Ten years on from the fox hunting ban, Matt Baker visits the oldest pack of foxhounds in the country and Tom Heap hears from people on both sides of the debate.
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The gently undulating Cotswold hills,
picture-postcard stone villages...
..miles of ancient woodland...
..and the magnificent River Severn.
This is Gloucestershire.
And it's where I call home.
This is my little apple orchard
and I've got some pretty big plans for it.
I want to bring in some cattle to graze it off,
potentially make some cider with these ancient apple varieties
and, most importantly, manage it for wildlife,
so I'm going to start by planting my own little wild-flower oasis.
And, tonight, you can join me because we're giving away
200,000 packets of wild-flower seeds like these.
How much exercise do you want to take?
The Princess Royal has lived in Gloucestershire for four decades.
Tom's been finding out about the challenges she faces,
from breeding horses to bovine TB.
How do you feel when you do get positive results in the sense
that your cattle do have TB and some have to be put down?
Well, you know, when you've got a cow and a calf of that size...
it's more than deeply frustrating. It's really upsetting.
Adam is on home turf, too.
I'm a Gloucestershire boy born and bred,
and I love living and working here.
One of the great things about the county
are our local breeds, like the Gloucestershire Old Spot here,
one of my favourites.
And, today, I'm looking at them all.
And John's celebrating the centenary
of one of the county's favourite writers.
Laurie Lee was born here in the Slad Valley near Stroud,
and it was the place that inspired him to write his most famous novel,
Cider With Rosie.
I'll be meeting his daughter to find out more about the man
and about his love for this beautiful landscape.
Gloucestershire, a glorious gateway between the Midlands
and southwest England.
The Royal Forest of Dean guarding its western frontier.
To its east, chocolate-box Cotswold villages.
And, cutting deep through its centre, the River Severn.
The Forest of Dean isn't the only piece of this county
with royal connections.
I've come to this 400-acre estate in the heart of Gloucestershire
to meet someone who's been farming here for nearly 40 years
and she's someone you might have heard of.
ARCHIVE: Princess Anne and Captain Phillips
are planning to become farmers in the grand manner.
Today's announcement by Buckingham Palace said
they would run the estate as a farming enterprise.
Though you may associate farming more with her older brother,
the Princess Royal Princess Anne is arguably the most rural of royals.
Today, she runs Gatcombe with her husband, Sir Timothy Lawrence,
and she's farmed livestock here for almost four decades.
But she's also involved in nearly 50 countryside organisations
and has recently hit the headlines
with her opinions on rural housing and eating horse meat.
Should we be considering a real market for horse meat?
It's really nice to come back
and be able to just be yourself in an area like this.
I'll be delving deeper
into her sometimes controversial views on the countryside.
But, first, I want to discover
why she's made these Gloucestershire hills her home.
It seems a bit banal to be walking through here and saying,
"What do you like about this place?"
It's sort of screamingly obvious, isn't it?
It's not bad, really. Not bad, really.
But having now been here, it must be close to 40 years,
-you must have got a real love for the place.
We've been here long enough to have a bit of an impact on the place.
We put it back to grass. We changed the way it's farmed.
Introduced three horse trials now, occasional events.
But, you know, we've done... These stone walls,
they don't stay like that without a bit of effort
and we've done a lot of stonewalling as well.
Bit by bit, we've added value, I suppose.
We started to manage the woodland, changed the farming here.
And of course, as time's gone by, it's learning how to manage it
If that's farming, it's the responsibility of landowning
and land management to make the best possible use of the ground.
And it's been really interesting.
You must be aware of the danger that some people are saying,
"Well, she's only doing this because of birthright,
"because of privileged position."
How do you counter that?
I don't.... In this instance...
I mean, being able to take on a place like this, for me,
I've got to make it work.
This is not something that comes free. This has got to pay its way,
otherwise I can't stay here.
The Princess's rural roots stretch back to childhood,
where a young Princess Anne first encountered livestock
and country life on the royal estates.
She formed an early bond with horses,
going on to become European Eventing Champion...
COMMENTATOR: This is really a marvellous round by Princess Anne.
..and competing for Britain in the 1976 Olympics.
Today, this passion is very much part
of the Princess's farming enterprise,
with a stable of breeding horses,
including a rare Suffolk Punch we're about to meet.
Wow. She's tremendous. Who is this?
This... Commonly known as Windy.
Her proper name is Summer Breeze.
I did breed her, actually.
I did have her mother. So she's now five.
And we've worked her already,
so she's been in harness and she's log pulled,
here in the woods and in other places.
So we're happy that she has a good temperament and is...
would be worth breeding from.
The only trouble is we've now got to convince her of the same thing!
Hence why they are rare, I think.
Breeding is a mug's game, really.
But if you've got mares, which you know have talent
and good temperaments, then they're probably worth breeding from.
Hopefully we'll got a foal off her at some stage.
When she's finished interfering with the camera.
When she's finished having a scratch on the camera.
She's found herself a scratching post there, I think.
-And then she can go back to work.
These animals are prime specimens.
But across the country,
this could be the worst year for horses in living memory.
Welfare groups are warning of a crisis,
with thousands of horses left neglected or fending for themselves.
