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A coastline rugged and rich,
wrapped around the country in a ribbon 11,000 miles long.
Inside, an ornate tapestry of forests and fields
tying together steep climbs and vast plains.
And covering it all, weather as dramatic
as the scenery it falls upon.
This is the landscape of Britain.
A vibrant backdrop to all our lives.
And one that's inspired generations of artists
to produce literature, music and art
that's celebrated around the world.
So as the year draws to a close,
we're looking back to past programmes.
Celebrating the creativity our countryside has inspired.
Julia's in the Lake District, discovering the hidden talents
of one of our favourite children's authors.
While here, she got to indulge one of her greatest passions.
No, not rabbits, not Puddle-Ducks. Mushrooms.
Helen meets a woman who is being
carved out of the landscape in Northumberland.
-If that's the nose...
-We're just here, just next to the wrist.
-So, is this the hand behind us?
-That's the hand, yeah.
And Matt visits the rural town that created movie-making history.
Shall we put it on?
I don't know how...I'll clap me hands and see what happens.
Oh! Oh, it's started!
As for me, I'll be exploring the land here around Haworth,
discovering how it shaped the literary brilliance of the Brontes
and how it still provides a source of inspiration to artists today.
Moorland, barren yet beautiful,
with windswept wonders waiting around every corner.
These vistas are framed by the brickwork of timeless towns.
Their cobbled streets transporting visitors back to another age.
Haworth in West Yorkshire and the moors that surround it
are a place of real character.
But perhaps the most outstanding character,
or characters of the area,
walked these very streets over 150 years ago
because this was the home of the Brontes,
three clergyman's daughters who changed the literary world for ever.
And it all started right here.
The Bronte parsonage is now a museum.
A chance to peer into the lives of these three industrious sisters.
Anne, was this where most of the writing happened?
Yes, that's right.
Every evening at nine o'clock, their father would knock on the door
and tell the girls not to stay up too late.
Then he would go to bed and that's when the sisters
would discuss their writing projects.
And they would walk around the table, reading aloud from their work.
And then, when Emily died, it was just Charlotte and Anne
walking around the table every evening.
After Anne died, it was Charlotte alone who'd walk around the table.
It was like a nightly ritual.
That's a very sad image of her by herself,
-after being with her sisters.
And so, were they quite critical of each other's work,
or helpful with each other's work?
They all kind of sparked off each other.
They were quite critical of each other's work,
but when they were younger, they used to pinch characters from each other.
They had kind of like a shared pool of ideas
and themes for their stories.
How much did the outdoors influence their work?
A great deal.
Living right on the edge of the moors, they would walk.
They spent a lot of their time out walking on the moors.
Particularly Wuthering Heights.
The moors, the landscape, it's almost like another character in the book.
Inspired by the lives and landscapes that they saw around them,
the Bronte's books have sold millions of copies
and been translated into more than 25 different languages.
But when they were first published, they were provocative,
as well as popular.
Wuthering Heights was considered
to be extremely shocking and controversial.
Readers were advised to burn Wuthering Heights.
Young women were advised not to read the Brontes.
How did they react to the general public's reaction to their work?
I think amazement, really.
I don't really think they understood a lot of the criticisms
which were levelled at their novels.
The sisters' work pushed at the boundaries,
both of what was acceptable of women and of writing of the time.
More than 150 years after their deaths,
the Bronte legacy is still very much a living, breathing one.
And it's not just the lives of the ladies themselves
that have inspired others.
I'm heading out into the hills
where the landscape that influenced much of their work
is still inspiring creativity in others today.
And earlier in the year, Julia discovered
that exploring the countryside can throw up some surprises,
even about one of our greatest-loved children's authors.
It's been 110 years since the first edition of Beatrix Potter's
Tale of Peter Rabbit hit our bookshelves.
To mark this anniversary, I'm in the Lake District,
which set the scene for her stories.
Immortalising this landscape
for generations of children around the world.
This is where Beatrix Potter got her first taste of the area.
A Victorian folly on the shores of Lake Windermere.
Her wealthy parents rented this castle
as a holiday home when she was 16.
It's not exactly your average B&B.
No wonder she fell in love with the place.
While she was here, she indulged one of her greatest passions.
No, not rabbits, not Puddle-Ducks. Mushrooms.
Beatrix Potter was, in fact, an amateur mycologist.
That's an expert in fungi to you and me.
Before painting Peter Rabbit,
she painted mushrooms here at Wray Castle.
