Ellie Harrison sees her home county of Gloucestershire as she has never seen it before. And Nina Wadia explores the Highlands.
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As a Countryfile presenter, I have the privilege
to travel all across our magnificent countryside...
..exploring truly breathtaking landscapes...
..meeting the people who look after it...
..and experiencing the wonders of our wildlife.
When the filming ends, I think I'm even luckier,
because I get to return to a part of the countryside that is particularly
special to me, and it's where I call home.
I grew up on the western edge of the Cotswolds, in Gloucestershire,
within the Five Valleys near Stroud.
This is my countryside
and I have been exploring it ever since I could walk...
..but today I am going to see it as I've never done before.
I can see my house!
And whilst I am flying high,
I'll be looking back through the Countryfile archives to the time
when we asked some well-known faces, from DJs, to comedians...
It's a seal. False alarm everyone, it was a seal.
..chefs to singers...
# My old man said follow the van. #
..which part of our magnificent countryside was special to them?
Broad green meadows...
..and picture postcard villages...
..there's no mistaking the beauty of the Cotswolds.
Growing up around here really sparked my interest
in wildlife and the natural world.
And I think when you're surrounded by it in those early years,
it sort of becomes a feeling and an instinct,
rather than just something you see around you.
One of my first memories was when I was five years old,
and because we lived on a valley our garden was terraced,
and I fell off a 20 foot drop,
and landed in the rosemary bush and got covered in cuckoo spit,
and I remember being really freaked out at seeing the larvae of the
froghopper. The smell of rosemary still to this day takes me back to
that slightly stressed out moment.
I guess it was all part of my childhood countryside education.
From those early brushes with nature all those years ago,
today I am President of Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust.
And someone who shares my passion for this landscape
is one of our rangers, Alex Sumnall. How's it going, Al?
-Hello, Ellie, how are you?
-I'm good. Are you?
-Very well, thank you.
If you had blonde curly hair you could be my sister and me,
playing in the stream, although we were just building dams,
we weren't doing this. Tell me about this process.
So what we are doing today is
we're doing a technique called kick sampling.
The idea is we're disturbing the rocks and sediment
and hoping to catch the invertebrates who live
in the bottom of this river, into the nets.
And this is a really good indicator of how healthy the water is.
So, if we have certain invertebrates in here,
we know that the river is doing well,
it's healthy, and that's good for the ecosystem.
-Shall we have a little look?
Scoop it right out there.
Just put mine in. The moment of truth.
There is plenty of movement in here...
Oh, my goodness, it is teeming with life.
That is a really good sign,
so hopefully we've got a lot of these indicator species
that we are hoping to find.
There's the bull head, that's a very good find.
-What else have we got here?
-We have some mayfly larvae in here and
they're a very good indicator of good water quality and you can tell
it's a mayfly larva,
it's got a three-pronged tail and it's also got the gills
-on the side of its body.
They're quite short-lived, aren't they?
They get on the wing then they don't have long on this Earth.
-Very short-lived. Yes.
I'm not just saying this because this is my patch,
but I have done lots of freshwater sampling before,
I've never seen as much variety as there is in this tray.
So this is showing the stream is in great condition, then?
It is, yeah, yeah, so we'll undertake a lot of work here
we'll actually encourage the invertebrates like this.
So what have you got to do, work-wise?
Some of it is because if it becomes too overshaded and too dense,
it cuts off light down to the water,
and, of course, that prevents photosynthesis,
the bottom of food chain, so if we open up areas like we've done
in this part of the reserve, we're starting the food chain up again.
I can see you have some of the brush and log piles that you've created,
is that from clearing all of this?
That's correct. Yeah, so the log piles here,
that's really good for newts and toads and frogs.
Fantastic for bats.
If you can imagine all the insects we are creating from these
-habitat piles and the water.
-It's just teeming with wildlife
and that's why I love this place so much. Brilliant.
It's reassuring to know that with people like Alex,
the countryside I love is in good hands.
Well, mucking about in the river has brought back
many cherished childhood memories
and that's what David Essex went in search of when he travelled
to the Kent/Sussex border.