As patron of the charity World Horse Welfare,
it's an issue close to Princess Anne's heart
and one in which she's taking a very direct interest.
This is Annie. She is on loan as a rescue.
Was she called Annie before she came here?
Yes, literally. When they introduced her up here...
When World Horse Welfare brought her, and I said, "What's her name?"
They laughed, rather embarrassed, and said, "She's called Annie."
I said, "OK, Fine."
It's fate. It was meant to be, in that case.
You thought it was a bit odd, didn't you, dear?
Unfortunately, she is just one of thousands of horses
who are now in trouble across the country.
There's been a sort of steady flow, partly through ignorance,
partly through changing circumstances that you get.
And certainly with...recession,
you are likely to get more.
So the marginal situations get tipped very quickly,
-where they really can't cope.
-Too many horses in Britain?
And I think that is true in certain areas...there are too many.
In fact, horses are now so common
that you can pick one up for as little as a fiver.
This glut, blamed largely on indiscriminate breeding,
is fuelling the welfare problem.
Princess Anne made waves by suggesting a radical solution
might help this equestrian crisis.
Princess Anne has said we should consider eating horse meat
to improve the way horses are treated in Britain.
Should we be considering a real market for horse meat
and would that reduce the number of welfare cases,
if there was a real value in the horse meat sector?
I chuck that out, for what it's worth.
In the light of your recent pronouncements, I have to ask,
how do you think eating horses would help Annie here?
Well, it's a good question. I mean, I do think...
I threw the question out because an awful lot of the abandonments are
because they don't perceive there to be any value in the animals.
So...OK. Chuck them out.
They survive or they die.
But the meat trade has a way...
It adds value to the animal,
so there is some point in keeping it healthy
if it's got an end point that it can go to.
But you think it's something we should actively explore?
I think it's something that is worth looking at.
Do you think our famous attachment to horses in Britain,
almost sentimentality, is actually not helping them in a funny way?
Yes, in the sense that we are past the point
of it being a working horse.
For those who saw it as a working horse,
there was always some value in it.
And, of course, we've lost that connection.
-Can I ask, have you ever eaten horse yourself?
-And how was it?
Good question. Very good actually.
Annie isn't the only one seemingly alarmed
by the thought of putting animals like her on the menu,
and there are doubts about how practical a solution this is
to the welfare crisis.
Luckily, all the horses here have a healthy future ahead of them
as part of Gatcombe's farming enterprise.
But this farm's more than just a one-trick pony.
There are enough rare breeds here to make our own Adam's eyes water,
and the Princess is equally proud of them,
but that doesn't give any royal immunity against the disease
which has hit cattle across much of the country - TB.
And, as I'll be discovering later,
the Princess has pretty strong views about who the culprit is
and what should be done about it.
Gloucestershire is one of the richest
and most diverse landscapes in England,
not to mention my own home turf.
And, as an ecologist, I love this place.
There are signs of life all over my orchard.
These badger runs just crisscross the entire place.
And, down in this blackthorn thicket,
there's openings for various mammals, I'm not sure what yet.
There's lots of pop-holes down here,
where badgers will sniff out juicy worms.
There's some muntjac prints as well
and that's what I love about living in the countryside.
There's just so much wildlife on my doorstep.
I've had this orchard for just under a year
and it's very much a work in progress.
I'm keen to encourage even more wildlife to stop by,
so I want to do whatever I can to make it feel welcome.
There are three main factors when it comes to attracting wildlife
and I've only got two out of the three on my orchard.
One is this, water.
This is my freshwater spring, which I know is in really good shape
cos there's freshwater shrimp in there.
The other one is trees.
I've got a few of those around because it's an orchard.
But the third is big one is food and I don't have that much here.
There's a few rotten windfall apples knocking around...
and a couple of wild flowers.
There's some buttercup, a little bit of sorrel
and a tiny bit of meadow vetchling,
but what I really need is lots more.
And so does the rest of our countryside.
Aside from being pretty, wild flowers are in serious decline.
In less than a century,
we've lost a whopping 97% of our wild-flower meadows,
but does that really matter?
Well, yes, it does.
In fact, it really matters
because these delicate little flowers are big hitters in the natural world.
Their function is twofold,
notably their role in underpinning the entire food chain.
wild flowers feed insects that, in turn, feed the bats,
birds and other small mammals around.
And, of course, these then in turn support the larger ones.
Not only that, the bees and butterflies
that thrive on the wild-flower pollen
then go on to pollinate our crops, resulting in food for us.
But, after losing so many of them in the past century,
how do we go about bringing them back?
Well, you can start by planting one of these.
I've come here to the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew to find out why.
This little pack is part of Kew's Grow Wild campaign,
and inside is the power to spread native wild flowers in gardens
and on windowsills across the country.
-This is quite a sight.
This is a sneak preview of a meadow in the summer.
We had to perform a bit of a horticultural miracle to grow
these plants indoors so we've got something to look at today.
This whack of pink we've got is coming from the red campion.
There's a tiny forget-me-not down there. A bit of sorrel...
'Ted Chapman is from the UK Native Seed Hub,
'and he's giving me the lowdown on the campaign.'
Grow Wild, really, is all about communicating the beauty
and diversity of our native plants
and bringing them right in to where people live.
