Matt, Anita and John are in Holderness in the East Riding of Yorkshire. Matt is on Spurn Point, which is now the country's newest island.
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This is Holderness, in East Yorkshire -
a restless edge, where the battle
between land and sea
has raged for centuries.
And nowhere more so than here, Spurn Point,
separating the Humber
from the North Sea.
Or should we now call it Spurn Island?
Because constant battering by the sea has finally broken through,
to give us the country's newest island.
And that's changed the game
for these guys.
He's a good 'un. Shall we sign him up?
I'm enjoying myself!
Back on dry land, Anita's keeping tabs on our feathered friends.
Is the little fella all right? He's not too distressed?
No, he's got to go off and feed now,
-before he goes further north to breed.
-Right. Off you go!
Tom explores an astonishing situation in the Netherlands,
where dairy cows are being culled to reduce slurry.
How will you survive without... With fewer cows?
In the worst case, I can't survive.
-You think it could really be that serious?
And Adam's on the lookout for some prize White Parks.
They have a very special place in my heart. Over the years,
I've been through a lot with these animals and they are a fantastic,
ancient British breed.
Known for its rich farmland,
its ever-changing coast...
where vast skies sweep across wide, flat acres.
I'm just 30 miles from Hull, this year's City of Culture,
in the far east of the county,
at Spurn Point.
At just three and a half miles long
by 60 yards wide,
this spit of land has always been
vulnerable to the elements.
It's been battered by gales,
lashed by waves
and, slowly, bit by bit,
it's been swallowed up by the sea.
And what was Spurn Point
is now Spurn Island.
The huge storm surge back in December 2013
ripped through Spurn Peninsula at its narrowest point.
Huge chunks of road were washed away.
The coastline changed forever
and wildlife habitats
Spurn Point was cut off from the rest of the peninsula.
Now, at high tide, it becomes an island.
The UK's newest.
'Andy Gibson, from the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust,
'witnessed the aftermath.'
The disruption and the mess must have been awful.
It was not the familiar.
You know, we went to bed having a road here
and having mobile dunes and grasses, and we came back
and the shoreline had moved 70 metres into the estuary.
So, that's the landscape changed. It's just incredible.
So, did it look like that, basically? We can see the, sort of,
-grassy dune on the sandbank on the side...
-..with the road
that we have just come along. And that was this, was it?
That was all this, with this type of road, which was cobbling,
-made up of blocks.
-This is the old road?
-That is the old road blocks.
-Goodness me. The power of the sea. That's incredible.
Wildlife took a hit, too. The storm battered
important feeding and breeding grounds for wetland birds.
But the picture is different today.
'Andy is taking me to Kilnsea Wetlands
'Nature Reserve, where the bird populations have bounced back.'
More than 100,000 migratory waders have been
recorded here in the last 12 months.
What bird species do you see using this wetland?
In the winter, there's the knot, the redshank, the dunlin,
the oystercatchers, grey plovers.
There's a whole range of wading birds that use
this part of the Humber.
At this time of year, in April,
there is the avocets coming to breed.
-Can we see some now?
You can see there
-they are all lined up.
-I can. There they are.
This is a good breeding point for them. It's undisturbed.
-What happened to this landscape after the surge?
-The unexpected part
was it filled it up with water, but then, with the pressure of water,
it opened up land drains that were existing from its previous usage.
And it just about drained the place.
So, the habitat wasn't ideal for avocets,
from the point of view of being isolated islands and spits,
and the predators and the disturbance
was much greater for them.
Now the water's back in,
they have got an isolated spit to breed on and, hopefully,
they will have a little bit more success.
Now there is no road to drive on,
you need a special type of vehicle to get around.
All aboard, everyone!
Meet the Unimog.
The elements have always taken a toll on this fragile landscape
and always will.
But there are other threats.
Man-made threats, but ones we can do something about.
That's precisely what this bunch are up to.
Steve Crawford is from the environmental group
Surfers Against Sewage,
here to give the Spurn Peninsula a big spring clean.
-All right, Steve?
-Look at that. How am I doing?
-Absolutely fantastic. That's loads there.
-Not bad, is it?
Is this the best time of year to be doing these beach cleans?
To be honest, any time of year is good,
because in the winter, we get marine litter. In the summer,
on the beach, we tend to get a lot more tourist litter
just left every day-to-day. The thing is, we've been doing this
for decades. It's not going to be solved overnight.
We want plastic-free coastlines. It will involve people like ourselves
coming down, picking litter up whenever it's there.
Once this has gone, it's gone. It won't harm wildlife,
it won't be unsightly, it will be gone and dusted.
And I suppose, if you are out here
-actually seeing what it's doing to our coastlines...
..you're more likely to think twice about the next time you,
-you know, buy a plastic bottle or...
-Thing is, when you buy something,
don't get a plastic cup, get a reusable cup.
If we don't buy it, people won't produce it.
Simple as that. If we all stopped
buying plastic bottles on our own, this would become obsolete...
in about five minutes.
In the bag, Steve! In the bag!
