Matt Baker and Ellie Harrison go behind-the-scenes at Slindon in Sussex to reveal how two very different traditions are helping keep the picturesque village alive.
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In a quiet corner of Sussex, at the foot of the South Downs,
lies a pretty little village,
surrounded by beech woods and verdant valleys.
With its Flinton brick houses,
it looks like the perfect rural retreat.
Slindon is a lot more than just a pretty face
because it has its fair share of claims to fame.
But it's had its troubles, too.
Last year the Post Office closed, then the pub went.
It's an all-too common story.
But here, they are fighting back!
Yes, with a growing tradition that involves these.
You going to tell us what they are?
They'll find out in a minute, keep sorting.
Don't mix the flying saucers with the Harlequins.
Heavens no! But we CAN tell them about the cricket.
Yes, while every sensible cricketer has left the crease
we're having one final game against local rivals, Goodwood,
putting Slindon's other claim to fame to the test.
Round here they believe this village is the birthplace of cricket, but where's the evidence?
We'll be finding out.
And with new sources of energy appearing all around our coastline,
we're going to need lots of new power lines.
But at what cost to the countryside? I'll be investigating.
Also on tonight's programme, it's breakfast time down on the farm.
And Adam's got an ingenious way of making sure his hens get their share.
This is a clever feeder, pour the food in here
and the chickens stand on it to get at the food, fantastic.
Sussex, rolling chalk hills rolling down to the coast.
It's wooded weald lying to the west.
Nestling in the foothills of the South Downs
is the quintessentially Sussex village of Slindon.
With its Saxon church and chocolate box cottages,
it delivers everything you could want from a traditional village.
Traditional for 11 months of the year that is.
Once a year this quiet little village is transformed as visitors flock here
to marvel at a unique display, and here it is.
Look at that, I can honestly say I've never seen anything like that!
Crazy pumpkin mosaic,
and 10,000 visitors will come here, stand where I am now
and indulge in the fruits of the artist's labour.
The Slindon Pumpkin festival was the idea
of a man who earned himself the title, The Pumpkin King,
the late Ralph Upton,
a market gardener who was passionate about pumpkins.
Growing since the late '60s, it could be said that Ralph
was a pumpkin pioneer!
He initially put the pumpkin, squash and gourds on the roof to cure
but people started flocking to see the displays.
His son Robin has carried on the tradition.
-I'm intrigued by this one here, the Turk's Cap?
Wow! That's incredible, isn't it? Look at that!
Of all of these here, which one is your favourite?
-I haven't eaten one yet!
What?! You've never eaten one yet?
-Hang on a minute, so your dad started all this,
all these pumpkins here,
-you're in charge now of it and you've never eaten one?!
-He didn't eat any for the first two years either!
Well, we'll try and tempt Robin's tastebuds later
when I cook up some pumpkin treats.
Robin's partner here in all things pumpkin is Tony Smith
who climbs up and down his ladder every year displaying around a tonne of fruit.
-Tony, it's a fine piece of work.
-Thank you very much.
-Are you pleased with it?
-I am, yes.
It's obviously very precise, there's no gaps at all, so how do you decide
what you're going to do to start with and where all the fruits go?
We have to wait and see what colour scheme we have in the crops we grow.
We usually come up with the idea as early as we can in the season.
And we draw it out, design it as best we can
-and try and put it together.
-Is it on straw, then, I suppose?
Yeah, straw in the background, there's about 40 bales of straw.
-The whole thing takes about ten working days to do.
-I have to say, it's very endearing.
It's lovely, it really is.
Tony's displays add some autumnal colour.
-What are you going to do with that?
-Look at it!
-Just look at it? THEY LAUGH
But the pumpkin festival plays a much more important role.
It brings much-needed tourism into the village and keeps alive the businesses that are still here.
As with so many of our villages, the pub, shop and Post Office all recently closed down in Slindon.
The pottery workshop is the only place to buy postage stamps now,
bringing them regular visitors and keeping the community alive,
something that Mike Imms is passionate about.
Mike, what are the wider benefits of the pumpkin festival for Slindon?
I think you need to understand that the one big issue
in a village like this is sustainability, because,
if you're not careful, it becomes a very beautiful place, with nothing.
Economic sustainability is about having thriving businesses
and jobs, and the pumpkin festival
is an example of something which does that.
And social sustainability is about having things
people can do to get involved, feel connected to the village.
And some of the other artists and photographers in the village
sell their cards there, which helps their venture.
In villages like this, even success can have its problems.
Andrew Turner Cross became the village baker after buying the local bakehouse.
Records for the Slindon bakery here
date all the way back to the mid-16th century.
His business really took off, but outgrew the tiny bakehouse.
Now the bread is made elsewhere.
We knew we had to shut down or move production somewhere else
because we just outgrew it.
We were falling out of the doors and windows in the little village bakehouse at the back.
So the casualty was production in Slindon.
But the presence is still here.
Is that important to you, that you are still here in Slindon?
It is really important.
It gives the bakery its identity, and gives the village fresh bread!
And it's not just the villagers. Visitors like to see the stall, too.
