.

0:31:050:31:10

I think we're all teaching each other.

0:31:100:31:12

A lot of the skills that I've acquired,

0:31:120:31:15

I've learned from other people, not from books.

0:31:150:31:18

Hopefully, some of what I know I can pass back to them.

0:31:180:31:20

It's always a pleasure to work with wood. It's as simple as that.

0:31:200:31:26

Getting the tools out, selecting the right piece and seeing the joy

0:31:260:31:29

when you deliver what it is you've made.

0:31:290:31:32

How long is it going to take you to finish this off?

0:31:320:31:35

I don't want to rush this.

0:31:350:31:36

So much of my life is spent rushing to finish

0:31:360:31:39

and meeting other people's deadlines.

0:31:390:31:41

I haven't set myself a deadline.

0:31:410:31:43

I want this to be a joy and it won't be if I feel under pressure,

0:31:430:31:46

even if it's self-imposed.

0:31:460:31:48

I'll duck.

0:31:480:31:49

HE LAUGHS

0:31:490:31:50

'When finished, the workshop will boast three good-sized rooms,

0:31:500:31:54

'one for living accommodation and two for his woodwork

0:31:540:31:57

'and the walls will be made of straw bales.'

0:31:570:32:00

This looks like a job about to happen.

0:32:010:32:04

This is a larch tree, which unfortunately got blown down in the last couple of days.

0:32:040:32:09

I need a piece to make one of the beams in the house.

0:32:090:32:12

-It's done the hard work for us.

-It's chosen the direction it's going to fall in,

0:32:120:32:16

we don't have to decide.

0:32:160:32:17

Although, a good job it went that way and not that way?

0:32:170:32:20

That would have ruined someone's sleep, wouldn't it?

0:32:200:32:23

-Who lives in there?

-That's Jack, he's one of the volunteers

0:32:230:32:27

and fortunately he's not here this week.

0:32:270:32:29

Yes, it could have given him a nasty surprise.

0:32:290:32:32

A very nasty surprise.

0:32:320:32:34

What do we need to do with this?

0:32:340:32:35

Clean off the branches, cut it to length and you can carry it out.

0:32:350:32:39

-All on my own?

-All on your own. You might get a little bit of help.

0:32:390:32:42

'Building materials don't get more locally sourced than this.

0:32:470:32:53

'The only energy used today, apart from a couple of machines,

0:32:560:32:59

'is mine and the team's.' Beautiful.

0:32:590:33:01

-Teas up!

-'Music to my ears.'

0:33:010:33:04

'It also gives me the opportunity

0:33:040:33:06

'to catch up with the other folk helping in Sherwood's forest.'

0:33:060:33:09

-This is fabulous. Wow! Hi, everybody.

-Hello.

0:33:090:33:13

This is clearly the centre of operations, isn't it?

0:33:130:33:16

-It's where most of the work is done.

-Who's in charge of the kitchen?

0:33:160:33:20

-Ah, well, Tom today.

-Is that right?

-Yes.

0:33:200:33:23

Hello, Tom, nice to see you.

0:33:230:33:25

What is in it for you, Tom, as a volunteer?

0:33:250:33:28

The way of life. Everything is connected.

0:33:280:33:30

Everything that goes into the house comes out of the woods.

0:33:300:33:33

Waste, we stick on the fire

0:33:330:33:35

and that goes into baking our bread and keeping our tea.

0:33:350:33:38

Not to draw out the Robin Hood analogy too far,

0:33:380:33:40

but you are creating what seems to be a very happy band of men,

0:33:400:33:44

and women in the corner there.

0:33:440:33:46

-Who have we got there?

-That's another convict.

-Hello, Jo.

0:33:460:33:49

Did you say another convict?

0:33:490:33:50

-See her ball and chain, she can't go far.

-What are you making, Jo?

0:33:500:33:54

I'm making a teaspoon.

0:33:540:33:56

-With so many visitors, I thought we needed some more.

-Wonderful.

0:33:560:34:00

That's terrific. Nothing goes to waste, does it?

0:34:000:34:02

No, not even the small bits. We have an application for those.

0:34:020:34:05

'But there's no rest for the wicked.

0:34:100:34:11

'Tom's going to show me the structure from a different perspective.

0:34:110:34:15

'Let's hope I've got a head for heights.'

