Matt and Anita explore the Isle of Wight. Matt abseils down the walls of Carisbrooke Castle, while Anita is on Ventnor Downs helping to round up feral goats.
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Sea breezes warm the land, the air is mild, the climate gentle.
You'd be forgiven for thinking this is the Med.
Definitely not today.
This is the Isle of Wight and I've joined these volunteers
to try and track down a very particular kind of animal.
In we go.
Well, Anita's not the only one with a job to do this week.
Top of my list, spot of gardening.
Thing is, if you're going to do some gardening,
you might as well go to the shed, get all the kit out
and make it as extreme as possible.
Tom's investigating if the end of caged eggs is really
a victory for animal welfare.
It's not quite as straightforward as saying "cage bad, free-range good".
It's more a question of saying what can we learn from the cages now
about just how... low mortality can be?
And Adam's got his work cut out with a different kind of round-up.
That's it. Quick...
Well, I'm well used to working with sheep and cattle, but never deer.
But it's all about learning how to work with these animals, isn't it?
Oh, absolutely. Nice and calm. As long as you're calm, the animals are calm.
I don't feel very calm, I feel quite wound up!
Goodness me! That was great.
The Isle of Wight.
A jewel in the Solent.
Here the sun shines, mild winds blow and, all around,
the rich green landscape bursts with life.
Sometimes, surprising life.
They're fast, they're wild, it's going to take all of us
to round them up, and they're very smelly.
I am talking goats.
I'm at Ventnor on the south side of the Isle of Wight,
where the island's feral goats are about to be rounded up
for their annual health check.
There's been a herd of Old English goats on the island since 1993.
They were brought here from Devon to help deal with the spread of
invasive holm oak trees.
But - oh, boy - could we have picked a better day.
There's driving rain and thick mist,
which is going to make the task all the harder.
National Trust ranger Ian Ridett is in charge.
Hello, good morning.
So, this is our 21st, I think, goat round-up.
It is very steep, it is very slippery and is very dangerous,
so please be careful and stay in a line.
Undeterred by the weather,
these hardy volunteers are going to spread out across the down.
The plan is to form a human chain which will push the goats
towards the pen a few hundred yards away.
OK, Sean, moving off.
Off we go, everybody!
Well, you have to start at the back of the down because, of course,
we don't know where the goats are.
We can't see all of the down, top to bottom.
As you can see, this is somewhere you can't get a tractor...
-It's so steep.
-They are very much better on this ground than we are...
-..as you can tell already.
So, we're here to track these goats.
We're on the steepest hill I've ever had to try and navigate
- well, to try and find goats -
and the goats, so far, are nowhere to be seen.
There are 30-40 goats and their kids somewhere out there,
but there's more than 200 acres of gorse,
bramble and dense woodlands they could be hiding in.
Don't know where these goats are, but I hope they turn up soon.
'The sun's finally pushing through the grey clouds,
'making it easier to spot signs of goaty life.'
You can see here there's one of their nests, actually.
-That's their beds.
-This? How do you know?
They scrape the leaves off and you've got this sort of
slightly shiny bit of ground, and a little bit of poo there, as well.
Ah, goat tracking.
Right, to find the elusive...
OK on top, Robin! We'll carry on.
'Read you. Out.'
I'm stepping away from the round-up for a few minutes
to find out precisely why these holm oaks are such a problem.
So, Tony, the holm oak seems rather nice to me,
being in this lovely shady forest.
Yes, and that's what the Victorians thought.
They filled their gardens up with them after they'd been on
and they spread like fury.
They like the chalk, they like the climate, and so we ended up
with all our lovely chalk grassland being covered in this holm oak.
And why is that a problem?
Because the grassland is very rich in lots of species.
Adonis blue butterflies, chalkhill blues and, floristically,
the wonderful flowers.
And it was disappearing.
And so that's why the goat cavalry have been brought in, is it?
It is. They actually eat the bark of the tree, and eventually
the smaller trees they'll kill.
So, the goats are doing their job. It's working.
Is it bringing back the lovely chalk that you want to see?
You can look across the landscape, it's completely different.
So, it's working.
This uneven ground might be easy climbing for goats,
but the steep slopes and wet leaves are making it slightly harder
for us humans.
There they are. Spotted.
If you can get in line with my arm, straight up, that would be great.
'Good - the goats are bunched together.
'Now we just need to hold the line for one big final push.'
Push across towards Sean.
On the far side.
Quick as you can.
Don't get excited just cos they're in front of us.
Keep together as a line.
Hold it together.
Wow! Look at these fellows.
Aren't they fantastic?
Phew! They smell amazing.
Now, Ian, what's happening next? So, we've got them in the pen...
We'll check their ear tags.
We'll look at their feet, look at their teeth, look at their general
condition, if they're healthy enough to last through the winter.
OK. Where do you want them? Do you want them sprayed or out?
Yeah, that causes problems.
'This isn't the most glamorous task I've had to do.'
-So, it's quite tough.
-Ugh, that's horrible.
There you go.
Well, I've never cut any other creature's toenails before.
A goat pedicure is a first.
Cor, this one's got really long nails. Crikey!
