The team visit England's most northerly county, Northumberland. Matt Baker looks into the area's bloody past, and Julia Bradbury is on the Wallington Estate.
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Northumberland - England's most northerly county.
Now it's a magical place with its ruined castles
and romantic moorlands, just right for rambling.
But it hasn't always been this peaceful.
Hundreds of years ago,
Border Reivers were the scourge of this countryside.
They raided the entire area
and no-one was immune from their attacks,
so local farmers build these,
bastle houses, to defend their livestock.
I'll be finding out what their remains tell us
about this county's violent past.
A few miles further east, I've come to the former home of
the unconventional Trevelyan family, and it's full of real treasures.
I'm going to be finding out
how you keep an estate like Wallington in tiptop shape,
and I'm meeting some of the latest additions.
Look at these.
John and I will be revealing the overall winner
of our annual photographic competition,
as voted for by you.
And we'll launch our Countryfile calendar.
It features all 12 finalists,
sold in aid of the BBC's Children In Need.
And Tom's gone to market.
Over generations, fortunes have been made and lost in these rings.
They're the places that gave our market towns their name.
But now, in many places in rural Britain,
they're under threat.
Meanwhile, Adam's gone apple picking.
I've seen all sorts of crops harvested, but never apples.
So I've come to Herefordshire to see how they do it.
I'm in the Northumberland National Park,
the most northern national park in England,
stretching from the Scottish border in the north,
to just south of Hadrian's Wall, World Heritage site.
But for all of its beauty,
Northumberland has been the site of endless wars.
Its landscape is scattered with reminders of the bloody battles.
As evidence of this violent history,
the area has more castles than any other county in England.
Today, I'm going to find out a little bit more
about its turbulent past,
and I'm starting my journey here in the Northumberland National Park,
in a place called Tarset,
which is one of the largest parishes in England,
with one of the smallest populations.
And you don't say. There's hardly anybody here.
For its 125 square miles, there are only 120 households.
It may be peaceful now, but for three centuries,
this area was a lawless and violent place to live.
Gangs of Scottish and English families called the Border Reivers
marauded and pillaged in order to survive.
This was a time of bloodshed, of cruelty, of brutality,
a fight for survival,
and sudden death.
These neighbours from hell launched bitter feuds
on each others' territory,
pinching their livestock, committing murder
and generally tearing up the neighbourhood.
These brutes made the cowboys of the Wild West
look like right softies.
The people here had to work hard to earn a living from the land,
and even harder to ward off attackers.
Rob Young's ancestors lived amongst them.
How violent was it?
There were a lot of people killed, lots of animals taken away.
I think the statistics...
Between 1504 and 1603,
there's something like 1,400 raids recorded.
When did this become a lovely place to live?
In 1609, there was a mass hanging of people over in Carlisle, I think,
and that was when the King put a stamp on the area, really,
and things calmed down after that.
But it always flared up, there was always trouble.
It was all clan-based, basically, kinship-based,
so if your kinship ties called you out to do a certain job,
you had to go.
-My lot, the Youngs, we were just small bit-players.
The Armstrongs and the Percys and the Dodds...
Yeah, a whole range of family names still around here
that were kicking lumps off one another.
-All good footballing names as well.
It might have something to do with that.
Remnants of the violent Border past
can still be seen in the Northumberland landscape today.
Back then, this area was right on the front line.
Can you imagine what it would have been like to live here,
with 300 Armstrongs charging towards you on horseback,
screaming at you to give them everything that you owned?
Well, I'm sure you'd agree, you'd batten down the hatches,
and you would do on one of these.
It's called a bastle house,
and Alistair Murray is king of the bastles
and, hopefully, he's in.
-How are you doing?
-Nice to see you.
Alistair, I've got to start with the thickness of the walls.
Yeah, the upstairs was actually thinner than downstairs.
Most of the downstairs was actually in excess of four feet thick.
The obvious thing with this building, it's all about defence.
It was defending your animals and your family.
And how old is this bastle house that we're in now?
Most of them in this valley were built in the late 1500s,
through, probably, to about 1625.
-Where would the animals be?
-They'd be down on the ground floor.
The actual farmers would live on the first floor,
the reason for that being that the heat from the animals down below
worked like a central heating system.
-Where's the windows?
-They deliberately didn't put windows in,
because the windows are the weak point.
That's a way in.
You had to reduce the number of places
where you could actually get into the building.
There'd be just one door, in the gable end,
the strongest part of the bastle.
-Right, yes, let's have a look at this, then.
-As you can see...
It's not very wide.
No, well, the cattle were very small then, you see,
and so were the people.
-A smaller door means there's less opportunity to get in.
It's much harder to get into a small doorway.
That's what it's all about, defence.
One defensive system would've been this thing,
-called a quench hole.
-A quench hole.
What would happen is, at night time, when they went to bed,
they would actually take water up there in buckets.
And if someone tried to set a fire here to burn the door...
Because this would have been wood?
A wooden door in here, very thick oak door,
what they would do is pour water in from the first floor up above
and it would come down through here, through the quench hole
and put the fire out.
-Brilliant piece of defensive engineering.
Visitors to the area can now go back in time
and explore the lands of the Reivers.
