In Calderdale, West Yorkshire, Ellie Harrison follows in the footsteps of Whitely Turner and also explores some of the landscapes which inspired Ted Hughes.
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'Calderdale, the southernmost Yorkshire Dale.
'Not as famous as its northern neighbours
'but the landscape is just as stunning.'
It's an inspiring terrain of craggy hills and deep valleys,
and one which inspired local author Whiteley Turner who wrote this -
A Spring-Time Saunter: Round And About Bronte Land -
because he loved this area so much he wanted people to know about it.
Now, 100 years on from when his book was first published,
I'm going to be walking in his footsteps.
'Not only is Calderdale blessed with stimulating scenery,
'it's also got some great food to shout about.'
Here in the heart of the Dale, they've taken the idea of local food
to the extreme and are aiming to become
a self-sustaining foodie town.
Now, this lot have put raised veg beds in the local graveyard.
They've put free herbs outside of the railway station.
But their latest idea involves making full use of fish poo.
And I'll be finding out how.
'Tom's looking at the disappearance
'of one of our most important insects.'
Britain's bee numbers are in the red and in this lab,
they're investigating whether a particular pesticide
is part of the problem.
Europe thinks the chemical should be banned
but is that a knee-jerk reaction or sensible science?
I'll be investigating.
'Meanwhile, Adam's counting the cost of a bleak start to spring.'
Here we are in the middle of April
and these snowdrifts are about three foot deep.
Today I'm visiting a farmer who's on the Welsh-Shropshire border.
And this weather couldn't have come at a worse time
because his ewes are in the middle of lambing.
'This is Calderdale in West Yorkshire.
'A mix of Pennine moor and mill towns,
'craggy hills and wooded vales.'
'Calderdale sits a few miles west of Halifax.
'The bit I'm exploring is round and about the village of Luddenden.'
A little-known area that features prominently in this work,
the rather marvellously titled A Spring-Time Saunter.
'Published 100 years ago,
'it was written by a local chap called Whiteley Turner.
'And though winter still lingers in this landscape,
'I'll be making my own springtime saunter regardless.'
So, David, who was this Whiteley Turner?
Whiteley Turner is an ordinary guy
who works in the textile mill down in Luddenden.
And when he was 12,
he has an accident in the mill
and his arm gets caught in a carding machine
and it rips off the arm, basically.
-He has to have the rest of it amputated.
He can no longer work in the mill because of that
and it means he has to do something else.
He goes back to school and then he gets a job
taking around tea and coffee round these isolated farms.
'It was on these rounds that the remarkable Turner
'started writing newspaper articles about what he saw.
'From them came the book.
'When Turner make this journey, there would have been mills
'all along this valley. They've long gone
'but the power behind them remains.
'Not the howling wind, but water.'
"Now we command a goodly view of Fly Flat Reservoir,
"how shallow the water looks,
"so low that little islands of black heath
"protrude above its surface,
"seemingly making it possible to hop from one another
"to the embankment on the far side."
And here it is. There's not a lot of hopping across it today, though.
No, certainly couldn't hop across it today, could you?
There's far more water in it than when he saw it.
This is Warley Moor Reservoir. Fly Flat is the other name for it.
And the community of Fly Flat is behind us and you can see
it in the picture - all the various farms are on the picture.
They've all gone now, nothing but heaps of stone.
It looks quite different.
So what happened to all the farms and all the activity up here?
It just wasn't viable any more.
The farms were too high, nearly 1,400 feet up. It's too cold.
-And the lower-down farms can compete far more.
'The coming of the reservoirs changed the landscape
'and made the mill owners rich.
'They built huge stately piles with this new-found wealth
'and there was none grander than Castle Carr.
'In its day, the finest building in the area.
'Now no more than a pile of ruins.'
This place is extraordinary, isn't it?
It's amazing, isn't it?
It's weird seeing something in such a state of disrepair
compared to its picture in the book, which is ...
-Well, it's indistinguishable, isn't it?
And all that's left is just the entrance and the portcullis
is still there. This is their main gateway to a big courtyard.
Carriages would have come in here
and the fountain that was actually in the courtyard,
in the centre, has ended up in Leeds near the railway station.
'Castle Carr fell into disrepair and, in 1960, was finally broken up.
'The lead from its roof and most of its stone was sold off.'
You're looking down into the cellars here,
you wouldn't have ordinarily been able to see this.
If we'd have been able to walk in here,
you'd have been able to see the big hallway above it here,
and leading onto the big banqueting room on the corner.
-And now it's full of trees.
-And now it's full of trees, absolutely.
-Nature will claim it back in the end.
-It is, very much. Very much.
Time to check where I'm headed,
'as the next part of the saunter I'm doing alone,
'over the wild open moors and that can only mean one thing.'
Even in Whiteley Turner's day, the Bronte sisters would have been huge.
No surprise, then, that he devotes more than half his book to them.
'And I'm delighted Whiteley Turner is taking me
'back to one of my favourite places.
'Haworth Parsonage, the place the Bronte sisters grew up.
'Now a museum housing some of their most personal belongings.'
-So, Ann, this is the saddle bag that Turner's recorded here.
Wow. It's interesting, the selection of things he's pointed out.
Yeah, they're all very ordinary, everyday objects.
But I think they bring it home to you
that the Brontes were real people.
-They had oil lamps and trunks and boots.
