Matt Baker visits the Yorkshire Dales, discovering how the Wensleydale Railway is revitalizing communities along the route, and John Craven investigates Chinese flying lanterns.
Browse content similar to 24/07/2011. Check below for episodes and series from the same categories and more!
Wild and wonderful.
The Yorkshire Dales are a magnet for those seeking solitude.
This is a vast rugged landscape with spectacular waterfalls and rich farmland.
At its heart, an impressive scenic railway. Cutting a swathe through the valleys.
They say the Wensleydale Railway line
is the finest way to explore the Yorkshire Dales.
So, today, I'm going to be letting the train take the strain and it's full steam all the way.
While I'm relaxing, James is exploring a once common feature of the Dales. The hay meadow.
Now, you might think, as diverse as hay meadows are,
they've got nothing in comparison to say an Amazonian rainforest,
but if you think that, you'd be wrong.
Adam's left his farm behind to catch up with the young farmers here in Yorkshire.
-I think they've got an eye on his job.
-It's a skill but I can see it's a passion.
I really enjoy it and this is, apart from writing invoices, this is the best part of it!
And as darkness falls, I'm looking to the skies.
Chinese lanterns may look beautiful as they float across the night sky.
But now the fire service is urging people not to use them.
So just how dangerous are they?
I'll be investigating. And also on Countryfile tonight.
Jules gets his hands dirty on a farm that's going back to traditional methods.
Blaming your tools?
Do you know what, I bet the guy who last used this 100 years ago blamed it too!
The imposing fells, limestone outcrops and remote settlements
of the Yorkshire Dales make for some of the most scenic railway journeys in the country.
Last winter, Julia was here exploring the splendour of one of the world's greatest railway lines.
The Settle to Carlisle.
Well, now it's my turn to experience the lesser known but equally impressive Wensleydale Railway.
At 22 miles, this is the longest heritage line in Britain.
The passenger route snakes through the Yorkshire Dales National Park
from Leeming Bar to Redmire.
It takes in some of the Dales' most breathtaking landscapes.
The line closed to passengers in 1954.
Along with hundreds of others as part of government cost-cutting.
But all that changed back in the 1990s.
Thanks to a group of local volunteers dedicated to restoring the route to its former glory.
Today, it's become a much-loved part of community life.
-Now then, Rob, how we going, all right?
-That looks mightily impressive in there.
Are we almost ready to leave?
Pressure's good. It has 90 pounds of steam. We're not far off.
And how much coal will you shovel?
I'll shovel, there's three-and a-half tonnes in the bunker.
We'll use the majority of that today.
And you do that on your own?
-I'll do that. By hand.
-Three-and-a-half ton of coal?
-You get a lot of exercise.
-Yeah, keeps me fit.
And you'll be looking forward to a nice hot bath at the end of the day?
Yeah. I won't be quite as clean after we're finished.
Aside from the romance of the Historic Railway, the volunteers
have a very modern ambition to bring tourists into the Dales.
And help kick-start the local economy.
They operate a diesel service on this line but now and again
they take a step back in time to run a steam railway once more.
And it's the perfect way for me to travel the line.
From Leeming Bar to Bedale to visit a community business that has been set up alongside the railway.
-See you later!
The spirit of the locals and the dedication of the volunteers
really is at the heart of this railway's success.
And the enterprising folk have turned part of this station into a community bakery.
Oh, hi there, nice to meet you!
-Fancy seeing you here!
It smells absolutely gorgeous in here, doesn't it?
Yes it does, there's nothing like real bread, is there?
The smell of baking bread.
I noticed this sign here, look,
real bread made by the community for the community.
Absolutely spot on. We've been on a long journey over the last 18 months.
Trying to set up a community bakery.
And this is the outcome of it which we're very proud of.
So your bread's made here in the old station house. There really is a major connection to the rail itself.
There is because the water mill that's ground the flour is two miles outside Bedale.
Not far from the railway line.
So, when they've finished grounding our flour
the flour was loaded onto the train and it was brought in
and unloaded at the station as it would have done years ago.
So it's tremendous and of course local farmers have actually supplied the grain.
For the job so, within five miles, we've got a food chain
of growing the corn, milling it at Crayke Hall
and then down here to bake so, we're very proud of that.
In fact, the farmers in the area are even planning to grow an old
traditional strain of wheat to keep the bread as authentic as possible.
And head baker, Susie, is going to show this apprentice baker one of their specialities.
-This bread is what, rosemary and...?
-Rosemary and black pepper.
-It's very nice with a bit of soup and some Wensleydale cheese.
And had you done any baking at all before this?
No, not really. I was a care assistant before I started here.
I really wouldn't have thought that just making bread and food
would be this important to me but it's obviously important enough
for me to wake up at half past four in the morning.
Well that's the thing, it's a lot of work, isn't it?
Just organising volunteers and getting them to arrive on time
and training them up is work in itself
but it just pays off so much when you see people chatting with each other and you see people.
Like, we did a course that the high school and we took the old people
from the old people's home where I used to work
and they were talking to the young people.
It was so lovely to see the two extremes of the community
coming together and sharing experiences and learning from each other.
-And it was just really, really nice, and that's one of the highlights so far.
At the minute, the 15 volunteers at the bakery bake
three times a week, at around 100 loaves a time.
