Matt Baker and Ellie Harrison visit Denbighshire in north east Wales. Ellie is up at the crack of dawn to witness the spring mating rituals of grouse.
Browse content similar to Denbighshire. Check below for episodes and series from the same categories and more!
With its sparkling waters,
and heather-clad moorland,
Denbighshire's got the lot.
Denbighshire feels like a place that isn't really on the way to anywhere,
an almost forgotten landscape.
But you know what?
It's all the better for it,
because this is gorgeous.
I'll be exploring this varied landscape
as it springs back to life.
Graham, what a place this is!
It's absolutely glorious.
Matt's on a hill farm, meeting a grandmother
who's been recognised for her services to agriculture.
Matt, you grab that. Thanks very much, that's good.
Tom will be looking at what leaving the EU could mean for our farmers.
-80% of my income comes from subsidies.
In today's climate, with all the costs involved,
the sheep do not make enough profit to pay the bills.
And Adam goes back to school,
spending a day on the country's first sheepdog handling course.
Lie down! Lie down!
These are the future of British farming.
Particularly managing sheep up in the fells here,
learning sheepdog skills is essential.
MATT BAKER: With fertile pastures and vistas to take your breath away,
the largely rural county of Denbighshire in north-east Wales
is framed on three sides
by its majestic hill ranges.
Do you know, it takes a certain strength of character
to farm up here, high on the hillsides of North Wales.
Even now, at the end of March,
with the valleys full of spring flowers,
it's still chilly 1,200 feet up.
But I'm here to meet a lady from Denbigh
who isn't fazed by any of that.
That's it. Lovely!
Matt, you grab that. Thanks very much, that's good.
'In honour of Mothering Sunday,
'I'm here with Welsh sheep-farming matriarch Daphne Tilley, MBE.'
-Yeah, you show me the way.
-This is Daphne.
She's a real lamb-bassador for Welsh lamb.
For the past quarter-century, Daphne has reared sheep
high on the hillside here at Cefn Du Farm.
Her lamb has fed statesmen like Barack Obama
and become a menu staple at 80 of London's top restaurants.
But Daphne's journey from Welsh sheep farm to Buckingham Palace
was first triggered by a visit to the butcher.
I went, er, just to visit a friend in London
and the price of lamb was astronomical.
Back in Wales, Daphne and her neighbours
were getting rock-bottom prices for their lamb.
It was a light-bulb moment.
I thought, this is crazy, so I went home, said to the family,
"Why aren't we selling ours direct to London?"
And they said, "Mum, don't be so ridiculous.
"You wouldn't dare take it up there."
"What do you mean I wouldn't dare?"
-I thought, I'll show them.
-Yeah. And you did.
-It can be done.
So, armed with some tasty samples,
Daphne jumped in a London taxi
and doorstepped the capital's best restaurants,
with a 100% success rate.
What has it become today, then?
I mean, how many farmers do you have involved with this,
-and how many restaurants...?
-A lot of farmers are,
because now we don't produce nearly enough meat for what we want.
-Yeah, of course.
-So I buy it in the local auctions,
all from Wales - born, bred,
reared, slaughtered, everything within Wales.
And is it working, from that perspective
-and from that point of view?
Well, it's certainly kept the price of lamb buoyant in London.
Remember, the London restaurants are our advertisement, if you like.
And... I don't mean us personally - Welsh lamb.
And if they're using Welsh lamb
and say, "Ooh, this is the best in the world",
other people go and eat in all these restaurants all over London -
"We've had Welsh lamb."
Daphne's tireless promotion of Welsh lamb
led her to being awarded an MBE.
And it was her late son John
who nominated her for the honour as a surprise.
So what did you...?
What did you make of that when you heard the news?
I couldn't believe it.
My son John, who was so ill with cancer at the time,
was sitting in the house, he was pretty ill,
and he did a lot of revision and research
into what I'd done over the years,
and he put it all together.
But it wasn't till he was already dead,
because there, the people who do the honours list,
I suppose things take a long time.
I knew nothing whatsoever about it,
and it came through then, and I realised
and that really, actually, made me cry.
He'd done all that for you.
-I mean, the farm here, it still hits me.
With the loss of her son John,
Daphne's business hung in the balance.
There's this one...
But John's son James, then just 22,
came to the family's rescue and stepped in to run the farm.
You must be so proud of him.
You know, the quality of the lamb that he's producing
and what he's achieved.
We are proud of him, we really are.
He's done very well indeed.
He's bought good rams, carried on doing what his father did.
I was surprised, pleased...
and there was so much for him to learn.
-And we all make mistakes, he was bound to make mistakes,
but he's made very few.
Daphne's links with London restaurants
go from strength to strength.
Chefs like George Wood from Soho restaurant Temper
have long been a fan of Daphne's lamb.
Today, he's visiting the farm for the first time.
