Anita Rani and Helen Skelton are on the coast of Morecambe Bay in the far north western corner of Lancashire. Anita takes a cycle ride along the coast near Silverdale.
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The sands here are vast.
The sea makes a mirror of the sky, shimmering gold and silver.
It's quite something, isn't it? Morecambe Bay.
Stretching out like one endless canvas.
A place of stunning views and fabled sunsets, if I'm lucky.
The bay here near Silverdale is notorious for other reasons too.
Any moment now, a wall of water is going to come
tearing down that channel faster than a horse can gallop.
And when that happens, it'll be my cue to get in and go after it.
Also, Matt's hitting the heights in North Wales.
And the countdown is on.
There's just one week to go till the first ever Countryfile
ramble for Children In Need.
We're ready to ramble, are you?
Adam's showing the farming ropes to a familiar face.
I've just hitched the trailer on because I'm off to pick up
some very special little cattle for a friend of mine, and hopefully
the new owner has got everything in place for when I drop them off.
And John is here for some important news.
It's one of my favourite jobs on Countryfile -
revealing the overall winner of our annual photographic competition.
And today is the day.
It's one of these.
The winning photograph will be on the cover of the Countryfile
calendar for 2016,
and I'll be letting you know how you can get hold of one.
A stunning horseshoe-shaped expanse of more than 120 square miles,
where the vast panorama turns from landscape to seascape
and back again with the rhythm of the tides...
..an ever-changing kaleidoscope of light and colour.
I'm on the bay's eastern shore between Morecombe
and Arnside & Silverdale Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
This area is a little-known treasure, often missed by the masses,
who zoom past on the M6 heading north to the Lake District.
But there's a new way to see it.
The Bay Cycle Way -
81 miles of brand-new cycle route that forms part of
the 14,000 mile national cycle network.
Route number 700 follows the coast and hugs it where it can.
I'm in Morecombe right now,
but it starts a few miles behind me in Glasson Dock and then
follows the bay all the way round and ends in Barrow-in-Furness in Cumbria.
I'm doing just a short stretch, but that's the beauty.
You can do as much or as little of the route as you like.
Susannah Bleakley is from the Morecambe Bay Partnership.
They're a charitable outfit who raised the cash
and got behind the route.
-Hello, Susannah. How are you?
This is quite something, isn't it?
What a brilliant view.
It is stunning, and we're so proud of it,
and that's part of what the cycle route is about.
Tell me more about it. Why open it?
We want people to come to Morecombe Bay and dawdle and enjoy
and explore. Not really to race through,
we want to people to explore what Morecombe Bay has to offer.
It's all about food and drink, heritage sites
and a stunning landscape.
Lots of places where I can stop and have a pint and a pee.
We've said that. There is a loo, a view and a brew every ten miles.
Perfect. My kind of cycle path.
The Bay Cycle Way takes you on a mixture of traffic-free paths
and quiet lanes.
The entire route has only ten hills,
so it's great for all ages and abilities
from families to the elderly to those hardy cyclists
aiming to do the whole route in one go.
It's not just to bring people in.
I mean, I will bring people in
and that's fantastic, but I think there's a lot
of local people who don't really understand everything
that the bay's got to offer.
Certainly when we cycled the whole route the first time we found a few
little nooks and crannies that we hadn't seen before.
-And are you a hardcore cyclist?
-Oh, good lord, no.
I've been cycling for years, but push it up the hills,
enjoy the flat bits, particularly like the downhill bits.
It's a route than anybody can do. It's mostly flat.
The couple of hills that there are, you can just push them up
and there's nice eateries along the way anyway.
'So if you want a gentle trip soaking up the delights of one
'of the least known, but beautiful stretches of Britain's coastline...'
Get on your bike.
Sometimes it's one vast expanse of sea,
other times an endless stretch of sand.
But at all times Morecombe Bay
spreads out as far as the eye can see.
Just look at those colours.
You know, even on a bad day that is a sight worth seeing.
You can walk for miles and miles along this sand and mud,
and fishermen actually do.
More often than not you can see them peppered along the horizon.
They work the sands with tractors and carts,
fishing for the famous Morecombe Bay shrimps.
It all looks very benign, just the place for a peaceful stroll.
But don't be fooled, the area between Silverdale,
Grange-over-Sands and Arnside is known as the danger triangle.
It's one of the most treacherous stretches of coastline
in the country.
The sands are constantly moving.
One of its main channels has shifted its course by more than
a mile in just three years.
And there's lethal quicksand to trap the unwary.
And then of course there's the tide itself.
In the summer, a klaxon at Arnside sounds twice a day warning
people that the tide is coming in.
Even so, the local coastguard is called out on average
50 times a year.
Nigel Capstick is the coastguard officer here.
It's his job to try to keep people safe around this coastline.
What kind of rescues are you involved with?
Who are you rescuing?
Most of the stuff that we get involved in is people getting
cut off by the tide, because the tide does come in so quick.
We've had incidents where people have actually walked across
a six inch deep, ten foot wide channel and they've gone out there,
15 minutes later they look back and the channel's 100 metres wide
and six foot deep.