But they soon hope to step up production to six days a week.
The dough's been left to prove
but I'm not sure it's meant to look like this.
It does look a bit warty, but mine is exactly the same,
so it's really not too bad. And we just...
-..like that. There you go.
-So you just did that.
So, you've got a 12 o'clock, a 3 o'clock, a 6 o'clock
and a 9 o'clock, and then one in between each one as well.
-So I did too many there.
-It's fine. It's your loaf. Do what you like.
-I just need a bit of symmetry in there now.
-Are you going to put your name in the middle?
-Can I do any more?
You can put your name in if you want.
-I'm trying for an M.
-It's a bit dodgy.
It's all right. Don't worry.
So, we get these in the oven, and you might want to stand back,
cos we use steam with our baking because it gives them a nice crust.
-Great. It's a running theme, with the railway.
-Oh, yes, steam engines and everything!
The bakery's main aim is to produce a range of good, honest, traditional loaves.
Elderly residents of the town even submit recipes of the bread
they used bake years ago.
And now it's the moment of truth for my rosemary and black pepper.
-Oh, look at these!
-The M's worked and everything!
-Yeah, look at that!
You can take that home with you. Pop that on there.
Thank you very much indeed. That was super. I thoroughly enjoyed it.
Thank you very much. Great to see you.
I tell you what, Baker by name, Baker by nature!
I'm leaving Bedale behind to continue my journey on through the Dales.
Next stop, the water mill that made the flour I used to bake my bread.
Without the railway and its bakery, the mill would be nothing but a museum piece!
And while Matt steams on ahead,
I'm investigating a controversial new arrival to the countryside.
If you're going to a wedding, party or even a festival this summer,
there's a good chance you'll encounter something like this.
Easy to see why Chinese lanterns have become a bit of a craze in this country.
There's something rather romantic about releasing one of these
into the night sky and watching it blow away on the wind.
It's reckoned that 200,000 lanterns were released in the UK last year alone.
But it's not as innocent as it might seem.
For some, Chinese lanterns are a menace in the countryside,
causing thousands of pounds worth of damage
and putting the lives of animals and even people at risk.
The big worry, of course is that they can start fires,
but that's not the only problem.
Huw Rowlands is a beef farmer
and has more than 140 Red Poll cattle on his farm near Chester.
For him, the concern is the debris the lanterns leave behind,
and with good reason.
Tell me what happened, Huw?
Well, not long after Bonfire Night, a Chinese lantern had landed in
a field with some of our cattle grazing in it.
One of the cows picked up the remains of a Chinese lantern,
chewed at it, swallowed part of the frame
and eventually died about three days later, a very slow, lingering death.
This is the actual lantern that killed her.
You can see where she's been chewing and chewing at the frame.
You can also see some of the very fine wire that holds
the thing together, and that is the wire that punctured
her oesophagus and caused her death.
And over here is the remains of another Chinese lantern,
-where did this one land?
-This one landed in this barn that we're in, only about two or three weeks ago.
This one has string rather than wire holding it together, so maybe not as dangerous.
Perhaps not quite as dangerous.
But I would say, equally bad news, because if it had been alight when
it landed here, the bales of straw would have gone up, this would have
all gone up in flames and we would have lost the two bulls as well.
And you've still got the bamboo frame there.
And as you can see, where it's broken, it's still got a sharp point on it.
That's enough to injure or even kill an animal,
if they try to eat it.
Incidents like those at the farm have led the National Farmers' Union
to call for lanterns to be completely banned.
And it's not the only organisation that's concerned.
-Hello, come in.
-Thank you very much.
Now, you're all members of the Cheshire Federation
of the Women's Institute, what are your concerns about these lanterns?
It all goes back to May 2009, when we woke up on the
May Day Bank Holiday morning
and found 57 of them scattered over seven fields.
-And were there animals in those fields?
And of course, we hadn't cut our silage at that stage,
so we were very concerned that we'd found them all, because
if some were still in the fields, they were going to end up in the silage.
And what other concerns do you have about these things floating around the countryside?
Well, the fire aspect is a great problem.
People have had them land on their roof and set the wood
on fire, a great deal of damage as well as danger to life and limb.
So, what would you like to see done about these things then?
We'd like to see them banned.
They're banned in many countries around the world, so why not here?
But are the risks posed really so great
that the sale of lanterns should be stopped?
What, for example, are the chances of them actually causing a fire.
To stop it floating away, the lantern that you saw me launch
at the start of this film was tethered to the ground,
but when the wind got behind it, this happened.
The frame, together with the burning fuel package, ripped from the rest
of the lantern and fell straight to earth, still alight.
But what about when they're used correctly?
Here in West Yorkshire, the fire service was so concerned,
they began carrying out their own research,
in the safety of their training house.
What will this experiment show, Chris?
What we're trying to achieve is to see the type of heat release,
the temperature that is coming out of the fuel package,
and ultimately, because we're in a very controlled environment,
we can time the length of burn of the fuel package,
and then, see what state the fuel package is in
when the lantern starts to come back down to earth.
What would you like to see being done about these lanterns?
We'd like to see people stop using these lanterns,
some real control, some licensing,
very much similar to the fireworks licensing.
But people buy these and release them
-because they look beautiful, don't they?