-That was for demonstration purposes!
I've been surfing for almost 40 years now.
We see it every single day
and we realise what it's like. We are the, sort of, first line of it.
-Yeah. All right, let's get on with it. There's...
-Loads more to do.
-There you go. Another bit.
-Cheers. Thank you. Just what I needed(!)
These wellies are pretty snazzy!
I could do with a pair of those for Countryfile.
There we go. Future presenter.
He's not afraid of the camera, that's for sure. Staring it down.
On we go. Come on.
When milk quotas ended two years ago,
some dairy farmers here and across Europe
thought the sky was the limit.
But more milk means more muck
and the Netherlands is producing more than it can handle.
Could this be a cautionary tale for us here, too? Here's Tom.
When it comes to farming,
the Netherlands punches way above its weight.
flowers, meat and, of course, dairy.
The Dutch do it all.
The Netherlands exports
nearly 80% of what it produces...
..whereas the UK imports twice as much food as we export.
We Brits are ahead of them in terms of dairy production, but only just.
With 1.7 million dairy cows to our 1.8,
the Dutch herd is snapping at our heels.
But are they doing too much?
Dutch farmers are ambitious.
In 2015, European milk quotas were lifted. It meant production
was no longer restricted. The race was on to milk more cows
and sell more milk all over the world.
The Netherlands national herd increased by 200,000
in less than two years. And UK production went up, too.
The message to dairy farmers across Europe was simple -
One farmer who answered that call is Agnes Lensing.
She farms near Emmen, not far from the German border,
with some help from husband Albert, two-year-old Lika
and five-month-old Hiet.
Agnes started with 110 cows
and her ambition was to increase to 180.
How did you feel about those growth plans?
I was really excited, because the incentive was that my father
could retire and my husband would quit his job.
So, we would do it all together, with our two little children
-and we were really looking forward to it.
-A real family future,
-all based round producing milk here?
But Holland has a serious problem.
More cattle mean more muck.
It's normally spread on fields as fertiliser,
because it contains nitrogen and phosphorus.
But too much of either can damage the environment. There are strict
rules limiting phosphates and nitrates within the EU
and each country must stay within their limits.
For us, Brexit means those rules may not be relevant for much longer,
but the environmental impact will remain.
But Dutch farmers have broken those limits.
In effect, farms are overflowing with slurry and there just
isn't enough land to spread it on.
The solution is drastic.
Up to 200,000 cows will have to go
and that means either exporting them or culling them.
It's a bitter blow for farmers like Agnes.
They have been ordered to return herd sizes to what they were
two years ago, when phosphate limits were first breached.
But going back is not easy when you have already invested heavily
in your farm.
Wow. What is this?
This is our milking robot.
How many cows do you think you'll have to lose, in total?
-In total, I have to reduce 50 cows.
How is that loss of cows going to affect your business?
The whole barn itself cost about 1.5 million euros.
So, your whole business is based on milking 180 cows
-and having the money from that to pay back the bank?
So, how will you survive, without... With fewer cows?
In the worst case, I can't survive.
-Do you think it really could be that serious?
What would you feel about having to give up this job?
Everything I've worked for will disappear.
Everything is for nothing.
Actually, that's exactly what the Dutch Government wants -
fewer farmers. People are even being compensated
to leave the industry.
Too much phosphate pollutes water.
It creates algal blooms, which suffocate plants, insects,
fish, and are even poisonous to humans.
Dutch environmentalists have accused livestock farmers of polluting
around two-thirds of Holland's natural water with slurry.
In the UK, the circumstances may be different, but agriculture
is one of the biggest polluters of our rivers, as well.
How much? It contains about 2% phosphorous, but you can't see it
with the naked eye. So, we're going to do a little experiment.
Martin Albotre works for a public water authority,
which has been removing phosphorous from this lake since the 1980s.
He is going to show me how it's done. Hello, Martin.
Good to see you. I like your lab bench next to the waterside here.
-Good working environment!
-'Martin adds iron to river water,
'which binds to the phosphorous,
'forms a sediment and sinks to the bottom of the jar.'
So, this light brown, sugary mixture
is a mixture of iron and phosphorous. It's taken it
-out of the water?
And leaving the water clean
and without phosphorous or a lot lower concentration of phosphorous.
'Water companies use a scaled-up version of this process to reduce
'phosphorous in drinking water. While it's an improved picture
'since the 1980s, water still needs to be treated because levels
'are too high.'
How do you know that
the phosphorous in these waterways comes from dairy farming?
Well, actually, there is a lot of agriculture in this area
and we do a monitoring, so we simply know that
the nutrient concentrations come from this agricultural area.
Mm-hm. Is chemistry enough to solve the problem?
We also invest in talking to the farmers
and stimulate a more sustainable diary production.
Martin is all for working together, but the Dutch Government
has taken a harsher view.
If the farmers
can't reduce phosphate levels, the consequences for them -
and their cattle - are extremely serious.
British farmers will be watching with interest.
So, what are those consequences and is the industry doing enough
to avoid them? That's what I'll be finding out later.
the southern tip of Holderness, is looking glorious today.