'32 billies, nannies and kids have been trimmed, tagged and recorded.
'I'd say a successful day's wrangling.'
This is it. The goats are about to be released for another year.
Here they come.
There they go.
Taking that very distinct smell along with them.
For British consumers,
animal welfare is one of our top concerns when it comes to
buying meat and eggs,
and now it seems that supermarkets are ditching caged hens for good.
So, is it all good news?
..nature's convenience food.
Packed with nutrition and one of our staples.
Here in the UK, we consume 33 million of them every day,
and not just poached, scrambled or fried for your breakfast.
Eggs are also to be found in a number of products you'd see
on the supermarket shelf.
It'd be nice to imagine that our eggs come from an idyllic
farmyard setting, but to cater for this much demand,
most come from farms on a much larger scale.
Almost half of those are free-range, but the majority of eggs
come from enriched colony cages, simply known as caged eggs.
Four years ago, battery farms were banned and these enriched cages
were designed to replace them.
But now nearly all of Britain's supermarkets have vowed to
stop selling caged eggs by 2025.
It's great news for those campaigning for animal welfare,
but what does it mean for egg producers?
Farmers across the UK have invested £400 million in recent years
in the transition from battery to caged production.
Duncan Priestner is a sixth-generation egg farmer.
In 2009, he spent £3.5 million converting this farm from
battery cages to enriched cages.
There's 60 birds in these colonies.
We have a nest box area here, where all the eggs are laid.
We have a curtain to keep it nice and dark.
Inside we have perches and then we have a scratch area in the corner,
feed along the front and water along the middle.
'There are five barns like this here on Duncan's farm
'and between them they yield 80,000 eggs a day.'
When you look at these overall, you've still got, as you say,
60 birds in an area about the size of a large single bed.
How do you actually know they're happy? They're still quite squashed.
These systems have been developed by animal-welfare experts.
If you actually look at the hens in these systems,
they've got great feather cover, they've got very bright eyes,
very nice bright combs, but they lay very, very well.
We get a lot of eggs out of here
and very, very few hens that die in these systems.
So, a productive hen is a happy hen in your view?
A productive hen is a happy hen.
But they are, nevertheless,
birds behind bars and people don't like that.
What we try and do is get people in here,
we show them the systems, we explain to them how it all works, and
when people see that, people usually are very, very impressed.
65 million people in this country eat a billion eggs a month,
so we need very big farms to produce those eggs for the retailers.
'So, what will happen when these cages are scrapped
'in just under a decade?'
We have invested, in the country, £400 million into these systems
to give the hens a really good level of animal welfare and then,
possibly in a few years' time, may have to take it all out again.
And what do you think about that?
I think, er...well, really, despair, really.
I mean, this shed is four years old.
It's going to take us another ten years to pay it off,
and just by the time it's going to be paid off,
it's possibly going to have to all be ripped out and something
different and something new - we're not too sure what - put in instead.
Caged-egg production is still relatively new and farmers believe
it's better for hens than battery.
So, why are many supermarkets stopping selling caged eggs?
Well, it's largely thanks to one person.
15-year-old Lucy Gavaghan hit the headlines this summer
when her online petition convinced Tesco to stop selling
caged eggs by 2025.
When was the moment that you knew that you'd won?
I received a phone call at school from Tesco to hear that
they would stop selling caged hens' eggs by 2025.
They released a press statement later that day and
it's all rolled from there.
And the fact that they came and rang you up at school does credit
your campaign for quite a lot of that success, doesn't it?
I hope so, and I think that was really key for me,
that they'd actually called me before the press statement,
because that really recognised that the campaign had
a part in the change and that was what I was hoping for.
Tell me, how did this all start?
When was the moment that you thought, "Wow, I really care about what's happening to chickens"?
It was after meeting a flock of hens on a livery yard and
I became really attached to one of them in particular.
She was so friendly and I became really aware of what
intelligent animals they are.
So many hens are kept in cages - it didn't make sense to me,
so I wanted to do something about it.
How do you know that a free-range hen is happier than one from
an enriched cage?
It's clear to see, really.
All these hens are rescue.
Hazel, at the front, she's actually rescued from a cage.
So, I've watched her as she's developed from a rescue hen,
pale and weak and generally quite withdrawn.
She, now, is just as confident as all the other hens.
She's fully feathered, she's got a bright red comb, and that
shows that she's got access to the outdoor world.
And I think that, as consumers,
we have to ensure that they're given the respect and the compassion
that they deserve, because they're not just inanimate objects,
they're not just egg-laying machines.
They're so much more than that.
And Lucy's success hasn't stopped there.
Two of the world's biggest contract caterers, Sodexo and Compass,
have pledged to go cage-free as well, and, in the States,
McDonald's and Walmart have promised to do the same.
It looks like a victory for animal welfare,
but is this success all it's cracked up to be?
That's what I'll be finding out later.
Carisbrooke Castle looms large...
..a dominating presence on the Isle of Wight.
For a thousand years, it's braved the elements,
weathered countless storms
and the withering assault of freeze and thaw.
But there's one foe that takes some beating...
and it's scaling the castle walls.
The Isle of Wight's balmy climate makes it
a good place for plants to grow.