The Tarset Bastle Trail is eight miles long
and allows walkers to learn more about the incredible archaeology
lurking amongst the trees.
Although they stand testament to a violent past,
when life could be nasty, brutish and short,
bastle houses undoubtedly play a rich part
in Northumberland's unique cultural heritage.
A little bit later on in the programme,
I'll be visiting a bastle house that, back in the 1600s,
a farmer's boy like me could only dream of living in.
But first, Tom has been investigating the disappearance
of a rural tradition.
At the heart of almost every rural landscape is a market town.
For hundreds of years, they've provided a place for farmers
to come and sell their wares...
..first on the streets
and then in dedicated markets.
For farmers, livestock markets aren't just about buying
and selling animals, they're about trading gossip too.
Meeting some friends, buying some essentials,
and maybe having a pint with the chap from over the field.
It used to be a great privilege to be a market town,
an honour granted by Royal Charter.
But this way of life is on its way out.
Welcome to Hereford Livestock Market
or, at least, what used to be.
This town actually gave its name to a breed of cattle,
but you haven't seen them or any other beasts in here for over a year.
What you will see, in 18 months, is a new retail park,
complete with a cinema.
So, is this the future for all our market towns?
To help me find out, I've come to Abergavenny livestock market,
the latest at risk of biting the dust.
At their peak in the late '40s,
we had about 800 livestock markets like this in England and Wales.
Now we have just over 100.
It's a fascinating, cos it's a language I can't really understand.
I can't see the people bidding,
I can't really understand what they're going for.
It's gripping stuff, though.
For many livestock markets,
Foot and Mouth in 2001 was the cause of the their demise.
But in Abergavenny, it's got more to do with outdated facilities,
and the potential to make money from redeveloping the site.
AUCTIONEER CALLS BIDS
He's a real showman, he's like a rapper at the top of his game.
They've been putting on a show here since the 1860s.
But now, the livestock market looks destined to move out of town,
to be replaced here by a supermarket.
Farmers are divided over whether the move is the right way forward.
I don't like it at all, to be quite honest with you.
You know, I consider it a way of life,
I think they should keep it.
We need change. It's been here too long, it's old-fashioned.
-This place is old-fashioned?
-Yeah, it's gone...sell-by date.
It's a good idea, really,
cos there isn't much room for all the traffic and all the boxes
to get around, so it'd be good if we could get a new market
with a lot more room...
My idea, I think, would be to redevelop this here,
this site here, put a new market in it.
That way, we keep the market, the livestock market,
in the centre of the town, which I think is important to the town.
For some, better facilities are the priority.
Others want to save the town's traditional spirit.
And one determined group of locals is fighting hard
to stop the market going.
On a Wednesday, on market days, this town is buzzing, it's thriving.
If the market goes, we're really concerned that
that will have a really adverse effect on the town centre itself.
Abergavenny will just turn into another clone town.
'The campaign group, KALM,
'has its own ideas about the future of the site.'
Give me a vision of what this place could look like under your plans.
This could be such a fantastic site
for economic regeneration for the whole town.
It'll be a really buzzing, lively,
efficient market on market days, because that is what farmers need.
But when it's not being a market,
we could run breed shows here, we could run fur and feather days,
all sorts of other activities that will pull economic activity
into the town and provide a hub for regeneration.
But a lot of things have moved out of town,
and surely something that needs
so much space and transport links and all that,
as a livestock market, is a logical one to be on the outskirts?
It won't be on the outskirts, it'll be on a Greenfield site
in the middle of nowhere, with no ancillary business,
which won't provide any additional services
for the farmers who have to trade.
An argument that the council uses is that the town centre
is no place for animals any more, and as a farmer,
that makes me incredibly sad.
I think one of the challenges for the farming community
is that we have to reconnect with our customers,
we have to reconnect with our communities as a whole.
Linking farmers and communities through the market,
it's an inspirational idea,
but Monmouthshire County Council is sure it won't work.
As today's market wraps up,
I'm catching up with the council's deputy leader, Bob Greenland.
Well, this place is empty now, and if you get your way,
it will soon be demolished.
Why are you so keen to see it moved?
Well, I really feel that it has reached its end of life.
In the days and this was built, it was built as a local market
for Abergavenny and the surrounding areas.
But over the years, it's now become much more than that,
it's almost a regional market now.
We used to have five or six markets in Monmouthshire,
about 30 years ago.
They've all gone. This is the only one.
It's not just the number of animals that's the problem,
it's also their size.
The old pens are just too small for today's big beasts.
In this market, from time to time,
you get the problem of cattle jumping over the pens.
Now, that's a danger to the animals, obviously, but it's also a danger
to the handlers and anyone else who might be around.
And of course, in a modern market,
you don't encourage members of the public to be around.
Well, that's a really interesting point.
Are you trying to isolate the public from farming?
No, but what I'm trying to...
Well, that's going to be the effect if you take it out of town,
whereas here they can come through and see it in action.
Well, you've been here today.
How many members of the public have you seen around?
If you had the imagination to make it part of the society,
rather than put it elsewhere, couldn't that work?
No, it can't,
because you haven't got the size here to do all of those things.
But there's a little more to it than just the size.
It's also about the money.
Unless the council sells the market,
it simply won't have the funds for a new one,
either refurbished or rebuilt.