When you put yourself into that vibe of that incredibly busy service,
in the middle of London, it's all kicking off,
the stress levels are unbelievable,
and you are now here, looking out on this landscape -
as a chef, what does this do for you?
Obviously it's the dream, you know?
You're seeing the life that they have
before they come to the restaurant
and the level of care that people go in
to looking after these animals.
I've known Daphne for four years now,
so it's, you know, quite nice to finally get down to the farm
and be here and see where the lamb comes from that I get in each week.
Later, George will be cooking up a Mother's Day treat for Daphne.
It's one of his top dishes currently setting London ablaze -
fire-roasted lamb, direct from these Welsh hills.
Well, Daphne's story is truly remarkable,
and you'd better make sure that you're sitting comfortably now,
because Tom also has a tale to tell.
Once upon a time, not so very long ago,
wizards in a faraway city conjured up something
called the Common Agricultural Policy.
It soon spread across the continent, dividing people as it went.
Some folk took it to their hearts,
feeling that the starvation seen in the war had been banished.
Farmers were prospering and the land flourished.
For others, it's as if they'd stepped through the looking glass.
Farmers grew so much food
that we had mountains of butter and lakes of wine.
Hard-earned money was handed to rich landowners
and the birds and the bees were driven from much of our landscape.
But here in the UK, those two visions won't last for long,
because Brexit is taking shape on the horizon
and, when it does, those wizards in Westminster
will wave their magic wands
and the Common Agricultural Policy will disappear.
Once again, the British people will have control
over the billions of pounds we currently pay to the EU,
plus the freedom to redesign the regulations it now imposes on us.
What else will change is hidden in the mists of time.
But for farmers like Tony Davis,
whose family have kept sheep on this land in mid-Wales
for more than 150 years, one thing is certain,
Brexit will mean that the subsidy payments
he currently gets from the EU
will come to an end, and nobody knows if government support
will continue beyond 2020.
-Tell me about what you farm here.
-These are traditional hay meadows.
We have woodland, we have new woodland,
but the majority of the farm is out in the open mountain.
And all this is managed by a flock of Welsh mountain sheep.
And how important is subsidy to your survival?
-80% of my income comes from subsidies.
In today's climate, with all the costs involved,
-the sheep do not make enough profit to pay the bills.
What could it mean if subsidies almost vanished?
It could mean land abandonment, but the local villages,
all the services, they all depend
on the farmer spending the money there,
the schools depend on the children coming off the farms.
The whole rural economy would suffer in these rural areas.
And so what would you want a future support system to look like?
A future support system should be able
to support the farmers in the upland areas
who are delivering the environmental benefits.
We've made this landscape, and sheep a part of it.
Could you, on this farm,
-survive without subsidies?
As black-and-white as that?
It is as black-and-white, it's as simple as that, yes.
One thing the EU currently doesn't pay farmers for is producing food.
What it does pay them for is their land.
As long as they fulfil certain conditions,
anyone with more than 12 hectares can apply for a subsidy,
and the more land you have, the more money you can get.
And that applies to everyone, from the National Trust
to Hampshire County Council, from grouse moors to golf clubs.
And, of course, people like Tony.
He has 1,600 acres, or 650 hectares,
but some people have thousands.
Direct payments from the EU to landowners
currently amount to about £2.5 billion,
and another three quarters of a billion
goes to farmers for work that is good for the environment
and for projects that promote rural development.
Now, it probably won't come as a big surprise
if I tell you it's hard to find anyone who really likes this story.
And everyone agrees that Brexit gives us a chance to rewrite it.
It's possible that a new version of this story
could tell how the money was instead spent on the NHS, or schools,
or reducing the deficit.
So, farmers could have a battle on their hands to hang onto it.
Minette Batters, the Deputy Chairman of the National Farmers Union,
is preparing for the fight.
Farming gets roughly three-and-a-bit billion
at the moment. Why should you get that money?
Most countries, the whole way across the world,
support agriculture, and that is because
they want to keep food affordable,
and that is the core reason for supporting agriculture.
12% of annual income is spent on food.
That's a great deal, that's a great success story.
Does the British consumer want that to continue? I think they do.
So we have to look at how we can keep British agriculture productive,
competitive, but it's also about looking after the environment,
water quality, landscape benefit.
You know, our agriculture is totally interlinked with tourism.
So I think personally we can make a very good case
for the budget going forwards,
but it's got to stack up for the taxpayer.
Of course, it's impossible for the NFU to say exactly what they want
until they know what trading conditions
they're going to be facing.
And at the moment, that really is a mystery.
But it's not just farmers who feel they're the real heroes
of this story.
Later on, I'll be meeting some of the other lead characters
and asking if there really can be a happy ending.
Gors Maen Llwyd is one of North Wales' largest wildlife reserves.
With woodland, wetland and moorland,
there's a whole host of habitats here for wildlife to thrive.
I love this time of year.
It feels like such a relief, after a long winter,
that the landscape is finally waking up.