The first time I came down I think I was probably about four.
Growing up in East London, there wasn't much countryside, so the
big adventure was to come down hop picking, around September time.
What would happen is that this open-back truck would turn up
at Canning Town where I was living, and the women and children
would pile onboard with suitcases.
Lo and behold we're into the countryside.
I remember going to Robertsbridge, Tenterden.
My dad, before I turned up, I know went to Robertsbridge.
That's where he used to go.
This feels very familiar, especially the dog barking.
Also the smells as well.
This takes me back.
First of all, you would turn up, the farmer would come out,
and would give you these
sort of, well, I suppose it's like a duvet affair,
then you go off to a haystack and you fill it all with hay,
and then you carry it to your bunk in the cow shed.
I remember distinctly that the cow sheds we slept in had tin roofs,
because you could hear the rain coming down,
and I always thought that was wonderful.
I still like that, the sound of the rain on a tin roof.
Generally in the week, it was women and children
that came down initially on the lorry,
and then the men folk were... Basically, they were dockers,
they would all come at the weekend and they'd be singing
round a fire, like a brazier, I remember.
I remember the smell of that,
and, of course, all the kids had to go to bed,
but I could hear it in the distance, you know,
# "My old man said follow the van. #
Stuff like that. So yeah, it's very emotive.
I didn't do much hop picking, no.
For me, there was too many different things that I wanted to experience,
like climbing trees, or nicking the farmer's apples and going off and
just seeing things that I'd never really seen before.
JJ! How are you?
David. Are you going to show me how this works?
-Right, let's have a look.
Oh, I see. Right.
So that gadget's there actually cutting the vines.
-Cuts through, and then they drop into here.
It looks different because, from memory,
there used to be these kind of bins that were made of sacking,
and the pickers would sit there and the pole man would come down,
pull down some hops over the bin, and then they would pick into it.
I mean, my nan was incredible.
She was a demon, and she knew specifically, you know,
exactly what was a bushel in the basket.
Sometimes I'd pick a little bit before I'd go off on adventures,
and she'd say "No, Dave, that's too much,"
so she'd knock a few off and it was exactly right.
He's got the easy job, hasn't he?
There he goes.
A load of hops, off to the automated picking machine,
as opposed to my nan.
Generally at weekends we'd follow the grown ups through the fields
to the pub and get our lemonade and packet of crisps.
For a little boy coming from the East End,
it was magical. Summer seemed to last forever.
Adventures were ongoing, and filled every day.
And the feeling of community and family was extraordinary.
My relatives were travellers, and there was an Uncle Levi,
I remember him saying to me, "You know,
"as a little boy you're looking at cars,
"and you're thinking about fortune and money and all the rest of it."
He said, "Just watch the sun rise in the morning
"and set in the evening,
"live a natural life."
It had a sort of profound effect on me.
All this did. All this, you know, the love of the countryside was,
I suppose, instilled in me at that time.
I've still got a tradition where I take a string of hops
and I drape it round my mum's grave,
because I know she would have liked that - and, of course, my nan.
So I've still got that, so I'm going to nick a string of hops, if I can,
if the farmer will let me, and that's where they'll end up.
For some, the appreciation of the countryside comes from their journey
through it, and that was true for actress Nina Wadia
as she took to the breathtaking Highlands,
sharing her love of the open road and her passion for adventure.
Our driving holidays began because of Mum and Dad.
We never booked hotels or, you know, places in particular.
We would just go and hope to find a little quirky B&B.
That's the holidays I knew.
I wanted to just recreate that kind of love of travel,
and just adventure with my own new little family,
so we tend to do that, we jump in a car
and the kids always get excited, "Where we going?"
And I say, "I have no idea!"
I've always had an affinity with Scotland
and it might be because I went to a school in India,
where I was born,
called Bombay Scottish Orphanage High School.
There's something about here, in Scotland,
that I just feel at home.
There's something special in these mountains.
The view changes dramatically, every few miles.
My son in particular, loved Scotland,
and he said "Mum, Mum, look at the mountains,
"don't they look like sleeping dinosaurs?"
