John Craven looks at the mineral Blue John hidden deep underground in the Peak District. Ellie Harrison tests out part of the 2014 Tour de France cycle race route.
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The spectacular vista of the Peak District -
hills and valleys, gorges and lakes,
wild moorland and grit-stone escarpments.
It's a landscape that many of us think we know so well,
yet it still has its secrets, some of them hidden deep underground.
I'll be in search of a precious mineral unique to these parts,
and the mining family with a remarkable story to tell.
The Peaks are a playground for many of us, whether it's walking,
climbing, caving or cycling that rocks your boat.
Cyclists love the challenges that these steep hills present, and next
year, this road will be part of the famous Tour de France cycling race.
Now, compared to them, my ambition is fairly small -
just to make it to the top of this hill.
'Tom is on a journey of his own, finding out about fish farming.'
In Scotland alone, the industry is worth £537 million
and employs over 2,000 people, but despite its growth
and economic success, it is still highly controversial.
In Somerset, Adam has got quite a job ahead of him.
Today, I'm on Exmoor, and I'm helping a big team of people
round up the largest herd of Exmoor ponies in the world,
and it's a typical Exmoor day - it's chucking it down!
The Peak District - dry stone walls, carved through broad, open moorland.
Deeply cut dales nestle under shelves of limestone.
It was designated Britain's first National Park in 1951,
a playground ripe for anyone with a taste for the great outdoors.
Stretching from the southern tip of the Pennines,
it's bordered by Manchester to the West and Sheffield to the East.
I'm heading to the Hope Valley, and the High Peak village of Castleton.
The landscape has been shaped by the rocks,
which for centuries have been a valuable source of revenue here.
But sometimes these hills hide something even more precious.
Beneath them is one of the area's great treasures, a shimmering
mineral that doesn't occur naturally anywhere else in the world -
I'm heading up this rather steep hill to Treak Cliff Cavern, one of the two
mines in this hill where the semi-precious mineral is dug out.
This subterranean wonderland has been designated
a Site of Special Scientific Interest.
The mine has been run by the same family for 70 years.
I'm finding out more from third generation owner, Vicky Turner.
-Well, there is water dripping everywhere, isn't there?
And it's this dripping water that makes all these lovely
-It's a bit like standing in a rain shower, 150 feet underground.
-And there is a magical atmosphere here.
And this chamber is actually called Fairyland,
or the Fairy Grotto, you can see all the little stalactites here,
these stalactites are approximately 111,000 years old.
So, you know a lot about this cave.
Because it's an unusual family business to have, isn't it?
It is, very unusual.
My father was a miner here, and I've spent all my life here,
grown up here, and in fact, I was here at such an early age,
the water is very pure here and it was mixed with my baby milk,
my baby milk powder, to feed me.
So, my bones are a product of this water in this cave.
-Yeah, yeah, I am physically Treak Cliff reared!
The water dissolves the minerals in the cavern to create these
But it is a chemical reaction within the rocks that creates
the real star of the show.
-And this is it, this is the Blue John.
-This is it, is it? Right.
-What exactly is it?
-It's a very rare variety of a very common mineral.
The very common mineral is fluorite, or fluorspar,
which occurs all over Derbyshire, all over the world,
but in this particular location, the combination of geology
and chemicals has made it very, very rare.
'The chemicals react with the crystals within the rock
'and distort them to produce the unique Blue John colouring.'
-It's a bit of a strange name. Why is it called Blue John?
When it was being mined for ornamental purposes
and made into big ornaments in the 1700s,
a lot of it went to France to be worked and fitted with ormolu
and clockworks, and the story is,
it came back from France with the colour of the stone,
blue and yellow, written on it in French - bleu et jaune.
Bleu et jaune. I see.
And the Derbyshire people corrupted it to the name Blue John.
If it's so valuable, how come you haven't mined all this?
Well, you see, this is part of the Blue John Pillar,
and the old miners thought that this was holding the roof up, and
the modern miners since then, no-one has wished to prove them wrong.
