Ellie Harrison is in Hampshire, where she delves back into the programme's archives to re-discover some of the amazingly different journeys the team have been on around the UK.
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Today I am journeying around Hampshire.
From hills and heaths, to farmland and rivers.
It's a very English landscape.
Nestling in all that lush countryside,
are chocolate-box villages like Botley.
It was once described as the most delightful village in the world.
I'll be walking in the footsteps of its most famous resident,
journalist, radical politician,
farmer and traveller, William Cobbett.
'He was a man who made his name roving around England on horseback
'documenting the plight of the humble farm labourer
'in the early 19th century.'
And it's journeys past I'll be exploring today
in this special edition of Countryfile.
I'm joined by some of the Countryfile team
to look back on the many different journeys we've made around the UK.
Like when Julia let the train take the strain
as she travelled on a rather unusual commuter route.
You've got to admit, it brightens up a train journey.
Matt saddled up to follow ancient packhorse trails.
Such a great experience to be travelling these routes
that so many packhorses have done before you.
It just feels really rugged, he feels so rooted in this landscape.
And John was in good company when he took to the high seas in Wales.
-You don't see boats like this every day.
You must be very proud of her.
In the midst of Hampshire in the Hamble Valley
is the village of Botley,
once home to 19th-century political journalist and former,
He described his home as...
'The most delightful village in the world.
'It is everything in a village I love and none of the things I hate.'
Cobbett was the son of a farmer.
He cared passionately about traditional farming and rural life.
He even started his own newspaper, The Political Register.
And like a modern-day journalist he'd go out and get his own stories.
One issue he returned to again and again
was the plight of the rural Englishman.
'Cobbett's famed for travelling
'all over the countryside of southern England,
'and now I'm walking in his footsteps
'through his favourite bit of Hampshire, on the Cobbett Trail.'
What a lovely house.
'Barbara Biddell is a real fan of this countryman
'who cared so passionately about traditional rural life.'
What sort of a man was Cobbett?
Well, he was a man who loved the country.
But he was a man who had a great belief in himself.
He was quite determined that he was going to fulfil
what he wanted to do which was to be a member of Parliament.
So brought him here to Botley?
What he wanted to do was to give his children a good country living,
to be able to see the primroses in the fields,
to follow the hounds,
to see the hares, and he got to Botley
where he found the farms were small, the cottages were neat,
the people were civil, not servile,
and he could establish himself in Botley.
'Cobbett championed the plight of the farm labourer
'railing against everything from tithes to the Land Enclosure Act
'which deprived country people of their means of earning a living.'
He would attack the ministers
and say why should the ministers have £18,000 a year
when agricultural labourers
had not enough money to feed their wives and families?
'Cobbett campaigned relentlessly for political reform,
'and soon realised the best way to effect change
'was to become a politician himself.'
So his life, really,
was an impressive one considering his humble farm beginnings.
It was extremely impressive
when you think of where he got to from what he was, yes.
I mean, it was astonishing.
'Further along the trail is Cobbett's old parish church.
'The famous countryside campaigner worshipped here,
'but his real love was always the land.'
How much did farming interest him?
A great deal, he loved his farm.
Even though he went bankrupt,
he still got hold of another farm, he couldn't be without a farm.
But he used his farm for experimenting,
and he was working out how to feed his cattle on swedes,
which he then, he put up a steaming shed
because he thought that
that would soften them, I suppose, for the cows.
Extraordinary thing to do.
Expensive, isn't it, experimenting in farming?
Well, it was really,
because he didn't put the chimney up high enough so it all caught fire.
Luckily all the animals were rescued.
He sounds like a bit of a character.
He was. He was a remarkable man,
and he, at his death,
a great many people went to his funeral
and he had an obituary in The Times.
"This man was one of
"the greatest writers of the English language that there had been."
-So that was quite something.
-Quite a compliment.
'William Cobbett was a man of real passion and vision.
'One of his most extraordinary legacies was his book, Rural Rides,
'which documented his horse rides across the country.
'But more of that later.'
Now in William Cobbett's day,
before goods were transported by barge, lorry, and aeroplane,
cargo was moved around the country using packhorses.
Matt took a trip to the South Pennines
to experience what it was like.
'I'm in the rolling hills of Rossendale
'on a timeworn trail through the heart of this bleak country.'
For thousands of years before the days of road and rail
the only way to cross the mighty Pennines was on one of these,
on a packhorse trail.