The thing we get asked most often at this point in the village is,
"Where are the pumpkins?" And then they buy a loaf.
"While I'm here, I'll have a loaf of bread." In fact, while I am here, I'd love to have a loaf of bread!
Go ahead, choose.
As we're in pumpkin season, I'll go for the one with the seeds.
Delicious. Thank you very much.
Well, we need something to go with Ellie's bread
so I'm acting as sous chef at the Pumpkin Cafe, run by volunteers
from both village churches.
What are the delights that are in front of us? It looks fantastic.
Yes, well, what I've done is I've cooked everything
from a Crown Prince squash.
Everybody loves pizza, but why not make it with pumpkin?
-Have you put pumpkin in the bread as well, then?
I then wanted to amaze you with a pudding.
It's kind of an Eton Mess without the meringue.
Can I try that? I won't spoil that display, will I?
No. Have you got the fruit as well? You can't just have cream.
That's naughty, very naughty!
I've met boys like you before!
-Oh! That is my kind of pudding, that.
-I mean, it's not too sweet.
'But it's pumpkin pate I'm going to make with Rosemary.
'Heaven help me!'
-Right, what's the plan here?
-Just scrape that off the skin,
and pop it in here,
in generous-sized chunks.
We need a good wodge of that parsley.
-And how are you on chillies?
-Yeah, go for it. Let's put some chillies in, definitely.
Shall I just show you how to do that?
It's just an excuse, so I can come closer to you!
If you want to put your arms around me,
so that you understand what I'm doing, it's OK.
But if you're right-handed,
you're going to hold the tip of the knife with your left hand,
and then you go all loose and floppy in your shoulder.
-And I shall put my arms around you, if you don't do it properly!
'I think the spiciest thing around here is Rosemary!'
-Looks gorgeous, doesn't it?
-Now, are you going to have a taste?
How are we doing on seasonings?
-Do you think it needs a bit of salt?
-A bit more salt. I agree.
That's pretty good.
'But there's one person who really needs to taste this.'
Right, here we go. Robin?
-Robin, you look nervous.
-So, this is pumpkin pate.
-Well, depends on where you're from!
Well, "pat-ay", yes! There we are, then. It's all yours.
Have a nibble and see what you think. There's pumpkin in the bread as well.
Pumpkin seeds in the bread, that's my bit. This is great.
-Well, what's the verdict?
-What do you think?
It could be improved on!
-"It could be improved on!" Robin!
-It's a slur on your skills!
I'm not referring to the recipe, I'm talking about the pumpkin!
Now, from pumpkins to pylons.
Plans to build hundreds of miles of new power lines across Britain
have already caused a huge amount of controversy,
but what effect will they actually have on our landscape?
Tom has been investigating.
In our ever-changing world, there's more demand for everything -
more cars, more food and more power.
That's where the National Grid comes in.
It provides the veins and arteries that supply our nation's lifeblood
With a growing demand for energy,
and the government needing to hit set green targets
over the next few years, the beast is only going to get bigger,
and that means more of these.
Pylons. Tens of thousands of them straddle our landscape.
At 50 metres high, and weighing in at 20 tonnes,
these familiar structures form a network that, arguably,
is one of Britain's greatest engineering feats.
We've got 4,500 miles of circuits,
there are 22,000 pylons in the system,
320 substations connecting over 70 generators.
It is a vast network, stretching the length and breadth of the country.
But love them or loathe them, we're going to need more of them.
Partly, as John discovered last week, to connect up
the vast, new wind farms springing up around our coast.
We have 1,500 megawatts of offshore wind capacity installed.
But we'll need to go to about 12 times that amount, by 2020.
And all that energy needs to be plugged in to the grid.
The way we generate our power is changing.
In the past, the sources of power and people dwelt pretty close together,
from the central belt of Scotland
down through the coalfields of the North and the Midlands,
and on to the south.
But, increasingly, our electricity is coming from the coast
from wind turbines in the North Sea
and nuclear power stations in East Anglia,
and much the same on the West.
We've got wind turbines on the hills and mountains, more out to sea,
and nuclear power stations again, there.
And to link all these new sources of power to your home
can't be done without wires.
And these wires will be weaving their way through
some of our most remote and beautiful countryside.
Likely locations include the Lakes, the Kent Downs, and in West Wales.
One of National Grid's proposed new pylon runs is here,
in the Vyrnwy Valley just outside the village of Meifod.
Come on, girls.
'Jonathan Wilkinson is a dairy farmer here,
'and he's vehemently against the pylons being built.'
So, Jonathan, describe to me
what this place could look like in five years' time.
Worst-case scenario, in the far distance, on the horizon,
you'd be looking at wind turbines around 600 feet,
and coming from them, pylons 150 feet tall,
marching through the gap you can see there,
which is a small valley, and then right through the middle of here.
Why is it that you find that such a distressing vision?
Firstly, obviously, it's a massive change,
and nobody likes change, but it goes much, much deeper than that.
I've spent all my life here. People love this place.
They keep coming back to this place,
because of what it is.
That natural beauty would be lost.
You really think that is the core point for you,
it would scar the pristine beauty of this farmed landscape?