But when they start making themselves at home
on the castle's stonework, it's a problem.
The ivy has to go.
Sam Stone is overseeing its removal.
So, what's the reason, then, to remove all of this ivy?
Because obviously it's been a big part of this castle's history.
At Carisbrooke Castle, we've taken the decision to remove all of
the ivy and actually all of the vegetation, to ensure that we
are conserving the walls to the best of our ability.
While the ivy's on the walls, we can't tell what condition
the walls are in and we can't do any maintenance to the walls, either.
The ivy itself doesn't actually harm the walls,
unless the roots are growing directly from the wall.
This is part of the biggest conservation programme that
English Heritage has ever undertaken, but at Carisbrooke
we've decided that is the best approach, because we want to be able
to see how the castle walls look without it.
Here, particularly on the 14th-century tower,
I think we're going to uncover some really interesting
architectural details, which tells us a lot more about
the castle and how it was built and the different phases.
Getting to those hard-to-reach places requires specialist
knowledge and equipment.
We'll just tuck all these away.
James Preston and his team of historic-building
conservationists use climbing gear to do the job safely.
OK, now, what sort of technique are we using here?
Obviously so that we don't harm the stone below,
but get as much of the ivy off as possible?
Well, we need to be very aware of the condition of the wall
behind the ivy.
If we were just to start yanking,
potentially bits of stone and bits of mortar can be pulled out
with the ivy. So we're removing the ivy very carefully,
just making sure we don't damage any parts of the building.
But essentially, we're just carefully pulling it off.
If it's a bit stubborn, we'll prise it off with some small tools.
-Use one of these.
-Oh, right, good.
And just being really careful about what's underneath, really.
This wall looks in quite good condition.
I was going to say exactly that,
I'm quite surprised at the condition under here.
So you can see how, in parts,
it does offer great protection.
Yes, absolutely. This has clearly protected this wall quite well.
-But we need to remove it to be sure,
and make sure the condition of the wall is in a good state of repair.
'Gardeners at the castle cut through the roots of this ivy a year ago,
'but it's still going strong.'
We don't tend to advise cutting the roots at the bottom, because
when you do that, the ivy, in trying to survive,
roots into the wall, so this is a good example.
This ivy is very much alive, but it's not
-connected to the ground.
So it's living off the wall.
'And to illustrate just how invasive ivy can be...'
This is a great example.
What we tend to do,
we record these bits of stone and we carefully remove them.
-And you can see the root's actually grown behind it, see?
'An ivy shoot has found its way behind the face of the stone.'
That's incredible, when you think of the process of how that must
have grown, because there just must have been
a slight little shard and it just got it in there.
-Forced its way through.
-And just gently just...prise, yeah?
And with this technique, because you're not cutting it, it's
coming off in these beautiful kind of...just blankets, quilts of ivy.
It can be very satisfying. This bit is coming off in one big sheet.
It's always really exciting when you reveal certain parts of
architectural detail that have been lost over the last however long.
Yeah, talk about being able to see where you've been.
-You must get some great before-and-after photos.
It is quite satisfying to look at it once you've finished,
what a difference it makes to the overall impression of the building.
Right, are we ready to descend a little bit now?
We can go down a little bit and we'll just carry on
removing this blanket.
'You'll be able to see the results of our handiwork later.
'Before then, something a little more...tropical.'
'I could be in a parched South American desert...
'..a distant, exotic jungle...
'..or could I be exploring the Australian wilderness?'
No, this is Ventnor, on the south side of the Isle of Wight,
and there's all sorts that grows here that really shouldn't.
'The botanical gardens at Ventnor enjoy a
'particularly warm microclimate.
'They face south, so they soak up the best of the sun.
'And they're sheltered from the chilly northerly blasts by
'the high ridge of St Boniface Down.
'Chris Kidd is the curator.'
It feels really quite natural here, I don't feel like I'm in
a plant museum with specimens laid out for me.
We're trying to replicate the wild here.
Everything you can see from this position is all from Australia,
there's nothing here which didn't originate on the other side
-of the world.
-So you just let the plants self-seed and things, do you?
One of the true measures of success here is when our plants do
sow themselves into places we couldn't possibly grow them.
And have you had plants just arriving on their own?
Yes, we are growing on the trunks of the tree fern
a very rare ally to a fern itself called a tmesipteris.
It's almost impossible to cultivate,
but where we've got such a wild garden here,
it's arrived on its own way and is growing very happily.
'Not everything in the garden is natural.'
-So we're walking down now between two coaches.
'These rocks are fake, 'specially made to look ancient
'and built on top of two old scrap buses.'
The principle is that the larger the waste product that's underneath,
the larger the rock is that you can have at the end of it.
So with a coach body,
you can actually have a rock which is truly huge.
-So it works as a frame.
Over the top, there's a series of meshes and mortars that go on,
which is shaped up and then coloured to make it look authentic.
-How long ago was there nothing here?
-This was only ten years.
That's staggering. Everything here has grown in that time?
Yeah, all of the trees you can see, they went in when they were
saplings, 15 centimetres tall, and they've grown in ten years.
'The gardens contain many plants which have medicinal uses.