0:34:150:34:18

-Wow! How about it? Amazing!

-A nice place to watch the sunset.

0:34:180:34:22

You get a real sense of the architecture of the whole structure.

0:34:220:34:26

Let's get the tape out.

0:34:260:34:27

Yes, four by two.

0:34:270:34:29

Four by two.

0:34:290:34:30

140 and a half.

0:34:300:34:32

'As it's the middle of winter,

0:34:320:34:34

'there's not enough light for a full day's work.

0:34:340:34:37

'After a little more measuring and drilling, it's time to down tools.

0:34:370:34:41

'And it's a chance for me to find out

0:34:410:34:44

'why these last few months have been so special for Sherwood.'

0:34:440:34:46

OWL HOOTS

0:34:460:34:48

CHATTER

0:34:570:34:58

I spent 15 years living and working in this woodland.

0:35:000:35:04

Mainly with one helper and they've gone home at five o'clock.

0:35:040:35:07

But this summer,

0:35:070:35:08

I've had people here, living in my world, without a break all summer.

0:35:080:35:13

The evenings filled with music and laughter and people playing guitars.

0:35:130:35:17

It's been quite a joyful time, really. I've been very blessed.

0:35:170:35:21

You know, when I came out here this morning all I knew

0:35:240:35:27

was that I was looking for a forest and a man named Sherwood.

0:35:270:35:30

But, as you can see, I discovered a lot more than that.

0:35:300:35:34

'It's not just Sherwood who's made his home

0:35:420:35:45

'in these Herefordshire woods,

0:35:450:35:46

'nestled deep in the forest in the Golden Valley,

0:35:460:35:49

'a family of pigs are also thriving under the canopy of the trees.

0:35:490:35:53

'Adam's taking a break from his normal farm duties to find out

0:35:530:35:56

'what life is like for pigs living in the woods.'

0:35:560:35:59

I've got about 70 pigs of four different breeds

0:36:080:36:10

on my farm in the Cotswolds.

0:36:100:36:11

Some live outdoors and others we bring into the sheds to fatten up.

0:36:110:36:15

When I heard about a man

0:36:150:36:16

who keeps all his rare breed pigs out in woodland,

0:36:160:36:19

I couldn't resist the opportunity to come and check it out.

0:36:190:36:22

Ray Harris has been farming pigs in these woods for over 15 years.

0:36:240:36:28

He thinks there are real benefits to rearing them this way.

0:36:280:36:31

-How are you?

-Hello, Adam, nice to meet you.

0:36:340:36:35

-Good to meet you.

-Nice to meet you too.

0:36:350:36:38

-What a lovely Tamworth sow, isn't she gorgeous?

-Yes.

0:36:380:36:41

She's getting on a bit now but yes, she's really good.

0:36:410:36:44

We've just weaned a litter off her.

0:36:440:36:46

You're keeping pigs,

0:36:460:36:48

but your background is forestry. How did it all come about?

0:36:480:36:50

The idea is that the pigs are actually a tool

0:36:500:36:53

we use in the woodlands to help the ecosystem of the forestry.

0:36:530:36:59

In the spring, when you've got the shoots coming through,

0:36:590:37:02

especially in the Herefordshire area, where we are now,

0:37:020:37:05

you get a lot of bramble.

0:37:050:37:07

If the woodland activities have opened up space in the forestry,

0:37:070:37:11

the canopy has gone.

0:37:110:37:12

If you can get in there and start to control the woodlands

0:37:120:37:15

by using the pigs, hopefully a lot more of these flowers

0:37:150:37:19

and a lot more different habitat is there for the wildlife as well.

0:37:190:37:22

I keep Tamworths at home and they can be quite destructive.

0:37:220:37:26

They'll wreck pasture. Do they cause a lot of damage?

0:37:260:37:29

If they are left here for too long.

0:37:290:37:30

That's the idea of sectioning different areas.

0:37:300:37:33

If you put them into the wood to free range,

0:37:330:37:36

then you've got no control on the areas that they are to manage.

0:37:360:37:39

-Are they happy in the woods?

-Take a look for yourself. They love it.

0:37:390:37:43

This is their habitat.

0:37:430:37:45

'In another woodland, high up

0:37:490:37:51

'on the hilltop, Ray keeps two young female Tamworths.