Certainly that. It would massively disrupt,
during the construction, my farming operation here.
Were the pylons to be here, they have a pretty large footprint.
They're not put in hedgerows,
they're just dotted indiscriminately through the fields.
So, from a farming point of view, devastating.
With very little compensation, as I understand.
The aesthetic beauty of the area would be lost.
However you dress it up, doesn't it come down to a version
of not in my backyard, which is "not in my Welsh valley"?
I think, were we trying to stop this
at the expense of another corridor, yes.
But I wouldn't want to see it not going here,
so that it went on somebody else's land, somebody else's farm.
It would give me no pleasure at all.
Wherever it goes, I'd feel equally bad about it, to be honest.
Jonathan's views are echoed across the country.
Thousands of people are concerned about
not only the blight on the landscape, but also the impact
on places people go to recharge their own batteries.
Peter Ogden, a fierce campaigner
for the protection of the Welsh countryside,
is naturally in agreement.
I mean, what we're trying to do with landscapes is get things
to fit in the right way, and in the right place.
And putting in a great big Avatar-scale pylon system
through what is a soft, rolling countryside, for me,
and for the thousands of people in this part of mid Wales,
You've probably seen the number of placards that are around,
demonstrating that people don't want this.
Tourism is very important.
Are people going to come to places which are blighted
by transmission lines and power cables?
-Do you have electricity at home?
-Of course I do.
-How do you expect that to reach there?
Well, I expect it to reach through the normal cabling systems,
but where it actually is generated is another matter.
But don't you have to accept that some sacrifices to our landscape
have to be made, in order to get electricity to where it's needed?
Some sacrifice, but it should be at the right scale
and in the right place.
It's inevitable that there's going to be a huge expansion,
due to the increasing demand for power.
And from what I've heard, not everyone's going to be happy.
So, is there an alternative to that?
The answer could be beneath my feet.
And I'll be going underground to look for it.
While Ellie and I have been getting a taste of village life,
here in Slindon, Katie has been helping to build
an extraordinary eco-home for countryside volunteers.
The lush pastures and woods of Swan Barn Farm.
100 acres of National Trust land, in Haslemere in Surrey.
Popular with walkers looking for a taste of open country
within the commuter belt. But lovely as this estate is,
it doesn't look after itself.
All this is made possible by the dedication
and commitment of volunteers. 50,000 people across the UK
give up their time for the Trust each year.
-am giving them a helping hand.
I'm going to be working on an exciting new project which,
for a lucky few, will transform the experience of volunteering.
-So, this is it?
-Yes, it is.
'Woodsman Ben Law made his name by building his own house on national television.'
Made from trees in the wood where he works,
the project captured the public's imagination.
Now, he's turning his hand to a new home for three National Trust volunteers.
-Come on in.
-Wow! This is fantastic. It's quite roomy inside.
-It is. There's a real open space to it, isn't there?
'This is not a typical building.
'There aren't any steel girders here, nor a single brick in sight.'
So, all this, this wood, where is it from?
This is all from the estate, the National Trust estate at Blackdown.
It's all been sourced within two miles of where we're building.
It's all coppiced sweet chestnut, so this will be regrowing now, as we're using the wood.
What about these walls? What are these made of?
These are straw bale, so local straw from a farm near here.
'There's even sheep's wool used for insulation.
'It's about environmentally friendly building,
'using materials that are local, sustainable and biodegradable.'
Now, if you take an architect
and take them out of their comfort designing zone,
and take them out into the woods,
and say, "What's available today is 33 chestnut trees, ten larch,
"now go away and design your house," you start with resources first.
And that's the message I'm hoping to get across here.
What about the expense? Is it more expensive to build out of wood?
No. These type of buildings generally come in about 30% cheaper
than a building built out of bricks and mortar.
Building began six months ago, and the house is nearly finished.
I'm going to be helping out with some of the final touches.
Like plastering with mud.
OK, so you just work the clay in your hands. Nice consistency.
And then start at the bottom there.
I'm just going to work that into the lath.
Work it between your hands, straight onto the lath.
And is this how they've been making walls for thousands of years?
Exactly how they've been making walls for thousands of years, yeah.
-This is wattle and daub?
-This is wattle and daub.
The chestnut lath is the wattle, and this is the daub.
-What do you reckon? Am I doing OK?
-I'm a bit slower than you.
No, I think you're doing fine.
It's stuck, though, isn't it?
I wonder how many weeks it'll take
to get this out from underneath my nails?
'This is certainly unlike any house I've seen before
'and in a break from work,
'I'm eager to find out who's going to be living here.'
There'll be three full-time volunteers.
They're going to be living in that building and helping us
to look after the land and the animals that we have here
and the woodlands that provided the materials
that made the house where they're living.
We wanted a building that would connect people with the landscape,
and hopefully, by building something in this way,
that's what we're getting.
And it's into the woods we're headed next,
to harvest some sweet chestnut to make roof tiles.
Here, a chainsaw comes in handy.
But knocking the tiles into shape is a job that has to be done by hand.
-Looks pretty good. Are you going to have a go?
