John Craven marks the 40th anniversary of LS Lowry's death by following in the artist's footsteps. Ellie Harrison learns about how to conserve moorland.
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vast empty beaches...
..open moors and ancient towns.
Northumberland is famed for its dramatic beauty.
It was also a favourite haunt of one of our best-loved artists, LS Lowry.
Better known for his urban scenes, filled with matchstick men.
But today, I'll be taking a trip along the coastline
that meant so much to him,
and I'll be doing it in style.
'Ellie discovers the best way to manage moorland...'
Look at the length of the flame now behind us.
'..Charlotte's finding out about an issue that's often hidden
'behind closed doors...'
Domestic violence can be a problem anywhere,
but if you live in an isolated, rural area,
finding the support you need to leave an abusive relationship
can be tough.
So, how do we help change that?
-You've got the hang of that.
'..and Adam's here with the second of this year's contenders for
'Countryfile's farming hero.'
Why do I do it? It's incredibly rewarding.
The skies here go on for ever...
..the beaches are a thing of wonder.
and picturesque seaside villages.
I've loved the wild Northumberland coastline
ever since I first came here more than 50 years ago.
There's a saying that, "Once it gets you in its grip,
"it never lets you go."
And that was certainly true for one of
Britain's favourite artists, LS Lowry.
We don't normally associate Lowry with the sea.
He's known for his scenes of the industrial north.
But his love for the north-east coast shows a different side.
I've come to Newbiggin-by-the-Sea,
a small town that he visited many times.
This year marks the 40th anniversary of Lowry's death at the age of 88.
This was his world -
urban landscapes, factories,
mill chimneys and smoke.
And he had a very distinctive way of painting its people.
People call them matchstick people.
Maybe, I don't mind.
If they like to call them matchstick figures, well, let them do it.
They're probably quite right, but it doesn't concern me.
They may be like matchsticks,
they may be any way you like,
but I just do them as I like to see them.
I once met Lowry very briefly when I was a teenager and he was telling me
and a group of other young people
about what made him become an artist.
He missed the train to work one day
and he looked out over Salford and he
saw the people scurrying around and he thought, "I must paint that."
But Northumberland was also to have a profound effect.
For Laurence Stephen Lowry, it was a place of escape, a place to reflect.
'I'm meeting Simon and Veral Marshall who knew him well
'and drove him around looking for places to paint.'
So, how did you become friends with the great man?
He came into the family gallery in Newcastle and, basically,
stayed on and off for 16 years.
What do you think attracted him to this coastline?
Oh, I think he loved the bleakness, the wildness and the skies.
And, I suppose, the contrast to Salford.
Well, yes, I suppose so, yes.
I must have driven him thousands of miles, up and down the coast.
-And you came here to Newbiggin?
Newbiggin was a favourite
and we spent many a happy time here.
In fact, don't I recognise that church from one of his paintings?
You do, indeed. He painted it, I think, on several occasions.
It is a fantastic view.
And, on your car journeys,
what kind of car did you have to drive him around?
We had a red Volvo 144.
What, late 1960s?
Yeah, late 1960s, fine old beast.
I've got a little surprise for you.
-Come with me.
How about this, then?
-What a wonderful surprise.
Is that a dead ringer of yours?
-It hasn't got the dent.
What dent is that?
Mr Lowry walked up to it and he was in a huff, anyway,
and went, "Huh!" with his stick and we all shrieked, "Mr Lowry!"
If it was still around today, that might add to its value.
-Should have got him to sign it.
If only I'd known.
-Shall we go for a spin then?
-Yeah! Why not?
You'll have to double-declutch, that's taking us back a bit.
-Probably will have to.
-That is going back a long time.
Maybe I should be letting you drive.
No way, no way.
'We're recreating one of the many sketching trips
'they took together all those years ago.'
I'm quite enjoying driving this old Volvo
in what would have been your position all those years ago.
You're in Mr Lowry's position.
-How does it feel?
-It makes me feel rather aged, in all honesty.
Yes, all I need is the trilby hat and I'm away.
I tell you what, though, I'm missing the power steering.
Things have changed.
Not only in the art world, but in the motor world as well.
With stunning views at every turn,
Lowry must have been spoiled for choice.
But there's one place Simon brought the artist to
again and again.
Well, everyone loves Bamburgh Castle.
Presumably Lowry was no exception.
No exception at all, no.
It's such an outstanding thing that
he was incredibly fond of it.
He sketched the castle from this very spot.
Yes, it is exactly the spot, I think.
And what do you think he got from wandering along this coastline?
I think he got a lot of inspiration because it is so different from
Salford, Manchester, the stick people, cos, really,
once he was doing the coastline...
He stopped doing stick people, really.
He started doing solitary figures.
I don't think he'd be happy that,
when you mention LS Lowry, people say,
Whereas, in actual fact,
he encompassed much wider range than that.
-But he would never be able to escape...
-..being the creator of the matchstick men.
I think that he would have had a fit at the song.
Thank God he was dead by then.
