Joe Crowley meets a woman who looks after a herd of Belted Galloway cattle. Anita Rani joins photographer Keith Kirk after dark, looking for wildlife.
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Dumfries & Galloway is a jewel in the lowlands of Scotland.
It is beautiful country
and rightly renowned,
but perhaps it's even better known for these, Belted Galloways.
I'll be meeting the farmer dedicating her life to them.
I sound like an idiot, romanticising the Belted Galloway cow,
but they're just an absolute pleasure to work with.
Anita is on a totally different kind of safari.
-Just at the gate.
-Just coming through.
-He's darting around.
Yeah. And very alone.
Tom is asking why this year is so tough for farmers.
The price that farmers get paid for much of what we eat and drink
is unusually low at the moment.
It's not just hitting dairy.
Pig and arable businesses are feeling the pinch, too.
So, what does this mean for farmers and the wider rural community?
And Adam is here with our third and final nominee for this year's
Countryfile Farming Hero.
I consider it a great honour, not for myself personally,
but for everyone in this area.
It's the great thing that I feel about this community is that
everyone wants to be involved and everyone wants to help out.
and empty moorland.
Hundreds of square miles of wilderness.
This is the Scottish border country of Dumfries & Galloway.
We've come to Mochrum, in the south-west of the region.
This is a very tough terrain.
It's mostly made up of moorland with rocks and bogs, and winters here can
be very harsh. It takes a special kind of animal
to thrive in these conditions.
But these Belted Galloways, well, they just lap it up.
The Galloway is an ancient, hardy Scottish breed.
The famous belted version,
with its bright white hoop,
is thought to have first appeared in the 18th century.
It is said the white belt was deliberately
bred into the plain-coloured Galloway
so farmers could spot them at great distances,
and when you look at them, I have to say, it makes sense to me,
you really can pick them out in faraway fields.
Today, Belted Galloways are known worldwide,
and few are as famous as this - the Mochrum herd.
The herd was established at the turn of the 20th century.
That it rose to such prominence is thanks to the skills of one person,
the legendary Lady Flora Stewart,
who built up a strong belty herd in the 1960s.
And the descendants of that herd
still roam the same land on the estate today,
all under the watchful eye of belty fanatic Helen Ryman.
Helen and I are braving the weather,
but these belties live out here all winter.
When other breeds are tucked up in a nice warm barn,
Belted Galloways are out in the elements.
But it's no hardship. These animals are built for it.
It's harsh terrain out here,
particularly the higher ground that we've got.
It's wet and it can be cold, as we've got today.
Their coats are ideal for this.
They've got a double-layer coat,
so this kind of repels water and, under here is a, kind of, fine,
softer hair, that keeps them warm.
I see, so they've got two coats,
and that top one is just protecting them from the water.
Yes, it's this long fringe, keeps it out of their eyes.
They've got fluffy ears,
keeps the water and wind out of their ears.
So, they're snug as a bug in a rug, really.
You can feel the heat that is coming off the cows.
They're fine. They're absolutely toasty.
You started originally in sheep. Why the transition to belties?
What brought you across?
They're just interesting to work with.
They're just lovely. Oh, I sound like an idiot,
like, romanticising the Belted Galloway cow,
but they're just an absolute pleasure to work with.
It's their character moreover than anything, but
I think it's the way they can work intrinsically with the landscape.
They are intelligent and you've got to give them
the respect that they're due.
-But they can live and work out here.
They don't need the sheds to go in,
they don't need a lot of hard feeding.
They can go out here and survive without man.
They don't need us.
And they do their bit for conservation, too.
As they roam free, eating scrub and long grass,
rare plants and wildlife flourish in their wake.
They're taking what they need from the ground, but no more than that.
And it's allowing native plants,
such as wild orchids out here, to thrive.
We have newts out here, which are thriving,
we've got all manners of things.
We've got adders kicking about there, as well.
And they're all living happily with each other.
These girls are doing their job,
they're looking after it for us. We're not doing the work.
Living off rough pasture means that Belted Galloways are slower-growing
than more intensively-farmed breeds.
They're eating healthily, so the meat is consequently healthier.
And it's less fat.
It's far leaner meat and it's far better for us, as well,
and it tastes better, too. Sorry!
When you know them all by name, as you do,
and you have such fondness and affection,
can you, sort of, deal with that side of it?
I'm terrible. I'm the worst farmer in the world!
However, it has to be done,
and the way to ensure these girls' survival
and any rare breed is by eating them, unfortunately.
If there is a demand for their meat,
if the people go out and ask for that particular meat,
and natives are good, then it means we can farm them,
it means that people will want to buy them and keep them on the land.
If nobody wants to buy them and, unfortunately, eat them,
these girls are out of a job.
It's these qualities that have made
Belted Galloways so prized by farmers.
Bloodlines from Mochrum livestock
have helped establish herds all over the world.
Testament to the skill of Lady Flora Stewart.
She was evangelical about her belties,
promoting them worldwide and breeding a string of show winners.
She spent her time, her life, every waking minute that she had,
she was thinking about these girls.
But the legacy that she's left behind is quality cattle.
The belties are thriving and it's thanks to Miss Flora's work.
There are now Belted Galloways all over the globe,
from Australia to America.
But the Mochrum herd here at Dumfries & Galloway
remains one of the jewels in the crown.