Not only that, the quicksand here is a particular type that
once you sink into it, it solidifies around your feet and that makes it
impossible to get away from unless we actually get you out of it.
You have a klaxon to warn people that the tide's coming in,
-does that work?
-Yeah, it's brilliant.
However, we do have people that don't know what the siren is for.
-Only a few years ago we had a lady pushing a buggy
with a small child in,
was halfway across the estuary, in front of the viaduct.
-The second siren had gone.
-But I can imagine...
That sounds stupid now talking to yourself, you think,
"Oh, what was she thinking?"
But that's the kind of thing I would do.
-It's a gorgeous day, I would take the pram out there.
-Is there anyway to do that safely?
There's nowhere around here that's safe to go out
unless you're on a guided walk.
There's an added twist at Arnside.
As the tide comes in across the bay,
it's funnelled into the estuary here.
This often results in a fast-moving wave or bore.
Yes, it can be dangerous, but do you know what?
If you come prepared and you respect nature,
there is a way to enjoy this natural phenomenon up close.
Yep, I'm going to ride the bore in a sea kayak.
But I'm in safe hands.
Andy Hill is an expert instructor who knows these waters well.
This kind of activity is you taking on the elements,
but as long as we do everything correctly
and the safety's good, then we'll come back and play another day.
Andy, I'm excited.
I'm slightly nervous because, as you say, there is element of danger.
How likely is it that I will go in?
I would have thought quite likely.
Oh, right. Well, thanks for the vote of confidence.
And it's a good job I can swim.
No, it's on a low tide today and I know you've got kayaking experience,
but we've got to be prepared for getting wet.
This is why we have such technical equipment on.
I have the kit. I'm in yours and Mother Nature's hands.
-Let's get ready for this.
-I'll look after you.
So it's straight onto the water for a quick practice
before the bore comes rushing in.
Just practise turning it. Just have a play now.
See what you can do with it.
If you go upside down, I'll come and rescue you.
You just tell me what to do and I will attempt to do it.
That sound tells us the tide is on its way.
And whilst it's not creating a big wave, it sure is moving.
It's underwhelming this one,
but you can see the front edge of it here, look.
You'll be amazed how fast that's going.
It doesn't look it...
You can see that, yeah.
-Just show you how power...
I did say it will turn you around.
-Good effort. Well done.
-It's all right.
The speed of the water picks up as we approach the viaduct.
It can reach 18 knots as it surges through.
Good. Perfect line.
So what we're going to do is get high enough up
to go right between that gap.
-You can see the water's picking up a little bit there.
Right down the middle. Make it look good.
Don't you capsize here, now.
Over into that clean water, Helen. Over into the clean water.
Oh, my word. This is brilliant. It's so unpredictable.
-It's like being on top of a jacuzzi.
What an absolutely glorious day.
Shall we do the next one in Thailand?
Even though that was a fairly gentle tide,
it was still moving at a fair lick.
I'm just glad to have stayed dry.
Do you know what?
That bore was a mildly underwhelming one, but that is the joy of nature.
You really never know what you're going to get.
Next time around I could come back here and get a wave this big,
which churns up some pretty serious speed.
The only thing you can be certain of out here is, on the water,
you get a unique perspective of something that is already stunning.
In no time at all the bay has filled,
narrow channels giving way to fast tides -
a reminder that nature here is powerful as well as beautiful.
Now the problem of TB and cattle is back in the news at the moment
thanks to the trial badger culls taking place again in England.
But as Tom's been finding out, some believe increasing farm bio-security
would be a more effective method of tackling the disease.
-Bovine tuberculosis is one of the most controversial
issues in the countryside today.
Last year, 26,000 animals were slaughtered in England alone
and fighting its spread costs an estimated £101 million.
But despite this we still don't agree on the best ways
to eradicate the disease,
especially when it comes to the trial badger culls.
Out of all the methods for tackling it,
the cull is by far the most contentious.
The idea is simple.
If you can reduce the number of infected badgers,
fewer cattle should get the disease.
And those who support the cull say it plays an essential role in
tackling bovine TB and that includes the government in Westminster.
The scientific basis for this comes from
the randomised badger culling trial.
It showed that a 70% reduction
of badgers should lead to
a 16% fall in cases of
bovine TB in the same area.
It's still the best evidence we have,
although those figures are often disputed,
as is the value of the cull.
But opponents say it's impractical, inhumane and challenge
the extent to which badgers are the cause of the problem.
To add to the controversy, the trial culls of the last two years
in Gloucestershire and Somerset have cost nearly £17 million.
But culling is not the only option.
In fact, in Wales it's not even an option at all,
nor in Scotland where the incidence of bovine TB is far lower.
In Northern Ireland, it is being tried on infected badgers
in a small pilot area.
Even here in England where culling is going on
in three affected counties,
it's only one part of the TB control strategy.
That strategy includes vaccination, regular testing,
movement controls and bio-security.
But could more be achieved by making our farms more bio-secure?
Bio-security is basically the protection of farm animals
from any type of infectious agent from parasites
to bacterial infections like TB.