He would have wagged his stick and thumped something.
# And he painted matchstalk men and matchstalk cats and dogs... #
Later, our journey continues through more
of the landscape that Lowry painted.
Now, we all know that accessing social services
can be a lot harder in rural areas
than in our towns and cities.
And, as Charlotte's been finding out,
that's a particular problem when it comes to issues
that people don't like to talk about.
The Archers. For more than six decades,
the fictional village of Ambridge has filled our airwaves.
Last week, one particular storyline made the front pages
and even prompted comments from Downing Street.
Over the past two and a half years,
listeners have followed the development of this chilling plot.
-'I always knew there was something wrong with you.
'Are you really so blind to yourself?
'You're all over the place.
'You just go on and on, blaming everyone but yourself!
-Don't you dare!'
This is a story which has shocked and disturbed many listeners.
Every evening, we're witness to the slow unfolding
of a controlling and coercive relationship
between Helen, one of The Archers' main characters,
and her relatively new husband Rob Titchener.
-Yeah, run it.
Sean O'Connor is the editor of the programme,
while Timothy Watson is Rob and Louiza Patikis plays Helen.
Sean, why do this plot at all in The Archers?
What we wanted to do was to find out more about Helen Archer,
that was the beginning of the story.
And she is one of the central figures
in one of the central families and I wondered if you could do a story
about a woman losing her sense of self
and then maybe her journey to finding it again.
One of the really noticeable things about this plot
is that it's playing out over years...
..which makes it much harder to listen to.
Why take so long?
These stories take decades to happen and be resolved and we wanted
to honour the women's stories that we'd heard about
through our research.
The audience has taken to social media in droves
to express their upset over the escalating story.
One listener has even helped to raise more than £100,000
for the domestic abuse charity Refuge,
his motivation being that for every fictional Helen,
there are real ones.
There has been a big public reaction to your storyline.
Have you been surprised by that?
Particularly for you, Tim?
The response, as a whole,
the money that's being raised is extraordinary.
The public response to the storyline, it hasn't surprised me,
because it's awful.
It's agony to listen to and you can see why the audience is
finding it very difficult.
But, you know, it's happening out there in the wider world.
Our countryside can sometimes be depicted as a rural idyll,
a place where things like domestic abuse just don't happen.
But recent figures from around the country show that
reported cases in rural areas are nearly as common
as those in urban areas.
And, in fact, there are very specific problems here
in the countryside, which increase the dangers of abuse.
MUSIC: This Woman's Work by Kate Bush
There are thousands of real Helens across our countryside.
Sue, which isn't her real name, is one of them.
Her voice has been recorded by an actor to protect her identity.
I met him when I was a teenager.
He was my best friend and I would have trusted him with my life.
We had our first child and it was then things started to change,
really quite quickly and quite considerably.
Now, then, he became controlling, so what did he do?
It started with petty arguments and disagreements
and then one day, he hit me when I was holding the child.
I was relinquishing control on all aspects of my life.
I used to hope I just didn't wake up when I went to sleep.
For Sue, living in a rural area compounded her isolation
and her vulnerability.
When you're out in the countryside, the more isolated you are,
the more dangerous a situation can escalate into,
because there's no-one to hear.
I wasn't allowed to drive the car,
I could afford maybe once a week to get a bus
and there was only a few buses a day.
That was the only time we'd go out of the village.
So, really, my lifeline was the phone box.
It's a disappearing thing, but at least it can't be checked, you know?
Of what you're saying and what you're doing.
It was a rare trip to town that finally gave her
the chance of escape.
My child had noticed a poster from Women's Aid
and she said to me, "Mummy, that's you.
"You need that number."
-Your child said?
-Yes, she thought I was going to die if I stayed
and that frightened her the most.
She wrote down the number and I phoned it a few weeks later.
The lady at the other end was so kind and so understanding and,
for the first time in years,
I spoke and it was the first time I realised
the actual situation I was in.
What would have happened if you hadn't gone into town that time?
I don't think it would have gone very well at all,
because it was just getting increasingly violent
and more out of control.
Sue's partner was eventually prosecuted
and she is now safe and looking to the future with her family.
But it was only by managing to escape the isolation
that she finally got help.
Sue is far from alone.
In the past year,
more than 7% of women and 3% of men in rural areas
have been the victims of domestic abuse.
So, out here in the countryside, is there support to help them?
Well, that's what I'll be finding out later.
Graceful and nimble.
He cuts a dashing figure.
But this magnificent animal isn't your usual writing companion.
He's a heavy horse.
And these mighty beasts are better known
for their strength than their speed and agility.
Once the power behind our agriculture,
the heavy horse worked in harmony with man for centuries,
ploughing and shaping our land.
Here in Northumberland,
it was the Clydesdale which provided the horsepower.
Equally as at home in the fields as the docks,
powering plough and wagon alike.
These days, the Clydesdale, like other native heavies,
the Suffolk Punch and the Shire horse,
are all named on the Rare Breeds Survival Trust's watchlist.