'And the site has a longer association with wellbeing.
'The Royal National Hospital for Diseases of the Chest stood here,
'founded by Dr Arthur Hill Hassall in 1868.
'Jonyth Hill is the garden's historian.'
Tuberculosis was a real plague to everybody. Millions died from it.
Dr Hassall came down here and he found that this would be an ideal
place for him to have a hospital, but a different hospital.
He wanted to have individual rooms for all the patients.
All facing south, so they got plenty of fresh air,
which is one of the best things to actually have for TB.
And, believe it or not, all the French doors,
all the windows were left open all the time, even in the winter.
They really thought fresh air was good for them.
-I'm not sure the patients would agree!
I've had patients come round and say it was freezing.
And you've got another one.
Well, this is quite amazing. What happened with the patients here,
if they were getting better, they had graded exercise.
-These are the patients?
-These are actually the patients.
And, believe it or not, the doctor is watching them work.
This is rather a lovely one.
This is up in the garden above,
which is now a general herbal and medicinal garden.
This is literally where the ladies would be able to sit out
and have afternoon tea.
Antibiotics eventually replaced fresh air for treating TB
and the hospital closed.
By 1970, it had been demolished
and the 22 acres of parkland began its transformation
into the botanical gardens.
There's one special group of trees
that have lived through the entire story.
The palms here, these are unusual,
because they're the oldest palms in Britain.
-Nowadays, you can see palm trees throughout the United Kingdom.
But at the time that these were brought over as seeds from China,
palms were unknown to the British landscape.
Some were sent over to the Isle of Wight
and given to Prince Albert at Osborne House,
who kept one there and decided that the remaining six
would be brought over to this garden,
because it was so warm, and planted here, where we have them today.
So how long have they been here?
They've been in the ground here for over 150 years.
The hospital may be long gone,
but there's still a nod to its medical past.
In the medicinal garden, John Curtis is planting eucalyptus trees
that will form the basis for a very unusual cordial.
So, why eucalyptus?
Well, it's easy.
If you rub your fingers on one of the leaves
-and then smell the aromatic qualities come off the leaf...
-Most people have had eucalyptus drops or something.
-Yeah, clear your tubes.
The Aborigines used it as an antiseptic.
Are you expecting these specimens to grow as big as the monsters
-you've got down there?
These we coppice. We let them grow to about four feet
and then cut them back and let them regrow, so it's more sustainable.
We take the leaves and effectively create an essence,
by reducing them down in water.
And that creates the base.
Add sugar, add citric acid and we have our cordial.
And then you sell that here?
Here and with local retailers.
The reason we do that is to so-called feed the garden.
So, it's a more modern way to run a botanic garden -
to try to get the plants to earn their keep.
Now back to Tom, who's looking at the pledge to end
caged eggs here in the UK.
We consume 12 billion eggs every year in the UK.
And the majority of those come from caged hens.
But earlier I found out
that nearly all of the major British supermarkets
have pledged to stop selling these caged eggs by 2025.
Currently, caged eggs, like these, account for 51% of UK production.
So, what could happen to the British egg industry
in just nine years' time, if eggs are no longer farmed this way?
The rest of our eggs pretty much all come from free-range farms
and it's this type of farming that's likely to expand.
'I've come to meet free-range egg farmer Martin Ford.'
Oh, look. There are some eggs.
These are some of the bravest chickens I've ever met.
'His hens, here in Somerset, produce 7,000 eggs every day.
'So, you'd think he'd support this move away from caged eggs.
'But he doesn't.
'Instead, he's worried it'll drive down the price of his eggs.'
Up till now - because we've been a niche market,
and it's been seen as a speciality egg, if you like -
we can get a small premium.
We're then going to be the bottom of the ladder.
We're going to be the bottom rung. We're going to be the commodity.
You think that's kind of inevitable, do you?
Cos in the past it was seen as something special, you know,
"I'm getting free-range, I'm prepared to pay a little bit more."
But when it becomes the norm, that vanishes?
That is our worry.
I'm a small free-range producer now.
This is an 8,000-bird single-deck system, as they call it.
There are systems being used already in the industry that are large.
The big units may have 64,000 birds in one unit.
And can produce eggs a lot cheaper than I can.
So, from my personal point of view,
it's going to be very difficult for me to compete.
Some people might say, "Well, you've had it good for a while,
"now the realities of competition are going to bite,
"just like they do for a lot of other businessmen."
That's right, that's what they say.
And I was hoping to have something
to pass on to my children, if they want it.
But...the way I'm looking at it now,
the next four to six years could be crucial.
So you see this as a real threat
-to the survival of your business, do you?
Martin is concerned that an end to caged eggs will be bad for him
and other free-range farmers.
But surely it's got to be good for hens,
in terms of animal welfare?
Professor Christine Nicol is one of the UK's
leading animal-welfare experts.
She's studied both the caged and the free-range systems
and, surprisingly, it turns out
you could be better off as a caged hen.
-So, the cage system keeps the birds very safe.
The risk of predation is very low, the risk of disease is lower
and the risk of accidents is also lower, so the birds are very safe,
but they can't do quite the same range of behaviours.