-Have you got the shoes?
We do have the boots. They're actually on display behind us.
Oh, they're just there.
-They look dainty. I bet everybody says that.
-They're tiny, yes.
Do we learn anything about the Brontes
-from Turner's fascination with them?
He actually sought out some of Charlotte Bronte's
former Sunday school scholars and prolonged his stay in Haworth
in order to do that.
So he clearly had a real, strong interest in the Brontes,
which comes across quite strongly in the book.
"A little further and the road branches away up to Haworth Moor.
"A post points the way to the cemetery and waterfall.
"Bronte Waterfall sounds alluring
"but the fall itself is mostly disappointing."
Whiteley Turner wasn't that impressed with this waterfall, was he?
Well, it's...it's not overly spectacular.
Apparently, early photographers used to pay small boys
to actually dam it up and release it
as they were taking their photograph.
-For money, they would dam it up there?
-It is a spot the Brontes were known to come to.
In November 1854, Charlotte came here with her husband.
Unfortunately, on the way back,
it started to rain very heavily and Charlotte got wet through.
And she caught a chill which...
It used to be believed that it actually led to her death.
-So there's a tragic association, really.
-Yeah, there is.
'The Brontes passed into legend, Whiteley Turner into obscurity.
'The cost of publishing his book left him penniless
'and he died aged just 54.
'But Spring-Time Saunter remains a fitting testament
'to one of Yorkshire's most beautiful landscapes.'
Now, the mystery of disappearing bees has baffled scientists for years.
Now many are pointing the finger of blame at a pesticide
at the heart of modern farming. So, should it be banned?
Tom's been finding out.
'The humble bee is in decline.
'According to some, their numbers have fallen by half in the UK
'since the 1980s.
'And it's not just a sad loss for our gardens.
'It's a potential disaster for British agriculture
'and further afield, too.'
So, right across the world, scientists have been searching
for the cause of their mysterious decline.
And in Europe they think they might have found a culprit.
'The European Commission believes the blame lies
'with some of the world's most widely-used agricultural pesticides,
'It wants to ban them from 1st July.'
But not everyone is convinced
and Britain is now one of a number of countries resisting a ban,
not least because of its impact on farming.
'I've come to Kent to meet farmer Andy Barr.
'Like many, his crop is already suffering a slow start,
'thanks to the cold spring weather.'
It's not quite what you'd expect for mid-April, is it?
No, it's horrible.
It's really having an effect on these oilseed rape plants.
'Rather than spraying his fields,
'Andy uses seeds treated with neonicotinoids.
'But he's worried that a ban would make a bad year even worse.'
You had me bring this bag of seed with us in order to show
how the neonicotinoids work, but talk me through it.
-What are the stages?
-Right, well this is the seed we would plant
in the autumn, basically.
Each one of those seeds will produce one plant.
-This seed is already treated with the neonicotinoids?
Do you think there could be something in there, hidden,
that's killing our bees? Because that's what's being suggested.
To me, as a farmer,
there is a very tiny amount of neonicotinoid on there.
That tiny seed, one of them, grows into a plant taller than me
and about this wide.
And I plant it one August and it's flowering in the next May.
Is there enough there, in real field situation,
to have an effect on the bees?
At the moment, the scientists don't have an answer for me.
No-one has said there is a definitive,
real field situation effect on bees.
So, what did you do before you had neonicotinoids?
Before we had them, we had to come through very soon after planting,
when the plants were very small,
and spray the whole field two or three times.
And did you feel that had other collateral damage?
That's why I was so pleased when they came along.
I felt it was a good thing cos we weren't spraying everything,
we were just treating the seed and the plants.
So it was much more targeted.
'Neonicotinoids protect around a third of our crops
'from being eaten by insects.
'It's claimed banning them would leave farmers relying
'on less efficient methods that would cost them millions.
'But farmers need bees, too.
'They play a vital role in pollinating many crops,
'like oilseed rape. 'Losing them would slash yields.
'So, to keep a healthy supply on Andy's farm,
'he leaves space for wild flowers and even has his own beekeeper.'
So, if I can just take the top off there.
'Alistair Wormsley has kept hives here for five years.
'I'm helping him prepare for the warmer weather.'
Because it's so cold, are the bees pretty unlikely to venture out?
I would think the bees are unlikely to venture out
at much below eight degrees centigrade.
'It seems we spoke too soon.'
The bees are basically wild animals, so even when we expect them
to do one thing and stay in in the snow,
they've actually decided to come out.
So I'll leave Alistair there with his veil to do the work.
'Those supporting a ban on neonicotinoids
'claim they disorientate bees.
'So much so that many never find their way home.
'Alistair says he's seen evidence of that confusion for himself.'
The symptoms were very much like the bees were being given Alzheimer's.
They were, if you like...
There was 30-40,000 bees in the colony one week, going strong.
You come back the next week,
and there'll be a couple of hundred bees there with the queen
and all the working bees had deserted.
'Yet, despite seeing some of the symptoms,
'Alistair says he's not seen enough to convince him yet
'it's time to take drastic action.'
-So, would you want to see a ban?
-No. No, no, no.
What I want to see is the work done to prove the situation
one way or the other.
'The search for that proof is still going on and beekeepers,
'farmers and even governments are all looking to the world of science
'to give them a definitive answer.'
