The team explores the coastline of the Llyn Peninsula. John Craven digs for evidence of the area's original inhabitants while Helen Skelton braves the tides around Llyn.
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High above the waves, stretching miles out into the Irish Sea,
is the Llyn Peninsula, a rugged land of rocky peaks and distant horizons
on the very edge of North Wales.
The countryside around here is remote and empty, and in days gone by,
the best way of getting around the peninsula was like this, by boat.
These days, if you're very lucky, you might just see some of these guys.
Just a couple of miles offshore sits a legendary island,
a place of pilgrimage.
Helen's hoping to find out what it's like living in the shadow of 20,000 saints.
But getting there might not be plain sailing.
Bardsey Island is surrounded by
some of the most dangerous riptides in Europe,
and the island's Welsh name, Ynys Enlli, means "island of currents".
Boats regularly have to turn back because of bad weather, so I'm hoping the sun keeps on shining.
And Tom's been investigating the mounting pressure on our countryside.
With our rapidly growing population,
British land is turning into one of our most precious commodities.
So is there enough of it to go around?
I'll be asking, what should we be using our land for?
Also on tonight's programme,
what does it mean when sheep come labelled "easy care"?
Adam's got the answer.
This is how the wool just falls off.
Naturally moulting. So you don't have to worry about shearing.
And with scores of shipwrecks along this coast, what happened
when one vessel loaded with whisky ran aground?
There's one account of the customs man stopping one woman
to frisk her, and when she went like that, her bloomers fell down!
The Llyn Peninsula.
A jewel in the Welsh crown,
a granite outcrop unlike anything else in Britain.
This area of outstanding natural beauty
stretches for 30 miles in the north-west of Wales.
Wherever you are on the peninsula, you're never more than five miles
from the sea, which gives this place its own unique micro-climate.
The weather here keeps changing rapidly.
And on the uplands, there's lots of sheep,
but not much sign of human activity.
'That is, apart from here, high in the hills,
'where an archaeological dig is going on.
'Relatively little is known about the early history of this area,
'but Professor Raimund Karl from Austria is leading a team
'mainly from Bangor University that's trying to change that.'
Raimund, what exactly is going on here?
Well, we're digging a late Bronze Age and Iron Age settlement here.
Roughly 800 BC to 400 BC.
While you're here, don't you want to join us?
-You've got to work on this site, have you?
-You've got to work if you're visiting us.
-This was a house, was it?
-Yes, this was a house.
We're almost in the middle of a relatively sizable roundhouse.
Well-built. Built from stone.
In total, we assume that there were probably
something like 10 to 12 roundhouses on this site,
so a nice place for a community of, say, 40, 50, 60 people
inhabiting this little hill.
-It looks to me as though there's a double wall.
The stone walls here are built pretty much like a cavity wall.
You have an inner facing, built from stone layers.
You have an outer facing built from stone layers,
and the material in between is filled in with turf, stones...
Cavity wall insulation.
Yes, effectively. You've got cavity wall insulation in those days, yes.
And were they a kind of status symbol, these houses?
Well, yes. Quite certainly, they were a status symbol.
It's very visible and a very good place to demonstrate "We are important people".
They're basically saying, "We are the big men here."
Right. Well, let's get on with a bit more scraping.
'As well as unearthing walls, we're looking for evidence
'of charcoal from one of the communal fires.
'That'll help the team date exactly when this roundhouse was being used.'
On another of these round houses they've found on the same site,
they've come across these great holes, which is where the poles
that held up the roof would have been seated.
Now, it's difficult for us non-archaeologists to imagine
what one of these roundhouses looked like,
so across the hill, down in the valley, they've reconstructed a village of them,
using exactly the same techniques as these Iron Age builders.
'Dafydd Davies-Hughes runs the Felin Uchaf project, which aims to
'connect people with their past to better understand their present.'
It's all very impressive, Dafydd, but what's the philosophy behind it?
We get young people here hungry to learn about the past,
what they did, how they did it.
And what better place to explore it than doing it near one of those sites?
-So you're using this village as a kind of focal point?
We're gathering local materials, local styles and techniques.
And through doing it ourselves, we can explore some of
those problems and challenges they must have faced.
We face the same weather, same elemental conditions here, to create shelter.
What's been the reaction of local people to this idea?
Do they want to know more about their ancestors?
We get schools here pretty well every other day,
and they just muck in. They love it here.
'Today, Dafydd is showing this group of local lads
'how their distant ancestors lined their homes with mud.'
You each need to choose a place.
-It looks like great fun, doesn't it, Iron Age daubing?
But what relevance do you think it has to life in the 21st century?
Well, people begin to think "You know, this is such simple material.
"Why isn't everybody using it? Why aren't we using it to make bricks these days?
"Why do we have to go to concrete and materials that are high in energy content
"that create a huge carbon footprint when it's there beneath our soil?"