Here in Wales, just like in England,
bio-security is an important weapon in the fight to eradicate bovine TB.
I'm on my way to join a vet visit with a difference.
He's here to inspect the health of the farm rather than the livestock.
I've had a look at some of these double fencing arrangements.
Those are great.
Local vet Evan Lloyd is visiting Allen Lloyd's farm
as part of the Gower Project which offers farmers bio-security advice.
Today, he's checking up after his initial visit.
And I have to say that you've improved dramatically.
Sorry to interrupt you, gentlemen. How is he doing? How is he scoring?
He's doing all right.
He's getting quite high scores from me today.
You were talking about this gate here. What were the issues here?
We're looking at this gate in terms of making the yard bio-secure,
preventing badgers from coming in. Allen has put some mesh gates here.
He's hung it as low as possible,
but there's still a little bit of a gap here.
So they could squeeze under here.
One of the simpler solutions would be to place a concrete strip
along the bottom of the gate,
so it's actually flush with the gate when the gate is closed.
Allen, what do you think about taking these measures?
They cost money after all.
We feel it is important because we just don't want any disease,
including TB, coming onto our farm.
When he comes here again, he won't be able to get
his little finger under the gate, let alone his foot.
Farm checks like this are part of a Wales-wide TB support programme,
which also includes best practice workshops
and cattle purchasing advice.
How effective do you think bio-security can be overall?
The principles of bio-security are well-established.
A lot of it is common sense.
It's about drilling down to farm level
and seeing what farmers can do to help themselves and to reduce risks,
and of course to protect their stock and to protect their livelihood.
So that's a flavour of what is happening in Wales.
But what about over the border in England,
where there is the highest incidence of bovine TB in Europe?
Well, some believe a lot more needs to be done to protect English farms
against the disease.
From using silage, to dealing with the issue of fences and gates
to keep wildlife away from cattle,
to looking at just good disinfectant bio-security measures
for boots and clothing, going in and out of farmyards.
But if you do all of those things, I think we can make a big difference.
Dominic Dyer is from the Badger Trust,
which campaigns against the cull.
Would you like to see the government put more effort into bio-security?
Not just the government, I'd like to see the farming industry taking
it seriously, particularly the National Farmers Union.
I'd also like to see the food retailers do more.
It is a food chain initiative, everyone has to join forces to help
farmers to really deal with this problem.
Dominic says the main problem is the spread of TB by transmission
from cattle to cattle, and points to figures from scientists
at Imperial College London which indicate only 6%
of bovine TB infections come directly from badgers.
Defra says stopping cattle from infecting other cattle is
already a key part of its TB eradication policy.
Its measures include tight controls on movement, regular testing,
and better information at livestock auctions.
And later in the year, this goes live -
essentially it is an online hub, bringing together all
the useful on-farm bio-security information in one place.
But Defra argues the spread of TB from badgers to cattle is
a far bigger problem than the Badger Trust believes.
To support that view, it also uses figures from Imperial College.
These statistics show when you take into account herds
which are indirectly infected, then, in high risk areas,
badgers are responsible for around 50% of TB cases in cattle.
It's worked with the industry to
create a bio-security action plan,
which includes a range
of proposed measures to reduce
contact between badgers and cattle.
But how effective will those measures be?
Here at the Royal Agricultural University in Cirencester,
there's an ongoing research project looking at how bio-security
can reduce the risk of transmitting the disease.
Feeding troughs are thought to be hot spots for
badger to cattle contact.
Dr Rhiannon Naylor is trying to design a new simple way
to keep them apart.
The idea is that a farmer could take this attachment
and attach to a conventional trough.
-I am told badgers are pretty good and cunning climbers.
You will see that there's four different heights and widths,
and what we are trying to establish is, which ones will prevent
badger access but also allow access to livestock?
Of course cattle come in all different shapes
and sizes as well, so I guess what might be right on one farm
-wouldn't be right on another.
It is about trying to work out
what would fit an individual farm situation.
And the whole idea is that it is practical, farmers could
potentially build it themselves, and it is cost-effective, which is
one of the key things that farmers are looking for.
You've got some cameras dotted around.
Have you got any images of what has happened here?
Yes, so we film every night.
Oh, there you go, I can see the badger there, eyes shining.
-Just going between a couple of these troughs.
-Has this film yet given you conclusive evidence?
At the moment, this is still very early days for this trial.
We're getting them used to the site, and we're hoping they
might start to try at least to get in when there is less food about.
This research not only tests
the effectiveness of the redesigned food troughs, it also clearly
shows where cattle and badgers can come into contact with each other.
That is something highlighted by recent Defra studies,
which used infrared cameras to monitor farmyards, to estimate
the number and level of badger visits.
In that study, most of the farms had badgers turning up regularly,
but once simple measures, such as sheep metal gates and fences
and closed feed stores were fitted, the visits stopped.
That all sounds very promising and sensible.
If you follow these measures, you can sharply reduce the amount
of badger to livestock contact,
but some farmers still aren't convinced.
James Small runs a beef herd in Somerset, close to the cull area.
His farm has been hit by TB twice in ten years.