When you look at the free-range system, the birds can do
all sorts of behaviours, whatever they want, really,
but some of the risks are higher.
So it's not quite as straightforward as saying
"cage bad, free-range good".
It's more a question of saying what can we learn from the cages now
about just how...low mortality can be?
And then make sure we apply that to the free-range farms and say,
"This is the standard that we're aiming for."
So is it the case that free-range definitely can be
higher welfare, but you've got to work harder to deliver it?
Yeah, I think that's exactly right.
So, free-range has the greatest potential to give the birds
very, very good welfare. And it's not straightforward.
It's a really skilled job to run a free-range system very well.
There are other options, though.
In the Netherlands, some farmers are experimenting with
an indoor system that gives chickens verandas and conservatories,
to protect them from the cold.
So, much as we love going outdoors on a nice sunny day,
we don't want the doors of our house to be open all day long
in the middle of January.
And that is a problem for free-range systems in a British climate.
What concerns the industry is, if free-range becomes even more
of a bulk business than it is now,
it's going to drive down the margins.
And therefore we might see poorer free-range conditions.
Is that a concern that you share?
I don't think you can run a free-range business
by cutting too many corners. It just won't work.
So, no. I see more divergence and innovation
and branding of different types of free-range,
but not a drive to the bottom.
The change will, inevitably,
lead to yet another expensive revamp of UK egg farming.
And some fear it might also push up the average price of eggs.
This move away from caged eggs could well be good for hen welfare
if the management is right.
But that may come at a cost to the industry and to us.
Sheltered from blustery winds and warmed by good old autumn sunshine,
today the Isle of Wight feels more like the south of France
than the south of Britain.
Perfect conditions, then, for growing these -
Black grapes take much more sunlight to grow than the white varieties.
But at one of Britain's oldest vineyards,
wine grower Russ Broughton has cracked it.
So, Russ, how unusual is it to be able to grow black grapes in the UK?
It's very unusual to grow black grapes to make red wine.
You can grow black grapes and make rose wines.
But to try and get the sugar level and the taste high enough to make
a good-quality red wine, very unusual.
So why are you doing it here?
Because this is the Isle of Wight.
And we are lucky enough to have such a great climate that we can grow
a lot of things that, perhaps, even in Hampshire you can't,
which is only just across the water.
This is our Rondo.
-There we go.
Beautiful. I'm going to try one.
-Yep, they're very sweet.
It does sugar up quite early,
so we tend to pick this one before we harvest the white grapes.
OK, well, I'm going to help you harvest the grapes but...
I'll probably eat half of them whilst I'm doing it.
I'm not going to eat your profits, though.
I might do.
-OK, let's do it.
-What do I do?
-Here's some secateurs.
This is Russ's main vineyard.
But further down the hill,
he's planted some young Rondo vines
in ground with a very special heritage.
Now, the Romans may have had a vineyard on this very site
nearly 2,000 years ago.
What I'm walking on right now is said to be part of an ancient farm
with a very important villa attached.
Brading Roman Villa is one of the finest examples
of its type in Britain.
Discovered by accident, and excavated in the 1880s,
it became famous amongst the Victorians
for the quality of its mosaics.
Jasmine Wroath is the villa's curator.
So, this is impressive, Jasmine.
-It is, it is.
-What is it?
This is a fourth-century winged-corridor villa.
The owners were probably quite wealthy.
We think that from the artefacts that have been found
and from the mosaics that we've got here.
So, why this bit of the Isle of Wight?
Why would they have built it here?
Well, originally, back in the Roman times,
there was an estuary just out to the east.
And it would have probably come up about 300 metres
to the entrance of the villa itself.
So it's likely that there was a... trade coming in and out of the port.
And also we obviously have really fertile lands.
The chalk ridge, which runs just behind us,
led to really great lands,
so you could have raised sheep on there, grown great crops as well.
Wow, it still looks great
-2,000 years later, doesn't it?
-It does look good.
-Shall we get down there and have a closer look?
'From the fragments that remain,
'you can see how impressive the mosaics must have been.
'Twice a year, the centuries-old stones are sponged clean
'with water to remove dust.'
Jasmine, this feels like a real honour. What am I cleaning?
We call this our Gallus mosaic.
So far as we know, he is the only cockerel-headed man in Britain.
-So, yeah, he is quite...
-So, what about the rest of the mosaics? Who's this?
This is Bacchus, and he is the god
-of wine and winemaking.
-Ah! So, that's very appropriate.
Do we think that maybe they were making their own wine here?
-If they've got Bacchus as a mosaic.
-Yes, quite possibly.
If you've got the god of wine in one of your central pieces
in one of your mosaics, it is possible they were growing
their own grapes here for winemaking.
There we go. I can see him now.
Old Bacchus, our god of wine.
I think I might start worshipping Bacchus.
Back up the hill,
the gods have clearly been smiling on all Russ's vines.
So, this is the Bacchus grape?
-This is the famous one, yes.
-Named after the god.
-Let's taste it.
-The Roman god of wine.
-They are. They're beautiful.
Yep, they're a couple of weeks away from harvest,
but still tasting nice now.
'The climate here has made it possible to grow all sorts.