Come on, son, let's go.
'Trails like these ran the length and breadth of Britain.
'But they were bleak and isolated.
'Lone travellers risked life and limb
'in these harsh, unforgiving hills.
'The only safe way to travel was with others,
'and packhorses were strung together in trains
'to make the arduous crossing.'
'Historian Sue Day has brought her cob along to meet me.
'Bilbo here is the kind of horse that worked these trails.'
How are you on this blustery day? Are you all right?
We're OK, we're used to it!
How's Bilbo, more's to the point?
He's fine, he lives out here 365 days of the year,
so it is nothing to him.
He's looking the part with all this gear.
He has a side load on but he could even have a top load too.
-We could have piled him higher still.
Because at one time packhorses were the motorway of their age.
You have got to imagine anything that needed to be transported,
lime, stone, coal,
either the person carried it
or you'd get the horse to do it, wouldn't you, if you could.
The packhorses of their day, how much stuff would they have carried?
Two hundredweight in old terms,
so it'd take ten horses to carry one tonne between them.
And that's why you had these big packhorse trains,
30, 40, even 60 horses in a train.
Speaking of moving, are you getting restless, Bilbo?
Do you want to take a little wander?
He says I could do 30 miles!
I'm sure he could!
When did these trails die out, then? Why?
The packhorse era was mostly in the mediaeval period,
it went right up to the 1750s,
and what's made packhorses begin to be used less
was the arrival of better road systems,
then vehicles began to take over,
but also you see, you would hit the canal building era as well.
The cargo inside that boat was 20 tonnes,
so there's a bit of a difference, isn't there?
'Time to get back on my horse, Danny.'
We've got a gate to negotiate here.
Here we go.
'Well I haven't ridden for a few months,
'so I think this gate will test us both.'
Good lad! Who's a good boy?
Spin around. Go on, son.
Go on, go on.
Good boy. My trusty steed.
I tell you what, I am just loving this.
Such a great experience to be travelling these routes
that so many packhorses have done before you,
and it just feels really rugged.
He feels so rooted in this landscape.
'I've really enjoyed travelling along the trail today
'but it's time to get out of the saddle.'
No doubting Matt completely fell
head over hoof in love with Danny the cob.
For John it was a love of the Welsh coastline
that took him to the Llyn peninsula and on a memorable boat journey.
The sea is a constant presence on the Llyn peninsula.
It helps create the climate
and dominates the way of life here.
Although they may not look it today,
these waters can be some of the most treacherous on our coastline.
To discover more I have arranged a date
with a bit of a stunner by the name of Vilma.
And there she is.
She looks beautiful, I can't wait to get on board.
'Conditions don't get more perfect than on a day like this.
'I'm joining Scott Metcalfe and his crew to get a real sense
'of what it's like to sail this coast.'
-You don't see boats like this everyday, do you?
You must be very proud of her.
Tell me a little bit about the history of this boat.
She was built in 1934 in Denmark
as a fishing boat.
And what have you transformed her into?
Because she doesn't look much like a fishing boat now!
No. The whole form is very much like the old British sailing coasters.
So we based her on a trading schooner
and we've rigged her as such.
So she looks now
much like a lot of coastal sailing boats
popping into harbours around the coast would have looked
100 or so years ago?
100, 200 years ago, yes.
This would have been very familiar on this coast.
How dangerous are the waters around here?
They are particularly bad around this part of the coast.
It is a very rocky shore.
There are not many lights on this coast.
There's Bardsey Lighthouse, and the next major light
is actually on the north of Anglesey,
so that's a long way away, so it's virtually an unlit coast.
Well, to show you just how perilous it can be
in the past 180 years
no less than 142 ships have been wrecked around the peninsula,
and one in particular has become something of a legend.
It came to grief just over there.
'To learn more I'm heading for dry land
'and I've got my own personal escorts to take me back to shore.
'It's 110 years since The Stuart, a cargo ship
'a lot larger than this vessel, set sail from Liverpool
'heading for New Zealand, but it didn't get very far.
'Local historian Tony Jones has studied the story.'
Well, Tony, tell me exactly what happened.
Well, it was Easter Sunday, early hours of the morning,
and it was thick fog, and pretty calm, like today, actually.
She got lost, did she?
She got completely lost because of the dense fog.
So where did she come ashore?
She come ashore just the other side of that big rock there.
She sailed right up to the rocks
and came crashing onto the rocks with a thundering roar, I'd imagine.