And I said, "Actually they do, they really do."
We were in Fort William and we wanted a just explore day out,
so we wanted to go somewhere that was a bit off the beaten track.
We ended up at a loch called Loch Leven, which we, you know,
never knew existed.
My hubby and myself had had a little bit of a barney in the car,
and so as soon as we hit the loch we went, "Ah, why are we bothering,
"look at this, this is so beautiful."
Yes, holidays in Scotland can save your marriage, you heard it here!
It was perfect timing because it was lunchtime and we found
a seafood cafe which did some of the best food I've had.
It ended up being the most perfect day.
It's not a very well-known place, it's not a very well-known loch,
it's not even that huge, but it is just beautiful.
Anywhere that there is water I feel connected, I feel at peace.
It just has this feel of tranquillity about it.
Who could ask for anything better?
We've got the most beautiful food,
you've got the most beautiful view in the world.
The sun's shining.
I think because of the roles I've played on TV people might not know
that I very much love adrenaline sports.
There is a waterfall up this way.
It would be amazing to go and explore around there.
I've had an absolute love for doing anything that makes my heart jump,
and for anything that makes me think,
"I'm probably going to do die doing this."
-Hi, Nina, how are you doing?
Yeah, good thank you. Good.
Look, I love doing stuff like this,
except I like to start at the top and then land down.
This I've never done before.
-Starting at the bottom.
-So you're more into jumping.
-Yes, I'm always jumping.
-This is called Via Ferrata.
-It's just a beautiful climb up
the side of the Grey Mare's Tail waterfall.
-All the way up there?
-Yes, we're going to get to
the very top of that cliff, there.
Remember, go slow!
-Now you've got to get back on.
-Oh, no, I can't!
You can either stand on here or down there.
What do I hold on to?
There's loads of handles.
We're probably about 80 metres vertical here,
about the same height as the top of the waterfall.
Wow. I can see why it is called the Grey Mare's Tail.
-Well, it actually looks like a horse's tail.
We're just over halfway, Nina.
That's it, Nina. We're on the top.
Well done. Brilliant.
Come on over here, Nina, I'll show you the Pap Of Glencoe.
This is breathtaking.
This could not be a more perfect day.
I came to my favourite loch, did something unbelievably exciting,
this sunset - I mean, seriously, if there is a heaven, this is it.
On today's programme we are visiting places in the British countryside
that mean something special to us.
For me, it's where I grew up in the Cotswolds.
It's a landscape that captures the imagination.
This area will forever be associated with Laurie Lee's Cider With Rosie,
a poetic tale of rural life in these valleys,
and it continues to inspire people to this day.
This area is called the Golden Valley,
and it's one of my favourite places to walk.
It's the quality of the light through the beechwood,
refracted through low-hanging mists
that gives this meandering valley its name.
No wonder it's drawn artists from miles around.
For the last 20 years,
artists John and Fiona Owen have made this valley their home.
Hi, John and Fi, how are you both?
-How are you?
-So good to see you!
It was years since I last saw you, how long must it have been?
Well, you were a little girl in a smock dress,
-that was my last memory of you before we moved.
They used to be my neighbours in my last house.
It's so lovely to see you.
What was it that first brought you to this incredible valley,
the Golden Valley here?
I actually felt I discovered the Golden Valley because we didn't have
a car in those days, and I came along this valley on the train
and I was amazed. It was like so lush and green.
Actually, the following day, I think, I got on my bike and
came over and, you know, really did discover it, like an explorer.
How fantastic. So, your work is quite different to John's.
How do you incorporate what you see here in the valley into your work?
Well, it's the plants that are my real love,
so I just like capturing every detail.
I've been doing some wood anemones, these are just simple sketches,
and then, when I work them up,
I weave them into a sort of tapestry of the wildlife,
all based on our woods...
-..between here and our home.
John, how do you transfer a landscape like this into your work?
Well, I normally try and do a drawing, but sometimes, you know,
there's no time to do a drawing, so I take a photograph,
or whatever information I can gather,
to get some kind of impact from the landscape.