Hundreds of scientists from right across the world
are working on the great mystery of what's killing our bees
and that includes at least a dozen projects from the UK.
Hi, Chris, how's it going?
'Dr Adam Vanbergen is from the Insect Pollinators Initiative,
'which oversees nine UK research projects.'
OK, I'll do the lights.
See if we can just collect one to take a sample. Back towards me.
'Like many other scientists, he's yet to be convinced
'that neonicotinoids are such a menace
'that they should be banned right now.'
This lab here has actually shown some effect of neonicotinoids
-on bees' brains, so is it time for a ban?
-Yeah, I think...
Well, it's interesting you say that.
The results coming out of this lab and others are extremely concerning.
They're showing impacts on the brain function.
What I think we need to do is to increase
the complexity of those experiments,
to mimic what goes on in the real world
and perhaps also carry out field experiments in the real world too.
Shouldn't we apply the precautionary principal here?
We're talking about something as vital and sensitive as bees.
A lot of people think there's a single smoking gun
with respect to pollinator decline,
but the reality is that pollinators and other biodiversities
have been declining over a much longer period of time
and there is a whole suite of factors threatening them,
including the intensification of the landscape,
which leads to loss of resources,
so I think we need to consider things in a much more holistic way,
so I'm a bit concerned about treating pesticides
as a single issue that we need to react suddenly upon.
With many scientists, farmers and even beekeepers
saying a ban is premature, the UK government has been trying
to block attempts to get neonicotinoids restricted.
But many on the European mainland, including the European Commission,
are convinced that a ban is the way forward.
So, do they know something that we don't?
Well, it's all based on this 58-page report
prepared for the European Commission.
So does this contain the definitive proof
that neonicotinoids are killing our bees?
I'll be taking a closer look later in the programme.
Lying in the heart of Calderdale is Todmorden,
a small town with big ambitions.
It straddles the ancient border between Yorkshire and Lancashire.
And what's happened in this town is having repercussions
right across the world.
Here, they're bringing the countryside
into the heart of the town by growing food in public places.
It's part of a movement known as Incredible Edible.
Pam Warhurst is the powerhouse behind it.
So, Pam, what's the idea behind this? What is the goal?
The goal is to help people be more self-reliant,
the goal is to get people thinking of themselves, about their future,
and to use food as the driving force,
so you start with what we call propaganda gardens.
All over the town, there's spaces
where you could grow food, you just don't see them.
Very public - railway station, front of the police station,
along the towpath here, where people can see what can grow.
And they can taste it.
Everything we plant in these propaganda gardens is food for free.
So everybody who lives here is entitled
-to come down to the towpath and harvest?
It starts conversations and once you do that,
it becomes part of your life,
so you want to grown more of your own food in your own garden,
you want to go to your market and support more local growers
and your farmers, you want to get your kids
learning how to grow and process food.
All this because you've started to plant propaganda gardens
and just shown people what local food looks like.
This seed of an idea began just six years ago and now it's spread
to more than 30 towns across the UK and even around the world.
There's not a continent that isn't doing Incredible Edible.
Isn't that totally fantastic?
Who'd have thought ordinary people saying, "I want a bit of that,
"let's do it, we'll never stop it,
"we'll be doing this till the day we die,
"and there's nothing better in the world that we'd rather do."
Even at the school, they've caught the passion
for producing their own food.
They've got a remarkable way of growing fruit and veg indoors
and I hear it involves fish.
What's happening here could revolutionise
the local schools' food supply.
-Now then, Steve, how are you?
-Hello, Matt. I'm fine, thank you.
Right then, sir, as we're in a watery classroom,
you'd better give me a lesson. What's going on here?
-Welcome to the world of aquaponics...
..where fish feed vegetables. So do you want to find out how that works?
-Yes, please, yes!
-We've got a little diagram over here.
-Over to the board.
Very good. Right, OK.
So, if you're paying attention, aquaponics is a system
of three tanks with water flowing in between all of them.
So, in the first tank, we have fish.
Fish do what comes naturally - they poo and they pee.
The ammonia from the fish poo and pee
goes into the tank with the bacteria in it
where the ammonia is changed into nitrates
by the action of friendly bacteria.
So the nitrates are then pumped
into the tank where the vegetables are growing
and vegetables need nitrates to grow
and then the water goes back into the fish tank
and the whole process starts again.
-Feeding time at the zoo!
So we've got a big tank here full of 400 goldfish
and we know all their names, Matt.
-Yeah, Fred 1, Fred 2, Fred 3...
So what's the connection between this project and Incredible Edible?
This project grew out of Incredible Edible
and its aim is to produce fish and vegetables for the local schools,
so we'll be feeding the school kiddies.
We're learning on goldfish and then we will move onto edible carp.
How many fish do you actually need for a large quantity of vegetables?
That's where the maths comes in and it helps with the kiddies,
so what it is, is there's a ratio - one kilogram of fish waste
produces sufficient poo and pee
to feed three square metres of vegetables.
-So this is the floating vegetable patch?
Do you want to have a look here?
If you move one of the floating beds down slightly, you can see
the water underneath and the roots of the vegetables go into the water.
-You can see this from the garlic.
-Oh, my word!
There's no soil then?
It's amazing, there is no soil whatsoever in this whole process.
Is it better than growing in soil?
Because we can control all the temperatures and the nutrients,
we can produce all year round.
What we're finding at the moment
is some plants are growing quite quickly.