And what happened to the crew? Were they injured?
They were very fortunate,
they got into a lifeboat and came ashore into a bay over there.
The plan of action was to come back at dawn,
and get back on board, and sail it away.
And when they did come back in the morning
they could see straight away she'd broken her keel,
she'd more or less broken in half by then.
So it was a lost cause.
-No way they were going to New Zealand.
So what about her cargo?
She carried a mixed cargo of porcelain,
cotton, there was even six grand pianos!
And one of the local guys,
he injured his back trying to carry one up the path here.
-So people helped themselves then, did they?
But the star prize was the whiskey.
What they called at the time,
there was a large consignment of whiskey in her,
and being a Sunday
no-one was in a hurry to let the Customs know about the wreck,
and by the time Mr Mason Cumberland, the chief Customs officer,
arrived from Caernarfon, there were literally hundreds of people here.
Some said they were like a swarm of locusts all over the wreck.
And a lot of the stuff had gone.
All the good stuff, anyway!
Did they have to hide it or anything?
Yes, they used to hide them in rabbit holes, but the thing is,
they used to get so drunk they couldn't remember where they were.
And they were still finding the odd bottle here only 30 years ago.
-Down a rabbit hole.
-Down rabbit holes, yes.
They carried on even underneath the Customs' eyes.
One way of getting the whiskey up the path
was women used to have bottles of whiskey in their bloomers,
and there's one account of the Customs man stopping one woman
and she had her hands in her pockets,
and he said put her hands up to frisk her,
so she went like that,
her bloomers fell down,
with the two bottles of whiskey in them.
And was anybody ever arrested for all of this?
Well, there's no account of anybody at all being arrested
which I find quite strange,
but I think, who could they arrest?
They would have had to arrest the whole peninsula.
And interrupt a great party.
The party went on for months apparently.
They said it was the best Easter egg that this village ever had.
'Now all that's left, apart from the folklore,
'are a few battered remains of the wreck.
'A warning to modern-day sailors to respect this stretch of coast.'
'We're celebrating great journeys,
'so I've come to Hampshire
'on the trail of William Cobbett,
'a 19th century farmer, radical politician, and journalist.
'Writing was his passion, as was the English countryside.'
When he thought it was under threat from rapid industrialisation
he took to riding around the countryside on horseback
to investigate what was happening in the towns and villages.
His book, Rural Rides, was the result.
'My object was not to see inns and turnpike roads,
'but to see the country,
'to see the farmers at home and see the labourers in the fields.
'And to do this we must go either on foot or on horseback.'
'In his day, Cobbett could ride across country
'going pretty much where he fancied.
'He loved this area
'and his descriptions of the countryside embellish his books.'
His large house has now disappeared,
but he did plant all those very tall trees behind me,
had a keen interest in horticulture
and an eye for making money planting new trees
in the hope of successfully marketing them.
'The English countryside may have changed much since his day,
'but amazingly Rural Rides is still in print,
'180 years after it was first published.'
That's the River Hamble,
it's a tidal river,
and in Cobbett's day it would have been busy with boats
going up and down to Botley's wharf and mill
delivering coal, wheat and flour.
'But our waterways aren't just a means of transporting goods.
'They're jewels in our landscape.
'As I discovered when I headed to Loch Etive
'in western Scotland back in the autumn.
'My skipper for the day is Donald.
'He is the latest in a family line of Loch Etive boatsmen.
'He's carrying on the tradition,
'running boat trips for tourists and fishermen.'
So your father was a boatman, too.
And his father before as well.
-So it's three generations now.
As a child with my father I'd be coming up and down every day
and get to know the loch quite well after a while.
Lucky you, getting to work here.
-It's a nice occupation.
'My first stop is at Dunstaffnage Castle,
'standing guard where Loch Etive meets the sea.
'The castle is one of the oldest in Scotland, nearly 800 years old.'
Built to protect Argyll from invading Norwegians
it sits at a strategic spot
for anyone trying to attack Scotland from the West,
but its most famous moment came a mere 265 years ago
when for a brief period it was the unwanted home of a Highland heroine.
'Flora MacDonald was imprisoned in the castle in 1746
'after she smuggled Bonnie Prince Charlie to Skye.
'Famously he dressed as her female servant to aid his escape.'
Mind you, it's not a bad place to be imprisoned, is it?