So I'm going to strike out in her footsteps
with amateur mycologist John Malley.
Fungi thrive on unimproved pasture like this.
Look at the size of the trees. They're really big and old. Look at the grass.
It's a real sort of mixture with different sward heights.
So that's the sort of stuff I'd be expecting to sort of see,
certainly wax cap.
-Here we go.
-Here we go. That's a wax cap.
I know you're an enthusiast,
but there are hundreds and thousands of species of mushrooms.
How do you know that's what you think it is?
The thing I use are things like these.
So, even the experts revert to the books?
That's right. This is a fairly old-ish one.
-There's a name I'm interested in.
-Her drawings are in identification books like this?
And we can see here, which is Hygrophorus,
that's what we've got here.
-That's her drawing?
I wouldn't be 100% happy that those two are the same.
Shall we have a closer look? Let's have a closer look.
So the first things I'm looking for
are how are these gills attached to the stem.
You can actually see how wet or slimy it actually is.
I don't tend to nibble or eat any of these.
Which you shouldn't do because there are a lot of poisonous mushrooms.
-There certainly are.
-You are a man in love with fungi.
What is it about mushrooms? What is it with you and Beatrix?
These are hidden gems. They come up once a year.
They're a bit like orchids, in a way.
I like these far better than flowers.
I thought you were going to say more than humans for a moment!
Beatrix Potter was no novice.
Her illustrations weren't the idle doodles of a young girl.
Hidden in the basement of this nearby museum
are more than 400 scientific watercolours
of fungi painted by Beatrix.
I'm getting a sneak peek.
Wray Castle. On a rubbish heap.
That's just where I've been. Not a rubbish heap, but Wray Castle.
So obviously, that's where Beatrix saw this.
She did indeed. She was staying there during the summer of 1895.
They look...I mean, I'm not an expert, so to the naked eye,
these look like very beautiful drawings.
-But they're beyond that, aren't they?
Um...her guiding principle was scientific accuracy.
So they're both scientifically very, very accurate.
But they're also aesthetically very beautiful.
Ultimately, she wanted to be taken seriously as a scientist.
And she produced a paper
on the germination of the spores of a particular type of fungi.
It was presented to the Linnean Society.
She couldn't read it as she was a woman.
And it was met with, I think you could say, sort of polite respect,
but she was really told to take it away
and go and do a little more work, basically.
Because she was a woman, not because there was anything wrong with the paper.
If she'd been born 50 years later, she would have been an academic.
Slighted by the scientific community,
Beatrix Potter had no choice but to turn her hand to something else.
We all know what happens next.
Beatrix became a world-famous author
and captured our hearts with stories of Peter Rabbit and his mates.
She earned vast sums of cash and cash equals power.
Miss Potter was a lady keen to put that power to good use.
In the early 1900s, times in the Lakes were a-changing.
Tourism and developers were moving in.
And farmers were moving out.
But if farming died, the landscape would die with it.
So she used her hard-earned cash to buy up local farms
and rent them to tenant farmers.
She married a local man and even had a go herself.
Meet the now married Mrs Heelis.
An award-winning sheep farmer.
Highly unusual for a lady of standing.
She's the good-looking one in the bonnet.
When Beatrix died, she donated her 15 farms to the National Trust
to ensure the way of life and landscape she so loved
would be protected.
And it worked.
Three months ago, the Mallett family took over as tenants
of one of her former farms.
So a proper family business, David. Kids involved, as well.
She's a good wrangler, Charlotte, isn't she?
Yeah, they love working on the farm.
This time last year, things were not looking good for you in this area.
No. We set off farming 20 years ago and we had short-term lets.
Unfortunately, we lost part of that
and we didn't know where we were going to be, really.
We didn't know whether we'd be still in the area farming,
giving up farming or moving out of the area and farming somewhere else.
-So it could have been a complete life change for you.
What happened with this place?
We applied for it and on the viewing day,
60-odd lots looked around the farm.
And we were fortunate enough to get it in the end.
It was important to us because our children go to school in the village.
It was where I was brought up and, you know,
for me to teach them how I was taught
on the ways of farming in this area, really.
I bet you didn't think you'd have to thank Beatrix Potter.
No. It'll be the National Trust.
The farms they let is a lifeline for people like myself
that need to farm in the area, really.
-All thanks to Peter Rabbit.
Just as Beatrix Potter found her voice
in the mountainous beauty of the Lake District,
here in the hills above Haworth,
the mysterious moors fired the imagination of the Bronte sisters.