-Are you left-handed?
-Yeah, take it the other way round,
and go a little bit thinner.
OK? Just little tap.
-Oh, you have to keep it quite steady.
-A bit of cradling.
-I was not a woodman's wife in a former life!
Your house might not be ready this year!
This is looking so bad!
If you hold my hand up, you can just push that away from you
and that will split that up.
Push that handle away.
I don't think they'll be calling me back to volunteer!
I've managed to break the equipment! That is so bad!
-If you push it further back in there...
-And do a bit more of this?
-Can you freestyle a bit on this?
-Yeah, that has gone well.
That has got to be the worst roof tile ever! But it was my first.
-I don't think it's too bad.
-Can I have another go?
Yeah, have another go.
'Luckily, my second effort turns out rather better.'
Oh, look at that! I think that was a bit chunky there.
-That was much better, that one.
'But it's not finished just yet,
'and it's becoming clear that it takes a lot of work to make every tile.
'There's no shortcut,
'as using machine tools would spoil the wood's natural protective coat.'
One down, only a few thousand to go!
'Plenty of elbow grease later,
'and my lovingly-crafted tiles are ready to be fitted.'
The thing about using wood, I would've thought it might rot?
You have to pick the type of wood you're going to use - chestnut is brilliant.
Full of tannic acid, naturally durable timber.
That's what gives it longevity.
I'd expect to get 45 years of life out of these.
-45 years - people have to do their roofs sooner than that, don't they?
Let me get this right - this building is going to last
a long time, is cheaper, it's more environmentally friendly?
How come EVERYBODY isn't building their houses like this?
Well, a lot more buildings are being built out of wood now.
Wood is being seen as a useful and renewable building material,
but also, it takes time,
because the building industry is quite set in its ways,
and to make change happen, you have to re-educate people
about the type of materials they use, and the way that they build.
As for who will live in THIS house,
the National Trust plans to begin its search for volunteers later this year.
The lucky few will get to live in close harmony with the land
and enjoy at home that'll be an experience in itself.
Well, if all of that has inspired you
to get out and about into the countryside,
the BBC has teamed up with a range of partners
to offer activities right across the UK.
For more information, log on to our website and click on "things to do".
Earlier in the programme, we heard about the need
for miles of new power cables across the British countryside.
But does that actually mean hundreds of new pylons? Here's Tom.
I've discovered that in order to get power to our homes,
from new sources of energy, like wind farms,
we're going to need lots more of these pylons.
But that hasn't gone down too well with people who live near them,
or those that fear for the future of our countryside.
So, if these plans for over 200 miles of new power lines are to go ahead, then the people behind them
will have to negotiate some significant obstacles.
Maybe the answer is staring us straight in the face.
This familiar lattice design has hardly changed
since the first one was erected in 1928.
So, maybe a bold new look could make pylons more palatable.
'Design Guru Ruth Reid has been on the panel to decide
'the winner of a national competition to restyle this controversial icon.'
-250 people actually submitted designs.
These are second stage development.
They've been looked at by engineers and architects,
and developed to meet the brief that was set.
I want to have a closer look,
but as we do that, can you tell me what was the key brief?
What were the things they had to do, or had to avoid?
Well, you have to carry different sets of conductors,
so that they are isolated, both in terms of the cable swinging,
to reduce arcing between them,
so, there's a set distance you have to hold the conductors, the cables.
They have to stay apart so that they don't clash in the wind?
Yes, because otherwise, they'd earth out.
They have to be adaptable in terms of height.
For instance, this one, presumably, you just add extra height to it.
The thickness of the structural member, the steel, gets finer,
-as you go up.
-So, it's sturdy at the base, and as you go up,
it has two support less weight, and it gets more and more delicate.
This is the one that will be a mirror, I believe,
so that you will tend to lose it in the landscape
and you'll see, reflected, the landscape that it stands in.
But there's a bit of a dilemma here for an architect,
as to whether these are supposed to be eye-catching or invisible.
I think that'll be the dilemma for the jury.
It's wonderful to have individual sculptural statements, but if you repeat them
across the landscape, can it be too much?
But back on his farm in Wales,
will any of these designs please Jonathan?
What about that one?
I think, as a piece of modern design, it's not,
I'm not tempting you on that one?! What about this?
A giant toothpick with... What's that hanging off it?
Dental floss, maybe, in your metaphor, anyway!
This one's slightly more outlandish.
As a piece of individual design, I can see some artistic merit in it,
but as Vyrnwy Valley's Angel of the North,
it could maybe work as one.
What would you think if you had a line of these through this valley?
I would think little better of those than I would of...
a whole line of conventional pylons, to be honest.
To use an agricultural metaphor,
you can't make a silk purse out of a sow's ear, and that's what they're trying to do.
It might not make much difference to Jonathan,
but in the end, this design was chosen as the winner.
But that still doesn't mean the National Grid WILL use it.
But is it possible to change the routes
to where fewer people live or the landscape is less valued?
As you might have guessed, it's never as simple as that.
TO me, it's like squeezing a balloon, isn't it?
You squeeze it in one place, and it pops out somewhere else.