If the council get their way,
gatherings like this in Abergavenny
will be consigned to history.
So, if it closes, what will that mean for the town, its people,
and its farmers?
We'll be finding out a little later on.
It doesn't come much wilder or more rugged than Northumberland.
A vast county - endless skies over equally endless landscapes.
Step away from the wild places and there's a different kind of beauty.
This is Wallington Hall.
A place that would leave anyone lost for words.
Former seat of the colourful Trevelyan family,
it's now one of the National Trust's most popular houses.
Lloyd Langley is the house manager.
-Hi there, Lloyd. Lovely to see you.
-What a magnificent...pile!
-It is a truly magnificent place.
The house is the base of a huge estate that was given
to the National Trust by Sir Charles Philips Trevelyan
and the idea was that he wanted the estate to be open to everyone
to enjoy the landscape and to enjoy the house.
The Trevelyan family are a wonderful family.
They've been here since the 18th century.
They're very literary and artistic
but they're very forward thinking, they're visionary people.
Mostly liberals in the 19th century,
moving into socialism in the 20th century.
They were very keen that everybody should enjoy the arts
and literature and the countryside,
and they were key players in the Youth Hostel Association, countryside issues and environment.
-So, real pioneers.
The Trevelyans would have been a household name
in the middle part of the 20th century.
Politics and play, that was the Trevelyans.
Visitors these days can wander at their leisure through ornate rooms...
..ascend sumptuous staircases...
..and marvel at the architecture in the grandest of halls.
But Wallington is more than just a museum.
It's a living, breathing estate
with 15 working farms amongst its many acres.
Emma Gray runs one of those farms.
If she looks familiar,
it's because she was on Countryfile back in October last year.
Adam came here looking to buy a sheepdog.
A lively one called Blue caught his eye.
-A bit of a nip there, when she gets excited.
But that's all you're doing is controlling the wolf instinct in them.
There's always a little bit of that in the dog.
But you need that otherwise you wouldn't have much of a sheepdog.
Adam didn't buy Blue.
A year on, though, she looks like a different dog.
I must say, things have definitely improved, Emma.
Hi, good to see you!
Definitely improved with this one since we last saw her with Adam.
A different ball game altogether.
What would've happened
if you'd brought her into a field of sheep back then?
Complete carnage. They would have been upside down, over the walls.
But now, thankfully, a year down the line she can do everything,
she can do all my farm work now.
-Do you get on, the two of you?
-We do now.
For a long time, we didn't get on. She wasn't a friendly dog, she wasn't a loyal dog.
But since I've started working her,
she's appreciated that we have a partnership and now we get on like a house on fire.
There you go! Do you think, perhaps, that Adam made a mistake?
He thought that she was a bit too flighty for him.
I think at that stage, she probably was a bit quick
and rough around the edges.
I think at the stage she's at now, yeah, I think he would regret it.
Look at this, Mr Henson.
You might regret your decision, she's a bit of a winner.
'Working dogs are Emma's life. Even those that nobody else would want.
'This is Tip, he is missing one of his front legs,
'but you'd never guess.'
Lie down, lie down.
Lie down. Good boy.
-How long do you reckon...
Before he's passable?
Probably another eight months, ten months maybe.
We'll see how he does, and see how his leg fares out.
He's not a heavy-built dog so with a bit of luck, he should be OK.
Lie down, lie down.
'It's not just Tip that's been in the wars.
'Emma's only just back on her feet after a serious quad bike accident.'
-You broke your back?
I rolled a quad bike about 12 weeks ago and unfortunately,
it landed on me and broke my vertebrae
so I spent a while in a cast
and I've been off the farm for a little bit.
-You're very lucky to be standing here.
-Very, very lucky.
I got such a fright.
'Thankfully, Emma's made a full recovery
'and she's now able to give all her dogs her undivided attention.'
I'm chuffed with how Blue's coming along
and I think Tip is a cracking dog...
but this is what I'm really here to see.
-Oh, look at these!
-There we go.
'Go on, admit it. As you sit there at home, you're all going, "Aw!"'
Come on, come on.
They're some really unusual ones as well. A white-headed one.
-These are the sheepdogs of the future, Emma.
-They are indeed.
You're going to be working hard with these little monsters. Hello!
How long before their eyes open?
Well, they're ten days now so you can see they're starting to open up
a little bit but they're still stuck at the corners.
But I would think over the next couple of days,
they'll all be completely open.
-Did you plan this?
-No, this was accidental.
When I was down and out with my broken back,
-my dog and my bitch got together.
Thankfully, she's a good bitch and he's a good dog
so it's not the end of the world.
It's definitely not the end of the world!
But it did come as a surprise when she starred getting fatter and fatter!
-Emma, it's great to see you doing so well.
-And fully recovered.
See you next time.
All these acres, miles from anywhere might not be for everyone,
but working this patch of the ancient Wallington estate
is a dream come true for Emma, and it's the place she calls home.
The Northumberland National Park, a land of big skies,
of far horizons.
It covers 400 square miles of unspoilt,
almost empty countryside apart from the sheep.
There's lots to offer any visitor,
but for anyone looking for a permanent job in the park,
well, opportunities are few and far between.