This mint, for instance, has come up a centimetre a day.
And I can only attribute that to the fact
that there's a huge amount of nitrates in this water.
I guess the proof is in the pudding. Is it all right to eat it?
Well, you've got a big table here in front of you.
-What would you recommend?
-Well, what shall we have a look at?
There's a bit of lettuce here, Matt. Go for that? Aquaponic lettuce.
That's a first.
-It tastes lovely, yeah.
I'm convinced, absolutely.
I tell you what, you lot down there, you've done some good work!
It's lovely, this lettuce.
Later on, I'll be discovering how the power of pigs
can turn fruit into wine, but first Helen is also in Calderdale
and it's not food that's caught her attention, it's water.
The hills of Calderdale - most are more than 1,300 feet high,
so they catch the prevailing weather.
Often, that's rain, more recently, snow.
But this landscape also has a more unexpected look -
water, water everywhere.
It's believed that this area has the highest concentration
of reservoirs in the UK.
Now, if you look at this satellite image, you can see you can see why.
It's absolutely peppered with blue dots and those dots are reservoirs.
But why build so many just here?
I'm meeting up with Robin Gray to find out.
It's all down to the Industrial Revolution.
You had a lot of cotton mills.
In fact, you could say that Manchester was the powerhouse
of the Industrial Revolution and one of the main ingredients was water.
You had mill owners - they wanted water.
You had the canals - they needed water for transportation.
But also, drinking water.
You've got to remember, in the 19th century,
they described drinking water as "as black as ink".
So without this water,
that Industrial Revolution might not have happened?
Everyone knows about coal, but it was actually water that was
the vital ingredient that powered the Industrial Revolution.
Many of those reservoirs still remain.
This is one of them, now known as Hollingworth Lake,
built more than 200 years ago to supply the Rochdale canals.
It might have been built for industry,
but it was soon held in deep affection
by the Victorian day-trippers
who came here to enjoy paddle steamer rides
and the rowing club.
It became the Rochdale Riviera of its day -
an escape from the grime of industry.
Today, this lasting legacy of our industrial past is no lifeless relic.
On the contrary, it's buzzing with activity.
I've never tried windsurfing.
I've always wanted to and apparently this is the perfect place to start.
Instructor Alistair Pitman reckons he can get me surfing in no time,
but first I need to learn a few of the basics on dry land.
Right, Al, where do we start?
I want you to get both knees up here,
then I want you to reach around the mast
and there should be an uphaul there, so if you grab hold of that
with both hands, it'll help you balance when you stand up.
So I want you to stand up
and get your feet one either side of the mast.
Then I want you to crouch down,
reach as far as you can down that uphaul and then hand over hand,
pull it up and then put your hands onto the mast.
Hands onto the mast, OK.
If you lean the sail towards the back of the boat,
you'll find the boat turns one way.
HELEN GIGGLES Sorry!
And if you lean it towards the front of the boat,
you'll find it turns the other way.
OK, well, that seems straightforward enough. Shall we take it to water?
-Yep, why not? I think we're good, I think we're ready.
'It's now or never.
'I really hope I'm not in for a soaking.'
-It is quite cold, isn't it?
-Just a little chilly.
It's probably about minus seven with the wind chill,
but the water temperature's about one degree.
So we're just going to get you up into that sailing position.
-So grab hold of your mast, remember?
-Oh, yeah, the mast.
I'm practically signing up for the Olympics now, aren't I?
-Oh, yes, definitely.
And you're off!
That's it, Helen. Well done. Keep your front leg straight.
Pull in with your back hand a little.
I'm not setting any world records just yet.
Oh, I'm actually moving, aren't I?
-I'm on! I'm still on!
Pull it back up.
Whoa! There we go! There's a little gust!
-Woo-hoo! I'm doing it, yeah?
-Yeah. Well done.
'I can see why people get a kick out of this
'and I'll definitely be back to give it another go.'
You've done really well today.
You've still got dry hair, which is impressive!
Hollingworth Lake is easy to get to, so it's well used
and well looked after, but how do the more remote reservoirs fare?
Gaddings Dam is perched around 500 feet higher.
It's a lung-burning hike up a steep hill,
but I'm assured it's well worth it.
'There were plans to drain the reservoir,
'but people here loved it so much, they clubbed together to buy it
'and that means they have to keep an eye on it.'
What is it about this place that's so special?
Well, you'll have to see when we get up there, Helen,
but it's got a unique quality.
It's on nearly 1,200 feet elevation,
it's a very popular spot with swimmers
and with people from the town coming up for picnics and so on.
It's a real wonderful place.
Toby, you keep sort of burying your neck into your coat. It is cold.
-But you've been up there. Is it worth the walk?
-Can you remember coming up here as a little girl, Margaret?
-Yes, I do.
We just used to come up here all the time in the summer.
At that time there were a lot of mills in the valley,
so it was quite polluted.
Places like this were a way of getting away from the smoke.
Do you come up here to clear your head and gather your thoughts?
Definitely. It's a steep hill, but within a short period of time,
you're just on top of the world.
-Oh, my word! That is a lot of water!
-It is a lot.
This doesn't feel like Northern England,
it feels a bit like...Russia when you look over there!
This is part of the essential ongoing maintenance
that we have to go through to keep the dam walls in good shape.