-They don't want to take the risk!
Unique to the Peaks,
Blue John is found in some of the world's greatest collections.
Windsor Castle, the White House
and the Vatican all boast a bit of Castleton's finest export.
What makes it so rare these days is that mining is strictly regulated.
The veins can only be worked for six months of the year
and only a small amount can be taken out, about 500 kilos, half a tonne.
And these dark caves have just revealed a long-lost secret,
one that will make sure this gem of the Peaks continues
to sparkle for years to come.
Later, I'll be hearing how a story of perseverance,
stretching back nearly seven decades, has finally paid off.
Now, an increasing amount of the fish that we eat comes
not from rivers or from the sea, but from farms.
But is that a good thing? Tom has been investigating.
As an island nation, fish has always been a staple part of our diet.
The love affair has gone from herring and sardines
to tuna and cod.
But these days, it's something once a little more exotic that's
tickling our taste buds - salmon.
And to meet our ever-growing demand for tasty, affordable fish,
aquaculture, or fish farming to you and me, is on the up.
Across the world, the business is worth £136 billion,
with everything being grown from haddock to tilapia.
And in the UK, 40% of all the money
we spend on fish is of the farmed variety.
Here in the Highlands, salmon production is the speciality.
It is a big business now, but not without controversy.
So, is it a good thing?
Well, I'm going to go and see how they do it for myself.
The process begins in hatcheries, where the eggs are hatched,
and the fries start their lives in large freshwater tanks.
Next, a few months in a freshwater loch,
where lights and a regular food supply speed up their life cycle,
then it's finally time to go to sea...
..and once they get out here into the saltwater,
that's when they really start to grow.
The salmon, they've got lots of space,
they grow well, you know, and it's just like any other animal,
if they don't have space, they won't grow, so, yeah, it's fantastic.
Looking forward to tying up and getting a closer look.
'Rosie Curtis has worked on this Marine Harvest fish farm at Loch Sunart for 16 years.
'She has worked her way up through the ranks
'and is now the only female fisheries manager in Scotland.'
-Does it go like that? Is that good enough?
Well, I can see, looking at them now, they are already,
I don't know, yea big, something like that, at the moment?
How old are these ones?
Yeah, these fish are now between a kilo and two kilos.
They've been with us since February.
And we'll hopefully start harvesting possibly in April.
How can you tell if they're happy in here?
We do checks twice a week for, you know, their gills
and the health of the fish.
We've also got CCTV cameras in all the pens,
so the camera is out in the middle of the pen
and they can drop down to the bottom of the net, and it also monitors
the feed that we are putting in, so we're not wasting any feed.
Each one of these pens is an equivalent size to three Olympic
swimming pools, and in every pen there are around 33,000 salmon,
but for animals that naturally live in the ocean,
is that enough space?
You know, you can see them,
they are, you know, swimming about quite happily and surfing there.
The recommendation from the RSPCA is 13kg per cubic metre,
and it's well within the welfare standard.
In this pen here, they are even more overexcited.
Well, they're just about to get fed.
This pen is just being fed at the moment,
and they know that they're going to be next to be fed.
So, as far as Rosie is concerned, everything on her farm is,
well, looking pretty rosy!
But what about the rest of the industry?
So, this is just one of many salmon farms across Scotland?
Yes, absolutely. 257 farms, about 157 active at any given time.
'Scott Landsburgh is Chief Executive
'of the Scottish Salmon Producers' Organisation,
'which represents around 98%
'of the active fish farms in Scotland.'
And how much is it all worth to Scotland, overall?
Well, at farm gate value,
our exports last year were worth £350 million,
so we are now Scotland's largest food export.
And why do you think, overall, fish farming is a good thing to be doing?
A number of reasons.
One, obviously, I believe it's a very good way and efficient way
of producing nutritional food for us humans to consume.