0:37:510:37:54

'Every five years, Ray starts a new bloodline to prevent interbreeding.

0:37:540:37:58

'Today, one fortunate Tamworth boar will be making this his new home.'

0:37:580:38:02

-Why have you got the boar in here?

-I've just recently purchased him

0:38:020:38:06

and it's going to be his first time to be released into the woodland.

0:38:060:38:11

-Anything could happen?

-It could do, it could do.

0:38:110:38:14

I'm hoping everything goes to plan and he'll settle in really well.

0:38:140:38:19

All right, then, fella.

0:38:190:38:21

He's so lucky, he's got a lake, wonderful woodland,

0:38:210:38:25

a fantastic view and two beautiful wives.

0:38:250:38:28

Come on then, boy, come and meet your lovely ladies.

0:38:280:38:31

Come on, then. That's it.

0:38:310:38:34

-He certainly seems very happy.

-He's loving it, isn't he?

0:38:410:38:44

Already those instincts are kicking in,

0:38:440:38:47

first time in the woodlands, first time to water.

0:38:470:38:50

-Is he going to cross the water, do you think?

-I don't know.

0:38:500:38:55

There again, look at him now. He's actually in there, isn't he?

0:38:550:38:58

-He is loving it.

-He is really enjoying that.

0:38:580:39:01

I'm chuffed to bits with that.

0:39:010:39:03

This chomping, and all the froth around the mouth,

0:39:030:39:06

that's him asserting his dominance to the females, isn't it?

0:39:060:39:09

It is, and there's been no nastiness about it.

0:39:090:39:12

They've taken to him really well.

0:39:120:39:14

He's been up to them, really smelling around them

0:39:140:39:18

-and none of this argy-bargy which sometimes occurs.

-They can fight, can't they?

0:39:180:39:22

Yes, a little bit of damage could be caused.

0:39:220:39:24

Looks like there's a bit of love in the air.

0:39:280:39:31

-I think so. He's trying to mate up with her now, isn't he?

-Goodness me!

0:39:310:39:36

-Would she be in season, do you think?

-I don't think she is yet

0:39:460:39:49

but she is standing for him.

0:39:490:39:51

We'll just have to mark the date down.

0:39:530:39:55

THEY LAUGH

0:39:550:39:56

It's paradise for pigs, isn't it? It couldn't be better.

0:40:040:40:08

If I was a pig, this is where I would want to live.

0:40:080:40:12

Yes, I love coming up here and feeding them.

0:40:120:40:14

Look, he's in the water now.

0:40:140:40:16

It's been an eye-opener

0:40:160:40:17

-seeing pigs living like this.

-It's been a privilege having you here.

0:40:170:40:21

We'll have to see if we can fix something back at home,

0:40:210:40:24

-get mine into the woods.

-Best place for them.

0:40:240:40:26

I've got lots of work to do so I better head for home.

0:40:260:40:29

-Thanks very much.

-No problem.

0:40:290:40:32

I think Ray's got a wonderful set-up here.

0:40:410:40:43

It's great way for those pigs to live.

0:40:430:40:46

Pigs give birth all year round

0:40:460:40:47

and I've got some sows at home that have given birth recently

0:40:470:40:50

so I need to get back, there's plenty of jobs to be done.

0:40:500:40:53

I keep lots of pigs on this farm and every one of them

0:40:590:41:02

presents a challenge.

0:41:020:41:03

Looking after young pigs

0:41:030:41:04

is a bit like looking after a gang of misbehaving teenagers.

0:41:040:41:08

Come on, then. These are my kunekune pigs.

0:41:100:41:13

They're a New Zealand bush pig

0:41:130:41:15

and one of the smallest pigs in this country now.

0:41:150:41:17

They're a great smallholder's pig - because they're little themselves,

0:41:170:41:21

they don't take up very much room. They're very easy to handle,

0:41:210:41:24

they're quite quiet and these piglets here are about a month old.

0:41:240:41:28

They all belong to this sow. She's got ten of them. They're very sweet.

0:41:280:41:32

They come in all sorts of colours.

0:41:320:41:35

There's a lovely pig.

0:41:350:41:36

I love keeping them, they're just great little pigs, really.

0:41:380:41:42

They live out here very happily.

