Ellie Harrison presents a bird's-eye view of the Gloucestershire countryside, and Jules Hudson learns how the thousands of grey seals on the Scottish coast are monitored.
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Sometimes, to appreciate things fully,
you need to change your perspective.
To see a landscape at its best,
you have to rise above it and look down
to reveal our glorious countryside on a grand scale.
Welcome to a bird's-eye view edition of Countryfile,
where we'll be looking at the countryside...
Today, we're looking back at some of the best stories
we've featured on the programme
where we've been given a unique view on what's happening below.
Like when Julia flew over the orchards of Herefordshire...
-There's some sheep!
And that's quite normal for a traditional orchard,
-to have cattle and sheep grazing amongst the orchard?
..Matt descended into a cave in the Wye Valley...
Whoo! Oh, my goodness me!
..and Helen discovered if military technology
can help Lakeland farmers.
Can you send a camera over our heads?
Yeah, that's very easy to do. There we are.
'As for me, I'm in Gloucestershire, finding all sorts of ways
'to get a spectacular view from above.'
You can see the world from a distance.
Everything looks absolutely pristine.
The Gloucestershire countryside -
rolling Cotswold Hills, fertile river valleys
and overflowing fields of crops as far as the eye can see.
The rural town of Berkeley sits in the centre
of the Vale of the same name on thousands of acres of flat land
stretching along the east bank of the river Severn.
For such a small place, the town has a rich history,
including royal murder, warfare,
and scientific discoveries that changed the world forever.
These days, it's a more tranquil sort of place.
It's the sort of village where, once you move in,
you don't want to move away.
Perhaps that explains why one family who live here
haven't had to call in the removal men for nearly 900 years.
Mind you, if you lived in Berkeley Castle, would you want to move out?
The Berkeley family have lived in the castle continuously since the 12th century.
Charles Berkeley is the 27th consecutive generation to live here
and he stands to inherit it. Owning and running a castle in 2012
presents very different challenges to those of his ancestors,
but, like in any household, the chores need doing.
Mind you, the spectacular views from the castle roof
make even the weeding uplifting.
Jobs like this have to be done every year.
There's always, with the stone here,
you get so many things growing out of the stone
and we all have to muck in and do jobs.
I guess, in which case, I shall muck in, too.
Great view, though, while you're weeding. It's not too bad.
It's amazing, isn't it? Not a bad place to be.
And a wonderful roof area here with incredible views.
What was it like growing up in a castle?
It was fantastic, Ellie. It was just every little child's dream.
I had a brother, we had 11 months between us,
and every day we would come up to the roof,
we would go into certain rooms, which were our favourite rooms,
and just explore the castle and my parents were very good at saying, you know,
you're very lucky to be custodians of this castle, but respect it.
It's a wonderful old building.
I suppose on the outside, it seems like such a privileged position that you're in,
but do you ever find it a bit of a burden?
It is a burden, Ellie,
it's really something that you don't take lightly
because it's a huge responsibility and challenge.
The main thing for me is thinking, you know,
financially, how are we going to keep on top of everything?
And keeping it in the family must be important
with such a track record - what, 900 years of the Berkeleys here?
-You've got to try and make sure that continues downwards.
Well, you read about the ancestors and what they did, you know,
200, 300 years ago and you think, "God, I'm, whatever,
"the 27th generation to be here at the castle,"
or will be, and it's 27 generations and you think,
"I want to be able to see that I keep this place going
"and have some good ideas that will benefit the castle in years to come."
-But it does put pressure on you a bit!
Yeah, you don't want to break the chain, do you? It's been a lucky run so far.
Despite being hundreds of years old,
this castle isn't the oldest building in Berkeley,
as I'll be finding out later.
From up here I get a supreme view of Gloucestershire,
but if I could see a little bit further that way
I'd get a glimpse of one of its neighbouring counties,
famous for its fruit trees. But our traditional orchards are in decline,
so last year Julia took to the skies above Herefordshire
to get a unique view of what was going on.
Protected by the Malvern Hills,
the mild climate and rich soil of the three counties
make this one of the great fruit-growing regions of Britain.
Both Worcestershire and Gloucestershire
have a centuries-old tradition of growing plums, pears and apples.
But I'm starting my journey in the orchards of Herefordshire
at the village of Colwall.
It's difficult to believe
that these beautiful blossoms are in trouble, but they are.
Natural England have conducted a five-year investigation
and they've found that nearly half the traditional orchards
in this country are under serious threat.
Action is needed.
We've had exclusive access to this study of fruit-growing in England.
It shows that 45% of traditional orchards
are now neglected or abandoned.
In Colwall, they're doing their bit
to try and stop that getting any worse.
We're going to do a little bit of judicious pruning
on this side of the tree and we're going to take some mistletoe out...
Tim Dixon organises local volunteers
who tend the traditional orchards that ring the village.
"Judicious pruning", I like that. I don't think I've ever done anything judiciously in my life.
Now, why do you do this, Tim? You're not the farmer - you're not getting paid to do it.
It's because everyone in the Colwall Orchard Group loves orchards.
They're an integral part of the social history of the village.