They're lifting stones that have fallen down near the water's edge
to replace them along the top of the wall.
'As a final treat, Tim wants to share his favourite spot with me.'
Here we are, Helen, this is our beach.
I don't think I've ever sat on a beach surrounded by ice and snow.
It is stunning, though. I can see why people love it.
You're a world away from everyone and everything, aren't you, up here?
Oh, completely, completely.
We've always claimed it was the highest sandy beach in England
and nobody's challenged that yet.
If you came back here on a summer's day, you'd see people swimming,
you'd see people from Todmorden up here having picnics,
people walking their dogs around, it really is a playground for people.
I want to say that I'm disappointed
I haven't brought my swimming costume...
but that would be a complete lie! Cheers.
Now, as we heard earlier, Europe is on the verge of banning
pesticides vital to many British farmers
because they're being blamed for the dramatic decline of bees,
but are they doing too much too soon?
With bees disappearing from our countryside,
we're being encouraged to do
all kinds of imaginative things to help them.
These balloons all contain a handful of seeds
and they're going into the ground
here at Mote Park in the heart of Maidstone
and the idea is, when the kids have finished their little balloon dance,
stepping on them all, that in few months' time, it will grow up
with lovely wild flowers, so let's go and do some popping.
'In simple terms, more flowers means more bees
'and with bee numbers down by a half since the 1980s,
'they need all the help they can get.'
Right, what we're going to do now,
we need to tread these seeds in, right?
So the best way to tread the seeds in is to dance on them,
so what we're going to do, we're going to do the Hokey Cokey.
-# Oh, hokey cokey cokey... #
I'm going to make my excuses from the dance floor right now.
It's clearly great work that's being done here
to get more bee-friendly plants growing,
but is all this good work going to be undone
by pesticides out there in our fields?
The European Commission certainly thinks so.
It says some of the world's most widely-used agricultural pesticides,
called neonicotinoids, could be killing our bees.
It wants to ban them from the 1st of July.
Earlier, we heard from a farmer, a scientist and even a beekeeper,
who were all currently against the ban,
but not everyone in the UK feels the same way.
Some British environmental groups,
including the RSPB and the Soil Association,
say evidence is mounting of a danger to bees.
Vanessa Amaral-Rogers from the charity Buglife wants action now.
How worried are you about the pesticides and the neonicotinoids?
We're really worried.
We've been doing a lot of work on neonicotinoids back in 2009
when we sort of found that there was
a lot of scientific research around at the time
which showed that there was an effect on neonics in pollinators.
A small amount of the chemical can affect in different ways,
so making honeybees forage less
or not return back to the hive because they get lost.
It's something that Buglife
have been campaigning for right from the start,
that we want the Government to put a ban in
because we're worried about it, the evidence is there.
But how strong is that evidence? I've been taking a closer look.
This is the document on which the European Commission
have based their opinion in favour of a ban,
but when you look inside, the data is far from clear-cut.
Where they've got an R in a column,
it shows there has been a risk identified, but where there's an X,
they're not so sure, or as they put it, "assessment not finalised".
Now, there are a couple of columns with Rs, but all the rest...Xs.
Basically, we still lack definitive proof
and the uncertainty over the level of risk has caused mixed reactions.
So, while many MPs support a ban on neonicotinoids,
the British Government still thinks we need more evidence.
People are looking to science for answers,
but even there, the experts can't agree.
We're basically measuring everything we can measure about these nests -
how many new bees they've produced...
'At Stirling University, there's yet another research project,
'this time on the effects of neonicotinoids on bumblebees.'
So these nests have been variously
exposed or not exposed to neonicotinoids.
'Professor David Goulson is looking for a link
'between these pesticides and smaller, underdeveloped nests.
'He is in favour of a ban.'
When we were speaking to the farmer,
he said, "Look, this is a seed dressing,
"there's a small amount in the seed. By the time the plant's grown
"and the bees are feeding on the actual flower, it's infinitesimal,"
-but are you saying that's still enough to harm a bee?
Yes, it is.
I mean, it wouldn't work as a pest-control strategy
if they weren't toxic at very low concentrations.
The evidence suggests that
if you feed those concentrations to bees,
you get measurable biological effects - they lay fewer eggs,
they get lost on the way home,
they're not so good at gathering food.
So the long and the short of it is, the concentrations in nectar
and pollen of flowering crops ARE enough to affect bees.
If we have evidence, but inconclusive evidence,
that these things seriously harm bees and other wildlife,
then we should stop using them until we've got that evidence,
until we can definitely say how much they're harming wildlife,
rather than just carry on blithely chucking them
around the countryside until some indefinite future date
where we may have acquired that evidence.
There is a growing consensus among scientists that neonicotinoids
have some effect on bee health,
but without conclusive evidence linking them to the decline of bees,
currently it's all about weighing up risk.
So is it better to be safe than sorry?
Or should we hold out for a clearer answer?
If science can help resolve this debate,
it will be doing a great service to the bees and possibly to farmers too.
Come on, in you go.
'In the meantime, the decision on banning neonicotinoids
'will have to be made without the luxury of absolute proof.'
We all know the weather has been really cold
and wet over the past few months.
For most of us, it's just been rather grim and a bit inconvenient,
but for farmers like Adam, it's had more serious consequences.
This may look like a beautiful spring day,
but actually it's bitterly cold with these easterly winds.