So most of us are not fortunate enough to live right next to
a fantastic wild flower-rich environment in the countryside,
but we can use these species in cities, in our gardens,
right where we live, to create beautiful places.
And they're great for us and, of course,
-they'll be great for nature, too.
-What's in this pack?
Is it going to create what's in front of us?
It's a mixture of annuals, perennials,
native species that are going to,
hopefully, perform well in your garden.
They're going to look fantastic throughout the year.
Kew's Grow Wild campaign has been running
in community groups for nearly a year,
but we're working with them to open it up to the masses
by giving away 230,000 free wild-flower seed packs.
And, to keep a natural balance, there are specific seed
mixes for Scotland, Ireland, and England and Wales.
These packs are full of variety.
Each and every species laid out here
is in this little packet for England and Wales.
So there's the lovely sunny buttercup up there,
the gorgeous open face of the ox-eye daisy,
and, down here, the classic poppy of remembrance,
which is particularly apt in this centenary year.
You can find out later how you can get your hands on your pack.
But, before I put mine in the ground,
I want to know a little bit more about what's in here.
The contents are not just features of our landscape.
They're all native to this country,
so they're also part of our heritage and have been for thousands of years.
Get a bit of shelter with these precious samples...
'Professor Monique Simmons is based here at Kew
'and knows all about the methods our ancestors used
'to extract the medicinal properties of wild flowers.'
You've got a few plants,
one of them is meadowsweet that we've got in here,
and it's kind of to show you that we still use some traditional
old methods. Start the process off with a good old mortar and pestle.
I'll have a little go at doing some grinding. Here we go.
It's actually quite hard work.
Yeah, it is. These stalks are very fibrous, aren't they?
And the seed mixes that we're giving away - I've got one right here -
do any of the species in here have proven health benefits?
Some of these species... Again, it's folklore about traditional use.
And, yes, it does contain things like meadowsweet here.
You've got the galiums,
then you've got the cornflowers that we use for eye treatments, etc.
Digitalis, now used for heart conditions,
but now used for drops in other conditions.
There's a whole range of different plants that were used,
but we now go to the chemist and get something in the shop,
and often forget that you can use some of these plants.
What we're trying to do at Kew is not only conserve them
for use in these seed banks,
but also understand those traditional uses.
So with every seed that's planted from these little packs,
we're not only preserving our food chain,
we're also preserving an important part of our past.
And now, to make sure they have the very best chance of growing,
I've come to the Millennium Seed Bank in Sussex.
This place is home to almost every species of wild flower
found in Britain
and almost all of them are stored here at minus 20 degrees Celsius.
I'm meeting a familiar face. It's Ted again, back in his natural habitat.
It's been the job of his team from the UK Native Seed Hub
to make sure that the seeds in the packs are actually going to grow.
So what species have you got in the mix here?
The nice big one is the corncockle,
so that's a lovely pink cornfield annual.
-The seed with the little spiky Mohican...
That's a cornflower, so that will be really common again,
a cornfield annual.
You've got these little brown and black triangular-shaped seeds
with a little beak on the top.
-Oh, yeah, I see those.
-That's meadow buttercup.
And then the very tiny ones, little black seed, is poppy seed,
so a really small seed but familiar, obviously,
from loaves of bread.
But how can you guarantee that they will do well? That they will grow?
One way we can look at the quality of the seed
is by cutting it open and having a look to see what's inside.
Can I have a go at this? Do you think I'll be any good?
Absolutely. Yeah, let's give it a go.
I'm going to go for a big seed.
Right. Let's see if I can take a slice off this.
Oof. That grip's all-important, isn't it?
-Sorry about that.
-Have another go.
That one's done a runner somewhere... Somewhere in the room.
-Oh, there we go.
-Well, can you see?
Yes. I've got the white there. Solid white.
So that lovely healthy, white part is the food store for the seed,
so that's what the germinating seedling is going to use
before it starts photosynthesising and supporting itself.
You may be able to see a little green crescent
at the edge of the seed.
I can see exactly that. What is it?
That's the embryo of the seed.
That's the part that's actually going to produce the shoot
and the root, and develop into the plant.
So, just by slicing it open, you can tell
whether it's going to be a successful seed or not?
It is a nice, quick way of gauging the quality of the seed.
But there is a quicker way.
You can X-ray them with a medical X-ray.
This way, Ted can show me how many of my seeds are full of goodness
that's actually going to grow when I put them in the ground.
-They look good!
-You can see, right away,
the corncockle seed that we were dissecting earlier.
These look fantastic. There are hardly any empty ones.
This is a good hit rate in here.
This is a really nice collection of seed here. Yeah, looks good.
So the chances are good for my seeds.
I'm really excited about planting them now.
With all the care that's gone into selecting these seeds,
they should be pretty indestructible, tough enough to grow,
wherever you live in the UK.
I've brought mine home and, later on, I'll be planting them.
In the meantime, we've got 230,000 packets of these seeds to give away,
so log on to our website to get your hands on yours.
Here, on the edge of the Cotswolds, is Gloucestershire in all its glory.
Honey-coloured villages pepper the lush landscape.
This is the Slad Valley,
immortalised in the writings
of one of the county's best-known sons, Laurie Lee.