To me, in many ways, you're, kind of, the chosen one.
You're the one that is now going to take this herd and, if you like,
this breed, on. How does that feel?
I try not to think about it too much,
because my main aim is to look after the girls, first and foremost.
But then, you can't help but think about,
"Oh, what Miss Flora did",
and if I could do half of that, I'd be...I'd be amazed.
I mean, she did a great job.
Falling dairy prices have been headline news for months, now.
But it's not just the price of milk that's been causing problems,
as Tom has been finding out.
For thousands of years,
our landscape has been shaped by farmers and farming.
Today, almost three quarters of land in the UK
is devoted to agriculture of one sort or another.
And, after two bumper harvests,
with productivity and efficiency on the up,
you might think that everything in the garden is rosy.
But it isn't.
Matt Bland's family have been farming this land in Cumbria
for four generations.
He's devoted his life to the dairy industry,
investing both time and money, but now,
like so many of his fellow farmers across the country,
he's selling up and getting out.
Morning, Matt. Oh, that's better.
Clean enough, today, I think. So, what are you up to this morning?
Just washing a bit of machinery off.
We're having a farm sale in May.
Does that feel a bit odd?
Yeah, well, this time of year, usually,
we'd be putting fertiliser on,
get the fields ready for spring, for the cows going out.
Why are you selling up?
Just with the way of the milk prices, you know.
18 months ago, it were 32p and today, we're 17.5p.
We did a six-month cash flow, and, yeah,
we had to go to a bank and asked to borrow
X amount of thousands of pounds.
-I mean, you say thousands...
-Is it hundreds of thousands? Really?
-Yeah. Hundreds of thousands.
I mean, my wife sat down a couple of nights and talked,
"Well, you know, you have to pay it back".
We've just decided enough was enough.
Matt considered switching to beef or sheep farming,
but they're not doing well, either.
Now, all but 70 of his herd of 280 cows have gone, and very soon,
most of his land will go, too.
He's keeping just a few acres, to start a new business in tourism,
and a few sheep for his children.
He'll hang onto the house and the farm buildings, too.
How weird is that going to seem, walking round here,
seeing the buildings here, but without any livestock,
without any farming action?
It'll be very quiet. We've always had livestock here, all along.
Everyone says, "How are you going to manage?"
And what's your answer?
Well, we don't know, yet.
It's going to be very hard.
It will be hard for Matt's family, too.
He has a wife and three children,
and farming permeates every part of their lives.
How big a change is this going to be for you?
It's going to be a very big change for us all,
and I'm quite concerned what the future will be.
But I do feel that we can't carry on flogging a dead horse,
we can't see any light at the end of the tunnel.
It upsets me that the kids love farming...
..and they've never known anything else,
but I can't burden it onto them and put them through the stress and the
worry that myself and Matt have gone through over the last ten years.
What are you going to be doing on the day of the sale?
Well, I'll be here. We'll all be involved as a family,
but it will be a hard day.
No matter how painful it is, you'll see it through.
It's the end of a long tradition for the Bland family,
but this story is not just played out on dairy farms.
For the first time in years,
this state of affairs is mirrored in much of the industry.
Right now, across the board,
prices seem to be heading in one direction - downhill.
Just as dairy farmers hoped the price of milk had hit rock bottom,
it dropped again,
and I recently reported on how falling land prices
are affecting the sheep business.
Beef prices are down, pig prices are down,
even arable has been struggling.
Just about the only sector that is doing OK is poultry.
So, what's making 2016 such a bleak year for UK farmers?
Economic analyst Sean Rickard has a wealth of experience
of the farming industry, and the perfect storm
that is currently hitting it.
What's the combination of factors which is
causing quite a few farmers to struggle right now?
Well, on the demand side, there's been a slowdown in demand.
China has slowed down,
Russia is banning imports from the EU,
and there has been an expansion in
production because there were higher prices a couple of years ago,
and as a result of this,
we have supply going up at a time when demand is coming down.
Just a small difference, but it makes a great deal of difference
in the prices farmers receive.
Do you think we're going to see any kind of uptake
in some of these prices, maybe later this year?
Yes, I do. I think we're just about at the bottom now,
or over the next two or three months,
and I would expect 2017 to be a lot better.
As things pick up, of course,
it will be because a lot of farmers have ceased production.
I'm sorry, but that is the way,
that is the nature of business in farming.
Farmers go out, there is a recovery,
and the farmers that remain then enjoy
higher prices for a time, until they over-expand production,
and then they all fall again, and we're back into the same cycle.
So, for the surviving farmers to thrive,
they actually NEED some to go to the wall?
I'm afraid that is the reality - and it always has been.
For Matt Bland and his family,
this perfect storm spells the end of a way of life.
Next month, their land will be sold off and, for them,
farming will become a thing of the past.
Agriculture is at the heart of the rural economy and society,
so it's not just farmers and their families that are suffering.
Later on, I'll be looking at the wider impact of this devastating
combination of circumstances.
-This wild expanse of hills and lochs,
castles and rich pasture is the Threave Estate Nature Reserve
in Dumfries and Galloway.
That impressive-looking ruin is Threave Castle,
built some 650 years ago by the third Earl of Douglas,
also known as Archibald the Grim.
The Grim Earl has long gone.
Today, Threave is run by the National Trust for Scotland
and is home to some of Britain's most treasured wildlife,
like the red kite and the osprey.