And also, environmentally, it saves us from having to go
and take depleted stocks out of the oceans.
'Not only that, Scott says it is good for our rural communities too.'
It's great news for the economy, the Highlands and Islands of Scotland.
So, we have direct jobs of 2,200 in the industry just now.
But additional to that, we reckon there could be in excess
of 7,000 jobs in really remote, rural locations,
which have never seen guaranteed employment on this scale.
When it comes to those jobs, how are you working out that multiplier?
What are those other trades?
Processing, for one, fish processing,
the feed companies, the farmers.
The farmers actually provide feed in Scotland, to our feed companies.
The transport and distribution, a huge amount of work goes into that.
I mean, the fact that we are selling
to 64 countries around the world, fresh salmon, you know,
a salmon could be harvested today
and could be on a table in Manhattan in three days' time,
I mean, there is a lot of infrastructure goes into that.
According to the SSPO, then, fish farming is good for our rural
areas, good for our economy, and provides
a method of generating an affordable and healthy source of protein.
But can the industry really be that faultless,
as good as it has been painted?
Well, certainly not everybody thinks so,
and that's what I'll be investigating later.
Today, we're exploring the Peak District...
..discovering some of the secrets
this wild and dramatic landscape holds.
This is Dove Stone Reservoir
in the North West of the Peak District National Park.
It was built in 1967 to collect the water from the surrounding
moorland, and today, it's also an RSPB reserve,
and locals say it was named because up on the skyline there,
there are some rocks in the shape of doves.
It's easy to see why people flock to this wild terrain.
Every week, a group of youngsters come here to discover
more about this wide open moorland.
They call themselves the Dove Stone Youth Rangers,
and today I'm going to be joining their ranks.
Now, to be a member, you need to be between 11 and 19.
I hope I'm not asked for ID!
'Greg Cookson from Oldham Youth Council is the man in charge.'
So, what do the young people get out of it, why do they do it?
Well, a lot of the young people are really,
really concerned about the environment, they come from
a variety of different backgrounds, they come from the town centre
and from close to Manchester city centre,
so they are actually learning what is here on their doorstep,
and what they do learn, they can take on to further things,
further things like university, the Duke of Edinburgh,
even things like the John Muir Award.
'These teenage rangers have been working on a number
'of projects here for the last 12 months.
'One of the biggest has been pond building.'
How are you doing, you two? So, tell me, why all these ponds?
Well, we've been doing a lot of research lately into pond life
and the frogs that live naturally,
and we've been finding out that they've been declining,
due to a loss of habitat and places that they can actually breed.
It's not easy at all.
We had to bring the gravel up, dig the hole,
pump the water down, which took ages, from further down there
and then we had to wait for it to settle and we put our plants
and rocks in.
-It looks so natural, but a load of work goes into it, doesn't it?
'The Youth Rangers also work with Geoff de Boer, the local RSPB education officer.'
Talk me through what we're doing here.
We're just taking off the lower branches and getting ready to fell this tree.
This area of dry heath land is really good for small mammals, little birds,
short-eared and long-eared owls,
and as we take these down, we open up this area, so more wildlife can come in.
Trees like this have lots of pine cones, lots of great nesting
sites, so we are leaving some for the birds and other animals,
but we're just making sure more light and diversity is getting in.
The Young Rangers are encouraged to get stuck in with all
the land management work needed here.
I'm sure there are not many 14-year-olds that chop down trees in their spare time.
-But this girl does.
-There we go.
Wah-hah! Why would you do this?
It's freezing cold. I should think you're out in all kinds of weathers.
From a young age I've been encouraged by my parents to come out into the outdoors.
They take me on walks all the time and camping outdoors.
What do you think you've learnt through being a Ranger?
Hardingstone is quite interesting because when I was little
I came up here a lot and I thought it was dead boring
but it's actually got loads of different habitats here.
It's really good.
Volunteering as a Youth Ranger can also open doors.
Marion Wasim is 18 and the experience she has gained here has impressed universities.