These things died out for a good reason,
but we must evaluate whether they've still got a future.
What are you learning from it?
I'm learning how they did it hundreds of years ago, how they built their shelter.
It's great fun. It's outdoorsy. Better than a classroom.
And is it fun getting dirty as well?
-Getting mud on your hands.
But it's not just practical skills that are being encouraged
in this brand new ancient village.
It's also rapidly becoming a centre for local culture.
I think I can hear something going on right now. MUSIC PLAYS
'Apart from traditional music, these roundhouses now echo to the sound of storytelling,
'and Dafydd is coaching me for a small part in an old Welsh legend.'
You could introduce the watchman,
whose work it was to stand in a tower much like this.
Welcome once again to the Felin Uchaf round house.
This would have been a gathering place familiar to people
1,000, 2,000, 3,000 years ago.
People would have gathered in spaces like this,
lit with candles and fires, and filled with smoke.
I'm going to share a story with you today
that would have been known in all of those Celtic roundhouses
that ring this place.
'Teaching people about the lives of their ancestors
'is just one way in which these roundhouses
'bring the modern-day community together.'
And within that tower,
within that tower, John...
'Now it's time for my cameo.
'Thank goodness it's not in Welsh.'
And the watchman's job was, when he saw a great tide coming in,
he grabbed hold of a huge oaken staff,
and he thrust it against a huge brass bell,
and the noise of that bell would reverberate right across the countryside.
And it would summon 20 strong men.
'The story actually lasted for half an hour, and seemed just as popular
'as the original would have been 2,500 years ago.'
What a story. Still alive after thousands of years.
Thank you, Dafydd.
'Later, I'll be exploring another Welsh legend,
'but I'll have to head for the high seas to do it'.
Over the next month, we'll be looking at one of the biggest issues
facing the countryside, the future of farming and food production.
To start the ball rolling, Tom Heap asks the simple question, what is our land for?
This is Britain's green and pleasant land.
But down there, a quiet revolution is happening
which is shaping all our lives.
Most of the UK is countryside,
and though the economic importance of farming has fallen,
rural Britain is still a key part of our national identity.
So over the next few weeks, we'll be addressing the big questions
of land use, food security, farm subsidies
and why we often waste what we could eat.
And we'll be asking what you think.
Farmers need supporting, because the consumer
will not pay the right price for farm products.
I don't think it should be used for renewable energy.
I see no point
in transporting food from abroad.
The biggest problem for this country at this stage is,
there's too many people in it for the size of it.
Countryfile has commissioned an exclusive national survey
to find out what you think about
some of the biggest issues facing the countryside.
We'll be revealing your responses over the coming weeks.
But today, I'm going to tackle the fundamental issue -
what exactly is our land for?
These days, every last acre of our small island seems to have potential.
With new pressures from rising food prices,
green energy and housing, everybody now seems to want a piece of it.
We currently farm more than two-thirds of the land in the UK.
What's left covers everything else,
from busy cities to desolate mountaintops.
But what does that all look like?
To get a bird's-eye view of what's happening on the ground,
I'm going to join the Ordnance Survey team, the people who do our maps. Fun!
From up here,
you really do get a great picture of our patchwork landscape,
the towns and cities, forestry, fields, roads, rivers.
Fascinating and beautiful.
We're flying over Lancashire, from Preston to the north of Manchester,
with Ron Cole, who's been recording changes in the landscape for 23 years.
You've been up here for a generation.
What changes have you seen in that time?
Lately, with renewable energy, wind farms
have sprouted up all over the place.
But the urban areas have expanded quite dramatically.
We're just over Blackburn. The industrial area's right next to the motorway,
and next to the industrial estate is the residential areas.
There's one or two green fields still hanging on in there.
I expect over the next 20 or 30 years, that nice green patch
that's left will get built on.
Swindon is a prime example where to the south of Swindon is the M4.
Then they've got bypasses on both sides.
And they've filled in with urban sprawl within that limit.
So what impact are these competing demands having on the countryside?
One claim is that we're sacrificing food production
in favour of creating more natural habitats for wildlife.
We're seeing increasing pressures
on farmers to actually reduce the level of intensity of land use.
'John Welbank is an expert in the development of rural areas.'
The subsidy system has,
particularly in the upland areas, driven stocking numbers down.
That was what the policy objective was, and it's been met.
Now, whether you agree with that in the present climate,
with food prices going through the roof...
should we be farming for the environment?
Should we be farming for food?
That's the real question we'll face over the next couple of years.
'And that's a big question for many of you.'
When it comes to how we should use our countryside, a lot of you had one thing at the top of the menu.
Food. In this case, beef, which once grazed right outside this building.
In our survey, nearly half of you said more of our land should be used to produce what we eat.
And with some experts predicting a 50% rise in world population
over 40 years, we'll need more food.
Lancashire farmer Malcolm Handley
has recently bought this belted Galloway herd.
It's increased his food production and helps the environment.