The village lies deep in one of the five wooded valleys
that runs like the spokes of a wheel to Stroud.
When I was a boy, we seldom left it.
We lived in that valley as snug as beans in a pod.
Laurie Lee put his beloved part of the Cotswolds
firmly on the literary map with his most famous novel, Cider With Rosie.
It's an almost autobiographical tale of growing up in the 1930s
amongst the fields and woods of this isolated valley.
As a boy and young man, Laurie would wander the hills above his home,
and his writing vividly captured the landscape he loved so much.
Today, it remains pretty much unchanged.
He grew up in this cottage
with his mother and seven brothers and sisters.
And, in later life, he was often to be found in his local,
The Woolpack, just a stone's throw from his house.
This year marks the centenary of Laurie Lee's birth,
and today I'm going to be walking in his footsteps,
experiencing for myself the landscape
that he made so familiar to so many people through his words.
To discover more about the local lad who became a world-renowned writer,
but always stayed loyal to his Gloucestershire roots,
I'm meeting his daughter, Jessie.
That's the fancy-dress parade, which is in the book.
-And there's Rosie.
-There really was a Rosie, wasn't there?
-There was a Rosie.
There definitely was a Rosie, yeah. Yeah.
Well, the book has never been out of print since it was first published.
Do you think that, when he wrote it,
he had any idea of the impact it might have?
I don't think for one minute he ever expected that.
I think he sort of thought it would be a nice little gift
to give to his local friends and family,
but I think it was probably quite a big surprise for him.
-Why do you think he wrote it?
-He always said to me,
"Whatever you do, take a notebook, wherever you go.
"You don't want to lose anything."
That may be another reason why he wrote Cider With Rosie -
he didn't want to lose his childhood.
Laurie was a musician as well as a writer
and a talented painter.
A book of his previously unseen artwork, compiled by Jessie,
is being published later this year.
We've got lovely paintings of the landscape...
-Is that Slad?
-That's in Slad, yes.
That's at the bottom of the valley.
So these were paintings he did for himself.
He had them all hidden away.
In fact, they were hidden away under his bed.
And, of course, on top of everything else,
he was also a wonderful poet, wasn't he?
Yes, he certainly was and...
I'm a great fan of his poetry. It is deep as well as celebratory,
and I think it really condenses his words.
And, of course, he's a great man of words.
Not only had Laurie Lee put this valley on the literary map,
he also helped preserve it for the future.
With royalties from Cider With Rosie, back in the 1960s,
he bought woodland here in the Slad Valley
to stop it being built on.
Last year, the Laurie Lee Woods opened as a protected nature reserve
thanks to donations from people who admire his work.
Roger Mortlock from the Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust
was overwhelmed by the response.
We put out an appeal and, within six weeks, 1,000 people had donated
and we'd made almost twice what we'd asked for.
And we were able, not only to buy the Wood,
but to secure it and its maintenance going forward.
-Yeah, it was great.
-What kind of people gave money, then?
-What was interesting...
We got some press coverage,
that meant that people heard about the wood from a long way away.
We had some donations from America, from Australia...
-So he was well-known in America?
Interestingly, Cider With Rosie was taught on the high-school syllabus
for a long time, so this bucolic sense of the English landscape...
-As it was here.
-..travelled far and wide.
Keen to emphasise the link between literature and the landscape,
the Trust is launching the Laurie Lee Wildlife Way
to celebrate his centenary.
In conjunction with the family, we've have decided to construct
a poetry trail linking our reserves and liking the Slad village,
where Laurie had so many of his old haunts.
And we're actually going to construct ten poetry posts
that will actually allow you to see
his work on the landscape this summer.
Well, I've left Laurie Lee Wood behind and I'm crossing the valley
now to get a special preview of one of those poetry posts at Frith Wood.
The posts will punctuate walks that will join together
the nature reserves in a loop around the valley.
'Emma and Pete Bradshaw are in charge
'of choosing the best spots for them.'
-It is heavy.
-It's quite a heavy beast, yeah.
What about that?
-Hmm... Might need to straighten up a little bit.
This is going to happen all across the valley,
-and each one at a place which is significant for the poetry.
We've tried to choose poems that blend in well
with the countryside and Laurie's favourite places,
so we're putting one of the posts with the poem,
Apples, in an orchard...
We think one of the orchards that he wrote about in Cider With Rosie.
And Wild Trees is going in Laurie Lee Wood.
-This is April Rise.
So this is a kind of perfect...
-..late spring, early summer view.
And when will everything be in place and the Way officially opened?
Hopefully, we're going to open it on what would have been
Laurie Lee's 100th birthday, which is June the 26th.
HE READS THE POEM
-I've just been reading a little bit of April Rise...
What do you think of that poem?
Well, actually... April Rise is my...
If I had to choose a favourite, it would be my favourite. And...
I actually chose the first few lines to go on the back of his gravestone,
and it was the last poem that he asked me to read to him
before he died. So it's very special to me, April Rise.
And obviously special to him as well.
Yes. I was surprised that he asked me to read it,
but it left me with something very profound. Mm.
Laurie Lee died in May, 1997,
at home in his beloved village of Slad.
He now lies in the local churchyard...
..overlooking the pub and the valley that he treasured so much.