There are 43 traditional orchards in Colwall,
none of them really in commercial production any more,
and a lot of the traditional management skills in orchards
have gone because the financial imperatives have gone,
the skills have been lost alongside that,
and so, really, we're the only people around who can do it now.
-So it's love?
-It is love, yeah.
I mean, they're just wonderful, aren't they?
Despite dire warnings about our traditional orchards,
fruit-growing is in rude health - for a simple reason.
Most commercial fruit-growing in this country
doesn't happen in places like this.
It happens in places like this.
This is a bush orchard.
It's a fruit-growing factory.
All of the produce from this one will go into cider production.
The trees are very tightly packed in straight rows,
which makes it easy for the machinery to get through and to get at the fruit.
You'll also notice there's no grass at the base of the trees
competing for resources.
It's all about maximum yield in the minimum of space.
But why should we worry about our traditional orchards?
They're such rich habitats,
they were made a high priority in the UK's biodiversity action plan.
It's why the People's Trust for Endangered Species joined forces
with Natural England to create an inventory of traditional orchards.
The first step in this huge undertaking was to get an overview.
The five-year study began by examining detailed aerial photographs of 51 counties.
So to see if I can spot a traditional orchard
from 500 feet up, I've taken to the air with Anita Borough.
We've got here an intensively-managed orchard
and the critical thing is the herbicide strip
that you can see beneath the trees,
and because of the herbicide and the chemical application,
Bush orchards in this intensively-managed system
is less valuable for our wildlife.
We can see here a traditionally-managed site.
Much bigger trees, they're spaced much further apart.
You can see gaps and often you can see the livestock grazing.
-Yes, some sheep!
-That's right, there's sheep in that one.
And that's quite normal for a traditional orchard,
to have cattle and sheep grazing amongst the orchard?
Yes, the grass is managed usually through grazing.
It's only possible to get a true picture of their condition on the ground
and three years ago, the Colwall orchard
was found to be in a bad way.
-The condition was assessed as being poor.
-And where are we today?
This orchard is now what we would consider to be excellent.
So that's great news, in the three years.
Yeah, and that's the hard work of the volunteers.
But really and truly, it doesn't have any commercial value, does it?
No, and that's the problem that we're facing,
but everybody loves orchards.
They seem to evoke happy memories in people.
-It's not all about money.
-No, definitely not.
Today, it's volunteers like this
that help keep the orchards full of life.
But there's no formal protection for our traditional orchards,
nor is there much incentive for farmers to keep them going.
But it's all for love, isn't it?
I mean, you don't even get the fruit.
Well, I think that the social value of this is as important.
Natural England hope traditional orchards
can now be seen as vital wildlife habitats
and an important part of our social history - worth holding on to.
As Julia saw in the skies above Herefordshire,
getting into the air gives a new perspective on the lie of the land.
But to get an overview of our history,
your feet don't need to leave the ground -
you just need to get muddy.
Just a stone's throw from Berkeley Castle,
this archaeological dig is uncovering the village's Saxon roots.
I'm meeting Dr Stuart Prior, the lead archaeologist.
This is good weather for a dig, then, Stuart.
Not so much this morning, is it?
-It's a bit claggy and muddy in here this morning.
So, what's this that we're seeing here, then?
Believe it or not, this is actually an 8th-century building.
It's an Anglo-Saxon building.
We're stood in the middle of the minster enclosure of Berkeley,
so this is the period at which the Anglo-Saxons
convert to Christianity - late 7th, early 8th century -
and they build themselves a big enclosure
in which they put churches, their houses, their workshops,
and so you've got monks and nuns -
cos we think this is what they called a double-house minster -
so we've got a religious community living together
and celebrating this new faith
inside the walls of this big enclosure.
We were really lucky here because this trench has got multi-period features.
We've got, down in the bottom corner, we've got a Tudor building,
which is shown on a Henry VIII map from 1544,
it's mentioned in a rate survey -
tax records always survive, no matter what the period -
so we've got a Tudor building in the corner there,
a Saxon building in the middle,
-Medieval pits at the back.
We actually had an English Civil War ditch from the 17th century
right at the back, and we've got a mysterious feature - we've got another ditch
just below that bank there,
which is looking, at the moment, 12th century.
But the most important feature is our Saxon building, cos these things are so rare.
OK, so there's a real good pick and mix here for all your students.
These are young guys learning the craft, are they?
Yes, so they're all from the University Of Bristol,
first, second and third-year undergraduates, and they come out every year with us
after we finish teaching in a classroom
and they're putting their skills into practice.
Why did you guys choose archaeology as your degrees?
I've always loved history, but I thought
rather than just sitting in a classroom being boring,
I'd get deep down on the ground and actually find it myself,
rather than just sit there and learn about it.
So by doing this, I've seen bones and iron nails
rather than just being told about them.
-So what happens to this site now?
-We'll keep going until we run out of archaeology,
because under the Saxon, we may well find Roman,
and under the Roman we may well find prehistoric periods.
I know this is such a basic question -
you've got to forgive me for asking it -
but how can you tell what it is? It's just a wall to me!