But with British farming overall producing less of what we eat,
can we really look after wildlife AND produce food? Malcolm thinks we can.
Do you see yourself overall as a food producer or a custodian of the land?
I see myself as both. These cattle are doing the job
for both parties. They're producing great-tasting beef,
and yet at the same time,
they're achieving everything that the environmental boys want.
-In what way?
-Well, previously it was just this
rank Purple Moor Grass, a deciduous grass that dies off in winter
and just kills everything else out.
They're grazing that off.
So when people say it's either farming or environment, do you buy that?
No, I don't. Because I think we can work the two together.
..19 young barn owl, we've fledged.
We've over 60 different species of nesting bird on the farm.
You know, we're doing an awful lot to feed that,
but at the same time producing food.
'But with a predicted global food crisis looming,
'is this kind of farming really the best use of our land?
'After all, it's not just the pressure to make space for wildlife
'that's eating up farmland.
'Later on, I'll be looking at two other areas where there's an appetite for more -
'renewable energy production and housing.'
The waters around the Llyn Peninsula
have supported fishing families for generations.
But as Helen's been finding out,
more and more people are taking to the waves these days in search of fun.
That's hardly surprising, with backdrops like this.
Porthdinllaen is a magnet for pleasure boats of all types.
On a calm day, there's nowhere more idyllic than this.
But don't be fooled - things can change in minutes.
And if you get into trouble,
then chances are it's the Royal National Lifeboat Institution that'll get you out of it.
A couple of weeks ago, three o'clock in the morning, pagers went off.
We got down there and the weather was a bit scuffy.
The boat was on her side and she was getting battered by the waves.
We actually couldn't see the crew
because they must have been down below, battened down.
You can imagine those guys there, feeling that boat being crunched on the bank.
We were getting quite concerned she'd just go straight on her side
with five people aboard.
I just wanted to get them off quickly because we knew something
was going to happen to them and time was very precious that morning.
It could have been a bad night. There could have been casualties.
It's the kind of thing Mike Davies
and the crew of the Porthdinllaen Lifeboat are seeing more of.
They're used to dealing with fishing boats but with summer upon us,
it's pleasure craft that are keeping them busy,
and they're as likely to be dealing with burns from cookers
as they are with accidents on fishing boats.
So, just how do you deal with a much wider range of injuries?
Well, it helps to get the make-up out.
Yes, make-up. And it's not just here.
Crews all over the UK are breaking out the fake blood and greasepaint
to make their training that little bit more realistic.
Porthdinllaen Lifeboat Station.
This is an exercise so Mike is going to know what's going on
but the rest of the crew won't have a clue.
The point is that it's as close to real life as possible, so what we'll see might be pretty full-on.
'I'm joining the lads as they're tasked with rescuing a burns victim.
'All that follows is exactly what would happen in real life.'
Even though this is only an exercise, it's quite tense, isn't it?
Getting to a mayday quickly is important
but knowing to know what to do when you get there is vital, too.
'This is the boat they're heading for.
'In the exercise, there's supposed to have been an explosion. Gas could still be leaking.
'The crew has split seconds to work out what to do.'
They know there's a casualty on board but they've got to
check the boat's safe before they can look for him or her.
Otherwise, they're putting themselves in danger, aren't they, and other members of the crew.
This is difficult enough. Imagine pulling up alongside a yacht
when it's wet, windy and wild whirring gale.
The guys are getting on to check the boat.
And then they're going to look for the casualty.
'First, the lads make sure there's no further risk of explosion.
'Then it's time to sort out the casualty.
'The blusher on the victim's arm and face doubles up for bad burns.
'Using this brand new ready-reckoner checklist,
'the lads can work out exactly what first aid is needed.'
-You all right, guys?
-Fine, thank you.
I'm just going to put some dressing on.
How do you feel? Are you comfortable?
He's putting a bandage on her head, given her basic first aid.
-Generally making her feel a bit better.
Her breathing's a bit shallow so we want to get her off the boat now.
'OK, so this is fiction, not fact.
'Our victim can walk away,
'but being able to give valuable first aid straight away can make all the difference.'
Why is it important, do you think, to have a real person involved in the exercise?
It's much more realistic.
And with a mannequin, it's more... you can chuck it around,
-do anything to it.
-We've got to be careful.
With a real person, you can't. You have to do things properly.
You know, it's somebody's life you're dealing with. You've got that at the back of your mind.
'The lads are all volunteers, who receive no payment for what they do.
'And what they do is save lives.
'But I've got to say, they were a dab hand at the make-up, too.'
Later on, how a bit of alfresco science can help improve the welfare of Adam's sheep.
I've never looked at sheep poo under a microscope before.
I'm excited about trying to find worm eggs.
Helen's following in the path of pilgrims on a journey to Bardsey Island.
And if you're relying on the weather in the week ahead,
we'll have the Countryfile forecast.
