In Lochaber, Matt Baker goes on a steam train ride, described as the greatest railway journey in the world. Julia Bradbury finds out about female mountaineering pioneers.
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'Lochaber in the West Highlands of Scotland,
'home to the UK's highest mountain,'
'and near-deserted glens that simply take your breath away.'
And what better way to enjoy it than on board this beautiful steam train?
I am taking a journey on what's been described
as one of the best in the world.
'While Matt's all aboard the train, I'm being tested to the limit.'
For early female mountaineers,
taking on these peaks without men wasn't easy.
But a group of intrepid Victorian ladies
did just that and changed the face of female climbing for ever.
'Tom is in Plymouth, remembering the good old days.'
When I was a child,
I was pretty free to explore the wild.
The sea, the coast, the woods maybe.
But many children today seem to lead a much more sheltered life.
So, how can we encourage kids to really engage
with the natural world and explore the great outdoors?
And he's going to be investigating.
'And why has Adam got his head in the clouds?'
I've come to the Swiss Alps
to see these famous Blacknose sheep
and to witness a spectacular event
that takes place in these ancient handling pens.
'A spectacular coastline...'
'..coupled with jaw-dropping mountains and valleys.'
I'm going to be exploring this stunning countryside
in the most civilised manner - powered by steam.
'The West Highland line snakes its way through
'some of Scotland's most dramatic scenery.
'Under steam it runs from Fort William along the coastline
'to the fishing port of Mallaig.
'I'm travelling as far as Glenfinnan with a short stop at Banavie.'
'First, though, I'm meeting the man in the driving seat.'
-Alec. Very good morning.
-How are you doing?
'Alec MacDonald keeps the Jacobite steam train on track.'
-Is it still reliable today?
-Still reliable today. In good order today.
What is she like to drive? Can I come up and have a look?
-Yes. Certainly. By all means.
-Have a look.
-Oh, it's nice and warm up here, isn't it?
It can be too warm at times. Especially in hot weather.
In summertime it's very, very warm.
How long have you been travelling this "road to the Isles"?
Road to the Isles. Well, it's a long while.
1957, I began my career on the railway and it was all steam.
So altogether, probably about 55 years.
-Wow. And you're still going and they can't get rid of you.
This is what I started on so I'm finishing on it too.
'Before I go, there is one thing, I just can't resist.'
That was a crowd-pleaser.
The West Highland line was built in several sections
through this rugged landscape and it was eventually opened in 1894.
The whole idea was to connect those living from Glasgow
all the way out to the West Coast of Scotland.
'And it's been running ever since.'
'The hope was that the railway would bring jobs,
'establish a trade route
'and open up remote areas to the rest of Britain.'
'There is one chap who knows this line, and the train
'for that matter, better than most.
'Neil McLeod has done everything from working in the buffet car
'to collecting tickets.'
This is a pretty spectacular section
that we're just whizzing through, here.
It's just wonderful. It's nice to sit down and relax.
And they say, don't they, that this is
one of the best train journeys in the world?
Now, why do they say that?
It's one of the best train journeys in the world
because you start off at the sea and you end up at the sea
and you do this, I do this every day and every day is different.
But the views are just wonderful. You've got rivers,
you've got waterfalls, you've got lochs, you've got trees.
-Everything is here for you.
-And the drama in the hills as well.
You just get lost in it, don't you?
Looking out the window, you know, it's just incredible.
It is. And there is one man who lives in Glenfinnan,
where we are going towards just at the moment, who says that,
"in every hill and every wee corrie there's a story
"in every single place and until you know every single story
"you can't be considered a local."
'I'll be catching up with Neil a little bit later,
'but before that they're making a special stop just for me.
'I'm hoping to get the chance to experience
'another great engineering feat.'
Well, of course, a steam train makes the perfect day out for children,
but it's not something that you can do everyday.
So what is the best way of ditching the games consoles
and the televisions and getting out to enjoy the great outdoors?
Tom has been finding out.
'Remember being a child?
'All those endless summers playing outside with friends.
'For many grown-ups, spending time outdoors
'is ingrained in our memories.'
But, these days, it seems those pastimes
are becoming just that - memories.
Our 21st-century children are spending much less time outdoors,
whether that's in their own backyard,
in the woods or out in the open fields.
'In fact, less than a quarter of all our children
'make use of their local green spaces.
'To find out why, I've come to visit a family in Plymouth.'
You are all busy out in the garden on a nice day.
'Meet the Carringtons.
'Mum Caroline, Dad Carl, 18-year-old Tristan,
Ben, nine, Sam, eight, Ellie, six, Ruby, five and Jack, who's three.
-You're catching bugs? Fantastic.
-You actually seeing any today?
'Like so many children across Britain, the Carringtons
'enjoy the natural world from the safety of their own garden.'
Two black spots, even, and the legs are furry.
How do you think the outdoor life that they have compares with that
that you had when you were kids?
It's restricted, cos I was allowed out till dark.
My parents never asked where I was going.
-No, you just went off on your own.
-You just went off.