Well, this is the thing - it's the finds that we get.
We study the pottery, we study the metal finds -
of which there have been numerous, actually.
There have been some wonderful metal artefacts that have come from the trench.
Pete's a mature student and the team treasurer.
-What are you admiring here?
Well, this is a medieval candlestick
that we've discovered at the excavation here at Berkeley.
Wow, that must have been a real bingo day getting this.
It was fantastic and we detected it with a metal detector on-site
so it gave a huge signal.
-So what else have you got there? Have you got any other trinkets?
Nice little cut silver penny here,
either King John or Henry III, so the early 1300s.
Loads of detail on it. So, you just found it as a half?
Yes, and they would in those days, they'd cut down pennies into halves
-and quarters for small change.
And that's where we get our ha'penny from and we get our farthing from.
-I did not know that.
-When they're cut into quarters.
'You cannot put a price on our history,
'but to get a fresh perspective, you can't ignore what's even deeper beneath our feet.'
Earlier in the year, Matt also went below the ground
to get a view from above when he went for a walk in the Wye Valley.
The serenity of the Wye Valley.
Straddling the river here is Symonds Yat.
It's home to some of Herefordshire's most beautiful countryside.
The Wye has cut a deep gorge into the limestone here,
exposing the stunning cliff faces that make this place so special.
And what better way to experience it than a winter walk to blow away the cobwebs.
Nothing too strenuous, just nice and gentle.
That is, unless you're going with this bloke.
Sven, how are you doing? All right?
'Sven Hassall is trying to make people more aware of the countryside here
'by guiding them on walks with a bit of a difference.
'I'm joining him on a stretch of the Wye that requires nerves of steel
'if I'm going to discover its real hidden gems.'
All these ropes would suggest
that this is pretty extreme walking, Sven. What's going on here?
We're going to go for a walk, but we're going to go for a walk down here.
-What, down there, are we?
-Which is a route called The Trip.
-It's about 100 feet.
-Happy with that?
Do you know what? I'll give it a go. I'm happy to try it.
'I'm not sure what I've signed up for here,
'so before I throw myself off a cliff,
'Sven's quite literally showing me the ropes.'
We've got a carabina, an abseil device or a belay device
depending on what we're using it for.
We call this end the "dead end".
And there's a bit of a clue in the name -
-if you let go of it, guess what's going to happen?
Let's just run through that briefing one more time.
Why is it at this stage you always need to pee?
-Which brings me nicely into rule one of rock climbing.
-Always look cool.
-Got to be something to do with safety.
-If you can't tie a knot, tie a lot.
-And safety third.
-Safety third, OK.
As long as we're looking cool, that's the main thing.
'On a serious note, everything is safe as houses.
'I think Sven's just trying to put me at ease.'
Now that is a canny drop.
'I can honestly say, a walk has never made my blood pump as much as this.
'The only way is down, as they say.'
OK, right. And this is the dead end, yeah?
-So both hands on the dead end.
Put your bum back in a comedy fashion, shoulders back,
and let yourself over slowly.
-Over the edge now.
-So remember rule number one.
-Always look cool.
-Yeah, I'm doing my best.
-Nice and wide apart.
I tell you what, why don't you just stop there for a minute there - I'll hold you on the safety.
It's worth taking a look around, you know. It's a pretty unique environment here.
I lived climbing, actually, about 12 years ago
and ended up in the Himalayas, Africa, Canada,
and this is the place I always kept coming back to.
-I'm not surprised. It is absolutely breathtaking.
And I've got about 100 feet of cliff-walking to enjoy the view.
-It takes a bit to look up and look around you, but...
-And to look down.
Yeah, but it's definitely worth it.
As lovely as it is, I am just concentrating on the rope.
Don't look down. OK.
There is quite a sense of loneliness, isn't there?
To be this high up above the treetops.
And just gently lowering yourself down.
Here comes the overhang. Whoa, lovely.
Nearly got a face plant on the rock there!
Just hanging in space.
Oh, that's lovely. Nearly there now.
And there's the ground.
That's a beauty. That's it, Sven.
Sven the mountain goat makes it look like a walk in the park.
Very invigorating, and my feet were technically
still in contact with the ground, so officially I'm still walking.
Sven's larder here.
Good one. That's an absolute belter that, isn't it?
Oh, and you've got breakfast as well.
This is the crag that keeps on giving.
-Right, what have you got there?
-You know, one of the great things I like about rock climbing
is you start to notice things that previously you would have completely ignored.
One of the things I really like here is the edible flora,
of which there's stacks in the Valley.
You can literally munch your way around the Symonds Yat Valley.
But there's this thing - it's called navelwort,
and you can just about see it looks a little bit like a belly button.
So that's the "navel" bit,
and the "wort" is an old English name for leaf.
I'll have that one, because that one's been in my mouth,
but have a taste.
-I'm getting runner beans.
-No-one's said that before,
-but you're right.
-You can really taste it, yeah.
I always thought it was like a strong cucumber.
Yeah, cucumber. That's an interesting taste.
It's not just about the edible flora or the adventure sports.
There's so much here, you know, so much detail,
and we've got a good example of that here.