The sea is a constant presence on the Llyn Peninsula.
It helps create the climate and dominates the way of life here.
Although they may not look it today,
these waters can be some of the most treacherous on our coastline.
To discover more, I've arranged a date with a bit of a stunner
by the name of Vilma.
And there she is. She looks beautiful.
I can't wait to get aboard.
Conditions don't get more perfect than on a day like this.
I'm joining Scott Metcalf and his crew to get a real sense
of what it's like to sail this coast.
-Well, you don't see boats like this every day, Scott, do you?
You must be very proud of her.
Tell me a little bit about the history of this boat.
She was built in 1934 in Denmark as a fishing boat.
And what have you sort of transformed her into?
-Because she doesn't look much like a fishing boat now.
The whole form is very much like the old British sailing coasters,
so we've based her on a trading schooner and we've rigged her as such.
So she looks now much like a lot of coastal sailing boats
popping into harbours around the coast hundred or so years ago?
100, 200 years ago, yes. This sort of rig would have been very familiar on this coast.
And just how dangerous are the dangerous around here?
They are particularly bad around this part of the coast. It's a very rocky shore.
'Navigating this hazardous peninsula is no mean feat,
'especially in a boat like this.
'Scott's showing me a chart of the worst currents.'
You can see here that the tides run at up to 3.5 knots, which is...
A very strong tide?
It is a particularly strong tide there, and in Bardsey Sound,
there's even more. There's up to six knots.
-It can be a bit dodgy getting across to Bardsey?
Because that's where Helen's going later. Hope she makes it OK.
-So you've got to be really careful?
-You have, yes.
There's not many lights on this coast.
There's Bardsey Lighthouse
and then the next major light is on the north of Anglesey,
so that's a long way away, so it's virtually an unlit coast.
Well, to show you just how perilous it can be,
in the past 180 years, no less than 142 ships
have been wrecked around the peninsula
and one in particular has become something of a legend.
It came to grief...just over there.
'To learn more, I'm heading for dry land
'and I've got my own personal escorts to take me back to shore.'
It's 110 years since the Stuart,
a cargo ship a lot larger than this vessel, set sail from Liverpool,
heading for New Zealand, but it didn't get very far.
Local historian Tony Jones has studied the story.
Tony, tell me exactly what happened.
Well, it was Easter Sunday
and early hours of the morning,
and it was thick fog, and pretty calm, like today, actually.
And she got lost, did she?
She got completely lost because of the dense fog.
-So where did she come ashore?
-Just the other side of that big rock there.
She sailed right up the rocks
and came crashing onto the rocks with the thundering roar, I imagine.
And what happened to the crew? Were they injured?
They were very fortunate.
They got into a lifeboat and came ashore to the bay there.
The plan was to come back at dawn
and get back on board and sail away.
But when they did come back in the morning,
they could see straight away she'd broken her keel,
she'd more or less broken in half, so it was a lost cause.
-No way were they going to New Zealand?
What about the cargo?
Well, she carried a mixed cargo of porcelain, cotton.
-There was even six grand pianos in her.
And one of the local guys,
he injured his back trying to carry one up the path here.
-Oh, so people helped themselves?
-But the star prize was the whisky.
-Whisky? Whisky galore?
There was what they called at the time,
there was a large consignment of whisky in her,
and being a Sunday, no-one was in a hurry to
let the Customs know about the wreck.
And by the time Mr Mason Cumberland, the Chief Customs Officer,
arrived from Caernarfon, there was literally hundreds of people here.
Some said they were like a swarm of locusts, all over the wreck.
And lots of the stuff had gone.
-Well, all the good stuff anyway.
-And did they have to hide it?
Yes, they used to hide them in rabbit holes,
but they used to get so drunk, they couldn't remember where they were.
They were still finding the odd bottle here only 30 years ago.
-Down a rabbit hole?
-Down rabbit holes, yes.
They carried on even underneath Customs' eyes.
One way of getting the whisky up the path
was women used to have bottles of whisky in their bloomers.
And there's one account of the Customs man stopping one woman
and she had her hands in her pockets.
He said, "Put your hands up," to frisk her.
As soon as she went like that,
her bloomers fell down with bottles of whisky.
-And was anybody ever arrested for all of this?
Well, there's no account of anybody at all being arrested,
which I find that quite strange, but I think who could they arrest?
They'd have had to arrest the whole peninsula.
And interrupt a great party!
The party went on for months, apparently.
They said it was the best Easter egg this village ever had. Yes.
Now all that's left, apart from the folklore,
are a few battered remains of the wreck.
A warning to modern-day sailors to respect this stretch of coast.
Later, Helen will be braving these waters
as she heads for the island of Bardsey.
But, first, here's Tom again.
I've been talking to people about one of the biggest issues
facing the future of our countryside.
What our land is for.
It's a question we put to you as part of the Countryfile survey.
We asked 1,000 people
what they thought more of our farmland should be used for.