This place might be rich in wildlife,
but it doesn't guarantee you're going to see anything, even by day.
I'm incredibly fortunate to see these birds of prey,
but wildlife by night?
No chance. Or is there?
Keith Kirk reckons there is.
He's a wildlife ranger and photographer,
who uses the latest night-vision cameras to see wildlife after dark.
-How you doing?
-Good to see you, Keith.
-So this is the nightmobile?
This is the nightmobile, yes.
And I've been told that there's lots of wildlife around here.
At night-time, you'll see a lot of creatures that you wouldn't normally
see during the day. The animals feel quite safe,
but because we're looking at them through night-imaging devices,
then we can see a lot more of the interaction
between the animals themselves.
Using knowledge gained over his 35 years as a ranger,
Keith knows exactly where to look.
The night-vision cameras do the rest.
See, that's just going over the bridge,
-you can see the heat up here.
And the field, the dark is the grass,
so that's a completely open field.
You know, any creature in that, it would pick it up instantly.
OK. Let's see, is there anything in this field?
-There, there, there!
-It's a herd of deer.
You're seeing that in a black-and-white vision,
but if you open the window and look outside, it is black dark.
You cannot see your hand in front of your face.
How close are they to the vehicle?
That camera is wide angle, so they're not that far away.
It feels like a real privilege
to have this view of their world, really.
-To know there are probably over 50 deer...
..just hanging out, doing what's deer do as night.
-Yeah, yeah, just out of the window.
We'll park up now and we'll head off into the night,
and see what we can find using the thermal cameras.
Fantastic. My first-ever night-time safari walk.
-Yeah, and hopefully not your last.
There is one creature, in particular, I'm hoping to see.
And with Keith's special cameras in hand, I'm feeling pretty confident.
It is pitch-black out here.
It is very dark tonight.
I've never seen so many stars in the UK.
-It really is.
-We're right on the edge of the dark sky park here,
and yeah, some nights, the sky is unbelievable.
Let's go and see what we can find.
Let's see if all those carrots I've been eating have worked or not.
'Conditions are perfect, and we don't have to wait long.'
-Put it up to your eye.
-Yeah. Oh, yeah! There they are. Are they deer?
-They're roe deer.
It's bizarre when you take your eye away from the lens,
you still can't see anything.
-See, that's giving you
more definition round the animals.
You switch it into black, you get more of the outline of the animal.
-Oh, that's amazing.
-And that's all I do,
-we don't want to keep disturbing them.
-So we'll move off.
-We'll leave them alone.
'A good spot, but not what I'm after.'
If you look across, you'll see the castle, now.
-It looks a bit different from during the day.
I didn't realise we were there.
Yeah, yeah. That's it. Well, this is a very cold night.
Normally, when we get to here,
this is one of the best places to view bats.
'It may be too cold for bats,
'but other creatures are beginning to stir.'
And you'll see, now, this is something that's
just come out of hibernation. They can cover a big area.
Some people say about up to 2km.
He's... He's on the go!
His little back legs are going for it.
-Oh, how cute!
Yeah. Let's go and have a quick look...
-Shall we try?
-Yeah, before he disappears for the night.
When you approach a hedgehog like that, when it coils up,
it depends on how threatened it feels what it does with its spines.
They can crisscross their spines or they can put them straight up.
-Straight up means, "Yeah, I'm extremely worried,
"whatever's going to be against me here."
Crisscrossed, they are less threatened.
-Shall we see what this one's doing?
-Very difficult to say.
-No, no, it's still...
-See, no, he's quite happy. He's off.
'Hedgehogs are a rare sight these days, so that was a treat.
'But still not what I'm hoping to see.'
What have you got there?
'Could this be it?'
-Just at the gate.
-See, it's coming through underneath.
He's darting around.
Yeah, mice never stay still for very long.
They're great. Some people tell us it's the highlight of their tour,
-seeing mice darting about.
-It is very special to see a little mouse.
Oh, I love mice.
-That was great.
-That was brilliant.
-Glad we saw that.
Me, too. Well done spotting that, Keith.
All that felt like a real adventure.
Magical. I mean, trying to navigate through the fields and the path,
I couldn't actually see where my feet were,
but because of this fantastic technology,
I was able to see all of that nocturnal wildlife
and get a glimpse into a rare world.
Who'd have thought it? Under this starry, starry sky.
That was really magical.
Now, a few months back, Sean was in the Peak District,
helping out with the restoration of one of the area's
most historic buildings.
The Dark Peak,
whose age-old gritstone has been worked by man for centuries.
And look at that! It takes raw power to get at it.
In this quarry near Bakewell,
massive lumps of gritstone are cut to size by giant saws.
The stone is prized for its qualities
as a building material throughout the land.
Here in Derbyshire, it's seen in many farms and houses,
and it's throwing a lifeline to some old buildings.
Like this one. Haddon Hall, one of the Dark Peak's crowning glories.
It's one of the finest examples of a medieval manor house in existence.
But time has taken its toll.
It's been here for centuries.
It's made from this hard, grey limestone
and this sandy-coloured gritstone.
And it sits directly on the limestone bedrock.
This is, quite literally, the foundation of the building.
1,000 years of habitation has left its mark.
The soft gritstone, shaped by its occupants.
The exposed stone at the mercy of the elements.