But earlier this year, the National Park set up
the Young Northumberland scheme,
a local initiative to get a new generation interested in careers
in the great outdoors, and it gives them the rare opportunity of working
alongside the park's team of rangers.
I'm meeting Tony Gates, who was on the recruiting panel.
Tony, it sounds like a great scheme, this. Tell me more about it.
The scheme was really an opportunity to provide young people,
16 to 24, a chance to learn skills
and learn about job opportunities in the great outdoors.
-What kind of take-up have you had, then?
-We're absolutely overwhelmed.
We had over 140 applications for two short-term training opportunities,
and they came from all over the country.
That must have been a bit discouraging for the ones
who didn't get the job.
It's encouraging as an employer to see so many people interested
but, yes, it is worrying to see just how many people are keen
to get into a job and are struggling to find those opportunities.
That said, a ranger's post in a national park
is a pretty rare opportunity.
'Someone who wasn't put off by all that competition is Josh Higgins,
'a 19-year-old who came top of the list and is now hard at work.
'So keen was he, that he had no worries about moving
'from his family home in Shropshire
'to live and work in the wilds of Northumberland.'
Josh, there you are, took a while to find you.
-Big, empty place this, isn't it?
-It is, yeah.
What are you doing here?
Today we've just been putting in a new waymarking post.
-You get to wear a ranger's jacket.
-Pride and joy, the ranger's uniform.
You must have been thrilled to get this opportunity?
It was amazing, a real sense of achievement.
You know, this is my office and it's marvellous.
Do you think more young people would be interested in working
in the countryside if there were more schemes like this around?
Yes, when I left college and was applying for jobs,
everybody knows how hard it is so to come across a scheme like this,
that's aimed at young people like myself,
trying to get us into the countryside sector and get a first job,
was vital to me.
-And you were prepared to move a long way from home to get this job.
You have to sort of go where the jobs are.
And I was looking forward to the move,
getting the chance to go out and about more and fend for myself a bit.
I'll leave you to put on the final bits of your waymarker here,
-and all the very best for the future.
-Cheers. See you.
'There's also a highly-prized bursary scheme on offer here,
'a great opportunity that young photographer Will Nicholls
'was lucky enough to get. Today he's snapping the wild goats
'that are said to have roamed here since Neolithic times.'
-They are certainly fine-looking goats.
-Yeah, they're very striking.
Wonderful markings and very handsome beards.
Well, you're 17,
you're in the middle of your A levels at the moment.
How does this bursary fit in with all of that?
Yeah, a lot of time spent on photography, but obviously homework.
I need to work around it.
But my weekends are full up with taking pictures a lot of the time.
And what is going to be the end result of your photographs?
We'll be putting on an exhibition in Alnwick
and the shots will be able to be used in brochures, leaflets
and things like that
for the tourists coming to the park to have a look at.
So for now, you are the park's official photographer, are you?
Well, maybe, yeah.
So, how long have you been taking pictures, Will?
-I started in 2007, so when I was 12. I'm 17 now.
-All wildlife pictures?
Yeah, wildlife. Red squirrels are definitely my favourite subject.
They're so characterful. They've all got their own little personalities.
If they get angry with you, they run into the tree and start chucking,
making a clicking noise at you.
Do you want to be a professional photographer?
Well, I would love to work in natural history documentary
and production and be the next David Attenborough!
Really? Does he know this?
I sent him a letter once, and he replied, which was very nice of him.
-But I'm sure he gets a lot.
-Here come the goats again.
Will's getting some great shots here,
and we've seen thousands of wonderful images this year
sent into our photographic competition,
and later on, I'll be meeting up with Julia to announce the winners.
We'll be letting you know how to buy a copy of our calendar for 2013
which is made up of the very best pictures.
Of course, we sell it for Children In Need.
'I've been exploring some of the more obscure landmarks that Northumberland has to offer.'
Whilst the rest of Britain
were having a fairly civilised time in the late 1600s building stately homes,
in the wild northern uplands,
the Northumbrians were creating their own unique contribution
to British architecture.
'Bastle houses. Even the word sounds angry.
'Designed to cope with the danger from the Reivers, rustlers and thieves
'that terrorised the Borders. Now I'm heading to a rather fine example.
'It may not look much now, but back in the day,
'this was a real des res.
'And when it comes to Northumbrian architecture,
'Peter Ryder knows more than most.'
-Peter, how are you doing? Are you all right?
-Not too bad.
-I tell you, some trek up here, isn't it?
-It is, good place.
What a view! And it does beg the question,
how on earth did they get all of this heavy stone
up into this location?
A great deal of effort and manpower. That's basically it, I think.
-They didn't do sophisticated.
-Right, and this is quite a posh version,
-a substantial version.
I sometimes call them yuppy bastles. A bit grander than most.
And why would they be grander and bigger?
They would be people who had more available resources,
a bit more success with reiving, perhaps.
So what have we got in there, Peter, that has remained
that would give us a sense of what life was like in there?
There's one big stone in here still holding water, which I think is what
they call a slop stone,
which is the bastle equivalent of the kitchen sink,
or a vessel for holding water you might need
if you had visitors lighting a fire at night,
to extinguish that.
And you can see where the first floor would sit.
Yes, and above it are two little recesses in the wall.
You would put the salt box in one of those.