This is a thing called Map Maker's lichen,
otherwise known as Matt Baker's lichen, if you like.
But this is a symbiotic relationship between a fungus and an algae
and what's really interesting about this one is it grows at a very measurable rate,
so you can measure the size of it, you can do the maths,
and that gives an indication of how long they've been uncovered for.
Commonly used in studies of glaciation. You know, as the glacier retreats,
these are the first things that spring up on the rock.
But here, very useful to give us an indication
of when the activity stopped on the cliffs.
There are hundreds of walks for all abilities around the Wye Valley,
but most don't involve throwing yourself off a cliff.
This one continues for another four and a half miles of slightly easier terrain,
but there are more challenges to come.
You don't want to slip here, do you? Look at that.
-Right, so the "walk" continues.
-I lied, actually. There's no walking on this one.
-Oh, right. OK.
-So this one isn't an abseil, I'm going to lower you on this one.
I have to say, this is probably
the most memorable walk that I've ever been on.
OK, Matt. When you're ready, come on down.
Cool, so just pop under there for me.
Oh, my word! Are you lowering me into there, are you?
That is a drop and a half. How far is that, down there?
So you've got about 20 foot of squeeze chimney
and then at some point your feet are going to dangle into space
-and you're going to have about another 20 feet and then you're OK.
-This is the ultimate in trust, then.
There is obviously a limit to the people that you can actually get in this bit.
It depends how much you like your cake!
I think there's a view down there, but I've never really looked.
I was about to say, I'd love to look down, but I can't quite tilt my neck.
-I've got a nice view of the rock, anyway.
My feet are, my knees are...
So just let me know when you're on the floor.
Oh, my goodness me!
Look at this.
That is incredible. Look at this place.
OK, so it wasn't walking, but it's pretty cool, isn't it?
-It's some place, isn't it, this?
-What do you reckon?
-So this is Pancake Caves, then, is it?
-Yeah, this is the Pancake Caves.
And why is it called Pancake Caves?
-But it's pretty special, isn't it?
I mean, there's gorgeous scenery outside, but you saved the best till last.
From the depths of the Wye Valley to the remoteness of the Scottish Coast.
Scotland has 90% of the UK's grey seal population,
but keeping track of them takes time, effort and wings,
as Jules found out.
Now, Dundee airport may seem like an unlikely place
to start any search for seals, but there is method in the madness
because for this hunt we need to be in the air.
Although seals are a great barometer of the state of marine life,
their behaviour has always been difficult to monitor
as they spend most of their time in the open water.
But they do come ashore,
and thanks to a dedicated band of researchers and scientists,
we are at last beginning to uncover some of their secrets.
Callan Duck has spent 20 years patiently and meticulously
tracking Scotland's seals from the air
as part of a monitoring programme for the government.
-How are you doing? Good to see you.
Good to see you, how are you, mate? Nice, fresh day for this.
Oh, you pulled the weather right. It was miserable yesterday.
-So this is good?
-This is a good day.
It's going to be bumpy, but we'll take some pictures. Yeah, we'll get a survey done.
So where are we going to be flying over exactly?
Today we'll be going to the Firth Of Forth into the Isle Of May,
which is a special area of conservation,
national nature reserve, grey seal heaven.
We'll see quite a lot. I've got some pictures here.
Yeah, let's have a look. Oh, in the locker here, brilliant.
Female grey seals just have one pup every year.
They come ashore at very specific breeding colonies
to have their pup and they'll go to the same place year after year.
They'll also go to the place where they were born
-to have their pups.
Now, you're teasing us here with a picture that you clearly
haven't taken from the air, Callan, of this gorgeous seal and pup.
I mean, this is the classic view
that the public have of these animals,
of being very cute and cuddly, but you're going to tell me they're not.
No, they do have a very sharp end and a very smelly end
and you do want to stay away from both!
But in terms of surveying it from the air, you know,
how much information are you able to gather that you wouldn't on the ground?
Lots. We can find out how many pups are born at each colony.
Here's a picture of the Isle Of May itself from the air
and you can see that there are lots and lots of pups,
and in this part of the island the density has reduced quite considerably,
but they've moved to other ends of the island.
So your aerial photographic survey allows you to monitor
the ups and downs in the population, not just on the Isle Of May
but around the coast of Scotland as a whole.
Exactly, that's why we do it.
-Right, let's get in the air, shall we? See some for real.
-Yeah, let's go.
Yeah, OK. Seatbelt.
'This plane is specially adapted for the purpose of taking aerial photos...
What a view, though.
'..hence the great big hole just in front of me.
'We're really lucky today as this is the last flight of the season for Callan,
'although his work has already revealed
'the numbers of grey seals giving birth are stable.'
-Well, I can see some seals down there now, actually.
'Over the years, Callan has discovered
'that half of the seal pups on the island will survive.
'No-one knows why, but with this detailed survey,
'scientists can get a much better understanding of the plight of these creatures.'
-Well, nicely done, Gordon. Thank you very much.
I don't know about you guys, I thought it was a bit bumpy.
I'm really pleased to see the tarmac through that hole!