-People need to see beyond that
and would they really be happy with people throwing
a lighted piece of paper, maybe out of a car window,
as they drove past some standing corn.
It very much is the same outcome.
The test clearly shows that a lantern can fall to the ground
while it's still burning.
And this is one reason why the Chief Fire Officers Association
has now asked every fire-fighter in the UK
to actively discourage their use.
However, at the moment,
there are no official plans to either ban or regulate Chinese lanterns.
But some people in the industry are listening.
So, all of these boxes contain Chinese lanterns?
They certainly do, John.
James Cameron, from The Glow Company,
has sold well over 100,000 lanterns in the last couple of years.
You're one of the main importers, aren't you, of these lanterns,
how concerned are you about claims that they're just not safe?
Well, we've listened to the concerns, the feedback
and the media, and in 2009, so it's a couple of years ago now,
we looked at the design of them
and we looked to take all of the wire out of the lanterns
and make them fully biodegradable in the true sense.
But many people are still concerned about the bamboo.
We're now looking to replace the bamboo with another material.
But we're still working on that.
But you can't get away from the fact that a Chinese lantern is
a flame, in a paper bag, blowing on the wind,
no one knows where it's going to land.
That's true, but what we do with every Chinese lantern that we sell,
they are all individually packaged
and each one comes with a quite detailed set of instructions
and we believe that if people follow these instructions, then they can be safe.
Aren't they just purely and simply a danger?
I think there are a lot of products on the market that can be
dangerous if not used correctly.
Fireworks, for example, very dangerous,
lots of accidents every year, many, many more than Chinese lanterns.
Chinese lanterns might seem like just a bit of fun,
and nobody wants to be a killjoy.
But from what we've seen, they can cause real damage.
If one could be developed that has no wire or bamboo,
that would significantly reduce the danger to livestock.
But the threat of fire remains
and it's difficult to know how that risk will ever go away.
The Wensleydale railway is a great way to take in the beauty
of the Yorkshire Dales, but over the years, this countryside has changed.
Once, these fields were bursting with flowers.
James is in the Western Dales, finding out what's being done
to revive these traditional hay meadows.
Hay meadows give us the best of all worlds.
This stunning colour from a carpet of wild flowers,
they're stuffed full of bees and butterflies, habitats, all sorts
of wildlife, and of course,
they're useful too, because when the time comes,
they're cut for fodder for a whole range of different livestock.
But they are rare.
Here in the Dales, they were once as common as the field barns
and dry stone walls that pepper the landscape.
But since the Second World War,
a staggering 98% of the UK's meadows have been lost.
There are now just four square miles of upland hay meadows left.
So, John, why have hay meadows become so under threat?
Well, it is agriculture intensification.
We've been trying to produce food more cheaply since the Second World War,
so a lot more artificial fertilisers have gone on the grasslands.
Most of them have been ploughed up and reseeded
with a few productive species of grass.
And that's just wiped out the diversity of the plants completely.
So we have lost 98% of our hay meadows in 50 years.
-What's this one still doing here?
-Well, in places like the Dales,
we've been lucky enough to have a range of agri-environment schemes,
which have paid farmers to traditionally manage the meadows.
-So, this has been protected since about the '80s.
-Is it just gardening though?
Are you just doing it to make it look beautiful?
It's been scientifically proven livestock reared
on these species-rich pastures, is better for us.
Farmers can charge a premium price for it, so it's better for the local economy and the farmers,
and the health benefits, the social benefits,
getting out in the countryside, seeing these fantastic meadows
full of flowers on a lovely sunny day.
Now, you might think, as diverse as hay meadows are,
they've got nothing in comparison to say,
an Amazonian rain forest filled with exotic orchids and parasitic plants.
But if you think that, you'd be wrong,
because right here, in an English hay meadow, we've got a beautiful
native orchid and right in front, yellow rattle, a parasitic plant.
The average hay meadow has no less than 120 different plant species.
And I'm not the only one who's come to see them.
For a group of school children from nearby Bainbridge,
this is the perfect place to learn about the nature on their doorstep.
I'm dying to figure out what you're doing here, with this hula hoop!
Oh, right, well, the idea is,
for the children to have the opportunity to learn
and recognise different wild flower species and hay meadow species.
And they are going to count each of the different species in this hoop.
And that will tell us how many different species there are
and how abundant each species is.
By focusing on that one patch, you really start to look in detail,
whereas if you walk past, it might look like a sea of green.
And maybe there might be some rare species in here
that you wouldn't see if you just walk through a meadow.
Particularly with those cool magnifying glasses.
-I want one of those!
-What you reckon that is that you've got there?
We've got quite a few eyebrights.
You'll notice, they look a little bit like little eyes. If you look
-on the inside, there's almost like little eyelashes painted on.
They're traditionally used to treat eye complaints,
but I've always thought, they're so small, you'd actually have to have pretty good guys just to find them!
So there's this huge mix of different plants in here,
you're not going to find in the average lawn,
and it's presumably quite unusual for kids like you to see this.
This isn't in your playing field at school.
Yes, this isn't really, but we live in a beautiful place
and I've moved up here and I've only lived here for three years
and I've seen some quite astonishing stuff.
And they are really beautiful, these meadow flowers.