11% thought housing,
14% favoured wildlife habitats,
and a quarter of you wanted more used for renewable energy.
But, as we said earlier, by far the biggest response was food.
In fact, our survey showed that a greater proportion of you
would like to see more farmland used for growing food than any other purpose.
But don't be fooled by what you see here.
None of this grass is going to see the inside of a cow,
or any other animal for that matter.
Instead, it'll make renewable energy.
It's one way of meeting the UK's goal for sustainable fuels.
Our target is that by 2020,
15% of our energy should come from renewable sources.
And we're not even halfway there.
But increasingly, we're using land to produce it.
Once a semi run-down maize farm, this site in Lancashire
has been converted into a fully-fledged energy plant.
This is grass silage that was done last year,
and this was the maize that was harvested last October.
It's now been in storage for six, eight months,
and it's still in excellent condition.
You can see all the little ears of corn there, just like corn on the cob, but this isn't for eating?
No, this is for feeding into an anaerobic digester,
which is going to produce energy.
This will eat 50 tonnes a day of fresh material.
We are breaking down the material to produce methane
and we're taking that methane and burning it in an engine
to make electricity and make energy.
That's enough energy
to continually supply about 1,000 homes in the UK.
But you have fields here that will be for fuel rather than for food.
Do you think that's a good use of our land?
There is thousands of acres all throughout the UK,
for different reasons, that are totally under-utilised.
Are we not short of land? Is land is not scarce?
Land is not scarce. Let's take the Northwest.
The Northwest has a lot of small farms
and a lot of them are dairy farms.
They all have 50 or 100 acres that they don't do anything with.
All we're asking them to do
is supply us with grass silage from that under-utilised land,
we produce energy and he gets an increase in income.
It's actually going to make, over the next 10 years,
a lot better utilisation of the available land in the UK
that currently isn't being developed as well as it should be.
Ed's plan has the potential
to make farming and fuel production mutually beneficial,
but it doesn't solve our land problem.
Other than food and energy here, there are lots of other modern pressures on our countryside,
like leisure, transport, water management
and, of course, the need for more housing.
New national planning proposals
could mean more building on farmland.
And here in the in the picturesque Ribble Valley in rural Lancashire
the demand for housing has already led to development on greenfield sites.
The particular issue we're faced with
is the demand for affordable housing.
The waiting list is well over 1,000
and it will take from two to eight years
for people to find suitable accommodation.
'But meeting demand for new housing
'doesn't always mean using up the countryside.'
This was an old petrol station,
so you didn't gobble up any greenfield land for this.
But how much farmland are you using for building?
We try to use none.
There has been, in the past of course,
development on what we call greenfield site.
But as far as the council's present policy is concerned,
we don't wish to do that.
There is land available that is suitable for development
and, of course, it uses land
which is otherwise unattractive and unused.
'There are many others who feel
'that if we put the right things in the right place
'then there really is enough land to go around.'
We've got hedges, we've got trees
and a permanent pasture here,
which is really important for carbon storage in the future.
The National Trust has developed a system
that allows land to do a bit of everything.
This farmland near Kendal produces food,
as well as maintaining the environment
and allowing public access.
Isn't that mixture a luxury of the past?
In the future we'll have to be much more defined -
best productivity here, environment there?
I think quite the contrary.
The most important thing I think we need to recognise is
that if we want to produce food, energy, fuel or whatever in the long term,
we have to make sure that the land continues to produce.
Looking after the soils, the water and the biodiversity.
All these are important as a whole. We can't have environment in some places and production in others.
They're two sides of the same coin.
So, in 2050, with a world of nine billion people,
how different will the British landscape be?
I would hope it wouldn't be dramatically different,
because that's the only way that we're going to keep that mix of the natural resources we need
to carry on producing the food that will be needed.
It all sounds ideal.
But does such emphasis on the environment
mean cutting food production,
resulting in less home-grown food on British dinner plates?
That's something we'll be looking at next week
when John investigates another big farming issue, food security.
And if you want to find out more about the way we use our land,
tune in to Farming Today
on Radio 4 every morning next week at quarter to six.
The Llyn Peninsula is a beautiful place,
a patchwork of fields and hills,
of sandy beaches and hidden coves.
It's also a place of deep religious significance.
Christian pilgrims have been walking the cliffs and coastline here
for over 1,000 years.
And they're all headed for Bardsey Island.
A small place with huge significance for worshippers down the millennia.
It's said that three trips to Bardsey
is equal to one pilgrimage to Rome
and thousands have walked this very path to get there.
And along their way, they'll come to ancient churches
like this one, St Beuno's at Pistyll,
on the peninsula's north coast.
This church is absolutely vital.
It was one of the major stopping places.
Up on the fields around us, there was the hospice field.
Many of the people who came on the pilgrimage were very ill
and they was they were brought along by relatives, hoping that they'd either have a cure,
or that they could be buried on Bardsey.