'The bastles weren't built on foundations,
'and the fact that some still stand
'is testament to pretty sturdy workmanship.'
Later in the programme,
I'll be upgrading from bastles to castles
as I explore more of the defensive legacies
of Northumberland's countryside.
'But first, many of our market towns are losing their identity
'as their livestock auctions close down.
'So where does that leave our farmers and our towns?
'Tom has been finding out.'
'Market day in Abergavenny.
'If the council gets its way, it could be one of the last.
'The land it is on is worth big bucks,
'and many believe 21st-century living
'simply does not sit well with a town centre full of farm animals.'
So if this market closes, where will the farmers sell their stock?
Well, there may not be the will to invest in our old markets,
but there seems to be cash around to build some brand-new ones.
'This is Hereford's new livestock market.
'It's replaced a derelict old one we saw earlier,
'and it's the sort of modern site that could replace Abergavenny's.
'This state-of-the-art market is in a rural spot
'on the outskirts of the city. It's twice as big as the old one
'and cost more than £7 million to develop.'
-Are they good cows?
-Very good cows. Nice and quiet to handle.
'It may be high-tech, but it runs like it has for centuries.
'There's only one way to drive the stock into the auction ring,
'and I am helping stockman Gary Gill do just that.'
-What would you expect these two to get?
'Gary's worked in markets like this for more than 30 years.'
Eh! Eh! Eh! Get on! Get on!
'Although even that experience doesn't guarantee good behaviour.'
They're a bit frisky!
Gary's happy with his new office, but what about the other farmers?
What does this market have that the old one didn't?
It's a better market, easy to unload, easier to load.
It's better for the animals, better for us, less stress for us.
It's a lot slicker here. It is new.
Everything is well thought out, as Owen said, the loading,
the unloading is so much easier.
-Time's moved on.
-It's the stress factor.
'But that doesn't mean they don't miss the old one.'
The old market is probably going to be replaced
by a cinema and shopping. What do you think of that?
Well, it's sad, sad times, isn't it?
I don't think it will help Hereford at all.
My wife is with me today.
She'd very often come to Hereford with me
and she'd spend the day in the town shopping,
whereas she very rarely comes to market now
because she knows it's strictly business here now.
'And at the end of the day, that's what it's all about - business -
'and business here is good.
'Former auctioneer Chris Dodds has seen moves like this
'taking place all over the country.'
The likes of Hereford Market are seeing
a much bigger throughput
in the last six months,
and that is down to the accessibility
and the service
and the facilities that the site's offering.
It's gone from being relatively awkward for a farmer to get in and out of.
That's all been overcome by a multipurpose functional building like this.
They're good pens, all modern steel,
easily cleansed and disinfected.
But isn't something lost when you move out of town -
a bit of the romance, a bit the ambience of the old place,
as well as business connections in the city itself?
Well, I think that you'll find that with most new sites,
the business connections have followed them to the new site.
'But what about the old market and the people who relied on it?
'There used to be a big community here,
'but this once-thriving space at the heart of the town now echoes
'with the crunch of broken glass underfoot.'
There was quite a few different retailers around here.
There was the beautician's, a tyre fitter's...
'Martin Hathaway used to run the Old Market Inn.'
'Like 12 other retailers, he had to move out when the market shut last year.'
And this was a business you know a lot about.
-Yes, this was my pub here.
-And what was it like on a market day?
Brilliant! Really great atmosphere.
Early in the morning when the first lot of cattle used to turn up
and the farmers, we used to open the gates,
they used to come in for their breakfast
and their early-morning drink, which is a bit of a shock some days!
-And how do you feel looking round now?
-It is so sad.
It's the first time I've been back since it's been closed,
and I can't believe how different it is and how sad it looks.
'When the shops and cinema are up and running here,
'this place will once again be thronging with people,
'but it will be a very different clientele to the days of old.'
The logic of modern farming, its scale and sophistication,
is pushing markets out of town,
but at a time when farmers are being told to get closer to society,
surely something is lost if this most dramatic part of their business
is driven further from the public eye.
Just across the county border from Herefordshire,
Adam's facing his own challenges.
With harvest finished, it's time to prepare
his Cotswold fields for the new year.
Harvest is over now and this is where we store our wheat.
This shed should be full of 1,000 tonnes of grain
and although this looks impressive,
for me, it's not, cos there's only 700 tonnes.
But it's not just farmers who suffer from the bad weather.
Unless you're a slug or a snail,
the weather's had a terrible effect on the wildlife we support on the farm
and that means my fruit trees are suffering.
I only have a few apple trees in the garden,
but the cold weather and rain has meant fewer insects
pollinating the flowers and slow growth of the fruit.
The few apples I get this year,
will only be good enough for my pigs and they love them,
but what if this was my crop?
I want to find out
how it's affecting my neighbour's fruit harvest.
I'm visiting Westons Cider in Much Marcle in Herefordshire.
They're busy harvesting thousands of apple trees.
How's it working then, Sam?
Well, as it goes along, the jaws grab the tree
and gives it a really vibrating shake, and that's it.
-They're nearly all out.
-All the apples fall down.
We used to have to do it years ago with what we call a hook lug,
a long pole with a hook on and shake it and it used to take for ever.