So, changing the route of the pylon isn't going to solve the problem,
because all you're doing is pushing the issue somewhere else,
and some other community will be affected.
I think we've got to downscale, basically. We've got to say,
"These sort of developments are not really right for this area."
So it's not the case that there is A route which is already spoiled
and wouldn't matter if you put a load of pylons in it?
Not in terms of where the actual wind energy is generated.
Those are remote areas, by their very nature.
They are unspoilt, and therefore, transmitting electricity
from those places back into the grid, into the central Midland area
is going to be problematic, wherever you put those pylons.
So, is there a way of delivering all this new power
without the need for hundreds of pylons across the countryside?
Could this deep trench near Ross on Wye in Herefordshire provide the answer?
Burying power lines seems like the obvious solution.
In this Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty,
they're in the process of replacing three miles of existing cables.
What are the unique problems about being underground,
as opposed to having your cables up in the air?
Well, when you're shipping large amounts of energy, as we're doing,
the circuit here is supporting a load of six billion watts,
so three billion watts per circuit.
Even with the best conductors in the world, you'll generate heat.
-And heat's our issue.
-Three billion watts
can you give me that in lightbulbs or kettles, or something?
Possibly a kettle in your home may be about a kilowatt, 1,000 watts,
so that's three million kettles, full load, every kettle boiling at the same time.
It's an incredible amount of power.
Despite the difficulties that come with putting power lines underground,
National Grid can and will lay some cables beneath our feet.
But there is another reason why they don't bury them all.
We put our water underground, and our gas underground.
Why couldn't you do this everywhere?
The simple technical answer to that is you can.
You can build the entire network with underground cable systems.
The issue is one of cost.
In terms of what National Grid's earning, we're funded,
we're paid to do that's required, but those costs come back
to you and I, as consumers, in our bills.
Roughly, how much more does it cost, to put your cables underground?
We use a figure of roughly ten times the cost,
of undergrounding a cable system,
compared to putting in overhead lines.
Typically, on a brand-new overhead line construction,
it's anywhere between £1.6 million and £1.8 million per kilometre.
On an equivalent underground cable system,
it's £18 million to £22 million per kilometre,
A sizeable difference in cost.
Not everyone agrees it costs so much,
but the fact remains it is more expensive.
So, it's a trade-off between the price of electricity
and the purity of our landscape.
Uncomfortable sacrifices will have to be made.
In the end, what underlies it is the question, what price, keeping the lights on?
Later on Countryfile -
introducing Ellie to the joys of cricket, Sussex-style.
-I never watched cricket before today.
Adam's visiting a farm run with nature in mind.
We've got a passion for the wildlife here.
I am also a keen wildlife photographer.
Kestrel there, on icy branches. That photograph was taken just up there.
If you're planning some wildlife watching of your own, you'll need the Countryfile weather forecast.
'A few miles away from the pretty Sussex village of Slindon,
'where we have been exploring country life,
'are the broad parklands of an aristocratic estate.'
Knepp Castle has a long and proud tradition.
Aristocratic families have lived here since Norman times
and over the centuries, there have been some drastic changes.
But now, it's all about getting back to nature.
The whole of this 3,500 -acre estate is part of a grand experiment,
where the animals are left to do their own thing.
The estate's been owned by the Burrell family
for the last 200 years and until recently, current owner
Charlie Burrell ran a dairy and arable farm here.
But with agricultural prices falling and profits hard to come by,
Charlie came up with a drastic solution -
re-wilding the estate.
What did you do to get started and what have you got?
For 17 years, I was farming intensively with dairy cows
and sheep and beef and arable.
And we have gone from that to...
it's loosely known as a re-wilding project,
but it's probably more precisely called a naturalistic grazing project,
where you use herbivores to create an interesting habitat.
It's a new way of thinking, isn't it,
having gone to agricultural college and learnt traditional farming,
you have to think quite differently to make it work.
If you're really interested in the bugs,
which is what I am,
you know, the thrill of seeing recoveries of butterflies
and recoveries of beetles, and recoveries to such levels
that you get more out of it every day that marches past,
you get to see something new and something happening.
That's very exciting.
Grazing like this doesn't only create wonderful habitat for wildlife,
it also earns farmers like Charlie money for looking after the countryside.
The estate sells free-range pork, venison and beef,
and with a bit of rental income from farm buildings,
and it adds up to a gentle profit.
It's all a very long way from the intensive farming of the past.
What's been done here really does give a whole new meaning
to the phrase "right to roam".
Without the grazing, it could potentially just become wood again
and the trees would grow, but all the grazing keeps it at this level.
Yes. If you didn't have the grazing and browsing animals,
you would end up with woodland.
Putting those into the mix, you get this mantle,
this appearance of the edge of woodland and scrub, coming down to grassland.
That's where most of life lives.
So, what are your hopes for how this will go in the long term?
It's already sort of happening, because when I started this,
I had no idea how quickly nature moves back into the countryside.
The whole time, we're seeing new things happening -
that's what's exciting to me. Every year is different.
But there's another interesting idea round here - re-wiggling the river.