I'm looking for light and shade, really.
Is there a particular type of light in this valley?
I've heard that that's why it's got the name.
It's very elusive, you know?
We walk it every day and it's always different.
It's just got a sort of mellow edge to it, living here, I think.
Quite a lot of mists, aren't there in this valley?
Yeah, lots of mists.
It's a very deep valley.
It's beautiful work, it's lovely to see what we have in front of us
translated into fabulous art like this.
When I was in my 20s,
I left all this behind and went to go and live in America,
but it wasn't until I'd gone, that I really appreciated what I had,
and that was true for DJ Edith Bowman,
when she returned home to the rugged coastline of the East Neuk of Fife.
I grew up in a little fishing village called Anstruther,
which is on the east coast of Scotland.
When I was a teenager I felt very differently about this place
than I do now. I probably hated it.
I couldn't wait to get out.
I left to go to university in Edinburgh,
I kind of did that gradual thing of going from the little village
to the kind of bigger city, but then to the biggest city, London.
So I think the further away I got from it,
the more I crossed that line into missing it
and loving it and needing it.
Everything's kind of all right when I come back here,
just inhale that sea air and see this landscape, which is...
You know, it's not typically picturesque
and kind of postcard pretty.
It's rugged, it's real, it's angry,
the waves in the sea are angry when it's like this, but
I love it. I could just stare out there for hours.
There's always been cameras in our house,
so we were encouraged to take pictures as kids.
But then it was only really when I was at Radio 1
and I kind of saw this great opportunity to
take pictures of bands and things like that,
that it became a bit more than a hobby.
Then I went back to college to do a night course.
The first place I thought of when I was asked to do a project on
landscapes was here. There's so much that you can photograph,
be it the rock formations, and every step you take, it's different.
It just really opened my eyes to be able to see what was around me
and to acknowledge what's around me and capture what's around me, as well.
This is Pittenweem Harbour.
I spent a lot of time here as a kid growing up.
There's a lot of history with my family here.
My dad grew up in a house just over the other side of the fish market,
you know, and it's where he spent his childhood.
My great-grandfather used to mend nets.
My uncle Brian, as well,
he was a fisherman.
We used to go out on the boat with him all the time.
I've got this real want to document this place through my photography.
Different people that I know still work in that industry
and are still keeping it going.
I have so much respect for...
Especially the men and women who are still involved in the fishing
industry round this coast, because it's not an easy life.
It's brutal out there.
This is May Island and it's the most bonkers and brilliant little island,
with these natural statues that have risen from the sea.
It's beautiful and scary.
Fishing was such a thriving industry here
and it's part of my family history as well, and so, you know,
I'm intrigued by that and I'm intrigued by, you know,
people still living here and being here and making their life here.
Almost having more courage to stay here than I did.
Nick, is this the last one?
OK, this is good.
I loved that.
It reminded me of being out in the boat with my uncle Brian
before he passed away,
which is just the loveliest memories, really, of him.
This place is home.
It always has been and it always will be, to be honest.
I would hope that I never take it for granted ever again.
This week, we've been revisiting the most cherished places of some familiar faces.
For Falklands veteran Simon Weston, it's his beloved South Wales.
The Brecon Beacons is a special place for me.
It was somewhere we got taken when we were kids, with the family.
Even as a young boy, I remember just thinking
just how powerful it all felt here, just how beautiful.
It's so incredibly lovely here,
and even in the rain, there's something very special about it.
Brecon is probably the one place that I have a fond memory
of my biological father. There wouldn't have been too many
in my life that I can remember, if I'm brutally honest, but
I do remember him taking my oldest friend and myself, Carl, camping.
I must have been ten or 11.
And we used to go off and leave my father here and we'd go off along
the road there and walk all the way almost into Brecon from here,
which was just a great laugh.
I suppose the cherry on the cake for that week was
as the weekend arrived, so did a great big jamboree of Girl Guides.
They arrived at the top of the valley near Storey Arms and they pitched their tents
and we thought all our Christmases had come at once.
We were only young boys.