0:41:420:41:45

We'll take them off their mother in about another month

0:41:450:41:48

and then she'll go back to the boar

0:41:480:41:50

and the gestation period of a pig from mating to birth

0:41:500:41:53

is three months, three weeks and three days.

0:41:530:41:55

They've got a shelter over there and water over there.

0:41:550:41:58

'While the kunekunes enjoy the outdoors,

0:42:030:42:06

'one of my Gloucester old spot sows

0:42:060:42:08

'is in the comfort of the stable with her new litter.

0:42:080:42:11

'Mike and I need to ear-tag the piglets.

0:42:120:42:15

'As Mum's very protective of them, we need to separate her from her young.'

0:42:150:42:20

PIGLETS SQUEAL

0:42:240:42:25

Whoa, little one, whoa, whoa, whoa!

0:42:270:42:29

Just hold their noses so they don't bite me,

0:42:290:42:32

and so they don't squeal too much.

0:42:320:42:35

Gloucestershire old spots are our county breed and they're famous

0:42:350:42:38

for grazing the apple orchards of the Avon Vale and they say

0:42:380:42:41

the apples dropping from the trees bruised their skin

0:42:410:42:44

and gave them these black spots,

0:42:440:42:46

so we put the tags in the ears. Mike's just put

0:42:460:42:48

some surgical spirits on, and then it's just like

0:42:480:42:51

having your ear pierced, hardly feels it going in,

0:42:510:42:54

and on the tag is an individual number

0:42:540:42:56

and on the back is our pig herd number.

0:42:560:42:58

That's just a bit of antiseptic to stop it going septic.

0:42:580:43:02

'With that job done,

0:43:050:43:06

'it's time to turn my attention to some of my larger pigs -

0:43:060:43:09

'they're almost ready for market.'

0:43:090:43:11

These pigs here are about five months old,

0:43:110:43:14

and back in the summer,

0:43:140:43:16

my little ginger friend here had a bit of a rocky start.

0:43:160:43:19

'Fortunately, one of my Gloucester old spots sows came to the rescue.'

0:43:190:43:24

She's adopted this little Tamworth

0:43:240:43:26

that was outside and got kicked by one of my Exmoor ponies.

0:43:260:43:29

I thought it was going to die

0:43:290:43:30

and I put it in with this sow who had recently farrowed,

0:43:300:43:33

and she now loves it

0:43:330:43:35

and it's suckling with all its new little brothers and sisters.

0:43:350:43:38

Because she's only had five, there's plenty of milk to go round.

0:43:380:43:42

'And that was last summer.'

0:43:420:43:44

This one was the one that was adopted onto her and this Tamworth is really lovely.

0:43:440:43:48

It's doing very, very well.

0:43:480:43:50

The Tamworths are different to the Gloucester.

0:43:500:43:52

They've got pricky ears and they're quite alert -

0:43:520:43:55

they're the same breed as Ray's got running around in the woods -

0:43:550:43:57

and the Gloucester has these floppy ears,

0:43:570:44:00

which means they're slightly more docile.

0:44:000:44:02

Often they can't see and they bump into things.

0:44:020:44:04

PIGS GRUNT

0:44:070:44:08

Right, this pig weighs about 58, 59 kilos.

0:44:150:44:20

For pork, we want them to be 70, 75, so he's still got about three weeks to go.

0:44:200:44:25

This is one of the adopted sisters

0:44:270:44:29

to that Tamworth, she's a Gloucester old spot

0:44:290:44:31

and she weighs about 10 kilos lighter,

0:44:310:44:34

but she's a couple of weeks younger, so that makes about sense,

0:44:340:44:37

and really, I suppose,

0:44:370:44:39

it may seem a bit strange,

0:44:390:44:40

trying to save a pig's life and then rearing it,

0:44:400:44:42

and sending it off for meat, but that's what farming's all about.

0:44:420:44:46

We care for these animals

0:44:460:44:47

and we love them and we want to do well by them

0:44:470:44:50

during their lives and then produce a good product at the end of the day.

0:44:500:44:53

'Next week, I'm heading to Wales to see how farmers moved livestock

0:44:570:45:01

'before the time of motorised transport.'

0:45:010:45:04

'Earlier, I was experiencing the beauty of the Wye Valley

0:45:080:45:11

'in a rather extreme way

0:45:110:45:13

'on a walk with a bit of a difference.'