It's a time of new beginnings and new life.
I'm heading for the moorland,
to help monitor some of the reserve's residents
as they come out of their winter slumber.
And I'm unashamedly taking the scenic root.
ENGINE STARTS UP
There's a lot to take in,
but Graham Berry from the North Wales Wildlife Trust
is giving me a steer as to which species call this place home.
Graham, what a place this is! It's absolutely glorious.
Why is it so good here?
Why does the wildlife seem to be thriving?
We've got the forests of Clocaenog to the east of the lake here,
which are home to dormice, red squirrels...
We've got the upland moorlands in the Mynydd Hiraethog,
one of the last strongholds
for the curlew, the hen harrier and the merlin.
There's plenty going on below the surface, too.
This reservoir is a larder for many hungry visitors.
They use this like a motorway pit stop on their migration.
They stop here and feed.
-Feed on all the rainbow trout?
It's picking up here.
We got a bit of a crosswind, getting a few splashes in the face,
which is all part of the fun.
All part of the experience.
-OK, here we go.
-All right. Hold on. Oh!
I'll see you again.
Alongside the work The Wildlife Trust are doing,
volunteers are helping to monitor one resident
that they really want to make count - the adder.
Now, adders don't go into a true hibernation,
like dormice or bat.
Instead, in the autumn, they find a dry and secure spot underground,
something like a disused burrow,
their temperature will drop to just above freezing,
and there they will stay, inactive,
all the way through to the spring - just about now.
Reptile recorder Mick Brummage, and Mandy Cartwright from
the Amphibian and Reptile Conservation Trust,
are working together to keep a check on these elusive snakes.
-Not at the moment, no.
-OK, this is prime adder-spotting territory, is it?
-It is. Yes.
Given how hard they are to spot, they're incredibly well camouflaged,
how do you go about monitoring them as you are?
At the moment, this time of year,
the males are actually coming out of their dormant stage,
and they're very loyal to where they overwinter,
so we get a good idea of the actual, where they'll actually be.
And the females come out a little bit later,
so at the moment the males will be out basking,
increasing their sperm, preparing for the females to come out.
-Shall we see if we can go and find some?
-Hopefully we'll find something.
Mick has been adder-spotting here for a number of years,
so I'm in safe hands.
In a five-year period, I've found a total of 59.
And you can recognise the individuals by their markings?
Yes, each adder has a very unique pattern of markings.
We tend to look at the markings on the head,
and I take close-up photos,
and build-up a sort of reference collection,
and then I can identify them as individuals.
We haven't seen any yet, but we're not giving up.
If you just want to lay the refuges.
'To encourage more adders for Mick to count in the future,
'Mandy and I are putting down some refuges.'
'These corrugated and felt sheets absorb warmth from the sun
'and provide cover for reptiles from their predators.'
-This one here?
Can people do this in their gardens, or do you discourage that?
No, no, we encourage people to put these out in their gardens,
to look under once or twice a fortnight,
and upload that information onto the record centres.
That gives us a better understanding
of how reptiles are actually using people's gardens
as urbanisation grows.
Remember, these are poisonous snakes, so look but don't touch.
I suppose the sad thing is that they get such a bad press,
they're our only venomous snake,
and people are so used to feeling safe in the countryside,
and they're frightened of them.
They do get bad press,
and people have persecuted them in the past,
but they're reptiles, they're fantastic creatures,
they're so charismatic and they're beautiful to watch.
So, as long as you leave them alone, they'll leave you alone,
and, yeah, just admire and enjoy what we've actually got.
Even with the most experienced surveyors,
adders are very tricky to spot.
Just as we'd given up hope,
we find two doing a spot of sunbathing.
Any disturbance could scare them and use up their vital energy,
which they need to preserve for reproduction.
So I'm going to quietly watch from afar
to admire and enjoy as they bask in the spring sun.
It's Mothering Sunday,
and spring is definitely in the air.
The days are drawing out,
..and lambs appear in the fields.
A sign of finer days to come.
After a long winter, the golden glow
of flowers like these daffodils
is a sure sign that spring is on its way.
And for one family here in the Dee Valley,
it's when business starts to bloom.
Sarah Hughes' family
has been farming beef and lamb in Denbighshire for generations.
But Sarah has recently taken the business in a fresh direction,
from beasts to blooms,
using Victorian know-how to preserve the beauty of flowers.
And these jewel-like treasures are also edible.
Sarah, some beautiful flowers there. This is work for you then, is it?
It is, I'm just picking a few flowers to crystallise later,
just checking how they're all looking this time of year.
When I think of farming, I don't think of edible flowers.
How did this come about?
Well, I was looking for something to do that I could do based at home,
and I looked at a few things,
and one of the things that was becoming quite fashionable
was edible flowers, so that was a business that I thought
maybe I can do that myself.
-And these are your little babies, aren't they?
-Yes, they are.