But a small group of enthusiasts and breeders
are trying hard to keep these workhorses and the heritage alive.
Among them, mother and daughter Vivian and Anna Cockburn,
who run the Hay Farm Heavy Horse Centre.
-Oh, little one.
-Still big for a little one.
I feel we don't really see Clydesdale horses any more.
What is it about heavy horses that captures our imaginations,
-do you think?
-I think it's the connection from years gone by.
A lot of people associate them with farming,
but they were so dominant in the cities as well, with the baker,
the grocer that used to deliver, the coal man.
And it's just about within living memory for some.
I think it is, yes.
And also you get the next generations, they'll come and say,
"Oh, my grandad used to talk about so-and-so."
And it's that as well.
Absolutely. And I see you also have old farm machinery here as well.
Yes. The actual centre is not just about the horses, it's about
the actual history and everything that surrounds the horses,
to keep that alive. And also to allow memories
for older people as well.
I've had 85-year-old men ploughing behind horses and saying it's things
they never thought they would ever do again.
And we've had little wee ones ploughing behind as well
and it's lovely. It really is nice.
The Clydesdale was first bred in the 18th century,
but the rise of the petrol-powered tractor
and the loss of millions of horses in the First World War
pushed the breed to the edge of extinction.
Today, there are fewer than 900 breeding mares left in the country.
Well, hello. Who's this?
-This is Teddy.
-Our six-year-old stallion.
-And this year he will be going out to stand at stud.
-And who's this?
-This is Winston, Teddy's pal.
Put him in with Teddy and he adopted it.
-So the greatest of pals now.
Really good chums. And now that these heavy horses
aren't used for work any more, what do you use them for?
One of the big things that's starting, very slowly,
to come out is the riding of them.
And my daughter, she's ridden since she was four years old
and she breaks all of ours that are up here
and he's broken to ride as well.
How fantastic. Well, Anna's out and about today so I'll go and have a
-chat with her about that.
-Right. OK, then.
-I'll see you later.
Anna's going to show me the long line technique
for training these horses.
Hi, Anna, how's it going?
-It's not bad, thanks.
-It's good, isn't it?
He's nice and calm.
So a bit of long lining then today?
-What's the technique for? What does it teach him?
It teaches him to go forward with you stood behind him.
Once he's comfortable doing all this,
you put two more ropes on and two of us would go,
so one of them would be pulling all the time, to show weight,
while the other one's driving forward
and then you can start introducing a sledge or a cart
or a plough or something like that.
Oh, OK, fantastic.
And what are the main features in the Clydesdale breed?
-What are we looking for?
-Lots of feather on his feet.
That's very important.
Nice big feet. And also very close behind.
That gives, like, a crossing over effect,
but it also keeps him in the furrow.
Excellent. Dainty work.
How long might it take to train a horse like this using this method?
Sometimes it can take a few weeks before they're used to it,
sometimes it's a few months,
but it just really depends on each individual horse.
Right. You can see here that sort of supermodel walk quite close up.
And it's not just the handling skills they're preserving here,
but also the traditions, something I'm going to learn more about
as Anna now shows me how to dress a tail.
The Clydesdales and also Shires as well, it's tradition.
We just shave it up to here.
And then this hair is usually long enough,
so he can still waft the flies,
but it stops it getting in amongst the chains and things like that that
are going to be down around his feet.
-So, it's kind of a safety thing, too?
These first things we're going to put in,
-these are just made out of raffia.
With just wire round them for support.
And would they all have been done in the same way?
This is traditional to Clydesdales more than anything else.
Yeah. We're just going to...
put this in...
and then fold it up.
And you do this all the way up.
And we just tie everything up with raffia,
so you put a bit round the top like this.
And what about the rest of the kit they wear,
the brasses and headdresses and things like that?
Yeah, you would put their manes up
and then you put flight into their mane
and then when it comes to harnessing and things, you do have the brasses.
So that's the finishing touches in?
-Job done. That is neat.
There's no chance of that getting caught up, is there?
-No, probably not.
-And that is certainly a very decorative tail.
For centuries, horses like these have played a very special role
in our lives, providing the muscle,
both in the countryside and in our towns.
Although the days of heavy horses as the powerhouses of agriculture
are long gone, these mighty animals and their heritage
are still alive and well.
We're continuing our journey through the Northumberland landscape,
much-loved by the artist LS Lowry.
He came here almost every year until his death in 1976.
And, to mark the anniversary,
I've taken to the road in a car just like the one Lowry travelled in,
with Simon and Veral Marshall, two friends of his.
Berwick-upon-Tweed had a special place in the artist's affections.
He spent many holidays in England's most northerly town,
painting the place and its people.
When Lowry was here back in 1958,
the banks of the River Tweed would have looked much different.
They'd have been lined with hundreds of fishermen and their nets.
He captured the scene in a simple, but beautiful line drawing.
Berwick-upon-Tweed was once the centre
of a thriving fishing industry.
Small boats, called cobles,
would put out nets to catch the wild salmon, but all that is now history.