Bright sunshine, vast quiet sands.
But as we have heard from Anita, it can get rough out there.
There has been a lifeboat station on Spurn since 1810.
Now, not only is the Humber a challenging stretch of water,
but just over there, where you can see those waves breaking,
is an area known as Stoney Binks.
Now, it's a large bank of shingle,
and this area of treacherous coastal seabed
had led to the demise of so many ships that,
in the early 19th century, it was deemed essential that
a full-time lifeboat crew was stationed here.
And it's still essential.
The Humber Estuary is one of the busiest stretches of water in
Britain, with around 18 million tonnes of shipping passing
Spurn Point last year.
As well as being full-time, the lifeboat crew here
are Britain's only paid crew, too.
Here's my lift.
-Is it Dave?
-How are you doing, bud, all right?
-I'm good, I'm good.
-Nice to see you. Whoo!
-Are you up for an interesting drive into work?
Coxswain Dave Steenvoorden is in charge of the crew
about to go on duty.
Two crews take it in turns, six days on and six days off,
to man the lifeboat station.
I did see a Land Rover come along here just before you picked me up.
-And that's the crew that are leaving, is it?
-Yeah, that's the off-going crew.
The on-going crew are already up there.
-They've already come in another Land Rover.
-Oh, I see.
-And this is the end of the road.
-Oh, my word.
We're coming up now...
This next section here, you can see,
all to the eye going up there is just...is beach.
The big storm surge of 2013 destroyed the road -
Dave caught the aftermath on camera.
Spurn Point massively gets under your skin,
and, I'm being honest with you, it's under mine, and it's...
it's got me until the day I retire.
I'm probably one of the most fortunate guys in the country.
-Here's the lighthouse, then.
-There's the lighthouse, yeah.
You can go up there and you can get a beautiful view of Spurn Point.
-What a place.
And it does come through three miles of wilderness,
and then, all of a sudden, you're into a small hamlet.
You know, there's not many people who get to come to work like this.
Well, here we are, then.
Here we are. I'll get you a cup of tea.
'While Dave puts the kettle on, RNLI volunteer Steve Gibbons is
'showing me the kit I'll need if the alarm goes off -
'just in case.'
-Right, what have we got, then?
-So there is some steel-toe-cap wellies...
..and, erm, obviously, over-trousers.
-Yeah. Oh, they've got braces on, have they?
-Oh, I see.
..and, most importantly of all, don't forget the life jacket.
-That's weighty, isn't it?
-That is quite weighty,
but it will also inflate if you hit the water.
It carries a flare as well.
And your kit is always ready to go, yeah?
Yeah, it's always like this -
in everybody's house, it's ready to go.
-There will be a drill, I believe, this afternoon, so...
Which, no doubt, I'm going to be involved in?
-Yeah, that'll be brilliant.
-That's the idea.
-Yeah, so, when you hear the bell...
..get your kit on and get down the jetty as quick as you can.
Back in 1819, nine years after the station first opened,
a terrace of houses was completed, which would become the
full-time homes for the lifeboatmen and their families.
On this lonely strip of coast, a tiny and very special
community flourished, complete with schoolhouse,
and life here revolved around the lifeboat service.
For close to two centuries, lifeboat families lived their lives on Spurn,
including those of the current crew members,
but, eventually, the elements got the better of them,
and the families had to move off.
-So, Dave, this was a... This was a permanent hamlet, then?
What was life like here?
It was fantastic.
We just say, "What nicer place you could actually live?"
-I used to live here at number one with my family.
When you say your family, how many children?
-I've got my wife and twin boys.
When we moved here, they was eight-year-old,
and it's an absolutely fantastic playground for kids.
-And the atmosphere here now must be very, very different.
The decision was made long before we lost the road...
It's that life became very difficult.
You couldn't get the kids to school.
We had times where the road was covered in debris,
and the RNLI made a very bold decision to move the families off.
We'd been here 200 years,
and it was a bold decision.
I didn't like it,
but I did agree with it and I did support it,
and, as it turned out, a year after we'd moved off,
-it was the absolute right thing to do.
And one of the strangest things is, now, is...
cos the kids were running round making so much noise,
nature was out.
Now nature's actually coming into the station,
and we've got our own little friend, Basil the fox.
He's adopted us.
He knows when we're having our lunch,
he knows when we're having our tea,
and, as soon as he hears the galley noise, he's there.
Yeah, we've got absolute extremes of craziness when we're out on the
lifeboat and other things,
and then you come back to the complete opposite,
-where you can just put your feet up and watch the ships go by.
Go and take some photographs... So, it's... Yeah, it's...
It's that, I think, from one end of the spectrum to the other,
is what I really do enjoy.
So, Dave, you've talked about the affection that you had
-for the community here.
Just take me back to that day when you had to leave and move out.
It was a terrible day. We had the removal van in.
We kind of looked at each other and I says,
"Karen, come on, let's just go."
So we got in the car and we drove up, didn't look over our shoulders -
I know if we'd looked over our shoulders,
we would have gone to pieces.