So these are primroses. These are some very early ones,
it's a bit early in the year, but these are a few have come out.
There's a long tradition
of edible British flowers,
and Sarah' done her homework.
-Wow, can I eat this?
So just pull the end bit off.
-That bit there?
-Yeah, the green bit at the bottom.
It's not poisonous, but it just tastes a bit nicer.
-And just eat it?
Well, you've had it first and you haven't keeled over.
It's like a... It's like a fragrant lettuce, isn't it?
Yes, it's a very delicate flavour.
Nice in salads, I can see how that would work on a cake.
This early in the year,
Sarah relies heavily on potted flowers in her polytunnel.
Wow, so this is where the magic happens.
Yes, this is where we grow
the majority of our primroses and violas in here.
So, these are viola.
Primroses are very seasonal this time of year, going up to Easter,
but the violas will grow all the year round, they're fantastic.
They're a really good plant for giving out flowers.
-I can see these are your favourite babies.
-They are, they are.
They're just so perfect.
With the colours like the lilacs and the purples and blues,
they're really popular with our customers,
because they all coordinate and they're nice pastel shades as well.
So can we get picking here?
Yes, make sure you get a nice long stem on it.
-It's quite labour-intensive, isn't it, this?
-Yes, it is.
You have to make sure you keep those petals perfect.
It's quite easy to snag them when you're pulling them off.
-Then maybe pick some primroses as well.
They're obviously very seasonal at this time of year.
I'm proud of that, my first flower harvest. Can I carry the basket?
Absolutely, I'll take you into the kitchen
-and we'll crystallise them, shall we?
Some of Sarah's fresh flowers go into lollipops,
which sell all over the world.
But the vast majority get preserved in their freshly picked perfection
by crystallising them, using egg white and sugar.
It's a technique that started in Victorian times
when sugar first started to appear in granulated form.
You literally just paint it
with the egg white, like that,
cover it all over.
Don't worry too much about being perfect.
Then just get your sugar,
-dust it all over.
-That looks nice.
Front and back?
-Yes, so can you see the whole thing's covered?
-And then we'll just leave it there to dry.
-How long do they last for?
-They'll last for four to six months at least.
It depends how carefully you crystallise them.
The Victorians liked the meaning of flowers,
so something like primrose, the meaning was hope.
-That's what they gave to the primrose.
So violets and violas, it was love and thoughtfulness.
So if you were doing something for your mum on Mothering Sunday,
you're giving a little message as well,
which is quite sweet, isn't it?
-And then you decorate the cake.
What's the cake that we're going to use, then?
So, the cake is a simnel cake, and on Mothering Sunday
girls used to go home from...often in service,
and they'd take a simnel cake with them,
maybe pick flowers on the way,
and use these to decorate the cake.
So if you could just pass it over here, please. Be careful.
I've enjoyed the day, but this is going to be my favourite bit.
-That looks amazing.
-And I do like a cake.
-I made it myself.
-Oh, well done.
So, shall we just take some of these flowers that we've done,
and just literally pop them on, scatter them on the top.
-Oh, it's the icing on the cake, isn't it?
-Or marzipan on the cake!
And they've gone really hard, haven't they?
They have, it's amazing how quickly they do that,
and it just means it gives them a bit more body.
Yeah, crisps them out.
-Am I going a bit over the top?
-No, you can...
Well, it's the sort of thing you'd do for your mum -
you can do it however you like, there's no rules.
It smells fantastic. I'm desperate to have a slice.
Well, help yourself.
So, simnel cake decorated to perfection
with Sarah's crystallised flowers.
And, of course, a cup of tea.
The perfect way to celebrate Mothering Sunday.
Happy Mother's Day.
Earlier, we heard how Brexit gives us the opportunity
to rewrite the story about how UK farming is funded.
So, with Article 50 due to be triggered on Wednesday,
what should we expect?
Here's Tom with the next chapter.
In many a good fairytale, there's a pot of gold
at the end of the rainbow,
and in this story that pot is worth about £3.5 billion.
That's the amount of money that UK agriculture
gets from the EU every year.
But, if Brexit is the rainbow, when we get to the end of it,
we'll find out that the pot of gold no longer exists.
So, the question facing the bigwigs in Whitehall is,
should we continue giving some of our hard-earned money to farmers?
Far, far away in a land on the other side of the world,
they stopped giving that money to farmers.
Back in 1984, after six years of paying farmers to grow food,
the New Zealand government suddenly abolished subsidies.
Dairy farmer Terry Wilding
was involved with the New Zealand Farmers' Union at the time.
It was a decision made overnight.
Farmers had planned their businesses to grow them,
they'd bought in more stock, they'd developed more land,
and all of a sudden that money was gone.
So, it was a bit of a rude awakening,
and farmers were pretty angry.
They weren't just angry.
Many farms went out of business,
and there were even a number of farmers who took their own lives.
But in the end, the industry adapted and survived.
Looking back, our farmers became more...let's say market-savvy.