The building fell badly into disrepair in the 1700s and 1800s,
and it wasn't until the 20th century that restoration began in earnest.
Jo Walker is the current head steward.
-Hi, Jo. Lovely to meet you.
-Hello, Sean. Lovely to meet you, too.
Wow, this is a wonderful place. As soon as you arrive here,
you get a real sense that it is steeped in history.
Still, when you look at it, it's remarkable
that it is kept in such a good state.
It's a good, solid building.
There was quite a lot of restoration in the 1920s,
but, unfortunately, some of that's backfired,
because the technique at that time was to shore things up
with concrete and cement, which is quite a hard material,
compared to the sandstone and the limestone
of which the house is built,
and now we are having to redo those areas.
So, a black mark for the restorers of the 1920s?
Yes, but only a tiny black mark, I think, don't you?
But a big tick to the medieval builders of this place?
A big tick to the medieval builders
and a big tick to the restoration that we are doing now.
And it is a big job, isn't it?
-There's lots to do.
-It's a huge job.
As you look around, there is crumbling bits
left, right and centre.
And we are in the middle of this
big 30-year programme that's going to restore all of this,
get it back to how we want it,
and give us a house for another 1,000 years.
Will people in 100 years' time look back and say,
-"You didn't quite do that right"?
-I hope not!
That would be absolutely terrible!
I'm sure you're doing a wonderful job!
The hard mortar they used in the 1920s restoration
has been trapping water, causing the gritstone to deteriorate rapidly.
Now, it's being replaced with mortar made to the original medieval
recipes and the decayed stone is being replaced with stone from
the quarry up the road.
Mark Eaton is in charge of the new restoration.
Hi, Mark. You look busy.
-Can I disturb you?
-Hi, of course you can. That's fine. Yeah.
How long have you been working here for?
-For the last 27 years.
-On and off.
-That's a massive project!
-Yeah, it is. It is.
One of the first things I did was working on
the clock tower to the chapel. The octagonal tower,
we took that down to its sill course.
Reason being, because the erosion to the stonework
started to get structural, so we had to address that.
And one of the things I do remember from that is,
when I was taking it down,
finding in the joints between the stones, oyster shells that were
used as sort of gap filling.
So, oyster shells from the 1400s?
Yeah, so, freshwater oysters.
I managed to gather about a bucketful.
That's amazing! So whoever lived here was dining out on oysters?
They did very well. Yeah. Yeah.
All the stone that can be replaced is being replaced.
But there is some stone that's irreplaceable.
Haddon's famous gargoyles are bearing up,
but it's a constant battle to keep the elements at bay.
Time for me to do my bit.
So, Mark, we've made it up to one of the gargoyles.
-What have we got to do here?
Right. What I'd like to do here is actually take off this moss,
because this moss harbours the water,
keeps the water in, doesn't let it dry out.
You can see. It's keeping it really moist, isn't it?
It is, yeah. So, if you'd like to use this one.
-There we are. Use this end here.
All right. OK. And just scrape?
Yeah, so we're just going to lift it off.
-Oh, it comes off very easily, doesn't it?
There we are.
So what's unique about the gargoyles here at Haddon Hall?
Back then, more so with church work as well,
it was to ward off the evil spirits,
because on churches, you've got more dragons and ferocious beasts.
This isn't a ferocious beast.
No, no, this is slightly different, here. This is more comical, here.
These are gargoyles of some of the people that worked here,
and the different trades, crafts, stonemasons.
So this could be John... John the gargoyle builder?
John the gargoyle builder, yeah! Yeah, he's got a cleaver here.
Maybe John the butcher, possibly.
-They're not a pretty bunch, are they, some of them?
-They're not, no, no.
-There's one over there and it's a guy...
Is it pulling a face or... holding his mouth, in some way?
Yeah, he's got... If you can see,
he's actually got a bandage over the top of his head,
and around under his jaw and he's pulling his mouth to one side.
And it's pretty much like he's got severe toothache.
-Yeah. Yeah. They're faring very well, really.
Cleaning this moss off helps us look and just see what is happening
to the stonework. And it's in good condition.
The work here is ongoing.
There's still plenty of stone to cut, mortar to point,
windows to replace...
And, I dare say, gargoyles to clean.
A perfect storm of low prices, late payments
and increasing debt has created a very real crisis
on many farms across the UK.
Now the ripples are affecting the entire rural community,
as Tom's been finding out.
There's a whole supply chain that relies
on the financial health of farming. Seed, feed, fertiliser, and...
Robert Davies has been selling new and used farm machinery here
in Shropshire for almost 30 years.
-Good morning, Robert.
I see you've got plenty in the yard.
-Yeah, more than I'd like, to be honest.
'Recently, he's seen a dramatic fall in demand,
'and his yard is packed with machines looking for a buyer.'
How tough is it at the moment?
It's the toughest I've known our industry,
-probably since I started in business.
I got my secretary to look up some figures yesterday.
From March 2015 through to yesterday,
sales in almost every sector that I sell into
have dropped by 40 to 50%.
In terms of what's around us here, can you give me an example
of something you would expect to have shifted,
but is hanging around in the yard?
Most dairy farmers are using these giant food mixers, and basically,
the dairy farmer has just put his cheque book to one side and said,
"No, we'll manage with what we've got."
And normally, I would like to carry two to three.
I think there's 13 there this morning.
And each one roughly goes for...?
