The team are in Aberdeenshire, where Helen visits the only village on mainland Britain where cars can't go. Plus a turkey farm where the guard dogs are alpacas.
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From its snow-capped heights to its wild and beautiful coastline,
there's real majesty in the landscape of Aberdeenshire.
I'll be discovering its rugged north coast,
where villages, like Crovie here, cling to the cliffs.
I'll also be getting up-close to some of the coast's
wonderful marine life.
I know a lot of your fish have got names.
-Do they have characters?
-They do get personalities.
For example, there's Jemima in there, the halibut,
and she's definitely a meanie.
Joe's inland on the lookout for a very rare creature.
There's just a handful of Scottish wildcats left
and this is one of their last outposts.
I'm joining the conservation team doing all they can to save them.
Tom's looking at the decline in council-owned farms,
which is leaving some farmers facing eviction.
You're here with your partner and you've been here quite a while.
How does that make you feel?
Well, devastated, really. If we have to have a sale,
that'll be the end of it.
And Adam catches up with One Man And His Dog winner Dick Roper
for some handling tips.
Dogs don't understand the words that you say.
They only understand the tone and the shape of the word,
so it's like music to them.
The northern coast of Aberdeenshire is closer to Bergen in Norway
than to Birmingham.
Dotted along this rugged coastline, shrugging their shoulders
at the Moray Firth, are a string of fishing villages.
Exposed to the worst excesses of the North Sea,
you need to be made of tough stuff to survive here.
I'm starting my journey in Crovie, 40 miles north of Aberdeen.
Clinging precariously to the cliffs, Crovie is a single strip
of houses mere footsteps from the sea.
For nearly 1,000 years, local fishermen and women
eked out a living on this narrow strip of shore.
In summer, it attracts holiday-makers, who are looking for
the road less travelled.
But at this time of year, it's pretty much a ghost town.
Or is it?
A light in the window tells me at least one house is occupied.
-Oh, how are you?
-You must be Billy!
-Good to see you.
Come on then, show me Crovie.
-What a view.
'Billy Wiseman is the last Crovie-born resident
'to live here all year round.
'His charming accent is pure Aberdeenshire.'
So what was it like growing up here?
Great. Who could wish for a better playground on your doorstep?
You can't argue with that.
And now you've got grandchildren, what do they make of this?
-Grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
What do they make of it?
For families like yours, who were born and brought up here,
they've all gone, bar you.
Why did they go?
Boats were becoming bigger and you couldn't have them
in your local ports.
You had to go to bigger ports, like...
Fraserburgh, Peterhead, Aberdeen.
What kept you here?
Where else would you want to go?
'And there's one thing any visitor to Crovie has to do.
'"Visit the North Pole."'
-So what's going on here?
-Well, that's the North Pole.
Like the old Edinburgh lads would say,
"Unless you can go round the North Pole,
"it's no good saying you've been round Crovie."
Unless you can go around the North Pole,
-you haven't been in Crovie?
It's nae good till you've been in...
Well, I've been to the South Pole,
but I can safely say this is a lot more rustic.
-But nonetheless, very endearing.
-Oh, you're getting accustomed
to Buchan tongue.
-I don't know if I am, but I'm trying.
-Well, I mean to say,
Buchan tongue, that covers the whole of Aberdeenshire.
OK. So I'll be able to understand everyone in Aberdeenshire?
You should do.
Hey, people don't often understand me in Cumbria,
and that's my tongue.
So, sometimes ignorance is bliss, isn't it?
Crovie is just one of a string of fishing villages
along this coast line.
In the next cove lies the village of Gardenstown.
Eleanor Hepburn of the local heritage centre
has a close personal interest of the lives of women here,
and the harsh realities of their role in the fishing industry.
-Eleanor, sorry to interrupt. Good to see you.
-Good to see you.
What a treasure trove.
Take me back to your parents' day, what did they do here?
My father was a fisherman. And my mother was one of the gutting girls.
This is them here. That's my mum at the end there.
-So this is your mum here?
They were employed to gut the herring which the boats landed.
And they worked in crews of three.
Two girls gutted and one packed.
Some of these girls were so quick, they were gutting the herring
-at 50 to 60 a minute.
It was a difficult job to do, but I think most of them enjoyed doing it.
-It looks like it, they're all smiling, aren't they?
Yes, it was a way of life, really, with them.
There was no rubber gloves or anything in that day,
so they wrapped up their fingers with these sort of bandages.
Every finger was wrapped up.
Herring stocks were later to collapse, ending a way of life
for many. But that wasn't the only calamity to befall this community.
The famous storm surge of 1953 hit this coast hard.
The storm didn't change Gardenstown much, but it changed Crovie.
Because Crovie was absolutely devastated after the storm.
A lot of the houses were actually never liveable in,
so the people moved out of Crovie then.
But some stayed,
determined to preserve their village and their way of life.
And what is it, do you think, about this part of the world that
keeps people like your family living here, working here?
Probably the beauty of the place and,
I suppose, just a root, really.