My next port of call on my mission to find out more
about Scottish seals is just south of Dundee.
Here at Tentsmuir, the huge expanse of coastline
is home to many seals.
And seal researcher Bernie McConnell
has been concentrating on the animals' behaviour at sea.
How have you gone about trying to figure out
-where they go and what they do?
-Well, one of the techniques we have
is these tags that we've actually developed ourselves.
We stick this on the back of the neck of the seal.
You stick it on its fur on the back of its head?
That's right, and that will fall off when the animal moults
in February or March time, but until then, it is gathering data.
It will record GPS - so where the animal's swimming -
the pressure transducer will tell us at what depth they are swimming -
are they feeding on the sea bed or are they feeding in the mid-water -
and that information is stored in a tiny memory chip,
and when the animal comes near shore
there's a tiny mobile phone inside of here that will activate
and it will stream the data stored in the memory card
back to us in St Andrews, and we can reconstruct the lives of the seals with these tags on.
But the crucial thing is, what kind of a picture
are you now getting of seal behaviour out there at sea?
The grey seals that you have seen flying with Callan
that produce these pups, they will have been feeding over the previous
11 months as far away as Orkney, perhaps as far as Denmark.
They're using the whole of the North Sea.
Every one's got a different patch in which they forage,
every one's an individual.
Well, it's a fascinating story and a fascinating approach to it. I love it.
Who'd have thought a seal would be subject to Big Brother
-stuck on the back of its head?
-I know! Seals phone home!
Well, I have to say I feel extremely privileged
to have had such a detailed look
at the work that's being done up here in Scotland
to monitor our seal population, both in the air and, of course,
down here on the ground, and there is no doubt in my mind
that this work is absolutely vital in increasing our understanding
of how these amazing animals fare in the wild.
This week, I'm in Gloucestershire enjoying the view from above.
This is the Tyndale Monument
that sits just above the village of North Nibley.
Built in 1866, it stands proud over the gorgeous
surrounding Gloucestershire country side.
The monument commemorates the life of William Tyndale,
born near here in 1492.
Tyndale might not be a name that you recognise,
but the chances are, you are familiar with his work.
He was one of the first people to translate the Bible
into the English language.
And, amazingly, much of that translation is still in use today.
So, if you're familiar with phrases like, "The powers that be,"
"Let there be light," or "The salt of the earth,"
then you are familiar with his work.
Nowadays, the monument and the surrounding land
are used by local people as places to relax and unwind.
But last year when some of the land came up for sale,
villagers feared a new owner would seal the area off from the public.
Robert Maxwell and Ken Brown weren't going to stand for that.
They managed to raise over £45,000 to buy it for the common good.
People really dug deep then, cos it's a lot of money to raise
-for a small community.
-Yes it is, it is.
I think this site is so enjoyed by everyone
that it wasn't too hard an effort
to get the response. Everybody loves this area.
I think we're very lucky that we've got the Tyndale Monument
in our village, so I think this is where the passion came in.
-Everyone wanted to support it.
-I'd say, anybody who's
got something like this, which they think the community
should have access to, then I think they would get
-something like the same response.
-It's such an important site
and now that the site is owned completely by the public
we've secured it forever and that gives us a lovely feeling.
Since I'm here, I can't resist climbing the tower
and seeing the view for myself.
Whilst I get to the top, here's what's still to come
on tonight's Countryfile.
'My world is turned upside down in a vintage biplane.'
'And you won't want to miss the Countryfile forecast
'for the week ahead.'
I've made it to the top.
I can feel the burn.
It's 120 steps, but the view... Oh, wow! ..is amazing.
There's the River Severn over there.
See the Severn Bridge over to Wales and there's a kestrel just there.
Now, sheep farming in the Lakeland Fells
is a way of life dating back generations.
But could state-of-the-art military technology help modernise it?
Last Autumn, Helen Skelton went to Cumbria to find out more.
I'm on my way to meet some hill farmers.
Not these guys - they wouldn't know one end of a sheep from another,
but what they're doing could make a real difference
to the way hill farmers work.
These guys aren't playing around with a kid's toy.
This is £30,000 worth of military technology
that's been adapted for civilian use.
We're going to find out more about that a bit later on.
Meg, that'll do.
Here are a couple of farmers who stand to benefit.
Father and son, Chris and Richard Harrison.
Unlike our men in black, they know all about sheep
and when I caught up with them, the sun was actually shining.
I'm here to help bring these Swaledales down off the Fells.
It's the time of year when the lambs are weaned off their tired mums
and we couldn't do it without the help of a good working dog.
Chris, I'm in awe of your dog. How easy was she to train?
Meg, she was a natural, really.
She more or less trained herself.
Erm, from about eight months old, she used to run
left, right, sit, stop and you just had to add commands to it.
So, "get away" is go right?
-"Get away" is go to the right, "get by" is go to the left.
I'm doing well if I can get my dog to sit in one place for 30 seconds.
If I can get this dog to go right... Meg, get away!
-She's not moving.
Meg! Get away.
Oh, she... You haven't got the right tone of voice, I don't think.
She looking, but she just listens to me, really.
Meg, get away, Meg.