-What about you?
-We just went off to play on our own.
Disappeared for the day, didn't you? And come back at teatime.
Does it feel quite difficult, then, having to give them outside space
but only in what is a fairly small garden?
Basically, we have to restrict them to in here.
A big, black spider.
'Carl and Caroline are frightened to let their children go out
'and play on their own.
'Cars and so-called stranger danger are the two main reasons.
'But could protecting their kids be doing more harm than good?'
'That's something the National Trust wants us all to think about.'
So, Jim, what is the real problem that you're seeking to address?
We are finding, increasingly, that kids, the area in which
they can roam - their sort of free range - is decreasing massively.
90% over the last couple of decades.
And there's a whole raft of issues that that brings about.
From not learning cause and effect, not having those adventures
that we probably had when we were youngsters.
Those opportunities just aren't there for them at the moment.
So they just need to get out more, in your view?
Yeah, I mean, there are so many issues that it addresses.
There's health, there's that responsibility,
there's that gaining a passion for something.
All of those things, actually,
the outdoors is a pretty good catalyst for.
'The National Trust wants to change all that.
'They've already released a report
'on the benefits of connecting children with nature
'and this week they're holding a summit in London
'to start thrashing out a plan to make that happen.
'But they can't do it on their own.
'To really make a difference, they'll need the support of everyone,
'from politicians to parents.'
The National Trust is the latest in a long line of organisations
trying to make children connect more with the natural world.
How are you getting on with that welly? Have you got them both on?
They want people like the Carringtons to get outside more -
with their families, with schools, and with other groups.
-So, just about ready to go?
-One more boot.
I can stamp it in.
Stamp it in. Right, let's go.
'So, apart from the obvious lure of the telly and video games,
'what's stopping children enjoying the great outdoors?'
'To find out, we're taking the Carringtons down to the local woods.
'It's just a few minutes' walk from their house
'and the perfect place to connect with nature.
'But at the moment, Carl and Caroline
'would never let their kids play out here without them.'
It's not my boys I don't trust
in a place like this, it's other people.
I know they'd be safe, they'd play for hours.
It's whether they'd be safe in that environment to be able to do that.
The statistics show it is no more dangerous today, overall,
so I'm just wondering why it is
we don't give our kids that freedom anymore.
Yeah, a lot of coverage on the telly
about children going missing and accidents.
-There's more coverage nowadays.
-It does make you paranoid.
What about the roads around here? What are they like?
The roads can be pretty dangerous.
Down this bit, now, they've got the rocks and things
and it stops cars getting down here and they can't dump the cars,
but any main roads, it's a nightmare.
There's a lot more cars on the roads these days.
There's too many cars, to be honest.
'The family have had a great afternoon playing in the woods
'but if parents are too scared to let their children out of their sight,
'where does that leave the National Trust's hopes of helping them
'enjoy the great outdoors?
'Well, there are other ways.'
In a short while we'll be trying some new activities - some which this lot
know and love, others which they've never tried before - in an effort
to see if we can find more ways of connecting this lot with nature.
These imposing mountains attract thousands of walkers
to Glencoe in Lochaber every year.
The landscape here is wild and untamed.
Its awe-inspiring ranges have rules of their own.
The weather can turn in an instant
and shelter for wayward walkers is few and far between.
But refuge can be found if you know where to look.
Down there is a bothy, no loo, no leccy, but on a wild
and wet day like today, a very welcome sight for a walker.
'Bothies aren't uncommon in these parts
'and they're best suited to those travelling alone or in pairs.
'But in weather like this, there's always room for a little one.'
They're mostly abandoned farm buildings.
Shepherds would have taken shelter in them when things got nasty,
which is exactly what I'm going to do now.
'Today, John Arnott of the Mountain Bothy Association
'is going to give me a crash course in using one.'
-What a very welcome sight.
-Nice to see you.
-Nice to see you.
And just as you would expect a bothy to be, nice and cosy.
But no major mod cons. It ain't the Ritz.
I know, that's right. You don't know what to expect when you arrive.
-Every one is different.
-What's bothy etiquette?
Who can use bothies and what should they do?
Anybody can use them. There is no booking system.
And you leave it as you would hope to find it. It's just a shelter.
The big question, are you going to make me a cup of tea?
-If you would like a cup of tea, the kettle has just boiled.
And people leave a little note, little diary notes behind.
Yeah, people write in the book. Some people write in the bothy book.
Robert and Gordon here have left candles, lighters and kindling,
and this new book and a pen, enjoy, and please leave a message.
-That's sweet, isn't it?
-One of the issues is that it's a handy source
of kindling paper to light the fire.
So you can't always guarantee the book stays here.
-Oh, look at that. Sheet rain.
-Yeah, miserable. Look at it.
-Nice to be able to go inside on a day like this.
It might be keeping me out of the elements, but in the past,
many of these bothies were homes, shepherds' or crofters' dwellings.
A croft is a small plot of tenanted or owner-occupied agricultural land,
like a small farm.
Traditionally, a crofter kept a cow or two, some chickens and sheep.