The northern half of Loch Etive is the least accessible,
and therefore the most tranquil.
Possibly one of the few remaining places of true wilderness
left in the country.
And with that comes great opportunities to spot wildlife.
'I've arranged for Philip Price to join me
'for the next leg of my journey.'
-Some serious kit you've got there.
-Yes. It does the job.
'He's a wildlife photographer, passionate about
'the flora and fauna of his homeland.'
So, Philip, what is it about Loch Etive
that is so great for wildlife photography?
It's the variety you get in Loch Etive, it's absolutely astonishing.
Just where we are travelling up now,
that's the back of Ben Cruachan up there,
so on the top of Ben Cruachan
you will get hares, all the real mountain, alpine animals.
-Come down the slopes, you get these woodlands.
That's Inverawe over there,
and there is a phenomenal place for red squirrels.
You come down onto the lochside
and you'll get cormorants, shags, eiders, you name it,
you've got all of your marine life down here.
We've even seen otters along the coast here.
So, in terms of pure diversity, you simply can't beat Loch Etive,
it's a wonderful place.
'After venturing north to the quietest part of the loch
'we find what we were looking for.'
Aren't they awesome? Look at that"
You couldn't even dream up that scene, could you?
It's just mind-boggling,
to see this many here, in this location.
And I come here quite regularly.
It's just astonishing.
-Do I did have a go then?
-Yes. Fire away.
What you want to do is get the centre square
when you look through the viewfinder right over the animal's head,
and that means the head of the animal will be in focus.
And when you look through that lens
you will see how gorgeous these animals are.
-And just the scenery and the wildlife.
I was hoping we'd see seals,
but you just never know.
And when it happens,
I'll never get bored of doing wildlife photography,
that unknown, when it does happen, just makes it all the more sweeter.
Oh, wow! Look at that one!
Coming up on this celebration of great journeys...
Adam gets a new perspective on some old rocks.
The sea has broken through that rock,
and now is wearing away at the inside.
Matt helps drive some sheep, but without the aid of wheels.
Hang on! Don't go in front of the car.
Great, there's a car coming in behind us(!)
It's like the M25.
And there's the Countryfile five-day weather forecast.
Now it was a cold winter's day
when Julia went to explore the area
around Barnsley and Huddersfield.
It's known to many as the Old West Riding, and she soon discovered
a short journey on a commuter route could be a surprising one.
It looks like an ordinary train,
it makes the noise of an ordinary train,
but this is no ordinary train.
The 12.17 from Huddersfield is the music train.
You've got to admit, it brightens up the train journey.
-It's an unusual venue, isn't it?
How do people generally react?
Not everyone knows they're getting on the music train, obviously.
No. There are usually quite a few surprised looks.
And always a positive response?
We are all freelance musicians
and play in lots of different conditions,
and this is one of our favourite gigs, really.
And one of the most unusual.
Yes, that as well.
'So why are they doing this?
'Well, it's all part of a strategy to keep this line running.
'The Penistone Line is a true survivor,
'narrowly missing the infamous axe of Dr Beeching in the 60s,
'and further threats to its existence in the 1980s.
'But now it carries over a million passengers a year,
'partly down to regular events like this,
'and the volunteers that run them.'
The views are absolutely stunning, difficult to beat.
It's fantastic, and back in the 1880s
one writer described the line as going
through scenes of surpassing loveliness.
-It still does.
What did you think when this was first tabled,
this idea, look, we're going to put a band on the train?
Well, running railways is a serious business,
so I thought, that's a bit of a funny one.
But I thought, actually,
why not have a bit of fun while you're doing it.
It may be serious,
but the thing about that is it really connects with the community.
It connects with the people,
and that's what they wanted. It's their railway after all.
We just run the bits of metal between it, they own it!
'As well as the ever-changing landscape
'you also get to see some reminders of the area's industrial heritage.
'This Victorian viaduct spans the Dearne Valley at Denby Dale.
'It actually replaced a wooden one
'which wobbled with every train that passed over.
'And a few minutes later
'there is an even bigger and better one on the approach to Penistone.
'Nearly 100 years ago a pillar of Penistone's most famous landmark
'collapsed into the River Don
'taking two arches and a locomotive with it.'
Incredibly no-one was hurt and they managed to recover the train
which they carried on using for another 25 years.
How very Yorkshire.
'Today we're safely across the viaduct without incident,
'and while the music train continues onto Sheffield
'I get off at Penistone to explore the area on foot.'
