Matt Baker and Julia Bradbury journey to Shropshire to find out how the landscape has inspired people for generations to get out into the countryside to live a healthier life.
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Shropshire - a mostly rural county.
A surprising landscape full of all things to discover.
A feast for the mind and the body.
Think of this place as one big outdoor gym.
Well, that's what William Penny Brookes did.
This far-sighted Victorian
thought that more people should get out and about to get fit,
and it was an idea that gave rise to the biggest show on earth -
But you don't have to be an athlete
to get something out of this landscape.
Artists and authors have too.
Like Penny Brookes, Malcolm Saville, the children's author,
encouraged children to seek out
wild adventures in the Shropshire landscape,
which is exactly what I'll be doing later.
Well, a wet landscape, anyway.
And Adam's looking at how state-of-the-art technology
is proving fruitful for one Lancashire dairy farmer.
These are robots, and behind there, they're milking cows 24/7.
But this kind of technology doesn't come cheap. I'll be finding out more.
Secret, silent, splendid.
A little-known part of Britain
tucked away on the English-Welsh border.
A quiet county that's got loads to shout about, whatever the weather.
Including this little fella.
Wenlock, one of the mascots for London 2012,
because, believe it or not,
this sleepy little town in Shropshire
is where the inspiration for the modern Olympic Games was ignited.
to Much Wenlock.
It was the brainchild of a local doctor
that laid the foundation for what would become
the biggest sporting event on the planet.
Well, there's only a few days to go until the opening ceremony,
and it really is quite something to be stood outside of the house
of the man who had this vision that the whole world
is going to be gripped by over the next few weeks.
William Penny Brookes was a local GP, who lived,
worked and died in Much Wenlock.
'The dream was to promote the moral, physical and intellectual improvement
'of the inhabitants of the town, and especially the working classes.'
And he did that by establishing the Wenlock Olympian Games
more than 160 years ago,
a legacy which continues in the town today.
He was a real Mr Motivator of his time,
pushing the masses to a better quality of life.
Brookes also campaigned throughout his life
to make sure physical exercise became part of kids' education,
something that some will thank him for,
and others might not appreciate so much.
One man who knows all about William Penny Brookes
is Chris Cannon, archivist to the Wenlock Olympian Society,
who happens to dress for the part too.
He had this vision.
Others didn't have the vision of the world getting together
for a great sporting festival like we're seeing in London.
He knew what he wanted. He campaigned throughout his life
to get a national games in this country.
He started a London Olympics in 1866.
He then wanted to promote a world games, and so he contacted Athens.
In 1859, he sent a £10 prize to Greece
to promote their Olympian Games, and then finally, in 1890,
a man called Baron Pierre de Coubertin
came to Much Wenlock, and that was the start of the Olympic dream.
He took the glory! Because everybody always talks about him, don't they?
They do, they do. But the inspiration,
the torch, if you like,
was passed from Brookes to Coubertin.
Is this an Olympian's medal?
This is a Wenlock Olympian Society medal,
-presented by the society for the pentathlon.
And it's got on it there Nike, who is the goddess of victory,
standing on the world, and that appears on the London 2012 medals.
But what kind of individual events were there?
Well, obviously, in 1850, when the first Games were held here,
the Games were quite simple.
There were quaint titles of "Running high leap", "Running long leap".
But he also included events like knitting, sewing,
that would bring the whole community, cos his thing was
everybody should take part - the old, the young, the rich, the poor.
His phrase was,
"I want every grade of man to take part in my Olympian Games."
OK, you say "every grade of man" - what about every grade of woman?
Well, you did have events for women.
We only ever had one event for women in the early days
and that was an old ladies race for £1 a team.
Mind you... Be careful, because old ladies were only 45 in those days.
-Right. And did they get a medal like that?
-No, they didn't.
-Just the tea?
Tea or no tea, women didn't actually compete in the Olympic Games
These days though, there are plenty of women bucking the trend.
None more so than Shropshire girl Alison Williamson.
She won bronze at Athens 2004, making her the only person
to have won medals at both the Wenlock Olympian Games and the Olympics.
While she's busy preparing for London 2012, there are lots
of other young archers hoping to follow in her footsteps.
Alice Cotton is a Wenlock competitor with her eye on the target.
Come rain or shine, she practises every day
with the Shropshire countryside as a backdrop.
On sunny days, she's out on the field. But when the weather turns...
..the indoor range is the only option.
'Especially for a beginner like me.'
Can I have a bow and have a crack at this? I'm chomping at the bit here.