0:45:130:45:16

As lovely as it is, I am just concentrating

0:45:160:45:18

on the rope. Don't look down.

0:45:180:45:20

'But I'm told, where we're heading, it's all going to be worth it.

0:45:200:45:23

'Sven, my guide, has set up a little surprise at the end of the trek.

0:45:230:45:28

'We're heading for Pancake Caves.' Right, so the "walk" continues!

0:45:280:45:32

HE LAUGHS

0:45:320:45:34

-I lied, actually, there's no walking on this one.

-Oh, right, OK.

0:45:340:45:38

-I'm going to lower you on this one.

-OK.

0:45:380:45:41

I have to say, this is probably the most memorable walk

0:45:450:45:48

-that I've ever been on.

-OK, Matt, when you're ready.

0:45:480:45:51

-Yeah.

-Come on down.

0:45:510:45:52

-Just pop under there for me.

-Yep.

0:45:580:46:01

Oh, my word!

0:46:020:46:04

Are you lowering me into there, are you?

0:46:040:46:06

That is a drop and a half. How far is that down there?

0:46:060:46:09

-You've got about 20 foot of squeezed chimney.

-Yeah.

0:46:090:46:12

And then at some point, your feet are going to dangle in space

0:46:120:46:16

-and you're going to have another 20 feet to the cave.

-OK.

0:46:160:46:18

This is the ultimate in trust, then?

0:46:180:46:21

There's obviously a limit of the people you can actually get into this bit.

0:46:210:46:26

Depends on how much you like your cake.

0:46:260:46:28

I think there's a view down there, but I've never really looked.

0:46:280:46:32

I was going to say, I'd love to look down, but I can't tilt my neck.

0:46:320:46:35

-OK, mate.

-Got a nice view of the rock, anyway!

0:46:350:46:39

My feet are, my knees are...

0:46:390:46:41

Right, so just let me know when you're on the floor.

0:46:410:46:44

And whoo! Oh, my goodness me!

0:46:440:46:48

Oh, yes!

0:46:500:46:51

Look at this.

0:46:530:46:55

That is incredible.

0:46:550:46:57

Look at this place. Cool.

0:46:570:47:00

OK, so it wasn't walking, but it's pretty cool, isn't it?

0:47:000:47:03

-It's some place, innit, this?

-What do you reckon?

-God!

0:47:030:47:07

-So, this is Pancake Caves, then, is it?

-Yeah, this is the Pancake Caves.

0:47:070:47:11

-And why is it called Pancake Caves?

-No idea!

0:47:110:47:13

THEY LAUGH

0:47:130:47:15

But it's pretty special, isn't it?

0:47:150:47:18

Yeah. I mean, there's gorgeous scenery outside,

0:47:180:47:20

but you've saved the best till last.

0:47:200:47:22

-So this is one of a number of caves in the valley.

-Mm-hm.

0:47:260:47:30

They're all naturally formed, but almost all of them have been subject

0:47:300:47:33

-to some mining at some point or other.

-Right.

0:47:330:47:36

Mining stopped here about 200 years ago.

0:47:360:47:38

It wasn't just for the rock.

0:47:380:47:39

We've been mining here for iron, coal, all sorts.

0:47:390:47:42

Take a look at these.

0:47:420:47:43

Oh, look. Mini stalactites.

0:47:440:47:48

So what we've got here is, um... the rock is limestone.

0:47:480:47:51

It's sedimentary rock made up of... the main thing is calcium carbonate.

0:47:510:47:55

It's just the remains of billions of marine creatures

0:47:550:47:58

and you can see the water seeps through it over time

0:47:580:48:00

and dissolves the minerals and when it gets to a low point

0:48:000:48:03

as it's doing here, it drops off,

0:48:030:48:05

but, in doing so, leaves some of the minerals behind

0:48:050:48:07

and that's where your stalactites grow.

0:48:070:48:09

If you take a look at these, Matt...

0:48:090:48:12

If you imagine the rate of growth of these, it's O.18 millimetres a year,

0:48:120:48:17

so, something like this,

0:48:170:48:19

you're looking at easily 200 years of history.

0:48:190:48:21

It's incredibly humbling, actually.