In an interview, one of the admission officers was really
impressed, as well as surprised
that at this age I've got
so much experience of being out here and being outdoors, doing the stuff
and knowing that I actually want to pursue this,
because I have had experience of doing so much conservation work.
So this has genuinely helped you?
'Spending time outdoors has also provided an opportunity to get closer to wildlife
'and the Rangers' latest project has been capturing this local fauna on film.'
It's become a bit of a tradition to sit down together to watch
some of the footage of under a cleverly placed tarpaulin in the woods -
a makeshift cinema -
"flicks in the sticks", if you will.
And that wouldn't be complete without popcorn.
'I'm taking my seat on the back row
'for this wildlife matinee. Apprentice youth worker Arita Iqbal
'helped the youngsters capture the footage.'
Tell me about the camera traps.
We did a little research of our own
and we decided on three different places
because we found different faeces of animals
and other tracks so we put them in three different places and kept them there for a few weeks.
What have you managed to see?
We saw a stoat chasing a brown hare,
which was quite amazing because
the stoat is so small and the hare is so big
that you wouldn't believe a stoat could kill a brown hare.
It was quite amazing to see something as good as that in real life happening.
What else have you managed to see from the camera trap?
We saw a squirrel and a pheasant up a pond
and they didn't know each other was there and as soon as they saw
each other, they both got really scared and jumped.
So that's one of the ponds that you've been working on?
'The local wildlife is already making good use of the new ponds. This heron is a regular visitor.
'It has been a really enjoyable day
'working alongside these young trailblazers.
'This beautiful landscape is now in safe hands
'and has helped to inspire the next generation of conservationists.'
The loss of business in rural areas
is a story we hear all too often but one village is turning the tide, as Helen has been finding out.
In the heart of the Peaks lies Tideswell.
Like so many other villages, a once-thriving
High Street has been reduced to a core of a few shops.
In a bid not lose any more,
its fortunes have been resurrected by turning into a gastronomic hub,
asking people to shop locally and not to be tempted by the supermarket.
The village now has its own Taste Tideswell brand
to show off the local food on offer,
plus its own local thriving cookery school,
which today is showcasing a new course.
Things are going from strength to strength
so much so that the cookery course has teamed up with local landowners
to teach people how to shoot and butcher their own meat.
Chuck in some local produce and I think we are in for a slap-up lunch.
The idea is to look beyond the shrink-wrap cellophane
trays and encourage people to reconnect with the food they eat
and the environment in which it's farmed or found.
My shooting partners are husband-and-wife combo
Nigel and Samantha
and our hunter-gatherer coach is Peter Rowe.
Today he's only letting us loose with clays.
Perfect. What we'll show you
eventually is how to shoot the gun from the hip
and then bring the gun up to the shoulder
and then shoot in what we call a one-piece movement.
Here's an empty gun.
We'd be here like this and then we'd bring the gun up like that
and then take the bird in one shot like that.
Presumably that's the aim of the game - to take the bird in one shot?
Absolutely. Clean shot. We promote
a sporting bird. We promote
a clean shot so the bird will be dead before it hits the ground.
You're going to shoot within your capability.
You don't want to shoot something too far away,
because then you'll prick it and it won't be very nice, OK?
Bring your gun up and...
SHOT RINGS OUT
-Did I get it?!
-Smashed it to bits.
Not bad for a novice but then it's not the first time I have been called a game bird!
And fire. SHOT RINGS OUT
Obviously we won't be cooking with the clays. Peter has already shot
-some sporting birds for the students to cook with later.
-Bring your gun up.
SHOT RINGS OUT
It's a good stance.
Bring your gun up, and...
SHOT RINGS OUT Perfect.
How would you both feel about shooting your own dinner?
Not sure. Not sure at the moment.
I don't think so, do you?
Birds, pheasants, maybe, but I don't think I could shoot anything else.
Joe Hunt is the cookery school's head chef tutor
and he will show us the next step in the food chain.