The snow is still lying under the hedges
and, as we know, right across the country,
people have been suffering with all this cold weather.
And here on the farm, it's just not a spring scene.
The grass over there should be long and lush and bright green,
and it's just lying there, a pale colour.
Across there, we've got a brown field that's been ploughed,
ready to plant spring barley that should have gone in a month ago,
but it's just been too cold and too wet.
This field should have oilseed rape growing in it
with plants about this high, bright green,
with buds on that are going to burst into yellow flower,
but as it is, there's absolutely nothing here.
The crop should have been planted in the middle of August last year,
but we didn't get it in until late September
because of all the wet weather, so it had a difficult start,
then the slugs have got into it
and the easterly winds have absolutely hammered it
and the pigeons have been coming on here and eating it as well.
And now I can hardly find a plant.
There's one here that's just a few little stalks, it's virtually dead.
'We'll have to give up on more than 100 acres of winter oilseed rape,
'which is a real disaster.
'It'll have to be ripped out over the coming weeks
'and be replanted with a spring rape crop.
'For my farming business, that's a big financial hit.'
Come on then.
Well, it's a pretty sorry state on this farm
but I know I'm not alone so I've invited a good friend of mine,
David Neill, who meets farmers all across the UK
and advises them on their arable crops,
so that I can get an understanding of the bigger picture.
-David, it's not great, is it?
-No, it's certainly not, Adam.
And, as you said, you're not alone.
Your rape fields are no different to many others.
Probably 30% of the national crop has now been lost
through the same circumstances. It really is a desperate situation.
This is the wheat field.
We managed to get all of our wheat planted in the autumn.
This isn't looking too bad, is it?
No, this is pretty good compared with most people round the country.
You don't have to go many miles from here to see the state of devastation
we have with the compaction and the wet soil conditions.
And probably we're looking at about 20% reduction
in our wheat planting at the moment.
And what are the overall consequences then?
Well, the consequences are pretty dramatic
from the point of view of overall food supply in the UK
because whether you look at potatoes,
whether you look at veg production,
it's all under pressure, so I guess it's a hard one to call
but food prices are going to remain high,
fragile and certainly with the British public buying
more and more home-produced food, farmers want to make sure
it's on the shelves and it's very frustrating for them
at the moment with the pressure that they're under.
'Whilst it's frustrating for arable farmers,
'for those with livestock, it's been heartbreaking.'
We were very fortunate at home.
We managed to get round to all the animals
and make sure they had food and water and shelter
and the lambs that were freshly born,
we kept them inside the sheds with their mothers
but there are many farmers across the UK that haven't been so lucky.
Parts of Britain are still struggling with the snow
and freezing temperatures.
Roads over higher ground running impassable
and farmers are struggling to rescue livestock stranded by the blizzards.
But it wasn't until the snow started to thaw
that the harrowing picture really started to reveal itself
and farmers could get back out into the fields
and were picking up dead sheep everywhere.
Look at it. Here we are in the middle of April
and the snow is still really deep.
I'm on my way to meet Errol Morris who's a sheep farmer
a little bit further up in the mountains.
'At his farm on the Welsh borders, Errol has more than 800 acres
'and keeps more than 1,000 sheep.
'Sadly, I'm not the only visitor to his farm today.
'He's had to arrange for some contractors
'to remove his dead sheep.'
It's a horrible sight, isn't it, a pile of dead bodies like that?
Well, it's a terrible sight to see. It brings me back memories of 2001.
-The foot and mouth.
-That devastating foot and mouth disease.
And I hope we never see that again, obviously.
And also, we don't want a storm like we've just had.
How many sheep are there in that pile?
There's 138 in that pile
-and there's about 50 little lambs as well.
I mean, it's harrowing to watch
-but financially it must be devastating as well.
The thing is, it doesn't stop there because the ones that survive,
lots of them have slipped their lambs due to the harsh weather.
I'll be very, very, very lucky if I get 50% lambing this year.
Unbelievable. A ewe would be worth, what, £60-80?
80-odd quid, yes, yes, I should think. Yeah.
'With nearly 200 sheep already dead and the numbers still mounting,
'Errol won't know the true financial and emotional cost
'until the snow has gone.'
Watch out you don't fall. It's starting to melt.
'We're heading up to the top fields
'to try and get a better picture of what's happened.
So, when the storm came,
they ran for shelter and the walls were where they went.
-Can you feel anything there, Adam?
-Is that a dead one up there?
-Oh, there's another one there, yes.
Have they died mainly of the cold?
Well, yes, it's the cold and suffocation in the drifts, isn't it?
They haven't got... If they're under the snow like this -
it's like concrete - they've got no hope, have they?
'Even for the lucky ones that survived the snow,
'there's still a struggle ahead.'
Where the snow has melted, the grass doesn't look very good, does it?
No, it's going yellow, isn't it? It's burnt off completely.
-So, there's no nutrients in this for the ewes.
I've bought in silage, turnips as well.
More and more and more expense. But that's it,
-you've got to feed them or you won't have anything left.
There's one here that doesn't look very well.
-Oh, yeah, she is not very well at all, Errol, is she?
-No, she's not.
She's gone blind in one eye, hasn't she?
-She's got a touch of snow fever, I think.
-So the lambs inside of her are drawing all her energy.
What will you do? Take her down to the shed and to try and save her?
-Yeah, take her down to the shed.