HE CALLS TO HIS HERD
He follows much of the bio-security advice,
but says when his 250 strong herd is scattered across 600 acres
of hilly terrain, there is an obvious problem.
All the measures I may do at the building...
My cattle are housed for about four to five months of the year,
and they are outside grazing for the rest of the year.
So what I may do there may be completely offset by what is
happening out across the field, and I can't simply fence off the fields.
Do you think it is possible, in an open grazing farm, to keep
cattle and badgers apart?
It would be pretty much impossible to actually completely
separate wildlife from cattle. Short of keeping one of those species
actually in a concrete box, you can't do it.
What might persuade you to do more in terms of bio-security?
At the moment, there is a slight lack of evidence of exactly what the
best thing to do is and which would provide the best results.
There's lots of anecdotal things about best practice.
There are certain things that we do. If there was more research on it
which would actually give me greater detail about what would have
the best impact for exactly where my farm is, that would be fantastic.
James isn't the only farmer who wants to know more
before he increases protective measures on his farm.
In fact, only last December, a Defra industry working group
admitted research on bio-security had been limited.
..was discouraging some farmers from
investing in better bio-security.
Yet a Defra spokesman told us that it has funded...
Much bio-security seems like common sense, good farming.
But it can be expensive.
It's almost impossible to exclude all chance of infection,
and it lacks figures for effectiveness.
That leaves the question hanging.
Why hasn't bio-security research yielded better results by now?
'Now, the question on everyone's mind.
'Who has won this year's photographic competition?
'The theme was colours of the countryside, and what better place
'to reveal the winning picture than amongst
'swathes of flowering heather?'
Now, everyone has their own personal favourite.
This sheep looks very much at home here, doesn't it?
But amongst these 12 fabulous photographs, there is
one which you, our viewers, have voted for more than any other.
As the overall winner, it will take pride of place on the front cover
of the Countryfile calendar for 2016,
sold in aid of BBC Children In Need.
This year we had more than 33,000 entries -
every hue and shade of the countryside captured on camera.
How hard it was to choose these final 12.
It was a huge team effort.
Past winners and finalists narrowed it down to 3,000 pictures,
and the final selection fell to me and two fellow judges -
comedian and bird lover Bill Bailey,
and wildlife presenter Naomi Wilkinson.
It was a tough job. But we finally got there.
2016 is certainly going to be colourful.
And on that same day
we also got to choose the judges' favourite picture, and...
this was it -
Coastline Canter, taken by Graham Mealand from Worcestershire,
so congratulations to you, Graham, you win
£500 worth of photographic equipment.
But it wasn't the judges' task to choose the overall winner.
That decision was down to you. And you didn't hold back.
Tens of thousands of votes were counted.
And we have a winner.
To be honest, it stood out right from the start.
-You don't often see hedgehogs in that frame of mind, do you?
-That is great.
-Sort of exultant.
-That is brilliant.
And many of you agreed,
because you've made a Happy Hedgehog
even happier. This is our winner.
It was taken by Ben Andrew from Luton,
and now comes my favourite job of all, telling Ben that he has won.
Ben works for the RSPB at its headquarters in Bedfordshire,
and thinks I've come along
to see why he takes many of his photographs.
He already knows he's been shortlisted in the competition,
so he's not surprised to see me with his hedgehog.
-How about this, then?
'But he's got no idea he's the winner.
'And I'm going to keep him in the dark
'for just a little while longer.'
What are you taking pictures of right now?
This is a wasp spider.
There's not many of them in the UK, they are pretty much restricted
to this sort of southern part of the UK, and this kind of habitat often.
-They're quite beautiful looking, aren't they?
-I would say so.
Not everyone's cup of tea, but I would say so.
Everybody loves hedgehogs, of course.
And they are, well, they are not as rare as a wasp spider,
but their numbers are diminishing, aren't they?
So how did you get this picture?
Basically, because they are a tricky species
to photograph at the best of times, being nocturnal,
I worked alongside an animal rescue centre, who have been
rehabilitating this hedgehog after bringing it in underweight.
So I took it off their hands once it had been rehabilitated
and released it in my own garden,
but before that, I managed to get a few photos of him
in some autumnal leaves.
There was a certain amount of, you know,
getting it in the right place and just getting
the shot in mind that I wanted.
Ben discovered a passion for photography eight years ago
during a holiday in South Africa with his fiancee, Erin.
The problem was, he didn't have a camera, but Erin did.
So, Erin, is it true that Ben more or less pinched your camera?
He did, on holiday in South Africa,
he stole my camera on Table Mountain.
I was taking lovely scenery photos, and he stole it to take
a photo of a lizard, and I never really got it back.
Had you been at all interested in photography before that?
Not at all, no. I'd never picked a DSLR camera,
or anything like that.
I was interested in wildlife but not in photography.
So, the moment to reveal the winner
and the new Countryfile calendar for 2016.
And Erin is in on our surprise.
It was Erin's camera that got you really interested in photography.
-It certainly was.
-And look where it has led you.
-I'd say it's led me to, you know...
-How about that?
-You are the winner.
