Countryfile heads to the wild, rugged and dramatic landscape of Northumberland. Julia Bradbury unpicks the history of this ancient kingdom.
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Northumberland - wild, rugged, dramatic.
From its moorland to its coastline,
its beauty belies violent times.
This county experienced a terrifying new threat
carried in on the sea,
a new breed of fearsome invader who've never really gone away.
I'll be unpicking the history and language of this ancient kingdom.
All right, you lot, I'll see you later.
Further inland and 1,000 years on,
a different type of warrior fought the good fight for green energy.
Back in 1878, a pioneering Victorian came up with a revolutionary plan
to use the power of water to power his house.
It was the first homegrown hydroelectric scheme in the world
and now, 135 years later,
plans are afoot to fire it all up again.
Tom's investigating the impact of 21st-century travel.
This classic landscape is scheduled for a dramatic change.
It is on the proposed route of the new high-speed rail link.
So are the claimed long-term benefits of HS2 -
both economic and, yes, environmental -
really worth the disruption to the British countryside?
I'll be investigating.
And Adam is finding out how science can help preserve rare breeds.
There is some pretty special work going on in this laboratory.
Down here are vats full of liquid nitrogen
and with this science and technology,
I'm going to be finding out how they are preserving
some of our British rare farm animals.
Northumberland a place where the voices of the past
seem to echo across the landscape.
Hurry up, buds, we're waiting for you
You have lang since seen the sun
It's been a fair while since you made us smile
and helped the smile borns run
What fair hand keeps you from the cold inside yon branch so thin?
Wer'ist watches o'er ya, Ta mak sure you always win?
Today I'm venturing to some of the most remote parts
of this ancient kingdom, from the hills to the coast.
It's England's northernmost county,
where every view tells a tale.
Don't be fooled by all this wonderful scenery, though,
Northumberland has seen more bloody battles
than Russell Crowe in Gladiator
but it is through those power struggles
that the seeds were sown for a United Kingdom.
To get to grips with its turbulent past,
I am going to take a brief trip back in time.
A couple of thousand years ago and the Iron Age is in full swing.
England is a brilliant place to live.
There's fertile land,
fresh water and even the option of fishing from the coast -
a plentiful source of Omega threes.
Then the Romans arrive and really shake things up.
They built a massive wall to lay claim to their empire,
named after some bloke called Hadrian.
But, by 500 AD, the Romans are disappearing from Britain,
leaving land and power up for grabs.
Cue the Angles, a bunch of Germanic invaders who managed to conquer
much of Roman Britannia and divvy it up into seven kingdoms.
It was even the Angles that gave England its name.
Those seven kingdoms are controlled by a horde of warlords
and leaders but there are some that deserve a special mention.
Oswui, now he's a feisty one.
He conquers an area well beyond his original patch
and creates a super kingdom called Northumbria.
It stretches from the Humber in the south to Edinburgh in the north
and all the way to the River Mersey in the West.
Then Edwin steps in.
All the rulers up to this point have been Pagan
but Edwin takes a fancy to Christianity
and becomes the first Christian king in northern England.
Before you know it, there's a new king on the scene.
This one is called Oswald,
also keen on Christianity and he wants to spread the word.
And that's where this place comes in -
Lindisfarne, or Holy Island,
the perfect peaceful setting for a monastery...
at the King's request.
Lije on Lindisfarne is governed by the tides,
cut off twice a day from the mainland.
No doubt this appealed to the first monk who arrived here, St Aidan.
Around 665 AD, St Cuthbert takes his place
and the island soon attracts hordes of pilgrims.
But, for the monks who lived here full-time,
this wasn't always an easy place to survive.
What was life like on the island?
How would they have lived on a day-to-day basis?
Well, I think in the seventh century it would have been quite tough
but then it was tough for everyone.
They needed to be self-sufficient.
So they had to grow crops, they had to raise their animals.
They would have needed to store things as well,
during the very severe winters sometimes.
So they were living in a kind of village of their own here.
Most people think that originally it was just monks and then, eventually,
other people came and joined them over the course of the years.
Would it have been quiet, peaceful and serene,
or more hustling and bustling than that?
I think it was possibly a bit of both.
They had their own quiet moments but obviously life had to go on.
They had to raise animals
and do the ordinary things that people had to do to live.
Certainly, later on,
the monks who were here would have traded with other people.
The island has its own marketplace
and that related to the mainland,
which is still known really as Island-Shire.
So there is a big connection between the mainland
and the island during the Middle Ages and later.
And, of course, they were seamen as well. They knew how to navigate.
What is it like to be the vicar
in a place that is known as the cradle of Christianity?
It's an enormous privilege. But it's very, very enjoyable.
I think it's just to absorb the atmosphere.
And really to witness all the different changes in the days,
in the weather, in the colours.
It is an amazing place to be.
It all seems rather idyllic for the monks, doesn't it?
Well, that's about to change.
Vikings. They're a noisy lot!
In 793, the Vikings made their first attack against Britain.
They landed right here, at this harbour on Holy Island.
They pursued all the usual Viking activities,
destroying, killing, pillaging.
But the fact they had chosen such a holy place as their target
shook the kingdom to its core.
"Never before has such terror appeared in Britain as now
"have suffered from a pagan race.