With every step you take, you feel like you're walking through
the pages of one of the Bronte novels
with the words of the sisters ringing through your ears.
"It struck me directly she must have started for Penistone Crags.
"I walked as if for a wager, mile after mile,
"till a turn brought me in view of the Heights.
"But no Catherine could I detect, far or near."
But these moors haven't just brought us great literature.
I'm off to meet a man in the middle of the moor.
Not the roguish Heathcliff,
but a rather more gentile Arthur Butterworth,
a man for whom the look of this place is only half the story.
Arthur's a composer
who has written more than 100 pieces of classical music
in a career lasting more than 70 years.
He's been inspired by many places,
but believes there's something unique about these moors
and the sound they create.
So I've persuaded him to bring along his trusty trumpet
to show me what he means.
So, Arthur, what is it in particular about this landscape that you love?
There's something... How shall I say? Inscrutable about this.
It's as if there were some strange spirit
contained in these moors
that one is conscious of the history of it,
-and particularly here, about Emily Bronte.
Because her fascination with the wind
and the loneliness of it all
and there's something about the spirit of the moors,
as there is about any landscape.
The moors above Haworth proved such an inspiration to Arthur
that in the mid-1960s, he created A Dales Suite,
his first major work for a brass band.
Arthur, it's clearly beautiful and very inspirational up here,
but how do you interpret what you see and translate it into music?
Well, very roughly speaking,
it's a matter of the shape of the landscape,
the tranquillity of it or the violence of it, whatever.
It somehow suggests through some strange alchemy of the mind
that what you see with your eye
is somehow translated into sounds.
It then turns into melodies and not only melodies but into other sounds -
harmonies, so that they're either beautiful harmonies
or they are dark or they are light, according to what the landscape is.
So as the landscape changes, as the day changes,
so the sound in one's mind changes.
When you see this beautiful landscape today, the lovely blue
sky, but the cold, what sort of thing can you hear?
Oh, this is a bracing kind of atmosphere, obviously,
as we feel now, so it comes out as a bracing, exhilarating tune.
Are you able to play anything here now?
I'll show you briefly what I mean.
You understand that I'm no longer a trumpeter at my age, but this
is the kind of thing, A Dale Suite began with a trumpet doing this.
It didn't quite reach the top of the hill, which would have been...
PLAYS HIGHER TOP NOTE
-It's sort of the minor note, rather than the major note.
It's struggling up to the top of the hill,
as we were to see the sun rising.
It would have reached a kind of top.
Now don't take my trumpet playing as Gospel now. God knows!
It's years since I played the trumpet.
-But that is your music, isn't it?
This is the beginning of A Dale Suite where the trumpet
begins the tune.
And then the whole thing expands into...as we are now,
a bright sunny day.
'Just as the Brontes captured the bleak beauty of
'the moors in their novels, Arthur has taken this lonely landscape
'and transformed it into a musical experience, creating a sound
'that Heathcliff himself would have recognised as home.'
The British landscape isn't just a source of inspiration for
authors, artists or musicians like Arthur.
Back in April, Helen Skelton discovered how the countryside
itself is being turned into a work of art.
The rugged north east. It's no stranger to dramatic landmarks.
This region is defined by vast manmade projects.
Hadrian's Wall, the Angel of the North,
and there's soon to be another.
I'm on a construction site just north of Newcastle.
I'm here for a preview of a new landmark
and it's just on the other side of these trees.
You move through a wood, which is very dark and very calm,
very silent, and as you walk forward,
slowly you begin to see that there's a face at the end of the walk.
It's the brainchild of internationally renowned
landscape artist Charles Jencks.
If you ask me what the art of landforming is, I have to say,
it's to do with the sun hitting the side of these pathways, creating
wonderful shadows and then all of a sudden, the landform comes to life.
You really feel it in your stomach.
Northumberlandia, as she's been called,
is the world's largest human landform.
It's a piece of art and a playground.
You probably can't tell from here, but she is definitely she.
Because I'm currently standing on her right boob.
And then finally, you head for the forehead itself.
From there, you get a full view of her face, the goal of the walk,
and the rest of her body, all the way to her feet.
And at this point, you get a 360 degree panorama of the whole
landscape, north, south, east, west, the cardinal points,
looking straight up, the cosmos, and the connection to the Earth.
But when you're up here, there's another quite different view.
'Coal. It's been mined in this area for 800 years.
'And it's all because of this surface mine that Northumberlandia is here.'