They would have worked the land to grow potatoes and cut peat.
It's always been a precarious way of life, and historically
a crofter would have held down two jobs to help ends meet.
And it's no different today.
Ian Mactaggart is from a long line of crofters and like most,
he's got more than one job.
Lorry driver by day, crofter by night.
-Good healthy smell in here.
-Yeah. All this is part of the croft.
I'll get in my pen then. What used to live in here?
In days gone by, there were horses. Great-grandparents had horses.
-And that's how far crofting goes back in your family.
They were there and they used to go down to Ballachulish
and meet the train and they would have a cart
and take bread off the train and take it up to Glencoe and deliver it.
And also they used to milk cows and deliver milk.
-So bread, horses...
Was it important to you to carry on the family tradition,
to keep crofting somehow in your family?
When my father passed away, there was only ourselves
and another lady in the village that had cattle.
Between myself and my sister, we thought,
if we don't keep it going, it might die.
Like his grandparents, Ian now keeps a small herd of beef cattle.
It's tricky juggling this with the day job so he has an apprentice.
Seymour MacLeod is desperate for a croft of his own. But it's not easy.
In the meantime, he is helping Ian out with his.
-Julia, this is Seymour.
-Hi, Seymour. How are you doing?
-Where are these beasties I've heard all about?
-Let's go and see them.
-Come on, girls.
-Come on, the girls.
-Come on, girls.
-They are good herd, Seymour?
They're enjoyable to be about. They are like extended family, almost.
-Is it something you would like to do?
-I would love to do it.
Here they come.
-This is what you do it all for.
-Yes, it is.
I mean, they're just lovely animals. They're inquisitive.
-Look at your big grin, Ian.
-This is what makes me happy. Up here.
'For people like Seymour, getting a croft is tough.
'It's not always viable and land is limited.
'But things are looking brighter.
'Karen McRae from the Scottish Crofting Federation fills me in.'
If I wanted to take up crofting today, what would I need to do?
Well, I think your starting point would be actually getting out
and trying out crofting to see if you enjoy it. It is hard work.
And the other thing is that the Scottish Crofting Federation,
we have a register of interest, which helps marry available crofts
with people who are looking for crofts.
It is trying to make things easier.
-Like a dating easy agency for crofters.
-Yeah, we have said that.
Is there still a place in modern communities for crofting?
I would definitely say so. It does have a very strong heritage.
But I think that is what makes crofting what it is.
Everyone has a sense of connection to the land.
'This fragile way of life, so much a part of this incredible landscape.'
'Let's hope with increasing awareness and new blood like Seymour,
'it will continue to thrive.'
Just north of Julia, and cutting through some of the most remote
yet stunning Scottish landscape is the West Highland Line.
It weaves its way from Fort William to Mallaig.
Building this railway was an almighty challenge,
especially when it had to navigate the Great Caledonian Canal.
And this is it.
It starts here in Corpach, down in the south-west,
with access to the North Atlantic.
It runs all the way up to the north-east, to Inverness,
leading to the North Sea.
It was built for the Napoleonic wars so that ships wouldn't have to
sail all the way round the top of Scotland in choppy waters.
The waterway is 60 miles long and connects natural lochs
by 22 miles of canals, so only about a third of it is man-made.
Back then, it would have been teeming with boats,
shifting things like coal and timber.
These days, it's only used by fishing vessels
and the odd pleasure cruiser like this one,
but for anybody that wants to navigate this stretch,
they have to go through this, an impressive engineering feat.
This is Neptune's Staircase.
It's a system of eight locks that climb a ladder of 64 feet,
over a distance of 500 yards.
Lock-keeper Toni Sutherland is my welcoming party today.
-Toni, how are you doing?
-How are you?
-I'm very good. Nice to see you.
I tell you what, that is surprisingly quick,
-how fast the water level goes up.
-Yes. It goes up really quickly.
Have you any idea how much water is actually gushing through there?
Approximately three-quarters of a million gallons.
-It took me all night to count that bucket by bucket.
-I bet it did!
Let's take a wander and you can show us the gubbins up here.
Toni's partner in crime is Tom Colbert.
He's been working here for 37 years and is showing me the ropes.
-OK, what does what in here?
-This is our control box.
This is the near gate, far gate.
We just lift them up until they're fully open.
-That's it. You can just let go.
-Happy with that?
Where does it get its name from?
It was nicknamed the Neptune Staircase after the god of the sea.
And as you can see, it is a staircase going up.
-It is such a good name.
-It is. A grand name. It is a good name.
It's done. I've got to go and do some work now, haven't I?
I worked out how it works now. You stay here with the levers
and the hydraulics while Toni does all the work.
You can see who does all the work along here, can't you?
It's the one at the back that's pushing it along, I suppose.
-Back to the cupboard. Are you going to do it?
I genuinely feel awful because I haven't enough time to help you
get to the top of these locks because I've got the train to catch.
-I'll do it. Don't worry.
-I'll do one more.
-You can continue flooding it.