"The heathens poured out the blood of saints upon the altar
"and trampled on the bodies like dung in the streets."
This was the beginning of a 200-year Viking assault on Britain
that would change the country for ever.
All right, you lot, that's enough. Shove off.
The Vikings may have left but their language hasn't.
Later on, I'll be learning more about the Northumbrian dialect.
Now, because we are in a different place every week on Countryfile,
we understand the importance of being able to get around Britain
but how do you balance the need for new, efficient types of transport
like high-speed railways with the protection of the countryside?
Tom has been finding out.
TRAIN WHISTLE BLOWS
The sight of a steam train wending its way through the countryside
still evokes thoughts of a romantic past,
when people were happy to trundle along at a more leisurely pace.
But these days, it is all about life in the fast lane.
And it is heading towards us at a thunderous 225mph
in the form of HS2, Britain's latest high-speed rail link.
And that is more than nine times faster than this dignified old boy
can muster here on the Kent and East Sussex Railway.
Plans were first announced for a high-speed link to from London
to Birmingham in 2009 and now phase two has been revealed.
It'll significantly reduce journey times to the North
and supporters say rejuvenate the economies of the English regions.
Some even claim it'll be carbon neutral.
But it won't come without a cost.
The newspapers are full of stories of homes under threat
and precious views in danger. I want to find out more
about its impact on the countryside and the people who live there.
At Great Haywood in Staffordshire,
they've recently finished building a marina.
Don't get castaway! Oiya!
The trouble is, there are plans to build a raised line
for High-Speed Two right through the middle of it
and through the brand-new nature reserve they've created alongside.
What are the different environments you are creating here?
We've created a corridor of wetlands.
It's only two-and-a-half years old.
Obviously, nature takes care of it
and eventually everything will grow very well.
Ironically, just as it reaches fruition in ten-plus years,
it could, in effect, have a roof over the top.
We'd have quite a bit of impact on it.
What about some of the animals you are trying to encourage?
We've just seen a badger sett appear.
On the waters edge we've created an otter halt.
In the trees, we've got bat boxes and down towards the elm tree,
we've got an owl box.
After all their hard work creating this haven for wildlife,
how do Jeff and Steve feel about the possibility of losing it?
Just at the point
where we're reaping the benefits of all the hard work,
now we're confronted with, as you say, a roof over
the top, that at the moment, it is hard to get your head around.
because we don't know what the shape of this thing is going to be.
Steve and Jeff are by no means the only people
concerned about the impact of High-Speed Two.
A project this big will undoubtedly have huge implications
for our natural environment.
Should phase two go ahead as planned, the Wildlife Trust
say at least 65 important wildlife sites will be directly affected.
Then there is the visual impact on the landscape - the line will
cut through beautiful countryside and precious green belt.
Indigenous habitat will be lost with the line running through
15 ancient woodlands like this one
and at least one site of special scientific interest.
Then there is the impact on people who make their living
from the land, like here at Tithe Barn Farm in Staffordshire.
-So what are we up to this morning?
-Well, we've got to feed the cattle.
They've got to be fed.
They're more interested in what's going to happen in the next
-They are indeed.
Tony Parrott has been farming here since 1994, but the latest phase of
High-Speed Two is set to run straight through his farm
and his farmhouse.
He's worried about the future of his business.
It's a bit of a shock.
We can't affect whether it happens or not.
We've got to try and keep in business while it is coming through
and when it's gone through.
The disruption, I don't know what's going to happen. It's early days.
It's 13 years to go yet.
All these questions have got to be answered.
Is that the point really, the not knowing that makes it awkward?
We're in limbo.
If we want to extend the farm buildings, we can't do it
because we're not allowed to do any...
We won't be compensated for anything we do once the Act has been passed.
From talking to Tony,
there is obvious concern about the physical damage the line might
do to the landscape,
but also worries about how you run a business in
a state of limbo when you don't know what the future is going to hold.
People like Tony can let their views be known
in one of the upcoming public consultations.
They'll weigh local feeling against the cost and practicality
of moving the line. This is not the UK's first high-speed rail line.
Anyone remember High-Speed One or the Channel Tunnel rail link?
Later on, I will be finding out
if there are any lessons we can learn from here.
While Julia is exploring the Northumberland coastline,
I am inland discovering a place places that's in sharp contrast
to the rugged moorland that surrounds it.
1,000 acres of North American pine trees. Himalayan Rhododendrons.
A foreign landscape carved into a rocky hillside.
Cragside House and grounds was built 150 years ago.
If you live outside the Northeast,
chances are you'll not have heard of the man who created all of this.
He is, without question, an unsung hero.
His home is often referred to as
"the Palace of a modern magician."
Lord William Armstrong was an extraordinary Victorian.
Born in 1810, this self-taught Geordie was an industrialist
and an engineer, coming up with ideas well ahead of his time.
In 1845, Armstrong invented the hydraulic crane.
A system which utilised high-pressure water to
greatly increase the power
and efficiency of the cranes on Newcastle's busy quayside.
It was that fascination with the power of water that lead
to his next invention.
To find out about that, I need to take to the water.
Good morning! Who's rowing, me or you?
-You're going to be doing the work!
-All right, after you. In you pop!
Local expert and historian, Andrew Sawyer,
has worked at Cragside for 25 years.
What inspired him initially?
Fishing became a lifelong passion,
so he was able to study water and as he got into adulthood,
he realised the inefficiency of waterwheels.
Only using about five percent of their potential.
It was an amazing revolution to him really, that you could use
the power of water instead of the steam engine, for example.
He thought it was a monstrous waste of coal with the steam engine
having to power the steam engine and, of course,
you could use water to do a lot of those things.
Here at Cragside, Armstrong put those ideas into practice.
By bringing water off the moors
through clay pipes and wooden flumes...
..he created this lake.
And this is the outlet.
From here the water would plummet 103 metres down.
When it reached the powerhouse,
the energy it carried was turned into electricity.
Monumental for its time.
It was real ground-breaking stuff.
Cragside really is the home of hydroelectricity.
And even the home of renewable energy, because I guess he was
doing this 100 years before anybody else had started to think about it?
Yes. He was talking about wind power and tidal power
and solar power as well as hydropower.
They'd cracked hydropower,
but they thought solar, wind and tidal would have to be left
to another generation to sort out and we're still trying to sort it out.
-We need him back, don't we?
-Yes, we certainly do!
Thanks to Armstrong's forward thinking,
Cragside House was the first household to lit by hydropower.
Today, it is owned by the National Trust
and the team are busy preparing to open its doors to the public.
'I am here just in time to uncover the original lamps.'
-And there they are. They are beautiful, aren't they?
They were originally oil lamps and Armstrong converted them
to use for the hydroelectricity.
So there was a base of mercury in the bottom and an insulated wire
that went up through the centre, linked to the incandescent lamp
and then the circuit flowed through the outer of the lamp,
which is copper. So they would be lit,
but if you wanted to switch them off,
you'd have to lift the lamp up to break the connection.
It was a bit of a dodgy situation, but it worked.
Health and safety was not high on his agenda,
but he was a pioneer when it came to labour-saving devices.
It was an incredible place to live. It was ahead of its time.
It's hard for us to imagine today how ahead of its time it was.
He even put a hydraulic system into the house which gave it
heating, hot water and this lift.
Inconceivable at the time!
It was said that it was this house that introduced
the concept of modern living.
With all these gadgets, you can understand why!
For 60 years, the house was powered from the lakes that Armstrong
created. Today it is connected to mains electricity.
But this year, Dave Mann is installing a new hydroelectric
system that will light up the house once again.
Dave, how similar is this scheme to this scheme that
Lord Armstrong had here initially?
It's in the same location, using the same pool of water from the
dam and it is the same flow of water that has been here for centuries.
What's different is the machine itself is a much more modern,
efficient turbine which will extract much more energy from the water.
This huge screw will turn with the fall of the water,
to produce enough energy to power all the lights in the house.
It's quite an exciting scheme,
doing it here where this whole idea was born?
It's very exciting.
Armstrong was an inspiration to all engineers
and hydropower engineers around the world.
In a few minutes' time, we'll finally be able to bring hydropower
back to Cragside where it all began.
In another part of the estate,
they're restoring Armstrong's beautiful pathways.
I will be finding out how later.
Northumberland - a landscape shaped by its history.
It's been conquered, divided,
re-won and marched upon for the last 2,000 years.
And even the holy island of Lindisfarne
saw its fair share of violence.
It was right here at this little fishing harbour that the
Vikings landed and launched their first attack against Britain,
spilling the blood of holy men on the religious altars.
Luckily, things have quietened down a bit since then!
Someone who has enjoyed this peaceful shoreline all his life
is Tommy Douglas.
He's fished from Lindisfarne harbour for more than 50 years.
But these days,
he's got a cosy spot mending lobster pots for the family business.
-Tommy, good afternoon to you, sir! How are you?
-Not so bad, now.
-It's very cosy in here.
-It is. We've got plenty of heat.
-So, is this where you spend most of your time now?
-Yes. All day.
-Not out on the boat any more?
In the summer time, I go to the salmon and sea trout.
For the rest of the time, you're doing your sewing in here?
Mending the pots for my two sons.
I look after the wooden ones, else I wouldn't have them now,
because it would take too much work.
Working on them would be too much bother.
They've all got metal ones now that last longer.
-If it wasn't for me, mending these wooden ones...
-They would be over!
-How many pots have you got?
-More than 1,000.
-And who taught you to do this?
-My father, my father taught me.
From when you leave school
and we were taught before we left school! Really!
Then you just pick up your own style along the way?
You pick up your own style and if you made a mistake,
you had to do it again.
Old men! The old men made you do it right!
All the way down the coast, it is a different make.
If you pick a pot up that's washed ashore, you know where it's
come from and what make it is from, Berwick Seahouses or somewhere.
-You can just tell?
-You know the make of them.
Do you miss being out on the sea every day?
I miss it right enough, aye. I miss it.
-Bound to be when you've done it all your life.
-Yeah, of course!
Since I left school.
It's being away from home for over 20 years,
-we had a trawler and we fished away from home.
Did your wife know who you were when you came back?
-She didn't know where I was half the time!
-I bet she didn't!
Sleeping in your own clothes all week,
stinking of diesel oil and fish.
I don't know if I could do that, I must say. Some life!
It's a good life. It's what you're used to, it is what you've been
brought up and bred with.
Show me how you do this then, as you're one of the few people left
actually fixing lobster pots now. What's the secret?
Put your twine over your finger like that, needle up...
-And just keep going.
-Just keep goin'!
I'm going to sit and watch Tommy at work, but later,
I'll be venturing inland to meet the farmer whose language has
been shaped by the landscape.
Earlier, we heard concern over plans for High-Speed Two,
the UK's latest high-speed rail line.
To find out more, Tom is heading to Kent to investigate
the environmental impact of its older brother.
This is High-Speed One,
the UK's first purpose-built high speed rail link. Completed in 2007,
the line stretches for 67 miles,
linking London to the Channel Tunnel.
Not quite as fast as High-Speed Two, trains can still hit speeds
of 186 miles per hour, as they gallop towards France.
High-Speed One was one of the biggest
and most expensive civil engineering projects the UK had ever seen.
Initially, opposition was pretty widespread.
So, what was its impact on the environment?
More than five years after it was finished, it is still
a controversial topic.
I have come somewhere where they feel it's had
a positive effect on the environment.
This is where the railway cuts through the ridge
to the east of Gravesend.
David Standen worked with pressure groups
to reduce the impact of High-Speed One.
They used the line running through the community to save
the historic Cobham Park.
To give me a clue what it was like here,
-I know you've got some pictures.
Even these don't really put it across, but you can see here,
there is nearly 100 cars, burnt out vehicles
which were recovered from the site.
We're looking up towards this mausoleum.
One of the most important historic buildings in the country.
-That's that over there?
-That's it, now fully restored.
David's groups worked to secure a £750,000 in compensation
from the rail developers.
They used that to generate a further ten million pounds.
They've now cleared the parkland, providing three sites
of special scientific interest and an ancient woodland.
Overall, would you say that, for the environment of this area,
the railway was good or bad?
If you take the historic Cobham Park, it's been a benefit.
Very much so.
For many in the Cobham area, high-speed rail has brought
real benefits, giving this parkland a new lease of life.
So the local environmental effect appears to be a mixed picture.
Yes, loss of chunks of landscape and the trauma of actually
building the lines, but then, some gains in terms of restoration
and people getting together to value their environment.
But will High-Speed Two apply the lessons learned
from High-Speed One? Well, the developers say,
they will use the existing line as an example of best practice.
In fact, Peter Miller, the project's head of environment, thinks they
will be in a great position
to have a positive effect on the countryside.
First of all, we're undertaking an environmental impact assessment.
So we're improving our knowledge, as we speak.
Once we've done that, we're in a much better position
to understand what the impacts are and how we'd respond to those.
We'll be looking very carefully at the translocation of species
and giving them new homes.
Trying to find different places where we can put woodland in,
partly for screening, party for ecological purposes.
We'll be raising the ground alongside the railway.
That will be create a visual screen, help us return land
back to agriculture and will provide noise attenuation.
You're suggesting in a way, this is a spine running up
the centre of the country which will help create a greener Britain?
I certainly think so, yes.
But not everyone is buying into the dream.
Would you believe it? Right on cue, a train goes through.
Yeah, but the problem is high-speed rail is nothing like that.
It's going to be miles faster.
And of course, far more environmentally damaging.
High-speed trains will reduce travel times
and may even reduce help rejuvenate the English region, but Joe Rukin
from the group Stop High-Speed Two, thinks it is a step too far.
High-Speed Two is not high-speed rail, it is
ultra high-speed rail and that's really the problem.
When you are designing for a track speed of 250 miles an hour,
it means you've got an eight kilometre turning circle,
which means that you can't bend like a normal railway.
That's why it is so destructive on so many communities
and so many wildlife and heritage sites.
Whatever the direct impact may be, it is claimed that High-Speed Two
will lead to a greater environmental good,
getting people out of their cars
and onto communal forms of transport and using greener sources of energy.
-Joe is not convinced.
-High-Speed Two does not have green credentials.
-High-speed is not green.
-You say that.
Basically, you are talking about people and potentially goods
being transported with electrical power, rather than fossil fuel power
-like diesel and petrol.
You've got to look at where we generate electricity from.
It's still coming from carbon.
But High-Speed Two's developers insist the environmental benefits
will increase with time.
High speed rail is going to be electrically powered.
That's the greenest way of transporting
people around the country.
As we go into the 2020's and 2030's, we'll see that there will be a lot
more renewable energy in that grid and rail will benefit from that.
The precise route of the new line is far from certain,
but with cross-party support, it looks likely that one way
or another, High-Speed Two will go ahead.
For some, High-Speed Two is an opportunity to create a new
Golden Age of trains, but for others, it is
a case of using Victorian technology to tackle a 21st century problem.
100 years ago, in this carriage's heyday, it would have been
packed with travellers on the high-speed rail of the time.
For our new High-Speed Two to be a success,
it'll have to be equally as popular, but also inflict as little
damage as possible to the countryside it runs through.
Farming is in Adam's blood. For him, it is not just a job,
but a lifestyle and that's something he's learned from his dad.
With all the rare breeds to manage down on the farm,
Adam stills turns to him for advice.
'We call it Adam's Farm, but to me, it's Dad's Farm.
'I grew up here and he taught me most of what I know.'
What got you into farming in the first place
because you were from a theatrical background, weren't you?
Mum and Dad were actors and my brother, Nicky, went into the family
business, but I never ever wanted to do anything else but farm.
We lived in Northwood, just down the road from an old-fashioned farm,
where everything was done in the old-fashioned way.
Everything except the ploughing was done with horses.
The cows were hand milked, chickens were free range in the yard
and I just thought to myself, "This is the life for me."
Different now though, isn't it, farming has completely changed?
Totally different. For me, it was straightforward, quite honestly.
Didn't make much money. Actually, come to think of it, didn't make any!
Now you are retired, I know you still run errands for me
and come up to the farm? You still love it?
I have got the best of all worlds.
I live in the village, so I can't look out of the window
and think what the hell's Adam doing?
I am far enough away, ten minutes drive up to the farm and here I am.
I have still got the farm to come to.
Your mum says to me, "For goodness sake,
"get out from under my legs and go play with your animals!"
-Which I do!
Dad helped set up the Rare Breeds Survival Trust 40 years ago.
Its aim was to prevent the loss of native breeds of farm animals.
He's always had a favourite.
I suppose, if I am pushed to choose a favourite,
it's got to be the Old Gloucester cattle.
I ought not to have favourites, but those are them!
The Old Gloucester was a very important breed in this county.
They were used for ploughing, they were good ploughing oxen, they were
good beef cattle and after they were fattened, they could be driven
100 miles to Smithfield Market,
and still be in condition when they got there.
Most important of all, of course, the cows were good milkers
and the milk was ideal for cheese-making.
They're the rarest breed of cattle in this country.
The Gloucester Cattle Society was re-formed about three years ago
and we got 40 animals registered in the book and that's all.
The Gloucester cow still has a place on the farm today
and I have got two newcomers to introduce to Dad.
I thought I would get these out in the yard to show you.
-Aren't they lovely?
-What a lovely sight! Absolutely beautiful.
Now the breed is doing a lot better, but it is still
-quite rare, isn't it?
When I bought my first two cows there were only about 40 of them left.
Today there are about 700, but the breed is still not safe,
because a lot of those cows are probably going to crossing bulls
to produce beef animals.
There's a little heifer and a bull calf here
and they say that sometimes the heifer, if that's born
twinned to a bull calf, they're what is known as freemartins, isn't it?
They may be infertile?
Yes, that's right.
The hormones have gone across in the womb and onto the heifer
and they are sometimes infertile
but that's such a lovely little heifer, she's so beautiful a colour
and beautifully marked, and you can blood test for it,
-and I think it would be worth doing.
So how many Gloucesters are there in your herd now?
Well, 11 cows, all due to calve,
including this one that's just calved,
and they're all in the cattle yards
but as soon as the weather warms up and the grass starts to grow,
I'll try and get this cow and her twins out on the spring grass.
-That'll help them, won't it?
-Absolutely, that'll help the milk.
I share my dad's passion for saving rare breeds too,
so whenever I hear about new schemes to help do that,
I want to find out more.
When my father first started collecting rare breeds
over 40 years ago,
the only way to conserve them was to breed from them,
but now, with the latest scientific technology,
you can freeze the animals in time
and I'm heading up to Whitchurch in Shropshire to see how it's done.
There's one special Hackney horse that I've come to see,
and Rob Havard, managing director of the Rare Breeds Survival Trust,
is going to tell me about this project.
-Hi, nice to see you, Adam.
So what are the Rare Breeds Survival Trust doing here?
We're here to do semen collection for the Hackney horse,
one of our rarest breeds of native horses, to go into our gene bank
so that we can conserve these animals for the future.
How many are left, then?
We're looking at about 150 adult breeding females left,
so we're talking rarer than the Giant Panda here.
It's seriously rare. We're trying to create a gene bank
that, in the event of serious disease outbreak,
we can recreate all our native breeds of livestock
and since the Rare Breeds Survival Trust started,
we haven't lost a single one, and we lost 26 in the previous 50 years,
so it's important we carry this on.
They're a stunning-looking animal, isn't he?
And I've seen them in action with their marvellous trot.
Just beautiful. I can't understand why more people don't have them.
Absolutely. They've got great presence, haven't they?
Show anyone off those, wouldn't you?
Well, let's go and see them in action. Good luck, mate.
Since the 1400s, this dual-purpose horse has played an important role.
Owning a Hackney horse and carriage
was similar to owning a flashy sports car today.
Ironically, it was the modern motorcar that replaced this horse,
which is why it's now so rare.
The owner of this collection centre is Tullis Matson,
and he's on hand to take me through the science.
-Hi, Tullis, I'm Adam.
-Adam, good to meet you.
What a lovely set-up you've got.
Yes, we've been doing this now for about 15 years
and today we have a Hackney stallion
that we're going to be collecting some semen and freezing it.
-So he's all ready to come in now?
-Yeah, he's ready.
We just washed him off to prepare him for the collection
and the girls will be bringing him in now.
Here he comes. He is looking a bit lively.
So, what's he...? He just goes up to the dummy and jumps it?
Yes, this particular stallion was very easy.
On his third day, I think we got him on the dummy mare
and actually, the keener they are, the easier it is for us.
When they're laid-back, it takes a lot longer to get the semen off them,
but this particular stallion, as you can see,
he's done and dusted within about 30 seconds. It's great.
That's great. Thank you, Kate.
-So that's the sample?
-This is it in its raw state,
so we'll have to do something with it fairly quickly so it doesn't die off.
We'll have a quick look under the microscope
to make sure we have something there that's viable to freeze,
and up on the screen here, we can see there's a lot moving.
And what we want is a lot of activity. We call it motility,
and it's how well the semen moves.
-Are you happy with that?
-Yeah, this looks good.
The sample is spun in a machine that separates the unwanted fluid
so a higher concentration of semen can be stored.
A preservative is added and it's injected into some storage tubes.
It's then acclimatised in a freezer
before being submerged into some liquid nitrogen.
Now that looks like some pretty scientific stuff going on there.
Yes. Now we've actually completed the process,
the semen is down to -196 degrees centigrade
and it's pretty much suspended there until we want to use it.
It's incredible, isn't it, having a living organism that you can freeze
but it's still going to stay alive in the future?
Yeah, it's amazing how we can actually freeze it,
we freeze it in like an antifreeze,
and we can just bring it back to life within 30 seconds,
and then it's ready to inseminate into a mare.
And how long will it last?
From what we know, it will last pretty much indefinitely.
There's been stuff frozen back in 1968
and they're still using that semen now and it's still working well.
-Where does this go now?
-Now, once we're finished with the semen,
we're quite happy it's been frozen OK, we'll take the semen
and put it into one of our big holding tanks
and then it can remain there until further use.
Wouldn't want to drop it now, would you?
So that just goes in there to be stored forever?
-Yes, it pretty much sits in here until it's needed.
There's another special horse here that needs all the help it can get.
The Suffolk Punch dates back to the 16th century.
It's the oldest breed of heavy horse in Great Britain
and there are less than 300 breeding mares, so they're pretty rare.
This horse has undergone artificial insemination or AI
and today, the vet is on site to see how the pregnancy is progressing.
-This is Niamh Lewis, our resident vet.
-She'll be scanning the mare today.
-I won't shake your hand.
So how does the process work?
Basically, she's due in July,
so we just do a check in the winter to make sure she's still pregnant,
we can adjust her feeding regime as necessary,
so we'll just have a quick look. Hopefully all's going well.
And the gestation period of a horse is what, 11 months?
11 months, yeah, correct. She got AI'd last July,
towards the end of July, so she's due at the start of July this year.
OK, all right. Well, I'll watch you at your work.
The foal at this time is living down near her belly button somewhere,
so we're not going to be able to see much,
it's just going to be "is she pregnant or is she not?"
Yeah. It's a big horse, isn't it?
You've got to disappear a long way in there?
-You need an extra length of arm.
-If you get stuck, I'll put you out.
-So this is a nice picture here.
-So that there...
All the black here that you can see
is the fluid that the foal has been living in for the last six months.
Everything looks perfect for six months of pregnancy.
Another five months to go, and all going well,
-we'll have a little foal on the ground.
And do you look at many Suffolk Punches?
We only had two last year,
-but we sent both away pregnant, so it was a success.
At the end of the day,
the horses get a chance to stretch their legs and have some fun.
Rob, does it mean we're going to have animals frozen in time
or do we need them running around as well?
We absolutely have to have them running around.
The gene bank and these collections
are so we can still see them running around in 40, 50, 100 years' time.
This is to make sure that just like your father did,
we'll keep these hooves on the ground
and make sure we've got these animals for our future generations.
Nestled in the Northumberland landscape
is the Cragside estate,
the birthplace of hydroelectricity.
When Lord William Armstrong bought this place back in 1863,
basically, this was all just moorland.
Now, he created those lakes to produce hydroelectricity,
but he wanted this place to be a lot more than just functional.
He wanted it to be beautiful
and this was a passion he shared with his wife, Lady Armstrong.
Margaret was a keen botanist. She led the way
in transforming the Cragside estate into a fantasy landscape.
Idyllic pathways now lead visitors
through the towering pine trees of this horticultural jewel.
But maintaining this beauty takes a lot of hard graft.
Julie Alexander and her team
have the immense task of keeping 1,000 acres under control.
Julie, it seems extraordinary
that the pair of them fell in love with this place
and then they just bought it and changed it so much.
You can only think that they wanted a little bit of the world here,
and that is what they got.
They got tall American pines from North America,
we've got the rhododendrons from the Himalayas,
and then in the central area,
we've still got that little bit of lumpy-dumpy Northumberland.
Did they travel, then, to bring all these different species back?
No, they weren't great travellers but they would have had the magazines,
the gardening magazines of the times,
and the Victorians were massive, massive plant collectors
so they would have been influenced by all that,
but it's very well-known, actually,
that she was out here directing gardeners and things at 6am,
even with trowel in hand, and walking all the way around the estate
and making sure that everything was absolutely spot on.
What a legacy they left,
but they wouldn't have got to see it all in this glory.
No, they wouldn't, and normally at that time period and earlier,
people were building landscapes to hand over to their children,
but of course, they had no children
and so, effectively, they did it for themselves, but not only that,
they left a glorious legacy for the people of Northumberland.
Lady Armstrong died in 1893
and Lord Armstrong seven years later
but with no children and therefore no heir,
the estate was left to William's great-nephew.
Within just six years, bad investments saw him lose the lot.
His small family had little money to spend on the upkeep
of the wider grounds, so much of it was left to go wild.
When the trust took over in 1979,
a lot of the areas were inaccessible and very, very overgrown.
As part of this continuing clearance,
we're now looking at clearing the gorge out
and reinstating the historic footpaths.
This course has been closed for quite a number of years,
and so the task is really massive.
-Well, you've got a lot of volunteers involved.
-This is the man in charge.
-This is Duncan, our head ranger.
-Hi, nice to meet you guys.
-This is some team.
-They are fantastic, absolutely unbelievable.
The volunteers at Cragside outnumber the staff six to one.
-I've spotted down here a helmet and trowel waiting for me.
How odd is that, yeah? Replace that with that, and get involved.
Enthusiastic local volunteers
are vital for Cragside to be able to run these sorts of projects.
The first job on my list is to fell this obstructive tree.
Ideally, straight if you can, there.
Nice and low, get in there and I'll push it over.
Thar she blows.
Breasted it nicely on the bridge.
-We missed the fire, which is most important.
-We missed the fire,
but I thought we were going to knock the bridge over!
Rather than damaging the heritage, the team are actually hoping
to restore the pathways that wind down the gorge.
So you've got all these beautiful stone steps under here, Duncan,
the idea is to obviously reveal them.
They're all hidden at the moment
and it'll be a lovely feature when it's done,
so yeah, if we can scrape off as much as we can,
clear back all the vegetation...
Although this spot is central to the estate,
it's been covered up for decades,
but now they're hoping to unearth some of its history.
And are you working to some kind of plan,
or are you just going along and sort of discovering it
-a bit like archaeologists?
-Why, does it look like chaos?
No, there is a plan. There's a picture here,
-a painting from 1884...
..by Emerson, and this is Queen Victoria's grandchildren
standing on, hopefully, an older version of that bridge there.
-And it looks a lot tidier.
-We're getting there!
This gorge also holds historical importance to Armstrong.
When the main house was being built, he lived here in an old mill
and it's quite possible
this is where he started forming ideas for hydropower.
Working high above us is the forest team, who've got their work cut out.
Going on just behind us, we've got some extreme gardening going on
with those lads up there with the tree surgeon
but it's all part of the same project?
Absolutely, the same project. Some big trees need to come out
so you can get to the rocks behind
and make it safe when we open the gorge by the end of the year.
Brilliant how work suddenly stops when somebody starts felling a tree.
Here she comes!
It's going to...
Goodness me! Wow!
Well, listen, while we get on clearing out this gorge,
Julia is heading over to a local farm
to learn how to speak Northumbrian,
a local dialect still used in these parts,
but before we find out how the lassie gets on, let's find out
what the Countryfile forecast has in store in the week ahead.
I've been on a whirlwind tour of Northumbrian history.
From the battles and blessings on Holy Island,
I'm now heading inland
to a remote sheep farm deep in the Otterburn Ranges.
This landscape echoes with history.
You can almost hear the voices of the past
as you travel through the Northumbrian countryside.
Hurry up, buds. We're waiting for you.
You've lang since seen the sun.
It's been a fair while since you made us smile
and helped the smaal burns run.
Sound a bit strange?
That's because it's one of Britain's oldest dialects -
Luckily, I've got just the man to explain this local lingo.
How long have you been writing poetry using the northern dialect?
Approximately a year, really. It simultaneously started with
work I've been doing in local primary schools
to try and promote and preserve the local dialect.
Can I have a look at some work?
-Yes, it's a little thing I've put together.
-What's this one called?
-This is called England's Best-Kept Secret, about Northumberland.
And it gans...
In England's best-kept secret, Where the folk fair keep ahowled
There's witter steeped in history Keepin' frish the winter cowled
Aye, there's stories ye hear tell of
Like when the Vikings said, "Hallow"
Or when the Anglo-Saxons watched A brand-new language grow and grow
But the difference 'tween this land And that of heaven, who can tell
We hope that you enjoy it. Reach oot, hinney, fill yersel'.
-Oh, that's beautiful!
-Thank you very much.
-Now, I'm going to pick out a few words here.
-Go on, then.
So "there's witter steeped in history." Witter.
Yeah, pretty obvious. It's like water, really.
"Where the folk fair kept ahowled."
Keep ahowled, it's an expression we use nowadays.
Keep ahowled - look after yourself.
-I like that, keep ahowled.
"Keepin' frish the winter cowled."
Frish, back of the throat, frish.
Frish. Frish. And that's fresh.
-Simple. Nicer than fresh, actually.
So the history of the water sort of keeps the winter chill going,
if you think about the bloody history of the land,
that's what that means. I grew up
listening to my dad and his parents speaking very broadly like that.
I think you're doing a fantastic job keeping the language alive.
-Next person I need to talk to is your dad.
The Northumbrian dialect is firmly rooted in old English Anglo-Saxon
but as the land was invaded by new forces, so was the language.
-This one's a bit leaner. He must have been doing his job, aye?
-He must have been doing his job. He's a bit leaner.
-Right, Richard, lad, that's the last one.
-Hello. I thought Matt Baker had a strong accent
but I tell you what, I could barely understand what you were saying then.
Well, these are Northumbrian sheep,
you've got to tak to them in Northumbrian.
You've got to talk to them in the right language!
-So tell me about the accent. Is it localised to different areas?
Are there different accents? If I go over the valley...
Slightly different. They say the accent changes every seven miles.
So if I was in the way, you're working with sheep
-and want to move me on, what would you say?
-I'd say, "Get oot the road now, please,
"cos I've work coming past with these yows or these tups,
"and divn't stand in the clarts or you'll get clarty feet,
-"it's a hell of a scene of clarts doon there."
-Clartsy clartsy what?
You'll get clarty feet. Right, this is clarts, you see?
-You may call it mud but we would call it clarts.
"You'll get clarts all ower your feet if you come doon here
"so you're far better wakking on a clean bit, lang yonder, you see."
I would say.
Tell me all about the Northumbrian R.
There's a story about that, and I don't know if this is right,
but they did say that in the olden days,
one of the Dukes of Northumberland had a bit of a speech impediment
and he couldn't say "rr" so he used to say "ruh"
and anybody who wanted to get on in the circle that he moved in
had to copy the Duke, so they all started saying "ruh" instead of "rr"
but I think probably more likely,
there was a lot of influence from Northern Europe, you would get.
Well, there was the invaders came across from Denmark and Holland,
and northern Germany.
Do you think it's important to keep this language alive?
I do, actually, I think it's part of our identity
and it's who we are.
We are part of the landscape, we're part of the hills and the animals
and everything sort of knits together
and I think the regional accent does as well,
and that's what makes us us.
The dialect may be as old as the hills, but there are moves
to keep that native tongue wagging for future generations.
Once I went for a wak with me dig
to meet me friends at the watterfall doon by the valley.
This building on Ian's farm is an old schoolhouse
and he actually went to school here.
Children would walk for miles through the valley or come on ponyback
but it hasn't been open as a place of education since 1970 -
Right, I understand we've got a very special class going on today.
What's on the agenda?
Well, we're learning all about Northumbrian dialect,
so we've got some cards that the children are practising their words.
Would you like to join us?
Definitely. I can see some very funny words here.
Right, tell me a sentence that's got the word netty in it.
I need to go to the netty.
You need to go to the netty.
OK, that could be a few things.
-Is it "loo"?
I need to go to the loo. OK. Netty, how old is that? Where'd you get...?
Anyway, let's see what we've got here. "Spuggy".
Give me a sentence with spuggy in it.
Look at that spuggy over their on the tree.
"Look at that spuggy over there on that tree."
Look at that monkey?
OK, tell me what a spuggy is.
-It's a sparrow.
-It's a sparrow!
It's a birdie! That's nice, isn't it? I like that, the spuggy.
Right, skumfish. Tell me about skumfish.
I was very skumfish last night.
-You were very rude to your mummy last night.
-You were very smelly last night.
You were very skumfish last night.
You were very tired last night.
Well, thank you very much
for teaching me lots of very, very nice words
and for doing this special lesson as well.
I need to take a difficult word for Mr Matt Baker
and remember, he's from round these parts
so what do you reckon is going to work as a tricky one for him?
Well, we think this one.
-Thank you very much.
-That is perfect.
All right, class dismissed.
-And don't get too skumfish.
'All I've got to do now is meet with Mr Baker.
'It'll be muckle bari to see him.'
-Have you had a lovely time in the north-east?
I was expecting nothing less from your home turf.
Right, what does that mean?
Uh... "My uncle Barry".
Muckle bari? Are you sticking with that?
You don't even know your own language! It means...
-I'm from County Durham, Jules! Go on.
And it has been very nice to be here.
It has, but that's all we've got time for.
It is. Next week we have a very special edition of Countryfile
because we're celebrating our 25th anniversary
and we have a guest editor,
none other than His Royal Highness himself, the Prince of Wales.
Yes, we will have exclusive access to Prince Charles
on his farm at Highgrove, and get up close and personal
as he visits food and farming projects across the country.
He'll reveal his passion for the countryside,
his hopes for the future, and even get his hands dirty with me
-doing a bit of hedge laying.
-I cannot wait.
Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd
Countryfile heads to the wild, rugged and dramatic landscape of Northumberland. From its moorland to its coastline, its beauty belies violent times. It is a county where we first encountered a fearsome new threat brought in on the seas. Julia Bradbury unpicks the history of this ancient kingdom and she learns how it has also influenced the local dialect.
Further in land and thousands of years later, an unknown soul was forging ahead with green energy. Matt Baker finds out how Lord William Armstrong, a pioneering Victorian, came up with a revolutionary plan to use the power of water to power his house. It was to become the first home-grown hydroelectric scheme in the world, and plans are afoot to fire it up again.
Ellie Harrison finds out how the ancient art of willow spiling is helping to reinforce river banks in the Northumberland countryside. Elsewhere, Tom Heap finds out what impact the proposed new high speed rail link (HS2) is going to have on the countryside and the people living in it. And Adam travels to Shropshire to see how science is helping to protect and preserve the rare breed Hackney horse.