But the nice thing was, as we were driving away,
I knew in six days' time I was coming back again.
And... And to come back to the same house...
was quite strange, just to walk into quite a sterile house, erm,
which is now just functional rather than a home.
And how would you compare your life when you are not at work
to when you are?
Later, I'll be finding out how Dave and the crew stay one step
ahead of Spurn's constantly-shifting channels.
-We've seen how the sea has taken away at Spurn Point.
Here, it's a different story.
The River Humber has given back -
new land has risen from its waters to create Sunk Island.
But the name is misleading,
because Sunk Island is neither sunken nor an island.
But it was once.
Over many centuries,
the ebb and flow of the river caused Sunk Island to silt up,
and then gradually it got bigger and bigger,
and, thanks to human intervention - to reclamation work -
it became part of the mainland.
The wide panoramas and towering skies of Sunk Island
have become the inspiration for a local photographer, Fiona Caley.
The daughter of a Holderness farmer,
Fiona has made it her mission
to record the lives and the landscapes here.
But why do you choose to photograph THIS landscape, Fiona?
It's all lines, the landscape and sky,
and, in some people's eyes, it may not be very beautiful...
-So you like the isolation?
You like the bleakness?
If it's foggy, there's a real sense of absolute isolation,
and sometimes you can hear the foghorns coming from the Humber,
and that also adds to the wonderful, magical feel of the landscape.
And how long have you been taking pictures of
this particular landscape?
For the past five years...
Ever since coming back to live on Dad's farm,
and it was then that I began to think,
"Well, do you know what? It has got something special."
So, it just felt very, very important to capture it.
When I first saw this view, I thought,
"We could be on the Continent somewhere.
"We could be in the Netherlands."
And I think it was also that sense of, "Yes, it's Holderness,
"it's Sunk Island, but we're still connected to the Continent."
-Like the Netherlands, you know, it wasn't here...
-..until the sea created it.
Yes, which it does...
It is, kind of, a strange feeling, really, to think that,
at one time, this wouldn't have been here.
presumably that's "Reclaimed Lands Road", do you think?
Yes, I think possibly so.
I just thought what a contrast it was to having this signpost
in the middle of nowhere,
and actually, the lines of the field beyond.
People who look at the photographs, I'm hoping,
will be drawn in towards the horizon.
The lines in this area are just... They're fantastic tools.
It's a dream, for me, as a photographer.
Fiona's passion for this place couldn't be more obvious,
and it's also personal, because she has family connections to this land.
It has some of the most fertile soil in the country,
rich in minerals from the river silt that gradually formed it.
That's why Sunk Island is renowned for its fine, arable crops.
During the Second World War,
this area played a crucial role in the campaign to feed the nation,
but farm labour was in short supply,
so prisoners of war were brought in to fill the gap,
and no-one escaped.
I've come to Sands House Farm to meet someone who
lived through those times and remembers them well.
He's Fiona's second cousin, Albert Caley.
Well, Albert, this is the first time you've been back on this farm,
-For how long?
-About 71 years.
And this is where you played, where you lived as a little boy...
-Yes, as a little boy.
-..during the Second World War?
-Were there prisoners of war here?
-Yes, there were,
and we had the Italians initially, and they...
And then, after that, the Germans arrived,
and they stayed with us, well, until the end of the war, really.
And what was your father's attitude to these POWs?
In actual fact, we just felt them as just part of the family, really.
They had their own accommodation, just up the road,
and one of them was, obviously, allocated to be the cook.
I mean, there was rabbits and everything,
and there was ducks and chickens and that.
They lived very well.
-Probably better than the people who lived in Hull!
It's interesting, because I hadn't realised that, you know,
people on farms had such a close relationship with prisoners of war.
Yes, because they were just like us.
'Apart from livestock, the grain harvest was the main priority,
'boosted by some of the first combine harvesters.'
I've got a photograph of my father standing beside these four
combine harvesters, and with a trilby hat on,
and he was a man that always wore a trilby hat, I think...
I think the only time he took it off was when he got into bed, and the
first thing he did when he got out of bed was put it back on again.
And I suppose the reason that your dad got these combines
was that the soil here is so rich,
-being reclaimed land, you know?
And when you cut through the land,
you could see the layers of soil,
because that's how it was built -
-silt and silt and silt and silt.
-Silt on top of silt.
Seven or eight feet of silt soil,
which is unheard of in most parts of the country.
-And so it was very important for the war effort...
-..that you had the four combines.
-Yes, it is.
The landscape here had its own part to play during the war.
Nearby Hull was the most bombed city in the country after London,
the docks being a major target.
To try to save the docks from the frequent night-time
bomber raids, this area of marshland,
where Sunk Island meets the Humber,
was used as a decoy.
Great fires were made, in huge, rectangular shapes,
to try to convince the Luftwaffe pilots that they were flying
over the burning city, and to drop their bombs here instead.
Today, the shoreline, like the rest of Sunk Island,
is a quiet, very special place.
An island that's not an island -
a gift from nature that has served us well.