Get away, Meg.
Oh, I thought she was just out of range, but you're right, it is me.
Well, Meg doesn't listen to a word I say, so I'm hoping Jack
is going to pay more attention.
I doubt it very much. He doesn't listen to me very much!
How old is Jack?
-He's just turned two.
-So he's a bit more mischievous?
He is a little bit, yeah.
He's just a young dog, still learning, just as I am.
-Say his name.
By! Go on, they're looking.
'Well, Richard's bound to do better, he's had more practice than me!'
'But I am trying.
'Maybe I'll be more use down on the farm.'
'Things can get tricky when you stand in the wrong place.'
That was my own fault. I knew that.
'Remember, though, this is the first time
'these lambs will have been without Mum.'
They really sound like they're saying, "Mum."
You're going to be fine.
You're going to love it out there.
These lambs will stay on low ground grazing and growing up.
Their mums are back off up the Fells to winter on high ground.
And I mean high ground - near 2,000 feet.
And with the kinds of winters they get round these parts,
Remember these two?
Well, they reckon their fancy flying machine could be the answer
to our hill farmer's prayers.
When the snow gets deep and the tractors won't budge,
then this bit of kit comes into its own.
It's designed to fly over hard-to-get-to terrain.
Just the job when your sheep are thousands of feet up.
A special camera underneath streams live video pictures
back to a laptop, but the cute bit is,
you can tell this flying shepherd exactly where to go.
-Can you get it to fly from A to B?
-I can indeed.
I can demonstrate that now. I can set some waypoints up here.
And what it will do, if I set this waypoint active, what it will do now
is it will fly between three waypoints that I've set.
As you can now see on the camera,
the vehicle is now turning to the right.
The craft flies right over Chris the farmer's flock.
The tiny whit dots you can just about see
are his sheep.
Can you send the camera over our heads?
Yeah, that's very easy to do.
I'll just grab the centre of the orbit we're currently on,
-set it active and...there we are.
We're quite small, aren't we?
We are. With this current camera that's on board,
we will look very small. We can see there are people there.
The technology was developed to be used in warzones like Afghanistan.
So a Cumbrian hillside shouldn't be a problem,
but what does our farmer Chris think of it?
The cost of this is probably out of the way for the hill farmer,
but maybe a contractor who has one of these, erm...
Say there's the commons or the Lakeland Fells
where there's vast open spaces where you can't get to with a quad bike
maybe the commoners could get together on a day
when they're gonna gather the commons and get the contractor in,
send him out to have a look to see where the sheep are at,
with this out there they could save time by going to the certain areas
on the moor or on the commons.
-So just hire one?
-Just hire one for the day.
After about 20 minute aloft, the craft is ready to land...
all by itself.
Quite a robust little thing, isn't it?
So, I think we all agree it's got a future,
but does that mean the end of the working dog?
I don't think so.
I don't think Meg should worry about early retirement just yet.
You're all right, Meg.
Nowadays, we take for granted the ability to predict the weather
and we complain if the forecasters get it wrong.
To find out more about weather forecasting
past and present, Katie recruited the Army's Air Corps in Salisbury.
Troops, tanks and helicopters are all a bit of fixture
on Salisbury plane. And while they may seem a bit impervious
to the weather, our army helicopter pilots might never
get off the ground if it wasn't for the Met Office.
So, where better to come for a lesson in weather forecasting?
Middle Wallop is the Army Air Corps base where pilots complete
advanced training before they're deployed
to fly frontline helicopters.
Tucked away in a small room underneath the control tower,
two meteorologists are on duty almost round the clock.
It's their job to provide an accurate weather forecast
to everyone who needs it on this base.
Lives depend on it.
The Met Office and meteorologists around the world
are indebted to a man called Francis Galton.
Galton was an explorer and a statistician,
but he's perhaps most famous for his work as a meteorologist
and an idea that's so simple, you probably wonder what we did before.
The weather map.
Galton's weather map was first published in the Times
on April 1st 1875
and detailed the previous day's weather.
It's now a standard feature of weather forecasting around the globe.
In newspapers, the internet, mobile phones and from the first
TV broadcasts to Countryfile's very own five-day forecast.
Hard to imagine a forecast without it.
Galton's idea with the weather map was really
how you could visualise lots and lots of data.
Instead of having rows and columns of figures and raw data,
he put it into a visual form.
So what was people's reaction to this weather map when it came out?
People were very mystified.
It wasn't helped by the fact that it came out on the 1st April 1875.
There was a lot of press coverage about this.
Punch started issuing spoofs that showed things like
catarrh headaches. It was very accurately done.
-But it laid the foundations very soon after.
Only four years later they started issuing weather forecasts
in the newspapers using Galton's map.
And it's extraordinary, I think, that Galton's map is
largely unchanged today.
At ten to the hour, every hour, at thousands of locations
all over the globe, readings are taken that build up an accurate
picture of the weather and help predict what's going to happen
in the hours and days ahead.
When forecasters combine their readings,
the first chart they produce owes a lot to Galton
and his concept of the isobar.