Bardsey today is more than just a place of pilgrimage,
it's a working island with a small community of farmers and fishermen.
Later, I'm hoping to make that crossing to taste a bit of island life.
Also, details on how you can enter this year's Countryfile photographic competition.
The closing date is nearly upon us,
so if you're hoping to get out snapping in the week ahead,
the Countryfile weather forecast might just help.
Now, Adam's got over 2,000 animals on his farm.
Today, he's looking at more scientific ways to help him improve the welfare of his livestock.
Midsummer, all those freezing cold winter days are long gone
and there's no better place to be
than outside with my animals on a day like this.
The first job, though, is far from glamorous.
One of the most difficult things about keeping livestock are parasites.
They can cost a lot of money to treat too.
So if you can identify how many,
and what sort of stomach worms the animals have got,
you can treat them accordingly.
To help me do this, Eirian Thomas is going to show me
how to study something I have in abundance on the farm...
This is usually a job for my vets,
but they're encouragingly me and other farmers
to learn how to do it for ourselves.
How do you best collect the dung.
Do you have to get behind the lamb that's doing droppings?
Ideally, you pick some that are fresh.
Something on the floor that's obviously from a lamb... Keep your eyes down.
We've got one here. That's nice and fresh, still glistening in the sun.
A good test is if it's warm in your hand you know it's nice and fresh.
-I'll give you some gloves and a scoop.
I just press it against my boot to get a good level scoopful. That's it!
-I just scoop it into my fist and we go and look for the next one.
Let's see if we can see a lamb... Ah, there's one with its tail up.
-It looks like he's about to go.
-He is! Sometimes they tease you as well. That's it, beautiful!
'All this muck we're picking up could be full of parasites
'which could really harm my flock.'
They wreck the gut lining of the sheep.
As well as that, they make lambs feel sick.
It is just like us when we feel sick -
we feel sick, we don't eat, we lose our appetite.
So, if these lambs are losing their appetite, not eating,
they're not growing and they're not going to make you any money.
That's why it's really important.
-OK, there's one here.
-We've probably got enough now, haven't we?
We probably have. We've got a good 10% there.
It should give us a good indication of what's happening.
Back in the yard, it's time for a bit of science.
I'm not a techie guy and this all looks a bit complicated.
-This is something my vet usually does.
So, I've got the poo. What next?
-The first thing we do is weigh the sample.
And now we add water, depending on what the weight is.
Next, we crush and mix that.
This is the enjoyable part of the test,
where you hope you have a nice, strong sandwich bag!
I wouldn't use it for your sandwiches afterwards!
-Looking pretty good!
So that will give you a random mix of worms
-from the guts of the lambs that we sampled?
So we add this to the cylinder...
and then I bring the pipette to the corner.
I just gently fill it.
I've never looked at sheep poo under a microscope before
-and I don't think I've ever been so excited about finding worm eggs!
Farmers do get excited when they see one,
but then realise it's not a good sign.
-We actually don't want them, do we?
-You don't want them, no.
-Go on then!
Right, we've got one. We've actually got something quite good.
I'll change to the high power to show you.
We've got two kinds of eggs together. A tapeworm egg and a strongyle egg.
They're right next to each other at the end of the pointer.
If you looked down there, you can see this nice oval strongyle egg.
-Oh, yeah, yeah.
And below it is a different kind of egg,
-there's a bit more of a corner to it.
-Those are tapeworm.
We don't actually count tapeworm, and contrary to farmers' belief,
tapeworm don't do that much damage to sheep.
'Although there are harmful eggs, there aren't enough to cause concern.'
I would avoid at this point blanket-treating everything,
like most farmers would have done historically.
And maybe in 10 days or two weeks' time, take another test and see.
Before we started getting the vets to do this for us,
every four weeks, I used to blanket-treat the lambs with a wormer,
which was a waste of money, put chemicals into sheep that didn't need it,
and actually doing no good at all.
These lambs haven't been wormed since they were born, first week of April.
-We're saving quite a lot of money.
-A lot of money.
-Excellent. Now I'm an expert on sheep poo and worms.
-I need to get myself a little kit.
-Absolutely, and join the club!
It's an exciting club to be in.
I'll test again in a couple of weeks
to decide if I do need to worm my flock.
I've been farming all my life
and science is playing a bigger and bigger part in it.
If it can help keep my animals healthier,
that's got to be a good thing.
'Something that's been taking up a lot of my time is the health of one of my lambs.
'She got separated from her mother due to blindness a few weeks back.
'I wasn't holding out much hope for her,
'but with a bit of TLC from me and my boy Alfie,
'she's now a strong little thing.'
-They're great, aren't they? So what have you called this lamb?
When I first brought this little lamb in,
I thought it was going to die.
So you've done very well, with your bottle feeding, to keep it alive.
Lovely as they are,
they say that 10% of your flock causes 90% of your hassle.