You could be in there for ever.
And your arms would hurt, everything, but this, it's amazing.
And what are they like to eat?
You try one and you'll get a sweet taste to start with
and then a very bitter taste and you will dry your mouth out.
Mmm, I'm getting it, I'm getting the sweet and now I'm getting the bitter.
-What's the crop like this year?
The crop is good but the apples are small
because of all the rain we've had.
I was told, Sam, that when Alnwick the apple trees were in flower,
the bees weren't flying because of the rain
and therefore, there's a lack of fruit, is that true?
Well, they didn't pollinate the eating apple orchards,
but cos the cider apples are always later than eating apples,
cider apples come out on top really, they were all OK.
-So because they come into flower earlier...
-They flower earlier than what the cider apples do, yes.
-So, you got away with it?
-We did, we were very lucky.
Goodness me, amazing.
Once the apples are harvested, Sam hoovers them up.
And then they're sent down the road to be made into cider.
I'm following the apple trail.
They're tipped onto a conveyor belt, washed and crushed up into a pulp.
The pulp goes into this massive press that squashes it together,
the juice comes out the end that goes to making cider
and then what's left behind is pomace that falls down into here,
if I can get some!
This is it. Smells delicious and my pigs love this stuff.
I'm going to give my pigs a treat and take them some pomace.
-Hi, Adam. You got your pomace? Are these three bags all right?
Great, for my pigs? Wonderful.
-Great, well, thank you.
-OK, thank you very much.
Come on, then. Come on, then!
Come on, then! Look what I got for you!
Pig, pig, pig!
Come on, then, piggies. Come on, then.
There's a good pig.
This wet summer has just had a devastating effect on agriculture,
not just arable crops like I've got,
but fruit and vegetables, root crops as well.
And it's not just the yield,
but it's also the quality and now the rain just goes on.
Some people still haven't finished harvest and others like me
are desperately trying to plant next year's crop.
This is really serious.
But the weather's not terrible for all species.
A couple of creatures that have done well this summer
are snails and slugs.
Due to a mild winter, they got off to a good start
and then it was wet and warm all summer, which was ideal for them.
'I'm often reduced to using slug pellets, but Sarah Beynon thinks there's another solution.
'She studies bugs and insects for a living.
'She wants to educate farmers like me
'about the benefits of creepy-crawlies to the farms.
'he's set some traps to show me what's lurking amongst my fields.'
This is just a piece of board laid on the ground
and then we've got some feed underneath them
to attract the slugs in.
So we've got a few slugs hiding underneath the board here.
Quite a lot of these are your problem slugs and those are the ones
that will be eating crops, roots and potentially seeds as well.
Sarah thinks the answer to this problem lies in the natural world.
She wants to show me the benefit of having more field margins.
Hopefully, we're going to find some slug-busting beetles.
Sarah sets pitfall traps,
essentially a cup in the ground with antifreeze in.
Now, if I can get you to hold them
-while I get some things out of my bag.
-You've caught quite a few!
'The insects fall in,
'meaning Sarah gets a good idea of what's around.'
-Backpack full of goodies!
-Most people have sandwiches, you have...
Yeah, no room for sandwiches.
'The antifreeze kills them, which is unfortunate, but necessary.
'If it didn't, they'd eat each other.'
Cool, so, these are the ground beetles
and we've got about 350 different species of these in the UK.
These guys are great, they are really, really vivacious predators.
They will be going round munching on all of your pest insects and your slugs as well.
-They're quite big, aren't they? Look at that!
-Yeah, absolutely. There we go.
They're great, they're the kind of tigers and lions of the insect world.
They'll live in these margins and then go out into the fields that's their dinner plate?
Yes, they will.
So these margins are really, really important for these beetles
because they provide them with overwintering habitats,
they provide them with somewhere to hide, like you say,
in the daytime as well,
but the problem is that with the loss of field margins,
we're losing these species of beetle as well,
they're in severe decline in the UK and abroad
and we are starting to see problems with increased pest numbers
because they are not able to control them.
-Are these really the only beneficial beetles on the farm?
-No, not at all.
A huge number of insects are doing you good,
and in particular, there's a group of beetles
that I think are my favourite and those are the dung beetles.
I've got plenty of dung, let's go and find some dung beetles.
'Sarah loves dung.
'When she sees a cowpat, she doesn't see a smelly mess.'
To me, that's a really good dung pat!
'She sees a species-rich habitat.'
Right, what you want is, you want some dung that's a few days old
-for the species we're going looking for now.
Yes. I'll get some gloves on. Would you like some gloves?
I'll hold onto whatever you find, I'll let you do the delving,
being the expert and everything.
We just want to lift the dung up and have a look what's in underneath.
-There we go.
-One poohy dung beetle.
-Slime him onto your hand!
This is Aphodius contaminatus, it's a nice, little, spotty dung beetle
and they will live within the dung pat itself,
feeding on the dung, and by that,
they'll shred the dung across the pasture,
-which means that it's much more easily broken down by rain and weathering...
..so if you can utilise that and get those nutrients back into the soil,
then these guys are really, really saving you a lot of money.
'For Sarah, one dung beetle is not enough.
'She thinks she can find a dor beetle, the biggest in the UK.'
-No, a bit dry.