On the other side of the North Sea, Tom's in the Netherlands,
exploring a conflict between the expanding dairy industry
and the natural environment,
and asking, "Is there a lesson here for the UK?"
The Netherlands faces an unprecedented crisis -
there are too many cows producing too much poo.
Walking down here, you've always got half an eye on the back ends,
to check you're not going to be caught by something,
and underneath here is a tank a little bit bigger than an Olympic
swimming pool, and these girls can fill that up every six months.
This sea of manure contains phosphates,
which can pollute lakes and waterways.
Across Holland, phosphate levels have gone up,
and by far too much.
Hundreds of thousands of cattle will be culled or exported to bring
the problem under control,
and farmers are even being encouraged to leave the industry.
It is an extreme situation.
Despite having more cows in the UK,
we also have more land to cope with the manure they produce.
While British farmers may be spared the same fate, we share many
of the same problems as our neighbours across the North Sea.
So, what can we learn from the Dutch about balancing the needs of
the environment with productive dairy farming?
'In a scene straight out of a postcard,
'I'm meeting Hans van Grinsven - he's a senior scientist at
'the Dutch Environmental Assessment Agency.'
So, do you think it is possible to have both
a growing dairy industry and a healthy environment?
I think it's a balancing act.
I think there's an economical issue, and farming is very
important for the Dutch economy, but the environmental issue is
also there, and where the exact balance is we really don't know.
So that might mean less intensive farming in some areas?
A little less intensive, but good for water equality,
good for air quality, but we need to find a trick to make it also
economically attractive for a farmer to do that.
So, if there were no livestock farming, just arable,
would that solve the problem?
I think that would not be the solution,
because as long as you do farming and you spread synthetic fertiliser,
it can do the same thing as manure.
So, this is not just a livestock farmers' problem,
but right now they are the focus.
Holland is reducing cow numbers by up to 200,000 -
a blanket order which affects all farmers who have
expanded their herds since 2015.
Agnes Lensing is one of them -
just a few months ago, she was expanding the farm
she inherited from her father,
and building a bright future for the next generation.
Now she is facing the loss of 50 cows -
that means a lot less milk and less income for her family.
The financial worry is taking its toll.
We have sleepless nights, at this moment,
because there is so much insecurity.
If I had known everything two years ago, erm, I...
I wouldn't have been a farmer at this moment.
It's time to choose which cows are going.
If she doesn't reduce numbers, Agnes will be fined by the Government.
SHE SPEAKS IN OWN LANGUAGE
Another eight young heifers have to go.
Are you going to send them for slaughter or will you try and
sell them for export?
I think that they are too young to export...
to export, so I think slaughter is the only option.
It's hard, and I want to keep them, but they have to go.
Do you accept, at all, that Dutch farmers have caused this
problem themselves by growing in the last few years?
No. Everybody says that it's...
it's our own problem,
but all the experts said, everybody said,
"The hunger for milk is very big in the future,
"so please have more cows so you can milk, milk, milk."
But do you accept that there is an environmental problem out there,
with too much phosphate and sometimes nitrate in the waters?
'According to Agnes, it's a regional issue,
'affecting some areas more than others.
'Far from producing too much slurry,
'Agnes believes HER land could take even more.'
You really think it's not a problem out there in the Dutch countryside?
Go outside and meet the phosphate in the...in the water here.
Don't have enough cows to fill my land properly.
So, for you, here, intensive farming is not a problem.
-You've got the land to support it.
'But this policy applies across the board,
'and Agnes will have to take her share of the pain,
'along with thousands of other Dutch farmers.'
How angry are you about this?
I don't know how to explain, but I'm...
I'm boiling inside.
I'm so angry.
Two years ago, the sky was the limit -
now Dutch dairy farmers have been stopped in their tracks.
It seems bizarre that too much manure can actually threaten
a farming sector in a whole country,
but, in the end, this comes down to that familiar battle
between business and environment -
a tricky balance in many places, including the UK.
Get it wrong, as I've seen here in the Netherlands,
and there's a high price to pay.
Now, they're one of Adam's favourite breeds of cattle,
so, when a friend asked him to help find some prize White Parks,
Adam knew just where to go.
Spring brings a new and fresh chapter to the farming year.
The animals are all looking great, especially the sheep,
our goats, and these guys that I'm particularly proud of -
our White Park cattle.
Once they were a critically-endangered breed,
with less than 60 in the world.
Now, numbers are on the increase,
and there's around 800.
And they have a very special place in my heart.
Over the years, I've been through a lot with these animals,
and they are a fantastic, ancient, British breed.
'White Parks have been part of my life for as long as I can remember -
'from my dad bringing them onto the farm when I was a boy,
'then losing almost half the herd to TB...'
We've lost our stock bull.
-It's hopeless, isn't it?
'..to happier times, when we replaced the herd.'
This is a fantastic moment for me,
because I was absolutely devastated, as you know,
but you've put it right, and thanks.
A friend of mine is looking to start a herd of White Parks,
and, when it comes to preserving rare breeds,
I think it's important to help out wherever you can.