Well, they're about £10,000 a piece.
Wow. So there's at least £100,000 worth of machinery sitting there
-that's not in your bank account.
Cash. This is it, it's cashflow.
And if there is no cash flowing through farms
and rural businesses, like Robert's,
the knock-on effects are felt throughout the countryside.
Just down the road here in Kinnerly,
this village is one of the lucky ones.
It still has a pub, but only just.
The community had to take it over last October,
and it won't reopen till later this year.
But the shop's still functioning, and it even has a post office.
Still, the worry is that the financial problems
affecting farmers will filter through to places like this.
"..plight of the industry".
That rather tells the story.
-I'll take that,
-The Farmers' Guardian, thank you very much.
Charles Smith is from the Farming Community Network,
a charity that works directly with farmers facing difficult times.
-Nice to see you. Thanks for coming out.
What stresses are you seeing throughout the rural community?
Well, there's absolutely no doubt that the poor cashflows in farming
are having an impact across the whole of the countryside.
Farmers are the life and soul of rural communities,
and when they are struggling, the whole community struggles, I think.
What are you seeing in terms of the volume of calls
that are coming into you?
Well, sadly, it's increased dramatically
over the last three months.
We are running at about three times normal volume of calls for this time
of year. Farmers and their families are really desperate at the moment.
And what kind of range of things are they ringing up and saying?
But seldom is it only financial -
there are often other issues involved, as well.
So, relationship difficulties, physical health issues,
because they're working really hard to try and make ends meet,
but also mental wellbeing issues, as well.
Depression is really prevalent at the moment,
and if uncared for,
sadly, that can lead to suicide, as well.
If I were a steelworker, I might be watching this thinking,
don't I deserve the same level of help and sympathy?
Well, I think they do, actually,
because they have been part of producing the country's wealth
over centuries, and they're facing devastation to their lives, as well.
And it is true that we should care for them,
but food is a fundamental for every one of us in the country,
and if we don't have a viable farming industry,
then we risk not having a safe and secure supply of food,
and that would impact on absolutely everybody in the country.
So is there any light at the end of the tunnel for those struggling on?
Sean Rickard thinks there is,
but there are some hard lessons to be learned along the way.
I think the best thing we can say to anyone,
whether they're in food or any business,
is focus on becoming very efficient.
Focus on becoming very productive.
Get your costs down.
Observe your market,
and make sure that you are supplying what the market needs.
That is the surest way to survive.
There are many small farming businesses
that are hanging on by their fingertips.
I feel very sorry for them,
but we should remember that, in this country here,
we have many very successful farmers. They are innovative,
they provide the basis for a very efficient, world-class,
competitive food industry in this country.
And we should not overlook that when we talk about crisis.
We have, in this industry, the means of becoming world beaters.
Without a jump in farm gate prices,
the message for farmers seems to be adapt to survive.
And, if you really can't do that,
bite the bullet and get out.
Easy to say, maybe,
but an anguished decision for anyone with farming in the blood.
Once, long ago, every acre of this landscape would have been forested.
Juniper, aspen, rowan and willow, as far as the eye could see.
But man and agriculture have changed all that.
The land was given over to grazing.
Trees were felled, scrub cleared,
it became completely different to how it once was.
But here things are changing.
These are the volunteers of the Cree Valley Community Woodlands Trust
in Dumfries and Galloway.
They're growing saplings, to plant in the high places
of Galloway's Forest Park,
as part of a major Forestry Commission product.
I'm meeting one of the trustees, Paul Collin, to find out more.
-Good to see you.
-How are you doing?
-Very well, thank you.
What is the project, what's the plan here?
Well, it all stems from native woodland.
Native broadleaved woodland used to cover about 80% of the UK.
Most of our wildlife is derived from that,
so these habitats still hold
huge numbers of insects, fungi and plants.
Cuttings are taken from native trees growing in the wild.
They're potted and grown at various nurseries around the country.
So, what's growing here?
These are Salix lapponum, or downy willow.
This is a montane woodland scrub.
And what's montane woodland scrub?
-What makes it different?
-Well, trees only grow up to a certain level,
and once you get higher up the hill,
the exposure rate - the amount of frost, the amount of snow -
means that the trees start becoming quite stunted and small.
And true woodland can't really grow up there.
But there are some specialist species that occur
which are adapted to that high altitude
and also Arctic situations.
And they are referred to as montane species.
So this plan is to plant these up and put them back on the hill
and try and recreate some of that montane woodland scrub.
How big's the project?
What's the size of the area that you're covering?
At the moment, Forestry Commission are looking at planting 300 hectares
in one block. They hope to complete by 2017
and they're using plants grown by our volunteers
here at the Cree Valley.
If the project is successful,
it will be rolled out over a further 4,500 hectares.
That's around 11,000 acres of mountain landscape.
So what's the plan for these?
They grow here, and then what?
These are cuttings which have just been potted up.
And then where... Where's their next destination?
They stay here for a year and then they're going up onto the hills
above Loch Trool.
So I suppose I need to get up there?
If you're going to see the project, that's where you go.
On a day like today, it's going to be interesting out there.
-Are you going to join me?
-I think I'll give that one a miss!
Now, as part of the BBC's Food And Farming Awards,
we asked you to nominate your farming heroes.
And you did.
We've heard hundreds of stories of people going out of their way
to make the countryside a better place.