And it's not just the kids getting stuck in.
Because as a plant geek - this place is right up my street.
These white, frothy flower heads are from meadowsweet,
which as the name might suggest, tastes sweet and has this wonderful
kind of almondy, elderflower flavour and I think more cooks should use it.
But the most exciting thing is, that it's traditionally used to treat pain.
In fact, aspirin was originally developed on chemicals found in this.
It's been shown that the effects of the chemical found in it last
longer than aspirin and can be less harsh on your stomach.
But just as important as the meadow's plants,
is the wildlife that thrives among them.
Tanya, that's the biggest butterfly net I have ever seen. What have you got in there?
Well, not as much as I would have hoped, to be honest.
On a day like today, it's quite cloudy,
so we have quite a lot of flies that most
people overlook, but also, really important pollinators
of our meadows, we have the odd froghopper in here.
And quite a lot of seeds. But generally, on a meadow like this,
you'd expect to see butterflies such as common blue frequent the meadows.
We've a lot of bumblebees as well that rely heavily on these meadows.
Five acres of hay meadow, they say, supports one tonne of bugs,
-that's a serious amount of insects.
-It's amazing, you've only been flicking this around for
a couple of seconds and there's a good couple of hundred in there.
These are such tiny insects, but they're so important for the biodiversity,
the swallows around us today, they'll be feeding off these insects,
field mice, you've got the hares and rabbits that come,
and that, in turn, leads to foxes that predate the animals.
And meadows might bring less obvious benefits too.
Researchers from Lancaster University are investigating their impact
on the level of greenhouse gases, which have been blamed for global warming.
I'm desperate to know what this very cool garden cloche attached to a bit of kit is doing?
This is measuring the amount of carbon dioxide which is being given off by the meadows here.
What we're really interested in is knowing
how the different levels of management on our grasslands
and hay meadows is affecting the carbon balance in the systems.
So essentially, the results of this could be really important,
because so much of the UK is covered in effectively grassland.
The amount of carbon stored in the soil is higher
in the grasslands which are more traditionally managed.
And also, the amount of carbon dioxide leaving the system appears
to be less in the traditionally managed systems,
so we think there is scope to develop some sort of sustainable
management which would help with our carbon emissions in the future.
After nearly becoming a thing of the past,
the importance of the traditional hay meadow is now being recognised.
If efforts to revive them are successful,
future generations will enjoy both their beauty
and their contribution to the wider environment.
Also in the programme,
Adam is meeting the young farmers of the future.
I have been told I am the youngest female sheep shearer in the country, so...
Going underground, James gets kitted out for a spot of caving.
Going to boldly go where no ethnobotanist has been before. This isn't too bad, actually.
And we'll have the weather for the week ahead in the Countryfile forecast.
I'm on a journey through the Yorkshire Dales,
on the Wensleydale Railway.
The views are breathtaking. Along the way, I've indulged
in a bit of traditional bread-making at a community bakery.
Now it's time to see the first part of the process.
I'm following this little flow to Crakehall Watermill,
which, as Carol said back at the bakery,
is where the raw ingredients come from for this lovely bread,
which is still warm.
'The watermill was bought to be run as a B&B,'
'but hooked by the heritage in his garden,
'Lionel Green has spent the past year restoring it to its former glory.'
-Lionel, how are you doing?
-What a place this is!
-And what a beautiful sound.
One watermill, very old watermill, in action here.
-The whole process starts over at the river?
-Quite a long way up there?
-Yes, out across the road there, the river,
we take our supply. Water feeds into the wheelhouse.
The transfer of energy, the water drive,
through this main shaft up through here to the crown wheel.
I've got the finished product here.
-This was my handiwork this morning.
But this has been around a lot longer than the community bakery.
You must have been delighted to hear this was going to be sparked?
Yes. It's a wonderful piece of heritage.
This mill stands on the site of a mill mentioned in Domesday,
so got a lot of history.
It was really good news that the ladies down at Bedale
were going to set up, and therefore we see crop to crust.
It's some place this, I tell you. Thanks for showing us around.
-See you later on.
Lionel isn't the only one who's going back in time.
Jules has been to meet the farmer where it really is a case of
out with the new, in with the old.
I'm east of the Dales, near Harrogate, on Thorpe Hill Farm.
At 111 acres, it's a small mixed farm and home to Steve Newlove.
Recently, the family business was facing ruin
after a company Steve was in partnership with went bust.
Overnight, 95% of his income vanished.
In order to save his livelihood, Steve's had to come up with
a cunning OLD plan to breathe new life back into this place.
For this farm, going back in time could prove to be the way forward.
The grand plan is to turn back the clocks and start working the land
To fund it, Steve auctioned off all his modern farm equipment.
60, have all done? At five. 60?
I'm feeling really weird.
On this field, I'm selling off part of my family
that I know all the quirks and how to use all these different things
and I'm thinking that on Monday morning,
it's all going to be different.
For Steve, the conveniences of modern mechanisation are no more.
No big tractors, no fancy gadgets.
Just good old-fashioned farming basics.
-How are you?
-I'm good. How are you?
-Nice to see you.
-Have you become a repository for anybody clearing out a barn?
This really paints the picture as to what you're trying to achieve here.
You really are going back in time with this.