Hardly anything remains.
Most of the fishing stations were closed in the 1980s,
to conserve dwindling stocks of salmon.
Just like Lowry, Jim Walker used to holiday here and, with his camera,
rather than paintbrushes, he witnessed the industry's final days.
-Nice to meet you.
-Pleased to meet you.
-Well, where are we now then?
Oh, well, this is a fishing shiel.
Shiel, really, is just like a shelter,
used for the salmon fishermen.
And here's a picture you took.
-Some time ago now, by the look of it.
-So, these places were dotted right along the coast then,
-Yes. When the salmon industry was at its peak,
there were more than 300 lining the banks of the Tweed.
Here's a picture of yours.
There's the town of Berwick in the background.
Looking out the window of this shiel.
Yep. And the fishermen are working there.
That's the sea. That's correct.
And it happened at night-time as well, did it, the fishing?
Well, they were taking their life in their hands, in a way.
But that particular night...
..a seal got into the nets, took a huge chunk out of one of the salmon,
so it was useless for commercial purposes.
So the skipper, he took a big knife out
and put it into pieces and we all got a piece.
And I thought I'd really been accepted by them,
because I'd been haunting them over the three years,
taking pictures at all times.
So I thought I really had been accepted by that time.
And this is a very evocative picture you've taken
of the, sort of, twilight of the industry, isn't it?
Yes, towards the very end.
It shows them, they've finished with the salmon fishing
for the year.
That was '87.
-Almost like a funeral.
-Yes, it is.
I felt, at the time, it was like a funeral procession.
And they thought they would be taking the boat out the next year,
but, in fact, no.
They were all closed down with an exception of one or two.
So, they were closed down to protect the salmon, really?
Yes, that's correct.
30 years on and net fishing is still tightly controlled,
but some here are determined to see it lives on.
Leading a special heritage project is Michael Hindhaugh.
It seeks to revive traditional skills
and make sure the last fishing station keeps working.
Just how important is it to you, Michael,
to keep this tradition going?
John, the town itself has had salmon fishing and,
particularly salmon fishing on this part of the river,
for probably 900 years.
It's well documented.
And for a demise to take place through my generation,
I felt that that was wrong.
I felt the town needed to continue to have salmon fishing
within the heart of the town.
And have you started it again as a kind of commercial proposition?
As a commercial entity, it probably doesn't stack up,
but what we are hoping to do is let people come and try it.
Get into the heritage and the traditional way of fishing.
And you've got to interest the younger people in this.
-And I see you've got some of the young generation helping.
Yeah. They are picking up the skills, the terminology,
off the older chaps who have worked on the river a long time
and, hopefully, that will stand it in good stead going forward.
How hard work is it?
It is hard work when you are
up at six in the morning laying the nets on
and it's pouring with rain, but it's not too bad, to be honest.
And it must be very satisfying, is it, when you get a good catch?
They are the best days, when you get...
You've had two or three shots in the morning
and you've caught only one or two salmon.
And then you pull in a shot with 20 salmon
and it's a great feeling. It's amazing.
We are the only ones that are allowed to catch them on the river,
so that's a big pressure to keep the tradition alive, really.
Do you think you'll do it?
I think we can manage it.
-Right, see you.
Hand-in-hand with these old fishing methods go the ancient
skills of the boatbuilder.
The coble is the traditional wooden craft of the north-east,
used along the Tweed for centuries.
There is no great demand for them these days.
And one of the last coble builders is Ian Simpson.
-Can I stop you a moment?
-How you doing?
-Good to see you.
-Pleased to meet you, yes.
-Almost finished this one now?
Nearly done now, yes.
And how long does it take you to build a coble like this?
Two, two-and-a-half weeks.
If I am left alone, I'll get it done in that time.
This is not for net fishing, is it?
No, this is an angling boat.
There are wider boats, slightly longer.
The stern is bigger, obviously,
to put a net on, and it's got a little bit
more sweep on the front end.
This is, I think, quite beautiful.
Oh, it's a nice shape. Better than a net boat, yeah.
-And is it a family tradition, building these cobles?
Yes. Grandfather, father, me.
So you just watched your father doing it, did you?
Yes. He did all the boards,
planing and all that and all I did was rivet them,
tidy up the mess while he was planing them
and, when he stopped making them, I just did it.
-What about the future, then?
-We'll see what happens.
I've got grandchildren, so if they want to carry on, we'll see.
Do you think they might be interested?
-Oh, I think so, yeah, yeah.
That's the way it's always been,
traditional skills handed down from generation to generation.
The golden years of the Tweed's
salmon netting industry are long gone,
but, thanks to the people I've been meeting,
more than just memories will survive.
Domestic abuse can happen anywhere, but for those in remote, rural areas
the problems faced by both the victim and those trying to help
can be very different.
Here's Charlotte again.
This year, listeners of The Archers have been shocked by the unfolding
violent relationship between Rob and Helen Titchener.
'Because you are nothing without me, Helen.
-Why are you doing this?