Because the more people that get interested in them,
the less likely they are to become extinct.
So I'm off to visit a farmer I last bought from six years ago.
When it comes to White Parks, he's one of the best in the business.
-Hi, John. Good to see you again.
-It's been a while.
John Lean has been keeping White Parks at his farm in Devon
for more than 20 years. And his stockman Colin
has separated four beasts for me to have a look at.
My word, look at them all, John!
Well, it's a big shed with a lot of animals in it.
They're lovely-looking cows.
And so different names in their tags -
we've adopted doing that at home since coming to see you last time!
We now write their names on their tags.
-And change the first letter each year.
-So you've got Ns and Os.
-Yes, we have.
Just got to think of enough names beginning with that letter.
When you get to Q, you're in trouble.
OK, can I have a little walk round them, then, have a look?
So what I want in a White Park cow, in fact in any cow, really,
is a nice straight back, good legs, good mobility,
like a bit of meat covering as well.
But particularly in the White Parks, specifically,
nice dark nose, black ears
and a good head - nice, smart horns.
Don't want them curling back too much or forward too much.
And so this is lovely. She's a perfect animal.
She's perhaps a little bit pale, the one behind.
So I think these four would do very nicely for my friend.
What sort of money are you after, John?
We're talking £1,500.
-That's for the cow that's in calf.
-In calf, yes.
OK. Well, I'll report back, and I'm sure that's very acceptable.
That would be good. Thank you.
-Can I have a look round the rest of the herd?
They look lovely with the sun on their backs, don't they?
While I'm here, I'm keen to find out from John
how he's created such a top-quality beef herd.
What first got you into breeding them, then, John?
Well, we used to have a dairy herd
and we had to decide whether to develop that or to give up,
-and thankfully we gave up 25 years ago.
And why White Parks, of all the breeds?
Well, we had a good look at what we were going to choose
and we thought that the White Park was probably an economic breed -
not just a rare breed but an economic one
that we could actually survive with. And we've proved we can do that.
So what are you feeding them on here?
This is silage they have, and that's all they have.
-So no cereals, no hard food.
-No, we don't buy in any concentrates.
And then during the spring and summer months, your lovely grass.
-Yes, and they do very well on that.
-Never stops growing, does it?
I'm very jealous of your grass!
We have to wait for about three years before we can kill them
-because they are slow-maturing and we don't feed them barley.
Whereas the average supermarket trade
is with animals of 12 to 14 months old.
So a big difference.
-That's a long time waiting for the money.
and my accountant says there's something wrong,
you need to kill them at two years old.
But we can't produce the quality
by doing it in less than three years,
and as such we get a premium for the beef when we sell it.
And in here you've got cows of mixed ages. They live well, don't they?
Yes, yes. The oldest cow in here is 19 years old, Audrey.
-Here we are.
-Is this her here?
-This is Audrey. Yes.
-How old did you say?
-19, she is.
19 years old! And still breeding?
No, to be honest, no. It's been two years since we had a calf from her.
And she's still fit and healthy.
-And she's a great friend.
She was the first calf that was ever born here.
-What will you do with her, then? Just keep her on?
-Keep her on, yes.
-She's an old favourite!
-She is. We do have
a couple of old favourites and they will stay with us, I think.
Oh, my word! What's this one?
This is Ferdinand.
He's a very old steer that we've kept for years.
-He's a friend.
-Aww. Look at his handlebars!
-Yes. They keep growing.
He's lovely, isn't he?
-He's very friendly.
-So he's just a pet?
-He is, I'm afraid.
-You're a bit of an old softie, John.
Oh, he's magnificent.
Back in the 16th century,
the aristocracy would contain this breed of cattle in special parks
in order to hunt them.
Hence their name, the White Park.
And John's got plenty more historical nuggets about the breed.
During the war, Winston Churchill considered it a good idea
to try and save them, and he sent a bull and two in-calf heifers
to New York to be protected from the Germans
-in case they should invade.
Wonderful, yes. He had a great sense of pride
and he had the right ideas.
-And their beef is renowned.
Indeed, this year is the 400th anniversary of the time when
James I was eating a loin of beef,
and he said, "This is so marvellous, I'm going to knight it,"
Incredible. I knew the story, but I didn't know it was White Park.
It was White Park. Definitely.
John's stately cuts go to a butcher in London
who specialises in meat from British native breeds.
So this farm boy is heading from the hillsides of Devon
to the Big Smoke to eat like a king.
Butcher Nathan Mills sources all his meat
from small-scale farmers just like John.
Come on down. This is a piece of White Park rib from John.
We've had it aged in the cool room now for about 75 days.
-Yeah. It's a very personal thing.
Some people like it a little bit longer,
some people don't like that intense flavour.
So what are you going to do with this?
I'm going to face the edge up and we'll have a look.
Got a couple of nice steaks over here ready to cook.
So let's just see what it looks like underneath.
That's really dark. In comparison to
what you'd get on a supermarket shelf, which is bright red,
-this is very dark, isn't it?