-Just a few miles from the Slad Valley,
I'm on a prime piece of Gloucestershire countryside...
being run as a working farm by Princess Anne.
200 acres of woodland fall away to a tranquil lake below,
and grazed rolling hills form a timeless pastoral landscape.
Alongside the beauty lies plenty of hard graft,
and the Princess has been involved in the business of livestock farming
here for nearly 40 years.
And, like many farmers in that time, she's had to deal with
plenty of trials, particularly challenges from disease.
And, like many farmers, she's also chosen to diversify.
This is horse trials course.
This area has got two courses, two different standards of courses.
Gatcombe plays home to the Festival of British Eventing,
a major date on the equestrian calendar
and one of three horse trials held here.
In fact, to help the land pay its way,
everything from craft fairs to mountain biking marathons
take place on the estate.
They're absolutely insane.
It's quite exciting to watch.
But the core business is farming rare breeds.
Gloucester Old Spot pigs rummage around the woodland,
and White Park cattle are corralled into the shelter of the barn
to see out the winter months.
Why does it matter to you that they're rare breeds?
I do think there's a responsibility
to maintain some of the bloodlines which go back a long way,
partly because the very fact
that they do come from a long way back, they've got some value.
-How do you find them to keep? Are they good to keep?
Having enough scope to keep the best is difficult,
but we try just to improve them bit by bit,
and fortunately, at the moment,
they're turning out to be quite popular with the local butcher.
With the resurgence in public appetite for local, traceable food,
these animals can command a premium for their meat.
But numbers can be difficult to maintain at the best of times,
and Gatcombe has recently seen the worst of times,
with bovine TB wiping out a third of this herd in the past two years.
How do you feel when you do get positive results
in the sense that your cattle do have TB
and some of them have to be put down?
Well, you know, when you've got a cow and a calf of that size,
it's more than deeply frustrating, it's really upsetting.
And, you know,
when you're struggling to keep the numbers going anyway -
some of these aren't the most efficient mothers -
it's really undermining your... your process.
Now, I gather you had a TB test this morning.
-We did, which was...good news for a change. So it was clear.
You say for a change. Give me the recent history of how that's gone.
Recent history hasn't been too good.
We've gone through phases, which I think, actually,
reflects the size of the population of the badgers,
which, in our woodlands, is quite considerable.
So you're of the opinion
that the badgers are basically giving the TB to the cattle?
Well, I think they're a source because of their success, in a way.
You think maybe the numbers are getting out of control?
I think in some areas they are.
Last year, part of Gloucestershire was one of the trial areas
for culling badgers by shooting them.
But, despite her belief
that badgers carrying TB have blighted her cattle,
Princess Anne is sceptical about this approach
and thinks there may be a better way to control badger populations.
Most of the people would argue, who did it in the past,
and even those, if you're talking about humane,
they will tell you that gas is a much nicer way of doing it,
if that's not a silly expression, because of the way it works.
And how it works is that you go to sleep, basically.
You'd favour gassing as an approach to tackling badgers?
Well, I don't believe that shooting
was ever a particularly good way of dealing with it.
Given that the size of our woods are not that big,
it's very easy to be in a very dangerous situation.
Do you think we're too sentimental about badgers
and we just need to get on with this problem and, you know...?
I think we're too single-issue about a lot of things.
When you look at the badger population,
if there are a lot of badgers, you're going to have no hedgehogs,
probably no wild bees and fewer ground-nesting birds.
Actually, even if you took the cattle completely out of this debate,
from a conservation issue alone,
you'd have to say that too many badgers,
a bigger growth of badger population,
is not good for the balance of conservation anyway.
The Government was considering the idea of gassing as a way forward
after the poor results from last year's trial culls.
They may have gone quiet on the issue,
but it seems Princess Anne is happy to speak out
in favour of trying gas over guns
to cull badgers in these woods and elsewhere across Britain.
A lot of people will find it difficult
to square your concern with wildlife, which you claim you have,
alongside a willingness to cull, indeed, you know, badgers,
possibly gassing as well.
-Do you find that incompatible yourself?
But that's partly because there is no simple answer,
and some of the answers are difficult and not necessarily comfortable.
It's an opinion with which many staunchly disagree.
The Badger Trust, for instance, believes that bringing back gassing,
which has been outlawed for 30 years,
would be inhumane and unpalatable to the public at large.
But Princess Anne's sometimes contentious views
aren't just confined to matters affecting her own farming.
Later on, I'll be finding out about her concerns
over the future of the countryside
and what can be done to solve some of our most pressing rural problems.
-Gloucestershire has a special place in my heart.
It's where I was born and where I was brought up.
And while farming's always been part of my life,
it's always been part of Gloucestershire's life, too.
Gloucestershire's the only county in England
that can boast five local breeds.
We've got sheep, cattle, chickens, ducks
and, of course, my favourite, the lovely Gloucestershire Old Spot pig.
Go on, then. Go on, then, little ones. Follow Mummy.
This sow has given birth to her first litter
in the stables back at home, and we just turn them out
so that they can get a bit of fresh air and sunshine.
They're much happier out here.
And the Gloucestershire Old Spot is a lovely pig.
In fact, it's the oldest pedigree spotted pig in the world,
and they used to be known as the "orchard pig",
because they grazed the apple and pear orchards of the Avon Vale.