'No-one will even be that surprised!'
But what's out there to help the real Helens
in rural communities who are in danger?
Help comes in various different forms,
from refuges to outreach services, and from various different places.
Local authorities fund specialist services run by charities.
And there's also support from places like housing associations.
But they are pretty much all based
in towns or cities and a long way from the countryside.
Dickie James is the chief executive of Staffordshire Women's Aid.
Four years ago, she took part in an EU-funded project
because of concerns rural domestic abuse was being overlooked.
Thanks for picking me up.
From the research, Dickie found specific problems affecting rural areas for
both the victims and those that are there to help.
You know, sometimes we may have to travel 20 miles
to be able to meet someone within
their own community,
and sometimes it's very tough for them to reach us,
because local transport is an issue,
they may be being observed about how much petrol they are using,
that kind of thing,
so, very often we need to find places where people feel safe.
Just meeting up with victims can be difficult in small communities,
and places like supermarkets and cafes provide much-needed anonymity.
There is likely to be more stigma around it.
I think there is possibly less likelihood
of people really understanding the issue.
I do remember an elderly parish councillor coming to me and
saying, "Thank God I know that you are there now.
"I've been visiting a woman on a farm nearby
"and I've known all along that
"this has been going on, but I haven't known who to go to to help."
Obviously, at the moment, it's a time of austerity, things are tight.
What effect has that had on what you can offer?
Yes, I mean, over the past five years,
we've experienced a 20% cut in our core funding.
I think, perhaps, where we are struggling,
is having the resources to
come out to the communities and let them know where we are.
We mustn't forget that two women are killed in the UK each week by
domestic abuse, and the cost to the public purse
of injury and harm is huge.
-That's very sobering, isn't it, that thought?
It's not just in Staffordshire that charities are facing problems.
The charity Refuge has experienced cuts
to 80% of its services in the past five years
and Women's Aid's 2015 survey, released last month,
found that almost half the local branches that responded were working
without dedicated funding.
So, around the country, what's happening
to improve things in the countryside?
Well, Scotland and Northern Ireland
both have strategies on domestic abuse.
But, when it comes to rural areas,
it's Wales which is leading the way.
In January this year,
the Welsh Assembly made it compulsory for local authorities
to improve protection and support for those facing domestic abuse.
It specifically recognised
the problems faced by women in rural areas.
Because of the act, 35,000 people
will be trained to recognise the signs of domestic abuse.
That's people like GPs or midwives,
people who are visible in rural communities.
And local authorities will
be monitored and have to report on their progress.
As for England, well, in March,
the government launched its latest strategy
for ending violence against women and girls,
but what does this mean for those in rural areas?
Karen Bradley is the Home Office minister responsible.
In rural areas, there are particular problems for people who are on the
receiving end of this.
And, yet, in the strategy, which is 59 pages long,
there's no mention of rural, no mention of the countryside.
Aren't you missing something here?
Well, I disagree. I don't think it's a case of missing things.
We are putting together, for example,
a national statement of expectations,
which will say to rural counties, to rural areas,
these are the things that we expect from you
to help you find domestic abuse.
So what we've done is, we've doubled the amount of funding.
Going up from 40 million in the last Parliament
to 80 million this Parliament.
Across the UK, there seems to be understanding
that more should be done to help those in abusive relationships.
Now, in isolated, rural areas, that's not easy, but it can be done.
It has to be, because it can be a matter of life or death.
Just speaking to someone who understands is paramount.
That was everything to us.
It changed the course of our lives, permanently.
For details of organisations
which offer advice and support about domestic abuse, go online.
Or call the BBC Action Line to hear recorded information.
Lines are open 24 hours a day
and calls are free from landlines and mobiles.
When we asked you to tell us about your farming heroes,
people who've gone out of their way to try and make the countryside a
better place, hundreds of you got in touch,
so Adam's been going through the nominations.
Countryfile's Farming Heroes
is a way of paying tribute to those people
who do that little bit extra to help their farming community.
You overwhelmed us with your stories of farming heroes,
so Countryfile appointed two judges to draw up a shortlist.
Charlotte Smith, a familiar Countryfile face
and a presenter on Radio 4's
Farming Today programme.
And me, Adam Henson,
arable and livestock producer
and Countryfile's roving farmer.
We had a difficult task of sorting through the nominations and choosing
three finalists to visit.
Last week we met the first,
the 1,600-strong Cumbria Federation of Young Farmers' Clubs,
who helped in the country and city during December's floods.
This week, we are looking at an individual.
Someone who has really put herself out to help others.
Our second finalist set up a care plan for teenagers after surviving a
She is Julia Evans from Herefordshire.
We had quite a few care farms nominated.
Yeah, farming is increasingly being seen as a way of helping people,
from people with learning difficulties
or mental health problems to ex-offenders.
But this one really stood out,
because it was one woman's determination
to really put something back into society.
And help the next generation.
While I take a look around, Charlotte is meeting up with Julia.
Julia's been farming here since the 1980s,
but foot and mouth and TB devastated her beef herd.