'And pride of place is something
'you'd usually find in Asian countries.'
-This is it.
-So this is ginger?
-This is. This is ginger and it's growing right here
-on the Isle of Wight.
-And it's growing!
How is it growing on the Isle of Wight?
We planted it as rhizomes that we bought straight from the shop.
-Snapped them all into pieces, buried them.
And what did people say when you said you were growing ginger here?
"You cannot grow ginger in the UK. It's not possible."
It would appear that they're wrong
and the Isle of Wight, yet again, succeeds.
Well, I'll have to see it to believe it.
-OK. Well, let's get you a piece out.
-I'd love to see this.
-There it is.
-There it is.
-That's it, yeah.
-That's incredible. SHE LAUGHS
Mmm! I love this stuff so much. So, what are you going to do with that?
-Well, this is the first year of growth.
-COCKEREL CROWS, LAUGHTER
And so this year it's grown its roots
and it's started to come out at the side.
We're going to winter that down now.
Next year, when it grows up, it will start increasing the rhizomes.
Then we'll be chopping it up and turning it into a made ginger wine.
-Course you are.
-There we go.
-All this talk of wine, Russ.
-I think it's time, don't you?
-Let's go and try some.
-I'll just pop this one back.
-Wine o'clock. All right.
'Back into the ground with the ginger for one more year.
'Meanwhile, there's a glass of Rondo red with my name on it.'
Let's try this, then. Cheers.
-To your good health.
'The sun, the shelter, the rich, fertile soils make this
'a very special landscape for growing -
'something known to winemakers since Roman times.'
As venison has been gaining in popularity,
deer farmers and estate owners have been looking at ways
to get more bang for their buck.
Adam's travelled to East Anglia to find out more.
In deer parks like this, up and down the country,
this is a very important time of year,
because it's the beginning of the rut.
It's when dominant males jostle for position and fight for the right
to pass on their genes to the next generation.
Gavin Wiggins-Davies' family have been farming the Revesby Estate
in Lincolnshire for more than 300 years.
How long have you had deer on the estate?
Since 1717, when the park was enclosed.
As far as I'm aware it's always been fallow.
And are they a self-sustaining herd, or have you introduced new stock?
They are very, by and large, self-sustaining,
but in the 1860s a new herd was brought in from Syston Park
in Leicestershire by men on horseback,
with herding dogs, on what passed for the roads in those days,
which was a hell of a thing.
But since then we haven't had any more brought in.
And why do you have them on the estate? Is it purely aesthetics?
Aesthetics do come into it, but also for meat production.
The family were, you know, big deer eaters,
or venison eaters, should I say. And still are.
And do you sell it off the estate as well?
We sell it off the estate, both to local butchers,
restaurants, and we have contacts, which we have a small number of.
We're building up in London and further afield.
So, it pops up all over the place.
'The demand for venison is on the up.
'Some organisations say by as much as 20%.
'So the Revesby Estate is looking to improve its productivity.
'And that means bringing fresh bucks into their herd.'
So I've travelled to Houghton Hall in nearby Norfolk,
famed for its herd of white fallow deer.
Being a keen deer conservationist,
estate owner Lord Cholmondeley
keeps several endangered deer species on his parkland.
Julian Stoyel manages the deer.
He's also one of the country's leading experts in deer genetics.
Conservation work, just like rare breeds, that I'm into,
can be quite expensive and not commercially viable.
How do you make it work?
Yeah, it is a passion, obviously, of Lord Cholmondeley's
and obviously myself, being a manager here, to make it work.
I have to make sure we sustain the population of deer here,
the fallow in particular.
And by producing good venison, basically.
And part of that finance can go into conservation.
So, through your conservation work and animal breeding,
can you improve the quality of the deer?
Yes, absolutely. That's where the genetics comes in, really.
So, when we're doing DNA,
to look at the good and bad in the different species,
we're trying to improve genetics for the UK market, really.
And what are you looking at, carcass size?
Everything. Carcass for the venison industry
and also antlers for people that want pretty stags
or fallow bucks in front of their stately home, really.
So, for parks and deer farms,
you can help them improve the quality of their stock?
Yeah, a lot of deer parks, in particular,
have been here for 200 or 300 years.
One new animal or two new animals in that herd
can make a big difference.
Alongside his conservation work,
Julian also manages a commercial herd of red and fallow deer.
He cleverly combines the best genetic traits from herds
all over the world.
Sam Thompson is the deer-park manager
from the Revesby Estate I visited earlier.
He's travelled to Houghton to hand-pick some of Julian's bucks
for his herd back in Lincolnshire.
-Have you spotted any you like?
Yeah. Far left-hand side, there's a nice young buck and I think
it's what we're looking for. It's got a nice long back on it,
nice palmation on the antlers, lovely spellers.
It's going to make some nice meat.
It's actually a Hungarian-cross Swedish bloodline,
so Sam'll get... The Swedish will give you the venison side
and then the Hungarian will be the wide antlers and good palmation.
So, yeah, a bit of everything really.
That's part of the genetic diversity we're trying to do here.
And then the females you keep from him will improve the herd overall.