I think they'll get me a little plastic one,
with a sucker on the end of the arrow.
'Archery coach, Amanda Slack, is also here,
'just to make sure that my arrows don't do any damage.'
-How long have you been firing a bow for?
-Six years now.
This is your finger guard. It goes like that, OK?
That's a beauty, isn't it?
-Oh, I haven't got a sight on mine, have I?
-No. You're going to shoot...
-Hang on! How come you get sights?
-Absolutely straight in the yellow, there. Or gold.
'At the tender age of 16, Alice is on her way to Olympic stardom.'
And what level of competition are you at now?
I'm a member of the Archery GB Performance Academy,
so they're training us to go to the Olympics in eight, 12 years' time.
-Wow, so you're aiming for...
Let's go and have a look.
-Hey, we're a good team.
This is all right.
-Quite good for a beginner.
-You've got the makings of a good archer.
-Can I have a go at the 70 metres? Please, coach?
MUSIC: "Eye Of The Tiger" by Survivor
-It's a long, long way. This is the Olympic distance.
-It is, yes.
Look at the suspense on the balcony above!
-ARROW CLATTERS ON FLOOR
-It's a bit short.
Oooh! I've hit the roof! I've hit the roof! Sorry.
I've hit the roof...
Hang on, did you hear Alice, just in my ear there, go "A bit higher".
-No, too far left.
Well... I'm obviously not going to make the...the GB team here, but...
-I'm sure they'll do us proud.
-And I'm sure in 2020, we'll be watching you.
-I hope so.
-I've thoroughly enjoyed that.
-Lovely. Very good.
Right, has anyone got a number for the roofer?
Just a few miles from Matt,
the River Clun snakes its way down through the Shropshire hills.
A bright and beautiful river, beloved of anglers and poets alike.
But I'm not here for sport or literature.
I'm here to find out what's happening to one of our rarest
and most endangered creatures - the freshwater pearl mussel.
Freshwater pearl mussels are cousins of the kind
you find at the seashore.
They're one of the key species for indicating fresh water quality.
Get it right for them, and everything else benefits.
Any kind of water pollution is bad news.
It's one of the key reasons their numbers are in serious decline,
but here on the River Clun, they're hanging on in there...
but only just.
They were once common on this river.
Now they're confined to just a couple of short stretches.
This Environment Agency team are scouring the riverbed
as part of the latest population survey.
That's looking promising, you're crouched down in a positive way.
-Have you got one?
-Yes, we have indeed.
-Would you like me to take him out?
-I'm dying to see one.
-That's a freshwater pearl mussel.
Thanks, Julie - come on up here. Wow.
Now, I've been in search of these before and I know how elusive
they are and how tricky they are to find,
so this is a very good sign, isn't it?
Yes, it is. They're an extremely rare animal. It's endangered.
It has the same status as the panda.
We've lost 90% of European populations.
'It's OK for me to handle this one, because Julia is supervising
'and she has a special licence.
'Disturbing mussels without one is a criminal offence.'
They're called the pearl mussel, because there is a pearl in there?
That's a very, very rare occurrence.
The pearl itself... You can have thousands of pearl mussels
with just one pearl in it.
They're not really...
The value isn't in the pearl, it's in this very rare, endangered creature.
How old is this one?
They live to about 120 years old and they grow to about 15 centimetres.
That's roughly 15 centimetres, so just as a rough gauge,
if we do that, we can see
it's approximately 60, 70 years old.
This one's 60 or 70 years old, what about the juveniles? Where are they?
Right. This is the problem with populations within Europe
and within the Clun itself -
unfortunately we've not found any juvenile pearl mussels at all.
There's been extensive surveys.
We're very, very well aware that they're breeding.
The males and females are releasing their sperm and their eggs.
-The eggs are getting into the water...
-They are somewhere.
They are somewhere. Whether they're surviving...
They're being released into the water, but whether they're actually surviving
once they're in the riverbed, is another matter.
Part of the problem is the larva are too small to see in the river.
But there is a way of checking that they're here.
These tiny larva, called glochidia
snap shut on the gills of an unsuspecting fish -
a salmon, or a trout - and there they stay for the next ten months.
These little white spots are what we're looking for - mussel larva.
Fish's gills are rich in oxygen, which is just what they need.
It's a vital relationship - without it,
the young mussels wouldn't survive.
So it's important that the river has a good,
healthy trout and salmon population.
Finding that out involves electro-fishing.
It doesn't hurt the fish, but it certainly does catch them.
How does it actually work, Martin?
Well, what happens is,
the electricity we're delivering
from the anode here
attracts the fish.