I've always said I was born 100 years too late.
For me, the farming part is the connection with the land,
which you get out of the way when you're in your air-conditioned cab.
You're sat away from your crops, really.
I want to work amongst it and get back to real farming.
Your neighbours must be thinking, "He's nuts."
They do. They think I'm absolutely bonkers! Absolutely bonkers!
'Only time will tell whether Steve actually is bonkers,'
but his intention is to run the farm as a working museum,
demonstrating traditional farming methods.
If anyone knows a thing or two about these, it's Frank Atkinson,
who's been farming for over 70 years.
Frank? How are you, sir? Very nice to meet you. This is Steve.
-Steve, hi, pleased to meet you.
-Pleased to meet you.
He's the brave soul trying to transform this place.
-Shall we have a look around?
When you started out on farms,
this presumably was the sort of thing you would use?
Well, this is a potato plough. This would be used
at this time of the year, when, for the early potatoes especially,
to not bruise them and to lift them to the surface,
out of the ridge, and then pick them by hand.
But I'm sure as a young man working on the farms that you did,
you must have longed for the day
when everything became more mechanised and easier and quicker?
-And he's going the other way!
-Yeah, well, that's right.
We didn't appreciate mechanisation cos it just crept up on us.
And so we didn't appreciate what it was going to do.
But to go backwards, you do appreciate what you're going to do.
-He's got his hands full, hasn't he?
-Yeah, it's hard work, yes.
'And that hard work is going to take some serious horsepower,
'and I mean with hooves, not tyres.
'Under the watchful eye of shire horse expert Rodney Greenwood,
'Steve needs to learn how to handle his new steeds, Ruby and Audra.
'With them, he can expect to plough through an acre of land a day.
'With a tractor, he could do about 17 acres.
'That's about as far away from intensive farming as you can get.
'And I suppose the cost of carrots is cheaper than a gallon of diesel.'
Who needs air-conditioning when you've got this to go to work in?
'But for some jobs, you need to rely on manpower, not horsepower.'
Steve's plan is to eventually turn this field of maize
into a maze. Amazing!
Well, it's quite a big area. How big is this maze going to be?
This is about nine-and-a-half acres, this field.
We've got to cut a path around nine-and-a-half acres with these?
I do think we need a bit of a sharpener
-just to get this working properly.
-So, blaming your tools!
Do you know what, I bet the guy that last used this 100 years ago
blamed it too!
'Aside from attractions such as as the maze,
'Steve's keen for the farm to be part of village life again.
'He's going to encourage the locals in to help out,
'paying them with produce from the farm.
'But if this is going to be a success,
'he's got to keep his workforce happy.
'Top of the list, Ruby and Audra.'
It's a nice way to end my visit here, I have to say,
treating them to a welcoming gift of apple. Come on, girls!
-Come on, girls!
-First night in their new home.
It is. Sort of five years in the planning and they're here at last.
And when are you going to do what Rodney did?
When are you first going to tack them up and get out there?
I'm in at the deep end now,
-so it's going to be tomorrow morning.
-It's going to have to be!
'There's no doubt that Steve's got a long road ahead,
'and there's no going back now.
'Although for this farm, the past actually IS the future.'
This week, Adam is on the road,
catching up with a couple of aspiring young farmers
who've got their eyes on his job.
Last year, John met Gareth Barlow in Yorkshire.
At just 20 years old, he was full of ambition for a career in farming.
But without any land, he was keeping his sheep in his friend's garden.
What's your chances of having your own farm?
They may be stacked against me
but I'll do everything to overcome them and to get it somehow, somewhere.
Since then, I've taken a keen interest in his progress.
-She's a well-bodied sheep, isn't she?
With the average age of a farmer close to 60,
it's great to see young people coming into the business.
Not being from a farming background, he's struggled to get started.
-But when I saw him last,
the Castle Howard estate in Yorkshire had agreed
to let him have some land to keep his sheep on.
And he's had his flock of Hebrideans for just over a year now.
I'm keen to see how he's getting on.
-Hi, pleased to see you.
-Lovely to see you.
-So how's it all going?
-Busy, really busy.
Booming, I suppose is the best way of putting it. Hard work but booming.
-And how many Hebrideans have you got now?
-At the moment, about 130.
-Goodness me! So you've more than trebled in size?
It's been a busy few months. Had a few more, in fairness,
but obviously there's the butchery side to keep happy
so we've gone down. Peaked at about 150.
Now this is a difference spot to where I saw the Hebrideans last,
so is your land area growing?
Yeah, we've moved on to a bigger area,
about 35 acres here and there's 10 in a separate site
elsewhere in a couple of smaller paddocks.
Whereas when we were last here, it was two-acre paddocks everywhere.
A lot of fuel, a lot of driving.
We've got some more condensed units which are a lot more
economical to run.
And how's it going, then, with your customers?
I know you were selling direct to the restaurants.
When you last came I had one customer,
just the farm shop at the castle. Castle Howard.
Now there's another five restaurants down in London,
four or five in Yorkshire as well.
So your dream is still a reasonable size farm of your own?
Gets more passionate every day. A bigger dream every day.
And slowly, slowly another step towards it each day.
At this time of year,
Gareth sends five or six of his lambs to the abattoir each week.
We're rounding them all up so he can select which ones are ready to go.
So you've got a mixture of males and females in here, have you?
It's a mixture of the two.
Obviously some of the females are kept for breeding but maybe
some of the smaller framed ones we won't keep for breeding.
They won't give birth as easily
so they will be perfect for the lamb trade.
Lots of people think of lamb for the table as young lamb,
but these look like they're about a year old?
There's many definitions of what lamb is
and I think it's dependent on the breed as much as anything.
Hebrideans don't put on the weight as quickly, so only after a year
old do they show the properties of lamb that's fit for the table.
I think that's the definition. It's a lamb that's fit for the table.
Before then, they're too lean, they haven't had time to mature.
They look very well, Gareth.
You've done very well with them. So just go in and feel them.
I suppose you've got the experience.
So tell me what you're looking for cos you don't want them too fat, do you?
You don't want them too fat. Nobody likes an inch of fat over their chops.
She's a well fleshed ewe, isn't she?
She's got the perfect amount of back cover.
You can still feel the spine across the top
but it's not too defined.
-Take her out?
-I would take that one out.
-I shall pop her... Move these ones back. Come on.
-Go on, girls.
-It must have been quite a steep learning curve for you.
I've not got someone in the family that can teach me how to select lambs.
But doing this every week,
you do start to build up the skill set you need to select the best ones.
-It's a skill but I can see it's a passion.
-Yes, I really enjoy it.
This is, apart from writing invoices, the best part of it!
I'm really impressed with the progress that Gareth has made over the past year.
Not only does he raise and butcher the lambs himself,
he does the meat deliveries, too.
Gareth recently drummed up some new business at an award-winning
restaurant just half an hour away.
-Hi, Gareth. How are you doing?
-Not too bad. Adam, Tommy.
Nice to meet you. Let's have a look at this delivery.
-So what have you got, then, Gareth?
-We've got your four breasts there.
-And then you've got your four loins.
And then the shoulder.
That looks like some great stuff.
Why is it you like Hebridean lambs so much?
Actually, when I first met Gareth, I'd never heard of Hebridean lamb.
But what really struck me was how he said it was over a year old,
such a slow-growing animal. It's just a fantastic colour.
You look at that dark, rich red and you can tell it's lived on grass for its whole life
and it's lived for over a year old so it's had a good life.
You're using quite a lot of unusual cuts in the restaurant.
How does that work?
I think it works really well.
It's a great selling point when customers see they can try
everything when normally they just have a rack of lamb or something.
It's great to utilise all the cuts. There's a lot of flavour.
-And if you'd like to try some?
-So here's the dish.
-Wow, what a work of art.
-So tell me the different bits.
-So we've got the loin here.
We've got the square of shoulder, we've got the belly,
with breadcrumbs, then we've got the neck fillet, and we'll just
serve that with some peas, some bacon and some Jersey Royal potatoes.
-And it is it popular?
-I think it's the best-selling dish.
-Is it? Can't wait. Let's tuck in.
-Go for a bit of a shoulder.
-That is really lovely.
-Wow! That's heaven on a plate. Thank you so much. Fantastic.
Keep the orders coming in.
It's always encouraging to meet young people who enjoy farming
and are finding ways of making a living from the land.
I'm on my way now to meet someone who's even younger than Gareth,
but she's just as enthusiastic about making a future from farming.
At 18 years old, Pam Simpson is already a qualified shearer.
But before meeting agricultural lecturer Charles Szabo,
she'd never worked with sheep.
-You must be Pam, the shearer.
-I am, hello.
-How are you?
-I'm fine, thank you.
-Tell me, how on earth did you get into shearing?
Last year, Charles said to me,
would you like to go on a sheep-shearing course?
From not being in a sheep farming background, I um-ed and ah-ed a bit.
I decided to it as an extra skill, and the moment I went on my first
accredited course and my first sheep, I fell in love with it straight away.
Well done, you. It's not that common for women to be shearing, is it?
No, not really. But agricultural courses at agricultural colleges, there are
a number of women on them and there's no reason why they can't shear.
Women are better at livestock anyhow, certainly when younger.
-It is very much about technique, isn't it?
You need to have some sort of strength
but 10% is cutting the wool and 90% is handling the sheep.
And what sort of speed are you doing now? What have you got up to?
Between three of us, we can get about 500-plus done in two days.
-So you're pretty quick.
-Are you making a living, then?
Yeah. I juggle between college and shearing,
but all my spare time's taken up by shearing. That's all I do now.
I have been told I am the youngest female sheep shearer in the country.
Amazing. Let's see you at your work, then. Let's grab a sheep.
Come on, then, missy.
Good shearers are in high demand, and skills like this can take you
as far afield as Australia or New Zealand.
-She's pretty good.
-She's not bad at all.
And it's only really this year that she's got to start shearing other people's sheep.
Farming needs a lot of young people to join the industry, doesn't it?
But I understand the agricultural colleges are full again.
They're doing really well at the moment.
We're talking of first-year courses of 40, 50, 60.
Whereas ten years ago, you were only talking at 20s. But it needs people.
-I reckon that's pretty good. Are you happy with that?
-I'm pleased with that, yes.
You could take those New Zealanders on in no time. I'll pop him back in the pen.
It's fantastic to see keen young people getting into farming.
Agriculture has changed dramatically since I started out.
And I wonder what it'll be like for the next generation.
One thing's for sure, there are always going to be challenges.
But also some fantastic opportunities.
If you know a farmer who deserves recognition for the way they do their job,
you can nominate them as Farmer Of The Year in this year's BBC Food And Farming Awards.
For more information, go to our website.
Later on Countryfile, James is exploring deep under the Dales.
It's truly spectacular. It's like an ivory ice sculpture.
And for everyone who's out and about in the countryside this week,
we'll have the all-important Countryfile weather forecast.
Today I've been on a whistle-stop tour of the Dales.
Next stop, Redmire, home to the majestic Bolton Castle,
and currently the last stop on the Wensleydale Railway.
Well, from here you get a real sense of a landscape
that used to dominate the Dales, traditional hay meadows, something that James discovered earlier.
But I'm about to meet a man who has spent a year literally watching the grass grow.
Amateur photographer Neville Turner has spent the last 35 years
capturing the Dales in all their splendour.
As a local vet, these fields and farms were his workplace.
-You're at it again!
-You can't stop taking photos of meadows!
-I absolutely love it, yes.
And when did this whole thing start for you, then, and why?
It's a long-ish story.
I had a wonderful job.
I worked as a veterinary surgeon in rural practice in Upper Teesdale,
and I carried a camera on the passenger seat for a million miles over 35 years in practice.
Oh, my word.
So, whenever I saw something worth taking I'd wind the window down and take a picture.
And then a year past February I was asked to record the year in the life of a hay meadow.
It was to record every aspect, the insects, the flowers, the grasses,
but a big part of the brief was to take sort of time-lapse shots.
You see the snow disappearing and the grass growing and the flowers growing,
and then the seed heads and then haymaking.
I really, really enjoyed it.
Do you have any advice for any budding photographers out there?
-Go for an idea.
Assuming you've mastered the basics of taking your picture, then I think you've got to use your imagination.
An example, many years ago I noticed in a field near home a mound,
and there was often a horse standing on that mound.
I thought, "Wow, that would be brilliant at sunrise."
After three or four weeks it all came together,
-and it's magic.
-That sounds spectacular.
That really is one of my favourite shots from way back.
I'm going to leave you to it, keep taking photos, but thanks ever so much indeed.
-See you later. All the best.
This backdrop is a perfect example of something
that would look wonderful in the landscape section of our Countryfile photographic competition.
This year's theme is Best in Show, and thank you so much for all of the photos that you've sent in so far.
We really have enjoyed looking at them.
If you haven't sent your entry in yet, here's John with a reminder of what you have to do.
And just in case you need a bit of inspiration,
here are some of the wonderful entries we've received so far.
Please keep them coming in.
The best photo in each class will be put to the viewers' vote.
The person who takes the winning photo will be declared Best in Show,
and gets to choose from a range of the latest photographic equipment
to the value of £1,000.
Whoever takes the judges' favourite photo will get to choose equipment to the value of £500.
Our competition isn't open to professionals.
Your entries mustn't have been offered for sale
or won other competitions. That's because we want something original.
You can enter up to four photos, which must be taken in the UK.
Please write your name, address and daytime and evening phone number
on the back of each photo, with a note of which class you want it to be judged in.
Each photo can only be entered in one class.
Then all you have to do is send your entries to -
The full terms and conditions are on our website,
as well as details of the BBC's code of conduct for competitions.
Please write to us enclosing a stamped addressed envelope
if you want a copy of the rules.
The closing date isn't until Friday, 12th August.
And, sorry, but we can't return any entries.
I'm nearing the end of my visit to the Yorkshire Dales,
but from here I'm going to be taking in the sights of the spectacular Aysgarth Falls,
and James will be exploring the underworld of the Yorkshire Dales,
but before that, here's the Countryfile weather forecast for the week ahead.
I'm coming to the end of my journey on the Wensleydale Railway.
Ultimately, the volunteers on the railway would like to open up 18 more miles of the old track
further into the Dales, but that's an ambitious plan and will cost around £1 million per mile.
Right now, the focus is on reopening just under three more miles of the line,
extending it as far as Aysgarth.
I've left the train behind to walk a part of the route that the volunteers hope to reopen.
This is Aysgarth Station, and it feels really strange. It's deserted.
There's no track at all, but at least you don't have to keep an eye out for trains!
But I couldn't come to Aysgarth without experiencing the falls just over the road from the station,
one of the natural wonders of the North,
a triple flight of waterfalls carved out by the River Ure,
stretching for almost a mile down into the middle of Wensleydale.
What a spot this is! Just brilliant.
The water's so calm upstream, and then the water seems to explode into these torrents.
The sound, it just wraps around you and it feels incredibly powerful.
But it's not just what's going on above ground
in these rock formations that seems to grasp the imagination,
it's what's going on underneath that's equally as spectacular, as James has been discovering.
There are over 4,000 caves in the Yorkshire Dales that cut through the underground layers of limestone.
This is White Scar Cave.
Like several places dotted around the Dales, you can simply pay for a ticket,
walk in and explore some breathtaking underground views.
This place is absolutely amazing, but I'm about to take a much more difficult route
to see the Dales from below, to see sights that only a handful of people have ever really seen.
I'm going caving.
White Scar was discovered nearly 90 years ago by a man with candles stuck to his hat!
Today the techniques are very different, and as this will be my first time,
I've been training with the local cave rescue team.
A day later, and joined by veteran caver Mike Hale, I'm about to enter
the vast Ease Gill cave network, starting with a 100-foot drop.
This on TV looks like I'm just looking in a manhole, but I can see that goes down pretty damn far!
You can see his light a bit further down.
Yeah! It's really disconcerting. Right.
-And then you'll have to drop down until your weight comes on.
-So, you're now on it.
-Wish me luck!
I've been practising my macho face in the mirror in the hotel.
I still haven't got it!
This is probably my worst nightmare.
I'm afraid of heights and I'm afraid of small spaces,
but I've got to boldly go where no ethno-botanist has been before.
This isn't too bad, actually.
Yeah, I think the key is to take it a little by little,
and, jeez, not look down!
'But it's down there that I'm heading.
'And once my feet are back on firm ground, it's time to explore.'
Now, watch your step over this slot here.
Gosh, that's quite a pothole!
There's a big drop down there, isn't there?
-It looks like a tiny crack until you get your light there and it goes down 50 metres!
There are 47 miles of maze-like tunnels and passages around Ease Gill,
making it the longest and most complex cave system in England.
This is stunning. So, you've mapped all of this?
How do you find your way around, because you've got no visual kind of reference points, too?
You just learn the passages, really. You just come down here quite a lot,
have a look around at the different passages,
give them names as well, because that's often a good reminder.
What, you name some of the geological formations?
Yes. This is Bridge Hall, because you'll see when you come up to here,
-there's a big bridge of rock right across the top of it.
I thought I'd be crawling on my belly through tiny little tunnels. This is amazing.
-And I can see the bridge, as well. Aptly named.
Gosh, this looks like one giant piece of quartz crystal here.
So, that's fallen off the roof somewhere.
If you look up there you might see where it's come down from.
That's reassuring(!) You mean the bit directly above my head!
It wasn't there last week!
'It's an example of how natural processes mean the caves are slowly but constantly evolving.'
All over here there's evidence of the water that's created these caves over millions of years,
literally dissolving this limestone.
As rain falls it absorbs carbon dioxide, which creates quite a weak acid.
And over a long period of time it starts, basically,
eating into these passages, creating long tunnels and caves.
'And much more besides, as I'm about to discover.
'Because at the other end of this passage is one of Ease Gill's most spectacular sights.'
Just a little bit of a crawl for about a few feet,
and then we can stand up and walk into the Colonnade Chamber.
'Inside the chamber, stalactites and stalagmites have formed over thousands of years,
'some meeting to make vast crystal colonnades stretching from floor to ceiling.'
It's truly spectacular. It's kind of like an ivory ice sculpture.
If you look at this one up here you can see one in formation,
where the stalactite is coming down off the ceiling and joining onto the pillar at the bottom.
Eventually, as that develops over the years,
that'll become a thick column from floor to ceiling in the same way that these ones are.
It's hard to believe. You see these three giant pillars and suddenly you see you've got
all the different stages of the life cycle.
-Little baby ones.
That one in the middle is a beautiful white colour, which is the normal colour of them, really.
Whereas the ones on these sides are slightly stained,
and that could possibly be mud from people touching it,
which has then become calcited over, and that will be permanently engrained in the column.
That's a shame, because that could have taken hundreds of thousands of years to form,
-and it's permanently, like, tattooed onto it.
-Yes, that's right, yes.
So, now the path has been created down here which takes you away from the columns,
and hopefully preserve them for generations to come.
'Because of its unique environment, the cave network is considered a Site of Special Scientific Interest.
'I'm used to exploring such protected landscapes, though usually above ground rather than deep under it.
'But even down here there's conservation work to be done.'
This is the last place on earth I thought you would need to conserve anything.
You'd think it would be pristine hundreds of metres underground.
On the surface paths and things overgrow again over the winter,
but down here once you've stepped on something, it stays stepped on.
'Muddy boots have damaged the surfaces,
'so Ray and his team are painstakingly cleaning the crystal floor.'
We're trying to undo 60 years' worth of caving feet wear.
'It's great to see them preserving the caves for future generations.
'It's a special place, and what I've seen is just a tiny part of it,
'but what came down must go up, and since it's started to rain, it's not going to be pretty.
Every bit about caving is brilliant, except for coming back up again!
If we could just figure out some kind of escalator I'd do it every weekend!
'This is not an activity for the faint-hearted.
'It's hard work, it's wet and it's very dirty,
'but for the chance to see this incredible underground world, it's worth it.'
Well, that's it from the beautiful Yorkshire Dales.
Next week John will be exploring the remote Welsh coast of the Llyn Peninsula.
I hope you can join us then.
Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd
E-mail [email protected]
Matt Baker visits the Yorkshire Dales, discovering how the Wensleydale Railway is revitalizing communities along the route, while James Wong finds out what is being done to restore the hay meadows that were once a common feature of Britain's landscape. John Craven investigates concerns about the risks Chinese flying lanterns pose to people, property and animals in the countryside, and Adam Henson gets a glimpse of the future when he meets aspiring farmers in Yorkshire.