-She can hardly stand up.
It looks like this little wood, it's had sheep all round it.
Well, you can see where they've been pushing to go into the wood.
You can see the wool on the barbed wire
and they've even eaten the bark on the tree trunks.
So there'd have been a lot of sheep sheltering inside that.
All around there. It's saved a lot of lives.
'Errol and his sheep are clearly fighters.
'I just hope he can overcome this terrible experience
'and look forward to brighter times.'
The crops are suffering on my farm
but coming here to this farm in Wales
and seeing so many dead animals has been really disturbing.
I am taking this ewe back down to the yards
and hopefully... she'll be one that makes it.
"I stood on a dark summit among dark summits
"Tidal dawn splitting heaven from earth
"The oyster opening to taste gold."
Those words were written by Ted Hughes,
one of our greatest ever poets.
He was describing this place -
the Calder Valley, the place he was born.
'Ted Hughes was born in Mytholmroyd, the West Yorkshire town
'where he spent the first seven years of his life
'and although he left when he was still a child,
'it was a landscape that was to shape his writing.'
Many of his most celebrated and personal poems were set here
among the steep hills and stones, the mill towns and moors.
And if you know where to look,
you can still find the places he wrote about.
'I'm off to find some of them. But I'm not going alone.
'I have enlisted the help of someone who's made it his mission
'to seek out the places in Ted Hughes' poems.'
A kind of literary detective, if you will.
But best of all, he actually knew Ted Hughes as a boy.
'His name is Donald Crossley.
'Here he is at school with Ted in 1935.'
'They grew up in the same street -
'A plaque marks the house Ted was born in.'
-Ellie. Ah, pleased to meet you.
-Lovely to meet you.
-How are you doing?
It's a glorious day but, by Jove, it's a cold wind.
Yeah, sure is. So, you knew Ted as a child then?
We were brought up here in Banksfield, four boys.
There was Derek Robertshaw, Brian Seymour, Donald Crossley
-and Teddy Hughes. He was always Teddy to we boys.
-Yes, he was.
What sort of things to do you get up to? What was it like around here?
All kinds of things. Redacre Wood,
that was the Mecca for boys to go and play in.
Then up the fields and lighting fires, trapping, shooting rabbits.
-All that kind of thing up on the hillside.
What was he like then as a character, as a young lad?
We looked up to Teddy. He was that bit more special than we were.
He was a clever lad, right from the beginning.
'Today, with Donald's daughter, Ruth,
'we're seeking out the places mentioned in the poems.
'When Donald first set about this task,
'he called upon some very special help - Ted's elder brother, Gerald.'
So, Donald, you have a load of knowledge about his poetry,
Ted's work, and incredible knowledge about this area.
So how did you marry up the two
to figure out where the poems were based on?
Well, of course, when I wanted to find these things out,
I wrote to Gerald and he sent me this map.
'and shows many of the places Gerald and Ted spent in childhood.'
Where they smoked weasels out of the walls.
There is a poem of that and that's just there, up the lane.
'There are all sorts of clues about the poems in the letters
'but they also reveal the young Ted's fascination with nature.'
"Ted at my side, wide-eyed, taking everything in,
"making a continuous recording of everything we did,
"asking questions - 'Where do you think that owl
" 'we saw last week will be roosting?' "
-What fabulous detail.
-It is fabulous.
What did you think when you first got these letters then?
Well, I began to realise, over the years, they're so very precious.
'But there was one place Gerald's letters couldn't identify.
'Donald had to turn literary sleuth all on his own.'
And it concerns this picture, taken of six young men
on the eve of going to France to fight in the First World War.
None of them returned home
and it inspired one of Ted Hughes's most poignant poems.
"The celluloid of a photograph holds them well
"Six young men, familiar to their friends
"Four decades that have faded and ochre-tinged this photograph
"Have not wrinkled the faces or the hands
"Though their cocked hats are not now fashionable, their shoes shine
"One imparts an intimate smile, one chews a grass
"One lowers his eyes, bashful
"One is ridiculous with cocky pride
"Six months after this picture, they were all dead."
'But where was the place in the poem and the picture?'
This certain morning I said, "Hilary," I woke, "It's the water!"
In the middle of the poem it says,
"From where these sat, you'll hear the water of seven streams
"Fall to the roar in the bottom
"The collective water of seven streams."
And then I had a good idea where it was.
'It brought him here, to this secluded valley
'called Crimsworth Dean.'
There is the tree. That very stone is still there.
And you will just see faintly,
the black wall and the bilberried banks over there.
-I was over the moon when I found it, yeah.
Dad suggested that we place a plaque to remember the six young men
which, you know, is a lovely, lovely memorial to six men
-who really made the ultimate sacrifice.
'Ted Hughes' writing made him famous.
'He became poet laureate in 1984
'but he never forgot this landscape or the place of his birth.
'As his brother, Gerald, writes,'
"Wherever we were, whatever we did,
"that lovely valley remained our true home
"because I know that is where his heart was - those early years
"at 1 Aspinall Street anchored both of us there for life."
It's clearly an ideal spot for reflecting and if you're heading out
into the countryside this week for some quiet time,
you'll want to know what the weather has in store.
Here's the Countryfile forecast.
'While Ellie's been finding out about the literary greats
'who were inspired by the Calderdale landscape,
'I've been unearthing its culinary delights.'