Over the centuries, the River Adur has been straightened,
and now it's prone to flash flooding.
Charlie's hoping to create
a more even flow all year round by rebuilding the natural flood plains.
And he's using the estate's own resources.
By putting the natural meanders back,
or re-wiggling it, as Charlie calls it,
The estate's hoping that invertebrates, birds and mammals
will all take up residence.
They're working hand in hand with the Environment Agency
and Natural England to dig a new meandering river bed,
and these trees are going to play their part, too.
It's all looking terribly busy, Charlie. What's going on here?
They're cutting young oaks out of a plantation
which was planted probably 20 years ago,
-so that we can create some blockages.
-What's that for?
The first action is to help the river perform more naturally,
so you block up winter waters,
so that the river floods the flood plain more frequently.
'This is green engineering - no concrete or steel,
'just taking the land back to a more natural state.
'And it's hoped all this will make the river more manageable
'and more wildlife-friendly.
'Charlie Smith from the Environment Agency
'is keen to show off the work being done here.'
This is the bit that will carry the water, will have more flow,
more things happening, more habitat.
It should work how we want it to work,
which is great for us.
-Fantastic, it's looking very good so far.
'Of course, all this work's causing more than a little disruption
'to the local fish stocks.
'The few that are in the river are being moved to safety
'using electro-fishing. It's all part of the bigger picture.'
It's a massive project, and it has clearly already started, but what are your hopes for the outcome here?
My hopes are that over the next five to ten years,
you start to see a flood plain that is wetter,
that has better wildlife on it, that's more interesting for people,
and is just an exciting place to come and see wildlife.
'If the work here at Knepp is a success, maybe we could see
'more re-wiggling and re-wilding throughout the countryside.'
What I think is remarkable about this is how untested it is, and what
a punt Charlie has made, putting so much of his estate into it.
But seeing the livestock, they have THE most charmed life.
They've the right to roam and they can eat whatever they want,
and closer to my heart is that the wildlife have got
such an incredible habitat.
Every year, at least two species of plants and animals
become extinct in England, and many more are under threat.
Adam is always keen to find new ways to encourage wildlife on his farm.
And as usual, that involves an early start.
We've got a couple of thousand animals on the farm, and the first job of the morning is to feed them.
I've had my breakfast, now it's their turn. First up is Dolly.
-She is the house dog,
she's a bit spoilt, and the sheepdogs live outside.
The sheepdogs are an important part of the working farm team,
and they work for you, because of their instinct, but also because they love you,
because you give them food, water and somewhere dry to lie at night.
There we go, good girls.
'But that's just the start.
'With pigs, chickens,
'geese, ducks, ponies, donkeys,
'horses, cattle, sheep and goats,
'I've got a lot of hungry mouths to feed.'
Farm animals always know when it is breakfast time. They're always stood here,
waiting, and the pigs are shouting, because when they're little,
they scream to their mothers to lie down and feed them.
Eventually, she does. And they carry on screaming as they get older.
Pigs will pretty much eat anything - they're omnivores.
But it's important they get the right diet,
and these pig nuts are full of all the essentials that they require.
Pig nuts are very expensive, so we have to be careful
how much we feed them. The ration is essential, otherwise you're just throwing money away.
We like to give them a few apples out of the garden, they love apples.
Chickens are fairly easy to keep, I've got about 30 laying hens.
Shut them up at night to keep them away from the foxes.
There we are, chucks.
I feed them on home-grown wheat, of which I've got
thousands of tonnes, and layers' pellets.
This is a clever little feeder.
You pour the food in here, and then,
the chickens stand on it to get at the food.
It keeps it away from the rooks.
The chickens are clever enough to use it,
but the rooks aren't. It's fantastic.
And then, of course, they pay me back in eggs.
Poultry nutrition can be quite complicated,
but it's not just about the health of the bird.
It's about the egg they produce as well.
What's in their diet has a lot to do with
the thickness of the shell and the good quality of the yolk.
So really, tasty eggs means healthy chickens. There's my breakfast for tomorrow!
I've got a few pet geese in here.
I feed them poultry pellets and wheat. Let them out.
Come on! Here's your food.
Although we feed the geese pellets,
they're actually very good at grazing the grass, mowing the lawn.
So, six geese will eat as much as one sheep.
And some people keep them as guard dogs, so if a stranger turns up,
they make a right old racket! The ganders can be very aggressive. But this one is really friendly,
it's a bit of a family pet. Likes being stroked, don't you?
There you go. Go and have a graze. There's other animals to look after.
At this time of year, the grass is running out
and it's not very good quality,
so we supplementary feed the cattle with a bit of this barley straw.
Just take the string off.
When we combine the barley,
the straw is left behind and we bail it up, and it makes good fodder.
Tricky on a windy day!
'Before the wind blows too much of the straw away,
'I need to round up the cows so they can get stuck in.
'Sometimes they like to play in it, too.'
As well as farm animals,
I share this farm with a huge array of wildlife.
And I love feeding the birds in the garden, but as a farmer, I have a big responsibility
to look after ALL the wildlife across the whole 1,600-acre farm.