-Amazing, thank you.
-You are on the cover.
-It has made the cover as well.
-Countryfile Calendar for 2016.
-Well, I am made up.
-I am really chuffed.
-It looks fantastic, doesn't it?
-I can't believe it.
-What do you think, Erin?
-It is brilliant. Well done, Ben.
Thank you. Happy as a hedgehog.
Not only is his picture on the cover,
Ben also gets £1,000 worth of photographic equipment.
And a very big thank you to everyone
who contributed to this year's photographic competition,
whether you sent in photos or encouraged someone else to...
But it doesn't end there.
Last year we sold 350,000 copies of the calendar,
raising more than £1.5 million for BBC Children In Need.
This year, we would like it to be even more.
It's now on sale, and here is how to get yours.
The calendar costs £9.50, including free UK delivery,
and a minimum of £4 of the sale of each one will be
donated to BBC Children In Need.
To get one, you can go to our website. That's...
..where you will find a link to the order page.
Or you can phone the order line on...
Or, if you prefer, order by post.
Send your name, address and a cheque to...
The 2015 calendar raised a record amount of money,
but with the help of the hedgehog
and all these other wonderful, colourful photographs,
I'm sure we can do even better with next year's calendar,
and make lots of children as happy as he is.
The Bay Cycle Way skirts around
the spectacular seascapes of Morecambe Bay,
linking up everything the coast here has to offer.
So there are plenty of places to break your journey.
Like here, Leighton Moss nature reserve.
Headquartered in these converted farm buildings,
the reserve is one of the jewels in the RSPB's crown.
A century ago, Leighton Moss was agricultural land, but after
the First World War, it was allowed to revert to natural wetland.
The regenerating reed beds became home to all sorts of wildlife,
especially bitterns. Once common,
they are now one of our rarest birds.
Now, whilst those numbers are improving
elsewhere around the country, here they are not doing so great.
But the team are not taking it lying down.
Jarrod Sneyd is the site manager here.
-How are you doing?
I'm very well, Jarrod. Is there a safe way to get to you?
Well, I think you just need to walk along this vegetative edge here,
rather than through the gloop there.
This is quite fantastic, isn't it?
-It is incredible, isn't it?
-It is amazing.
And the smell,
-there's a real beautiful, earthy, citrus smell in the air.
-Nice to meet you.
What do you need to do here to encourage the bitterns to come back?
When I came here as a boy, there were maybe three,
four bitterns booming that foghorn sound
that you could hear for three or four kilometres.
It's like blowing over the top of a milk bottle.
That's the kind of sound you would hear
if you came early morning, here to Leighton Moss.
What bitterns like is nice, young, wet reed bed.
Because the reed bed's got old,
it's not as good for bitterns, so we're taking it back in time,
digging away at the old reed litter and lowering.
It is called bed lowering.
What we've had to do is draw down the water level,
so that all this gloop starts to solid up, and it gets some air.
And what that's doing is, already you're seeing the success story.
All those little reeds are starting to pop up.
Once these grow up, we'll raise the water level again so that you
get that 20 centimetres of water, in young reed bed, which is great for
the fish to swim through, and then great for the bitterns
to feed on them.
It'll be a little while before the reed beds are in the kind
of condition needed to support bitterns.
But there's plenty more wildlife here already.
And they've built this to take in the view - the sky tower.
This special hide is unusual in that it's not covered up.
It's open at the top, and look at the view.
Wow! That is beautiful.
-Hi, Anita, welcome.
Why is it open, why isn't it a normal hide?
Well, we're in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty,
here at Leighton Moss, and we just wanted it to be really open,
feel part of the landscape, not seen from the roads,
quite hidden in the canopy, but still giving these wonderful
bird's-eye views out across the reserve.
It also allows RSPB staff and volunteers,
when we're monitoring some of the special wildlife that lives here,
birds like bitterns and marsh harriers, to see
where they're nesting, to see if nesting's taking place, which is
really important to make Leighton Moss the perfect home for them.
Have you got any bitterns?
Yes, so we have quite a small population that are resident
here at Leighton Moss, which is why we're doing
all the work in the reed bed to try and improve that for them.
Where do the birds come from?
So we've had a real influx of duck in the last week or so.
They're coming down from places like Scandinavia
-and Russia to spend the winter here.
-Let me have a look.
Oh, yes. I think I can spot a rare Russian breed...
just there, actually.
A lesser spotted Gleb, my Strictly Come Dancing partner.
This is no time for practice. Back to the bird spotting.
What have we got out there now?
So you can see there's lots and lots of duck out on the water.
A lot of them are teal, Britain's smallest duck.
Oh, look, there they go. These are all the teal.
-They spend the colder months down here.
-I'm not surprised.
It looks like a very comfortable place to spend the winter.
There's a heron out on the island at the back there.
-He's sort of just skulking in the middle.
-Oh, yes, I see him.
-Look, look, there's a marsh harrier.
-It's just landed in the bush at the back of the pool there.
Well, I suppose I'd better get myself back on the bike
if I can tear myself away from this view.
They say the best things come in small packages.