This place is unbelievable! What is it even made of?
Well, Northumberlandia's been made from the material
from the Shotton Surface Mine.
It's a core of rock, then covered by a layer of clay,
and then a layer of soil over the top.
-So everything's come out of the mine.
All of the core materials come out of the mine.
And what made you think, we're going to turn all of that
material into an undeniably voluptuous woman?
Well, the Banks Group and the Blagdon Estate,
who are the landowners that Northumberlandia sits on,
wanted to do something that was really going to be
iconic for the north east and attract tourists.
So we worked with Charles Jencks
and he's come up with what we see today.
But how to turn an artist's vision into a practical reality?
Well, that job fell to landscape architect Mark Simmons.
Mark, I'm guessing you're not laying out your dinner.
-What have we got here?
-Well, I've got the computer model.
Looking at it like this, you can really appreciate that it is art.
You can see the whole thing.
-So where are we? That's the nose. We must be.
-We're just here.
-Just next to the wrist.
-So is this the hand behind us?
-That's the hand.
-The paths almost make veins and make her more alive.
They're developed as an intrinsic part of the landform itself,
so they step up, they create the steps,
and bring the body actually out of the surrounding landscape.
I really like the idea of a figurative model
because the scale of it, it wouldn't be figurative the whole of the time.
It becomes abstract when you're actually walking on it.
-You don't know what you're walking on when you're up there.
It's just a series of different interlocking curves and shapes
that change as you move round it and the light moves over it,
which is just fantastic.
And then when you move back, it just all clicks into place.
When you build a sandcastle,
it almost feels impossible to keep the turrets upright.
How do you know that you're going to be able to build a nose
-and make it stay that pointy?
-Well, on the actual face itself,
we've used a reinforcing material called a geogrid, which is
a plastic mesh and then the material is pushed in behind that and that's
pulled over through the structure and that holds it all in place.
So we've been able to get the much steeper
slopes on the side of the face.
'Wet winters aren't the time for delicate finishing work,
'so for the last few months, the site has been silent.
'But Mark's letting me leave my mark on the palm of her left hand.'
Mark, I'm hoping you've had something bigger than these to do the hips
-and the head.
-Yes. Just slightly!
'Her right hand points.
'And like everything in Jencks's work, it's laden with meaning.'
When you point at something, it says, "Look there! Go there!
"What is that?" It has a command meaning.
And I wanted the pointed finger to be used in that way,
to suggest there's a point to the whole walk.
The other hand is opened and that's a great sign of peace
and welcome and giving and receiving.
Like many of our most infamous artworks,
Northumberlandia has caused plenty of discussion.
Some people have affectionately nicknamed her Slag Alice,
others have been asking - when are they going to build Northumbermandia?
But what about the people living on her doorstep?
Well, there's no-one more local than the Philipson family,
whose farmhouse sits in the middle of the mining area.
How will they feel when Northumberlandia opens this year?
-Really excited. Yeah.
Hopefully great for the local community.
Great views and it's just an amazing sculpture.
We can't wait to actually have a walk on it.
-That's right, I had a sneaky preview!
-Yeah! I know!
'And I'm about to get another.'
I'm embarrassed to admit this is my lift.
This is so showbiz!
I don't know how they've got it that defined and that immaculate.
'All landforms gain by movement.
'Seeing things in relationship to each other,
'you will get that dynamic quality.
'It's so exciting because the drama unfolds. Movement is key.'
One thing it definitely is is impressive.
'The sun comes out, it sings, it's just beautiful. It's surprising.
'It surprises me.'
Northumberlandia was finished just a few months after Helen's visit.
Since then, tens of thousands of visitors have come to explore
the north of England's newest icon.
Like so much of our countryside, the more you take time to
absorb your surroundings, the more they reveal themselves to you.
That's the lesson I learned some months ago when I got to
spend the day with our greatest living artist, David Hockney.
Winter has stripped the east Yorkshire landscape bare.
The trees are stark, the hedgerows without colour.
The fields lie dormant under a thin sun.
The Wolds in winter has a paired down beauty, muted,
quiet and understated, but how many of us
really notice as we whizz by on our way to somewhere else?
If we just slowed down a bit, took time to look around,
would we see the land we live in differently?
One man really thinks so.
And he's David Hockney, our greatest living artist.
He's based in LA but has a home in east Yorkshire.
It's here he's found renewed inspiration, in its fields
It's very, very lovely, subtle landscape here.