At the moment, I'm in a scheme called
the Cotswold Hills Environmentally Sensitive Area Scheme, where we get paid by the government
to put in areas that help the wildlife.
That's coming to an end soon
and it's being replaced by Higher Level Stewardship.
It is quite complicated and it's a 10-year commitment,
so it's a decision I'm going to have to make with my business partner, Duncan.
'The Higher Level Stewardship Scheme aims to deliver the greatest possible benefits
'for wildlife and the natural environment. How much grant you get
'depends on how much work you do. To help inform our decision,
'we're off to the Marlborough Downs in Wiltshire to meet David White. He already farms under this scheme.'
David, it's a really wonderful spot. How many acres do you farm?
We farm about 1,400 acres here.
We are predominantly arable, growing wheat, barley and rape.
What proportion of your farm, the arable area, have you taken out of production?
We've taken out about 7%.
So, it's about 100 acres which have gone into,
basically, areas for wildlife.
And why did you go ahead with that?
Really, because we have a passion for the wildlife on our farm.
I'm also a very keen wildlife photographer.
So, the two go hand-in-hand. It's great to see the wildlife and take some photos.
You have some photographs with you?
OK, so, we have seen a really big increase in the numbers of hare
-on the farm, since being in stewardship.
Goldfinch. They really like the rough areas of the farm -
teasels, thistles, that sort of thing.
-Lapwings, a real success story with lapwings on the farm.
Kestrel there, on icy branches. That photograph was taken just up there.
-It definitely seems to be working, then?
-Goodness me, what's that?
-That's a short eared owl.
We get them here in the winter, beautiful, beautiful birds.
The Higher Level Stewardship Scheme, which we're involved in,
has helped with creating the right habitat for those birds.
It's great you have got such a passion. Let's go and have a look.
'David's clearly doing something right. We're off to look at the margins he has created
'around the edge of his arable fields.
'These margins provide habitat and lots of food for the wildlife on his farm.'
I see you've got quite a few strips like this.
What's this trying to achieve?
Well, we've got 40 acres of this wild bird seeds mixture.
And this is being grown specifically for birds.
You can see there's loads and loads of seed here.
Absolutely just loads, look at that.
This seed will stay right the way through the winter.
It'll be a food source, so rather than planting it and hoping for the best,
it is farmed as we would farm our arable crops,
which I think is important.
It's getting the right habitat in the right place
and once you've got the right habitat, you will then get the wildlife.
This is pretty good, productive land that you could be growing wheat on.
Farmers get paid for growing these kind of stewardship crops. Is it enough?
If we can do everything we can to encourage the wildlife on the farm
and if we can get funding from the EU to help offset the loss of income,
that works well. It works for the wildlife,
it works for us
and it works for the farm as a whole, and that's great.
-I've just picked a sparrow's dinner here. Oops!
-THEY ALL LAUGH
Put it back and let it ripen!
It's important that Duncan and I make the right decision.
We'd need to convert around 7% of our arable land,
that's about 70 acres, for wildlife, rather than growing crops.
But, of course, we'd be paid some money to compensate.
On David's farm, there's lots more to see.
Wild areas with nectar-rich plants to attract pollinators.
Wild grassland on the downs for mammals such as mice and voles,
food for birds of prey.
And fallow areas - perfect nesting grounds for birds like lapwings.
Is hedgerow management quite important for the stewardship.
Yes, it is, because the rules of the scheme
are that you can only cut the hedges
one year in three at the most.
If it was a neat, tidy hedge, cut every year,
there wouldn't be any berries on there at all.
We are creating a really good food source for a whole host of birds.
Do you think we could make this work for us?
I do. I'm really inspired by what I've seen today.
I think we can deliver some fairly immediate results and increase the wildlife on the farm.
We should definitely progress with something on our farm, so thank you.
-Thank you very much. Brilliant.
-Not at all.
Every year, we sell our Countryfile calendar
in aid of Children in Need.
It all started when YOU sent your photographs in to us.
Here's John with a reminder of what it's all about.
A huge thank you to everyone who sent in their pictures.
The theme of best in show was our most ambitious yet,
with finalists in 12 classes of pictures.
Like the overall winner, Pulling Power, in the working animals class.
Or the judges' favourite from the leisure and pleasure class,
By Hook Or By Crook.
All 12 photographs take pride of place
in the Countryfile calendar for 2012.
The calendar costs £9 and a minimum of £4 from each sale
will go to Children in Need.
You can order it right now on our website:
Or you can call the order line:
You could also order by post.
Send your name, address and cheque to:
Please make your cheques payable to BBC Countryfile Calendar.
In a moment, Matt will be finding out
what's behind this Slindon's claim to be the birthplace of cricket.
We'll be holding our own local derby against neighbours Goodwood.
But first, here's the Countryfile forecast for next week.
'In Sussex, Ellie and I have been
'embracing the charms of village life.
'Not to mention enough fruit and veg to last a lifetime.
'But its quirky annual festival isn't the only string to Slindon's bow.
'It also has a long association
'with one of England's most quintessential sports.'