They look like ramblers.
'I've arranged to meet up with Stuart Parker
'to join one of his guided walks which starts on a disused track.'
Stuart, I know Stuart, I don't know anyone else. Hello.
-Right, let's get going.
So this is the Trans Pennine Trail.
Yes, this is built on a section of the old track bed
of the railway between Sheffield and Manchester.
And it's now just leaving Penistone station here.
Penistone has a reputation of being the coldest station in the country,
and I think we're experiencing some of that today.
-Yes, it's a bit nippy, not that cold.
-The wind coming off the moors.
'30 years ago freight trains packed with coal
'would thunder from the South Yorkshire coalfields
'to the power stations in the North West.
'We're heading towards the village of Silkstone Common,
'but when you look at the views
it's surprising to think we're less than four miles from Barnsley.'
We've been out in some
lovely countryside on the edge of Barnsley town,
and it has a proud industrial heritage of mining and industry,
and yet you are on the edge of open countryside,
criss-crossed with public footpaths,
an ideal area to explore the villages close on the boundaries.
A fantastic way to do it using the trains as well,
using the train lines.
Exactly, using the train,
hourly train service between Barnsley and Huddersfield,
getting off at stations,
walking the footpaths between stations,
ending at a local hostelry.
Very important that bit!
Jumping on the train back home, ideal.
'Well, we've definitely missed that train,
'so time for a little ale in the pub,
'and what better place to end
'my whistle-stop tour of the Penistone Line
'and the countryside beyond.'
Julia there on an offbeat train ride.
But now we're travelling south for an altogether different journey.
Stretching for almost 100 miles
these dramatic and crumbling cliffs are a wonder of the natural world.
This is the Jurassic Coast,
and Adam went to Dorset to explore beaches that reveal history
millions of years old.
Here at Charmouth the cliffs are being eroded at an incredible rate.
But for some it is seen as the key to conserving this coast.
Because as each layer of rock is exposed
it reveals Earth's ancient history.
'Erosion also opens a treasure chest
'of incredible secrets about our past.'
Fossils, free again from the earth
for the very first time in millions of years.
-Hi, are you all right?
How are you getting on? I found this someone's left on the beach.
-Chipped it open.
-Yes, quite nice.
That's a little ammonite, that's about 190 million years old.
I've been picking up stones, is that any good?
Probably not, there's a lot of calcite crystal in there,
it's not really flat enough.
It's a real art, isn't it?
It takes a bit of practice. I've had lots of practice.
-What other things have you found?
-Oh, all sorts of things.
-What else have you got?
We've got a few pieces.
That's a vertebra from an ichthyosaurus.
A reptile that looks rather like a dolphin.
This is a belemnite,
the remains of the fossil squid or squid-like animal.
It takes quite a trained eye, doesn't it, to spot them?
Anybody would think that was just a rock.
Absolutely, that's right.
Just a little bit of knowledge can be awfully helpful.
-Cos the rocks are just moving all the time.
-They are, that's right.
Very soft rock so easily eroded.
So new things are coming onto the beach constantly.
How long have you been at it?
I started when I was six years old, and never really grew up.
-Thank you very much.
-All right, bye.
'As you head east along the Jurassic Coast
'the landscape becomes even more spectacular.
'Lulworth Cove was formed
'when waves punched their way through hard rocks
'and gouged away the softer sandstone and clay
'creating this perfect horseshoe shape.'
It's one of a number of incredible sights along this coastline,
and to get that extra special view I'm heading out there.
-Just hop in then?
Good day for a paddle. Yes. Hop in.
Off we go.
'I'm kayaking off the coast from Lulworth
'to experience its geological wonder up close.
'Terry Sallows is my guide, as well as Paul in the safety kayak.'
We're now heading into Stairhole, a set of two caves.
This is where the sea has eroded
through the actual harder core of the Portland stone.
It's just amazing, isn't it?
The way the sea has broken through there.
-It's taken millions of years to get to this stage.
Just here we can see the Lulworth Crumple,
and this is where the continents have met
and it has pushed the rocks up
which created this formation which is quite unique.
Amazing fold, isn't it?
It's beautiful, beautiful.
This soil just on the inside is a lot softer
than the harder Portland stone which is on the outside.
So the sea has broken through that rock
and now is wearing away the inside.
And that really is only accessible via paddle boat like this, isn't it?