Not too many people, very quiet roads that you can work on.
It's turned out to be a perfect place actually for me,
the last few years.
I come from west Yorkshire, west Yorkshire, Wharfedale,
everybody knows it's rather beautiful and so on.
But, you know, people who just drive from west Yorkshire
into Bridlington just think, "Well, there's one big hill,
"Garrowby Hill, and then it's just little hills, just looks like
"a load of fields," and nobody really looks at it, I don't think.
But if you know how to look, the landscape is alive with colour.
In David's eyes, trees can be purple, fields sometimes blue,
stone is often red.
The same subject never looks the same way twice.
He's painted the tree he calls the Totem many, many times.
Right now, you're seeing it in really reds and greens, in a way.
-On a different day, you might see it differently,
but right now the dominant colours are red and green, essentially.
OK, the red's brown, orange, isn't brown.
If it had been raining very heavily, you'd get like you see there.
-That side of the tree goes dark. The rain will make it dark.
And I usually then wait and come out immediately then
because then you get...
It's the only time the trees' trunks are very dark, when it's rained.
'David's able to respond quickly to changing conditions by using
'the very latest in high-tech gadgets.
'Out goes the sketch book, in comes the iPad.'
Some people might be quite surprised to see technology
rather than paintbrushes.
-Paintbrushes are technology.
-I suppose so, yeah.
A pencil is technology, isn't it?
For me, on this road, the great advantage was you can quickly
establish a range of colour faster than any medium I've come across.
There's no mixing, it's just all there in front of you.
-Yeah, because you're doing it all here.
-With one instrument.
-I don't have to change it.
So it's an absolutely new medium really.
'And the results are terrific.
'All these pictures of east Yorkshire were made using the iPad.'
You've painted this structure quite a few times. Why so many times?
Is it all about getting it in these different lights?
Well, because once you've done it once in January, I then realised,
well, I'll keep doing it every few days, for a while.
Right now, it's very winter.
-It sure is.
-We're getting the reflections in the puddles as well.
It's very nice in the rain because of course the road gets shiny,
it's lighter than the sky.
At the moment, the light is right at the end, isn't it?
I don't think I'd have seen that, had you not pointed it out to me.
It just looks drab. You're right, there's lots of light to be had.
People don't look hard enough often, but I used to ask friends
if I drove along here, I'd say to them, "What colour is the road?"
One friend just didn't say anything for a while
and then I asked him again and he said, "I see what you mean, David,
'if you don't ask the question, you don't even bother.
'But if you ask a question and you look rather hard,
'well, it's violet, it's blue,
'it's all kind of things but you need to ask the question first.'
That's what Monet would have done, that's what anybody would have done and that's what I do.
Seeing all the colours that you can see in the landscape has made me seem very garish.
-I must be very offensive to your eyes in this top.
-You are fluorescent.
David Hockney has been blazing a trail through the arts world since the 1960s.
He's internationally famous and was recently voted our most influential artist ever.
A new show at London's Royal Academy looks set to cement that reputation.
Back at David's studio, I'm getting a sneak preview.
-So this is a miniature version of the Royal Academy, is it?
-Yes, we make the models
so we know how to calculate where everything will fit and go.
Featuring prominently will be the computer drawings of Yorkshire,
printed up large size.
The effect of seeing them all together in one place is stunning.
-This is where we were this morning.
-Oh, yeah. Big puddles.
That's where we were as well with the totem.
-There's the totem again, again. Again.
-Vivid colour. It's amazing.
How important are the seasons and the weather to you
when you are going out deciding whether to paint or not?
It is about every time we went on that road, it was different.
This is England,
the light will be different, weather, the foliage.
It is just showing you the enormous amount of variety there is of it
and as it changes throughout the year.
Since I went to meet David at the end of last year, the tree trunk,
or totem, which features in so many of these works, has been cut down.
The stump that remains continues to inspire him.
But for some people, an important piece of natural art history has been lost forever.
Just spending a couple of hours in David Hockney's company was a masterclass
in how, with the right eye and a touch of genius,
everyday sights can be transformed into something extraordinary.
But if a Hockney is a bit out of your price range,
how about a Countryfile calendar to hang on your wall instead?
The calendar features the 12 winning pictures
from this year's Countryfile photographic competition
picked from around 50,000 entries.
With the New Year almost upon us, there's still time to get yours.
Each calendar costs £9
and a minimum of £4 from each sale goes to Children In Need.