They look to their markets for signals, not to the government.
And I think we're in a stronger position
to respond to market signals,
and I think we're a more resilient industry due to that.
Now, New Zealand is roughly the same size as the UK,
but it's a very different country.
However, their farming has gone from strength to strength
But here's the thing.
To get where they are now,
some of the rules governing the care
of animals, wildlife and landscape,
were - how shall I put it? - relaxed.
And that worries some people here as we approach Brexit.
The interaction between farming and the environment
concerns England's Wildlife Trust so much that they run commercial farms,
like this one in the shadow of the M5 in Worcestershire,
where they show how agriculture and nature can help each other.
Stephen Trotter is the Trust Director.
Here, they do everything, from rebuilding soil structure,
to providing clean water and refuges for wildlife.
Oh, yes, it's fantastic. There's one there, look.
The wonderful thing about slow worms is that they love slugs,
and consume large numbers of them.
-I love looking at them close up.
If you spend time, you can see all the delicacy of the colours,
the gold and copper and everything.
A fantastic beast.
So, when we get control of our farming policy in this country,
how would you like to see it shaped?
Well, it's a great opportunity, really,
to ensure that we invest in restoring our natural environment.
Farmers, land managers, landowners, are vital for that,
we need to be investing in those people to do the work.
Is it possible to mix farming and environment?
There is no conflict.
You've seen some of the things on the farm here -
we have to produce food, and we have to produce
a strong, healthy environment - the two go together.
And, if we get our environment right,
we improve the quality of our air,
the quality of our water, the quality of our food,
and give people good places to go and visit and enjoy and relax.
Just as vital as the National Health Service,
just as vital as social care.
So, it's not just about the Skylark up there,
-it's about the health of you and I.
Whether that's feasible or not, as we start our Brexit journey,
there will be many different paths to choose from.
So, I'm meeting economics wizard Sean Rickard
to see if he can help me solve this puzzle.
So, what do you think a post-Brexit farm policy should look like?
Where we have to start is recognising that, ultimately,
agriculture is an industry.
It produces the raw materials
for the UK's largest manufacturing sector - food.
I judge that, in this country here, we would best serve the population
we would best serve the food industry,
we would best serve our trade balance,
by allowing agriculture to go forward
as an intensive, competitive industry.
We can protect their incomes via an insurance scheme
with much less money than we spend today.
Where does environment fit in your future?
There are certain aspects of the environment
which farmers aren't going to deliver
because it doesn't contribute to their business.
So, if you want a hay field, that's a public good,
and a public good must be paid for out of public money.
Very roughly, we spend about £3 billion to £3.5 billion
on agricultural support at the moment.
I think probably about a third of that might go to the environment.
Right, and what should happen to the rest of that money?
Should that go away from agriculture?
Yes, I would say a farm business
really has to be capable of surviving
on the basis of producing agricultural produce.
As in every fairytale, this one isn't just about the money.
The story of EU regulation of both farming and the environment
is a long and familiar saga,
and rewriting that chapter is likely to be a mammoth task.
So, will there be a happy ending?
Well, I guess that depends what you wish for.
But one of the things that's surprised me in telling this tale
is that there's more that unites farmers and environmentalists
than divides them.
And one of the things that they're currently agreed upon
is the government isn't yet making food and farming
a priority in its Brexit plans.
Earlier in the programme, I met Welsh hill farmer Daphne Tilley MBE,
whose award-winning lamb has graced the world's top tables.
Now, this farm is managed by her 25-year-old grandson, James.
He took over after his father died.
And, in his dad's memory,
James has put his own slant on what he produces on the farm,
and is passionate about his new breeding rights.
Well, there's quite a few expectant mums
waiting patiently in the maternity ward, in the barn,
but there's literally hundreds on the hill that need feeding,
so I'll get the gate for you, James, all right? See you in a sec.
There you go!
Come on, girls! Breakfast!
James farms 350 acres.
The 750-strong flock are separated into last year's lambs
and ewes pregnant with one lamb, twins or triplets.
It's only James' third season in the saddle.
Sheepdog Fly lends a helping paw.
Was this always the plan for you, then,
to come back from university and farm,
or did you have a different career path in mind?
So I went to university, I did a three-year degree there,
I did ancient history.
And I had the intention of doing a PGCE at one point,
and unfortunately my father fell ill November-time
and I came home to look after the farm until he got better.
So I was in charge of virtually everything on the farm.
He passed away in July,
and I sort of had the responsibility of looking after the farm itself
and taking on the tenancy.
Having inherited his dad's sheep,
James is now starting to breed his own line.
What kind of satisfaction do you get from that,
and actually starting to create your own flock now?
It is really nice and satisfying.
Because you get to see them, you know, you lamb them,
you get to see them from a small little lamb
and eventually grow to a fully sized ewe
and you can think, "I'm proud of that."
Well, we'd better crack on because, them lot over there,
that are expecting twins, they're looking at you...