And then came news that would change the very reason Julia farms.
2007, I'd just started lambing and I was diagnosed with breast cancer.
With not a very good prognosis.
How did you cope with that?
Not very well, frankly.
Not very well, because I was really fit and active
and I just found a very small lump in my left breast,
which was really bad news.
I was given a prognosis that I only had a 50% chance of surviving
beyond five years and I thought, what, really, do I want to do?
I want to keep farming, but I don't want to do it by myself any more.
I've been interested in this sort of care farming.
I'd been thinking about it and I thought, right,
if I've only got five years,
I'm going to do it. I'm going to make it happen.
Surviving cancer prompted Julia
to use her passion for farming to help others.
Nine years after her diagnosis,
Longlands now hosts up to 40 teenagers a week,
referred by schools because of behavioural problems,
and often on the brink of being excluded.
Aston Perkins works in a local stable
and volunteers here once a week.
But she first came to Longlands as a difficult 13-year-old.
A lot of people haven't got the patience for kids.
I don't think I'd have the patience for 13-year-old me.
What were you like as a person then?
I was just disrespectful. Really rude to people, yeah.
Did not get on very well with authority,
that was definitely a big thing for me, I think.
-And how did this change you, then?
It taught me a lot, it taught me animal care skills and, you know,
just taught me respect and confidence.
I think I was quite insecure as well.
So, yeah, it really helped me.
And was Julia inspirational?
Yeah, definitely. What she'd been through just made me realise,
if she can get through it, then so can I, really.
There's no excuse for me to be what I am being like.
And if you hadn't come here,
what do you think might have happened to you?
I couldn't say. I don't think I'd have gone to college.
I don't think I'd have got a job.
I don't know where I would have been, to be honest.
I really don't. It changed me as a person completely.
I owe Julia a lot.
Yeah. She's a wonderful woman, isn't she?
What is it that makes Julia so special, do you think?
She's just so kind and understanding.
I think she sees the good in people, that's really what it is.
Mainstream state schools are not for everyone.
And what a shame to fail before you've kind of even got going.
Everyone has potential, don't they?
Yeah, they all have potential.
Someone else who believes that is part-time teacher Paul Lack,
one of the people who nominated Julia for our award.
Four metres by seven.
How many square metres is it?
He uses farm related exercises
to help the students learn the basics of maths.
-Good to see you.
We are looking for someone who goes above and beyond.
Do you think Julia fits that? Is that why you nominated her?
Well, somebody said the farm runs on her personality.
And that's absolutely true.
She is the person who the teenagers all relate to.
I think of her as a teenager-whisperer.
Have you handled a piglet before? They are cute, aren't they?
Some of them, you know, come in all sorts of problems
and they start new. They start afresh here.
And she can get them doing really practical...
They want real things, they want to work,
and they've got that and it's a real farm.
But they are also, there is so much mentoring
and listening and coaching going on.
She helps them to sort of really get themselves together again.
They need lots of water now. Hi, girls.
It may be a charity, but Longlands is also a commercial farm,
so there's plenty of opportunity to get hands-on.
And here's more proof that it works.
Ryan Houghton, a dab hand with a chainsaw.
Hi, Ryan. Well, you've got the hang of that.
-Can I give you a hand? What are you up to?
Just dragging the big stuff into a pile.
Go on, then. I'll grab this bit.
'Not so long ago, he was struggling in school, with no real future.'
What was it like when you first came to the care farm?
What were you like as a person?
Really shy, and didn't know what to do.
'Two years at Longlands has changed his life
'and now Julia has taken him on as a forestry apprentice.'
Do you feel like a different person?
I've lost weight and I feel good in myself from doing it.
And every morning when I wake up I feel good about myself,
that I'm doing something.
And, yeah, I just get the buzz in the morning.
I want to go to work.
Great, good for you. Yeah.
And do you think that Julia has played an important part in that?
Yeah, massively. If it weren't for Julia, I wouldn't be here.
So you've got a lot to thank her for, I suppose?
Yeah. She's an amazing woman.
Well, good for you. It's amazing that she
provided you with that opportunity.
-Brilliant that you've taken it,
you've grabbed the bull by the horns, haven't you?
Yeah. Well, it was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity
and I took it and I proved to myself and Julia that I'm worth taking on.
-Come on then. We better get this shifted. Get some work done.
What about in the bad weather?
I still love it. Last summer, when we had that bad weather,
I was out getting soaked and I still worked.
You wouldn't have done that before, you don't think?
No. I'd have went back home!
Why do I do it? It's incredibly rewarding.
I'm very proud of a lot of our youngsters,
you know, what they achieve.
And when you hear the stories of how they struggle in school,
a real sense of... Very proud, yeah, very proud of them.
And it's not all about work.
Social skills are developed too.
Every day, students and staff gather to eat a lunch
cooked from fresh farm produce.
Julia, is this quite important, this all sitting down together?
-Is this part of it?
-Oh, yeah, definitely.