It causes a muscular response
and they swim towards that ring.
-There was one, just going down by Pete's leg, there.
-Go on, Pete...
-And that's about the right age that we're looking for.
Taking a close look at these trout
gives us lots of information about their health and numbers.
Plenty of healthy fish improves chances for the pearl mussels.
All the trout that we caught there are of good size, the largest one
is probably a three-year-old trout, from the size of it.
Quite slow-growing, but as you can see, a fine specimen.
Not damaged at all by the electric fishing.
This one looks in pretty good shape,
but exacting measurements have to be taken.
First of all, we will measure the fork length.
Bring the nose up to the point and then from here,
we can see that this fish is roughly 207 millimetres in length.
So the next thing we need to do is to take a scale from the fish.
If you press your thumb down there,
they'll be in the scale packet and the scale information will give us
an idea of how old that fish was, but also how quickly it's growing.
This is a good idea then to see how well the population is
and whether it's viable for the pearl mussel.
The fish here appear to be healthy and in good numbers,
which is great news, but it's not all about the fish.
Water quality is key to the pearl mussel's life-cycle.
Getting THAT right is tricky.
Unless you get yourself one of these -
it's a solar-powered water pump.
Adam, what on earth has it got to do with molluscs?
This is part of our new demonstration farm here at Purslow farm.
It's a solar-powered cattle drinker.
How it works is the solar panel powers a pump,
which pumps water up from the river into the tank and into the trough.
So you don't want the cows going down to the river.
No, because they're going to cause siltation and they'll drop
their waste into the river, cause pollution and cause those molluscs,
those freshwater pearl mussels, loads of problems.
The cow hooves churn up the river banks.
This creates the silt which can smother young mussels,
starving them of oxygen and killing them.
It could explain why we're only seeing older,
bigger mussels in the river.
There's this big gap, isn't there, in the freshwater mussels.
They are found on the gills of the juvenile fish.
There are adult, 60, 70-year-old fresh mussels in this river.
What's happened in between? Where are they?
We don't know for sure, but there's three reasons, probably.
One of them is water quality.
After the war there was intensification of farming
and there was an increase in agro-chemical use.
Secondly, the unknown factor is metaldehyde use in this area,
which is a molluscicide and can kill slugs,
but it can also affect the freshwater pearl mussel.
Thirdly, and most importantly, is siltation.
Keep the cows out of the river
and the silt should stop being a problem.
Fence off the river and they'll have no option
but to drink from the solar-powered trough.
Work like this is a start,
but it's going to require a continued effort to save the river mussels.
And time may be running out.
What's the outlook, Julie?
It's not good, unfortunately, for the Clun freshwater pearl mussel.
They're at a critical stage now. It's just a matter of time, really.
-We're talking of maybe 15 years...
-Before they're extinct?
-Extinct within the Clun.
-That's very sad.
Desperate situation for them, really.
Hopefully, it won't come to that.
Julie and her team will keep looking for those elusive juveniles
and they'll do their best to make sure the river is ready for their return.
From the river to the sea.
Here's Ellie in Cornwall, finding out about a very special crab.
The oceans and rivers of planet Earth -
home to some of the most aggressive creatures in the world.
And then there's the piranha.
Don't fancy a dip with that, either.
Or the stingray, for that matter.
But there are some fierce little fellows much closer to home
and they can be found...
Don't get me wrong - they don't pose a major danger to us,
but to each other...
They like a bit of a scrap.
Dr Mark has been studying the personalities and aggressive traits of hermit crabs
in the rock pools around Looe Harbour in Cornwall for more than 15 years.
-You all right there, Mark?
-How're you doing?
So there's a bit of aggro behaviour in our rock pools, is there?
That's right, yes.
This is a snail called Littorina littorea,
and hermit crabs use empty Littorina littorea shells
instead of making their own shells.
This is what they fight over.
So if you want to spot a hermit crab, basically the easiest way to get
your eye in is to watch for snails that are moving too quickly to be a snail.
You'll see them walking about, often along the edges
and the fringes of the seaweed.
Incredibly easily missed, unless you know what you're looking for.
It's one of those things, once you've seen it once, you keep seeing it.
Until you've seen it for the first time, you don't notice them, exactly.
'Right. Time to find some of these fiery fellas.'
-Ah, found one over here already.
-Oh, you've got one.
A couple, yes - here we go.
They tend to be quite aggregated in their distribution.
So when you find one, you'll usually find a couple.
So can you see this guy just walking about here?
Kind of climbing over some little stones,
flicking his antennae away to feel around his immediate environment.