James' farm extends onto the rugged hilltops.
Challenging terrain for four wheels,
let alone four legs.
The ewes up here, the breed, they just seem to survive.
You've got to give them credit where credit is due.
They're at the height of the farm at the moment,
1,200 feet above sea-level here,
and they're able to survive the conditions.
At the moment on here I've got my ewe lambs
-just grazing the mountainside.
And they get a bit of haylage and a bit of feed every now and then.
So hopefully they will be lambing this time next year, then?
These will be my replacements.
-So this time next year, they will be lambing.
What a spot, though.
I mean, just standing here and looking off to every single view,
you just look all the way around.
That direction there is quite something, isn't it?
Sometimes it makes farming worth it.
Because we do get harsh conditions and it's a tough environment,
but when you get lovely views on a clear day, there's nothing better,
there's nowhere else to be.
And since you've started this venture and this whole life
and this way of life for you, you must have learned so much.
I mean, you never stop learning, do you, anyway, with farming.
I don't think any farmer stops learning.
You're always reading something new
and always trying to keep up-to-date with what's going on,
so I'm always learning.
And if you're not learning then something's not going right,
but I always try and learn.
Right, then, Fly, you are going to love this, my dear,
because Adam has been up in the hills
searching for the next generation of sheepdog handlers.
These are the high fells of Northern Lakeland, Cumbria.
A beautiful but unforgiving landscape.
Hard country for farming.
Upland terrain like this covers roughly a third of the UK land area,
and with its altitude, harsh weather conditions
and ground that's pretty unsuitable for growing crops,
there's very few agricultural systems that work up here.
That is, apart from sheep.
So if you want to farm in this environment,
the one tool you really need to know how to handle is a sheepdog.
Here at Newton Rigg College, just a few miles from Penrith,
they can teach you all you need to know.
15 young people from across the North of England
flock to enrol on this ground-breaking programme.
The college is the first in the country
to provide a course dedicated to sheepdog handling.
Choose what your whistles are - there's a "left" and a "right"
and a "stop" and a "walk on".
-That's the right,
so they're really completely different from each other.
The course is run by top dog trialer and sheep farmer Derek Scrimgeour.
-Hi, Derek. Good to see you.
-So what are you working on here with the student?
-Well, this is Naomi.
And her job is to stay with the sheep
and protect the sheep from the dog
if it decides it wants to try anything difficult.
And she's very calm. The dogs, they buy into what you're like.
If you're excited and loud and rushing about,
before you know it your dogs are the same. But she's nice and calm.
But she wasn't at the start. It's something... It's a technique you can learn.
You know, I'm not calm at all. I've learned to act calm.
I'm still not calm, but I can act calm on a good day.
When I was younger,
there was no real opportunities to learn anything,
so I had to learn by my mistakes.
But I'm a bit older now and I have learned a few things,
and it's nice to be able to pass them on.
Little things that make it so much easier.
You know, things that I wish I'd known 30 years ago.
Come by, come by.
This initiative is amazing
because they're going to get a skill that they'll have for life -
and it won't leave them, they'll have it for life.
It's quite unusual, isn't it,
using an animal to work another animal. Quite a skill.
They start off wanting to kill sheep, most of them,
that's in their mind.
And even if they don't do it, they want to do it.
So you just channel that instinct so that they work the sheep for you.
And they're herding the sheep to bring them back to you,
-expecting you to kill them.
So that's the base of it, I think, yes.
See when you're saying "lie down", you're shouting at her.
Lie down. Over here. Lie down.
Matt here is from a farming background.
But the students come from all walks of life,
united by their love of the countryside.
Hi, guys, you looked like you knew what you were doing in there.
Yeah, it was all right. I work dogs at home on the farm,
so I kind of know what I'm doing a little bit,
but he knows more than me.
So what's the most important thing, do you think,
Derek has taught you?
Yeah, just to be calm, and if you're getting mad with your dog,
then just take a bit of time out and have a break,
because usually it's your fault, not the dog's.
I want a shepherding job somewhere, on a hill farm, hopefully.
-You want to stick with the hills?
-Yeah, definitely, yeah.
I'd like to do shepherding for a bit first.
I enjoy being outside and I enjoy being with the animals.
And when you've got a good dog at your side,
you'll be totally employable.
Well, we'll see about that!
For 20 weeks, the students and their dogs
will be working this rugged landscape.
Along with the International Sheep Dog Society,
Matt Bagley from the college has been instrumental
in getting this course off the ground.
Why do you think the course is so important?
It's fundamentally important
that that bond between the handler and the dog is so special
that if we don't harness it in a young person,
we may lose these skills.
You can see this terrain,
a quad bike's little or no use to you up here.
You need a dog that can get the job done efficiently and quickly.
You get a manual when you buy a new tractor,
but you don't get a handbook when you buy a dog.
All dogs are completely different, as are the handlers,
so you need to look at those skills.