Now, the National Trust is the latest in a long line
of organisations trying to reconnect children with nature,
but is that easier said than done? Tom's been finding out.
'Earlier in the programme, we met the Carrington family from Plymouth.
'Mum Caroline and dad Carl would love their kids to have the freedom
'they had when they were children but they're too scared to let them
'go out and play on their own.'
It's a big adventure.
-But it's hard.
-It's hard for them.
'So today they're going to try something new,
'a natural experience with expert supervision.'
'This is Devil's Point on the Plymouth seafront.
'It's just a stone's throw from the city centre itself.'
And this tidal pool is ideal for beginners,
when you're doing something a bit scary you maybe haven't done before.
Today's activity is snorkelling.
-Have you ever done anything like this before?
I don't even know if I can swim.
The Blue Sound Project has been running for a couple of years.
It gives people a chance to dip their toes in seaside activities
and thanks to Natural England and the local council, it's all free.
For the eldest son, 18-year-old Tristan,
it's taking a bit of getting used to.
While he discovers snorkelling,
Mum's taken the youngsters down to the beach.
-Jack's thrown his wellies in the water.
-You naughty boy.
Playing by the sea isn't something young children can do without
an adult watching over them,
but it is a wonderful way of enjoying nature.
Show me what they are.
This whole film is about the importance of children engaging
with the outdoors, re-engaging,
in a way you and I had more freedom to, when we were young.
How important do you think that is?
I think it's really important for your sense of space.
Sometimes in Plymouth it's called the city with its back to the sea.
It's very important to feel rooted in your local space in nature -
whether you've got sea or not,
some sense of being connected with nature is really important.
After a couple of hours' practice, Tristan is starting to make
that connection in the pool, but how will he get on in the sea?
He is 18 years old, never seen it before, he's done me proud.
-He really took to it.
-He did. I'm really proud of him. Yeah.
That was amazing.
A bit strange how you go from...
being pretty much scared of any water,
and I still don't think I can swim, but being in the pool,
I just wanted to do it. I don't know if I will get to do it again,
so I thought it would be best to give it a bash.
'Today's adventure is the perfect example of one of the things
'the National Trust is trying to encourage -
'organised events where kids can safely enjoy
'the delights of nature, whether in a forest or by the sea.
'And the good news for them
'and the Carringtons is that you can now do that in school.
'The Carringtons' children are lucky enough to attend
'one of a growing number of British schools that go out of their way
'to reconnect kids with the natural world.'
What are you hoping to do when you get down to the woods?
Play in the river and splash about.
This is called a forest school,
a Danish idea which is starting to catch on over here.
It gives children a safe and supervised chance
to learn about nature.
Green. Quite a bright green.
-Right. Good luck, guys, on your hunt.
You put it next to some things you think you look a bit green.
'But this woodland classroom, just like the snorkelling, takes money.
'If its campaign is going to be a success, the National Trust
'needs more organisations to fund schemes like this.
'On top of that, they'll need to solve the issue of kids not going out
'to play on their own.'
This is a huge challenge and it's been an issue for a few years.
How optimistic are you that we can get it right now?
I think we've got to look at it, it's clearly a long game
but it's something that needs to be solved.
When we start looking at the younger generations today
and the health issues that are going to come,
we need to do something about this.
To say I'm optimistic of immediate success would be stretching it,
but any success is good and we can build on that over time.
To get the ball rolling,
the National Trust is holding a major summit this week
where they hope to start drumming up official support and thrash out
concrete plans to reconnect children with the natural world.
It won't be easy, but if the Carringtons' experience
is anything to go by, it will be worth it.
There is a lot out there. You don't think about it until you get shown.
Would you say you've got a bit of a new-found determination
to sort of use nature a bit more?
-Try some new things.
-We live in it.
'We would like your views on the best ways of connecting children
'with nature and why that is so important.
'Details of how to do that are on our webpage.'
Lochaber on the west coast of Scotland
boasts both stunning countryside and a spectacular coastline,
as Jules has been finding out.
This is the Sound of Arisaig,
a marine special area of conservation
and it stretches from the peninsula behind me to that one over there.
And it is absolutely teeming with life.
'And what better way to take it all in than from the water?'
'Steve MacFarlane's a wildlife guide.
'He's built up a special relationship with this coastline.'
What is it about these waters that have made them
such a haven for this wide range of wildlife?
I think it's a mixture of being near the islands where the water
moves quite quickly and this bay here, the Sound of Arisaig,
which is quite sheltered.
Then, of course, you've got all the skerries everywhere.
What is a skerry? For anybody not in the know.
A skerry is a rock which
at high tide is covered or almost covered and at low tide uncovered.
So, you've got this fascinating... They're islands at one moment
and then six hours later there's nothing there.
The reason why it is a good place for all the things
that feed off fish in the sea and plankton in the sea is because
the area is volcanic and you've got lots of volcanoes on the sea bottom.
When the water hits those it actually comes up,
it forces the food up.
'It sustains all sorts of animals like seals,
'sea otters and plenty of birds.'