'As I discovered earlier,
'there's been a real push in these hills to grow more local food.'
And now I'm off to meet a man who's set himself the challenge
of making his eight-acre plot of land pay its way.
'And that's not easy up here.
'The land's steep and the winters are bitter
'but Gwyn Evans has found a way to do just that.
'Would you believe it, by making wine?'
-How are you doing?
-Pleased to meet you.
-Nice to see you.
-Welcome to Luddenden.
-You've got a bonny view here, haven't you?
It's fantastic, yeah. We never get tired of it.
So, Gwyn, what gave you the idea, then, of making wine?
Well, I'd been looking to try and do something with the land
-which was going to be profitable and sustainable.
I was aware of an interest locally in local produce
and buying local things and I thought we'd found a gap in the market.
-Let's go and sort them out.
-We're on our way, don't worry.
'But there's no sign of a vineyard yet.
'All Gwyn's showing me are pigs.
'They're rare-breed Oxford Sandy and Blacks.
'Apparently, they're all part of the process.'
Come on, girls. Come on, girls.
Do you know, Gwyn? You don't often think, right,
if you're going to start making wine, you've got to get some pigs.
Where do they fit into all this?
If you give them a piece of land with some scrubby overgrowth on it,
they'll eat off all the overgrowth, all the weeds...
-They do this, basically.
-Well that's it.
Once they've finished on the top,
they just turn it upside down and eat what's underneath.
So, at the end of the day, you've got a lovely, clean piece of ground
ready to be planted on.
'Even in the height of summer,
'only a few vineyards thrive in this part of Yorkshire
'so Gwyn's planting fruit and veg for the basis of his wine.'
Autumn-fruiting raspberries. Plums.
Damsons - they're really nice.
Gooseberries and blackcurrants.
And, of course, especially rhubarb.
Is that popular, is it, the rhubarb?
-Oh, absolutely, yes. It's really delicious.
-The thing about it is it's just synonymous with West Yorkshire.
How productive would you expect this plot of land to be?
How many bottles of wine can you get from this?
Well, the rhubarb alone, I could probably expect
-about 200 bottles next year, just from the rhubarb.
And then the year after that when it becomes thick and bushy,
between 300 and 400 bottles.
People, I guess, your customers,
will just love the fact that the wine has been, you know,
whatever the fruit is, has been grown here.
Well, I'm hoping so. There are fruit wines grown throughout the country
-but it's the local appeal which I'm trying to...
-To tap into.
To tap into, yes.
'Gwyn's keen for me to taste the finished article.
'Do you know, it's a tough life being a Countryfile presenter.'
-But this is what it's all about then, Gwyn.
It's in a bottle and it's ready to be drunk.
-What have you selected here?
-This is a parsnip wine.
-It's one of my favourites.
-Shall I do the pouring?
-Why is this one of your favourites?
-Well, it's just delicious.
-I hope you like it.
-Right, here we go.
I'm not going to do the sniffy or swirly thing,
it's going straight down the hatch. OK? All the best.
Ooh, now that's a surprise. I can see why you like that.
-Lots of people say that.
-Yeah, that's got... It's...
Well, it's like a white wine but that's a lovely...
It leaves you with a lovely, warm sensation, doesn't it?
Right down through your chest.
-Here we go. Look who's here.
-How are you?
-Look, I've spotted this. An empty glass.
You are going to love this.
-Go on then.
-Let me tell you, this is special.
-What is it?
-It's parsnip wine.
Mmm. I'll try it. I'll give it a try.
-Ooh, it's lovely. Very dry.
-Isn't that nice?
-Have you got that warm sensation?
On a day like today, we need it. I'm going to have to try it again.
Yeah, I'm just keep drinking this.
Anyway, that's all we have time for from Calderdale.
Next week, I'm looking back at some of the best-loved
Countryfile stories involving rural architecture -
-anything from stately homes to beach huts.
-I'll be watching.
-Yes, you will.
-See you later.
Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd
The Countryfile team heads to Calderdale in West Yorkshire. It is the most southerly of the Yorkshire dales and perhaps not as well known as its northern cousins, but what it lacks in fame it makes up for in beauty.
Ellie Harrison follows in the footsteps of Whitely Turner, whose book A Springtime Saunter Round and About Bronte Land was first published 100 years ago. It takes in some of the most stunning landscapes of the area including the village of Haworth where the Bronte family lived. Ellie explores some of the landscapes which inspired the writer Ted Hughes. Ted was born in 1930 in Calderdale and it inspired much of his writing.
Matt Baker looks at the food revolution which is happening in the area. Through a scheme called Incredible Edible, Todmorden hopes to be the first self-sustaining town in the country. Matt sees how they plan to achieve this by visiting one school where fish poo is the key.
The area is home to the largest concentration of reservoirs in the country. They were built to support the mill industries during the Industrial Revolution, but what are they used for now the mills have closed? Helen Skelton finds out with a bit of wind-surfing and some springtime restoration work.
Also on the programme, Britain's bees are disappearing fast and in the last few years a pesticide, vital to many farmers, has been getting the blame. Now Europe wants it banned. Tom Heap investigates if this is a sensible scientific move.
On his farm, Adam Henson is really feeling the effects of the bad weather with crops impossible to sow into the hard ground. Adam also travels to North Wales though to see the devastating and heartbreaking effect the harsh weather has had on lambing there.