Well, it's great you're doing such a wonderful job,
and fantastic to be able to see them learning how to train sheepdogs.
Such an essential tool up on these fells.
It is, and we're very, very proud of the progress they're making.
Well, it's great to see the college doing such a good job.
-Shall we go back down and see the students?
-Yeah, we can.
Come on, Peg.
One student who's already made the grade is 16-year-old Tom Blease.
You may remember him from last year's One Man And His Dog,
where Tom was part of the winning team.
And he's away nicely.
Nice, steady lift there.
-Here we go.
Come by, get, lay down.
An impressive achievement, as Tom's not from a farming background.
Soon after the competition,
he started an apprenticeship through Newton Rigg College.
His work placement is at Glencoyne Farm in Ullswater,
and I'm keen to see how he's getting on.
What's your dream? What's your goal in life?
I suppose to get a tenancy would be fantastic, to be my own boss.
To work on a farm that I'm running.
One of the best things, really, about being on a hill farm,
for me, it's gathering and working your dogs.
And you're going to carry on trialing, will you?
Yeah, yeah, no, I am.
We've got the world champion sheepdog trials this summer.
And how do you fancy your chances?
I don't know. I'll have a good go, but I'm not sure.
So you're on a apprenticeship scheme here and going to college,
do the two work well together?
It's fantastic for me, you know, because I can earn money,
you know, to help pay for my own sheep
and, you know, when I start driving and that,
but also do something that I enjoy.
What could be better?
I've been exploring Denbighshire's wild side,
seeing it spring back to life after its winter slumber.
I've come down from the moorlands to explore the woodlands,
and this place is certainly full of life.
But here at Llandegla Forest,
they're doing things a bit differently.
Just as many farmers have come up with new ideas
in order to survive,
commercial forests like this one have also had to diversify.
The goal here was to make the forest a fun place
for runners and walkers,
challenging trails for mountain bikers,
and I'm told some of them are pretty epic.
Also a place that encourages and protects wildlife,
all the while continuing to grow
the forest's main source of income - timber.
Simon Miller manages the forest
and is passionate about making this a recreational space
we can share with our wild neighbours.
The forestry industry realised a long time ago that it had,
as well as producing softwood timber for industry,
it had a responsibility to look after, take care of the environment.
And as a consequence,
forestry practices developed over recent decades
so that now our forests are more resilient
and include more biodiversity.
So that's why you've got the different ages of the trees here?
Yeah, in sensitive parts of the forest,
rather than clear-felling, we thin the crop regularly
and we make small group fellings
and we replant them with a mixture of conifers and some broad leaves.
In fact, if you were to look at Llandegla from above,
it would look more like a patchwork quilt.
Which is great for birdlife and wildlife.
Yeah, and since we've been measuring, particularly, the birds,
the numbers have gone up significantly,
and now we have species like nightjar and crossbills.
That's great, that's impressive having those.
But there's one forest-dweller here that I really want to see -
the black grouse.
It's at this time of year that places like this
become nature's nightclubs.
It's mating season for the black grouse,
but you have to get up incredibly early
if you want to see this spectacle of forest-flirting,
as I know only too well.
A couple of years ago,
I tried to see this mating ritual known as lekking.
I DID see the black grouse,
but they were way off in the distance...and not lekking.
Well, it's six in the morning
and this is a routine I know all too well.
Up at the crack of sparrows in hopes of seeing the black grouse lekking.
I know what I'm looking for,
but will they come close enough to see this time?
Martin Clift assures me there's a good chance of getting lucky today.
-Good morning, Martin.
Early start, is it worth it yet?
-They're out there, certainly, I can hear them.
I can't quite pick them out yet.
OK, well, it's still a bit dingy light...
'He's an RSPB conservation officer
'and monitors the black grouse population.'
What is it that they like here?
Black grouse like a mixture of habitats,
so they like the taller heather moorland vegetation for nesting in,
they like the much shorter, wetter areas for foraging in,
and they like the sensitively managed edge of the forest here.
'But there's not much flirting going on at the moment.'
So can we see any now?
There's a few, there's a few. Quite far away.
This looks like a really calm night at the pub, doesn't it?
-When do the fights begin?
And what about numbers?
-How are they doing?
-There's about 260 in last year.
We'll be counting them again in April,
so we expect similar numbers.
Martin is being modest.
70% of the Welsh black grouse population
actually lives in and around the forest.
-That one's standing quite proudly in the middle of the group there.
The dominant ones are generally in the middle.
The ones all around the edge, as they get further to the centre,
they'll have the most chance with the females.
And the females could be there, but we're not going to see them
because she's usually at the edges, she's pretty brown in colour anyway.
We might not be able to see her but the male will know she's there.
-That's what the display's all about.
-Yes, yes, getting her attention.
Yes, this is some lekking now. This is good.
This is more than I've ever seen before, so this is wonderful!