You wouldn't attempt
to go in there with an outboard on the back of the boat,
that's for sure.
A real treat.
'My final destination is Durdle Door,
'one of the most famous landmarks of the Dorset coast.'
Certainly gives you a sense of scale.
This is quite an iconic landmark along the British coastline.
Why is it called Durdle Door?
Durdle means piercing or opening, and of course, door.
-So piercing, opening door.
It actually looks a little bit like dragon's head, don't you think?
He's drinking out of the water.
Certainly from the other side you can see the head and the neck
and the great long body and tail.
Some locals call it durdledaurus!
Today I'm journeying through Hampshire.
This bit of the county looks as it would have in William Cobbett's day.
But it was only with the advent of the railways
that the rest of Britain could savour its most fiery export.
One of Hampshire's most famous crops is watercress and I really like it.
The plant's heyday was the Victorian period.
Bought in a bunch it could be consumed on the go
and would even be eaten in sandwiches at breakfast time.
So why do we love watercress? Why did the Victorians love it too?
Well, I think we've always had a love affair with watercress.
It started off as early as Hippocrates in Ancient Greece,
back in 460 BC.
He knew it was really good for you
and built a hospital right next to it.
The Romans loved it, we've always known it's very healthy.
Nowadays, with nutritional analysis, we can prove how healthy it is.
Why does it seem to do so well down here in Hampshire?
It's all based on the aquifer, it's all about the underground water
that slowly filters through the chalk and picks up the nutrients.
Watercress loves that.
It's based on the quality of the nutrients in the water,
it picks up the calcium.
It's very rich in calcium and in vitamin C as well.
What determines how strong and fiery it is?
Time of year is dependent on the strength of it,
but also the age of the crop.
The older the crop gets, it gets a stronger taste.
Right about now, an over wintered UK crop is about
as strong a tasting as you can get.
-So this is the fiery stuff?
-This will blow your head off.
I've got to test it now you've said that!
-Mm. Cor, it's good and fiery, isn't it?
So why is there this link then with the watercress and the railway?
Watercress has always been quite a perishable vegetable,
-so it's always about time to market, it's still the case now.
The railways used to pack it into wicker flats
so this is a reconstruction of a flat.
You had half flats and full flats.
A half flat contained about half a hundredweight,
so about 25 kilos of watercress.
So how much of it were they shifting up to London?
It was considerable amounts.
Around about the 1900s, mid 1800s,
there were about 1,000 acres of watercress farms in the UK.
And most of that was going to the main markets,
London, Birmingham, even as far as Liverpool, up to Edinburgh.
Nowadays it's really shrunk
and concentrated to about 150 acres in the UK.
In a moment I'm going to be heading up to the railway
to see for myself how the watercress was sent to London.
First, here's the Countryfile weather forecast for the week ahead.
I'm in Hampshire looking back at some of the journeys
we've made on Countryfile.
We've travelled by kayak, by foot and even on horseback.
But we couldn't miss out on steam.
The Mid Hants railway was once a busy branch route
serving nearby villages and agricultural communities.
But it was a locally grown product that gave it its pet name -
the Watercress Line.
As we've heard the heyday of watercress was the Victorian period
and with the development of the railway,
tonnes of it was transported up to the markets in Covent Garden.
So paint a picture, what would have been like here back then?
Apart from the watercress trains that went from over there,
the you'd have had the normal passenger trains, about one an hour.
Then you'd have had some through trains as well,
which would be going from Southampton up to London,
and the normal freight trains.
-Normal hustle and bustle of a countryside market town really.
Why didn't it carry on?
It was the general decline of the railways
and the move to road transport.
In the '50s and '60s everyone moved to the road
and once they loaded the watercress and freight onto the lorries
at the farms, they might as well drive it to market on the lorries.
The railway finally closed in the early 1970s,
and quickly fell into disrepair.
But where's there's a steam railway, there's an enthusiast.
And after years of painful restoration it's now running
again as a heritage railway.
The line runs for ten miles from Arlesford to Alton.
Well, that was pretty noisy and smelly.
I just saw the signalman give something to the driver,
I'm going to find out what it was.
-Hello, may I come in?
-Pleased to meet you.
I'm being nosey, I wanted to find out what you were doing
giving something to the driver down there.
Well, the driver has to have an authority
to go on to the single line.
These key tokens are issued by this machine and the machine
guarantees that only one token can be out at any one time.
You're like the air traffic controller,
-telling him it's safe to go.