Adam and Charlotte have whittled down the nominations,
and here's their final contender.
We're heading to a fairly remote corner of the UK.
This is the ferry to the Kintyre Peninsula.
And we're heading to meet the third of our finalists
for the Countryfile Farming Heroes award, who's a sheep farmer.
And we'll find out why the ferry connection is so important
-to the local community.
-And how he is a central character.
Our search started earlier this year,
when we asked you to tell us about your farming heroes.
You sent in hundreds of nominations.
That's where us two - the judges - step in.
Charlotte Smith, a familiar Countryfile face,
and a presenter on Radio Four's Farming Today programme.
And yours truly, Adam Henson,
arable and livestock producer, and Countryfile's roving farmer.
We've sifted through the nominations
and selected three finalists to visit.
It was a tough task, because they were all heroes.
We've already been to Cumbria to meet a team of heroes -
the young farmers who helped the people of Carlisle
during December's floods.
There's the young farmers' cavalry!
-From my mother, thank you very much.
And to Herefordshire, to meet an individual hero, Julia Evans,
who set up a care farm to help vulnerable teenagers.
Why do I do it? It's incredibly rewarding.
I'm very proud of a lot of our youngsters.
Now we're in Scotland, to meet our third finalist, John Armour,
a community hero.
So, Adam, I've heard John is in this one, in here.
-In a radio station?
You're listening to Argyle FM 106.5, 107.1 and 107.7.
John helped launch this local radio station, but that's just the start.
He's a central character in the Kintyre community,
always on hand to help others, with energy and generosity.
So our third and final nominee is a stalwart of Campbeltown -
-Hello Adam, hi, Charlotte.
-Sorry to interrupt.
You must be big John.
I'm big John, and this is wee John.
Now, I was told you were a shepherd.
-What are you doing in here?
..that's my sort of job, but this is my bolthole.
This is where I get away from the farm, to talk about farming.
Now, then, John, can I come out to your farm with you and have a look
round, and I'll leave Charlotte here? She's the expert radio host.
Now I get to be in charge!
So what's he really like, big John?
Big John, well, he's a great guy.
He's a very busy chap, very, very busy.
He seems to be involved in every...
..part of the community. He's a real pillar of the community.
And you need people like John to just get things going?
He brings it all together. He's one of the voices everyone knows,
not just from doing the radio,
he's also the secretary of the local Kintyre Agricultural Society,
which is pretty much a full-time job on its own.
And all the farmers know John from that.
When he's not helping out others,
John's real work is the tough job of rearing sheep
on the family's 500-acre farm, high above the town.
As a busy man, John has got lots of willing help
from friends and family.
This is a stunningly beautiful farm, isn't it?
-How long have you lived here?
-I've been here all my life.
Now, you're known as Big John.
You're on the radio and you're involved with the local agriculture.
-Everybody seems to know you.
How do you find the time to do all these things?
Because I've got great folk round about me.
My family, absolutely fantastic.
And lots of other people who are willing to muck in
and allow me to do the things that I do.
Now, Campbeltown is very remote, isn't it?
How important is that sense of community?
Community spirit is very, very essential because...
..over the years, I've had many campaigns here,
for a kidney dialysis machine, school closure campaigns,
and it brings everyone together.
We had a serious snowfall, as well, in 2013,
where we were cut off for five days.
And everyone just came together, as they always do.
We all worked together, and that's why I feel Kintyre and Campbeltown
is a fantastic place to live.
John was nominated by another farmer,
his old friend Marianne Mitchell.
She farms beef cattle 300 miles south in Somerset.
So Charlotte's catching up with her by video call.
I have to say, when I read the nomination,
I just assumed he was retired.
And a lot older than he actually is.
How does he find the time?
Just run me through what he does for this place.
Right, well, one of the biggest things is the community radio.
Helping set that up and get sponsorship and built it up
to what it is today, and being one of the presenters,
and he presents the farming programme and sports programme
and the ceilidh and the Blast From The Past...
But John also does the Kintyre Agricultural Society,
so he's a bit of a voice for the farming community, as well.
And not only that,
he brings those who are not in agriculture in
to see the animals and the ploughing and the shows,
and just gets everybody involved.
Cos he's also involved in amateur dramatics, the ferry campaign,
the local school...?
Yup. And the Young Farmers' clubs and the Scouts,
and...basically, anybody who wants a hand,
John's going to give them a hand.
So, for you, he's a Countryfile hero?
Absolutely. Through and through.
And there's one big local issue that really needed a helping hand.
To end the feeling of isolation,
John led a battle to get the first-ever car ferry service
between Kintyre and the Scottish West Coast...
..putting Campbeltown back on the map.
We're almost an island, but we have one road in and one road out.
Campbeltown is about as far away as you can get in the British mainland
for a train station. So, we've nothing like that,
that other towns of a comparable size have.
So this is why we campaigned for it,
to get a ferry to come into Campbeltown.
Thanks to that campaign,
there's now a summer service linking Campbeltown to Ardrossan.
It's been a huge boost to business and tourism,
as Charlotte's been hearing from campsite owner Ewan Macdonald.
You're on a peninsula here, so why is a ferry so important?
For many folk that visit us, they've heard about us,
they know what's here and what we are all about,
but, yeah, it's just been too far for them to come.
So, how instrumental was John, then, in getting all this going?