-Yeah, very dark.
So we've lost a considerable amount of moisture out of this.
The marbling in it is quite fine, it's just got these specks
which bring a certain amount of flavour through to the meat.
It's showing that this animal has had a pretty good lifestyle.
-It's not been force-fed.
-And real quality.
Yeah, it speaks for itself.
But the proof, as they say, is in the eating,
and Nathan is very kindly cooking me up a White Park feast.
There we go. Let's have a look at how she looks on the inside.
-It looks really good.
-Take a piece.
Full of flavour. Lovely texture.
Good earthy flavours to it.
Tastes like the grass that it's been eating.
Knowing John Lean's farm,
knowing the history of the cattle,
and then your expertise in the butchering,
it makes it even more special, doesn't it?
It does. It reckon it pulls on the heartstrings,
especially when you've been down to the farm and seen the animals
and how beautiful the farm is.
You can't convey that to your customer
without them sort of tasting it
and painting the whole picture for them.
Congratulations, is all I can say.
By creating a market for their meat,
butchers like Nathan are actually
helping the survival of animals like the White Parks.
If there's no demand,
that's when our rare breeds are in danger of dying out.
Bird-watching is big in East Yorkshire,
and those with a keen eye and pair of binoculars
are well catered for right here at the Spurn Bird Observatory.
It's one of the most important sites for wild birds
anywhere in the country.
Hundreds of migratory and native species are seen here.
It's a big draw for birders from far and wide -
armies of volunteers who come daily
to help keep track of all that birdlife.
Today's count is under way.
I'm meeting up with Paul Collins from the observatory.
It's an amazing spot, because we've got sea on this side,
sea on that side, but it's also really important
strategically for the birds, isn't it?
Yes. Birds follow the coast down from northern England,
they hit the east coast of Yorkshire,
and the Holderness coast funnels them into its triangle shape
which then goes down the peninsula into Lincolnshire.
Any birds that are flying from north to south have to come through there.
They have to come... So on their journey, this is a pit stop,
-a service station, if you like?
-Yeah. A lot of birds
just stay five, ten minutes, specially thrushes and blackbirds,
get up again and head straight inland.
And how important is the observatory?
It's been here since 1946
and we record all the birds that we see migrating
and landing here,
since that, daily, from that day on.
-So it's been vital, really.
For trends, you can see trends when population increases, decreases,
which birds are declining rapidly,
so this is a vital piece of information
that the conservation units use for their conservation measures.
One man in particular has played a big part
in the work of the observatory going back decades.
That's 79-year-old Barry Spence.
And you came in 1964 and this is the logbook from that year.
Yes. I actually arrived on the 1st February.
"B Spence", look at that.
-That's my writing.
-B Spence. OK.
What did you see that day?
"The gulls, the common gulls had dispersed from the Humber,
"and only 800 were left, mainly in small groups on the sea
"and Humber shores." This is great! You must have seen it
change dramatically in the time that you've been here.
There's lots of changes.
The area covered has changed considerably.
The number of birds seen is probably more,
mainly because there's far more people interested in birds nowadays
and so the coverage is far better, obviously.
Barry's enthusiasm and passion for birds
is something shared by all those carrying on his vital work.
The methods used are very much the same as they were in Barry's day.
The birds are ringed, measurements are taken...
..everything is recorded, including the age and the sex.
Here at Spurn,
they're actively encouraging a new breed of birders.
Jonnie Fisk, co-founder of the website The Next Generation Birders.
And Georgia Locock, active birder and wildlife campaigner.
Not that I want to make a generalisation, but I will -
most young people your age would probably much rather be in bed
at five in the morning than be out here in the freezing cold
waiting for a bird to fly by.
Wasting daylight! You've just got to be out there!
Got to be in it to win it.
-How old are you, Georgia?
And how long have you been birding?
Been interested in wildlife in general since I was really young
and in the last few years I've really got involved and interested
in birding, and a lot of that has been through coming here
and sort of being inspired
and sort of motivated by the birders here, yeah.
-And how about you, Jonnie? How old are you?
-21 and the world at your feet.
-And you choose to be here at Spurn Point.
You've been instrumental in trying to
get other birders your age together, haven't you?
I set up this website on social media, Next Generation Birders,
and it was brilliant. We started out with about 50, 60,
and I looked the other day and there's over 700 people joined.
All between the ages of about 13 and 25.
But it's been... It's changed my birding for sure,
cos I've met so many great mates through it.
You could log on and realise that there's...
You thought there was no other birders your age in the area
and there's birders in your county, at your uni, maybe down the road.
I tell you what, I've been utterly inspired by both of you.
Not only your dedication to birding, but wildlife in general,
so where do I sign up? What do I need?
Dedication I've got in spades. I can get up early.
You've already got the hat.
I've got the hat!
Now, if I was a little bird, a bit like some of those I've met today
on their migratory route to cooler climes,
I would probably want to know
what the weather's looking like for the week ahead.
I'm on the Spurn peninsula,
the most southerly point in the East Riding of Yorkshire.