You can get yours by calling:
Or you can go to our website:
When Matt headed up to west Yorkshire,
it was a more modern form of art that he was interested in.
It may look like any other former mill town.
But once upon a time, things were very different here.
At the turn of the 20th century, this town was pioneering a new industry.
It was in at the birth of the movie business.
10 years before the Hollywood movie industry even started,
black and white films were made here in Holmfirth.
The Lumiere brothers had recently invented the movie camera in 1895.
Victorian film pioneers across Britain began experimenting with it.
But one man mastered the art better than most,
Holmfirth's James Bamforth.
By 1902, Bamforth was one of the most famous film producers in the world
with his work been enjoyed by audiences from Moscow to New York.
So, what was it in his background that set him on the road to success?
-These are beautiful, aren't they?
-Absolutely fabulous, yes.
-What exactly are they?
-These are magic lantern slides.
Right, which means?
Magic lantern slides are just like slides that you have today with the projector.
But these are from the late 19th century.
They were made by Bamforth here in Holmfirth.
These were the popular entertainment of their day.
How did it all start and how did he end up in the movie industry from here?
He began as a portrait photographer but he always had an eye for other ways to make money,
other ways to use the equipment and the setup he already had.
For the lantern slides, there would be sets, models.
There would be a script going on,
so when the film camera was invented, it was a very natural progression.
Bamforth had a real genius for slapstick,
he was at the cutting edge of whatever we make of it now.
You could say he invented British comedy on screen.
I'm told that Bamforth's movies worked best off-the-cuff,
he got an idea, then he got neighbours as actors and got cracking in parks around town.
If that is all there is to it, let's give it a go.
Chris Squire is going to help me make a Bamforth-inspired film.
-Now then, Chris. How you doing?
-Hi. Good, thanks.
You've taught the art of creating the classic Bamforth movie.
We have, we went and looked at the archive footage
and worked out there are a few components.
-Character-led comedies, simple situations,
often men dressed as women and a fight.
-What, a proper brawl at the finish?
-Quite often. It was all novel and brand new.
They were inventing the language of cinematography.
OK, we've got our characters, got a story to tell and the scene is set.
Let's make a movie.
-That was great fun, Chris. honestly. Brilliant.
-A bit of slapstick fun really.
That kind of thing is the inspiration for a lot of British comedy,
-the Carry On films, Benny Hill, Monty Python. Still going on.
-You can see why. Thanks again.
Why settle for our second best when you can have the master?
Julia is on her way over because I have set up a screening for a Bamforth one-minute wonder
to appreciate Holmfirth's very own Mr Hollywood.
-Can I have one of these sweets now?
-Go on then.
-You are not going to wrestle me for them?
So, what became of Bamforth and his successful film business?
In 1902, after just four years in the game, he turned his back on the movies
to concentrate on postcards with a cheeky twist.
They were hugely popular at the time
and Holmfirth had to wait another 70 years for its comedy connection to be revived again
with Last Of The Summer Wine.
Who knows, if he had kept making films,
maybe these hills would be as famous as those in LA.
100 years ago, audiences would have flocked to the cinema to see Bamforth's masterpieces.
I've invited some local people along to celebrate the moviemaking tradition of their hometown.
But there's space for one more.
-Late again! Where have you been?
-I have been making you these very special treats.
-Rhubarb and custard muffins, rhubarb scones.
-We're at the cinema. Where's the popcorn, the ice cream?
-You are so ungrateful.
-What are we seeing? An action movie?
-It is a classic, it's pretty funny as well and to be honest,
it's not exactly the Titanic, it doesn't last for ever.
Just over a minute to be precise but that's no excuse not to tuck into some treats.
Showing for one night only, the Countryfile premier of Boys Playing In The Snow.
Hand-picked rhubarb, picked by me a few hours ago. A couple more scones.
Try that. Sugar dip, go for it.
Wow, that is a burst of flavours, isn't it?
You won't believe how good rhubarb is for you. Lots of sugar.
Shall we put it on?
I'll clap my hands to see what happens.
Oh, he's down. I remember that at school.
It's a silent movie but that is more that can be said for us.
Come on, relent. You'd feel sorry for him now.
There's more children coming in now and the schoolmaster is going to have a go.
-He has just knocked him on the floor.
-Look at the state of him!
From Holmfirth to Howarth where we are exploring the natural beauty of the Yorkshire Moors.
A landscape which brought the very best in the Bronte sisters.
As much as the characters and the absorbing plotlines,
one of the things that all the Bronte's novels have in common is a strong sense of place.