Crovie and its neighbours have survived, thanks to the grit of the
people and a sense of belonging that has endured against all the odds.
For years, council-owned farms have been seen as an option for
farmers who can't afford to buy their own land.
But across the country, more and more are being sold off, leaving
some facing the prospect of losing their livelihood and their home.
From remote, small farms to huge estates,
our rural economy has been built on farms of all sizes.
Some farmers inherit, others can afford to buy land,
but many rent. And one of the main routes into the competitive world of
farming in the last century has been to rent from your local council.
County farms, as they're known, took off after the First World War.
Concerns over food security and a need for jobs for returning soldiers
led to the creation of thousands of tenant farms by the government.
But back in 2012, I reported on the fact they were being sold off,
with around 1,000 disappearing in the previous decade.
Well, now they seem to be going faster than ever,
leading to fears this vital route into farming could be lost for ever.
Steve Clayton is a tenant farmer of beef and sheep here in
Herefordshire. But maybe not for much longer.
Come on, then!
-Have I scared them all away?
-Oh, you have, Tom. Come on.
I love all the noises you're making on the bike.
-Who needs a sheepdog when you can yelp like you?
You're having a slightly rough year, tell me about what's happening.
Well, we've been here now for nearly 13 years, and 13th of December
last year, the council decided they were going to sell the county
council small holdings.
They're sort of saying that the farms are not viable for them,
it needs a lot of investment put into it to bring them up to
date with buildings and houses.
14 other tenant farmers in Herefordshire have also been
It's a period of uncertainty that could soon see them lose everything.
You're here with your partner and you've been here quite
a while, you say. How does that make you feel?
Well, devastated, really, because it's the only thing I know.
I'm nearly 55. More or less too late to start again.
All the stock we've got here, apart from the bull and the rams,
are all homebred. If we have to have a sale, that'll be the end of it.
You say you'll be out of farming,
but why couldn't you just go and rent somewhere else?
There aren't any farms coming up, Tom,
there's just not enough farms out there.
Steve believes the best solution would have been to invest
rather than sell.
Once these farms are sold, they're gone, that's the end of it.
Once the money has gone, there's no more.
The farmers argued in vain that the council had misled them in
the sale of their farms, but in October, the
Local Government Ombudsman ruled in the council's favour.
What's that sale day going to be like?
Very upsetting, really.
To see something we've worked for for 20-odd years just gone in a day.
It will be very, very, very upsetting.
Will you be able to be here for it?
Well, I'll have to be here for it because I'll have to see it
through to the end, you know? But it won't be a very good day at all.
We asked Herefordshire Council for an interview but they declined,
though they did give us a statement.
It's not just here in Herefordshire that council farms are being
In Wales, hundreds of acres of farmland have gone in the
past few years.
Scotland sold theirs long ago, and Northern Ireland has never had any.
But in England, in the last financial year,
the number of county farms dropped by an average of three a week.
Councils, however, are facing their own problems.
Between 2010 and 2015, their funding from central government was
cut by an average of 40%.
Hardly surprising, then, that when the price of agricultural land is
rising faster than the FTSE 100, the central London housing market
and, until recently, even gold, county farms are seen as a cash cow.
This is the seven... 775,000.
Well, I hope it's well-drained pasture if it's like this most days.
'Clive Hopkins is head of farms and estates at Knight Frank,
'whose agricultural research team track the value of farmland.'
Why do you think it is going up so much?
It's a rare decrease in commodity.
And I think to own land in this country is greatly sought after.
Does that explain why councils are attracted to the idea of
selling this land off? They can make a lot of money.
Councils have huge pressures on them to find money from various
resources. And to have a land-holding
is certainly one of those sources which they can turn to.
And what forecast have you got for the next ten years on land values?
Well, we're in uncertain times, with Brexit and everything
else that's going on in the world, so it's difficult to predict, but
land prices, I think, have weathered the last recession extremely well.
And it's a very robust market.
With land commanding such great prices,
it's easy to see the attraction for councils in selling it off.
But is holding on to land really as unprofitable as many of them
seem to think?
That's what I'll be finding out later.
These are the uplands of Aberdeenshire.
A vista of snow crested peaks, dense forests,
crystalline burns and silent glens.
It's also one of the last haunts of an animal that's amongst our
rarest and most endangered.
The Scottish wildcat, a true creature of this wilderness.
The Scottish wildcat is our only native wildcat.
It's bigger and more muscular by far than the domestic type.
It's a fierce predator, stealthy and silent,
able to survive in the harshest conditions.
No-one knows for sure,
but some experts believe there could be as few as 50 true wildcats
left in Scotland,
and the biggest threat to their existence -
well, it's not what you'd think.
'Dr Roo Campbell is a scientist who's been on the trail of
'the Scottish wildcat for the last six years.'
Roo, what is the problem?
Why is the Scottish wildcat so endangered?
Well, the chief problem now is that the wildcats that we have here
are interbreeding with the feral cats.
As it continues, the wildcats that we have in this environment
-become less and less wildcat.
How do you define a wildcat?
Well, I think you define a wildcat, I think, based on
two fundamental things, and that's how it looks and how it behaves.
So, if it looks like a wildcat and it behaves like a wildcat,
that's really important,
and a lot of that's dictated by the genetics.
You can look at the coat patterns, the tail shape, erm,
and we can understand from that,
we can make an educated guess at how much of a wildcat this cat is.
But time is running out -
it's thought they could be extinct in less than five years,
so each new sighting gives
-Roo and his team hope...
..and here at the edge of Clashindarroch Forest,
they've seen a prize specimen.
In this area, we have a male that we hope...
we suspect is a male wildcat.
Erm, and it's been seen on five cameras, so that's covering
something like just under 20 square kilometres of ground, actually.
-The same cat?
-The same individual cat, caught on separate cameras.
Does this wildcat have a name?
-Yes, the wildcat's named Jake.
Jake the wildcat.
So, Jake is out there somewhere,
and he's been seen around a local barn.
Philippa Murphy of Forestry Commission Scotland is keen to
make it comfy for him.
So, lots of straw - what's the plan?
The plan is we're going to take some of these bales into the shed
down here to make it slightly more appealing for cats.
-Right, let's get started, shall we?
It's a bit of a squeeze coming through the door.
Yeah, it is, isn't it?
Oh, what a great barn.
-And we're going in this little cabin, this room.
-We are, yes.
This little cabin here - hotel room number one(!)
-It's not ensuite, is it, no?
'Hidden cameras have spotted other wildcats here too, and these bales
'should provide everything they could wish for on a cold night.'
We want to try and pile them up, so that there's lots of little nooks
and crannies in the straw to encourage, hopefully,
the cats to burrow in and create a den amongst them.
If we can get them here, and we can get cameras out, we'll hopefully
have a good chance of getting some really good footage of cats.
Are you happy with that? Is that random enough, as it should be?
Yes, I think so. It's looking good.
And I hope they appreciate the effort you've gone to.
Yes, here's hoping, and hopefully we'll get some good footage as well.
'There's an army of volunteers out here rigging camera traps,
'hoping to see Jake and his mates,
'and Annie Sturgeon, Marion Malcolm and Maria Dawson have struck gold.'
So, Jake has been here. Jake was here, as they say.
-Yeah, Jake was here.
-Absolutely, yes. Exactly here.
And how elusive has Jake been?
-Oh, well, all last winter, we saw him a lot...
..which was great, but we haven't seen him yet.
-It could be the one.
-It could be the one.
-It could be.
-He might be there.
-I like how he's keeping you guessing, though.
-He is, yes.
'But there's been an even more stunning sighting -
'a kitten, perhaps purebred, maybe even Jake's offspring.
'Fingers crossed this could be a great sign.
'And later I'll be seeing what else is being done to help save
'the Scottish wildcat.'
-There are the snow-capped Cairngorms to the west,
rugged coastline to the north and east,
but, at its heart, Aberdeenshire is farming country.
Livestock and cereal crops form the bulk of the agriculture here.
So, at this time of year, as we head toward Christmas,
with the harvest long past,
you'd expect Aberdeenshire's farmers to be putting their feet up,
but not here. Oh, no.
'Not when you've got 1,200 turkeys to tend to.
'Craig Michie rears Bronze turkeys,
'famous for their iridescent plumage and great flavour.'
I originally worked as a town planner in an office -
that's what I studied.
I met my wife over in Colombia on a career break,
and then thought one day, "I want to be a turkey farmer,"
and came back to Scotland with her.
So, is it just December that you build up to?
Well, actually, we do some turkeys for Thanksgiving,
cos there's a lot of Americans up here through the oil industry,
and, you know, they share my passion for turkey too,
so it's great going to the markets there and chatting to Americans.
They're really enthusiastic about this too.
'Craig keeps his birds for eight months,
'hand-rearing them for the first few weeks.'
They come in a day old at the end of May, so I believe that's
the earliest-hatched birds in the country, and then it's the
journey towards December, which is a very exciting time.
It must cost you a fortune, though, rearing them for so long,
-with all of the food.
-Yeah, I almost forget the economics of it.
It's just the love, you know? But, yeah, yeah, you are right.
I mean, this is inefficient weight gain, but I believe
the slower you grow that bird, the better it tastes on Christmas Day.
They'll be gobbling mad for this,
and this is their little treats as well, the apples.
-They know that sound, do they?
-Yeah, they do.
We can chuck a few out. Yeah.
This is the sort of stuff they would have in the wild, isn't it?
Yeah, it is.
It also attracts the insects in, these apples,
and that gives them that real varied protein source,
which I believe enhances the flavour,
and it gives you that little, like, distinct nuances in flavour as well.
Craig's daughter Vima is one of the turkeys' biggest fans.
She likes to help out around the farm.
Maybe put out some feed.
Vima's a big help on the farm.
-Big help with the feed.
-WOMAN SPEAKS SPANISH
-What's a pavito?
-It's a turkey.
En ingles or en espanol?
It was from his Colombian wife Marie that Craig got the idea for
using alpacas as guard animals.
These two are called Valderrama and Higuita,
after Latin American football players.
Back in South America,
farmers use them all the time to keep an eye on their livestock.
Basically, the alpaca in the wild will protect their young,
and they'll protect the turkeys.
You know, they'll see the turkeys as their young.
My uncle is a poultry farmer.
He actually has lots of chickens, so he was the one that got us the idea.
About a few months ago,
when we were harvesting that field of spring barley,
I was driving down in the tractor and I could see a big commotion.
Alpacas were running down the field, and they were chasing a fox.
I could just see this tail, and it was just incredible.
So, if you hadn't met Maria,
you wouldn't know anything about the alpacas?
I guess I wouldn't. It's one of the great...
One of the many things you wouldn't know.
-One of the many things.
-Many, many things.
I had a lot to learn and, you know, I'm just slowly learning.
-My wife's always teaching me new things.
Christmas is just around the corner,
so it's time for Craig to take his turkeys to
one of his key customers -
Formartine's, a nearby farm shop and restaurant.
What weight are these, then?
Oh, these will be oven-ready.
They'll be around 5, 6kg.
Let's hit the road.
'The turkeys are a big hit with the visitors to the farm shop,
'owned by John Cooper.'
I think they're ready for the woodland out here. They're...
-On you go. Pass it over.
-Shall we show them their new home?
The turkey paradise.
Another exciting part of the story.
Ah, these are their friends.
Just pop them in, yeah?
It's nice for our customers to engage with the food we sell,
and so we find it's more of an educational process for them to
find out about Craig and the way that he rears the birds,
and, you know, they're a really prime local product -
one of the great examples of food from Aberdeenshire.
Well, come on in and eat some turkey.
Now you're talking. That sounds good.
'John and his chef Matt are about to cook up
'a Bronze turkey feast for me.'
Throughout December, we tend to run a, sort of, Christmas twist,
-and rather than just your average roasted turkey...
..the turkey galantine just combines Christmas dinner
and a simple lunch dish.
'The galantine is made by rolling turkey breast
'and stuffing in Serrano ham.'
-Are you happy, boss?
-Turkey galantine - very good job, sir.
'Served with all the trimmings, including cranberry caviar.'
Here we go.
That is fantastic.
What a tasty end to a really good day,
and what I like about this turkey is I know where it's come from.
It's slow-grown, it's had a good life and it's been fed on the
best of Aberdeenshire's crops -
too good to wait for Christmas.
MOOING Earlier, we heard how councils are
selling off county farms for much-needed cash.
But is there a way to protect their future?
MOOING Here's Tom.
There are more than 3,000 council farms in England and Wales,
and they seem to be fast disappearing from our landscape,
but in some parts of the country, the story is quite different.
So, what's the plan right now?
-So, these cows are all around three weeks old...
..so we're just going to give them their milk for this afternoon.
'Michael and Laura Trayte are tenant dairy farmers in Staffordshire,
'and have been on this 80-acre council-owned farm
'for just over a year.'
So, you were working on farms before,
-but now, together, you actually run the place?
We've worked our way up and now we've finally got our own farm,
which was always the...always the dream.
Could you have done this if there wasn't the stock of council farms?
I don't think we'd be able to do it at this point,
because council farms offer the starter farms,
which are a lot smaller,
erm, whereas, other, sort of, estate farms are a lot bigger,
and we wouldn't have enough cows or enough money
-to stock the farms to begin with.
It's a pretty essential first run, really?
Yeah, we believe so,
and it gives us that experience
that larger landlords are looking for in the future.
Mike and Laura's approach helped win them
a national New Entrants Award -
the third time a Staffordshire tenant farmer
has won in three years -
but they're not resting on their laurels.
It's changed massively since we first...first came.
The council have put up the new shed,
and then we've put in the cubicles ourselves.
What about stock numbers, Laura? What's the plan there?
Well, we started with 80 when we got here.
This winter we'll be milking 100,
and then next year we'll be up to 120.
Erm, so, then...
then we'll see what the future holds after that, whether...
what we do then.
Mike and Laura's farm is contributing to an annual profit
of £500,000 for Staffordshire Council,
and rather than selling their farms,
the council sees them as a valuable long-term investment,
and the stats agree - 60% of all farmland sold off in the UK
remains as agricultural land.
'Mark Winnington is the man responsible for growing
-'the council's income.'
Do you think your attitude to council farms here differs
from some of the others around the country?
Yes, I think at the moment all the councils are looking at their
social problems and the cost of it and thinking,
"Let's take the County Farms. Let's have an early Christmas present.
"Let's actually liquidate the assets."
In Staffordshire, we do things in a different way.
We're looking for growth. We're looking for economic opportunities.
All the assets in the county have got to work really hard,
and one of those assets, for us, is county farms.
In five years' time,
when we expect zero money coming from the Government,
that county farms is part of that annual revenue
-into the county.
'Mark believes his farming background gives him
'a different view from other councils.'
We can actually say to people,
"Look, county farms is a part of the rural environment."
It's an important cog.
It's training young people,
making sure that they can feed the nation in the future.
It's an asset in terms of the environment,
it's an asset in terms of the animals, and it's an asset
in terms of the young people that are coming into the industry.
So, here in Staffordshire, county farms are thriving -
a very different picture to many other parts of the country.
At Hartpury College near Gloucester,
they've been teaching the farmers of the future since the late 1940s.
That's it. Don't force it. Just let them gently swallow it. That's it.
But will today's students even get the chance to take on
a county farm when they leave?
'David Fursdon is the farmer who chaired the Government's
'Future of Farming Review,
'which encouraged councils to hang on to them.'
So, when it came to county farms, what did your review recommend?
Well, we said first of all that we wanted county estates
to understand what they'd got and how to make money out of it,
because we were afraid that, in some cases, they were looking at
selling them off without looking at
what income they could get from them.
There was definitely scope for looking at, and reassuring,
actually, some of the councillors that take the decisions,
reassuring them that there were ways of making money
out of their estates without having to sell them.
In the end, it will be a tough financial decision.
Is that asset giving a return to the owners who are, in this case,
the council? If it is, keep them. If it's not, they've got to go.
Or, if they have really got a massive capital need,
then we're going to struggle.
So, where does that leave tenant farmers like Steve,
who I met earlier?
What would you say to a farmer in their 50s whose farm is being sold?
It's going to be really tough for them, isn't it?
And I don't think we have any ready answers for it.
I mean, there are opportunities on some farms
to use their experience that they've gained,
in some form of a managerial role, but it isn't easy for them
and I feel for them and I think it is a real challenge.
Clearly there are tough decisions ahead, not only for farmers
like Steve, but also for councillors up and down the land.
If you've got a £1 million farm and a £1 million hole in your budget
for education or social care, it's hard to resist a sale,
but that is something you can only do once.
What if the decision was to invest and engage with agriculture?
Could that deliver longer-term profits
and a brighter future for farmers?
Aberdeenshire's north coast is one of breathtaking beauty,
where unflinching sandstone cliffs are battered by
the relentless North Sea.
And small fishing villages cling determinedly to the edge.
It's also home to a wealth of marine life.
Nobody knows this better than the fishermen who, for centuries,
have made a living from these waters.
Less than 100 years ago, this coast would have been heaving
with fishing boats and bustling with fishermen.
Nowadays, the industry is all but gone.
Few fishing boats work these waters.
But here in Gardenstown, I'm meeting Iain West,
who still scours the inshore for lobster, crab and mackerel.
-Hello. How are you?
-You are a brave man.
-It's brussen, as they say.
Right, tell me about your family.
How long have you and yours been fishing?
I've been going out on boats as early as I could walk,
but I started fishing about maybe ten, or something like that.
Did you learn everything from your dad?
Has it always been training on the job?
My dad and my grandad. Where to put the lobster pots
and where get the fish in different places like that.
But I guess you must get all kinds of things kind of ending up
in your lobster pots that you're not fishing for.
You're never sure what you're going to get. Every day is different.
I'm no fish expert, but I know these aren't lobster.
That's some sea urchins, canniburrs.
Is that a local term, canniburrs?
Yeah, it's a local name for them.
And we've got an octopus.
-In this here.
-How often do you see octopus?
-Not a lot.
'But when he does, Iain and other fishermen take them
'to a local aquarium, where they're in big demand.'
-I hope that aquarium has got a tank with a lid!
-I hope so.
-I think we'd better close the lid, because he...
-Before he disappears.
Yeah, he's on the move.
Don't worry, you're going to like it up there.
Iain's octopus is headed for Macduff Marine Aquarium,
just along the coast,
which specialises in species native to the Moray Firth.
But before the octopus can join the other residents,
it will be placed in quarantine so it can undergo health checks.
Claire Matthews is the manager here.
-Hey, Helen. How are you doing?
I have something for you.
Oh, sea urchins? Lovely. Thank you very much.
-Are these useful?
They are brilliant for keeping down any algae that grows in the tanks,
they are natural munchers.
They just scrunch away as they go. They're fabulous.
-We'll put them straight in.
-Can I give you a hand?
-Oh, yes, he's quite spiky.
-He's quite hefty.
-Just drop it in?
-He'll be fine.
He does have a very strong shell, so this is absolutely fine for him.
-There he goes. See? Perfect.
Run me through some of the species that you have here.
A lot of animals that you would possibly be more familiar with
on your plate, so things like cod and haddock and plaice...
That's a menu, not a list of fish in an aquarium.
We are very keen to promote what's in our local environment
and celebrate our own marine life,
such as these lovely cuckoo wrasse here,
which are absolutely beautiful, which may be not so well known.
There are creatures of every size here, from enchanting anemones
to sharks and rays, which the aquarium also has a hand in breeding
and eventually releasing back into the sea.
Now, though, it is time for something very special.
Have a look at that view!
Oh! Up here on the roof,
you really can enjoy what this part of the world has to offer.
But we're not here to take in the vista.
We're here because it's feeding time.
-Claire, you have the all-important fish food.
This is lunch for some of our fish in our main tank here.
We've got a lovely mix today. It's a bit slimy.
-It's pungent, isn't it?
-Yes. Scatter away.
So, we've got some sea bass piling in.
Some of the cod are looking interested.
-I know a lot of your fish have got names.
-Do they have characters?
You do get personalities.
For example, there's Jemima in there, the halibut,
and she is definitely a meanie.
You know when she's coming for you when it goes dark overhead!
To make sure that none of the fish miss out, a team of divers go in
to hand-feed the ones that live at the bottom of the tank.
This means that the flatfish,
the turbot and the rays all get their fair share.
Oh, my word!
Lauren is literally hand-feeding that fish, isn't she?
That's Eric. He likes to come over and ride on her hand.
There's always something to look at.
They are all native species.
That is so impressive and, actually,
if you live here on the Moray Firth,
this is a way of really appreciating what is literally on your coastline.
-And look after it.
Yeah, that's really what we're all about here,
just trying to get the message out about how amazing
our own marine life is, how diverse it is.
You hear loads about coral reefs, and ours is just as interesting.
It's remarkable to see such variety of marine species,
all of them native to this fabulous stretch of coast.
Now, it's said that nothing is stronger than the bond
between owner and their dog,
and this is especially true in the farming community.
Today, Adam's looking to hone his skills to get the most
out of these amazing creatures.
With more than 1,000 sheep and 100 cattle on the farm,
my sheepdogs are a crucial companion.
They're out in the fields with me come rain or shine.
I've got three dogs out just now.
This is Millie, who's about eight years old. Still works quite well.
She's an Australian kelpie cross collie, and this is Meg.
Here, Meg. Meg.
She's about 11 now. Had a few operations and is really retired.
She was very good in her day.
And this one is Peg.
She's seven, and by far my top working dog.
I took her on after her previous owner died suddenly.
Steve Barry did an amazing job with Peg, and even won trials with her.
They understood the same language, but I'm still trying to work it out.
I've worked hard with her over the last couple of years,
but feel like I owe it to Steve to get the absolute best out of her.
Peg, lie down. Lie down. Lie down!
It's hard work, isn't it? You're a bit tired.
It's a little bit frustrating because I know Peg worked
so well for Steve,
and she's a brilliant little dog. The problem is me.
I'm not as good as she is,
so that's why I've got to go and see a man about a dog. Come on, Peg.
But not just any man.
When it comes to training collies,
he's the best in the business.
-'He's going to take it. Wallop.
'Good job. Good job.'
England! Well done, Dick.
A few months ago, Dick Roper, with his dog Will,
led the England team to victory
at the One Man And His Dog competition.
And with 40 years' experience in the game, I'm in safe hands.
'Before I get down to a masterclass,
'I'm keen to discover what makes a good working dog...'
My word, what a bundle of joy!
'..starting with what to look for in a puppy.'
-How do you choose a puppy?
-They are all different characters.
As you can see, you've got brave ones, subservient ones.
I like one that's inquisitive,
I like one that's intelligent, I like the ones that draw to me,
because one thing that we can't do, as human beings,
we can't hide our characters from the dogs.
We can try and hide our characters from people,
but you can't hide them from the dog.
The dog will suss you out like that.
So, get a dog that likes you,
because if it doesn't like you to start with, it'll never like you!
That is the way it is.
There's a home for every puppy, really,
because every puppy suits somebody.
Can we see one running round the sheep?
Yes. I'll tell you what, we'll take Solo,
because Solo has been before. It could be chaos. It could be chaos.
First of all, what we have to do is get these in, back in the kennels.
Come on, boys.
'Over the years, Dick has trained more than 100 dogs,
'all to a very high standard,
'so, if anyone can help me become a better handler,
'Dick is the man.
'He is using Pete, an experienced dog,
'to gather the sheep and keep them contained.'
'Then he's going to let Solo loose
'with the sheep for only the second time.
'Dick will try and keep him at the right distance from the flock,
'aided by a highly technological piece of kit.'
It is so lovely to see that puppy's natural instinct bursting into life.
Circling those sheep now.
Good dog. Good boy. Good boy.
He's got it going one way and now he's stopped it
and he's turned it back, and it's now circling the other way.
You have to teach a dog both sides, its left and its right.
It's interesting now.
He's just brought the puppy into him, stopped it, and he stroked it
and told it it's a good dog and now he's let it go again,
so that every time it comes to him it doesn't think it's going to get
dragged off the sheep, it's allowed to work again.
-That was pretty impressive, Dick.
He's got amazing potential, hasn't he?
-Great potential. A lovely character.
For this young character to go out there, second time to sheep,
oh, yeah, I'm out of breath, but it is so exciting for me.
It really is exciting.
That was brilliant, seeing that puppy being put through its paces.
Good girl, Peg. And Dick's so good with his dogs.
He really understands their psychology.
It's almost like he's inside their heads.
I just hope he can share a bit of his expertise with me,
and I can get this one going well.
Come on, then, Peg.
I tell you what, Dick, I'm quite nervous about this.
As my sheepdog trialling idol, I'm ready for this tirade of abuse
coming out of your mouth, how useless I am.
I've seen you work on the television, Adam,
and there's definitely room for improvement,
but this isn't Dragons' Den, OK?
It's a sheepdog trialling lesson.
-Peg, here. Good girl.
-OK. What shall I do? Put her through her paces?
Yeah, put her through her paces and I'll listen to you
-and have a chat with you afterwards.
'Firstly, I'm asking Peg to bring the sheep towards me,
'and then I am showcasing my ability with her...
'or lack of it, as the case may be.'
Peg, lie down.
I don't know what you think, Dick,
-but I struggle to stop her a bit at a distance.
-I can see why.
Lie down. Lie down.
You're talking to her like you would talk to a lady.
You're being very gentle with her.
She's taking your voice commands exceptionally well,
left and right spot-on, but when she's not stopping,
you've got to give her a command to stop, which is an order.
It's not an ask. It is, "You will stop."
In fact, she's working really well for you.
But when you come to give the stop command,
it is exactly the same.
You give it very, very gently. Instead of giving this...
HE WHISTLES SHARPLY
..you should be giving it to her as...
HE WHISTLES LONG, LOUD DESCENDING NOTE
And she just did.
Dogs don't understand the words that you say.
They only understand the tone and the shape of the word,
so it's like music to them.
OK? What you've got to do is make the music slightly different.
You need the note to be higher and sharper.
And, Adam, one thing, one thing.
These hands you use, OK?
You don't use them for a dog, OK?
So you don't need to be telling it to lie down.
-It's always the voice, OK?
-She's doing very well.
She's not looking at you, she's ignoring you.
-She's working perfectly without me.
-I'll sit in the car!
-And with a couple of pointers...
..and with a different tone, I feel like I'm really onto something.
You've put them in your pocket.
She's absolutely top-class.
That passion and knowledge that Dick has got
when it comes to working sheep dogs is just extraordinary.
And so infectious.
I totally get it, though.
My perfect moment, even though it sounds a bit corny,
is moving a flock of ewes and lambs across a flower meadow
in the spring with my dog.
And so I'm really excited about getting home
and putting into practice some of the tips he has given me,
and hopefully Peg and I will be an even stronger team.
Earlier I went on the hunt for the elusive Scottish wildcat,
one of our most endangered animals.
The hills and glens of Aberdeenshire are one of its last outposts.
But their numbers are dwindling
and the biggest threat to their survival is interbreeding.
Wildcats have been breeding with feral and stray cats.
This has been diluting the gene pool,
resulting in fewer and fewer purebred animals.
So Scottish Wildcat Action
is tackling the problem.
They are trapping feral cats and having them neutered.
Emma Rawling from the group
is keen to tell me more.
I know them individually and I'm
going to make darn sure I get those ones neutered this winter.
Wow! You are like a feline bounty hunter.
-A little bit!
'Emma is taking me to one of her traps inside an old barn
'where a number of feral cats have recently been caught.'
Mind your footing here.
Mind the old wire.
A bit of barbed wire.
We don't want any human neutering going on, do we?
(In case there's a cat.)
It doesn't look like we've been lucky again this morning.
It's a pity because this trap actually caught a cat
two nights ago.
Two nights ago?
Yes, a big female cat that we took off to the local vets
and had neutered and vaccinated and everything
and I released here on Wednesday morning.
And then the vet would knock them out before...
That's right, so the whole process is designed to be as little in terms
of actually handling the cat as possible,
so it's not too stressful for the cat.
And it's not too dangerous for us, cos feral cats
can really be very fierce and quite savage when they are cornered.
Basically, the transfer cage enables the vet to give it an injection,
make it sedated and sleepy
before they even handle it.
Then once it's quiet they can be health-checked, weighed,
wormed and then given the neutering surgery.
And then popped back in the cage to wake up,
all without anyone having to get bitten.
'To tempt the strays, Emma baits the traps with tinned fish
Someone's eaten some of our bait, though.
Oh, really? That's good. So...
Shall we have a look and see who did the deed?
This could be exciting. SHE LAUGHS
What should go through this thing, a vole, a little mouse?
Probably mice, yeah.
There is one last night,
and there is a little vole just in the shot there.
-Just a little dark shape there.
Mousey has been in eating
our bait overnight,
-which is kind of good, because...
-That's a food source for cats.
..if you think about it it's a food source for the cats, spot on.
Probably one of the reasons that the cat is attracted to the barn.
There we go.
So, nothing today, then?
No, sadly not.
You never know, it really is just a matter of luck.
But we will keep persisting.
As we know, wildcats are less than a mile from here.
It's crucial that we get on top of this problem
and try and minimise the risk to our wild cats.
For you personally, what do wildcats mean to you?
I think the wildcat is probably emblematic of everything
that's special about Scotland. It's elusive,
And for me personally,
I'm on a bit of a quest to see if I can play my part
in saving the species.
I'm certainly going to give it every last ounce of my effort.
(Did you see that? Get down, get down, get down.)