You know, if you've got a good memory,
always look to the good ones,
try to put the bad ones behind you,
and the Brecon Beacons is always somewhere very special.
I was about 17, 18, when I first came here
to train with the military.
It was raining then and I thought, what had I done wrong?
The last time I was here training was with the Welsh Guards.
We were getting ready to go to the Falklands and, as you can see,
if you've ever seen pictures of the Falklands,
this is fairly similar terrain.
The problem was, we were training,
it was quite nice and it was dry and the white grass,
and we were hiding from the helicopters that were hunting us
because we were a mortar line, which meant we lined our mortars up
and we were doing light firing.
One of the guys, a guy called Mike Dunphy,
decided he'd make a cup of tea.
He set fire to the white grass and the next thing you've got about
30 men like whirling dervishes doing the berserker,
dancing round trying to put this fire out
and the mountainside was getting more and more alight.
Fortunately we brought it under control, but my goodness,
it was touch and go!
But you look back and it is one of those funny moments,
it's one of those funny little stories you tell
and you just remember your friends,
because a lot of those guys on that mortar line never came home.
I got injured on June 8th, 1982.
The first warning came as the plane swept low over the ships.
Sir Galahad was immediately in flames.
Two companies of the Welsh Guard were still on board.
We lost 48 men dead and 97 injured,
out of which I was the worst injured.
They didn't want to send me home when I was down there,
they wanted to keep me down and bring me back by ship,
but being a good Welsh boy, I wanted to come back to all of this.
This is where I was brought up, I'm very proud of where I'm from.
Those people down there just beyond those trees,
down in the village of Nelson,
that's what helped make me
and those are the people who helped me survive,
because they supported me so incredibly well.
In my darkest days, I had PTSD and nobody had diagnosed it.
This is Senghenydd mountain, it overlooks Nelson,
which you can't see through the mist and the haze,
but this is the place where
I used to come just to get some solitude.
Everybody needs to regroup, so coming up here for me was escapism,
was an opportunity just to try and regroup,
but it was somewhere that I'd always come as a kid, and, I suppose...
..it's the child in your eye.
You don't want to lose the child in your eye, and you're trying to
regain that and regroup with that, and that's what it was for me.
It was coming up here and trying to
get back the happiness that I had as being a child,
and that's the solitude you seek when you come up here.
Just to enjoy thinking and looking,
and sometimes things just become a lot clearer.
There's a great sense of pride in the valleys and being Welsh.
It helps create communities, it helps create environments.
Wales is very special, you know, and I'm so very lucky
to have been born here.
The valleys around Stroud in the Cotswolds
are one of my favourite places in the UK,
and it's where I call home.
But while some of the valleys are bathed in sunlight,
others have an altogether chillier feel.
This is the Woodchester Valley,
and the topography here is quite steep sided.
It means even in summer it doesn't get very much sunlight,
it can be quite a chilly walk.
But it's a valley that holds a lot of memories for me.
In the summer, we would pick the elderflowers from the hedgerows and
sell them to a local drinks company.
Back then you'd get a pound for every pound in weight.
It was a decent amount of money back then.
But there's also intrigue here.
Sitting in the depths of the valley is an abandoned Victorian Gothic manor house.
There's a lot of mystery surrounding this place,
about the person who built it and why it was never finished,
and the setting really lends itself to myths and legends.
Back when we were teenagers,
we used to come down here after dark, getting up to no good.
Today, my fascination isn't with the house, but with its inhabitants.
Doctor Roger Ransome knows them well.
He's been studying the resident bats here since 1959.
-Good to see you.
-Yes, and you.
I'm excited about this. All these years I've been coming down here
when I was growing up, I've never even seen the bats.
How long have they been here?
The building was abandoned in about the 1870s, and they could
have come in possibly from Forest of Dean shortly afterwards,
perhaps by the turn of the century.
Amazing, all this time.
In the valley I live in now there's lots of pipistrelles,
what species have you got here?
The two most common ones here, which are actually endangered species,
are the greater and the lesser horseshoe bats.
I'm really excited about the possibility of seeing them.
