Matt Baker and Julia Bradbury head to the vast chalk grasslands of Salisbury Plain. These great bare uplands were once at the heart of a powerful prehistoric civilisation.
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The vast chalk grasslands of Salisbury Plain in Wiltshire.
Once, this land was at the heart of a powerful, prehistoric civilisation
that drew people from all over Europe. Those days are gone,
but much of the remains lie hidden, sometimes literally under our feet.
So how do you work land where, at any moment,
you could be unearthing a precious piece of our past?
I'll be finding out just how far we have to go to protect our heritage.
But it's not all about ancient history.
I'll be helping spruce up a newer addition to the landscape.
This beauty is younger than most of the monuments around here,
but the Cherhill White Horse is still in need of a bit of TLC.
Right, come on. Stamp on. That's it.
Naturally, I'll be on hand to give Matt some help, whether he likes it or not.
-That'll be Little Miss Instruction.
Time for some hard work. Remember that?
I'll be investigating whether British farmers will be cashing in
on the rapidly-growing world demand for beef,
or losing out to foreign competition.
Also on Countryfile tonight...
a few months back, Adam's rare White Park cattle
were devastated by bovine TB.
-It's a reactor?
-Oh, I can't believe it.
But now he's had the all-clear,
so it's off to a farm in Devon for a spot of shopping.
We need to pick out our favourites, and work out if we can afford it.
And I really like Kylie.
The Salisbury Plain. A stunning landscape in every way.
Famous for its rich archaeology, the plain boasts over 2,000 monuments,
some of them very familiar, some impressively large, and others just downright curious.
So living alongside all these amazing archaeological remains
isn't always easy.
How do archaeology, wildlife and farming lie together?
With the help of a chosen few, I'm going to dig a little deeper.
To do that, I'll need a farmer...
..and a badger. First up, archaeologist David Vaughan.
David, what are we standing on?
One of an impressive range of Bronze Age round barrows.
Burial chambers, basically,
that were built for important people about 4,000 years ago.
They actually form a part of a cemetery of about 18 in total.
Not all of them are upstanding,
but those that are are extra-special,
because they represent the five main types of burrows,
and that's a rare experience.
Archaeologists like David have done their best
to persuade our farmers not to plough too close to these barrows,
also known as tumuli.
There's another problem.
These ancient sites are slowly being eroded
by little fellas that live down here.
Our crew set up a couple
of mini-cameras, to capture any activity
over the last couple of days.
And this is what they got.
Now, I'm imagining that this is a problem for you,
because we're on this very important burial site.
Absolutely. It's interesting to see that footage.
The suggestion is there is only one badger,
and if that's true, then that in itself is a great success,
cos we had, initially, a family. Seven, maybe up to 15 at one point.
So to have just one left in these tumuli is a huge success.
Obviously, there's more to be done.
How have you been trying to move the badgers off
this very, very important site?
Well, this and another one,
we've worked in partnership with the farmer, Natural England
and English Heritage and ourselves,
to exclude the badgers through a series of initiatives.
The main one is the artificial sett, constructed about four years ago,
where we think now the badgers are mostly living.
We've encouraged them into that space
through a series of fences, one-way gates, all very sensitive.
The badgers are getting a bit wise,
and we've got a one-way gate which this little fella has dug around.
-So it's still a problem.
-They're clever, aren't they?
They certainly are,
but it's a challenge they've given us for four, five years.
But on the whole,
-you've successfully relocated most of them?
-We feel we have.
This one barrow, we had 60 sett entrances on
only a few months ago,
and through those initiatives, we've got about six.
There's still more work to be done, but it is a huge success.
David Shepherd farms this land, with all its historical wonders.
He works closely with the experts to keep it safe.
Did you know how significant these burial mounds were
from the beginning?
No, not initially.
It was only really when I was told that there are all the different types of tumuli in this group,
which apparently is quite rare to find them all together.
We always knew that we had to keep well clear of them
when the field was under cultivation,
which made it not the easiest field to cultivate.
And when did this field come out of arable production?
We took this out three years ago
and put it into this down-land reversion scheme.
And since then, the array of plants that have appeared out here
have been very surprising.
The government pay farmers like David
to grow native flowers and grasses
to help preserve our ancient pastures.
Thanks to David's work in this one field,
there could be as many as 60 species.
Steph Payne from Natural England has come to check on progress.
-What have we got here?
We've got hoary plantain,
which is a chalk grass and indicator species,
and it's really lovely, vanilla-scented, if you get down.
-OK, let me get down on my bum.
-Oh, yes. That's lovely.
And another one, this wild carrot,
which is great for insects when it flowers,
-and you can really smell the carrot smell. It smells like carrots.
-And then you've got...
-I've seen this before.
Some people call it eggs and bacon.
-Or there's bird's-foot trefoil, and that's good,
it's a food plant for the common blue butterfly, which I saw earlier.
So this is all wonderful stuff, isn't it?
Yeah, it's really good to see how well it's developed
in such a short period of time.
It's got a long way to go, but with the right management,
hopefully in the future...
It's already attracting a few different insects.
It's a tricky balance, isn't it?
The fauna, the flora, the ancient burial mounds, the badgers.
Yes, it is a very, very tricky balancing act.
But we are slowly getting there,
and we've had a lot of success
with the establishment of this grassland.
Good news for our grasslands and our ancient monuments which,
with a bit of luck, will live on for another 4,000 years.
That's if the badgers can be persuaded to play ball!
This is an arable farm, but elsewhere in the country,
beef farmers will know that the global demand for meat
is at an all-time high.
So how will British farmers take advantage of this boom?
John has been investigating.
The booming economy of China means many millions of people there
now have more money to spend.
And the same thing is happening in other countries
in the East and Middle East, and in parts of Africa.
As these countries rapidly transform into modern economies,
there's a growing appetite for the things we already have in the West.
Cars, designer clothes and good food.
And there's one thing that's of particular interest
to our farmers - beef.
It's a great time to be in the beef trade at the moment.
Prices are rising, demand is very strong worldwide
and we expect prices to go even up further,
which is good news for British farmers and processors.
Global demand for beef is growing by 1% a year.
It might not sound much,
but it's a huge opportunity for established producers like the UK.
There are few things more British than beef,
and after the difficulties faced by our cattle farmers in recent decades,
this should be really good news.
Rising demand and higher prices could reinvigorate the industry.
Last year, our beef exports rose to more than £300 million.
But there's a big obstacle to further growth.
Compared to competitors like the US or Brazil,
British beef is more expensive to produce. So why is that?
I'm on my way to meet one man who knows the answer -
Worcestershire farmer Adam Quinney.
-How are you?
-Another farmer called Adam on the show!
How many beef animals have you got here?
Well, yesterday 400, today 404.
-Overnight, some more arrived?
-Some more have arrived, yeah.
Despite receiving large subsidies,
many British farms still struggle to make ends meet,
let alone compete in the world market.
One of the main reasons
is that the UK has strict standards on animal welfare,
and food traceability,
which is why Adam is tagging his newborn calves.
Put the first tag in.
And then the second one.
And what are these tags telling you?
These tags are unique and they're both the same.
So if it loses one tag, we take the number down.
That's our herd number there at the top, which is unique to us.
And then that's its unique animal underneath.
And what goes into this book, Adam?
From this book, we put in the cow,
the date of birth, the weight of the animal.
-The tag details?
-Yes, and whether it's easy to calve
and that sort of thing.
That will go into our computer records
and then into the national database.
So for the rest of its lifetime, wherever this animal moves,
the national database will be updated.
-You're all down in this book.
-Yes, you're numbered now!
And is it possible to say, over this cow's lifetime,
how much do you think it will cost you just to keep it healthy?
It costs about £400 a year to keep a cow on a farm.
-And out of that, about £40 to £50 would be in medicine charge...
That's its mum.
All its medicine, its paperwork.
It's quite a lot of paperwork that has to go with an animal,
and that has a cost.
If I was in America,
only a third of farms there are registered as having cattle
even though they've got cattle,
and if it was against my religious beliefs,
I wouldn't have to tag it.
America's vast farms are very different to ours.
As well as benefiting from huge economies of scale,
they're allowed to use GM feed and inject cattle with growth hormones,
both of which boost profits but are banned here.
And Adam's got another surprising statistic up his sleeve.
Take this medicine. Made in Germany, which we use on young calves.
In the States, it would cost me £40 for this bottle.
-In this country, this bottle is £140.
-Wow! Why the difference?
It's because in Europe they have to get a separate licence
for each country. That adds cost.
And they must perceive British farmers to be more rich
and able to afford it.
But these things need to be sorted. It's just not fair.
But all this extra cost doesn't just stop at the farm gate.
The cattle have to be slaughtered, and even at this final stage,
the bills are still mounting.
I'm being given an insight
into how one Oxfordshire abattoir is affected
by its sales director Ian Mutch.
Just how strict are the regulations over hygiene and welfare
in places like this?
Welfare is paramount.
If, for instance, we take animals in overnight,
they're strawed down, well looked after, well spread out,
that's what we do.
Every day, there has to be a vet and four hygiene officers on-site,
mostly paid for by the abattoir.
And there's not much room for error.
One small mistake, one small blip, one contamination, stop.
The line is stopped, we wash down and we start again.
Our meat industry is probably the cleanest in the world.
Do you think that puts you in an unfair position?
-Nobody would want to compromise on animal welfare and hygiene?
But we're paying for it.
We're paying for it because we're the good, old Brits,
we stand in the queue, we line up, and we do as we're told,
and that's what we do here. It doesn't happen everywhere else.
So how much does it cost you a month, say,
to have all these checks?
At the moment, for all these checks, it's costing me...
on average, about £15,000 a month.
No wonder the average wholesale price of British beef
is about £3 per kilo. In America, it's significantly lower.
So how can we compete on the world market?
That's what I'll be asking in a few minutes' time.
Evidence of Wiltshire's past is everywhere to be seen.
This county is peppered with important archaeological sites.
Two miles north of Salisbury is the Iron Age hill fort of Old Sarum,
where Romans, Normans and Saxons have all left their mark.
This windswept bank is a jumble of 5,000 years of history.
What you can see mainly started with the Iron Age settlers,
who created these banks.
When William The Conqueror arrived,
he had this moat and mound commissioned for a royal castle.
And this is where the central tower would have been.
Absolutely huge, created out of wood. But it doesn't end there.
Here on the left is the original site for Salisbury Cathedral,
created in 1092.
And on the opposite side, just popping up above the bank,
you can see the spire of the new Salisbury Cathedral.
In the Middle Ages, the place became so big
that the whole town was moved.
A new city was built at Salisbury and Old Sarum was abandoned.
But today, it's going to be occupied once again,
but this time by sheep.
So, Sarah, what's the plan with these sheep?
English Heritage have carried a large amount of scrub clearance
on the outer banks,
the idea being to restore the chalk grass and habitat,
and protect the archaeology here.
Where we're restoring sites which haven't been grazed for many years,
you need to get the right grazing regime in, so the right stock,
the right timings, the right density, that kind of thing.
So we use specific breeds of livestock, and here at Old Sarum,
we've brought on some Herdwick sheep to help with the grazings.
Originally from the Lake District.
That's right, a long way from home.
But having come from the Lake District up on the fells,
they're incredibly hardy sheep.
And what's great about them is they survive on almost anything,
so the regrowth that we get here at Old Sarum,
the scrub, the brambles, the nettles,
the coarse grass that's going to come back,
the Herdwicks are great because they'll eat almost anything,
they'll tackle that tough regrowth
and really help to restore the chalk grassland.
-You can see them, straight up onto the bank side.
That must put a smile on your face straightaway.
Definitely. They're absolutely perfect for the job
and great for these steep banks.
They just don't have any problems with them.
Conservation work here hasn't always been welcomed.
The recent removal of trees to protect the banks from root damage,
safeguarding this historic site, led to local protests.
But these four-legged lawnmowers
will help preserve Old Sarum for generations to come.
Later, Wiltshire's wild past...
-I've got a shocking revelation for Julia...
Adam's made his dad's day
with a delivery of rare White Park cattle...
This is a fantastic moment for me. Thanks.
..and Katie's hitching a lift on a helicopter
to find out how to map the weather.
You can see what's in store for the weather in our forecast.
In the ancient grasslands of Salisbury Plain,
something is stirring! These are the largest flying birds in the world,
and until recently, they'd been extinct here for almost 200 years.
Finally, fingers crossed, things are looking up for the great bustard.
Back in 2004,
Countryfile was on hand to see the ground-breaking re-introduction
of the elusive bustard to Britain from Russia.
It's been slow progress since,
and there are thought to be around 20 healthy birds here.
David Waters is the inspiration behind the project.
Very exciting. You've got more new chicks?
Yes, and that's what the project's all about.
There's great progress and it's really exciting
to be able to move birds from Russia,
do all the rearing and get a sufficient number
to survive here in England.
But what it's about is British-bred birds,
to start this self-sustaining population.
It all takes a long time with bustards.
The survival rate is not great for the British-born chicks, is it?
Once a female starts to breed,
which is normally about two years old,
it takes them a good couple, maybe three goes,
-before they're likely to rear chicks through to adulthood.
In the bustard world, young mums are bad mums.
We've had breeding attempts in previous years
and the females don't tend to work first time.
But the ones we've got this year have been second-, third-year breeders,
so fingers crossed,
that's the start of the proper British bustard population.
But the great bustard isn't our only bird under threat.
And not far from here, bird-lovers are doing their best
to make sure that other farmland favourites
don't go the way of the bustard.
Meet the "arable six".
These once-common birds are now under threat.
There's the lapwing,
the yellow wagtail,
the grey partridge,
the turtle dove,
the tree sparrow.
And the leader of the pack, the corn bunting.
So why are these birds in such serious trouble?
I'm meeting Tracy Adams to find out more.
-Hello. So what are you on the hunt for, then?
-I'm looking as many insects as I can find.
-To feed our arable six?
We need plenty of insects cos that's what the birds feed their young on.
It's like baby food for birds.
-But as you can see...
-Not a lot.
-The nest is empty.
Not a huge surprise, though,
bearing in mind you're looking through an arable crop.
Yeah, that's right. I mean, this has been grown by the farmer to feed us.
It's going to be made into bread eventually
and this is where he makes his money.
He doesn't really want anything competing with the wheat, so...
What have we got?
-Yeah, the cupboard is bare.
-We've got a very small fly.
-So not very good here, but where we're going to go next,
the farmer's growing some wild flowers.
It's called a nectar mix and it brings in lots of insects
and we should see a lot more going on,
and that's where the birds will be going to feed their young.
Experts like Tracy have got together with local farmers
to set up the South West Farmland Birds Initiative.
They hope to reverse the decline by creating the rich pastures
that the birds need to thrive,
like this area, left fallow for lapwings, and these bird boxes.
This is a whole different ball game, isn't it?
It's fantastic. It's one of my favourite parts of the farm.
It's a real sacrifice on the farmer's part, isn't it?
Because he could be growing crops to sell here.
Originally, the oilseed rape which is behind us
would be all the way up to the track and this wouldn't be here,
but through environmental stewardship,
the farmer's getting a compensatory payment for this,
-he's not earning money from it.
He can't sell this. But it's fantastic for the birds.
This is something he's doing to encourage those birds
back to the farm.
Which is vital, from your point of view.
Yes, we need to get the numbers going back up.
Right, what have we got?
It's a bit like Christmas. Well, it is for me, anyway.
-I know! OK, so we've got...pointy-nose things. Weevils.
Loads of aphids, which are nice and squidgy
and easy for young birds to eat. Lots of little shells as well.
-Yeah, what are they?
-I'm not a big mollusc expert,
but they're very good for thrushes, redwings,
blackbirds to eat throughout the winter and the summer.
So you can see there's a hell of a lot more in here
-than there was in the wheat crop.
-And it looks so beautiful as well.
That's the bonus for everybody, including the farmer.
Yes, I think he gets a lot out of coming here and we've got
a right of way here, so anybody that walks through
can enjoy this as much as the farmer does.
But birds aren't just beautiful to watch.
They also fill the air with song.
So Natural England have come up with a chart-topping idea
to make us aware of what we're in danger of losing.
James Phillips is here to tell me about a CD
featuring the arable six's unmistakable calls.
Tell me it's a good day for birdsong.
It's a fantastic day, yeah.
We're hearing a lot of birds today. You've come on a fantastic day.
-What have you heard?
-We've heard yellowhammer, which has a very evocative sound.
It makes the sound, "A little bit of bread and no cheeeese."
"A little bit of bread and no cheeeese.
-"A little bit of bread and no cheeeese." Really?
I am - I have to admit this - USELESS at remembering birdsong.
Well, we could give you a bit of a quiz to see how good you are.
-How bad I am, you mean?
-How good you are.
-How bad I am.
I'm pleased to see that you're here, Tracy,
because I'm going to need your help.
Someone tells me that this CD we're talking about
is something that you listen to quite regularly.
-Come on, fess up!
-Yes. You're right.
I do drive around with a birdsong CD in my car
and my friends do think I'm a little bit odd.
Well, I'm pleased she's here, because she can help out.
So we've got pictures of all the lovely birds here.
So yellow wagtail, corn bunting, grey partridge,
turtle dove, lapwing, and the little tree sparrow. Our arable six.
The arable six.
Hit me with their birdsong, James.
OK, what do you think this one is?
The classic sound of early spring.
-Is that the sparrow? The tree sparrow?
-Give it another try.
-It's the lapwing!
-That's the display flight of the lapwing.
That's the noise they make
-when they do these amazing display flights.
-I'll try to remember that one.
-What do you think this one is?
COOING Oh, it's a lovely sound.
-That's the turtle dove.
Yeah. That sounds very dovey.
It does. It sounds a bit like a purring cat as well.
-Evocative sound. We've heard that today.
Sounds a bit like jangling keys.
-It's the corn bunting.
Excellent. Well done, yes.
-Another quite easy one.
So, "Doodle-oo, doodle-oo,"
-and then, "Tuk-tuk-tuk-tuk."
That's it, absolutely. Yeah.
Yeah, OK. Well, that's two that I think I could probably remember.
-Until tomorrow at least!
I shall drive off listening to birdsong straightaway.
Earlier, we discovered why British beef exports
are more expensive than other countries'.
Does this mean that our farmers are missing out
on the current beef boom? John has been investigating.
All around the world, demand for beef is growing by 600,000 tonnes a year.
It's a huge opportunity for British farmers,
but they face stiff competition.
The danger is that our beef is simply too expensive
and it'll be undercut by cheaper producers abroad,
but just what's causing this upsurge in demand for beef
and how can we tap into this new market?
It's in China where the appetite for beef is really taking off.
But what exactly do they want, and can we provide it?
I'm meeting an expert in the Chinese diet, Lorraine Clissold.
Well, we're having beef hotpot, Lorraine - but if we're going to
sell beef to China,
I can't see Chinese people sitting down and eating steak and chips.
Absolutely not. Traditionally, Chinese people have always eaten
every part of every animal and they understand the benefits.
In fact, they particularly appreciate
the benefits of the organ meat and the parts of the animal
that we, recently, have almost given up eating in the West.
Perhaps it would be best to concentrate on selling offal
-to the Chinese?
Definitely, because the Chinese believe
that these organs are particularly good for your health.
In fact, they believe that if you eat liver, it's good for your liver.
If you eat eyeball, it's good for your eyesight.
The good news is that, with offal, we're able to compete on price,
and exports to China are already growing.
Jean-Pierre Garnier works for
the British beef trade organisation EBLEX,
and says the opportunities are huge.
We have a growing population in China, moving from 1.3 billion
to 1.4 billion people, and increasing wealth.
People are moving from the countryside to towns,
then to eat more beef as well.
So we have a growing market in China
and obviously we want to be part of it.
This week, for example, we've got 20 people
representing the main UK processes in China.
-We're trying to expand the market.
-And how much is that worth?
At the moment, a market of probably £20-30 million, yeah.
Selling cheap meat to China is one thing,
but what about the rest of British beef?
With high standards of production meaning higher costs,
success on the world market depends on convincing buyers
that British beef has quality that's worth paying for.
So what's the trick?
British beef needs to become a sought-after brand,
something so desirable that people are willing to pay
that little bit extra for it.
It already happens with one particular breed -
the Aberdeen Angus.
The last decade has seen Aberdeen Angus transform from a breed
little-known outside the UK into a global phenomenon.
Good marketing has made all the difference,
so could the same magic work for British beef as a whole?
Hello, it's John Craven to see Marcel.
Branding guru Marcel Knobil has been working on some ideas
to sell the concept of Britishness.
We have a heritage of justice and democracy.
"High quality." And that is certainly signalled
through the likes of Harrods, the BBC and so forth.
And then also, fine taste, and actually, from the world of cuisine,
Britain has really upped its reputation,
thanks to the likes of Heston Blumenthal and Gordon Ramsay.
And do you think there may be some lingering doubts
with some foreign customers
about the standard of British beef because of BSE and foot and mouth,
the export ban - things like that?
Whilst I think one needs to be conscious of the platform
from which we will build a brand from,
at the same time, we need to underline that
with a guarantee that our standards
are of the very, very highest nature,
and I think that's helped by marks.
So, for example, we currently have the likes of
the Quality Standard mark and what's called the Red Tractor mark.
I think that will be an underlying guarantee.
Well, he's won ME over.
The world might take a bit more convincing.
But those in the know
believe the prospects for the beef export industry are bright.
-Six years ago, export from Britain of beef was zero, wasn't it?
-What are your predictions?
-We started from zero,
only five years ago, 2006.
And now we export 16% of the beef we produce and we plan,
by the end of next year, to export nearly 20%,
eventually go to 25%.
I think it's a good success on the part of the exporters.
We've shown that they can respond to market demands.
-But it's good to hear a Frenchman speaking up for British beef.
-Oh, well... Why not? Why not?
And there's more good news.
South Africa has just lifted its 15-year-long ban on British beef.
If exporters can continue to harness emerging markets and
consolidate on more traditional ones, it could mark a real change in the fortunes of British beef farmers.
Nowadays we take for granted the ability to predict the weather,
and complain bitterly if the forecasters get it wrong.
It's 100 years since the death of the man who founded modern meteorology,
and Katie's recruited the Army Air Corps to find out more
about weather forecasting, past and present.
Troops, tanks and helicopters are all a bit of a fixture on Salisbury Plain
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 compete 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.
On the left-hand side, we have Catherine. She's duty forecaster.
She's providing the forecast service, in whatever form that might take, to the Army today.
So it'll just be standard weather conditions.
It's very settled and calm weather today,
so it's relatively straightforward but on a busier day we could be dealing with cloud bases,
wind strengths, weather types, snow in the winter and things like that.
On the other side we've got Matthew.
He's our duty observer, providing an hourly reference weather observation
and if the weather is deteriorating or improving in any way,
then we do extra observations to provide air traffic
with a direct service through to the pilots.
The Met Office and meteorologists around the world
are indebted to a man called Francis Galton,
who died 100 years ago this year.
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'll 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 of columns of figures and raw data, 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 through to us on the hour, in this sort of form.
From 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.