When it comes to cattle, that can only mean one thing - Dexters.
As a favour for a special friend, Adam is delivering
four of these plucky little animals to a new home.
Because of their small size and versatility, Dexters
as a breed have become very popular with smallholders and hobby farmers.
Many don't have their own kit to transport the animals around,
so I've agreed to help out.
I've hitched on the livestock trailer
and I'm off down the road to pick some up.
Dexters were first imported from Ireland in 1882.
They're a dual-purpose meat and milk breed
so they were initially very popular.
But modern farming's preference for larger animals saw numbers
decline and in the 1980s, they were classed as a rare breed.
However, since then, they've made a remarkable comeback.
-Just going into the herd...
-On her farm in Gloucestershire, Liz Stephen
has been breeding the UK's smallest breed of cattle for years.
Why is it that they've come back into popularity so much?
They were nearly extinct at one time, weren't they?
They were indeed.
They were almost on the verge of dying out completely
in the early '70s.
But I think their small size makes them absolutely ideal
for somebody who's just got a few acres and wants to play with cattle.
You can either go into the breeding of them or fatten them up for beef.
And they make good eating?
And the beef, of course, is very popular, yes.
So what sort of numbers have they increased to now?
In 1970, there were only 36 cows registered to the breed
which is nothing, absolutely nothing.
In comparison, this is the herd book that's just come out for 2014.
How many's in there, then?
There's got to be at least a couple of thousand, hasn't there?
-What a success story!
They really are a success story which is fantastic for the breed.
Now, I've come to pick a few up. Whereabouts are they?
They're back at the house, in the dry. Shall we go and look at them?
Yeah, let's get them.
Because Liz has kept the cattle separate from the rest of the herd,
they should be much tamer and, fingers crossed, easier to load.
Go on, then. Go on, then.
-They're so friendly...
-They're so friendly, they don't want to go.
Go on. That's it. That's it.
Go on, in you go. In you go.
Go on, up the front.
That's great. And, before you go, Adam,
this is the paperwork that has to go to the new owner.
It's their passports, breed society details
-and confirmation that they are free of TB.
Thank you very much, Liz. I'm sure they'll have a lovely home.
-Thank you very much.
-See you. Bye-bye.
The Dexters' new owner is somebody
Countryfile viewers will be very familiar with.
She certainly knows her stuff as far as wildlife's concerned,
so I'm sure she'll be just as good at looking after cattle.
-Hi, Ellie. I've got a delivery for you.
I'm looking forward to this!
-Thank you very much.
-Have you got me a cup of tea and everything?
No, this was just for me.
Where do you want them, then?
There's a track down there that they can go into
and this is the orchard they're going to be grazing for me.
Wonderful. Well, I'll spin it round and back up.
See you in a second.
I'm so excited about this.
This has been a very long time coming, let me tell you.
Before we let them out, I just want to quickly check their new home.
It's been a wet summer, you know.
It's just grown like the clappers.
When was the last time it was grazed?
Well, I reckon at least three years ago. It's been topped a few times.
-They've plenty to eat.
-They'll rip into it.
-I hope so.
What else have you done? Have you got water in here?
We've got a few other things. If you come this way, I'll show you.
So, luckily, there's a natural spring that seeps down here all year and
then fills up in this trough so that should be a pretty steady supply.
Perfect, and in the winter, when it's freezing,
-it will keep running, won't it?
-It will keep running, yes.
And I see you've got some gates at the top.
Yes, I was advised to get those because if they get fed in there
and they get used to being in that little enclosure,
when the vet comes, they won't be too shocked by the idea of it.
-We won't have to chase them round.
I have strimmed the edges so they can see the boundary,
although the rest is ridiculously high.
They'll be able to find the edges and then this path
to find their way to the water.
The boundary fence looks really solid
-so I think they'll be very happy.
-You don't think they'll jump out?
-No, they'll be fine.
-Let's go and get them.
-I'm so excited.
-There, that's nice.
-Oh, hello. There we go.
Go on, then, off you go. Off you go.
Off you go. That's it. That's it.
Go on. Down the track.
-They're going along quite nicely, aren't they?
-They're quite quiet.
They should just go straight through the gate and into the field.
That's the plan, anyway.
So why did you decide to get them in the first place?
Well, you can see here, the grass here is incredibly thick and rank.
It's been improved in places and it's pretty devoid of wildlife, really.
And the first step in getting wildlife back here is to bring
wild flowers in - and great for invertebrate life
and really nothing can grow through this, it's so thick
so their job is really expensive lawn mowing.
-That's what they are to me.
-Well, the Dexters are very good at that.
They'll live out here all year round.
They're quite light-footed so they won't poach it up
and damage the sward or damage the soil.
But they will rip this off
and they'll also get into this bramble and browse.
-They're very happy getting into these bushes now.
-That's just what I need them for. That's ideal.
-You just need probably
-Slow and steady.
I'll start with my four.
My starter cows, and see how I go.
-Well, I've got all the paperwork here for you.
-Oh, crumbs. Yes.
And this is what slowed me down.
It took me about a year to get everything sorted.
I've got five pieces of paperwork just to get to having them here.