And this one has certainly caused me a lot of hassle.
Oh, Honey's finished!
'Even my healthy sheep require a lot of care and attention.
'But just down the road from me,
'a farmer has a flock of the ultimate in low-maintenance sheep.
'I'm popping over to take a closer look.'
Mark Steele has been rearing the Easy Care breed for six years.
-Hi, how are you doing?
-All right. Great to see you.
-Good to see you.
-Don't let us stop you working.
We are just sorting out the lambs,
weaning them off the ewes for the first time.
-It's an important day for us.
-I'll give you a hand,
-and then have a chat with you about them.
-Brilliant, lovely! Thanks very much.
The unique selling point of these Easy Care sheep
is that they shed their fleece, which means one thing - no shearing.
This is how the wool just falls off, you see, Adam. Look at this.
-It's just going to come off.
-Just naturally moulting?
Just moults off. You get left with this tight little fleece,
like this one here, it looks like God's shorn it, really. Beautiful.
So they do grow a fleece in the winter, then?
Yeah, in the wintertime they have a fleece to keep themselves warm.
It's not a lot of fleece, and then this drops off in the field.
It doesn't bother you that the sheep are looking moth-eaten?
No, it's natural.
I look moth-eaten most mornings, nobody kicks me out!
For a man like me with Cotswold sheep, famous for their wool,
it seems such a waste to have animals not growing wool to use for clothing.
Yes, but we're in an economic situation where it costs more to get the wool off the sheep
than the wool's worth.
And, of course, we've also got all the health issues
associated with wool,
with the dirtiness and the maggots.
We just don't have that as a problem.
It's a bit of a win-win situation.
It sounds like a dream! I'll send you some more.
It still feels like a dream. THEY LAUGH
'While the newly-weaned lambs experience their first taste of independence,
'we're off to the fields to round up the next part of the flock.'
They like a good jump!
It's not just the fact that the sheep aren't shorn
that makes them easy-care.
90% of the time, they're left to their own devices.
Mark's ethos is just to let them get on with it.
So what was it like then, for you,
changing from very conventional sheep farming, to this?
To be honest, we were very concerned.
Very concerned to start with.
We'd done all the indoor lambing, like you'd do,
we had three people, 24-hours a day, looking after them,
and we thought, "No, we're going to have terrible trouble.
"We'll be catching sheep everywhere."
But it's been amazing, the weather has probably helped this year.
But we've helped five.
Out of nearly 2,000 sheep.
-And your labour bill must have dropped out the window.
Zero labour. In fact, Mrs Steel has booked a holiday for next year's lambing!
She says we're going away!
Which is fantastic news.
Come on, sheep. Hey!
It's great what I've seen today with Easy Care sheep.
But it's amazing. It almost seems like turning back the clock
to the animals that can moult again, to our ancient, primitive breeds.
I suppose, being a Cotswold boy, I'm a bit of a purist
and I love sheep with lots of wool.
Next week, I'll be weaning some of my own lambs
and putting them out onto their summer pasture.
Landscape is just one of the classes in our photographic competition
and you've got less than two weeks to enter.
The theme this year is Best In Show,
and here's just a taster
of some of the pictures that we've received so far.
The very best will appear in the Countryfile calendar for 2012,
which is sold in aid of Children In Need.
We're absolutely delighted with the response so far,
and if you still want to enter, well, you'd better move quickly.
Let me remind you of the rules and how to enter.
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 is a week on Friday, the 12th of August.
And sorry, but we can't return any entries.
In a few moments, Helen will be following in the footsteps of pilgrims throughout the ages,
when she heads to Bardsey, known as The Island Of 20,000 Saints.
Bit first, here's the Countryfile weather forecast for the week ahead.
Today we're on the Llyn Peninsula,
one of Wales' most beautiful and unspoiled regions.
Helen's following in the footsteps of pilgrims
along this 30-mile peninsula, making the journey to a special island.
Bardsey island lies a couple of miles from the tip of the peninsula.
It only takes about 20 minutes to make the crossing,
but getting there isn't all plain sailing.
They say that three trips to Bardsey equals one trip to Rome.
But the waters around here can be pretty choppy
so many pilgrims find their journeys cut short.
Fingers crossed it's going to be all right today.
I'm catching a lift on the boat that supplies the island.
There's plenty of day-trippers making the crossing too,
and what a day for it!
What types of people come to Bardsey?
It tends to be people who are interested in wildlife,
or have an interest in agriculture or conservation,
or the heritage of the island.
We still get quite a lot of people coming over on pilgrimage,
a kind of modern-day pilgrimage, because of course,
it has been a site of pilgrimage for many years.
So how often do you have to say, "Can't go today"?
I'd say about 35% of the time in the summer
and about 80% of the time in the winter.
-So do people often get stuck over there?
'Not a bad place to get stuck, though.
'Bardsey is a tranquil, unspoiled island,
'but it is still a working island.