And I'm spending the day with
the country's only full-time, fully paid lifeboat crew.
The North Sea is relentless here,
continually changing and reshaping the Spurn peninsula.
Constantly battered by the wind and the waves,
this is one of the fastest-eroding coastlines in Europe,
and it's not just the land you can see -
it's the land beneath the waves, too.
And that is a real hazard.
Now, so that they can navigate a safe and swift passage
to those who are in trouble offshore without getting stuck themselves,
the lifeboat crew have to carefully monitor
the changes in the seabed.
That means almost daily navigation exercises.
The crew call it "sniffing the channels".
As well as a life jacket, I need to get my skates on.
If I'm late, they won't wait.
Yep. As predicted, already running late.
Got to pick up the pace!
Ey-up there! In my younger days, I used to run this -
I've got a bike now!
Don't worry, we're nearly there!
Even in the dead of night,
the crew can get from their bunks to the boat
in less than eight minutes.
Just be careful as you get aboard.
Cheers. Thank you.
Coming out now, we've got a beautiful day.
At night-time, there is no ambient light at all,
so we do this in pitch black?
Is everything there on the boat?
-You never have to bring anything with you?
The only piece of equipment we would bring extra with us
would be chocolate bars, biscuits and stuff like that,
if we know it's a long one.
She's a beauty, isn't she?
She really is.
Let the old man up first.
Here we'd go aft, and the lads would get the belt ready.
You are just in your element here, aren't you?
Yeah. This is... This is me.
I'm at my happiest when I'm up here.
You can feel the power, can't you? Whoo!
But all that raw horsepower
would be nothing without a good sense of direction.
Electronic navigation on here, it'll only send you in a straight line.
It doesn't know where the banks are, doesn't know where the shallows are,
doesn't know where the land is.
So if you trust it and went in a straight line,
you could get yourself into trouble.
I'm quite fortunate, I've got my navigators
on this watch and the other, they're really good.
Plotting a safe course through the ever-changing channels
takes some real skill.
Today, that task falls to navigator Colin Fisk.
-Col, how you doing?
-I'm good, thank you.
How often are you coming out here, Colin,
and doing this work and kind of gathering your own information?
We come about...at least three times as week.
Is there a pattern to the way the sands are changing through the year?
As you see on the chart here, all this dark blue here is shallow.
-This bit of green is constantly changing.
You know, it changes by the way you can...
It is often surveyed, but they just can't keep up with it,
-it's been changing that much.
Also on board today is James Anthony,
an RNLI volunteer from the Thames station in London,
here to see how this crew works.
-Why are you here?
-Just to do some all-weather lifeboating
as opposed to inshore lifeboating.
-Get a bit more experience.
-Right. And how different is it, then?
It's a bit rougher!
And the thought of going 100 miles out into the North Sea?
Bring it on!
Well, in that case, let's go.
-She's all yours, Matt.
-She's all mine!
So all this sand and shingle that's underneath us,
that's moving around, where's that all coming from?
It's coming down from the Holderness coast.
Longshore drift, the experts tell me.
Er, and it's the eroding coast -
the mud goes into suspension in the water, hence the colour,
and the sand and the shingle are left
and they come along the seabed with the tide.
They come down the coast, they meet the outflow
and they dump it all just there for us.
He's a good 'un! Shall we sign him up?
I'm enjoying myself!
Thankfully, today, all is well at sea,
but the Pride of the Humber remains ever-vigilant and ever-ready.
-All right, Matt? Check out my wheels!
-Look at this!
-I've come to give you a lift.
-Isn't it great?
Modern technology. This is how you get on!
This has just been a day of rescues for me.
-It's not bad, is it?
-It's not what you know, round here,
-it's who you know, isn't it?
-And I've got all the best connections.
I cannot wait for this journey, I must say.
But tide and time waits for no-one. We are done here in Holderness.
Next week it's Easter Sunday
and we're going to be in Lancashire
where I will be experiencing an ancient Easter tradition.
-What are you going to do?
-I will be taking a stroll
through witches' country, no less.
All right. Hope you can join us then.
See you then. Come on, up you get.
-See you next week.
-See you. Check out the sunset!
Matt, Anita and John are in Holderness in the East Riding of Yorkshire. Matt is on Spurn Point, or rather Spurn Island - the country's newest, formed by the big storm surge of 2013. He meets the RNLI crew who had to relocate further up the coast as a result and then goes on manoeuvres with them 'sniffing the channels' as they look for safe passages around the point.
Anita finds out how Spurn's wildlife has responded in the wake of the surge, and she meets the next generation of birdwatchers helping to spot the rare species on display.
John is on Sunk Island, an area of rich farmland attached to the mainland but which once stood cut off in the Humber. He is there with photographer Fiona Caley, who is recording this mysterious landscape and the farming communities who live there.
Adam helps a friend choose some rare breed white park cattle.
And when milk quotas ended two years ago, some dairy farmers here and across Europe thought the sky was the limit. But in the Netherlands that has suddenly changed, and it could be a cautionary tale for us in the UK as Tom Heap finds out.