-In a rather minor way, yes.
It's all pretty important, their safety!
-That's an amazing invention, is that old?
-Yes, early 1900s.
Isn't that clever?
Mr Tyer, an electric key token machine.
-And you can't get that out?
-You can try, you can try and get that out.
-If you lift it up.
-Yes, I'm trying.
Put it up in there and you try and turn that out now.
No, there is no way I'm getting that out. Isn't that brilliant?!
The only way you can get that out is with
the cooperation of the signaller at the other end
when he holds his plunger in.
-And then we can get one out and one only.
So you're safe on the Watercress Line.
-You're safe on the Watercress Line.
-Good to know.
-Thanks for letting me come in.
-What an amazing place.
-Brilliant. I'll leave you to it.
Historically, moving agricultural produce from A to B
involved a lot more work than it does today.
But it wasn't just the train taking the strain
as Matt discovered when he moved sheep to new pastures,
it wasn't a walk in the park either.
Today the Lincolnshire Wolds are a patchwork of arable fields.
But a few centuries ago it was livestock,
and in particular sheep, that dominated the landscape.
Like the Cotswolds,
the Lincolnshire Wolds grew rich off the back of the boom in wool trade.
In an age when there was no motorised transport
the only way to move animals to market was to walk them there
sometimes hundreds of miles.
For centuries, farmers relied on a network of alleyways
laid out between fields known as droving roads.
Many of them still exist today,
transporting cars not sheep.
But to find out what it was like for drovers herding their animals
I'm going to retrace one of their traditional routes
here in the Wolds.
The plan is to walk this flock of rare breed Lincoln Longwools
to fresh pasture about three miles from here.
Now I have moved loads of sheep around our farm in Durham, but...
to drove this lot down unfamiliar roads is going to be interesting.
I have enlisted the help of their owner Mike Harrison.
So plan of action, are we going to get them straight into that corner?
-That's the way.
-Round we go then. Come on, girls.
'Mike regularly hires his sheep out
'to nearby farmers to help graze their land.
'Normally he'd move them the whole way by trailer
'but today he's going to help us turn the clock back.'
-They are off at speed a little bit.
Great. We better catch up with them
because wherever we're going it's not going to take us long!
'So we're off to a flying start.'
I don't think the traditional drovers were joggers.
This is interesting cos we have got a car coming in front of us here.
-There we are, perfect.
Ooh, hang on, don't go in front of the car.
Great, there's a car coming in behind us(!)
It's like the M25!
-Good job you come along you know.
-I tell you what, Mike...
'We're approaching the halfway point,
the perfect time to stop and take a breather.
They're quite keen to get their heads down now, do a bit of grazing.
Traditionally, a lot of Wolds farms had grazing down on the out marsh,
down near the coast.
And this would be a very traditional sight as these animals
made their way to their summer grazing
and back again in the autumn.
'Drovers would have walked sheep across the countryside
'like this for hundreds of years.
'In other parts of the country all kinds of livestock, from horses,
'geese, turkeys and cows, would have all been moved in this way.'
Come on then, girls, let's keep going. It's lovely this.
-It's a lovely walk if nothing else.
Best kept secret, this part of the world.
Journey's end is in sight, just a few more yards to go.
That's it, girls.
Straight through the gateway.
There we are.
Oh, right at the last minute we nearly lost one! Super.
-We did it, team, we did it.
Our droving is complete, in front of an audience as well.
What a lovely way to finish. Very nice.
-Look at that, they look happy, don't they?
'And for the Lincoln Longwools, time for a well-earned rest.'
And with that, we're at our journey's end.
That's it for this special edition of Countryfile.
Next week, we'll be on the Suffolk coast with Matt.
See you then, bye-bye!
Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd
Ellie Harrison is in Hampshire, where she delves back into the programme's archives to re-discover some of the amazingly different journeys the team have been on around the UK.
Ellie walks in the footsteps of journalist, radical politician, farmer and traveller William Cobbett as she travels through his beloved home village of Botley. She also takes a steam train on the famous Watercress Line and learns about the history of this once busy transport link. And Ellie is not the only one on the train; Julia Bradbury is on the Penistone Line in Yorkshire, where music helps her journey pass by.
Matt Baker is on horseback in Lancashire as he treads an old packhorse route. John Craven is under sail power as he travels around the Llyn Peninsula in the company of dolphins, and Adam Henson explores the Dorset coast by kayak.