In fact, the old wives' tales say that these black spots were created
as the apples fell down and gave them bruises.
If you believe that, you believe anything.
The Old Spots went into decline
because they couldn't compete with the modern-day sow.
They run to fat too quickly, don't have big enough litters
and didn't really suit indoor pig production.
But, now, they're coming back into their own.
In fact, the Princess Royal is patron to the breeders' club.
These local breeds are some of my favourites on the farm
but, within living memory,
they almost disappeared from our countryside.
Gloucester cattle were on the verge of extinction in the 1970s,
but this local man wanted to save the breed.
Good old boy. Good old fella.
'Charles Martell believes that the milk from Old Gloucesters,
'which has a small fat globule,
'is ideal for cheesemaking,
'and he's trying to re-establish the breed.
'Note them well.
'There's only nine bulls
'and less than 70 cows left in the whole of England.
'Although their milk is first-class and high in solids -
'just the thing for cheesemaking -
'the yield isn't as high as in other breeds.
'Dairy farmers wanting more and more output wouldn't bother with them.'
'If Charles Martell succeeds, he'll be the first man for 30 years
'to produce real farmhouse double Gloucester.
'Can it be done? And could it really be successful on so small a scale?'
40 years on and the proof is plain to see.
Charles has been making single and double Gloucester cheese ever since
and he still keeps a herd of his own.
-Beautiful. How many have you got now?
-About 17 at the moment.
-They're so calm, aren't they? Just...
I think that's a lot through handling.
You know, I think if you go in amongst them,
talk quietly to them, and they respond to that,
cos cattle generally don't want a don't want a lot of hassle in life,
and as long as you don't hassle them, they don't want hassle.
-So, take me through the finer points of a Gloucester, then.
-Here we go.
Look. Look at those horns.
The breed standard says fine, wide and inclined to turn up.
Their black head and black legs, and the body is black-brown.
So, very, very dark brown, but not black.
And then you've got the white streak along the back and the white tail.
Classic, that white tail, isn't it? Beautiful.
Yeah. Most beautiful, yeah. Black teats.
People laugh but, actually, it's quite important,
because the teats can get sunburnt in the summer,
so black teats will actually protect them against that.
They've got to have a black top to their tongue.
-She's just licking...
..these trousers, so she'll stop now.
They've got a black top... There you are.
I knew about the rest, but I didn't know about the tongue.
And a black roof of the mouth, if you care to look. I never have!
Amazing! And why particularly this breed for you?
Well, we live in Gloucestershire. I mean, just no contest.
Plus they needed help, and my way of helping was to make cheese.
'The milk of Old Gloucester cows gives a rich curd,
'and those small fat globules produce a fine, even texture.
'After three pressings and up to six months maturing,
'the cheese should be mellow and slightly pungent in flavour.'
How did you know how to make the cheese?
Well, I didn't, but it was written down.
So, The Cheese Of Gloucestershire, by Avis Colnett,
and she wrote it down in 1931.
-And there it all is.
Double Gloucester, and the very rare and extinct at that time -
I met Miss Colnett - single Gloucester.
She went round and measured the temperature and acidities
that the dairymaids were using.
They didn't know what they were, because they did it by instinct.
The farmhouse double Gloucester had the personal touch,
the person who was dedicated to cheesemaking, in many cases,
and therefore produced a more mellow,
really fine type, typical double.
And the difference between single and double Gloucester, then?
Right, Adam. Well, here we go. Look, first of all, you can see.
This cheese is thicker - that's a double Gloucester -
because it has to last longer, it has to be matured longer.
-If it was too thin, it would dry out.
So double's the long-keeping cheese.
The single was the short-keeping one.
In fact, the single was the cheese the farmer ate himself.
The double he never used to eat, because that was his income.
So let's try the single first, cos it should be the milder one.
There you are, you see? It's white in colour. Get a bit off there.
Mm. You're losing the recipe!
There's a song about that, Adam.
# Never have that recipe again. #
-That's not too bad. I find that a bit bitter.
It was made, for example,
when the cows were in the yards in the winter.
When they went on grass - and the best...
best cheese is made off grass - then you'd make the double.
-Which has a higher acidity. You see it's coloured orange.
That's to give the impression that it's got a lot of fat in,
which everybody wanted fat in the old days.
I hope it's as good as it looks.
-That's really great.
-That's somewhere near.
So, when they used to sell cheese, then,
they went around with one of these, testing them and tasting them?
Up to a point, Adam.
But what happened, I mentioned the double Gloucester,
the farmer didn't eat it, it was the one he sent away for his income,
and people used to come on the farms buying the cheese,
-and they were called factors.
And it was such a job, going every cheese,
you know, doing like we've just done,
they'd never get through them all.
So, what he'd do, he'd lay them on the ground
and he'd walk on them,
and if the cheese gave under his foot too much,
that was deemed to be hoven,
it had something wrong with it, and he'd reject it.
And we've been here, what, 42 years now.
We've never tried walking on the cheese.
And as we've...a fine Gloucestershire guest with us today,
-I wondered if you'd like to try.
-Yeah, why not.
I've never walked on a cheese either. Let's give it a go.
-Are you sure about this?