Now, I'm only allowed in here today
as I'm helping Roger with his research.
Sometimes, well, hopefully we'll find a few round this corner.
Ah, yes. Here we are.
Look at this, they're right there!
These are lesser horseshoe bats.
They just look brilliant.
-Look at them there.
I don't think I've ever been this close to lesser horsehoes.
they're like a curious kind of decoration just hanging there.
Their wings folded over their bodies.
Yes, and they're nice and peaceful for the moment.
We're not licensed to handle these, so we don't touch them.
So we'll leave those horseshoes here.
OK. What a wonderful sight.
So we head off in search of the greater horseshoe.
This is exciting, I love this.
Oh, yes, they're hanging on the wall.
There's a greater and a lesser.
You can really see the difference.
-This is amazing!
Roger quickly collects the bats before they wake from their torpid state.
-There we are.
-Gently does it.
-I'll put that one there.
He notes down where he finds them, their ring number, sex and weight.
Fantastic. And these rings go on them from when they are babies?
Yeah, usually within a few days of being born they'll be marked.
Now, we've got a little tick, now, look.
Oh, so we do. That will drop off eventually, won't it,
-when it's had its fill?
-Once it's fed, it will drop off.
And these won't permanently be here at Woodchester, will they?
-They'll move around?
They're born here, they stay here normally until about October and
then they shift off to big hibernation sites,
but a few do stay here all winter.
How many bats do you think you've handled in your lifetime?
-That's a lot of bats.
Roger's work here has been going on for nearly 60 years
and is the longest continuous study of any mammal in the world.
The last few years, we've been concentrating on
behaviour and genetics and life span.
That's another juvenile, you can see it's grey.
Yes, I can see, yeah.
It's been a real pleasure to have played a tiny part
in Roger's research into such a wonderful animal.
What an amazing experience.
I've been here so many times and I had no idea this was going on.
There's always more to see,
particularly where wildlife is concerned,
and that was the case for Susan Calman
as she ventured across the Firth of Clyde
to the beautiful Isle of Arran.
I've been coming to the island of Arran since I was five.
We came here for summer holidays every year,
and we've been coming back ever since, so this place is really,
it's just part of me.
When we got on that CalMac ferry,
I always used to come up and stand on the front of the deck here,
so I could see how close we were getting to the island.
"Scotland in miniature" they call it, and it really is,
because it has the lowlands, beautiful scenery,
the mountain ranges, and it's just extraordinary
because everything that you can find across there, is here.
This particular beach, Blackwaterfoot Beach,
is where we spent most of our time.
We'd put up the windbreak and we'd go swimming in that sea.
The temperature would vary from frozen to very frozen.
But do you know what?
It makes you hardy for life,
having to smile for a photograph whilst freezing.
I'm not going in again!
One of the reasons why I find this place so peaceful is...
..you can go for a walk for five or ten minutes, 20 minutes,
and you find the most extraordinary things.
The Machrie standing stones is in the middle of this beautiful valley.
This feels like the heart of the island and, I mean,
they think these were probably erected about 2,000 BC,
no-one quite knows why they're here.
There's a theory about midsummer but,
you can just feel the history that for thousands and thousands of years
people have been coming and living and working on the land.
When you come and stand in this stone circle,
it's a slightly spiritual place.
And for me, this is one of the places
that makes me come back again and again.
The wildlife on this island is just, it is spectacular.
I've seen lots of beautiful things - seals, sharks, birds, red squirrels,
but I've never seen an otter.
And I understand this is the place where the otters hang out.
We're going to speak to Lucy Wallace,
who lives on the island, who is a bona fide otter expert.
-Nice to see you, nice to see you.
This is the place to be for otters, is that right?
It's a good place for spotting otters, yeah.
It's a rocky shore,
it's quite shallow.
We've got a lot of kelp beds out there,
stuffed with the kind of things that otters like to eat.
So, while we're waiting for the otters...
Please come out, I've never seen an otter. Please.
-..right over there...
-..are some rather happy seals.
Stunning common seals.
I think there's one lying on his back.
My cats do that, they just lie on their back on the sofa,
just enjoying themselves.