It's not easy, becoming a smallholder
and keeping livestock. There's lots and lots of legislation.
-It's all yours.
-Back to the computer for me, then.
Make sure that's kept in a safe place. It's very important.
I've got it. Thank you so much, Adam.
-Not at all. And good luck with them.
-Any problems, don't call me.
See you later. Right, don't you jump the fences, you lot.
Come on, then!
With my good deed done, the sun has come out just in time for me
to get one last job sorted back at the farm.
You might remember last year I introduced a new Highland bull
called Archie to my herd of Highland cattle.
I'm quite worried about him
because he's much younger than they are and quite small in stature.
Well, since then, Archie has been very busy.
Archie is just behind this cow and he has turned into a lovely bull
and he's doing a great job.
In fact, very excitingly, this is his first calf.
It's a little heifer, a little female, so his daughter.
And the Highlands give birth to such beautiful calves.
They're like little teddy bears, really sweet.
But what I've got to do now is put some tags in its ears
and I don't think Mum's going to like that much.
'To be on the safe side, my stock hand, Ellen,
'has come along to give me a hand.'
Right, you come with me, quick.
These Highlands live up in the Scottish mountains
and they're wonderful mothers.
They'll give birth up there and look after their calves
and so you just have to be a bit careful
when you're handling the calves,
otherwise they'll attack you.
Well done. There we go. Thanks, Ellen.
All of our Highland calves this year have to begin with
the letter P for their names
and because Archie is from the Balmoral estate, from the Queen's
estate, we thought his little heifer calf could aptly be named Princess.
So this is little Princess,
a really lovely little calf to have on the farm and hopefully,
there will be many more of Archie's calves to follow.
It might be a lot of hard work, but for me,
keeping cattle is one of the best things about running a farm.
Hopefully, Ellie, with her Dexters, will get as much out of it as I do.
The glorious great British countryside -
a place of rich history, rural majesty and next weekend,
host to a truly magnificent spectacle.
On Saturday 10th and Sunday 11th October,
the very first Countryfile ramble for Children In Need
will be taking place all across Britain and the aim is simple.
We want all of you, the whole country, out there walking and
putting on your own sponsored rambles to raise
money for Children In Need.
To find out how to take part,
go to our website...
And if you're wondering why it matters,
here's someone far better qualified than me to tell you.
This is Ella.
She's 17 and has been severely visually impaired since birth.
-On a good day, Ella can see two metres in front of her.
On a bad day, white-outs cause temporary blindness.
Good girl! Straight on. Straight on.
I have a condition called nystagmus,
which means that the nerve isn't connected to the eye properly.
My eye wobbles uncontrollably from side to side.
I also have a condition called hemianopia.
It makes me have blind spots like this.
Diagnosis came at seven months old.
She wore her first pair of glasses at nine months old.
We were told that she wouldn't go into mainstream school,
she wouldn't have a job, and she wouldn't be an independent person.
I went home, broke my heart, and then came up fighting.
A normal life for me is sometimes difficult.
But generally, I'm just determined to get through it
and just be as happy as I can because
that's what it's all about really.
'There are over 25,000 youngsters in the UK who are blind or
I've come to meet Ella at Sight Advice,
a charity which is able to support youngsters like her, thanks to
essential funding from Children In Need.
What Sight Advice helps to do is make children go
and explore in a safe environment for themselves in places
that are full of grass and fields and trees,
where they can get their knees dirty and have a few grazes but safe,
if you see what I mean.
We've been to an activity centre, we've been horse riding,
we've been cycling.
Looking fantastic. Well done!
Is it possible for you to put into words
what those life experiences have meant to you?
It's just encouraging, really to say, "You're not alone.
"Get together, build each other's confidence and go out there
"and do it. You may be considered different by other children
"but we know that you're not."
Off you go.
But Ella's about to take on a challenge far greater than
anything she has ever attempted before.
Joining me on my ramble come scramble
over 3,000 feet up a Welsh mountain.
She'll be taking a leap of faith by trusting me to be her guide.
So, before I put her safety in my hands, I'm going
to get the chance to experience what life is like from Ella's perspective.
Jan has kindly put together these glasses that
sort of simulate my vision.
'Jan is going to guide us both.
'We've put an effect on our camera
'to give you an idea of what I'm seeing.'
I've just seen it now, this car.
We've got a slight different change in the kerb
-but if you keep walking forward.
-There's a car there somewhere.
Straight over. It's not a step
but you'll know you've made it cos you have the cobbles there.
There is a real fear in going forward.
We can try the steps of the library, if you'd like.
Your balance OK?
It's the depth, isn't it, that's difficult to work out?
Just thinking about that, going up a mountainside...
'Having had a small glimpse into Ella's world, I'm conscious
'I've got a huge responsibility helping her safely up a mountain.
'So we're heading into the hills of the Lake District to test
'the ground with me as Ella's guide on what could be a steep learning
'curve for us both.'
-Ella, has that come into focus now?
-Yep, just about.
I can tell it's a rock by the colour.
Shall I go ahead of you or behind you? What's best?