0:48:210:48:23

It's amazing. What's really cool as well,

0:48:230:48:26

if you look at your feet, when the water drips off,

0:48:260:48:28

it leaves some calcium carbonate behind, which forms a stalactite...

0:48:280:48:32

-Yeah.

-..but not all of it is left behind,

0:48:320:48:34

some of it continues onto the floor.

0:48:340:48:36

That's where you can see the drops there.

0:48:360:48:38

Eventually you'll get the opposite building up,

0:48:380:48:41

a lot slower, because less calcium carbonate is coming down, but you'll get stalagmites growing back up.

0:48:410:48:46

-And then they'll connect like columns eventually.

-Fantastic.

0:48:460:48:49

-But we won't be here to see this one.

-That's for sure.

0:48:500:48:54

In a moment, Ellie will be taking to the water

0:49:080:49:10

to find out how a restoration project

0:49:100:49:12

is making the most of the valley's industrial past

0:49:120:49:15

and creating a playground for canoeists,

0:49:150:49:17

but first if you're planning on making the most of the landscape

0:49:170:49:20

for the week ahead,

0:49:200:49:21

let's see what the weather's got in store with the Countryfile forecast.

0:49:210:49:25

.

0:51:500:51:57

'Matt and I have been exploring the wilds of the Wye Valley,

0:52:100:52:14

'one of the most dramatic landscapes in Britain.

0:52:140:52:18

'I've been finding out

0:52:180:52:19

'about the secret life of one of our biggest native wild animals,

0:52:190:52:22

'while Matt's been going to the extreme on a scenic walk,

0:52:220:52:26

'but he's not having all the fun

0:52:260:52:28

'because I'm going to be taking on the might of the River Wye.'

0:52:280:52:32

It's one of the most popular rivers for kayakers in the UK.

0:52:320:52:37

The navigable part stretches uninterrupted for 100 miles.

0:52:370:52:40

I'm just going to paddle a small section of it.

0:52:400:52:42

It's very windy today and, as you can see,

0:52:420:52:45

the river's already swollen, so there will be some challenges.

0:52:450:52:49

I've got a camera on my helmet and a couple on the boat so you can enjoy the journey with me.

0:52:490:52:53

'I'm not doing this on my own.

0:52:550:52:57

'Paul Howells is my guide.

0:52:570:52:58

'He's been paddling this stretch of the river for over 40 years,

0:52:580:53:03

'so I'm in safe hands.'

0:53:030:53:04

So, Paul, you know this area incredibly well.

0:53:040:53:07

How has it changed over the years?

0:53:070:53:10

-Well, it's very much now a tourist destination.

-Yeah.

0:53:100:53:12

-And, er...

-How did it used to be?

0:53:120:53:15

Well, just a very industrial, commercial area

0:53:150:53:19

from iron ore smelting

0:53:190:53:21

to the mining, shipping transport up and down to Hereford, etc.

0:53:210:53:26

God, that's quite hard to imagine now - it looks so serene,

0:53:260:53:29

it looks like it's always been this way,

0:53:290:53:31

-but it looked different, didn't it?

-Yeah.

0:53:310:53:33

'I thought I might face some challenges

0:53:330:53:35

'on the river today, and I was right.

0:53:350:53:37

'It wasn't long before the elements got the better of me.'

0:53:370:53:40

It's so windy today!

0:53:400:53:42

ELLIE LAUGHS

0:53:420:53:44

-Right, hang on, I need to right...

-No.

0:53:440:53:46

OK?

0:53:520:53:54

Grab hold of the front of my boat.

0:53:550:53:57

-That was, er, not quite intended.

-Hang on to your boat.

0:53:570:54:01

'I've kayaked a lot in the past but that was quite a moment.

0:54:010:54:06

'The cold water really takes your breath away.

0:54:060:54:08

'Thankfully, Paul was on hand to help.'

0:54:080:54:11

So, Paul, apart from the fact that you can get a very fresh wash,

0:54:110:54:14

what makes this area so appealing for canoeists and kayakers?

0:54:140:54:18

Two things, really. One is the river's a free right of navigation,

0:54:180:54:22

so that means you can just get on and paddle down the river,

0:54:220:54:25

and then the other appeal is the Symonds Yat Rapids,

0:54:250:54:27

and many of our great white-water paddlers

0:54:270:54:31

have started at some point at Symonds Yat.