'But the secret of its success lies beneath the waves
'although you'll also find evidence on the shore.'
Now, this may look like an ordinary sandy beach but, in fact,
this stuff is seaweed.
'I'm heading back out to sea
'with Jane Dodd from Scottish Natural Heritage to discover more.'
So, Jane, sand is seaweed.
You've just revolutionised my entire understanding
of what the coast is all about. What's going on?
Well, what we've got in this area is this thing called maerl
which is a seaweed which forms a chalk skeleton.
It looks like a coral, but that's probably the wrong term.
It's referred to as a coralline algae, so you're not far wrong.
OK. But this is then crushed up, presumably,
by the action of the waves
to produce what I saw on the beach itself.
-Yeah, the white sand.
-And it's peculiar to this part of the cost.
Well, we have it on the west coast of Scotland
in quite a lot of places
but there is a lot of it here in the Sound of Arisaig.
It's a Special Area of Conservation for this habitat.
So what would this look like in its natural environment?
When it is alive, the algae is pink.
It's the same algae you see in rock pools on the coast
but this grows as a free-living structure on the seabed and, if you
can imagine, when it's piled up, it forms quite a complicated matrix
for lots of other animals to live in and the flow-through of water
that the maerl needs to keep it clear of any sediment
also brings in lots of food for those other animals as well.
'Jane's on a mission to survey the seabed
'and it involves some rather nifty kit...'
The rear thrusters, forward.
'..in the shape of this remote operated vehicle or ROV.'
Right then, let's go and see if we can see some pictures.
'It's going to be our eyes underwater.'
There are go. Wow.
If Aaron can get...
That's it, look down a bit closer.
You can see, start to see some of these red algaes
-attached to the seabed.
And if you were able to look even closer you'd start to see
anemones and sponges and stuff in amongst the maerl there.
So this business of surveying is a painstaking process, isn't it?
It is quite difficult to get a decent map of where the maerl is.
'Previous surveys using this equipment and divers
'have captured some cracking images.'
I was told that some of the maerl
that's ended up on the beaches here is 8,000 years old
-so it has been around long, long time.
'However, not everyone is happy with the voluntary ban
'on dredging in these waters.
'But that comes with it being a Special Area of Marine Conservation.'
But, I suppose, the critics amongst the fishing lobby would say,
"Because we're not fishing areas like this,
"we're perhaps overfishing others."
I would argue that the seabed needs to be zoned.
Fishing should be allowed in some places
but not in others and maerl is a habitat that we should protect.
I mean, it is important to protect maerl
because it is so special but also because it's beneficial
to the fishery because the juvenile scallops live here and they'll move
into other areas and be available to the fishermen.
It's like the land. We manage the land for different uses.
We plant crops and we plant forests and, you know,
the sea can be used in the same way
but we do need to manage it carefully.
The fact that this area is unquestionably stunning
really speaks for itself
but there's a lot more to it than just wild and rugged beauty.
As we've seen, this entire area is alive in ways that, frankly,
I could never have imagined.
Who'd have thought we'd learn so much from something so simple?
Last week Adam was in Switzerland
witnessing some extreme sheep farming high up in the Alps.
This week he's continuing his journey.
'Farming in the Alps presents its challenges
'and last week I witnessed the start of a remarkable farming tradition
'that happens in the Swiss mountains in Valais.
'Thousands of sheep live high in the Alps and the farmers
'who own them need to retrieve them before the onset of winter.'
Take a look at this.
They're bringing 1,200 sheep off the side of this mountain,
down this path and over the ravine.
It's just absolutely remarkable.
'After making that amazing descent, the sheep were still
'a long way from home, with a lot of difficult terrain to cross.
'The four most handsome sheep were decorated with ribbons
'to celebrate the homecoming and the sheep were on their way once again.
'We are now on the last leg of the journey.'
They say when you're working with sheep
they prefer to go uphill than downhill.
But this is to the extreme. It's absolutely ridiculous.
I've never seen anything like it.
They're just zigzagging slowly up the mountain. Incredible.
This area, these steps, is called the Stiegl
and there's dry stone walls built to support the rock
that goes up and it's been cut into the cliff face by people
and it's been there for hundreds of years.
Goes way back through traditions of bringing livestock off the mountains.
You can hear the shepherds shouting and whistling,
the bells ringing, but above all, the sheep bleating.
And they're calling to each other.
These are all ewes with lambs at foot.
When they get in this long stream like this,
often they'll get separated and they're calling to one another
but they won't get to meet up again, a lot of them,
until they get to the top.
'At the top of the Stiegl,
'the crowds have gathered to welcome the flock of tired sheep.
'They've travelled more than four miles
'across some of the most difficult terrain
'and everyone's come to celebrate the homecoming.'
'The Swiss yodellers start the festival with a traditional song
'while everyone involved takes a welcome rest.'
'For the shepherds, it's time to celebrate
'and reward themselves for a job well done.'
'After a well-deserved rest, we are up and on the move again.'
The farmers are just gathering the sheep together now.