Now, don't forget, this has never been done in living memory.
So this is a unique occasion.
And, don't forget, the senses of the soles of your feet
-will judge the quality of each cheese.
-So, you have to be clocking that as you go along.
-How quickly do I walk?
-Well, not long enough to sink in.
Oh, God. Ooh, it's standing it. Brilliant. Oh, wow.
-And? Did they give?
-Only a little tiny bit.
-That's all right.
-So they're not hoven?
-No. I think they're lovely.
-I'll buy the lot. Thank you very much.
-Can I just smell them now?
They smell a bit more cheesy!
-All right. That's improved them.
I'll be able to sell them for a premium.
Agriculture is very much at the heart of Gloucestershire's history,
with some wonderful old-fashioned breeds
and great farmers like Charles Martell,
who are preserving that tradition.
Now, for me, well,
Gloucestershire is a county that I'm very proud to call my home.
-I've been exploring 400 acres of land
farmed by someone else who's proud to call Gloucestershire home.
She's raised rare breeds at Gatcombe Park since the 1970s,
but her involvement in country life runs much deeper.
Much of the rest of her time is spent working with rural groups
to keep their concerns in the public eye,
and also tackle some of the big issues facing British farming today.
Farming doesn't have the profile that maybe it should have,
and I think that needs arguing.
Farmers are not here just to entertain other people
or, indeed, themselves.
What you do here is to add value, and that's what I hope you see it as,
is adding value to the land that you live on and work from.
It's a serious business, looking after the countryside,
and it's a much more serious business feeding people.
It's not just farming,
but the whole fabric of rural life she's involved with,
everything from the Worshipful Company of Butchers
to the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland.
But before we tackle more thorny issues of the day, though,
there are some upstarts closer to home to take on.
-So what have you brought me down here for?
-Well, these are...
These ARE unusual. Not these, because these are willows.
But the thing in the middle here is a black poplar.
-We need to give them a bit more space now.
-A bit more freedom.
You tell me what to chop, I'll do some chopping.
Well, how much exercise do you want to take?
Because you can try the really thick one, or you can just take the...!
You've set me a challenge there now. I'm not going to wimp out of that.
We're both at it now.
'As we work in the shadow of the Princess's stately pile,
'it seems a good time to raise the issue of affordable rural homes.'
It's estimated our countryside needs a quarter of a million of them
and, as patron of the English Rural Housing Association,
Princess Anne's views on the subject recently made something of a splash,
as she shared her thoughts on the size and location of new housing.
What do you think's the key to getting more houses in rural Britain
that so many people who live in the countryside say they need?
It may pay to do it in smaller developments, not bigger ones,
say, in groups of 10, 15 houses,
as long as it came with space for community hub,
proper broadband, proper mobile phone coverage,
so people could do business there as well.
I can see the attraction of that,
but if you do it in lots of small pockets, do you not end up with,
you know, 2,500 planning battles, 2,500 NIMBY rows?
There are always some strong local voices and objection.
-Do you think...?
The secret of success was to go out and explain the value,
that for every pound you spend in affordable housing,
through social value and local benefit, you're making £6.50.
They can keep their school, they may keep the shop,
they may keep the pub, all of which are in danger of disappearing
if you don't have enough people to make them viable.
I can hear people saying right now, you know,
would you practice what you preach?
Would you offer land in your patch for housing?
I have done in the past.
I actually offered them some land here a few years back.
And, oddly enough,
the local village hadn't recognised that it had a problem at that stage.
So it seems Princess Anne's not someone
who's afraid of putting her money where her mouth is
when it comes to securing the future of our rural communities.
Attracting young blood to work in our countryside
is another hot topic the Princess is involved in.
She recently became the first chancellor
of Harper Adams University,
which trains young people for a future in farming.
And it's an issue which has recently taken on an even more personal tone.
One young man who's recently shown an interest in agriculture
is your nephew, who's doing a course in Cambridge.
Did you give him any advice and encouragement on that?
-Did I give him any?
Well, I probably wouldn't have suggested Cambridge, but I mean...!
I couldn't possibly say that, could I?
No, I think, for the same reason...
I mean, they too were brought up, of course,
in very much a farming background, and...
My brother's farming is on a rather different scale to mine,
as you may have noticed.
So they've had plenty of experience, again, of a range of farming
and what it means to families,
and I think in the long run, he's going to see that
as a very important part of his future life,
and he'd like to understand a bit more about it.
The Royals may share a passion for working the land,
but how to do it is as contentious an issue within this family
as it is in the wider community.
Prince Charles is famously opposed to GM.
His sister may have other ideas.
What role do you think there is for genetic modification of crops?
-Well, I think it has a role to play, to be honest.
I think the claims are probably slightly greater
than most of the deliverables actually are.
They do add to our ability
to perhaps be more efficient users of the land that is good.
Because I think, in the long-term,
when you've got the prospect of nine billion to feed,
you are going to need some help in doing that, and to do it well.
Do you have some interesting chats with your brother
-about this subject?
-But you do take a slightly...I mean, a different view...
Yes, I think we probably do.
-But that's all part of family life, would you say?
-I think so.
But I do think there are some things which,
even if you don't really like the sound of it yourself,
you know that's got to a point...
you're not going to stop it, because you can't,
so you really must focus on how you get the best out of it
and how it works for humans and the globe in the long run.