0:54:310:54:34

'The rapids further downstream were formed

0:54:340:54:36

'when iron-ore slag was dumped into the river

0:54:360:54:39

'during the industrial era.

0:54:390:54:40

'It created an island which forced the water into a channel,

0:54:400:54:43

'but in recent years, erosion has threatened the island's

0:54:430:54:46

'and the rapids' very existence.

0:54:460:54:48

'Working with the Environment Agency,

0:54:480:54:51

'an action group, chaired by Paul, set about protecting the island.

0:54:510:54:55

'Time to get my feet on dry land.'

0:54:580:55:01

Whoo! At least I've warmed up.

0:55:020:55:04

ELLIE LAUGHS

0:55:040:55:05

'I'm meeting David Holland to get a progress report

0:55:050:55:09

'on the final phase of the project.'

0:55:090:55:11

-Are you all right there, David?

-Hello, Ellie, how are you?

-Good.

0:55:110:55:14

-It's a bit treacherous down here.

-A bit slippy, yes, yes.

0:55:140:55:16

-So what work are you doing?

-We've been coppicing some of the larger trees

0:55:160:55:20

to take some of the weight out of them,

0:55:200:55:22

so they don't get pulled out during big floods.

0:55:220:55:25

Is that what you've got here, some of what's left of that work?

0:55:250:55:28

Yes, these are live willow branches.

0:55:280:55:30

We're going to be working on the island

0:55:300:55:32

to try and stabilise the island from erosion.

0:55:320:55:34

My goodness! That looks very vulnerable

0:55:340:55:36

with the river flowing this fast and high.

0:55:360:55:38

Most of it is underwater, the water's flowing fast over it

0:55:380:55:41

-and it's actively eroding at quite a rapid rate.

-Let's take one of these -

0:55:410:55:45

these willow bundles - what happens to this?

0:55:450:55:47

As I say, this is a live branch, so when it's laid in the river or on the soil...

0:55:470:55:51

We lay it down like this?

0:55:510:55:52

Yes, we'll drop it in here, then we'll sink it down.

0:55:520:55:55

Willow has got the amazing ability

0:55:550:55:57

to regrow where you lay it down and the branch touches the soil,

0:55:570:56:00

the plant will start grow again from a cutting.

0:56:000:56:02

In these big floods, the fine sediment gets trapped

0:56:020:56:04

amongst the roughness of the branches,

0:56:040:56:07

and then you'll get grasses coming in

0:56:070:56:08

which will stabilise the bank and start to build up the island.

0:56:080:56:11

It's critical to keeping the rapids going.

0:56:110:56:14

-Yeah.

-If the island goes, the rapids go.

0:56:140:56:17

'And it's those rapids that draw

0:56:180:56:20

'thousands of tourists here each year,

0:56:200:56:22

'even a hardcore few on a cold day in January.'

0:56:220:56:25

Well, they can't have ALL the fun.

0:56:270:56:30

I definitely want a piece of that.

0:56:300:56:32

After all, what's the worst that can happen?

0:56:320:56:34

I've already been wet today.

0:56:340:56:36

Head for the waves now, on the left.

0:56:430:56:45

THEY LAUGH

0:56:450:56:46

-There's some white water!

-SHE LAUGHS

0:56:480:56:50

Whoa! Whee-hee!

0:56:500:56:53

I'm telling you, it's fast!

0:56:530:56:55

Whoa!

0:56:550:56:56

Hee-hee!

0:56:590:57:00

Whoa!

0:57:000:57:02

Absolutely crazy!

0:57:040:57:05

I thought I might find you here

0:57:160:57:18

-by the emergency lifeline.

-Yes, very funny.

0:57:180:57:21

-It was very cold.

-You dried off, then?

-I have at last!

0:57:210:57:24

I'm very happy to say that that's all we've got time for from the beautiful Wye Valley.

0:57:240:57:28

The memories you're going take away from this place.

0:57:280:57:30

Next week, we'll be on Guernsey in the Channel Islands,

0:57:300:57:33

harvesting a local delicacy.

0:57:330:57:34

-Hope you can join us then.

-Bye-bye.

0:57:340:57:36

Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd

0:57:570:57:59

E-mail [email protected]

0:57:590:58:01

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.


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