They've been in this small field and now they're going to take them
down the road to the collecting pens for the night.
But the celebration of the coming home of the Blacknose sheep
isn't just about a hardy breed of sheep that can survive
up here in the Alps. It's more about the tradition
and that these sheep can bring the farmers an income so they can
stay living up here. And for me, personally,
I think it's so important - these wonderful traditional breeds
that have looked after people for centuries, really,
all over the world.
'From here, the flock are driven a short distance up the track
'to some stone fences called Pfarracker
'where they can graze on fresh foliage.'
'The old stone enclosure is used to contain the sheep for one night
'before the farmers come to claim their sheep in the morning.'
Well, the shepherds are all down there in their traditional
checked shirts and hats with flowers in and they must be so delighted.
It's amazing, this construction,
all made out of dry stone walling with huge slabs on the top.
Very different to my wooden or aluminium pens I use back home.
And what an incredible spot for a sheep handling-pen system.
Look at the view looking down into the town below.
It's just extraordinary.
Then, tomorrow morning, what they're going to do is sort out
all these sheep because they're all owned by different farmers.
So they bring them into these pens around the outside
and I understand there's all sorts of other exciting things going on.
So I'll be back in the morning, early.
'As the sun rises over the valley, the atmosphere is very tranquil.
'But it's not going to last for long.'
It's early in the morning and I'm on my way to the sheep pens
but this valley is just incredible
with the clouds and the changing weather.
You wouldn't know that the deep valley is there
when the clouds are covering it all and then suddenly it opens up
and you can see the forest and the mountains in the distance
and the sun shines through. It's absolutely stunning.
Then it'll close up again and open up in another area
and you can see the houses down in the bottom. Just extraordinary.
But I suppose it's something that the sheep
and the people that live and work up here just get used to.
'Slowly, the crowd start to gather.
'The day starts with an offering of a very special local soup
'that gets handed out to all the spectators.'
So this is sheep soup made from one of the Blacknose sheep
and it's tradition that anybody who turns up this morning
for the sorting of the sheep gets a free mug of soup.
And that's great. That is full of flavour. Delicious.
What a way to start the morning.
'With a belly full of sheep soup, I need to get into place.
'Local man Thomas Schmidt has kindly offered to explain to me
'about today's events.'
So, what's about to happen?
Now, at nine o'clock we start first with a little pray
and then I start to take each sheep to the owner.
-So it'll all go a bit crazy, will it?
-It's like a rodeo.
'All of a sudden it's a free-for-all.
'The farmers work their way through the crowded flock,
'trying to find and catch their own sheep.'
'The smaller stone enclosures around the outside are used
'to divide and contain the sheep.'
'Well, that's what they're supposed to do.'
She's gone over.
-It's really wet. It's...
-The sheep with the horn is easier to take.
He's grabbing two at once. Two handlebars.
It all seems a bit chaotic, and the less sheep there are to grab,
the more they can run around.
There are some people who are very proficient at it and are quite
good at grabbing sheep and others that are obviously beginners.
Some are grabbing them by hand and other people are using crooks.
You put it round the hock of the back leg
then you can lift one of the legs off the ground and pull them backwards.
It basically takes the sheep out of four-wheel drive
and makes them easier to move.
'I've done enough spectating. I've been dying to get in amongst these sheep.
'I'm hoping to catch my first Blacknose.'
It's starting to thin out a bit now, so the sheep have got
more room to manoeuvre and run around,
making it slightly more difficult to catch them.
BLEATING AND BELLS RINGING
This is the famous traditional Blacknose sheep.
And you can see why.
They've got this wonderful black nose. With a big strong forehead.
Wonderful curly horns on the ewes.
And they've got black knees and then white wool all over.
And then they have a black hock as well at the back.
The black bit here. And black feet. And they're quite a long sheep.
In comparison to my sheep back home, they've got a very long body
and they're very strong.
They look like they're quite fat but actually under here they're lean.
They've been living off very little up in the mountains
and their wool is absolutely wonderful.
As a breed, I've really never seen anything like it.
And as a sheep farmer, you know,
although it may seem a little bit sad,
it's really exciting to be here and see these magnificent,
famous Blacknose sheep and be part of the festival of the homecoming.
You're lovely, aren't you? I'd like to take some of you back home.
'Finally, all the sheep are claimed
'and all that is left in the main stone enclosure
'are the four most beautiful sheep
'that were decorated with ribbons as part of this tradition.
'A mass is celebrated
'and the shepherds and their sheep are blessed.'
Well, the sheep are all sorted now
and the farmers are taking their own flocks
away down the mountains
to their farms in the valleys.
There, the sheep will be on good pasture.
They'll be able to put on a bit of meat, a bit of condition.
The ewes will go back to the rams in the autumn
then give birth in the spring.
And then once the snow has melted off the Alps,
these ewes and their lambs will go back up there
and it happens all over again.
It's been a real privilege for me to come to Switzerland
and to be part of this ancient tradition.
And for the Swiss farmers who live and work here,
it's wonderful that they're keeping the sheep on the mountains
and keeping this tradition alive and, really, I take my hat off to them.