Yeah, yeah, of course. And when our females get to a certain age,
they'll be culled out.
Then we'll have completely fresh females, as well.
Then we're looking at every couple of years getting another couple
off Julian, keep that fresh blood moving in.
And you're doing this all over the country?
Yeah, absolutely. You know, it's great Sam's come here
and asked me how he can improve the size of his bodies.
I've given him different options and ideas and what he's doing's perfect.
So, you're looking at the quality of the animal, but,
if I was buying a new bull, I'd want to know about temperament, too.
Is that important in the deer?
Yeah, it is important in the farming situations for a red-deer herd.
When you're going into farming, you want a stag that's not aggressive at all.
But, in Sam's situation, it's going to a deer park,
so I wouldn't imagine it's quite so important, is it, Sam?
One of the main differences between me and Julian is Julian's got a
proper handling system here. We haven't. We don't handle the deer,
so we haven't got that need.
But it will make it easier today to get them loaded up.
-Well, let's go and give that a go, shall we?
When you're rounding up animals as agile as deer,
a quad bike is a very useful tool.
With both of us behind them, we manage to steer Sam's chosen bucks
into the race and down to the handling system.
Rounding up deer this way might look chaotic, but it's the safest way
to manage animals that are essentially wild.
In the handling pen, Sam's poised, ready to shut the gates
before the bucks can escape.
These handling pens are just extraordinary. So high!
Yeah, the height's important, you know, because you want to have
the high wall so they don't think about jumping, obviously.
We've come from the fences to sealed walls,
so all they want to do is tunnel them into the shed,
which is the idea, to get them into here, into the red lighting.
We have them on dimmer switches,
so as soon as they came in you saw how they calmed down.
It's cos they can't really see us very well at all.
Obviously, we talk to them, but it just gives a calming effect.
-Brilliant. Shall we get them loaded into the trailer?
In you go.
Go on, up. And shut.
-Well, that's one in.
-Another one to go.
-One more to go!
That's it. Just pull the pin down, Adam.
That's it, nice and quietly.
And then the bottom one. Nice and quiet. There we go.
-Well, I'm well used to working with sheep and cattle,
but never deer, and I can really see that the experience
that Julian and Sam have got helps beyond belief.
It's all about learning how to work with these animals, isn't it?
Absolutely. Yeah, yeah. Nice and calm. As long as you're calm,
the animals are calm.
I don't feel very calm, I feel quite wound up!
-Goodness me! That was great. Perfect.
-Good, no problems.
-Let's get them going.
Deer have been a feature of the British landscape
for hundreds of years.
With the passion of Julian and Sam, the future of deer herds
up and down the country looks secure.
-All good. Everyone clear.
Come on, then. Come on, fella.
There's a good boy. Not quite sure what to make of it at the minute.
Come on, then, fella.
Come on, then. There's a good boy.
Come on, then.
What a magnificent-looking beast!
He looks at home already.
That's it. Good boy.
-There we go.
-They're really lovely, aren't they?
So, those are the first deer that have been introduced to
Revesby for, what, 200 years?
Yeah, 200 years. So, it's about time we had some fresh blood.
And when will their fawns be born on the estate?
Late June. Late June, early July time.
We had 123 last fawning season,
so, yeah, I'm hoping these boys will contribute well towards that.
-Wonderful. Well, best of luck with them.
-Thank you very much.
Thank you so much for welcoming me along. It's been fascinating to see.
Here on the Isle of Wight, we're still at it -
pulling the ivy from Carisbrooke Castle's walls.
And we are turning up all sorts.
If you enjoy a spot of snail-spotting,
this is the perfect activity, isn't it, James?
Because, I mean, that's absolutely beautiful, that one there.
Yeah, we get lots and lots of snails huddled together under here
and various other creepy-crawlies.
I mean, obviously, with wildlife in mind, there's only a certain time
you can do this in the year.
Well, we have to be mindful, in a place like this, for nesting birds,
so this is a great time of year to be doing this.
Do you ever encounter any wasps' nests or anything like that?
We have done, yeah. We have done. We tend to avoid them,
but when you come across them,
we just have to leave those areas and let them be.
Yeah. I mean, the stuff you can see here! I mean, there's a...
Is that a water vole?
Just down there...
It is a water vole!
Yeah, it is. It's definitely a water vole, and it's the front cover
of the Countryfile calendar, sold in aid of Children In Need.
This is perfect for you, lads, seriously, because obviously
you need to mark your jobs in, so you could just nip through the
seasons there, look. You've got March, you've got July, it's ideal.
And, really, this is nature's way of reminding all of you watching
that if you haven't got your hands on one yet, or maybe two or three or four -
think about all the relatives, Christmas is coming, endless options
- you need to get one, right now.
And here's John with all the details of how you can do it.
It costs £9.50, including free UK delivery.
You can go to our website, where you'll find a link
to the order page.
Or you can phone the order line on...
If you'd prefer to order by post,
send your name, address and a cheque to...
A minimum of £4 from the sale of each calendar will be donated
to BBC Children In Need.
Well, a very big thank-you to everybody who bought last
year's calendar. It raised over £2 million for
Children in Need. At the very least, you all deserve a week of
good weather, so let's cross live to the BBC Weather Centre
for the five-day forecast.