This isn't ever-so pretty
but this is a fact of life.
This is what all animals come to us like.
They are alive once upon a time.
You need to be in touch with your meat and your food.
Yeah? You can buy it pre-packed and pre-done but where's it come from,
who's dealt with it, have they done it a good life, have they done it justice?
If you do it yourself, you know it's had a proper life. So cut your wings off.
You're getting really stuck in. Have you done this before?
No, but I'm a surgeon.
You can understand that people are squeamish because this isn't how
most people see food.
It's not cos it's so sanitised but this is how it was done.
Everyone had chickens.
People want to get back to nature
and start dealing with their own food again.
As we're a tea-time show, we'll spare you
too many gory details and get on with the cookery.
We are going to prepare the pheasant. We'll take the breast
meat off and take the leg and thighs off, yeah?
We'll keep them together in one
and take the breast off.
Go either side of the breast meat, hold it down with your hands
and cut into the actual breastbone.
You can hear it against the bone,
down, along...like so.
You start to pull the breast meat away
from the actual pheasant.
To play devil's advocate,
you can see why people buy meat ready-prepared
because it's less hassle, isn't it?
It is less hassle but it's more expensive.
If you go to your butcher and buy a really good-quality whole chicken,
and you take the breast, legs and thighs off,
and all that for six quid...
or you buy a pack of four breasts for five quid.
There's no chemicals in this - it's been reared slowly and naturally.
It's very low in fat.
This has taken a nice season to grow
up to a nice young bird so it's much healthier for you.
And, of course, there's no packaging or food miles.
Some veg from Tideswell's village shop
makes the base of our casserole
along with our freshly butchered pheasant.
After a day of country pursuits,
it's time to reap the rewards.
Right then, chefs!
We have a locally shot pheasant casserole
with silver-skin onions
and mushrooms and we have some roasted vegetables coming your way,
all from our local shops in Tideswell.
I hope you've all had a wonderful day
and enjoy your food. Thank you. Well done everybody.
This morning you didn't seem too excited or keen
to kill something, then cook it.
-How do you feel about it now?
-I've seen the bird,
I've seen it dead.
I've plucked it, I've skinned it, I've prepared it.
I'll definitely have another go right from scratch.
'This class not only helps people appreciate where their food comes from,
'but brings some valuable income into the shops
Cheers! Thank you for a lovely day.
Earlier we heard about the growth of fish farming in the UK
with salmon topping the tables in terms of our taste
and of production.
But not everybody's happy about that.
Here's Tom again.
With our ever-growing population, changing tastes
and demand for affordable forms of protein,
fish farming has become a booming global industry.
In Scotland alone, it's worth £537 million
and employs over 2,000 people.
But, despite its growth and economic success,
it is still highly controversial.
Upstream in Glencoe, I'm starting to find out why.
25 years ago,
the local angling club counted 500 salmon
in this one pool just downstream of here.
Today if you counted five, you'd be very lucky.
'Andrew Graham-Stewart from the Salmon and Trout Association Scotland
'fears for the future of wild fish
'as a result of fish farming.'
What is causing this collapse?
The problem is sea lice
from the fish farms. They are a small parasite
and they live on and eat the skin
and the flesh of salmon and sea trout.
Sea lice occur naturally in the ocean, don't they?
They do. There's a natural background level of sea lice in the sea.
But fish farms where you have half a million fish or so
in the fish farms,
that's a reservoir of breeding adults
which create literally billions
of sea lice larvae which spread out
and you then have a "sea lice soup"
through which the juvenile fish, which aren't adapted to coping
with those numbers of lice, have got to swim.
The latest credible study done by sea lice experts
from Scotland, Canada and Norway
concluded that 34% of salmon leaving these rivers
next to fish farms die as a result.
Andrew says that fish farms and the lice they generate
have pushed down the numbers of wild salmon in rivers like this
on the West Coast of Scotland
to an all-time low.