'Next week, I'll have my hands full with more sheep
'as I show, judge, buy and sell at the Traditional Breeds Show.'
'From one stunning landscape to another.
'I'm north of the border on the West Highland steam railway
'heading for Glenfinnan.
'I'm catching up with Neil MacLeod.
'He's been helping out on the train line for over ten years.'
There's a certain magic for younger passengers with the whole
Harry Potter thing cos this is the route of the Hogwarts Express.
It is the route of the Hogwarts Express.
The seats we're sitting in are similar to the style of carriages
that Harry used to sit in himself so, yes, there's close connections.
But the viaduct, I mean,
that's a real spectacular part of the journey.
The viaduct is a spectacular part but even before Harry Potter came up
it was well-known throughout the world.
It was the first bridge that used the construction
of mass concrete in the construction of it.
It cost £19,000 and it is unique in its own wee way.
It just adds to the magic, doesn't it? Under steam power.
You know, if you were on an electric train,
it wouldn't have the same impact.
And also, the fact we're going by steam,
we can only go a certain speed and so, therefore,
you go back to that relaxing sound, relaxing movement.
It's just great.
'Sadly, my journey on this magnificent locomotive
'is nearly over.'
Wow. What a welcome.
She is now going to continue off for another about 25 miles
out to the coast but this is where my journey ends, in Glenfinnan,
as I'm travelling off into the hills.
'Near to the railway line
'and running for several miles is this ancient native pine forest.
'It's where I've been told to meet
'Henry Dobson from the Forestry Commission.'
Up here, Matt.
Oh. He's up the tree.
So, I'm not quite at the meeting point yet, Henry?
-No, you need to come a bit higher yet, Matt.
Are there less midges up there than there are down here?
There are indeed. There's a beautiful breeze up here. It's the place to be.
'All clipped in and ready to go.'
'But there's no time to hang around. I've got to get up to meet Henry.'
What am I doing up here, Henry?
-We are collecting pine cones. Fresh pine cones.
You can't just collect them off the floor?
No, we have to collect them from the tree
cos the ones that fall have generally fallen too early,
they're not ripe or they're too old and they're getting a bit rotten and
they're not going to hatch out into nice little pine trees later on.
'In the past three years, 20,000 Scots Pine trees have been planted.
'The aim is to plant a quarter of a million trees a year
'and that means harvesting a lot more seeds.'
So this is what we are looking for. This is one at just the right stage.
The seeds in there should be ready
but the bracts haven't yet opened out.
If we open them out ourselves,
we should be able to see a couple of little seeds under each one.
You can maybe just make out that lighter colour in there
which is the two tiny little wings.
They really are quite small, little seeds.
Yeah. Where do they go from here?
They will get sent to one of our nurseries.
Our nurseries will dry them out,
collect the seeds out of the cones
and grow them on for two or three years.
'But our work here isn't done.
'While these native pines will contribute to the Lochaber
'tree canopy, they'll also benefit the native wildlife of Scotland.'
Well, having climbed to the top of the canopy,
I'm now going up through the roof.
You look like a little bird perched there, Henry.
Well, funnily enough, that is the idea.
We think this would be a great spot for raptors to come in and nest
so we're going to give them a helping hand.
This is probably the best spot for ospreys -
right at the top of quite a prominent tree.
'So, to make an osprey's nest
'you'll need some sticks,
'and some moss.'
That's not very sturdy. It could fall. So we need to lay them on top.
-That's it, yeah.
So why is this a great spot then, Henry?
Well, you've got a big loch to one side of us, a river to another
and the coast is only just behind us
so that is fantastic fishing grounds for ospreys which are specialists -
all they eat is fish.
And you've got a nice tall tree with a good viewpoint.
Right, well, I've got my head stuck up in the clouds.
Let's find out what the weather's got in store for the week ahead
with the Countryfile forecast.
'Matt and I have been exploring
'Lochaber in the West Highlands of Scotland.'
'While Matt's been putting his feet up,
'I've been hiking through the region's history.'
'For centuries, the mountainous landscape dictated
'how people live here and it still does.'
'Glencoe is one of Scotland's most popular climbing playgrounds.
'Thousands take to its hills.'
And I'm not the first woman
to have been seduced by this craggy paradise.
'In the early 1900s, many women were accomplished mountaineers,
'but they had to climb with men.
'They weren't allowed to join the Scottish Mountaineering Club -
'the most prestigious and renowned climbing club of its day.'
You can imagine how a small group of determined women climbers
reacted to that.
So they decided to do something about it.
'On 18 April 1908,
'Jane Inglis Clark, her daughter Mabel and Lucy Smith
'conceived the idea of a climbing club of their own - for women only.'
And so, by a boulder a bit bigger than this one,
the three appointed themselves president, secretary and treasurer.
The Ladies Scottish Climbing Club was born.
'And the club is still going strong.
'I'm heading to Blackrock, their Highland headquarters,
'to meet members Alison Higham and Rhona Weir.'