Go ahead and I can copy your movements.
So at this stage, I'd say right,
-so we've got just below a knee high there for me.
And I'll stand here and help you up if you need to.
There's loose footing here. What can you see up ahead?
I'm not quite sure whether they're roots or rocks.
It's a mixture of both, to be fair.
-We've got roots off to the right-hand side.
-Bobbly roots and cheeky stones, OK.
-I love the technical geography.
-OK, keep coming to me.
Just figuring if that rock was in the way.
And then I think we should go left here.
-Just going to move that out of the way cos that shouldn't be there.
That's it. Stop there and step.
And again, step.
-There we are. My hand's there, I'll help you up.
And there we are.
-Brilliant, thank you.
Hand's in the right position, high five. Nailed it.
Our first tentative steps have gone well.
But this hill is no mountain.
And a much larger obstacle lies ahead on our ramble.
It's one Ella's determined to conquer.
When you're about to set out on a challenge, you always have
stuff going on in your mind, reasons for doing it.
What are your reasons?
Trying to inspire young people
who are also visually impaired or with any other disability
that whatever challenge you set out to do,
don't think about your disability. Go out and get it.
Don't let anybody stand in your way.
For Ella, her ramble is not only to inspire others,
but also to honour the memory of a man who inspired and loved her -
her dad who passed away two years ago.
He used to work for the National Trust
and do all the maps for the area and the mountains
so he used to know this area like the back of his hand.
At least I can say, "I might not have got to do it with you,
"but I'm doing it in your memory to show you that I can do it."
-You're doing it for him.
-Well, it's wonderful to be doing it alongside you.
From what I've seen of Ella today, you know, she is pushing herself to
her absolute limits
and she's doing it to say thank you to all the people that have
helped her and also because she wants to be an inspiration to others and
she wants to show all of those other children,
a lot younger than her that, actually, although
you have difficulties with sight, it doesn't have to stop you in life.
And I know it's difficult for lots of you to get out there
and go on a walk but if you text right now,
then you will give other children, just like Ella, the support
when they need it most.
Yes! Very good.
Please support us in any way that you can.
The Countryfile Ramble is next weekend so to take part
and raise money just go to the Countryfile website where
you'll find not only inspiration and ideas of where you can walk
but you'll find that all-important sponsorship form.
So let us use the countryside that we love to show together that we
can make a lasting difference.
Today we're on the eastern edge of Morecambe Bay.
Helen's been riding the tide
'and I've travelled up the coast on the brand-new Bay Cycle Way,
'stopping off to catch sight of some of the wild birds the area is
'Now it's time for another stop.
'Jack Scout is one of only two limestone cliffs in the area
'and is the perfect spot for some of the best views of the bay.'
Wow, it's so dramatic and incredibly atmospheric.
And from here you get a real sense of the scale
and the grandeur of Morecambe Bay
and the way the sea shapes the entire environment. It's beautiful.
There's magic and mystery in its flat expanses.
And even up here you don't know what you're going to come across.
Crouching down, peering at something. What are you looking at?
Come and have a look at these.
These are very delicate little orchids called
They're a good indicator of the limestone grassland.
I'm just taking it in. That's an orchid?
It's absolutely dinky.
These are one of the last British orchids to bloom in the year.
Hence their name - autumn lady's-tresses.
-But people often miss them.
-I'm not surprised, look at it.
It's absolutely tiny. Why are they called lady's-tresses?
That's because of this arrangement of the flowers.
-It spirals up the stem like a braid of hair.
-It really does.
When you get down to this level you start to see them
dotted all over the grassland.
And you realise just how many there are we're just sitting amongst.
I have to say, it's really made me smile.
Thank you so much for pointing them out for me.
I will always look out for them now. And now you're right, now that
you're mentioned it I can see quite a few.
They're everywhere. The dinkiest orchids in the world.
'But I've come here for the sunset and there's a perfect place
'to watch it, a Victorian folly called the Giant's Seat.'
There's something humbling about the bay.
Its vast, elemental, ever-changing but always stunning.
That's it for this week.
Just time to remind you if you want more scenes like this,
then get your hands on the Countryfile calendar.
Details on our website.
Right, next week we're in Cheshire where Matt will be hoping
to catch a glimpse of one of nature's greatest spectacles.
Hope you can join us then. Bye for now.
Anita Rani and Helen Skelton are on the coast of Morecambe Bay in the far north western corner of Lancashire.
Anita is taking a cycle ride along the coast near Silverdale - a stretch of the bay that is fabled for its sunsets. She also takes a detour to Leighton Moss RSPB Reserve, where the black-tailed godwits are putting on a spectacular autumn show. The otters frolic in the shallows. And if she's lucky, she'll catch a glimpse of an osprey fishing in the reedy pools. Helen is down on the sands with the hardy souls getting their thrills from kayaking some of the fastest tides in the UK.
Also in this programme, Matt's in north Wales for the third of our Children in Need ramble films. Adam helps Ellie get to grips with her new herd of dexter cattle. Tom's finding out if it's possible to build a badger-proof farm. And John announces the winner of this year's Countryfile photographic competition.