He also says the industry is not acknowledging its part in creating this problem.
'What does the Scottish Salmon Producers' Organisation have to
'say about that?'
Are lice from your farms killing wild salmon?
I wouldn't say so. There's a lot of discussion about it.
But there's no empirical evidence that suggests that's the case.
'Why, then, does the industry spend millions of pounds each year
'on chemicals to treat lice?'
We want to ensure that we have healthy fish.
That's the key to our future.
We want to have a sustainable industry here.
It's a challenge for the wild fish
and for farm fish as well.
You acknowledge it's a challenge,
so are you taking some responsibility for making sure you reduce the lice burden?
Yes, but as I said, the parasite starts in the wild
and we obviously have to manage the challenge
that comes to the fish farms.
Concerns have been raised about the environmental impact
of these anti-lice chemicals.
In a recent three-year study of the main fish-farming areas
in Scotland, more than 9% of the sea bed samples exceeded
The SSPO says it's working to reduce chemicals
in salmon farms.
This is a ballan wrasse.
'And some of its member farms are trying a more natural approach to lice control.'
This is a cleaner fish
so we put them in the pen and they naturally eat the lice off the back of the fish.
So they come up to the salmon and nibble the lice off them?
They just naturally do it, yeah.
How effective are they?
So far on our site they've been very effective.
Up till now we would have done two treatments
and we have done no treatments.
So you don't have to use much chemical at all - or really none?
We haven't used any chemicals this cycle at all
since we've introduced wrasse into our farm.
Despite the efforts of the industry,
some are still strongly opposed to fish farming,
including a small but vocal group called Protect Wild Scotland.
It has additional concerns such as the impact of waste from the farms,
and claims that escaped fish
are diluting the wide salmon gene pool, something the industry denies.
However, the Scottish Salmon Producers' Association
told us they would not take part
in this film if we interviewed the PWS.
Why didn't you want us to talk to Protect Wild Scotland?
Because the representatives of Protect Wild Scotland
are not representative of the wild sector.
Isn't that for them to make that judgment,
for the audience to make that judgment, not for you to say,
"You can't come on our property if you interview them"?
-We are not prepared to discuss them.
But why is it? They are a pressure group with a voice
like other people in the country. It seems to me
if you were confident in your message you could take on all-comers.
I'm willing to discuss anything on a rational basis
with anybody with a rational argument, as we are as an industry.
I would suggest they don't quite have a rational argument.
We put that to Protect Wild Scotland who said it raised the question...
It feels that salmon farming in Scotland
has reached a crisis point
and still has many serious problems to address
and it told us it believes that...
Salmon naturally eat other fish in the wild,
but one of the concerns for Protect Wild Scotland
is the sheer volume of fish it takes to feed farmed salmon.
As the weather turned against us,
we spoke to the Marine Conservation Society
which has been looking into this issue.
Some progress has actually been made. We are seeing
a decreasing trend in the amount of wild fish
that's going into the diets of farmed salmon,
but the Scottish Government has very ambitious growth targets
for farmed salmon,
so that fish contact needs to decrease even further.
Dawn believes there have been real improvements.
But she's worried that Government plans to expand the industry further
could undermine that progress.
When it comes to your kind of school report on the salmon-farming
industry, would you say, "Doing OK but could do even better"
as regards the impact on wild fish?
Yes, that sums it up perfectly.
There has been a lot of progress actually made
and the Marine Conservation Society
has been leading the way
to try and make sure the fish that goes into salmon diets
is responsibly managed.
But we still have a way to go, we still need to
reduce the fish content in salmon diets
even further and we have to remember
that fish are a finite resource.
Our oceans can't provide any more wild fish
than they actually are,
so it's imperative that we keep trying
to reduce the fish even more in salmon farm diets.
The Scottish salmon industry says it only sources its fish for food
from sustainably managed wild fisheries
and they are now trying alternative diets,
including vegetable sources
of protein and oils like wheat and beans.