So this is a synoptic chart. So every hour, the observer
will go outside and do an observation
and we get information on all kinds of weather parameters.
And these come to us on the hour in this sort of form.
Form here we can draw up a chart very similar to this one
that they've drawn.
'The isobar is a line drawn on a map that connects
'points of equal pressure.'
That has to be below it or above it?
That one's above...
Tell you what, this is actually quite difficult.
Once drawn, the isobars also show wind direction and speed.
Knowing that, with your back to the wind, low pressure's on the left.
-We know that the wind is going this way.
-So I can do that on all these?
'The closer together the isobars, the windier it is.
'Low pressures mean wet and windy weather.
'Today's higher pressures give us dry, sunny weather.'
It's like join the dots, but far harder.
Every morning a briefing is delivered in person to each
of the four training squadrons around the base.
Catherine's doing the first one, but I'll be heading across the base
to brief the Lynx team next.
A large area of high pressure centred across the UK today.
That's bringing us a light, northeasterly flow across the area.
Sometimes we need bad weather, cos we need to train
in these conditions so that when we actually come to operations,
we know how to fly,
what sort of conditions to expect, whereas good weather days
can be good for carrying out other things such as general handling
and general exercises.
I can't believe they're letting me do their weather briefing.
Good morning, everyone.
ALL: Good morning.
So, here we have our synoptic chart...
'This is my debut as a forecaster.'
Generally a very nice day. If you're going out flying,
temperature's going to be about 24,
so you might think about having a nice lunch and some water to drink
so you don't get dehydrated up in the air.
I think Katie was fantastic today.
She's definitely got a future career as a forecaster.
She was better than most of the forecasters we get
on a day-to-day basis.
So, yeah - hats off to her, she did a very good job.
There you are!
-You owe me, big time!
'There's only one way to see how important
'these forecasts are to the pilots.'
'And that's to get up amongst the clouds myself.
'I'm going up in the Lynx helicopter. For all our sakes, I hope
'that forecast was right.'
This is incredible.
You can see little things on the ground,
dogs running around. You realise just how close to the ground you are
and how you really are in amongst the clouds.
Passenger aircraft are usually flying at around 35,000 feet,
well above the clouds and all the weather that we experience on the ground.
This helicopter and others like it fly at around
2,000-3,000 feet, so they are right in that weather zone, so the Met Office forecasting is critical.
Francis Galton's legacy is felt today by us all.
I've seen first-hand how his pioneering weather map is key to
the safety of our pilots in the Armed Forces.
This common spotted orchid would make a great subject for this year's
Countryfile photographic competition,
with its theme, a walk on the wild side.
We've had loads of entries so far, but we want even more.
We're after wild landscapes, wildlife or even wild weather,
but how you interpret the theme is down to you.
The best 12 will be put together for next year's calendar
sold in aid of Children In Need.
Here's John with a reminder of how to enter.
Our competition isn't open to professionals, and entries must not have won any other competitions,
because what we're looking for is original work.
You can enter up to four photos,
which must have been taken in the UK.
Please write your name, address and a daytime and evening phone number
on the back of each photo with a note of where it was taken.
And then all you have to do is send your entries to:
Whoever takes the winning photo as voted for by Countryfile viewers,
can choose from a range of the latest photographic equipment to the value of £1,000.
The person who takes the picture the judges like best
gets to pick equipment to the value of £500.
The full terms and conditions are on our website, where you will also
find details of the BBC's code of conduct for competitions.
The closing date is July 22, and I'm sorry,
but we can't return any entries.
So, best of luck.
This week, I'm in Gloucestershire, a beautiful historic county where mediaeval battles were once fought.
Surprisingly, this area is also famous for its aeronautical history.
Hidden amongst the fields and farms is an airfield that was
once a centre of innovation when war was perilously close to our shores.
Staverton Airport, now Gloucestershire Airport,
is situated midway between Cheltenham and Gloucester.
It was originally opened in 1936 and served as a training base for aircrew during the Second World War.
It was during the war in an airfield just a few miles from here
that the test flight of Britain's very first jet aircraft took place.
It is no wonder that plans for a museum celebrating local aviation achievements
are about to get off the ground.
The centrepiece will be this full-scale replica
of the Gloucester E28, the first Allied jet aircraft
powered by Frank Whittle's famous jet engine.
This Gloucestershire Meteor will also be on display,
so long as this team of volunteers restore it in time.
It was the first jet-powered fighter to enter RAF service.
In a moment, I'll be taking to the skies in a vintage biplane
to get the view from above for myself,
but first, here's the Countryfile weather forecast for the week ahead.
This week I'm in Gloucestershire delving back into the Countryfile archives to revisit some
of the extraordinary times we've been able to look at the view from above.
At Long Mynd in Shropshire,
the hillsides provide the perfect runway for thrill-seekers like Matt,
who wanted to get a view of the landscape from up high.
Around a quarter of a million of us
visit Long Mynd every year to explore this breathtaking landscape.
But there are those who prefer to jump off the beaten track
on a wing and a prayer for a more thrilling view from the sky,
and I am told that Long Mynd is the pathway to paragliding heaven.