John was great. John is just one of these characters
that doesn't give up when he's got a bone!
People listen to him, people like him.
He's very approachable.
-Obviously very persuasive, we know now!
He is an asset to the community, I think.
So what was it like, then,
when you found out that you were nominated
as a Countryfile farming hero?
It was a complete shock, to be perfectly honest.
I really thought somebody was having a wind-up with me.
It took me quite a few minutes to realise this was true,
but...I consider it a great honour.
Not for myself, personally,
but for everyone in this area, that are so willing to help out
in any event. That's the great thing I feel about this community,
is that everyone wants to be involved,
and everyone wants to help out.
Our visit to Kintyre has shown how John's community spirit
is pivotal to life here.
His determination to get things done and willingness to be involved
makes him a worthy finalist in our search for a farming hero.
Well, Charlotte, this really isn't going to be easy, is it?
-Coming up with our winner?
-It really isn't.
I mean, we've got John in Campbeltown,
who's pretty much involved with everything.
And then Julia, down south, who takes on these teenagers,
and, well, changes lives, I think, really.
Yeah, she does, and then, of course, the young farmers up in Cumbria,
who helped out in a crisis.
-It's not going to be easy.
-So how are we going to decide, then?
Well, I think we sit down over a pint and have a long chat.
Maybe whisky, you know, we are in Scotland.
-That's a good point!
I'm here at Mochrum Castle in Dumfries and Galloway,
visiting the historic herd of Belted Galloway cattle.
The Mochrum herd is known all over the world,
thanks largely to the legendary breeder, Lady Flora Stewart.
She was passionate about the animals,
and took great pride in showing them.
It's a tradition that's being continued by current herd manager,
Helen's got two prize specimens she's showing this summer.
-That's Lilac III.
-And this is Lila.
-Lila and Lilac.
Right, so, just gently...
Just give her a good tug, and she'll come with you.
After a winter out in the mud and rain,
Lila and Lilac are not looking their best.
What's needed is a bit of farmyard pampering.
But they seem reluctant.
-The fact they're leaving their food is their biggest turmoil.
If I was dragged away at dinner time,
I'd have something to say about it, as well!
Helen's going to show me
the kind of preparation that happens on show days.
These ladies are soon to give birth,
but as soon as they get their figures back,
they'll be strutting their stuff in the show ring.
-There you go.
-Right, got the tools.
-Here's a set for you.
One of those, one of those.
OK. Can you just point out to me what it is that the judges will be
looking for when you take these to show?
She's got a good belt on her.
It's not too broad,
it doesn't go beyond here, and it's not too far forward.
Oh, I see. So it's nicely contained.
-Almost like a saddle there, isn't it?
A good, meaty cow.
She's got a lot of meat on her, and she's not fed.
This is just... She looks after herself by herself.
So, she's got plenty of butcher's...
-..cuts on her, as well, which is good.
-You come to her front,
she's got a nice broad muzzle here, and it's not too long down here.
That's what I find really attractive - how broad that is,
and the shaggy hair.
A broad head means they've got more brains in there, as well.
That's the theory. Well, in my books, anyhow!
If only it was an intelligence test.
But to become a show winner, Lila really needs some beauty treatment.
So, what would you do to prepare her?
Just start brushing her out.
We can start at the front, work your way back.
I try to keep one hand on them at all times, and then you can...
You've always got a point of contact with them.
-So you can move about.
And just brush her out. Get all the...
It's just getting rid of some of the muck and some of the hair?
-And lifting the dead hair off her, as well.
Now, this is all about showing them, isn't it,
because Mochrum Castle's actually a very private place,
-it's not open to the public.
But you are making sure the Mochrum herd are in the public eye.
It's just a good advert for the breed.
If you take these out to shows, and the public get to see them,
they get to see what you're talking about,
and they learn more about the environment and farming as well,
so it covers a lot of bases, and it's...
..good fun, as well.
Look at all that! Isn't that amazing?
We have the best bird nests anywhere,
because the little birds will take that off,
and they'll have black and white nests, and it's lovely.
-Gosh, it's a proper salon, isn't it?
-Oh, it's lovely.
Going anywhere nice on holiday this year?
Oh, Highland Show!
Well, we've got Lila and Lilac looking fit for the show ring,
but will they behave on the catwalk?
So, it's one thing having them looking great,
but then you've got to show them off.
How important is halter training?
Well, it's important for the fact
that you want them to walk well in the ring.
You don't get judged on how they walk,
but it shows them off to a better advantage
if you can have them under control but walking freely,
their, kind of, head's up, they've relaxed,
and it's anything that you can do to attract the judge's eye
for the right reasons.
Helen needs her ladies as docile as a dog on a lead,
so her best belties need to be happy wearing a halter.
As far as they're concerned, they're going on a wee walk with their pal,
and they're going to get a wee treat at the end of it,
and they're happy with that.
They actually thoroughly enjoy the attention, they really do.
I mean, they lap it up!
-Also they look blinking good in the halter as well.
Helen makes it look easy.
As for me, I'm not sure who's halter training who.
-She's teaching you how to walk!
-Yeah. Here we go. SHE LAUGHS
She's leading me round the corner again.
She's showing me off. I don't know what the judges would make of me,
but she's obviously very proud to be here with me.
Is that right?
-She's just a show-off.