My teacher was, of course, at that time,
the president of the Ladies Scottish Climbing Club
and I had lived in Cornwall and I came to Glasgow and she realised
that I was missing the outdoors and took me climbing.
I loved it. I had never seen a hill until she took me climbing.
-A real mountain.
-How old were you then?
And, rude to ask a lady's age, I know,
but please tell us how old you are.
-I'm now 92.
-Incredible. And still active in the outdoors.
Not climbing, but I walk. I go uphill but not climbing.
Let's go back to the title of the club -
the Ladies Scottish Climbing Club.
And they were indeed ladies, weren't they?
They were ladies - they didn't work.
For instance, the Inglis Clarks had one of the first cars in Edinburgh.
A large Bentley which Mr Inglis Clark lent us for meets.
The car came with a chauffeur.
How fantastic. Being chauffeur-driven to your walk.
The chauffeur would meet us at the bottom at the end of the day.
Look how many women are on that transport.
And look what they're wearing.
Why do they have to wear hats? Was that just...?
Just a tradition, suppose.
'The wild and adventurous spirit of these pioneering woman
'is reflected in the landscape they embraced.
'It's untamed and unspoilt.
'Now owned by the National Trust for Scotland,
'they go to great lengths to ensure it stays that way.
'Which is exactly what our lady climbers love.
'Time to turn back the clock and take to the hills.'
-Don't forget your hat.
-No, I won't forget my hat.
So, here we are, women against the elements.
Or should I say women against tweed?
It's going to be interesting walking in this garb.
You wouldn't have dared leave your town or village wearing trousers.
You might have had trousers underneath.
Once you got away from the village,
you may well have taken your skirt off
and hidden it behind a boulder to pick up later.
I'm the next era. I'm being bold, I'm wearing breeches.
Where are we heading, Alison?
We're heading up to Coire na Tulaich on Buachaille Etive Mor
to do some scrambling in the old style.
Are you going to sit this one out, Rhona, or are you coming with us?
I think I've gone far enough. I think I'll just go back now.
-Have a lovely climb.
-I'll see you another time.
I don't know about you, Julia, but I'm finding this really hot -
these tweeds. How about you?
The skirt is a nightmare. It clings to your legs
and every time you take a step, you trip over it.
So I'm hauling this extra weight.
And now the midges are getting me.
'Don't laugh. This get-up was all the rage
'with women climbers in 1908.'
It is about 20% harder in a skirt.
Do you think we look glamorous?
'They must have been hardy, climbing in heavy tweeds with no harnesses,
'no helmets and just a line of rope attached to the lead climber.'
'Today I'm getting a taste of what it was like back then so I'm opting
'not to wear a helmet but only because we're scrambling
'and I'm under strict supervision from Alison.
'Do not try this at home, ladies.'
And that's it. All I wanted was a nice gentle stroll.
-We are going scrambling.
It's a different technique from what it is these days.
They sound good.
Making easy work of it.
Right, Julia, I've found a good stance
and I'll be taking the rope in
and then you can try after me.
Now, of course, women could not climb without a hat.
So I'm about to do one of the stupidest things I've ever done -
scrambling in a skirt,
wearing this bonnet.
Oh! Rope knocking my hat.
Standing on the skirt.
It wasn't easy being a woman in 1908.
-Oh, you didn't hang on to your hat.
Well, of course I didn't hold onto my hat!
I'm more interested in holding onto the rock.
-Ladies used to have to hang on to their hats as well.
Take your time and come round to my right.
Sorry, I'm going to come and sit here.
-Oh, there we go.
-There we are. Well done.
I take my hat off to those ladies.
Not that I have to, because it's blown away in the wind.
But this makes it at least 30% more difficult.
Yeah. I give those ladies top marks.
-They were amazing, huh?
-And this is beautiful.
-Isn't it beautiful?
'Climbing has come on leaps and bounds
'since the days of Jane Inglis Clark and Lucy Smith
'but I'm glad to say the pioneering spirit
'continues to thrive in these majestic mountains.
'Just up the road in Glen Nevis,
'a new breed of climbers are training hard
'to get climbing into the Olympics in 2020.'
'It's now firmly a sport for all - boys and girls.
'And I'm pleased to say there's not a skirt in sight.'
Well, that's it from the Highlands.
Next week I'll be in the Usk Valley facing yet another fear of mine.
I'll be helping to release 20,000 eels
as part of a huge conservation programme
to get more of them back into our rivers.
See you then. Bye-bye.
Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd
The team are in Lochaber in the west of the Scottish Highlands. Matt Baker goes on a steam train ride, described as the greatest railway journey in the world. Julia Bradbury finds out more about the female Victorian mountaineering pioneers who changed the face of climbing for women for ever.
Tom Heap investigates how we get our children to rediscover the great outdoors. Jules Hudson takes to a kayak to discover the wildlife that thrives on the west coast of Scotland and Adam Henson is back in Switzerland, having herded more than a thousand black nosed sheep down from the Alps, he's now taking part in the festival which celebrates their safe arrival in the local village.