We've been exploring the Isle of Wight, where, earlier,
I was doing a bit of high-rise gardening.
And here is the end result.
Now my feet are firmly back on the ground, I'm with Jack,
one of Carisbrooke Castle's famous donkeys, and his handler, Hannah.
MATT CLICKS TONGUE
Oh, he's a steady one.
Oh, he certainly is. He doesn't go anywhere fast.
Oh, yeah, don't worry yourself. No rush, plenty of time.
'Jack has a very important job.'
Oh, here we are. Oh, my word! I wasn't expecting that.
'Donkeys have been hauling water from the castle's well
'for over 300 years.
'Turning this impressive oak wheel was extremely arduous work.'
When you think that this would have been the only water supply of
the castle and, I'm guessing, quite a lot of the surrounding
-Oh, absolutely. This had to not only feed the residents
here at the castle, their prisoners, their workers,
their livestock, it was used for gardening, it had to feed
the workers' families that were scattered all around the village.
This one bucket and just one poor donkey, constantly.
'Jack, though, is one of four donkeys that do short demonstrations
'for the public.'
He's only contractually obliged to work for six minutes a day.
-Good contract that, Jack.
Eh? Get the old donkey union involved!
Erm, he only does about 30 seconds per demo, and that's it.
Well, Jack, listen. I'm sure everybody would like to see
this wheel working, so if you wouldn't mind giving us your
30 seconds of the day, that would be much appreciated.
Whenever you're ready, release the brake.
'Jack, I should add, is notoriously lazy.'
-Come on, Jack.
-Come on then, Jack.
-Come on, baby.
And there we go.
And it's off and running.
There you go, right.
Good boy. Come on.
Good boy. That's it, come on, baby.
How many revolutions do you have to do to pull up the bucket?
He would have to do 17 to pull it up,
-but we're only going to make him do two.
Gosh, it is...
He knows exactly how many revolutions, look,
and he's off. That's perfect!
Well done, that was lovely.
What a good boy. What a good boy.
'King Stephen, William the Conqueror's grandson,
'had two prisoners dig the well way back in the 12th century.
'It took them a year to reach the island's groundwater.'
Right, so I guess you're wondering how deep this well is.
Just have a listen to this.
That is a long, long way down.
'It's 161 feet, to be exact.
'The Environment Agency use sophisticated equipment
'to measure the water level.
'That tells them just how much water the island has stored
How vital is groundwater to the Isle of Wight, Richard?
It's absolutely key.
It's where most of the water on the island is stored.
We have a sensor going all the way down into the well,
which measures the level, and that comes back to us, centrally,
in our office, and gives an indicator as to whether or not
we're approaching drought conditions.
I see. Now, you've got a very
impressive-looking tape measure down here.
Erm, what are you going to use this for?
Er, well, this is a dipper, and all it is, effectively,
is a long tape measure with a couple of electrodes on the end.
We lower this down the well, when it hits the water it'll beep,
and then we can see what the water level is and whether or not
it matches up to what's on our measure.
-Well, that's all we've got time for this week.
-Oh, there you go!
So, if you raise that up slowly and when it stops beeping...
Is it really?
That's broadly where we'd expect it to be for this time of year.
So, there'll be no hosepipe ban for the Isle of Wight this autumn.
-Ha-ha, like a hamster!
-Well, isn't this totally mad?
-This is incredible.
-You can get on if you want.
-Have you been doing this all afternoon?
Well, since first thing this morning, actually.
What an amazing thing!
Yeah, yeah, good. I've got to try and slow it down.
Slow down, slow down, slow down... It's the perfect time to say
that, really, that's all we've got time for this week.
Next week, we're going to have a special programme
where we're talking about all things autumn.
And, just a quick reminder, if you want to get your hands
on the 2017 Countryfile calendar, go to the website for all the details.
-Right, now I have to get on.
-Are you going to jump on?
-Yeah, which way? Which way do we go?
-So, just keep running that way.
-OK, running up the hill.
-That's it, go on.
-Oh, isn't that weird?
-That's it. It's perfect. Keep going.
We'll see you next week...unless we're still here.
Matt and Anita explore the Isle of Wight. Matt dons a harness and abseils down the walls of Carisbrooke Castle to help root out the overgrown ivy. He then heads to the castle's well, the deepest on the island, to meet Jack and Jill - the Carisbrooke donkeys. Donkeys have been used to draw water from the well for centuries, but when Jack refuses to budge, Matt has no option but to do it himself.
Anita has her hands full on Ventnor Downs. It's the day of the annual feral goat round-up, and Anita is joining the human chain of volunteers trying to catch the animals. She also visits the vineyard where the owner is growing red grapes - only possible because of the island's mild climate.
That mild climate has also made the Isle of Wight a great place for exotic plants. Naomi is at Ventor Botanic Gardens, where the backdrop is more like southern Europe than southern England.
Adam meets the commercial deer owner looking to genetics to breed the best deer he can and, as supermarkets and catering companies pledge to put an end to eggs from caged chickens, Tom Heap asks if this victory for animal welfare is all it's cracked up to be.