They found inspiration in these bleak and breathtaking moors.
Nowhere more so than this ruin which is known as Top Withens,
but you and I know this spot as Wuthering Heights.
"'Is Wuthering Heights as pleasant a place as Thrushcross Grange?'
'he inquired, turning to take a last glance into the valley,
'whence a light mist mounted and formed a fleecy cloud on the skirts of the blue.
'"It's not so buried in trees," I replied,
'and it's not quite so large, but you can see the country beautifully all round,
'and the air is healthier for you, fresher and drier.
'You will, perhaps, think the building old and dark at first,
'though it is a respectable house, the next best in the neighbourhood.'
The land that fired the Brontes' imagination continues to inspire today.
Artist Ashley Jackson has spent much of his own life in a love affair with the Moors
which he calls his mistress.
I am interrupting one of their intimate moments together to find out more about the hold they have.
-How are you doing?
-Very well indeed.
This mistress of yours, is she a good one or a cruel one?
She can make you cry at times.
The beautiful thing about it is that I've always had this feeling of mother nature in myself.
I've always said I would love to paint what mother nature has given me in her love letters.
All my life I've tried to capture and read mother nature's love letters.
-It is a life long love affair with this landscape.
-It is, yes.
If I drop dead today, I am 72. I have lived it.
I am very fortunate because there's not many people who can earn a living,
bring two children up and wife for 50 years.
And it is something you love doing as well.
When you look at a scene like this
of Yorkshire, any high north Yorkshire or the Dales
when you get a scene like this,
it's very hard to paint nothing.
How can you do those contours without any verticals
-you have to make it lie down flat.
You have got to make it flat.
If it's not flat, it looks like a stone wall.
OK, I haven't got much of an eye. I am certainly not an artist but I would love to have a go.
-I'll give you a hand.
-I've brought a couple of pencils.
You've been painting this place for 50 years. How do you stop it getting boring?
I have been married to my wife 50 years this year and it's never been boring.
-It has been up and down.
-But not boring.
-But not boring.
When you look at a scenery like this, the light changes every second.
When you come up here,
you do feel as though there is a controlling force.
It is either God or mother nature
and you can see yourself talk and think in your head.
You hear the grouse and the curlews
-and in the summer you've got the skylarks.
-It's so free and not many people come up, only the lover of the Moors.
More than half a century after he first came up here,
Ashley's passion for this landscape remains undimmed.
He shared that love with some big names, Bill Clinton
and Tony Blair are among the famous figures
who own a slice of Ashley's Yorkshire.
And it's all thanks to some familiar figures.
Is there any inspiration that keeps you coming back to the moor?
Yes, the moor itself but the Brontes because when I was 16,
this is a sketchbook going back.
When I was 16, I wrote,
"I want to do with the brush what the Brontes did with a pen."
Wow! And you were 16!
So, that is a real sense of passion and inspiration.
From 72 years old to 16 and I've still got that passion and love.
-And there are those two trees just there.
-It is only a doodle, I have got a long way to go.
-What do you think?
I think that's lovely and it is a part of you.
-You have got a moment of your life down on paper.
It is a snapshot of being here with you which is a great romantic for me.
-With the Yorkshire Moors.
-She is a good mistress.
Later, I'll be attending an epic unveiling of Ashley's work,
one that will bring him closer to the Brontes than he's ever been before.
And I will be trying to find a way to bring together the art, music
and literature that has been inspired by the Moors.
From the hills above Howarth, I've been looking back at how the British countryside
has inspired generations of artists, writers and musicians.
I'm heading back to the Bronte Parsonage
for what I am promised will be a spectacular finale to my day on the moors.
But first, there's just time to find out what happened when John
followed in the footsteps of another of our favourite authors, Thomas Hardy.
Dorset is a patchwork of green fields,
small farms and winding lanes much as it was in Hardy's day.
There are no motorways and though far fewer people work the land than did in Hardy's time,
if you're very lucky, you might just catch a glimpse of the world that he would have known.
This would have been part of it.
This is a shepherd's hut, a mobile hut which a shepherd would stay in for much of the year
as he moved from field to field tending his flock.
A hut like this features in a famous scene in Far From The Madding Crowd,
the book that made Hardy's name.
'How long he remained unconscious, Gabriel never knew.
'His dog was howling, his head was aching fearfully.
'Somebody was pulling him about, hands were loosening his neckerchief.'
That passage describes the rescue of Gabriel Oak from a blazing shepherd's hut.