There we go, a little charge.
Charge in the direction of another one.
Now the party's really started.
People are going to say how do you conserve the black grouse
while, at the same time, people are shooting red grouse?
They can work together really well.
The gamekeeper here is working to establish this moor
as a red grouse moor,
and there's a voluntary code which the landowners abide by here
not to shoot black grouse.
Yeah, it was worth getting up early.
Thank you so much, Martin.
I'll leave you to enjoy the last of the lek. What a treat.
Last time, the weather was atrocious,
but today the conditions have been perfect.
I'm so glad I got a second chance.
I've been spending the day with hill-farming royalty Daphne Tilley,
who was awarded an MBE for her services to agriculture
and introducing Welsh lamb to London's top eateries.
For barbecue kings George Wood and Martin Anderson,
Daphne's lamb is a staple in their Soho restaurant.
Lads, how are we doing?
-What a sight this is.
How are things?
'They've made the long trip from the Big Smoke
'to see where their meat comes from
'and reward Daphne with a Mother's Day meal to remember.'
What theatre you're cooking in here, then.
So how does it all work?
We've got one of Daphne's lambs here, a whole one on an asado cross,
so that's kind of a South American way of cooking things.
-It takes about six hours to cook.
-Does it really?
-So, slow and low, then?
-Yeah, slow, low.
The veg, too, is barbecued for that smoky flavour.
And don't worry, the skin's peeled off later.
I'm going to take the tomatoes,
-and we're just going to put them right down like that.
The veg gets the Argentinian barbie treatment, too, for a smoky flavour.
But it's also coming from the sugars in the tomatoes.
Oh, lovely, listen to that sizzle.
And what a kitchen.
I mean, when you look at this, it's just food as far as the eye can see.
You don't need anything else, you know?
-You can cook just about anything out here on something like this.
And, I mean, setting it up here in the farmyard,
it's idyllic, this, isn't it?
Yeah, it's probably the nicest setting I've ever cooked in,
-I'd have to say.
And, for you, I guess, as a chef, when you go home tonight,
you'll leave the farm gate
but actually you'll just take this with you,
and this somehow will just go into the meals that you create back in London.
Oh, of course, of course.
It's the whole reason why, you know,
it's so good as a chef to come out to these places.
A few of the locals have followed their noses up to our field kitchen.
Daphne, who are your friends, who are your friends? Come on.
Well, they're all part of the team, all part of the Welsh lamb team.
Hi, all. Take a seat, I guess. I think that's the order.
-It looks amazing. It smells, doesn't it?
-It's fantastic, isn't it?
This is a perfect example
of that relationship between producers and chefs.
So here you've got farmers
talking to the high-end chefs from the middle of London
about what they're doing with the lamb
that they're actually producing.
It all looks cooked to perfection. Good job -
there's a lot of hungry farmers to feed.
Daphne should be the first one in, so here we go. Are we ready?
Hang on, let's do this.
We need a little bit of this on the top - there we are.
And here we are - first up, ladies and gentlemen, Daphne!
What do you make of it? You've just tried it.
It's fantastic, very moist.
Just melts in the mouth, doesn't it? It's amazing, isn't it?
Right, now everyone else has got some, I'm going in.
Oh, my word. Oh, that is absolutely...
-It's really good, huh?
Oh, my word. That is just a burst of flavour.
Wow, that's like fireworks in your mouth. Isn't it?
Does it live up to your expectation, is the question?
-Actually the flavour is better, it's beyond.
-Yeah. Really, does it?
Yeah, it really has improved the flavour, cooking it this way.
It's absolutely beautiful. Honestly, Martin, George,
let's have a round of applause for the boys, because...
-Fantastic! For the chefs!
-..they've come up trumps there.
Well, I would save some of this for Ellie, but I know that she's got
her own Mothering Sunday treats to get back for.
I have indeed, not to mention some much-needed sleep
that I need to catch up on.
But I will see you next week
in a special extended edition of the programme,
when we'll be exploring more of the country's finest forest.
But, from all of us here,
and to all the mums that are watching, iechyd da.
Matt Baker and Ellie Harrison visit Denbighshire in north east Wales. Matt spends a day with Daphne Tilley, who was recently awarded an MBE for services to agriculture. Jamie Oliver, the Ritz and the Queen's caterers all buy Welsh lamb from Daphne.
With woodland, wetland and moorland to explore, Denbighshire provides Ellie with some great opportunities for wildlife spotting. She is up at the crack of dawn to witness the spring mating rituals of grouse, before she heads out on to the moorland to monitor adders.
Sean Fletcher meets Sarah Hughes, a farmer whose business blossoms in spring as she has diversified into selling edible flowers.
Adam Henson is in Cumbria at the first college in the country to offer a dedicated sheepdog-handling course.
Tom Heap talks about the future of farming - from a fantastical land of butter mountains and wine lakes, he asks what UK agriculture will look like from outside the European Union.