Mm, sitting down together, yep.
Talking about how the morning has gone.
-A bit of banter.
-A bit of fun.
It certainly has a family feel to it, doesn't it,
-sitting down together?
-That's the idea.
It's been inspirational.
Well, what a lovely lady.
That was amazing, wasn't it?
Just...as I said, inspirational.
And it's so much about Julia herself.
It's about her personality and her absolute determination
for kids who are having a rough time
and who, I think, to an extent, people have given up on.
And she will not. She will take them and she will give them this.
-And a chance.
I mean, talk about going above and beyond. It's amazing.
It's one of those things, isn't it? Ask a busy person.
Remote and craggy hills.
Velvety moors and gentle valleys.
Northumberland is a county of striking splendour.
Here, within the national park,
its landscape is not only breathtaking but also precious,
because it provides some rare and protected habitats.
The Simonside Hills are a special area of conservation,
noted for their dwarf shrub heath and for their blanket bog.
These are delicate environments.
And they are vulnerable.
So, seeing burnt heather like this instinctively feels destructive.
But, it's argued, it could be the very thing that helps protect it.
I'm meeting Andrew Miller,
the head of conservation for Northumberland National Park,
to find out more.
So, why burn in order to create this?
Well, what we've got, as you can see,
you've got really old heather here. That if you leave it,
naturally will turn into woodland. So what we want to do is
we want to burn off that old heather
and encourage this nice, new, young heather to come through.
And so it's kept in this state purely by this rotational burning
that's been going on for generations.
So how much is burning for grazing, for sheep,
and how much is it for wildlife?
What's the main beneficiary?
Well, the great thing, it's for all of those things.
It's really good for the farmer, for the sheep.
It's good for bird species like curlew
and also our smallest falcon, the merlin.
Beautiful little bird.
But why not leave it to return to woodland,
which is a very beneficial environment for wildlife?
Woodland can grow anywhere, really. And certainly in the lowlands,
whereas this is designated internationally as being important.
For instance, we've got 20% of all the spider species in the UK
are actually only in heather moorland.
If we lost heather moorland, we'd lose all of them.
So there's challenges here, because you've got to manage
burning on the heathland, but then you've got bog right there.
Exactly. Sitting side by side and requiring different management.
-Shall we take a look at the bog?
-Let's have a look at it, yeah.
Tiptoe through the dry bit.
'These bogs have formed over thousands of years.
'The deep peat is favoured by rare plants, like bog rosemary.'
In places, it's really deep.
-If we just sort of push that in there...
-See, that just goes right through.
-That is incredibly deep.
And some of this is sphagnum, isn't it,
-which holds a lot of water, like a sponge?
-So just grab a little bit of that.
Yeah. Absolutely full of water.
If we drain this, or if we burn the surface,
it starts to dry out the peat and then we will get that heather
that we saw there before, encroaching onto this habitat.
-And that would actually destroy the bog area.
Heather burning is strictly regulated and only permitted
outside the breeding season for ground-nesting birds.
But sometimes wildfires occur that can threaten wildlife,
livestock and rare habitat,
so the fire service joined forces with the national park
to set up the Collaborative Burn Project.
The project fights fire with fire.
Heather is burned under controlled conditions.
This creates breaks in the vegetation,
vital for stopping wildfire in its tracks.
This land belongs to a local sheep farmer,
but it's also where the fire service train for moorland fires.
And, as you can see, they are just getting ready for a controlled burn.
Right, OK, what we are going to do now, we will just run through...
Billy Davison is wildfire support trainer
and today's burn supervisor.
Billy, before you even start the fire,
what do you need to do when you are planning it?
Well, when we plan it, we need to see
what size of block we'd need to burn out.
Things like the weather forecast.
Very much dependent on wind direction, wind strength.
-So, if it's far too windy, we wouldn't be doing it.
We also look at the depth of the heather,
which would then create a certain length of flame.
That flame could be anything up to three or four metres.
What are these guys doing here, then?
They are basically putting in the start of a control line.
It's roughly about 30cm wide and they have taken all the fuel out,
down to the mineral earth itself.
It doesn't seem very wide. Is that the boundary of the fire, then?
Just basically a starting point. What we need to do next
is strengthen it, so we need to make it wider.
We make it wider by using fire.
It's pretty dramatic-looking, considering it's not the main gig!
Yep. It's all nice and controlled.
'So now, with the control line in place,
'we are ready for the main event.
'And with a mixture of diesel and petrol in the drip torch,
-She's just dabbing down there.
-On that tall heather.
'Now, it's my turn.'
Gosh! Oh, my goodness!
I'm not sure I can cope with this responsibility. Right...
So just dropping it in, like that?
-Oh, my goodness. It goes so fast, doesn't it?
Intuitively, as a naturalist, this just feels so wrong,
setting the countryside ablaze.
But knowing that it is
all part of the training that stops wildfires,
it has got a very important purpose.
Look at the length of the flame now behind us.
So let's say this was a wildfire.
You guys will have got ahead of it.