But his would have looked quite a bit different from the one I'm in.
It would have had a rough bed to sleep on, a stove for warmth.
This one has been restored. Gabriel's would have been much more basic
This doesn't have a cage for lambs to sleep in.
Shepherds continued to use these huts long after Hardy's time.
-Eileen, your dad had one of these, didn't he?
-What era are we talking about?
-In the '20s, when he left school.
-That's him there is it?
-Was he always a shepherd then?
This is a wonderful photo of your father on the steps.
That would be in the '50s.
-That is exactly the same design as this one, isn't it?
-At lambing time?
-Yes. The stove would be lit
and he would sometimes stay there, depending on the situation.
Lambs were nearly dead and he would bring them in and revive them around the fire.
As soon as they started running about, he would have a little pen outside
for them to come out and then bring them back in the evenings.
We had lambs at home running about the kitchen.
It is just one of those things that sepherd did in those days if the lambs were poorly.
The old ways of shepherding gradually went into decline and with them, went the shepherd's hut.
But all is not lost.
Here in this workshop in south Dorset,
these icons of Hardy's era are getting a new lease of life.
Richard Lee and Jane Denison are in the business of bringing them back to use.
It must be quite hard to find old huts these days.
Yes, it is becoming harder and harder because 10 years ago,
people didn't really see their worth but now they do. They're harder to get hold of.
Richard copied the designs of these old huts in his workshop
but then came the chance discovery of a blueprint from a century ago.
-What was your reaction when you came across this?
-We couldn't believe it.
It is great to see particular when they called it a portable house which is a shepherd's hut.
As well as restoring them, you actually build them, as well. This must be useful.
We do. It is great to see the way we do our ironwork,
the proportions of it, the length, the width,
the height of the top of the roof is all how we do our new build huts.
These new huts are the ultimate in chic sheds.
Built for leisure and pleasure, this one is even getting a sauna.
All a far cry from the harsh realities facing those shepherds long ago.
We know something of their lives thanks to a remarkable find
in one of the huts brought in for restoration.
Just look over here, the shepherds were writing on the walls
and this dates back to the end of the 19th century.
We've got dated graffiti that the shepherds would have written.
"February 19th, 1903. New boots."
As well, here we have got, "Cold enough to kill the devil."
Here's a drawing. He's drawn a shepherd and his dog.
There is a lovely one of a cart horse here
with all accurate hay and collar and the harness pad.
The traces were all there.
Most of the writing is around here so you can imagine them
being in their beds, a bit bored and scribbling on the walls.
"March 2nd, 1903, rough and wet."
"Snow, the first of the snow and hail storms."
"March 1903. 1st March stormy, 2nd wet, 3rd fine, 4th stormy..."
Simple words capturing the everyday life of shepherds in the time of Thomas Hardy.
Back on the moors above Howarth, darkness is now upon us.
Before I go, I'm heading back into the village for our very own musical finale.
How do you bring together the creativity of generations
that have been inspired by the land around Howarth?
You can start with these guys, Howarth Brass Band.
In particular, their musical director, David. How are you doing?
Tell me a bit of the history of the band.
The band's been in existence since 1854.
Handel Parker, who was a conductor of the band, also born in 1854
was around at the time of the Brontes.
The piece of music we're going to play was written by him, it is called Deep Harmony.
It's been played by many Yorkshire brass bands.
I look forward to hearing this piece.
Are you going to take it away? Thanks very much.
BRASS BAND PLAYS
But there's one thing missing, that eternal presence
that lies at the heart of these generations of artistic inspiration,
the land itself this time by Ashley Jackson in a way that even you have never seen it before.
-Are you ready?
-Let's see it.
-You are at the front of their house.
-That brings tears to your eyes. To my eyes it does.
-It sure does.
We have put one of Ashley's paintings, Top Withens, onto the Bronte parsonage.
The scene that inspired Wuthering Heights, has returned to the place
where Heathcliff was really born.
Isn't it beautiful?
Yeah, to be associated with the Brontes, Yorkshire, my mistress.
-She's come well, hasn't she?
-Hasn't she ever!
Howarth and the moors that surround it
may well be best known for their connection with the Brontes
but more than 150 years on, they continue to inspire
not just writers, but artists and musicians too.
Together they make a fitting tribute to the power of rural life to inspire.
Next week, Adam will be in the Cotswolds on his farm
to bring in the New Year and looking at how horses and dogs
contribute to country life.
See you then.
Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd