The Countryfile team explore the Cambrian mountains, one of Wales' best-kept secrets, nestled between the more famous Snowdonia and the Brecon Beacons.
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The Cambrian Mountains.
Wild and beautiful.
They're one of Wales' best kept secrets -
less well-known than their more famous neighbours
Snowdonia and the Brecon Beacons.
But no less beautiful.
Well, you could be forgiven
for thinking that time has stood still here.
Farmers work this land like generations before them,
and they say that going back to basics has its benefits in producing quality food.
And I'll be finding out how this landscape is their secret ingredient.
While Cambrian farmers gather what they need from the land,
other people are drawn to it in a different way.
For centuries, the Cambrian Mountains
have inspired artists and writers.
Now, I like to think I'm a bit of a writer -
but an artist? Well, we'll have to wait and see, because these members
of a local arts group are going to put my painting skills to the test.
'Julia and bees haven't always got on.'
It's stinging my face. Brilliant, right by my eye. In my face...
But she's in Kent, putting her fears behind her
to find out about a ground-breaking bumblebee project.
Oh, there she goes.
Tom investigates whether lead shot is killing our wildlife.
Shooting has been part of our rural life
for hundreds of years, whether it's for wildlife management,
sport or maybe one for the pot.
But, is the ammunition in these cartridges leading to the unintended
death of thousands of animals long after the trigger's been pulled?
I'll be investigating.
And Adam heads to Derbyshire, where it's all about horsepower.
Magnificent, isn't she?
I'll be finding out why this beautiful horse, Chelsea,
is more valuable to a multi-million pound
construction project than a tractor.
The Cambrian Mountains.
Mile upon mile of wilderness, in the heart of Wales.
Sandwiched between two Welsh heavyweights,
Snowdonia to the north and the Brecon Beacons to the south,
the Cambrian Mountains are often overshadowed
by their more celebrated cousins.
But this untouched, timeless landscape packs a punch of its own.
Terrain and climate dictate things around here.
For centuries, farming communities have carved out their living on the open mountain,
using time-honoured methods passed down from generation to generation.
And if I'm going to go where they go, I've got to swap this trusty steed
for something that's stood the test of time.
Lads, how are we doing? Owain, James, and who's this?
-This is Balls.
-Balls?! THEY LAUGH
Should I ask? Why is he called Balls?
I bought him off my neighbour a few years ago, and he named him,
-and he's a bit of an eccentric character.
-Is he? Good lad.
Balls, it's lovely to meet you. He's a lovely lad!
Wherever we go, we've obviously got quite a journey, but where are we headed and what's the plan?
We're going up on the side of the mountain there now. We're going to push the sheep up,
they tend to come down a bit overnight especially if the weather's been bad.
And then in the morning we push them back up where the better pasture is.
Old traditions die hard in these uplands.
To work the steep face of the mountain,
Owain takes to the saddle just like his forebears did,
raising hefted flocks that don't stray from the mountain.
-Well, there's three lads here and one horse.
-Yeah, well, er...
-we realise you're not very fit so you'd better have the horse.
Well, Balls, this is going to be exciting.
Come on, man. Come and show me your part of the world.
There's a good boy.
Soon as Owain starts whistling, that's it.
-He knows the commands, doesn't he?
So these are all hefted sheep, then, so they know the area -
-basically there's no fences?
-No, no fences.
And each spring when the ewes' lambs come out,
the lamb learns their patch of ground from its mother every year.
Owain still adheres to the old "hafod a hendre" system.
After a winter down in the valley,
he pushes his hefted flock up to the peat bogs and moorland of the mountain,
where they graze the ancient mosses, lichen and herbs over the long summer.
Bringing them back down to lower ground in the winter doesn't just
give the sheep a break from the harsh mountain conditions,
it allows the rich upland pastures to replenish.
And what is it, then, about this particular grassland or even this
landscape, this way of life, that makes the meat taste so different?
Probably, you can rush it.
It's a seasonal thing, and it's all down to the grass growth
and the time of year.
And you're dependent on that.
And there's nothing you can do to rush it, and it's a nice
steady process, and you get a really good product at the end of it.
-So a tried and tested formula - if it ain't broke, don't fix it?
But the survival of traditional farming communities in these uplands is far from guaranteed.
Already one of the least populated areas of Wales,
young people are moving away in search of more lucrative professions.
Farmsteads are being sold off,
and farmers like Owain and his brother James are becoming a dying breed.
In response, a group of local farmers are joining forces
to promote their mountain produce. and breathe new life into this place.
The system itself, really, over the years, has been about working together -
neighbours working together
to gather each neighbouring block of hill.
And, you know, it's sort of moved on now into marketing
and selling the land together, you know. It's a benefit, definitely.
Owain is chairing the Cambrian Mountains initiative,
a marketing venture set up to help farming families
capitalise on this area's natural resources.
And so how has it been going, this scheme,
-and what's the situation this year in comparison to last year?
We moved about 4,500 lambs last year,
and we've got potential orders up towards 20,000 lambs this year.
We started with nine members, we've got 21 now, and we're looking for more.
These lambs are being weighed before they get sent to market.
That one feels quite good, actually.
-This one ready to go?
-Yeah, if you feel there, look...
-you can just tell there's just a nice covering there.
-That one's about ready to go.
There we are. Shut that up so they don't run all the way through...
How would you describe the taste difference?
It seems as if... I don't know, it's like as if there's almost a bit of sugar in it, it's that sweet.
You know, very often with meat you want other stuff to go with it.
You could just eat this on its own.
Just a bit on its own, it's just nice. Yeah.
Now, very soon I'm going to be assigned the important task
of sampling some of this mouthwatering mountain produce. Somebody's got to do it.
But first, shooting is a part of managing our countryside,
but is it leading to the unintentional deaths of some animals?
Tom has been finding out.
Britain's wild and wonderful rivers, estuaries and marshland.
Just a few reasons why this country is such a great place for wetland birds.
But conservationists are concerned about our waterfowl.
They say there is a silent killer at work,
causing some to suffer a slow and painful death.
That killer is lead poisoning.
One study claimed it caused the death of nearly one in 12 water birds.
It's a problem affecting our most popular wetland species -
so where's the lead coming from that's causing some of our geese, swans and ducks to die?
Steep, just grazing land, but perfect for poultry. Well, we thought it was.
Last year, Gary Ashley set up a poultry business in Yorkshire.
He bought hundreds of ducks, and for a few months everything looked good.
Then, things took a turn for the worse.
Well, I came out one morning and there was a couple of dead ones,
but I thought, well, OK, you can lose a couple of birds for various reasons.
And then the next day there might have been six, seven, eight, nine,
and before I knew it, there was 10 and 20 a day found dead every day.
And dying birds as well?
Yeah. I mean, I had learned quickly the signs, and I could see that
that'll be dead in an hour, that'll be dead tomorrow...
Gary didn't know why the ducks were dying
in front of his eyes, so he sent some away for testing.
They cut the birds, and they cut their gizzards up
and then they found pieces of lead shot in the gizzard.
They analysed the levels of lead in their blood,
and they were, in the words of the vet, they were sky-high.
The tests seemed to solve the mystery.
It appeared the ducks had eaten lead shot they thought was grit
they need to digest food, and although just a few birds
were tested, Gary believes most were poisoned. But how?
Well, he says his land is littered with lead, in the soil
and other places too.
It just doesn't degrade at all, it just sits there on your roof.
-So how do you think it got here?
-Local shooting activity.
And what do you think about this now,
when you're still finding this all over your land?
Erm... Well, it's upsetting and distressing
and worrying, to be honest. Cos we know lead's not nice stuff.
It's been banned in lots of applications.
And there's probably, I don't know, tens or maybe hundreds on this roof.
If you multiply that over your six acres
-that's a fair bit of lead, isn't it?
How's this episode this last year left you feeling?
My attitude is live and let live, I haven't got a problem with shooting
and lads having some recreation, it's not a problem at all.
But surely you can't be shooting lead indiscriminately over the land,
because that kills birds and possibly other things
and I've got 500 good reasons, 500 dead animals,
so 500 good reasons why that can't be right.
Gary's no longer a duck farmer.
In fact, he's only got a handful left,
and he thinks shooting's to blame. But is that fair?
Shooting's not just a sport,
it plays an important role in countryside management.
So, how does it cause the unintentional deaths of water birds?
The answer lies in the make-up of the munitions.
In simple terms, shotguns don't fire bullets, they fire cartridges
like this, each one filled with hundreds of these tiny pellets.
And what happens to these when they leave the barrel? Well, there's only one way to find out.
So we're putting in two cartridges, and we've got two targets. Explain to me the idea here.
OK. Basically what's going to happen, when we fire the gun
for the first time, you're going to be aiming at the ten-metre target.
And then when you're ready, your gun will automatically be ready
for the 35-metre target which is further up.
And each one of these as we saw earlier is hundreds of little
bits of lead rather than one big bit.
-There's 324 pieces of lead in there.
Give me a chance of hitting something.
And if you'd now like to aim for the second target...
OK, I'll hand that on to you, can we go and have a look and see how we've done?
Well, that's quite a dense section there, isn't it, all that pattern?
It certainly is.
It's about a foot wide, and what you would expect from a ten-metre shot.
Moment of truth, see whether I actually hit this one at all.
Oh - there are one or two sprinkles.
Well, that is pretty much spread out over the whole target, isn't it?
It's over everywhere.
-And that's the kind of optimum range that people would normally shoot game.
So you can really tell from this that if you were a bird in the middle,
not much of that lead is going to hit you, most of it's going elsewhere.
Certainly not, most of it's missed the bird completely.
-But well done, you got it.
-Proves I CAN hit a barn door with a shotgun.
It's hard to know how much lead is scattered this way each year.
In the 1990s, one estimate put it in the thousands of tons.
Since then, a series of laws have been introduced banning lead shot
in vulnerable areas, like some wetlands and foreshores.
And in England and Wales, shooting certain birds,
like ducks and geese, with lead, is now also illegal.
But the Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust believes these laws are not being obeyed.
Well, we've been monitoring bird health for decades now
and one of the processes we use is X-rays.
I can show you two X-rays of whooper swan here,
and if you look up to the light you can see in the gizzard, which is
the part of the digestive system before it reaches the stomach,
the shiny lead shot in there amongst other bits of grit that
the birds take in to grind up the plant food
before it gets to the stomach.
What should we be doing about it now?
One of the things I welcome immensely
is that the organisations concerned
with shooting have recently put out a campaign,
an appeal to their members,
to comply better with the existing law.
We found in a Government-funded research project recently
that only 30% compliance is taking place.
That's pretty shocking. They've had a long time to get it right.
It IS appalling. We may not in this country always agree with laws
but laws are there to be obeyed.
-And they're not being...
This was the correct action and I support it totally.
But there are alternatives, such as steel shot,
so would it be easier to ban lead altogether?
It would be the simple thing but I think the word "ban"
is very unhelpful in this kind of debate.
If that compliance with existing legislation proves to be
working in the right direction,
and the numbers are going down and we're addressing it,
I wouldn't think there'd be a case for a ban at all.
I want a solution that we have less lead in the environment,
less damage to wildlife.
Greater compliance really does make a difference.
America has similar rules to the UK
and almost all hunters obey them.
Research there has shown birds are ingesting less lead.
But back here, 45% of shooters surveyed in England
by The British Association for Shooting & Conservation
have admitted using lead shot
when they shouldn't.
So would fewer of our birds die of lead poisoning
if the people involved in shooting
simply obeyed the current law?
Later on, I'll be hearing their side of the story.
Last month Julia was in Kent
and summer was already in full swing.
But she wasn't there for the flowers.
She was finding out about a special conservation programme
right in the shadow of one of our biggest power stations.
This is Dungeness. It's one of the country's great power hubs.
But it's also a national nature reserve
and the most important landscape of its type in Europe.
That's all down to this shingle
and the plants that manage to establish themselves in this
seemingly hostile environment.
In fact, Dungeness is home to one third of all the plants
found in the UK.
Away from the shores, there are wildflower meadows,
a rich and vital habitat, thrumming with life.
Rare life, too, not seen in a quarter of a century.
The short-haired bumblebee.
Just a few weeks ago, 49 queen bees were released here.
They'd been specially flown in from Sweden as part
of the short-haired bumblebee project.
A project designed to re-establish a breeding colony right here.
And they have high hopes, too,
because Dungeness is already home to some of the UK's rarest
The thing is, bees and I, we have a bit of history.
Ow, it's stinging my face. Brilliant(!)
Right by my eye, in my face.
-Close your eye.
-Close my eye...and it's in.
And it's in.
See what I mean? I have been reliably informed, though,
the short-haired bumblebee doesn't like tall brunettes.
They prefer pretty flowers.
And I'm in good hands.
I'm meeting the bee queen in these parts, Dr Nikki Gammons.
Ah, Nikki, the glamorous life
of a bee wrangler!
What have you got? Have we got the short-haired?
I haven't got a short-haired bumble bee with me.
They're about somewhere but they can disperse up to about ten kilometres,
so at this stage it will be a little tricky to find them,
but once they start producing workers,
we hope to start seeing them.
What have we got, then?
This is a brown-banded bumblebee.
This is one of the UK's rarest bumblebees.
-Can we get it out?
-Yes, we can have a look.
I think this one has actually newly emerged out of hibernation.
See her wings are perfectly intact.
Normally, if they've been out quite a while,
they get really worn and quite ragged.
So a bit of damage?
She'll be looking now
for somewhere to nest and somewhere to go and forage.
She'll be happy there.
She will be happy there.
This is one of her favourite forage plants,
and she'll gather nectar and pollen from that.
Perfect. What else do you have to show me in your magic pot?
I have this bee here - the cuckoo bumblebee species.
You sure it's a bee, not a bird?
You haven't got confused?
We call it a cuckoo as it does a very similar thing to the cuckoo bird.
It goes into the nest of the social colony,
which means it has the queen and the work cast.
She'll kill, dislodge the queen,
lay her eggs inside the nest
-and let the workers rear them and feed them for her.
She's built for a fight.
Look how big she is, compared to our previous bee.
Exactly. She's much bigger.
She also has an extra layer on her shell.
That means it's harder for her to get stung.
Also, her sting at the back is longer as well.
There she goes off.
These are all very exciting finds and fantastic for the area.
We actually have the highest number of rare bumblebees
anywhere in the UK.
With the reintroduction of the short-haired bumblebee,
we have six of the seven rarest bumblebee species.
We've been creating a huge amount of habitat across Dungeness and Romney Marsh.
That has helped increase all those rare bumblebee numbers.
I want to say something awful like "I'll buzz off now,"
but I'd never say anything to you like that.
Or maybe I would.
Up to 98% of our wildflower meadows have been
lost in the last 60 years as farming has changed and intensified.
That's just one of the reasons that bumblebees have struggled to survive.
The thing about the bumblebee project is it's not just a
case of bringing back the bees, it's also a case of bringing back the flowers.
That's something that Brian Neill knows all about.
He's devoted swathes of his farmland to create bee habitats.
-I don't want to be rude... Hello.
-Pleased to meet you.
-But it's a little bit messy.
In order to get the best habitat that suits most wildlife,
is long strips of narrow, favourable vegetation.
-And a mosaic across the whole farm.
-So you'll mix it up?
Mix it up.
Here is some red clover which hasn't come to flower yet.
-But bees like that.
-Bees like that, the flower
-and we have some vetch.
-It's pretty, isn't it?
-It's the leaves I like on the flower.
-Yes, that's right.
Then we've got oxeye daisies which have only just come to flower this week.
Hello, lovelies. There are so pretty, aren't they?
Flies like them.
The flies and the bees like them.
Hang on just a moment.
As we're standing here, we've just caught sight of a hare
bobbing around in the long grass behind me.
What a lovely sight!
In an instant, he was gone.
Proof that this landscape is good for all wildlife,
not just bees.
During the next few years, it's hoped farmers like Brian
will be able to release rare bees directly
onto their own land,
creating a patchwork of great bumblebee sites
all across Kent.
Back here in the Cambrian Mountains,
water has always played an important part.
Nowhere more so than the curious town of Llanwrtyd Wells,
on the River Irfon.
Being Britain's smallest town isn't Llanwrtyd Wells' only claim to fame.
Once an unremarkable hamlet, called Pont-Rhyd-y-Fferau,
meaning "bridge over ankle-deep ford,"
this whole town was built on one thing.
Its natural spring water.
This isn't any old spring water.
The springs here are thought to have special qualities.
Back in 1732, as folklore has it,
a local clergyman by the name of Theophilus Evans
was out walking when his curiosity was aroused by a particularly
radiant-looking frog drinking from a bubbling spring.
Evans was seriously unwell with scurvy and, intrigued by the frog's healthy glow,
he decided to drink some of the water himself.
To his great surprise, he was miraculously cured of his ills.
So it sounds a bit far-fetched, but does this legend have any merit?
June Newman, former mayor of Llanwrtyd Wells
wanted to tell me more.
Here's the well, Matt.
I'm getting a stronger smell.
Wait till you get in there.
It's quite ornate, isn't it?
It is. This is the site of the original
conservatory that housed the well.
Here we go.
'Rotten eggs. Not my favourite smell.'
Oh. man. Well, I never...
What's all this white stuff?
I'm not entirely sure. I believe it's sulphur deposit.
But the water is incredibly clear.
Do you believe that story of Theophilus Evans
and his vibrant frog?
It's a very commonly believed story.
He was so taken with this cure
he actually wrote to
several eminent London medical journals
and they took him seriously and published his results.
That's how the story of the water started.
Once word got out about the town's miraculous healing waters,
this small village in the middle of nowhere became a magnet for health tourism.
The town was re-branded as Llanwrtyd Wells,
In recognition of its newly acquired spa town status.
The Dol-Y-Coed Hotel & Spa was one of many buildings that sprang up to
Holiday-makers would come here in their droves to
bathe in the health-giving water,
which was pumped into hot and cold sulphur baths in here where
people would soak for hours to cleanse their skin.
Are you decent?
Seems that these days it's just a storage room...
for a local electronics company.
For 200 years, Llanwrtyd Wells thrived,
but from 1948, visitor numbers steadily dwindled,
thanks in part to the establishment of the National Health Service.
But a small handful still believe in the special power of this water.
So, Hywel, you are the
great-great-great-great- great-great-great grandson
-of Theophilus Evans.
Do you believe the whole spotting of the frog and Evans thinking,
"Goodness me, this water has hidden properties, I'll have some myself"?
I don't know why you ask the question. Of course I believe it.
And you've been drinking it all of your life.
I do a lot of running and jogging and stuff
and I call in here occasionally
to have some of this wonderful spring water.
When you say "occasionally", how often do you drink it?
-Probably... I'm down to once a week now.
-That's changed, has it?
Because it has a significant cleansing effect on system.
-Keeps you regular, shall we say?
Which is not ideal if you're out on a run.
Let's go and try some, shall we?
To be honest with you,
now you've put that in my mind, I'm not so sure.
I've put that much in. Is that a bad amount?
-We should have shot glasses.
-About that much in there.
You're the expert, you should know!
It depends on how your system is right now.
Tell me when to start running.
Isn't that the best thing you've ever tasted?
It's certainly an acquired taste.
There's no doubt about it.
I'll tell you what...
..it has quite an oily texture to it, hasn't it?
If you drink it
on your nose...
Maybe I'll try that technique.
It's just like water then.
That's fine when you do that.
Where are the nearest facilities, just out of interest?
Perhaps there is some truth
in this water's strange powers
or was it just a clever marketing ploy
to get this place on the tourist map?
Later, I'll be calling in the scientists
to put this myth to bed once and for all.
Earlier, Tom heard claims that lead shot
used in shooting is leading to the inadvertent poisoning
of water birds - and that's despite laws
designed to stop that happening.
So, who is breaking the rules?
Shooting is a significant part of British life.
Game-shooting alone is enjoyed by hundreds of thousands of people.
The wider industry employs
tens of thousands and overall,
it's though to be worth 1.6 billion to the British economy.
So what do people in the shooting community make of the claims
lead shot is poisoning our wildlife?
Certainly if we found anybody using lead on our land,
and he was a club member,
they would be instantly expelled.
Wildfowler Ian Gill's
been hunting on the Dee Estuary for years
and says on these marshes, the people he shoots with
use legal shot. They use the most common
alternative to lead, which is steel.
But although they follow the law,
they don't necessarily agree with it.
In fact, people like Ian think lead is more humane.
One major thing is steel is less dense than lead
and it's harder.
These are some steel pellets
that you would fire out of a cartridge.
If you take these handy little pliers
and try and squeeze one.
I basically can't make
much of an impression on that at all.
That's still pretty much a totally spherical object.
-And these are some lead pellets.
OK, let's give that one a squeeze.
-Well, that's like bubble gum by comparison, isn't it?
-It is, yeah.
It is just squashing flat.
And why is that important in terms of killing a bird?
Because as it distorts like that, it creates more damage
and therefore causes death much more quickly
than some steel, which, because it doesn't distort,
can sometimes carry straight through the bird without killing it.
Here on these marshes, they may prefer lead,
but they don't use it. Others, however, aren't so responsible.
So, is it time for a change in the law
or just a change in some people's attitude?
Well, back in 2010, an organisation called the Lead Ammunition Group
was created to advise the Government specifically on issues like this.
It represents shooting, countryside and conservation groups,
but its report is now two years overdue.
The group's spokesman told us the reason for the delay
was the amount of time spent doing risk assessments
on the impact of lead ammunition on wildlife and humans,
both directly and through the livestock we eat.
They said there was an enormous amount of evidence to sift through
and researchers were doing it all in their own time.
The group is unlikely to publish its report until later this year,
but some shooting organisations say action IS being taken now.
We do know that there is some lack of compliance,
especially on inland duck shoots.
The British Association For Shooting & Conservation
is trying to raise awareness and compliance with the law.
As we heard earlier,
many of its members have already admitted breaking the rules,
but it doesn't think that's a reason for new legislation.
Well, the only way you change law
is if you are going to make things better.
The issue here is that the Lead Ammunition Group
is looking at ALL the evidence that's being presented,
ALL the reports, and it will come to a decision,
which it will pass to Government, who will determine policy.
The last thing we want to do is have incomplete evidence,
poor science, resulting in bad policy.
I'm just wondering how many more studies you need showing there is
a problem here. You can go on for ever saying we need more evidence.
Surely it's time for action to protect our wild birds?
Look, there are laws already in place.
What we are talking about is compliance here and, therefore,
you can do two things as government.
You can put a policeman on every single field across the country
or you can turn round and say,
"We want to have better compliance, which is why
"we are running this campaign for shooters, paid for by shooters."
But you wouldn't need a policeman on every shoot, as you put it,
if your members were obeying the law and they're not.
Well, I think most people ARE acting responsibly.
Look at what the wildfowling clubs are doing.
Although individual groups are making their voices heard,
we are still waiting to see if the Government is going to act.
In a statement, Defra told us
that it was important the evidence gathered and conclusions made
by the Lead Ammunition Group were properly considered
before it decides what, if anything, needs to be done.
Water birds are an integral part of countryside,
but so, for many, is shooting.
While we wait for the Government to decide
if any changes are needed, there is something shooters can do today
to help our wild birds -
make sure the cartridge they are loading complies with the law.
Back in May, Adam was asked by his neighbour to source
and manage a breed of cattle on her behalf.
Adam did just that and found a beautiful herd of Herefords
being sold by a top breeder near Ledbury.
But did the neighbour take plunge?
Buying a herd of cows is a massive commitment, but a real opportunity.
20 Herefords were up for sale by Gerald Blandford
and, after seeing them, my neighbour, Jane Parker,
decided they were perfect for her farm.
But a couple of days later, we had a call from Gerald.
He'd decided he didn't just want to sell 20 cows,
he wanted to retire and, therefore, wanted to sell the whole herd,
which added up to around 80 cows, all of their calves
and three bulls, and would Jane be interested?
Well, yes, she was.
Here's some of them here and there is another herd
up on the hill in a field up there and I'm going to meet up with
Jane and my livestock manager who is helping her to look after them.
So you were expecting to buy 20 cows and calves
-and now you've got how many?
-We've got 170, Adam.
But we decided it was really too good an opportunity to miss.
Gerald has built up this fantastic, high-status, high-health herd.
He's spent 55 years doing it.
It won National Herd Of The Year last year and look at them!
They are beautiful, healthy, shapely animals
and we are looking forward to our breeding plans.
Yeah, quite complicated, isn't it?
You've got how many different herds on the farm now?
We've essentially got three different groups, three different bulls.
We've got Nationwide, who is six going on seven.
We've got Cohen, who is behind us somewhere, who is three.
And we've got one young one called Jones in a different field,
so, yes, you have to sort them out into three different groups
and I think Mike would agree it was a fairly busy first evening.
Yeah, there was a lot of names to learn
right at the start with 170 cows
and we've got three bulls cos there are too many cows just for one bull.
We actually try to pick the cows to go with the right bull.
Cohen here is a very muscular, shapely bull,
so we try and pick cows that will produce
the best bull calves from him for next year.
Obviously, we've got daughters in the herd of some of the bulls
and we have to be careful not to put the wrong cow with the wrong bull.
And what sort of difference would there be between a breeding bull
to a pedigree herd and a beef animal for the table?
There can be quite a difference for the very best bulls.
They can be 5,000 or 6,000 for the very, very best
and for beef, it can be about 1,500,
so there is a big difference.
The more you can get away as pedigree breeding bulls the better.
-And Gerald had a good market for that, didn't he?
Yes, Gerald was very successful
in selling bulls to the French market and, of course,
we hope to break into the dairy market a bit more,
where dairy farmers have been recognising
that Hereford bulls actually make very good crosses
with their Friesian herds and produce excellent results.
Well, the sooner you get some money coming in...
It was quite a big cheque to pay, wasn't it?
I am now heading to Derbyshire to meet up with a couple whose passion
is with one of the most majestic and strong horses in the equine world.
Lance and Corinne Rose breed heavy horses and they want to show me
something very special.
They've got a young Shire foal here. Hello.
-Hi, Lance. Good to see you. Hi, Corinne.
This is a lovely little foal. How old is this one?
She is seven weeks old and this is Tia.
Goodness me, look at her great big long legs. She's wonderful.
-You don't get bigger than this.
-So how many heavy horses have you got?
We've got eight and we've got five Shires,
two Clydesdales and a Shire cross Dales.
They became our passion really. They are very rare.
These guys used to plough the fields, pull the canal boats,
pull all the carts delivering the stone, taking all the muck away.
Now, I'm used to driving tractors,
but it's been a while since I handled a Shire.
-OK. So we'll stop here,
-so if you want to take your reins from round the hames.
-Safe distance away.
-Right is away and left is come here.
-A bit like a working sheepdog.
-Yes. That's right.
-OK and to go is walk on?
-Yes, walk on.
Walk on then.
-Pull her back a little bit. That's it.
-She's keen, isn't she?
-She loves her job.
-Round to the left?
-Yeah, have her turn round.
-How long does it take to train them?
-To properly train them, a few years.
-So what do you mainly use this one for?
-Well, at the moment,
we've just been asked to do an exciting project
on a reservoir just down the road from us at Ambergate,
where we are having to pull logs into a wood to make insect hotels.
This is Ambergate Reservoir, where Severn Trent Water
are building two new reservoirs on the site of an old Edwardian one.
They will eventually serve
over 500,000 customers in the East Midlands.
The project engineer is Mike Wratten.
It was built over 100 years ago, but it's showing signs of its age now
and it's overdue for replacement.
I suppose with this kind of contracting work,
you have to be careful of the environment.
I see you've done a lot of tree felling already.
They were conifers planted
at the time the original reservoir was constructed,
so no great problems clearing those trees.
What you can see just above us here is an area of ancient woodland,
which Natural England are going to designate as a SSSI.
One of the things that they've asked us to do is to move
some logs from the area that we're felling
up into the woodland here to construct insect hotels.
Insect hotels are made from decaying natural materials
and provide the ideal environment for insects, invertebrates
and mammals to breed.
I suppose when a horse is moving about
in a Site Of Special Scientific Interest,
they're not damaging all the flora and fauna that exist in there.
Yes, one of the key things that Natural England have highlighted
is the fungi that live in the woodland, in the leaf litter itself,
so the less we disturb that, so much the better,
so far better to have something like a heavy horse
come in and move the timber than heavy machinery
that would do a lot of damage and chew things up basically.
Hello, Chelsea. Ready for action? So, can I give it a go then, Lance?
This is where the playing stops and the hard work begins.
Right. Walk on then.
I can really feel the power of this horse now,
pulling the timber through the wood, making real easy work of it.
-Steady, steady. Where are we going? In there?
-To the right, yes.
So this is where the insect hotel is going, Lance, I presume, is it?
This is some wood we've done earlier for small mammals, grubs, spiders.
In a particular area of the woodlands, in the shade or...?
In the shade, yeah, because fungus grows in the shade,
it likes to go in the shade and rocky areas like this.
OK, let's go and get another one.
Walk on. Walk on. Whoa.
There's a good girl.
Oh, crikey! I'm nearly falling over it now.
It's really quite difficult, isn't it, trying to avoid the log myself?
-It is, and see where you're going.
-Away. Walk on then. Walk on.
Good girl. Steady, steady.
Walk on, walk on. Walk on. Whoa.
Heavy horses will never take back
the work they lost to machinery and the Industrial Revolution,
but hopefully there will always be special projects like this one
where these magnificent animals can be used.
Good girl. Walk on.
In the heart of the Cambrian mountains
sits the Elan Valley Estate, a beautiful spot that's got it all -
woodland, rivers, massive reservoirs
and there's 72 square miles of it.
This is just one of the magnificent views
you can get of the Elan Valley.
Everywhere you look,
there are reservoirs built more than 100 years ago
to provide drinking water for the people of Birmingham.
But today, I'm not too interested in all that water.
What interests me is the land around it.
I'm going on an exploration of this remote place to see for myself
how the landscape is being cherished by the people who live around here.
Head ranger on the estate, Sorcha Lewis,
has unique access to the land.
-Oh, hello, John.
-Nice to see you.
-So what's going on here, then?
Well, I'm just having a look at all the flowers that are starting
to come out in this hay meadow and recording them for our records.
So you are just spotting an eyebright there,
one of my favourite wildflowers.
Yes, I love eyebright. They are very cheerful, aren't they?
-Supposed to cure all ailments of the eye, aren't they?
-That's it, yes.
And you've got a vast array of wildflowers here, haven't you?
-At the moment, a carpet of buttercups.
-It is and, I mean,
that's what I think the beauty of the hay meadows are,
is how they change from the buttercups to the yellow rattle,
you've got the eyebrights coming through,
so they change for the weeks before we cut them for hay.
This is my patch, really.
I'm very passionate about this meadow, particularly,
because it's on our farm,
as well as I come here through work to survey for it.
So you're a mixture then, aren't you, of a ranger, a custodian
-and a farmer?
-Yes. Which is interesting...
..when it comes to topics at the table.
But, yeah, I really enjoy the challenges from both sides
of conservation and farming and making them work together, really.
One of Sorcha's many jobs is to keep a log of mammal numbers in the area.
And there's one in particular that she's trying to track -
the elusive water vole.
On all my years on Countryfile, Sorcha,
I've never seen a water vole.
Am I going to be lucky today, do you think?
Well, we'd be very lucky today. I've spent a lot of time looking for them
and they are pretty elusive, John.
But I have put out some of these camera traps in the hope that they
will actually catch the water vole for us.
-Have you seen anything on the cameras yet?
The first day I put them out, I did see an otter, which I didn't expect
to see, which was a real delight, which spurred me to keep going.
Are there any signs around of water vole?
-Down here, I noticed little cut pieces of rushes.
-And you can see...
-Where it has been nibbled away.
I think that might be the work of a water vole. I am very hopeful it is the work of a water vole.
So what have we got on here?
-Oh! Oh, there's something there.
-Let's see it.
-Do you see it?
-Now that to me looks very much like a water vole.
-It does, doesn't it?
-And there it is, yeah. Look!
-Can you see it grabbing the apple?
That is proof that they live around here, water voles -
-one of Britain's rarest mammals.
-That's it, in the uplands.
-This is really interesting to catch some like that.
Sorcha's not alone in wanting to preserve the natural beauty.
I'm going to join artists from the nearby
town of Rhayader to see what fires their imagination.
-Can I join you?
-Yes, you certainly can.
Why do you all come up and paint in the outdoors?
Isn't it easier to do it in a studio?
Well, you don't get the same feel and it's very difficult to see
exactly what you've got in a photograph, you don't get the sense of depth, the depth of field goes.
You get a lot more atmosphere when you're painting outdoors.
You can hear the birds, just everything around it,
and I think that influences you,
and you get wet, and the paper gets wet.
-At least you've brought your
-camper van. Yes, I did.
-If it does rain heavier.
-We had a warning that it was going to be wet.
-That's my broad outline.
-What do you think?
-It's a start, John.
Just some of the local people who enjoy capturing their surroundings.
But we want you to do that too with your cameras
and enter your favourite shots of the British countryside in our photographic competition.
To help with some inspiration, I've invited an old friend
along, world-renowned landscape photographer, Charlie Waite.
-How are you?
-Hello, John. Nice to see you.
-Good to see you again.
Nice to see you, and here.
-Yeah, why have you chosen this particular spot?
Pastoral, romantic and the depth...
If you can just see those wonderful reflections,
albeit rather vague ones, that do look as if they are going back
and back and back, which I think is really lovely.
Well, the theme for our photographic competition this year,
Charlie, is "our living landscape".
So how would you encapsulate that thought right here?
I think the first thing I'd do is notice that it's part
moorland and part farmed.
So there is a relationship between man and man's industry and involvement with the land
and then right at the top on those two rounded bits,
there doesn't seem to be any at all. There are a few sheep up there,
but really not much, so it's quite harsh up there.
And down here it's very pastoral.
I think if I can manage to produce an image that conveys that experience and that mood and
that feel, then in theory the viewer should say, "Oh yes, I like that."
-Your time's up Charlie.
-I think this is my favourite shot.
-What do you think of that?
-Oh, it's far too good!
Charlie's photographed everything from Mount Fuji to the Tuscan hillsides
and here's what he made of this landscape.
Already we have received thousands of entries for this year's
but could it be that you haven't sent yours in yet?
Details of how to do so are on our website.
We're looking for beautiful photographs
of the British countryside
and of everything and anything that lives within it.
The best 12 photos will make up the Countryfile calendar for 2014,
which we sell in aid of Children in Need.
And now for everybody who is going to be out and about in the week ahead,
here comes the Countryfile forecast.
I'm in the Cambrian Mountains,
a wild and windswept landscape forming the backbone of Wales.
Earlier I saw how farmers are putting traditional produce from this
little-known region on the map.
And I stopped off at a once popular spa town that's fallen on hard times since its Victorian heyday
when people flocked here to drink its fabled healing water.
But is there any truth in the claim that Llanwrtyd Wells' spring water
Researchers from Aberystwyth University have been looking into it.
So, Bill, you've got some technical gadget there.
And we're going to test the water and see how different this is than
to tap water that we would normally drink.
So, this is telling us
how much material is actually dissolved in the water.
So the higher the reading, the more dissolved or the more salty,
in this case - this is quite a saline water.
OK. And this is coming from deep, deep, deep underground.
We're pretty sure this is quite deep. Deep but flowing very slowly.
So what we might be looking at here is really relatively old rain water.
-Ooh, thousands of years?
Could have fallen on the hills around and very, very slow movement
through these rocks,
and then come back up to the surface relatively slowly.
-And what's the smell, then?
So that's the rotten egg smell that you can smell.
Because this water spent a long time underground,
it's been out of contact with the air.
So it's lost any oxygen it had and it's just picked up this
sulphury smell as it's passed through the rocks.
Does this water excite you from a scientist's point of view?
-It is a very interesting water.
-And that's where Emma comes in.
That's where Emma comes in.
So, people from miles around flocked to this place for the health
qualities of this water. You've done the tests -
what is the conclusion?
There's a lot dissolved in it,
but nothing that you can conclusively say has health benefits.
None of them would be for the cure of scurvy.
For that you need vitamin C for.
So you've got, you know,
elements like bromide coming up in this which,
of course, was reputedly put in the tea of soldiers
during the war to suppress some of their more dangerous urges, shall we say.
It's also got high lithium, which is used to treat depressives.
So, you know, there are chemical things in it that might have an
effect on people in terms of their mood, shall we say.
So there we have it.
It's unlikely to have cured the scurvy in the 18th-century but the
idea this water CAN make people feel better may not be so outlandish.
Lindsay Ketteringham, microbrewer and local landlord, has found it
gives an award-winning edge to his Cambrian Mountain beer.
Does the beer have a slight, kind of, eggy tinge to it when it's finished?
-Because, obviously, with the high sulphur content in there.
No. It doesn't. During the brewing process it gets boiled for about an hour.
So any gas goes off up the chimney.
Well, let's see what effect the alcoholic version of this legendary water has on me.
-Let's start one end and work along, shall we?
-Right. That sounds like a good idea.
This is my golden ale.
That's a lovely summer drink, that one.
-Oh, that's a lot... It's certainly flowery-er, isn't it?
I'm starting to relax into this now.
-It's very nice, let's go for number three.
Drovers Return. Cheers.
Oh, right. Now, that's...
That's... That's very different, actually to the other two.
-That is very nice.
-That's a smoother, fruitier one.
But a little bit stronger.
Oh, yeah. That's very fruity.
Do you know my job is tough, isn't it?
-Isn't my job...?
-Oh, come on!
-Isn't my job rock hard?
-You're loving it!
THEY ALL LAUGH
I've been up that mountain on horseback today. Honestly.
It is rock hard. Honestly. Cheers.
So, from its water being turned into award-winning beer,
to the mountain terrain that adds sweetness to its lamb,
the produce that comes from these Welsh mountains is well worthy of taking centre stage.
I've got some beautiful cheddar from the foothills.
My very own Matt Baker ale to wash it all down.
I'll just leave that there for a second.
I've got this wonderful cawl, which is kind of a, it's like a traditional Welsh stew
which has been made with the meat from Owain's lamb.
Do you know, this has been the perfect way to end
what has been a very memorable day.
And I could quite happily stay here for a very long time.
But that's all we've got time for for this week.
Next week, Ellie and Adam will be up in the Shetland Islands.
Hope you can join them then.
Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd
The Countryfile team explore the Cambrian Mountains, one of Wales' best-kept secrets, nestled between its more famous neighbours - Snowdonia and the Brecon Beacons. Matt Baker takes to the saddle to help round up sheep on the hills and meets the farmers trying to put Welsh mountain lamb on the foodie map.
John Craven discovers why writers and artists have taken inspiration from the landscape. He puts his painting skills to the test when he joins a local arts group. In the Elan Valley, Jules Hudson finds out about one of the largest Victorian engineering complexes in its day: a series of dams built to hold back Welsh water destined for the taps of Birmingham.
Elsewhere, Julia is in Kent, putting her fears behind her to find out about a ground-breaking conservation project; and Adam gets a day off from the farm to visit a project where working horses have become more useful than a tractor. Tom Heap investigates claims that the illegal use of lead shot is leading to the unintentional deaths of wild animals.