-It's actually quite exciting.
Going out for a walk with me is never your normal walk!
Probably a little bit fresh to be honest.
-Look at that.
-Oh, my word! It's alive with them!
A writhing mass of dung beetles.
Right, this is a proper British dung beetle.
Look at the size of him!
He's a big bruiser.
And does that mean these pastures are pretty healthy, then?
Yeah, the fact that these beetles are here,
is a really good sign for your farm.
There we are, that is one serious beetle.
And great news that we've got them on the farm.
'Next week, I'll be looking back at 50 years of life on the farm
'with my dad.'
You may not have heard of Wallington Hall, I hadn't,
but it's one of Northumberland's real treasures.
I spent a day here and I'm mightily impressed with what I've seen.
There are sumptuous state rooms, grand furniture
and cabinets full of curiosities.
Never mind the finery, the architectural delight,
the Wallington Estate has got conservationists
falling over themselves.
This is the River Wansbeck,
it flows right through the Wallington Estate
and it's home to a very rare creature.
I'm joining scientist Stephen Morley and his team in an effort to find it.
What are you fishing for?
Well, would you believe it,
we are looking for the native white-clawed crayfish,
which are very abundant in this stream.
That's because the Wansbeck
is one of the white-claw's very last strongholds.
They were once widespread throughout the UK,
but now they are found in just a few isolated streams.
Oops, hang on, here we have one. I'm going to bring it over to you.
Look at that!
-That's a good size!
-It's a very large one, actually.
-Now, I'm quite familiar with these fellows...
..and I know they're in trouble across the country.
Yes, that's right.
So, what are they doing here?
Well, we have a very good population of them here.
We have very clean rivers, fairly low-intensity farming
and the perfect conditions for white-claws
with the nice rocky bottom and clean water.
-So they are thriving up here.
There is a very strong population.
Of course, the big problem are the American cousins.
The signals, they're bad news, I'm afraid.
and over here,
the American signal crayfish
is the bigger, more bruising cousin to our natives.
They were brought to the UK in the '70s as the next big food fad,
but they spread like crazy and have been bullying our boys ever since.
'Our native crayfish are prone to disease,
'so disinfecting my wellies before I get in the river is vital.
'I'm only able to help with this survey today,
'because Stephen has a licence to handle crayfish.'
'They're a protected species and it's illegal to go near them.
'But as long as Stephen's here, I'm allowed to touch.'
Let me see if I can catch him here.
'Easier said than done, though.'
I guess that's not the reaction that you are looking for!
It's just funny, that feeling as they sort of lurch...
It's a natural instinct. They are quick.
-They are VERY quick.
-Here we go. It's a medium-sized girl.
If this was a signal it would have probably nipped me several times by now.
They're much more aggressive and when you reach to pick them up,
a signal will rear up and try and go for you.
They'll go for you, whereas the white-claws are meeker.
What's the flapping of the tail, a "let me go" signal?
It's trying to escape. If it's in the water, that would shoot it backwards
quite quickly, and they can escape very fast backwards through the water.
'A check is made for disease.
'The sex is determined and the crayfish is measured.
'All this info helps give a picture of how well the crayfish are doing.
'Habitat is important too - plenty of gravel and rocks to hide under,
'clear, pristine water.
'And that benefits other wildlife.
'Team member Matt Watson has spotted telltale signs of otters -
'piles of crunched-up crayfish.'
What have we got here, then?
Oh, little bits of crayfish!
-This is an otter feeding station.
-So this is good news
in terms of the health of the river and the ecosystem, as it were.
-But not such good news for the crayfish.
-In theory, no.
Cos an otter can go through maybe 20, 30 crayfish in a night,
-which this is evidence of...
But certainly pollutions and things are big threats,
but the main one is this single crayfish.
'The native crayfish are here in good numbers, though.
'They're breeding and the habitat is just right.
'But what does the future hold?'
I think it may go the way like the grey squirrels,
I think they might be slightly doomed.
Yeah, at the moment unless we come up with a really good
way of controlling the invasive species getting into the rivers,
then it's going to be hard to maintain the population.
Our native crayfish may be losing the battle nationally,
but here on the Wallington Estate, they're holding out...
for now, at least.
Well, I can't spend all day saving crayfish, I've got a Craven to meet.
It's time to find out who is the winner of the Countryfile photographic competition.
Be free, my man, be free.
A staggering total of around 50,000 entries were sent in by you,
the Countryfile viewers.
These are the final 12 chosen to star in our Countryfile calendar
which we sell in aid of Children in Need.
The 2012 calendar raised £1.2 million.
Details of how to buy the 2013 calendar in a moment.
But first, let us just reflect in the glory of these stunning photographs.
Of course, you were one of the judges, along with Jo Brand and Chris Packham.
-What a day!
You had a shortlist of 3,000 and you had to get down to these final 12.
-One of the hardest days of the year, not kidding.
-I'm sure! Oh!
Now if you had been one of the judges, Julia,
which one of these would have been your favourite?
-Because we had to pick our overall choice.
-Such a difficult task.
I have long been a fan of black-and-white photography
and this I find very appealing and a very striking image.
-It would be that one.
-That was certainly on our shortlist, but this was the overall winner
because we had to be unanimous and this startling
photograph of a rainbow hitting the side of a glen in Scotland,
well, it took our breath away.