'Mark Dan is a paragliding expert who is hopefully going to take me for a tandem flight over Long Mynd.'
-I've got a delivery for you!
I tell you what, you have directed me to a phenomenal spot.
Paragliding here, when the conditions are good,
there is nowhere in the world any better.
And we get some really good air currents.
Also, in springtime when it is warmer, you can have thermals
and you can actually take off and you can climb like birds of prey.
We have a buzzard here that's just hanging, literally behind us.
We get fantastic birds up here that fly with us.
Showing how it should be done!
To fly safely, the wind speed needs to be monitored very closely.
We need less than around 17mph, you can just see we're right on the limits,
but also you need it smooth.
The great thing about Paragliding is
all the kit fits in a rucksack.
Mark always does a thorough safety check before takeoff.
It's still too windy to fly, but ever the optimist,
I've got Mark to get me suited and booted in case we get a reprieve.
And it just clips straight on.
As simple as that and you're in a nice sitting position when you're flying.
Like a baby bouncer.
It's the strangest feeling, knowing that you're about to launch yourself that way and just hang.
I don't know if I want the wind to drop or not!
'The wind's blowing a gale, but suddenly,
'just as it looks like the sun will set in the sky
'without me flying in it, the wind drops and with a little assistance from paraglider Chris...
Are we there? And we're off!
Oh, my goodness me!
I tell you what, it doesn't take long, doesn't?
It is the most beautiful feeling, to be hanging. Just drifting.
-Just like that bird we saw earlier.
Do you want a go of the controls, Matt?
-There you go.
-Oh my word.
-You're steering it.
-How good is that?
Hey! This is something else!
Matt, taking to the skies to enjoy the view above Shropshire.
Earlier, I was finding out about Gloucestershire airport -
once a training centre for the RAF in World War II.
Now, I've been given the opportunity to experience for myself what
flying was like in the days before commercial flights became so common.
Jack Nichol is my pilot.
He's been flying all his life, which sounds reassuring
until I tell you he's 22 years old!
-Hi, how you doing?
-How you doing?
-This is a very handsome aeroplane.
-Yes, it's a nice-looking aeroplane.
-Talk me through, what is it?
-It's a Stomp SV4, a 1930s primary trainer,
this would be the first thing that young airman in the '30s
and '40s would have flown when they got their licences for the Air Force.
It seems so strange, you're so young to be flying such an old plane.
Back in the '40s, there would have been guys my age flying them
when they were learning to fly.
-True enough. I'm in the right gear, now.
-You look the part, yes.
I've heard something about acrobatics which is making me slightly anxious.
It's very nice. Nice, gentle aeroplane, this.
-Nice and smooth, trust me.
-You'll be sat in the front.
-Left foot first and then your left hand on there.
-Pull yourself up to start.
-And use the handles on top of the wing.
-Stand on the seat.
-Then just walk yourself forwards.
-It's a bit snug.
-Keeps you warm!
Snugger than ever.
Make sure it's a nice fit on your ears.
-Needs to be strapped down, doesn't it?
-Yes. Oh, yes!
Once I'm safely strapped in, it's chocks away and off we go.
-That was quick!
-It gets off the ground very quickly.
Do you know what I love about flying?
You can see the world from a distance
and it's almost like when you see it in a cartoon, or covered in snow.
Everything looks absolutely pristine - there's no wheelie bins,
no barbed wire up here.
It's just a county that I'm from and I feel so proud of. I love it.
-Yes, it is a nice place to fly.
-I would say to everyone...
-There is the cathedral!
You don't really appreciate the patchwork farms
that spread across here unless you see it from the air.
It is wonderful to look down on the scenery.
But now Jack wants to turn everything upside down.
-Are you ready?
What I'm going to do is, I'm just going to get the nose down, build up some speed up to 100 knots.
Up to 100 and around we go.
Oh, my God. Oh, my God! You can feel the G-force!
Oh, my word! That's insane!
Oh, man! The horizon was in the wrong place.
We made it, we made it!
I can't feel my legs, of course.
That's it from this special edition of Countryfile from the air.
Next week, the programme will be on the Isle of Mann
where Julia will be in search of one of our elusive fish, the basking shark.
John will be exploring the island on a vintage bike.
Hope you can join us then, bye-bye!
Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd
Countryfile comes from Gloucestershire where Ellie Harrison presents a special bird's-eye view of the countryside as she contemplates the 'View from Above'. She delves back into the Countryfile archives, looking back at some of the best stories featured on the programme, where we've been given a unique view on what's happening below. Ellie takes in the view from the top of Berkeley Castle as she helps with the weeding on the roof, she meets the archaeologists getting a unique view from above of some Saxon remains, she climbs to the top of a historic monument saved by the local community, and she takes to the skies in a biplane to experience a loop-the-loop.
Julia Bradbury is also in the skies, flying over the historic orchards of Herefordshire. Matt Baker's on an extreme walk which involves an abseil down into the Wye Valley.
Jules Hudson is on the Scottish coast finding out how they keep an eye on their 150,000 grey seals, and Helen Skelton looks at how state-of-the-art military technology could modernise sheep farming in the Lakeland Fells.