Yep. We predict where it is going to go
and put in these control lines,
so when the wildfire reaches it, it just extinguishes it.
And you'd be ready for any spots that jumped over it?
-Cor, it's too hot to be close from there, isn't it?
-I'm losing my eyebrows, I'm sure of it.
'The project has brought together farmers, landowners
'and conservation bodies
'into one of the country's first designated fire groups.
'Rob Stacey is from the county's fire and rescue service.'
-Rob. How did that go?
-Hi, that was a good burn.
-Really pleased with that.
In our minds, we don't really associate Northumberland
with wildfires. We think of California, places like that.
So why is this wildfire group here?
We don't get wildfires on the same scale
as they do in the likes of California,
but we do get them and we do get them regularly.
If we do get dry weather we can get a spate of them.
And that's the real issue for us.
Yeah. And it's not just you professional firefighters.
There's other people being trained. What's involved in that training?
Yeah. Basically, we work together, sharing knowledge,
skills and experience
and that is helping us to put out these fires more effectively.
And the training goes both ways.
You guys sharing your knowledge, but also local landowners
giving their local knowledge back to you, right?
Definitely. It's a two-way process.
We've actually modified some of our equipment
to use some of the equipment the landowners use,
because it's more effective and efficient
for this type of firefighting.
Excellent. I feel responsible for that one,
so I'm going to go and give them a hand putting it out.
We've had just the right weather conditions for our work for the day,
but will you get the weather you need this week?
Time to find out with the Countryfile five-day forecast.
Northumberland is a county famed for its rugged beauty.
Its wide skies and vast beaches
have been an inspiration to artists down the ages.
None more so than one of our best-loved - LS Lowry.
I've been travelling through Lowry's Northumberland
with some old friends of his - Simon and Veral Marshall.
One of his favourite holiday spots was Berwick-upon-Tweed,
where he produced around 30 paintings and drawings.
What was it, do you think, about Berwick
that made him come back here again and again?
I suspect familiarity and, you know, there are some amazing views.
I think he probably found the people were friendly.
I think it suited him.
That pier, with the lighthouse on the end, is...it's Lowry.
You know, it's almost tailor-made for Lowry, isn't it?
And there's one final surprise - something precious and poignant.
You are the first person for 40 years
to see these drawings he gave me when I was driving him around.
-Nobody's ever seen these before?
This is a Lowry drawing?
That one of a ship and... LSL is his initials.
"LSL" signed down at the bottom there.
And then, rather fun, some yachts through some railings.
-Which is nice.
-And, again, a tanker in the background.
-He was very fond of the odd tanker.
-He liked his tankers, didn't he, Lowry? Yes.
That is a memento of Lowry, isn't it?
-It's fantastic, yeah.
And, I think, Veral, you were one of the last people
-to speak to him, weren't you?
-I think I was.
The phone rang and he said, "Oh, I'm coming to see you next Tuesday.
"I'll be there for coffee."
And we said, "Oh, great. Looking forward to it."
But the next day we heard that he'd had his fall at home
and, really, he never recovered properly from that.
-But what a legacy left behind.
-Including your own first person bit of it.
-Including these. Oh, yes.
-Definitely. A wonderful legacy.
-Well, for everybody,
because his works are enjoyed all over England
and all over the world as well.
No wish to change.
I like to paint the figures as I see them
and the landscape as I see it
and will keep on painting,
I suppose, just as I am doing now.
-You've chosen the perfect spot to end the programme.
-You've enjoyed your time in Northumberland?
I love it. It's one of my favourite places in the country.
-Me, too. You can understand why Lowry loved it so much.
But sadly, that's all we've got time for from Northumberland.
Next week, we will be in Dumfries and Galloway,
talking tea, dark skies, and, of course, Galloway cattle.
-So I hope you can join us then. Until then, bye-bye.
-Fantastic, isn't it?
-Cracker, isn't it?
-Lovely, lovely view.
John Craven takes to Northumberland's roads in a vintage Volvo, much like the car used to ferry the artist LS Lowry around on his visits to the area. To mark the 40th anniversary of Lowry's death, John follows in the artist's footsteps, accompanied by Simon Marshall, who used to drive Lowry to scenic spots for him to paint. Together, they meet the last of Berwick's traditional fishermen, a subject often painted by Lowry. Simon reveals, for the first time since the artist's death, two delicate line drawings that the artist gave him the last time they met.
Ellie Harrison is on the moors learning that the best ways to conserve vital moorland is to burn it. She joins the team behind an innovative scheme to train people how to cope with wildfires and how controlled burning can benefit wildlife. She also meets the breeder keeping one of the UK's most endangered heavy horses, the Clydesdale, going. Ellie tries her hand at working the horses on long reins and has a go at dressing their tails for showing.
Domestic violence can be a problem anywhere, but as Charlotte Smith discovers, when you live in an isolated rural area, finding the support you need to escape an abusive situation can be tough.
Plus the second of the Farming Hero nominees, Julia Evans, who opened a care farm in Worcestershire.