It's a magnificent piece of composition.
Taken by Jean Burwood.
Jean Burwood, congratulations to you.
£500 worth of photographic equipment coming your way
and of course, most impressive of all, you impressed our judges.
Now it is the big moment - which photograph did you, the lovely viewer at home,
pick as your number one?
And this is it - the clear winner by your telephone votes,
this wonderful picture of a badger
strolling along a country lane
with a fantastic arch of trees behind it.
So unusual to get such a clear picture of a badger in broad daylight.
And the man to get the credit is Dave Foker,
he took the picture
and he gets £1,000 worth of photographic equipment.
-Well done, Dave.
-Now, show us the actual calendar, reveal everything!
Well, here it is.
This is it with that photograph on the cover,
the BBC Countryfile calendar for 2013.
It costs nine pounds
and at least four pounds of that will go to Children in Need.
And you can start ordering your copies right now.
You can do that by going to our website, that's...
..or by calling the order line on...
To order by post, send your name, address and a cheque to...
And please make your cheques payable to "BBC Countryfile Calendar".
You'll find all that information on our website.
But now here's the Countryfile forecast for the week ahead.
I hope it's not THAT cold.
This week we're in Northumberland.
Julia's been exploring the wildlife whilst I've been hearing about the border battles which have left
the area with a rich and colourful heritage.
But I'm going upmarket now from bastles to castles,
taking a look at a restoration project at Cartington Castle.
Now I'm off to meet a local dad and his son who are award-winning
stonemasons and they're using traditional methods to keep
Northumberland's characteristic heritage alive.
Mike's passion for historic buildings was captured by Pathe News
in the 1950s when his folks bought the ruins of nearby Blenkinsopp Castle.
NEWSREEL: 'Once a proud setting for the colourful splendour of medieval pageantry,
'but today a fairy-tale home for the Simpson family who bought it
'for the price in most towns of a comparatively flimsy terraced house -
'just under £2,000.'
Has dad was born in a castle.
His mum was born on the estate of a castle
and Mike still lives in this very castle.
We've all heard of tree huggers, well, believe me,
Mike is an out-and-out stone hugger.
Mike, let me apologise to you
-for showing the nation your knobbly knees.
-But you want to apologise for the shirt, don't you?
I remember the shirt was given to me by the director
who came to do the film.
Oh, right! Why was that?
Because it was one of the first colour ones that Pathe had done, I think,
and I didn't have a shirt like that, so they actually gave me that shirt...to put on.
I will always remember that, I was only nine years old.
-I can remember that.
And how did your whole connection with stonemasonry, how did that come about?
My father was one of these old-fashioned guys who made me go out and get a trade.
And because of living in a castle all this time,
I had, like, an affinity with the stones, if you like.
This is just fantastic, Cartington is an absolutely fantastic example.
The sort of staff should be preserved for people to come,
and this will last for another 100 years.
And that gives me tremendous satisfaction.
For the job in hand here at Cartington, son Gary is
cooking up a batch of traditional hot lime mortar -
the very stuff that's kept the stones Mike loves to hug standing for all these years.
'So, as the new apprentice, take a load of limestone
'burn at 180 degrees to create quicklime.
'Stir into sand and water and there you have it.'
That is boiling!
-You're steaming up!
I'm all steamed up.
Right, that's just about ready.
-OK, so this is where you have got to, then, Gary?
-Yeah, this is us.
A little bit of lime. Right back in.
-Do that down first of all, yeah?
I have to say, as a 14-year-old lad, I did spend my entire summer
reappointing the front of our farmhouse.
So you know what you're doing a little bit?
I thought you were doing pretty well.
You do quite a bit of work on Hadrian's Wall, don't you?
Yeah, we do a lot. The hardest part of that is getting the work done
with everyone wanting to stop to know what you're doing and why you're doing it.
But that's a fantastic place to work.
You get to meet people from all over the world, so, yeah, lovely, lovely place to work.
And what a job to be doing.
To be conserving things like castles, like Hadrian's Wall,
for people for generations to come to enjoy.
You've got to think that some of the stones and when they were put in.
With Hadrian's Wall, you're looking at a couple of thousand years ago,
the man who put that stone, laid that stone down
and it's been there since then
and you're now lifting it up and putting it back in again.
-It's pretty spectacular.
And what note to finish on because that is all we have got time for from Northumberland.
Next week we're going to be in Hampshire finding out
about a generation of film-makers who have changed
the way that we look at the natural world for ever.
Hope you can join us then.
Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd
The Countryfile team visit England's most northerly county, Northumberland.
Matt Baker looks into the area's bloody past and finds out why farmers were forced to build stone Bastle Houses to protect their families and their livestock.
Julia Bradbury is on the Wallington Estate, where she delves into the history of the estate as well as seeing what is being done to protect the local white-clawed crayfish population.
John Craven is in Northumberland's National Park meeting their newest ranger, and he also reveals the winners of this year's photographic competition, along with details of how to get hold of the calendar which is sold in aid of Children in Need.
Adam is on his farm in the Cotswolds seeing how an understanding of dung beetles could help boost his crops, and Tom Heap investigates the disappearance of livestock markets.