'Only ten people live here and when the boat comes in,
'they're all down to greet it.'
-Hello! Oh, hello, nice to meet you.
'Emyr Roberts is the island warden.
'He's the guy that keeps the holiday cottages supplied.
'If you need it, Emyr's got it.'
It's all basic good stuff, like fruit and veg and stuff like that.
Do you not order goodies? Sweets and chocolates?
Not too much, they are... You know, they're treats.
What do you do in the winter for food, then?
Well, I've got a pretty good store of it up there.
I bottle it and freeze it and whatever you can do to preserve it.
It can be quite an interesting diet!
-One last thing.
-We can't forget the vinegar.
-That's very important.
'And we'll find out why in a minute.'
-OK, so this is your store?
-This is the store.
I thought this would be full of canned foods,
but it's more supplies.
I mean...you must have 300 sponge scourers in here!
I guess you do need a poker, don't you! Bed sheets, bin...
Teapot... Yeah, I can imagine if you smash your teapot, you're in trouble.
These are very useful things.
I'm not even going to ask! I'm not even going to ask!
Emyr, your garden is phenomenal.
Well, it's coming now, it's coming.
Is this because you like growing veg
or because you need to grow all this veg?
A bit of both, really. It'll all get eaten.
And it's not easy to get veg here in the winter.
I can't imagine you'd ever need to go to a shop again.
Oh, my word, look at all the pickling!
Pickled carrots, pickled beetroot!
Are these pickled raspberries?!
Yeah, yeah. They're lovely.
'So this is where all the vinegar goes!'
Wow, that's a lot of pickled items.
Pickled beans, pickled cherries...!
It's a pickling factory!
Self-sufficiency has been the name for the game here
for islanders down the years.
"There's a green track, lined with meadowsweet, stone houses,
"ramparts to the weather, small fields that run all one way.
"West, to the sea.
"Inviting feet to make new paths to their own discovered places."
'Those words were written by Christine Evans,
'Colin the boatman's mum and celebrated poet.'
'The island has been inspirational to her
'since she set up home here in the 1970s.'
How does this landscape, then, affect your poems?
I think it started me writing,
because of the sense of inclusiveness,
a sense of everything in balance
and the way in which your senses are made more alert,
Because you spend so much time out of doors.
And this is still a place of pilgrimage, isn't it?
Yes. For 1,000 years, we had the monastery and we had monks.
There was a tradition that if you were buried here,
or you died on your way here, your soul wouldn't go to hell.
It's said that 20,000 saints are buried on Bardsey,
it's certainly true that a good many pilgrims
lay at rest in the ruins of the abbey.
But Bardsey's story is not just about the past.
New arrivals are looking to the future.
The Porter family came here from England four years ago,
to live a different life.
Ben and Rachel are taught from home, which means lessons happen outside.
Pretty good, eh?
They're all kept busy running the island farm.
There are 400 sheep, 25 Welsh Black cattle
and a couple of goats for milk.
Dad Steve is on his own today, and being a farmer's daughter,
I've been roped in to lend a hand and let off a little steam.
'We're moving them onto rare maritime pasture.
'It's found in few places and it provides vital habitat for the island's sea bird populations.
'The cattle really do their bit to keep it in tip-top condition.'
Part of them being on here
is so that their hooves can create a bit of open soil,
so the heath can spread into new areas.
So that's one of the reasons the cows are useful.
That, and the fact that when they're grazing, they are quite rough,
and again, by pulling out some of the heath,
they actually create areas for new habitat to develop in.
How do you rate life here?
The combination of the environment that we live in,
the great challenges of farming on a nature reserve
and the wildlife that comes through here,
the migrating birds. It's a tremendous place to live.
-Is there anything you'd swap it for?
My time on Bardsey is nearly up, but I reckon one day I'll be back,
making another pilgrimage to this very special place.
So, safely back home from over there.
Yeah, it was smooth waters there and back
-and I hope you like your raspberries pickled, I've brought you a present.
I met a chap who pickles pretty much anything that's not moving
and I'm not sure it's always out of necessity.
Well, I'm sure I'm going to enjoy those.
That's all from Countryfile today
from the Llyn Peninsula in North Wales.
Next week we'll be in Worcestershire,
where we'll be tracing the rural roots
of a sport that you don't normally associate with the countryside.
-Rural sports? I want to get involved.
All will be revealed.
-Until then, goodbye.
Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd
E-mail [email protected]
The team is in North Wales, exploring the rugged mountains and coastline of the Llyn Peninsula.
John Craven digs for evidence of the area's original inhabitants before finding out about the night when the sea delivered a whisky bonanza for the locals. Meanwhile, Helen Skelton braves the tides around Llyn to visit a legendary island with more 20,000 saints. Plus Adam Henson finds out just how easy it really is to look after 'easycare' sheep. And Tom Heap asks the simple question: what is our farmland for?