-I tell you what - this is actually quite difficult!
Once drawn, the isobars also show wind direction and speed.
With your back to the wind, low pressure is 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 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 brings a fairly light north-easterly flow across the area.
Sometimes we need bad weather cos we need to train in those conditions
so that when it come to operations
we know how to fly, what sort of conditions to expect, that kind of thing.
Whereas good weather days can be good for carrying out general handling and general exercises.
I can't believe they're letting me do their weather briefing.
-Good morning, everyone! ALL:
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 later, temperature's going to be about 24 so you might like to 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 we are.
You owe me. You owe me big time!
'There's only one way to see how important these forecasts are to the pilots.'
Ready. 'And that's to get up amongst the clouds myself.'
I'm going up in a Lynx helicopter.
For all our sakes, I hope that forecast was right.
This is incredible. You can see little things on the ground. You can see dogs running around.
You realise just how close to the ground you are and how you really are just in amongst the clouds.
Passenger aircraft are usually flying at around 35,000ft -
well above the clouds and above all the weather that we experience on the ground.
This helicopter and the others like it, fly at around 2,000 to 3,000ft,
so they're right in that weather zone so the Met Office forecasting is critical.
100 years since his death and nearly 140 since his revolutionary weather map was first published,
Francis Galton's legacy is felt today by us all
and I've seen first-hand how his pioneering work
is key to the safety of our pilots in the armed forces.
Shortly, I'll get more than I bargained for when I arrange
a startling historical revelation for Julia.
I think I'm more shocked than you are!
And if you're hoping to get some sun on your skin, you'll need the Countryfile weather forecast.
It was more than 40 years ago Adam's dad, Joe Henson, realised that White Park cattle were a breed in danger.
He was one of just a few farmers who kept faith with them and helped cattle like these to survive.
Now it's up to Adam to keep up the family tradition of protecting rare breeds.
White Parks may be off the danger list
but they're still a minority breed.
At one time, they got down to only 60 breeding cows in the country
but thankfully, they're back up to around 500 now.
But last winter, we had a TB test
and I lost virtually half my White Park herd
and I was absolutely devastated.
The TB test was going well.
-Then, suddenly... It's a reactor?
Oh, I can't believe it.
One after the other, our White Parks were condemned.
-Yeah, I'm afraid this one is a positive as well.
Dad was very upset.
We've lost our stock bull.
Hopeless, isn't it?
All we've got left now are three cows.
This one, who I think is barren.
We've got one there that's calved and another one that's due to calf, but it's hardly a herd.
But things are looking up.
We're clear of TB now and at last we can rebuild our herd.
So I'm off down to Devon with Mike, my stockman.
We're going shopping.
This farm near Tiverton specialises in White Park cattle.
They have one of the biggest herds in Britain, and I'm hoping to take a few off their hands.
Coming down the drive, I've never seen so many White Parks in one place.
That's good, we've got a fairly large herd.
-We have over 100 here now.
We've spent 15 years building it up
and it's proving reasonably successful. Reasonably.
And why White Parks, out of all the British breeds?
Very small numbers, and also it's an economic breed.
I think you can make money out of it.
That's because some of John's animals go to top restaurants in London.
Their meat has a marbled appearance and great flavour.
The ones we've come to see are on the other side of the valley.
This is the kind of shopping I like best.
I just hope I don't spend too much.
-They're just up here in the field, so we'll walk up the lane and look over the fence.
'These cattle could cost me nearly 10 grand.'
They look lovely sitting there in the sunshine, don't they?
Quiet and relaxed, they're quiet, you know, they're good.
-I think the secret is to handle them a lot.
No use turning them out in a big field and leaving them for the whole winter.
You need to get them in and feed them and look after them.
-How many breeding cows have you got?
-At the moment we have 30.
-And how many have you got to sell?
Mark, you've been speaking to Mike on the phone, there's half-a-dozen?
There's eight here for sale.
They're all in calf, we've pregnancy tested them, and they'll calve from July onwards.
Let's get in and take a closer look.
Let's go back to the gate and we'll walk in.
'These cattle have been clear of TB for nearly three years, and their general health is good, too.
'We can pick up to eight from this group.'
I might beat them at the path.
'Mike and I need to get in amongst them to choose the ones we want.'
What's your overall impression of the herd?
A good type. They're all very similar to ours, as well.
It'll be nice to bring in cows similar to ours
so they're not big and small,
they're all going to be very even with ours.
-Good quality cattle, aren't they?
We have a reputation of selling some of the best White Parks in the UK,
so if we're going to replace them, we want to buy good ones.
These are beefier as well, so the meat we sell is going to be good.
No, I like them.
We just need to pick out our favourites, really, then work out whether we can afford it.
I know that John's suggested he wants somewhere just under £1,000.
I think that's a fair price, I'd like to think it was closer to 800 rather than 1,000,
but we'll talk about that when we've decided which ones we want.
I really like Kylie.
These heifers were all born in the same year, so their names all begin with the same letter.
OK, so we will tick Kirsch and Kelly.
That's Kate. She's a no.
-What's that bottom one there, then?
-That's Kit Kat.
Katerina, Karat, Kiora and Kirsty we need to find.
-A lovely head on that bull.
-He looks good, doesn't he?
He's not for sale, but there is a bull for us to see not far away, on another farm.
Kiora, then round the back...
'We still need to choose our favourites from the final few.'
And what's that one over there?
-So, out of those four, which would you leave behind?
The one down there, I think, is my least favourite of the four.
That's Kiora. Got to get this right.
-Would you agree with that?
-I would, yeah, absolutely, bang on.
So, money-wise, then?
-We were talking about 950, but if they calve, 1,150, I thought.
But we've got six weeks or so to move them.
-So it's up to you, really?
And TB testing, how soon can you do that?
We'd do that next week.
-So, we'd get a result by the end of next week.
-And so we could move them then straight away.
'In the space of an hour or so, we've done a deal.
'And if they get the TB all-clear, they could be with me in the Cotswolds soon.'
Great, well, thank you very much, John.
-Let's hope they pass their pre-movement TB test.
-I'm very excited about having them back at the farm.
-I hope they do well for you.
-Thank you very much.
-All the best.
That's the heifer sorted.
I've arranged to go and see a bull who's also in Devon,
but it would be worth having a look at him, eh?
-Yes, whilst we're here. Nice to make a day of it.
'The bull's called Druid.
'He's part of a herd that's owned by the Devon Wildlife Trust,
'and their White Parks even thrive on really poor wetlands.
'Simon Berry looks after them, and he shows me Druid and his mates.'
This is Hannah, she's the last White Park due to calf,
any time now, as you can see, beginning to make an udder.
Starting to move a bit, isn't she?
He's got lovely markings, very dark,
black nose, black ears and black feet.
-Yeah, and a good top line, too, isn't he?
-Mmm. Quiet enough?
-Yeah, give him a stroke.
-There's a good boy.
He does a bit of head waving, like bulls do.
What we're trying to do his select for slightly beefier animals
to market the beef,
and he's perhaps a little narrow in the back end for us, really.
Unfortunately, that bull isn't really the sort I want,
and also they're closed down with TB,
but while I'm here I'm just helping Simon move these cows
onto some conservation grazing.
It's lovely walking these cows down this old Devon lane.
People would have walked animals down here for centuries.
The cows seem to know exactly where they're heading for.
They hardly need us at all.
Not a bad job to do on an afternoon.
There's good girls.
It's great, really, that rare breeds have got a place doing it, isn't it?
If you put a modern, continental breed in here, it would be
bellowing at the gate, wouldn't it?
They would, yes. It seems like rare breeds and all traditional
breed cattle do like this sort of pasture,
particularly if they're brought up on it and born here.
The White Park cattle look great in the fields in Devon,
and I can't wait to see them on my farm in the Cotswolds.
My special delivery comes sooner than I was expecting.
I just hope the new cattle get Dad's approval.
They've travelled well.
They have, they've got a bit mucky, but they always do in the lorry.
They always do.
This is a fantastic moment for me, because when we lost half the herd
in that TB test six months ago, I was devastated, as you know.
Because that was my life's work going down the drain.
I just couldn't believe it.
We lost those cows and the stock bull, cows that were in calf -
it was appalling.
But you've put it right, and thanks.
Our herd is back-up to strength,
and we have the birth of new calves to look forward to, as well.
Next week, I am hoping to add to my collection of rare breed animals
with some fancy fowl.
These chalk white horses are icons of Wiltshire,
and if you too would like to create an iconic image,
how about entering our photographic competition?
This year's theme is best in show, and the winning
photos will feature in our calendar, all sold in aid of Children In Need.
If you haven't entered yet, here's John with all the details.
There are 12 different classes you can enter photos in.
Insects and Spiders.
In All Weathers.
Then there's Leisure And Pleasure.
And Water Worlds.
And finally, the Lighter Side Of Country Life.
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.
Earlier in the programme,
Katie tried to present an accurate weather briefing.
Now it's time for the proper job.
Here's the Countryfile forecast for the week ahead.
Salisbury Plain is full of ancient archaeology, from Stonehenge...
To Avebury. It's a treasure-trove of historical significance,
but while serious students pursue their theories on early man,
more recent ancestors have made a contribution
to myth and legend all of their own.
And none more so than the horse shapes cut into the chalk hillsides.
The Cherhill Horse was created in the 1780s by a doctor from Calne.
Oxfordshire may have the biggest and oldest white horse,
Uffington is over 3,000 years old,
but Wiltshire has a whole herd of these amazing beasts.
There are 13 known white horses in the county,
but five have been lost, and local people are doing their best
to make sure the survivors don't get buried
or overgrown like the rest.
So, Bob, this horse then was the idea of a local doctor.
That's right, a chap called Alsop.
It sounds bizarre that he's a doctor, I don't know why.
Well, he was known as the mad doctor, which may give us a clue.
-OK, and any idea why he wanted to create a horse?
It is a tradition, and it could be, arguably,
-the sort of "my horse is better than your horse" tradition.
Equally, it could be just a matter of local identity, we don't know.
And Bob, people are out in force here,
-of all ages...
-..so it's obviously very important
to the community here.
Exactly, it is important to the village, to the immediate area.
'It's an identity.
'It's, if you like, a symbol of this place,
'as opposed to any other place.'
It might sound desperately localistic to say that,
but if you don't have something beyond a collection of houses,
what do you have? You've got nothing.
You've got to have something that you can say "this is ours".
And this is Cherhill White Horse.
Around 30 Cubs, Scouts, friends and leaders are here today
to complete this horse's biennial grooming.
It's a tried-and-tested method - bags of chalk, ropes to hold on to,
and a bit of fancy footwork to compress the chalk.
But I sense we're in for a bit of horseplay.
Go film a cow.
The man who was inspired to create this horse was actually a local,
but he didn't want to get his hands dirty,
so he gathered a group of likely lads, got himself a loud hailer
and barked instructions at them
until they finished all the hard work.
My kind of man. The art of delegation.
That'll be Little Miss Instruction, no doubt.
Baker boy, can you hear me?
Let's get going. Jump up and down if you can.
That's my boy.
-OK, time for some hard work.
-Hang on, listen.
Remember that? No sitting on a sofa, get your hands dirty!
-One, two, three...
-ALL: Shut up!
He hates me so much.
I don't know,
that Bradbury's got some bare-faced cheek.
And I've got some for her.
Right, Jules, let me transport you back to the 18th century.
-Very good start, I'm feeling it.
-We know that this was the main route from London to Bristol.
There'd be no shortage of noblemen who would use this route.
They've gathered up all their valuables, they'd be heading west,
set sail to America in search of even greater fortune.
-So, who would they be targets of?
-They're big cheeses, yes?
-So, big cheeses carrying all their booty with them...
..lots of cash, it's got to be thieves and robbers, highwaymen!
Within an inch.
Stand and deliver!
'Not just highwaymen - naked highwaymen.'
Hang on a minute, hang on. What do you want us to do?
-Your watches. Your money.
-You want the watches?
-There we are.
My word, this is extraordinary, and I've got 35p and an old receipt.
-Is that it, Baker?
-That's the best I can do.
'Thanks to a very accommodating local drama group,
'we're recreating the exploits of the notorious Cherhill Gang,
'who really did terrorise travellers around these parts
'in the 18th century without clothes.'
'Thankfully, this lot are happy to do refunds.'
I tell you what, we'll do a deal.
If you give my 35p back, you can put your clothes on.
This was actually my surprise for you,
but I think I'm more shocked than you are!
You couldn't just stand together so I can take a picture, could you?
-That is brilliant.
-I have to ask the question, why?
Well, a long time ago in these parts, there were a group of highwaymen
that used to intercept the coach from London to Bristol in the hills here,
and they did it naked to divert the eyes
and make sure that they weren't recognised.
It certainly works, doesn't it?
I can vouch for it, it does actually work. It's amazing, actually.
Yes, it's quite extraordinary.
And so you're sort of carrying on the tradition, then?
Only for you today.
It's not something we do every Friday, no.
No, it isn't how you spend your Fridays.
-Thanks. And thanks for our stuff back.
But that is all we've got time for tonight.
I can promise you that next week is going to be a lot more sedate.
We're going to be searching for butterflies.
We are, in the beautiful Cotswolds, so we'll see you then. Bye-bye.
Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd
E-mail [email protected]
Matt Baker and Julia Bradbury head to the vast chalk grasslands of Salisbury Plain. These great bare uplands were once at the heart of a prehistoric civilisation so powerful it drew people from all over Europe. Those days are long gone but there are still remains that lie hidden. Julia finds out how to keep archaeological remains safe when there is farming and wildlife to contend with, and she discovers the lengths people go to protect the country's heritage.
Matt is helping spruce up a more recent addition to the landscape - the Cherhill horse. Also on Salisbury Plain, Katie Knapman's flying high, getting a forecaster's view of how to map the weather.
Elsewhere, John Craven investigates whether British farmers will make money from the global beef boom, and Adam Henson goes in search of some rare breed White Park cattle to add to his herd.