It's a tummy that needs tickling, isn't it?
I don't know if I would. So all you need to do now...
..is find me an otter.
Oh, no, it's a seal, it's a seal.
It's a seal. False alarm everyone, it was a seal.
It would be a good call, I think, if we were to pack up
and move along the coast a bit.
Right, let's do it.
There are otters to find.
Marching away as quick as we can.
Those covered rocks there, with the waves breaking,
an otter just came out onto those rocks and went back in again.
So straight in line with the lighthouse?
Straight in line with the lighthouse,
there's loads of sort of spray and surf.
Right on the top and he's eating a fish.
Wow! He's loving that.
It's quite far out, isn't it, actually?
-And you think it's a he?
Looks quite big from here, it's a long way off, can't be sure,
-but looks like quite a big individual.
My gut feeling is that that is a dog otter.
That's my first otter.
I'm so thrilled.
Thank you very much. I've been wanting to see an otter for years
and I've finally seen one. Sitting, bold as you like, having lunch.
Oh, he's shaking, he's on the next rock, yeah.
The next rock along.
Thank you so much.
Oh, that's grand.
There we go.
Sometimes getting out into the countryside, away from the rat race,
is just what you need to recharge the batteries.
And that's just what Michelin-starred chef Michael Caines
did when he headed into the wilds of Dartmoor.
Outdoor life has always been something I've thrived on.
Being in the environment of the kitchen with all that stress, work,
going out and taking a moment in and around this environment really
gives me inspiration, but it also gives me a chance to think.
I was born in Exeter, grew up in Devon.
So, these parts of Dartmoor and the surrounding area are pretty much
my playground as a child.
Wow, what a view.
So, this is Cranbrook Castle, it's a hillfort,
one of three in this area -
Hound Tor, Fernworthy, Chagford.
It's just incredible to see this landscape now,
stretching out to Devon.
I really get a sense of place and
a connection with this landscape, massively. Incredible view.
I've taken the time in the last sort of ten, 12 years,
to do wild camping.
Right, I'm ready to go.
You know, as a young man I was in the Cadet Force.
We used to come on Dartmoor doing point-to-point.
But I think, above all, it's a great reminder of a wonderful childhood.
We used to go, as just the boys with my father, on Dartmoor, camping.
When I look back, I think Father's not here any more, but in a way
there's lots of memories and lots of things that come back,
places that you've been to that you then suddenly remember.
Good spot for it, I think.
Hopefully the rain will hold off, at least until I get my tent up anyway!
I just love the atmosphere of the place,
the moods that it gives through the weather.
You can see the weather fronts coming in and you really sense that
different parts of the moor are experiencing different, sort of,
microclimates and you really get that.
It's very atmospheric.
Wow, what a completely different view this morning from last night.
It just shows how drama unfolds on Dartmoor with the weather cycle.
Here we are looking for some field mushrooms.
Here's a few, here.
Beautiful mushrooms, very tasty, very delicate.
I think the key thing is to remember you've got to know what you're
picking, and in this regard, field mushrooms are quite safe.
So I'm going to cook this Dartmoor steak
with our foraged field mushrooms.
There we go, got plenty.
So what I'm going to do is I'm going to oil and season the beef.
I've got just one pan to cook, so I'm going to griddle it.
This is going to be cooked in a few minutes,
so just get it nicely sealed.
Going to add some oil with the mushrooms,
and a little bit of seasoning, as well.
In they go.
It smells good.
I'm cooking for two.
Look at that.
We're pretty good to go, really.
For me, I feel connected to the landscape and the land,
and, of course, the produce which I use.
It's, yeah, stunning.
A bit like my steak!
From the floor of the deep valley, the climb up may be steep,
but it's worth it.
This is home, and there's something reassuring about being here,
in the landscape I know so well.
In the summer months,
I can't help but notice the gliders soaring in the clouds above me.
But I'm yet to experience a bird's-eye view over my own turf.
Seems a bit amiss, given that I've got the Cotswold Gliding Club right on my doorstep.