(Can you see it just over there?)
(I'm sure I saw one.)
(Remember this is an area where the cats are coming up and down.)
(Let's see if we can get a bit closer.)
(There it is!)
I've got one. Not a cat,
but the Countryfile calendar.
Of course! Now, last year,
this raised over £2 million for Children in Need.
I'm sure this year we can do even better,
and here's how you can get yours.
It cost £9.50, including free UK delivery.
You can go to our website where you will find a link to the order page.
Or you can phone the order line on...
If you prefer to order by post,
then send your name, address and a cheque to...
A minimum of £4 from the sale of each calendar
will be donated to BBC Children in Need.
I'm on the north coast of Aberdeenshire,
finding out how locals had been preserving the heritage of this
coastline and looking after the marine species that live here.
Now, I'm off to meet someone who is preserving life here
in a very different way.
Brian Angus is a local artist
who sketches all along this coast.
He specialises in lino cuts,
a bold printing method he uses
to capture in striking detail
the places and the people that live here.
Talk to me about this part of the world, then, Brian,
because it is beautiful.
What makes it so good to paint and draw and sketch?
For me it's the drama of the landscape
is quite marvellous.
Combined with the way that people have built their houses
in the villages into the landscape.
And it's got that combination of the man-made and the natural
which is quite engaging for me.
So it all starts with a sketch?
Is there another bit around here that we could have a go at?
I can see you're pretty well on with this one.
We can go and find a place we can do some sketching,
or take some photographs, and go from there.
Can we find something easy for me to sketch?
-That's what we've got to do, Brian. It needs to be beginners.
What are you looking for when you're looking for something to sketch?
I'm looking for a good compositional shape
and here we've got the pathway going away from us,
giving a sense of depth and distance.
And the way the houses go into the distance, is well.
It's a nice combination of movement in the space there.
Brian, I'll do you a deal.
-I'll take the photos if you do the sketch.
You'd like to think I couldn't get this wrong.
That's so quick!
It's cos I'm freezing, that's why.
'Time, then, to go back to a nice, warm studio, I think.'
So, is this one of the photos that I took?
Yep, I just printed out one of these photographs.
-And we're going to take a section of it...
..and what we do is
put some tracing paper over it
and we draw the areas we want to include in the picture.
'The tracing is transferred to a lino print block
'and we mark which bits to cut away to leave our image.'
But use that as a support and what we're going to use are these,
and these are woodcut tools and they all have slightly different shapes.
That's a little U.
-I would start with that one.
It's like picking a golf club, isn't it?
Scoop out every bit
from there, that's right.
You have to look at it in minute detail, because
you are not making a big, broad sweep with a brush.
You're cutting out the fine detail one little cut at a time.
I guess it makes you think about what is out there
in terms of the landscape and what
you can see in a different way, doesn't it?
Because I'm going to look at those buildings in a different way now.
'So, with darkness falling,
'in the interests of speed,
'I hand it back to the expert.
'We are doing this simple print in an hour or so,
' but some of Brian's more detailed images take up
'to a week of cutting.'
We get this nice and even on the roller.
And then your job
is to cover that over.
Well, I think that looks really good.
I don't mean to blow our own trumpet,
but you're really good at this, Brian.
'The finished print is transferred to paper
'using a Victorian book press.'
Turn that round, nice and tight.
-As far as you can.
It's a good core workout, isn't it?
All right, that's fine.
I'm nervous but excited.
Well, I think that's pretty impressive for an afternoon's work.
I think you should be very proud of that.
I don't want to sound arrogant but I am.
I'm rubbish at art! Everyone laughs at me. See?
A bit of tracing, a bit of help and look which you can create.
"A bit of help." 99.9% of this was made by Brian.
'And there it is, a moment preserved in time
'in this timeless setting.'
Well, the setting may be timeless, but sadly we are not.
That's all we've got time for today
but daylight is running out for Joe, as well.
Yes, and no sighting of the elusive wildcat here today.
But great to know that every effort is being made
to save the last of them.
Next week we are at Bamburgh Castle in Northumberland
where there will be festive cheer aplenty
as the team get-together for a Countryfile Christmas special.
We'll see you then.
Helen, Joe and Sean explore the varied landscapes of Aberdeenshire. From the solitude of the rugged north coast to the deep dark forests where wildcats dwell, it's a surprising county.
Helen discovers the only village on mainland Britain where cars can't go. She also visits an open-air aquarium where they hand feed the fish, and she makes lino prints with an artist who takes inspiration from this remote coastline.
Joe looks at a project mapping the diminishing wildcat population and sees the extraordinary lengths volunteers go to, to help preserve them.
Sean visits a turkey farm where the guard dogs are alpacas, and Adam catches up with One Man and His Dog winner Dick Roper to pick up some expert tips on sheepdog handling.
Council farms have long been seen as a way for people to get their foot on the farming ladder, but across much of the country they are now being sold off to raise money for cash-strapped councils. Tom Heap investigates why so many of these farms are disappearing from the landscape and how some councils have taken a very different stance.