We can pick them up and have a look.
They tend to hide inside their shells when you pick them up.
-Oh yes, he's just gone in. You can just see the little claws there, sticking out.
-Can you see how one claw is bigger than the other claw?
If you take them out of their shell, you can see not only
are their claws lopsided,
but their abdomen kind of twists around to one side,
to fit into the shell, exactly.
Isn't that amazing?
So they're really well adapted for using this resource of an empty snail shell,
which means they don't have to grow their own shell -
it's a clever evolutionary strategy.
Mark's findings on the hermits
helped to give us a better understanding of the evolution
of these incredible invertebrates.
So now he's taking me back to the lab to see a couple of them
-So, this is our behaviour room.
Stephen here is observing a fight between two hermit crabs
that we've set up earlier.
These are crabs taken from the site we visited this morning at Hannafore
and we have a large crab and a small crab
and we've put the large crab into a shell that's too small
and the small crab into a shell
that's just right for the larger crab.
-So you staged the fight?
-I see, OK. Look, here we go.
So what's that ting-ting-ting sound?
That's something called shell rapping.
The attacking crab is whacking his shell against the surface
of the defending crab's shell and we've been studying this for ages.
We think it's a kind of signal.
It's one of these examples of aggressive behaviour that you see
right the way through the animal kingdom, where the fight's settled
not by the animals trying to injure each other,
but through the use of communication.
We think the signal is telling the defending crab
something about the attacking crab's ability to fight.
So it's kind of like a signal of stamina.
I'm guessing that this crab is about to be successful
and I think the defender is about to come out of its shell.
See - there we go.
That's an eviction and now the attacking crab has won that shell.
-In one seamless move, he just hopped straight across.
And there's still a bit of a battle.
Well, the attacking crab hasn't quite decided whether the shell
that it's just vacated... Whether it's a good idea to do that or not.
It wants to try to keep the defending crab out of it -
not successfully this time - before it completely gives it up.
Now both crabs have a shell, but the attacking crab has won the big shell.
-They both went straight into a shell. Is that because they're vulnerable without it?
It's really bad if you're a hermit crab to be without a shell,
because if you saw their abdomen, it's really soft -
is not protected by a hardened exoskeleton.
If you hang around for too long without a shell, you could easily
become dinner for another marine organism in the rock pool.
I find the research Mark and his team are up to truly remarkable.
All that's left to do now is take the hermits home...
to the rock pools of the Cornish coast.
There you go. Free at last.
Back in Shropshire, I'm exploring the county's lush countryside
and rumpled hills.
And what better way to see it than from the air...without an engine.
The graceful art of gliding has a long history in Shropshire.
It's home to the Midlands Gliding Club,
one of the oldest in the country.
And believe it or not,
it almost became an Olympic sport in its own right.
More than 75 years ago,
there were serious moves to get gliding accepted
as an official event at the Olympic Games,
but it never took off.
So Bruce, gliding very nearly became an Olympic sport.
Tell us how and why.
It actually made its Olympic debut in 1936 at the Winter Games and
then it was an official demonstration sport in the 1936 summer games.
In 1940, when the Games were with the Japanese at Tokyo, they provisionally
accepted it and of course by the time the Second World War started...
of course, the 1940 Games sadly didn't happen.
But all is not lost,
because gliding has been part of the Wenlock Olympian Games.
-It is, yes.
-This is its first year, yes?
-It is indeed.
And how do you compete, then, in gliding?
Basically, in gliding it's obviously weather dependent.
So if we've got wet weather, etc, it causes us a real problem,
but any good summer's day with little puffy clouds in the sky -
that's what glider pilots are looking for.
We use thermals to basically get us from point A to point B.
And what is it then, that really does it for you with this sport?
Just being able to disconnect yourself from all the worries
on the ground, normal pressures in life.
There's nothing better than gliding along
and seeing a big red kite on your wing tip. It's special.
Go back to the 1930s and gliders were being specially built
to a standard spec, in preparation for their Olympic debut.
And fittingly, they were called the Olympia.
Although they never met their Olympic destiny,
many models are still being lovingly restored.
And they would be flown today, too, if the English weather
hadn't descended on us in all of its damp fury.
Ideal conditions(!) Perfect visibility, ideal day for gliding.
-Roger, what have you done with the weather?
-Is terrible, isn't it?
-Should've been here yesterday.
-Indeed. Well, we're all together,
cos we're going to do a bit of rigging. Nice to see you, lads.
I understand you've got a lovely surprise in here.
Well, this is the Olympia glider,
which is the same design as the one that was used
in the original 1936 Olympics.
Really? Brilliant. Let's get her out.
Roger and his gliding pals share the ownership of the Olympia.
It's a bit like a flat-pack toy and in less than half an hour,
it's almost ready to fly.
It's very light.
-It's mostly fresh air.
-Otherwise it wouldn't fly.
-Are you going round there, then?
You can see those two pins.
We've just got to make sure that we get it engaged in that, so...
-That's getting closer now.
-Back a bit more.
That's pretty good. There it is.
Well, you've done a beautiful job with this restoration project. What have you had to do?
Well, in the past, I've removed all of the covering from the wings
and the tailplane.
Obviously, that exposes all of the structure inside,
so you can check it all out.
I'm judging by your nails here that the red paint
-is quite a new addition.
-That's it. Yesterday!
I'd better do a good job helping Roger assemble this glider,
because we seem to have some rather harsh critics watching the proceedings.
How long do you think they're going to take to finish, then?
At this rate, never, I think.
They missed a bit, anyway. I've got this bit here, they've forgotten.
Won't fly without that.
What was it like, the moment when you got into this 1936 spec
and thought... Right, here we go - let's take her up into the air!
Well, it is quite interesting to fly
-in something that's older than yourself.
-Just a bit.
You have to trust the designer and you have to trust the guy
who looks at it to make sure it's all right. Unfortunately, that's me!
Being a ripe old age is no hindrance to these vintage Olympia gliders,
flying with all the grace and charm of more modern designs.
And luckily for me, today I'm getting a special treat,
despite the weather.
These guys are letting me experience the Olympia for myself.
Well, what a privilege to be sat here, in the cockpit,
up in the clouds.
It's just a shame we haven't left the ground. Cheers, lads.
On a day like today, I think this is as good as it's going to get.
Anyway, here's what else is coming up on tonight's programme.
-We put on our own Olympic Games with a green twist.
Ready, steady, go!
-And the weather's not dampening our Olympic spirit.
But will there be sunshine in the week ahead? Find out with the Countryfile forecast.
In the Cotswolds, it's an early start for Adam.
He's responsible for all sorts of wonderful animals on his farm.
But it's Eric the bull
and some of his rare breed rams that are in need of his attention.
Come on, Pearl.
Heel. (Good girl.)
Here, come on.
I've got a group of my rare breed rams in here.
We've got Norfolk Horns and a Castlemilk Moorit
and I'm preparing them for a show and sale.
In the show ring, they need to be well-behaved
so that hopefully they'll pick up a rosette
and if they get Breed Champion, we'll then get a premium price.
So what I'll do is give them a few nuts there...
Just slip a halter on this ram...
This is the first day. We haven't started this yet,
so they could be a bit lively when you first put a halter on them. Ooh, don't fight over it.
Come on, then.
Got to get it round the back of his horns.
There. Come on, then.
Right... Look out, dog. Out.
Right then, fella.
There's a good boy.
So, to start off with,
he's just got to learn that he can't get away from the halter.
Out, Pearl. There's a good girl.
It's all about patience. Just slowly, slowly with them. That's it.
With the rams, they do tend to be a little bit more stroppy
because they're big, tough boys, full of attitude.
Aren't you, mate?
Oops, dropped him - oopsy! Never mind, disaster!
Whoa now, fella. Whoa, whoa.
Oopsy. That'll do, Pearl. That'll do.
No, Pearl - out, out, out.
Bit of rodeo! I dropped the halter!
'Despite my blunder, he's making good progress.
'Hopefully, he'll catch the eye of the judges in the show ring and perhaps win a rosette or two.'
It's no good pulling them.
If you pull from the front, all they do is pull back.
So you've really got to walk from behind and just knee him along a bit.
Go on. Encourage them to walk forward.
Tell you what, let's give you a little good boy, a little titbit.
There you are. Look... Here we are.
It's quite good to give them a bit of a reward so they don't hate this.
They think of it as something nice
and a good way to an animal's heart is through its stomach.
There we are, mate. Enjoyed that, didn't you?
Right. That's enough for him today. I'll pop him back.
Come on, then. Come back in with your mates.
'Not all my animals are in such good health.
'Eric, my Highland bull has been having problems with his feet,
'so I've called in a specialist to take a closer look.
'Eric Samson has been a foot trimmer all his life,
and takes great pride in his pedicures.
-With your namesake!
I think he's better looking, though.
So what do you think might be the problem,
cos he was lame for a few days, then he got better again,
-but his feet do seem quite long.
-They are long.
Far too long for a Highland.
They should be a lot shorter, a lot stubbier.
-He's started to go back on his heel quite a lot.
-Get out, get out!
-Let's get her out of the way! Get out, go on!
This is brilliant, this contraption.
I mean, he's the best part of a ton of bull and you've got him
completely contained and he seems to be fine.
Absolutely. Normally, the bigger they are, the quieter they are.
-And I've had bulls in here nearly two ton.
-Because the Highland cattle are quite a small breed, aren't they?
I mean, I've got Dexters to do tomorrow, those are smaller still.
But that's a bit like foot-trimming Labradors!
It's the easiest way of actually foot-trimming cows.
It reduces the stress and you can get all the foot.
Give him two or three days, he'll be absolutely fine.
-Sometimes when he was walking around he was a bit tender.
That could carry on for a few days.
Given a bit of motivation he'll be absolutely fine.
Bit more towards you, that's it.
'It's time to turn Eric back into the field.
'But it's always best to be wary of those horns,
'particularly if he's feeling sore.'
Turn round. There's a good fellow.
'Hopefully in a few days he'll be as right as rain.'
With our sheep and cattle at home it's very hands-on,
but if you don't move with the times you can get left behind,
and often technology can be the key to success.
But in dairy farming it's renowned for long hours and hard work,
having to get up early to milk the cows.
That is, unless you've got some robots to help you out.
'And that's what a farmer in Lancashire has done.
'David Talbot has a herd of 180 cows.
'He's recently invested in some of the latest technology.'
-Good to see you.
-So this is your amazing robotic milking parlour.
-This is it.
Goodness me, it's coming at me, this robot! So what's going on here, then?
How does it all work?
Well, basically the cows queue up to be milked by their own free will
and they come into this box, they get fed in this box,
but while they're getting fed, they're also getting milked.
So, what, the brushes are cleaning the teats?
Yeah, the iodine brushes there, they're disinfecting the teats.
The brushes swing out of the way,
a laser comes on and scans where the teats are on each cow
and then it finds each teat, puts it on individually.
It might not get it first time but it will get it.
You've just to be patient.
'This equipment doesn't come cheap.
'One robot can cost in excess of 60 grand
'and is capable of milking 50 cows.'
Amazing, isn't it? I mean, the technology is just extraordinary.
-What inspired you to get into this?
Originally we were a traditional milking parlour,
where it was going eight hours a day.
We milked three times a day, and it was quite tiring.
We had to manage a lot of relief milkers and things.
And we thought this was a better way of life, for the cows and for us.
-And how have the cows taken to it?
-Well, it's took a while.
-We're still learning, but they learn faster than humans, really.
Incredible. I've never seen anything like it. Extraordinary.
-Shall we go around and have a look at the cows?
So this is the collection yard where they queue to go in?
Yeah, this is where they queue to go in and that's just entered
and that one's waiting.
And how does the robot know who's who?
Well, on each ankle of each cow is what we call a pedometer,
which records quite a bit of information about the cow,
what it's been doing in the day, how many steps it's done.
If it's a high number of steps, it could be on heat,
if it's a low number it could be lame or...not quite up to the mark.
-So there's still one man doing a bit of manual work?
-Yeah, this is me father. We have to keep him busy!
-Hi, good to see you. I'm Adam.
-So what do you reckon to these robots?
-I think they're great.
I could sit and watch them all day.
To think that when I was going to school I was milking a cow by hand,
and in March of 2011 we went into robots.
So you've seen it all,
from milking cows by hand right through to robots doing it for you.
-What an extraordinary change.
And what do you think about your son taking on this technology?
Oh, I think he's been very brave.
'Good stockmanship and keeping the cows happy is vital to the farm's success
'and things are good for David at the moment.'
They look well, your cows.
'The dairy industry as a whole, though,
'is going through a tough time.
'The recent cuts in the milk price farmers get has put pressure on an already hard-pressed industry.'
A lot of farmers are really struggling.
We're fortunate to be on a contract which pays your costs plus a bit of reinvestment income as well,
but many farmers don't get nowhere near that, and there's a real difference at the moment,
and farmers will go out of business.
So you're fortunate to have struck a good contract
with the supermarket, but many won't be making any money at all, will they?
No, they're not, and they've no money to reinvest, no money to, you know...
They're just about scraping a living but it will only last so long.
'I feel for the industry.
'I hope dairy farmers will be able to pull through and prosper like David.'
So how many acres of grazing have you got for them out here?
-About 40 acres.
-So they can choose to be in or out?
Yeah, in, out, wherever they want to be.
So, come rain or shine, I suppose they make those choices.
Yes, when it's raining they'll all shoot back in, really.
Well, it's been incredible to see the farm. I think technology seems to be key in modern-day farming.
We've got it in all our arable systems, but to see it in a dairy unit is mind blowing, incredible.
-You're doing an amazing job.
-Yeah, good to see you.
'Now, if you know a farmer that deserves recognition
'for the way they do their job, you can nominate them
'as Farmer of the Year in the BBC's Food and Farming Awards.
'For details, go to our website.'
Like Matt a bit earlier, I'm struggling with the weather, too.
But even here, through this thick mist,
you get tantalising glimpses of the Shropshire hills.
I'm about 1,000 feet up on Long Mynd,
one of Shropshire's highest hills.
On a clear day you can see for miles from here,
and actually today in the rain the view's not bad either.
On a sunny day it's a landscape of high hills, shaded valleys
and tinkling streams, revealed in all its glory.
Even on a drizzly day, it's still a landscape to fire the imagination.
And fire up the imagination it did of one Malcolm Saville.
He was a well-loved children's author who used this setting for many of his most famous books.
Malcolm Saville was a contemporary of Enid Blyton,
but he hasn't enjoyed quite the same celebrity.
He was prolific, though,
writing more than 90 books in a 40-year career.
'On the Long Mynd, where you are going,
'there are hidden valleys with wild ponies in the bracken and heather,
'and little dark brooks which you can follow up to their source.'
-He wasn't a born and bred Shropshire lad, though, was he?
He was actually born in Sussex.
But he first came to Shropshire on a family holiday in 1936 and fell in love with it.
And he made allusions to very specific places and things
all the time in his books, didn't he?
He did. One of the good things about his stories was that he set them
against real landscape,
which he encouraged readers to explore for themselves.
-If you wanted to find specific places, he set up quite cryptic clues, didn't he?
-He did, yes.
Because in the preface to each of his stories he said,
"You can go to Shropshire, you can find a place like this,
"but you won't find the actual house that I've written about."
But of course in reality if you'd walk the land you could actually find it!
'Like this place.
'It's a farm called Prior's Holt, but readers of Saville's books
'will know it by another name.'
This is Witchend.
Malcolm Saville first knew it in 1936, when he first came up here.
At the time the house was actually used as a riding stable and the barn
that we see on the side there was actually where they kept the horses,
and you could rent out a horse by the half-day or the day, apparently.
He really did love the house. How has it changed over the years?
Well, it's certainly the location that he loved.
He never actually lived in the house himself but the location always meant a great deal to him.
'Saville's stories may have been all about adventure,
'but he was just as keen to get kids reading
'and to buy books for themselves.'
SAVILLE: Paperbacks for children are a terrific revolution in juvenile publishing,
and these are books that children choose themselves, and do not rely on
the advice of a... Well, sometimes, of course, a parent, or of adults.
Saville's own children were evacuated to this house during the war.
He stayed near London, but sent them chapters of what would become his first book.
His daughter, Rosemary, is 81 now,
and this is only the second time she's been back here.
-Is it as you remember it?
-Yes, it is.
It is slightly smaller, I think,
-but then we were quite small, so...
-Indeed you were!
He also corresponded with you regularly and sent you chapters of books that he was working on.
What was it like receiving those letters in the post, those words?
We used to get very excited about it and my mother used to tear open
the envelope and we used to sit around in this room
and listen to what Dad had been writing.
What was it like to read them for the first time,
and did you then go out and follow his words?
Yes, I think we did.
Particularly the first one, which was written about this area.
I think my mother sometimes used to correct little bits of them.
-I used to see her scribbling.
-She was his editor.
Yes, she slightly did the editing on everything.
I think he obviously wanted our reaction, and we told him,
we loved it and we were really waiting for the second chapter.
He loved his readers and he was passionate about writing to them,
and when he received their fan mail, he used to put aside time
to answer these letters, and he enclosed a photograph,
a signed photograph of himself.
You must be very proud that his books have reached so many people and continue to do so.
Yes, we are, very proud.
We are actually very amazed, as well,
and I think he would have been absolutely amazed as well.
It's 30 years since Malcolm Saville died.
Not much has changed in his beloved Shropshire.
The places he wrote about are still here.
Misty or not,
it's still very much the landscape that fired his imagination.
You might want to do something more adventurous than reading this week, and get out into the great outdoors,
in which case you might want to know what the weather's got in store.
I hope it's better than this. Here's the forecast.
Just look at this.
Shropshire - a hidden jewel of a county.
Matt and I have taken to its unexpected hills,
lazy, meandering rivers, and on days like this,
its almighty, thundering downpours.
It's been an inspiration to authors.
Perspiration to outdoor types.
This is the landscape to suit everyone, and now,
for the very first time on television,
anywhere in the world,
Countryfile is proud to present... the Eco Olympics!
CHILDREN CHEER, THUNDER RUMBLES
'Kind of like the regular Olympics, with a green twist.
'All these games use natural stuff -
'whatever's found in the woods.
'There are games throwing pine cones and homemade bow and arrows.
'They're the brainchild of Shropshire Wildlife Trust's Bryony Carter.'
What are the Eco Olympics all about?
Well, as you can see from first impressions,
it's all about having fun.
It's all about being outside
and enjoying this fantastic weather that we have here(!)
But just, basically, getting kids and people
out into their local green space and enjoying it,
doing unusual and different things that you've never done before.
And really trying to get the kids
to engage with the adults, even in the wet. It doesn't matter!
Even in the wet, in the rain.
Did you read any Malcolm Saville books when you were growing up?
-I did, yes.
-Bit of an inspiration for me, if I'm honest.
-There you go.
-So it's all making sense today. How strange!
'If only we could do something about the weather.
'Never mind! It isn't getting our Eco Olympians down.'
Hello, hello! Is everyone nice and dry?
CHORUS OF "YES" AND "NO"
Very quickly, I want you to look into the camera,
give me a little wave and shout your name.
-I'm a very wet Phoebe!
Yes! OK. What's first, Bryony?
First of all, we need to pick up the pine cones. Off you go.
So, tell me about the first event?
-The first event is the pine cone throw.
And how this works is, we have the coloured hoops on the floor.
Red means more points,
blue ten points, yellow five points.
Ready, steady go!
'Call us old-fashioned - it's boy V girl. This first game is tricky.
'Hard enough at the best of times,
'but the weather today is playing havoc. Anything could happen.'
-I think that was a win for the girls there!
'A chance now for the lads to level it.'
'This event's a toughie - the tree leap.'
'It's all about making a chalk mark as high up a tree as you can.'
'Looks like a victory for the lads,
'so we're all even.'
They're enjoying it but there's a serious side as well.
There is, definitely.
What we're finding is so many people are not getting out
with their children and coming and playing in these places -
taking risks, climbing trees,
collecting bugs, picking blackberries -
all the things that lots of our parents used to do as children and even ourselves.
We're finding children are staying at home, on their games consoles,
and they're not exploring what's out there, which is this amazing place.
'Time now for the last event - the bow and arrows.
'Everything to play for.'
'What's this? The lads appear to have brought along a ringer.'
-Right, come on, lads. I hear you're a man down.
-What's the record so far?
'Ooh! Not far enough. Can Phoebe steal it for the girls' team?'
Here we go. There's a time limit as well. Oh!
Well, it was a very good effort but it just wasn't to be.
You can't just come in here
and have a go and pretend you're part of the boys' team.
-You're not ten years old. Well...
I've got the results for you.
You're all winners. It's equal.
THEY ALL CHEER
We love a draw. That's it.
That is it from the soggiest Shropshire I've ever experienced.
-It certainly is the raining champion!
-But that is it.
We are now off air for a couple of weeks because of the Olympics.
The real Olympics. You're taking part in the archery!
Yes, I'll be there.
We'll see you on August 12th,
where we'll be coming to you from the north coast of Norfolk.
Cn't believe you came all that way to tell that dreadful joke!
-Well done, everyone. Give yourselves another cheer.
Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd
Matt Baker and Julia Bradbury journey to Shropshire to find out how the landscape has inspired people for generations to get out into the countryside to live a healthier life.
Matt is in Much Wenlock to learn more about William Penny Brookes, a far-sighted Victorian who thought more people should get out and about to get fit. It was an idea that was to give rise to the biggest show on Earth - the Olympics. A century or more later, Matt meets a local girl aiming for gold in archery at the Olympics in 2020.
Julia learns you do not have to be an athlete to get something out of this landscape; children's author Malcolm Saville also saw the merit in exploring rural Shropshire. His books encouraged children to seek adventure in its wild places. Julia meets Saville's daughter, who spent her formative years as an evacuee in the county. It was whilst here that she received the chapters that were to form her father's celebrated Lone Pine series about a bunch of children going wild in Shropshire.
Down on the farm, Adam's Highland bull Eric has a much-needed pedicure, and Adam visits a Lancashire farm where the dairy cows milk themselves.