From housing, to agriculture, to energy, to wildlife.
Ever more is demanded from the finite land of rural Britain.
Opinions may be divided on Princess Anne's vision of how to get there,
but one thing few could argue with
is the value that she places on our countryside.
At the risk of a slightly philosophical question,
what do you think the countryside is ultimately for?
You see, I think that's a really strange concept.
What do you mean, what is the countryside for?
It's for our survival, isn't it?
The foundation of Princess Anne's beliefs do stem, to some extent,
from privilege and birthright.
But they've also been developed over the years by her experience here
and her engagement with farmers across the country.
Nonetheless, her opinions are very divisive
and there's no doubt that some well-informed people
would strongly disagree,
and we'll be exploring some of those views over the coming months.
This week, we've been exploring all things Gloucestershire,
and I've been finding out about the importance of wild flowers.
They underpin so much of our natural environment,
feeding the wildlife and, in turn, feeding us by pollinating our crops.
Yet they're in serious decline.
But these little packets of seeds from Kew Gardens
is going to help change all that.
We're working with them
to give away 230,000 of these little pods of life,
and I'm going to kick things off
by planting the first pack here at home.
I've enlisted the help of Dr Kate Hardwick,
a meadow restoration expert from Kew's Millennium Seed Bank.
I've got a fair few birds and mammals on my land already,
but I'm keen for Kate to have a look
and tell me how wild flowers will encourage more.
-That's my muntjac.
Well, they'll help to nibble, keep the grass down a bit,
but they might nibble your wild flowers as well.
-Oh, OK. I'll take that downside. I like having them.
-Oh, yeah, badger.
-There's a great tit there.
-Oh, yes, OK.
No, I think this is going to be really good
-for increasing the birdlife on the site.
Cos you'll be getting seeds from the plants,
the plants will encourage insects,
so you'll get the ground-feeding, insect-eating birds,
so I think that's one thing you could really expect to see improving.
-So it's looking good, but could do better.
There's lots of potential for improvement, I think.
Never one to take the easy route,
I'm planting my very first Grow Wild seed pack
in this scrubby area of my orchard.
Right, so the important thing here is to open up the soil,
get rid of the grass and weeds, get rid of the big lumps,
and rake it so that we've got a nice, smooth seedbed
that the seeds can germinate in.
-And how big a patch do people need to prepare for their seeds?
One packet of seeds will cover about two square metres,
and that's roughly the size of a single bed.
-So, I think we're nearly there.
'But the point of Grow Wild is to sow seeds
'in any spare growing space you may have, rural or urban.
'Even window boxes or buckets or paint pots.
'Whatever you can get your hands on.
'Just use compost or topsoil in a container.'
These are my first seeds going in.
This is the first active step I've taken on this land,
-so quite excited about this.
Because it's got the sand in it, you can just about see where you've gone.
'There are two ways to sow the seed.
'Either just sprinkle it on, or mix it with sand.
'It makes it easier to handle, plus you can see where you've sown.'
Shake it on, and then a little bit of raking over.
Yeah, but we don't want to cover it up too much,
because some of the species
need access to sunlight in order to germinate.
'Finally, give the seeds a good drink.
'In a few months' time, this bare patch of earth
'should be full of flowers and buzzing with life.'
It looks as though you've almost finished there, Ellie.
-How about that, John?
-Sorry I arrived too late to help.
Yeah, that's perfect timing on your part. What's the wellies for?
Well, I've heard that these wild seeds can grow anywhere,
even in an old pair of wellies,
so here's a pair with some compost already in them.
All the hard work's been done for you. The compost's in there.
-Here's your seeds, then.
Just put a few seeds in, scatter them in like that.
-That's it, mix them all in.
-And then mix them in the sand, like that.
OK. And just scatter a few in, like that.
So, while John waters those seeds in, we've got
nearly a quarter of a million
packets of seeds to give away,
so log on to our website
and see how you can claim
your free pack.
How's it going?
-Wellies deliberately getting wet on the inside.
Love your work, John. Great.
Well, I'll take these home and see what happens.
Well, that's it from glorious Gloucestershire.
Next week, we'll be in Southport,
where Matt will be looking for shrimps
on a newly restored horse-drawn shrimping cart.
And I shall be looking at the history of bathing in the area
and meeting a local group determined to clean up the waters.
-But I won't be tempted to get in. It will be too cold.
-Oh, go on!
-Hope you can join us then.
-Bye for now.
Ellie Harrison and Matt Baker are in Gloucestershire looking at life in the county ten years on from the hunting ban. Matt visits the oldest pack of foxhounds in the country and finds out that the best way to exercise them is to jump on a bike and pedal like mad! He also helps carry out a health check on the deer at Berkeley Castle. Ellie visits the new services on the M5 and finds how they're redefining motorway services for the 21st century. She then meets the local producers supplying the services with gourmet food products.
John Craven takes a look at Woodchester Mansion, a relic of Victorian architecture which was never finished but is now home to rare horseshoe bats. Tom Heap takes a look at the pros and cons of the hunting ban and hears from people on both sides of the debate. And Adam's rounding up sheep on the sand dunes in Merseyside.