This may be a small village of around a few hundred people,
but back in the 18th century
when cricket was just becoming a real sport,
its team were among the big hitters.
It's been labelled by some as the birthplace of cricket,
and at their peak Slindon were among the best in England.
Though if their latest recruit is anything to go by,
their star has waned.
-Here he is. You look the part!
-Yeah, I feel pretty good.
You'd better be good!
Don't worry, honestly, I play loads.
I play loads with my four-year-old son.
-And he's winning 3-0.
In which case, you are going to need me to wish you good luck.
'We're up against nearby Goodwood.
'The season has officially ended, but the teams are putting on
'a final performance for Countryfile.
'And I'm hoping not to let the side down.'
As for me,
given my sporting record, I'm staying safely out of harm's way.
This is my kind of cricket - leather on willow,
'It's all right for some, because on the pitch, I'm certainly being put through my paces.'
Where's it gone?!
How come I'm the only one doing any work here?
While Matt dives left, right and centre,
I'm finding out more about Slindon's glory years
and how a tiny village was at the epicentre of this new sport.
How good were Slindon as a side?
They were certainly the strongest side in Sussex
and you could argue that they were just about the strongest
village town team in England.
In 1741, they went up to London and they played London and they won.
A number of the Slindon players
were good enough to represent the England team.
It's said that Slindon is the birthplace of cricket.
-Is that actually true?
-No, it's not the birthplace,
because we've got records of cricket in Sussex going back to 1611,
so that's over 100 years before.
But why it is special
is because there was a team here in the 1730s and 1740s
who played regularly and we know something about them.
We know who the players were, where they played and so on.
In that sense it's very special.
You've got some information to show me.
Yes, I have here the earliest rules of cricket,
drawn up in 1727 by the second Duke of Richmond.
Now, why it relates to Slindon
is because the second duke becomes the patron of the Slindon club.
So these are the earliest rules written down.
-The earliest rules.
I certainly need to learn the rules. I'm new to cricket.
I'll have a look at this and see what I can pick up.
The support of this influential sporting duke
helped to cement Slindon's place in cricketing history.
I'm doing my best to live up to the reputation,
but my lack of experience is definitely evident.
Sorry, that was a bit wide!
It gets better but just as I'm finding my aim,
it's time for another cricketing institution - the cricket tea!
And thanks to Matt's cooking earlier,
we've contributed to the spread.
Though it doesn't seem to be going down as well as the cake.
-That is pumpkin pizza.
-I don't like pumpkin.
You don't like pumpkin and you live here? I can't believe it!
'And the pate?'
You don't have to say you like it just because he's here.
-Do you not like it, Sandy?
Sandy, you don't like it, do you?
-Did you make that, Sandy?
-Can I try it?
-It's got loads of nuts and hazelnuts and dates.
-So you've tried mine.
-It's only fair.
Hmm, that's awful(!)
No, that's lovely! That's really nice. Really nice.
Tea over, it's Slindon's turn to bat. Or so I'm told.
I must admit, I'm still finding it all completely baffling.
Matt, I've been watching for a little while now,
never watched cricket before today...
-The thing you stand in front of.
-Oh, the wicket!
I on the other hand know just enough about the game
to see that this one is going to be close.
And I'm hoping to redeem myself with the bat,
but the captain has a surprise in store.
So, Matt, we have an awful lot of history at this club,
going back nearly 300 years.
What we thought might be quite nice
is to perhaps introduce a bit of history
in the shape of an 18th-century bat for you to bat with,
rather than a nice, new modern bat.
You're kidding me?!
-How do you feel about that?
-It's like an oar!
Isn't it? It's like a didgeridoo or some kind of tribal instrument!
We'll give you an extra five runs if you can get a tune out of it!
'But with Slindon's honour at stake...' Look at this thing!
'..there's nothing to do except take it on the chin.'
Yes! It's a four!
Not bad for a beginner swinging an 18th-century tree trunk.
But my luck soon runs out.
Oh, he's got me! What a beauty. See you.
'Moments after stepping onto the pitch, and it's all over.'
-Not too bad.
-I'm back quite quickly, though.
Nice to see you again so soon.
-I don't think your little boy's got too much to worry about.
Luckily my underwhelming performance
doesn't prove to be the team's downfall -
Slindon goes on to scrape a win by just two runs.
What a result!
That's almost it for tonight.
Just time to tell you that if you want to get hold
of one of our lovely Countryfile calendars,
log on to our website for details.
Next week we'll be in Northumberland
finding out about farming on the edge.
-And you'll be all at sea?
-Looking for our favourite sea creatures. I can't wait.
Do you want to take this? It might help you paddle!
I'm going to need it, I think!
-Hope you can join us then. See you.
-Do you want another cup of tea before we go?
-Yes, please, I do.
Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd
E-mail [email protected]
Matt Baker and Ellie Harrison go behind-the-scenes at Slindon in Sussex to reveal how two very different traditions are helping keep the picturesque village alive after it lost its pub, post office and local shop.
Tom Heap investigates what impact plans to build hundreds of miles of new power lines will have on Britain's countryside. And Adam looks into an initiative to encourage more wildlife on his farm.