So I'm going to meet Gerry Holden,
who's probably been flying above my head for the last 20 years.
All looking present and correct, nothing's about to fall off?
Hello, Ellie. No, it's all there, it's all functional.
I've seen gliders up here for years and years.
Is this a good spot for gliders?
It's reasonably flat, which is good,
and the airfield's obviously fairly large,
and we do get good, strong thermals.
Explain the principles about how a glider works.
We obviously haven't got an engine,
so we have to be towed up behind an aircraft.
When we're up there, the biggest challenge is to stay aloft,
and what we're doing is we're flying on a column of rising air.
So all the birds go to that column of rising air,
circle in it and climb,
and gliders are absolutely no different.
That's on a good summer's English day.
We don't always get good summer's days, look at this.
So, really, we're ready to go, I think.
-If you're up for it?
I think so. I am quite nervous but I'm excited.
That's normal and to be expected.
So I want to get you settled in and comfortable,
so you know what you're doing and then I'll get in,
because I assume you want me to come with you.
I'd prefer it, I'd prefer it!
This will be a first for me.
I've never experienced my home patch from the air before,
and I can't wait to see it from a whole new perspective,
and while we wait for the runway to clear...
Well, it looks like we've got the weather that we need for flying,
but will you have the weather that you need this week?
Time to find out with the Countryfile forecast.
This week, we've been revisiting some of our most cherished places in
the British countryside, with the help of some famous faces.
I've been exploring the five valleys in the Cotswolds.
This beautiful countryside is where I grew up
and I'm still proud to call home,
and now I'm going to experience it as I've never done before -
from the air.
Here we go.
OK, that's us up and flying, Ellie.
Wow. That is smoother than I thought.
-Yeah, it's just taking my breath away a bit.
Oh, my goodness.
I've got to be honest,
my initial thought is that it's quite terrifying.
But once I see a familiar-looking landscape ahead of me,
it quickly takes my mind off things.
I think I can see my sister's house.
Oh, my goodness, I've never seen this view,
I thought I knew this place.
Someone's got a swimming pool down there.
There's my pub.
I can see my house.
It's grand seeing your house from the air.
It is. It's like nothing else.
-It's just awesome.
You wait till we release.
OK, we're about 1,400 feet now.
-We've got a little bit of climbing to do yet.
Just down there, I can see that's the Golden Valley.
Brilliant. It's amazing.
I think I finally have my nerves under control,
so Gerry's given me one rather daunting responsibility...
..to set us free.
-Is that it?
There he goes.
And we're on our own.
It's just us, the sky above, and the glorious Cotswolds below.
So there you go, what do you think of this then?
Wow, it's really extraordinary.
Once you start gliding, once you're on your own, what is it...
Are you looking for anything or feeling?
You can see that there are defined clouds with grey bottoms.
-Oh, yeah, I see those.
-We'll probably lift under those.
So you're sort of looking for clouds,
-that's your biggest giveaway, is it?
It's still taking my breath away.
It takes something to get used to it, doesn't it?
Yeah, yeah. This is great fun.
It feels just like flying as a bird of prey would.
There are so many buzzards in the valley near me,
and it's how I imagine it would be to fly with them,
using the thermals.
What an experience.
There's my piano teacher's house.
There's Jan. Hi!
Getting this view of the landscape I feel like I know and love so well,
has been an experience like no other, one I will never forget.
Seeing it in such a different light.
Feeling like one of the birds of prey that I admire from the ground.
Well, I hope you've enjoyed revisiting some
famous faces and their favourite places.
I hope you can join us next time.
All we've got to do now is land.
This week on Countryfile, Ellie Harrison sees her home county of Gloucestershire as she's never seen it before. She also looks back through the archives to the time when some well-known faces were asked which part of the county's magnificent countryside is special to them. DJ Edith Bowman visits Fife, comedian Susan Calman takes a trip to the Isle of Arran and chef Michael Caines wonders at the wilds of Dartmoor. Plus singer David Essex returns to his beloved Kent, Falklands veteran Simon Weston spends time in south Wales and actress Nina Wadia explores the Highlands.