Whether these belties catch the judges' eye or not,
the Mochrum herd and the breed are today firmly in the limelight,
thanks to the hard work of Lady Flora Stewart
and those who followed in her footsteps.
We're in Dumfries and Galloway, the lowlands of Scotland.
Famed for its castle, its dark skies and its landscapes.
Here in the Galloway Forest Park,
there's a major conservation project underway.
Native trees are being returned to the high acres.
Species like juniper, rowan and sessile oak
are being grown from cuttings taken in the wild.
My job will be to plant these...
But before then, I'm meeting expert ecologist Dr Peter Hopkin,
to learn more about the kinds of trees that thrive at altitude.
Well, we're looking here at a spread of willows.
The Salix lapponum or downy willow, which is...
There's more downy willow growing in this mountain range here
than probably many other parts of Scotland.
It's a very local species and rare species,
and so, as a project,
we're saving it for the future.
This is my favourite.
I've always liked the juniper since I lived in the Hebrides.
This is a lovely species, an evergreen species.
And you'll like it, I'm sure.
It smells just like gin.
Is it that obvious? You know me well, Peter.
-It's a really tough plant.
It's tough because it's close to the ground.
It can withstand extremes of temperature and high wind,
and of course, often, flames from the burning of the moor
will blow over the top of it, as well.
It demonstrates wonderfully
how it's going to look up on the mountain, but...
-Oh, you wait and see!
-I think... They can't put it off any longer.
I'm going to have to get up there, aren't I, Peter?
Oh, yes, yes. It's quite a climb.
Right, where's the car?
It takes a good half an hour in a 4x4 to get up the mountain.
The team at the top are already hard at it.
Expert plantsman James Short is in charge.
-Hi, Anita. SHE CHUCKLES
-Is this what you call extreme gardening?
-It is, yeah.
-This is incredible.
-It is pretty extreme.
It is, isn't it, especially on a day like today.
-Is it dreich, is this the Scottish term, dreich?
-It IS dreich.
So, I've seen the saplings down in the polytunnel.
I've seen the finished product you want to look like.
Tell me what you're doing up here.
I've just been doing a bit of planting.
The guys here have been doing some screefing,
where they take the turf away, and then we just plant the trees.
And how many have you planted so far?
On this site, there's over 100,000 in the ground now.
Shall I have a try with that? That looks like a great instrument.
Down here, just, yep, that's it.
Right down at the footplate and then push it backwards and forwards.
-And then twist it round with both hands.
-This is so satisfying, isn't it? THEY LAUGH
Ready for one of the saplings to go in.
In you go. Good luck, sapling!
And we'll pat you down.
How many more have you got to do?
There's about 40,000 to go in still, so...
40,000? Better crack on, then, hadn't we?
-There's a few to do(!)
-Right, let's keep going!
I love it!
So how long do you expect before we'll see these develop into...
-In about ten years' time,
you'll start to see some mounds appear, little trees appearing.
So if I came back here in about 100, 200 years' time,
-the landscape would be very different.
-It would, indeed, yeah.
There'd be lots of little trees everywhere.
And, yeah, lots of downy willow and juniper, as well.
Lots of hardcore, downy willow.
-Like you, James!
Well, I don't know about that!
Yeah. Maybe not.
I think so. Only 40,000 left to do!
-It'll soon be tea-time.
-Joe! You made it up the mountain!
What are the chances of finding you in all the mist?
-Here we are.
-Quite special, isn't it?
What a soggy pair we are, eh?
Oh, I know, but don't worry, warm-hearted, warm-hearted!
-This looks good.
-There's a lot more to do, don't you worry.
You've come at just the right time.
That is it from Dumfries & Galloway.
We've had a spectacular time here, despite the weather.
Yes! And join us next week, when we'll be celebrating the life
and work of one William Shakespeare,
400 years after his death.
-DAME JUDI DENCH:
-"This royal throne of kings,
"this sceptred isle.
"This blessed plot."
You can feel this place in Shakespeare's writings.
How about this, then?
-Oh, my word.
-Isn't it wonderful?
-"All hail Macbeth. Thou shalt be king hereafter."
So, Joe, there's 40,000 to do, so we'll be here for a while.
-Join us next week.
-Right, so, in?
-Yep. Backwards and forwards.
Joe Crowley and Anita Rani are in Dumfries and Galloway. Joe meets Helen Ryman, who looks after the famous Mochrun herd of Belted Galloway cattle. He learns that the herd was established by legendary Galloway breeder Flora Stuart back in the 1920s. Helen plans to put this famous herd back on the map, which means showing them at agricultural shows all over the land. Joe sees what it takes to get a full-grown Belted Galloway bull spick and span for the show ring.
Anita is on a safari with a difference. She joins photographer Keith Kirk after dark, looking for wildlife. Keith reckons that nighttime is the best time to see foxes, badgers, bats and maybe even pine martens. And thanks to the latest night vison technology they could be in luck.
Anita also joins the community volunteers looking to return trees to Dumfries and Galloway's highest places. So she puts on her hiking boots, grabs some willow saplings and sets off for the nearest mountain.
Sean Fletcher is at Haddon Hall, one of the finest medieval buildings in the Peak District, where he helps out with some delicate restoration work.
Adam Henson is here with the last of this year's nominees for Countryfile's Farming Hero. As more people leave the farming industry, Tom Heap investigates whether 2016 is the toughest year yet for farmers.