Fish farming's benefits are easy to see.
Employment where it's scarce and a nutritious form of food.
Its environmental record is a little harder to determine.
The effects are often hidden beneath the waves.
While the industry has obviously improved,
it'll have to go even further before everyone will grant it a clean
bill of health.
There are few things more magical than the sight of wild ponies
at one with their natural environment.
This week, Adam's heading to Somerset to help round up
a group of Exmoors for the annual stock-take.
But first, he's at home in the Cotswolds,
checking on the progress of his crops.
We plant a lot of our arable crops in the autumn.
And last autumn, the weather was so wet,
we couldn't get the machines on the ground,
so a lot of the crops got planted very late.
This year, it's been the opposite.
The ground conditions have been perfect
and this oilseed rape crop we started to plant
in the middle of August, and it's grown really well.
You can see the plant has grown very quickly,
it's grown away from the slugs and the insects.
The pigeons won't be able to get into it now
because there's a complete canopy of oilseed rape.
Potentially this crop could be very, very good.
So we're set up for a better year.
There's the odd weed in here, these little yellow flowers,
but they're just a bit of charlock that the frost will kill off.
On the other side of that hedge, we have another crop of oilseed rape
that was planted ten days after this.
It's much smaller. It's amazing how important that planting date is.
On the rest of the farm we have winter barley and winter wheat
that is also looking very good.
If you can get these crops established well in the autumn,
the potential for next year's harvest is great.
It's a long way to go yet but things are looking good.
The crops are an important part of our business,
but as a family, we are also passionate about our animals,
especially rare breeds.
I have three older sisters
and when we were children, my dad gave us
a rare breed each to get us into rare breeds conservation.
He gave me the Exmoor ponies here,
so we've had them on the farm for about 40-odd years.
The first three came off Exmoor.
He was given them by a guy called Ronnie Wallace.
Now David Wallace owns the herd
and I am heading down there to help them with their annual gather.
You're lovely, aren't you?
Exmoor National Park has a wild beauty whatever the weather.
People come here to enjoy the rugged landscape
and, of course, its wild ponies.
Today there is a special event.
A group of volunteers are gathering
to help husband and wife team David and Emma Wallace
round up their herd of wild Exmoors.
Good morning, everybody!
And welcome to our annual gathering here
on Winsford Hill
on a typical autumn Exmoor day.
David and Emma Wallace have gathered a large team of people
to help them bring the Exmoor ponies off the moor
down to their farm.
Before they set off, David is just giving them a briefing.
We have people helping us today
from as far away as France
and all over England.
What's the plan now, David? You're splitting everybody up?
We are organising everybody
and making sure we get an even distribution
of vehicles and ponies
on both sides of this road.
We hope to find today somewhere near to 30 or 40 ponies.
And the reason for bringing them down at this time of year?
It is time to wean the foals from their mothers.
It's the annual time of the year where we are separating out.
We need to see whether we've got lots of little girls, the fillies,
whether we have got lots of little boys with the colts.
Looking forward to seeing what we've got.
-It's like Christmas.
I remember your father, Ronnie Wallace,
giving my dad three Exmoors when I was just a little boy.
And I remember as a little boy, too,
delivering them to your father
up in the Cotswolds,
so it is wonderful you are here today witnessing this annual event.
It's very exciting and despite the weather, I am looking forward to it.
I'm glad we've been able to organise a good Exmoor day for you(!)
Let's go and get some ponies.
Let's go and be cowboys!
David's team are fully briefed.
All they have to do now is find the ponies and round them up...
which is easier said than done.
There's a convoy of cars coming up the road
and it's amazing to see these horses riding
across the moor in thick fog...
and rain. I'm not quite sure how they are finding these ponies.
How are you getting on? Have you seen many?
Yes, we saw some just over the back of the hill there
which seems to have moved, come across the road already,
so we're just doing another sweep of the side of the moor,
make sure we've got everyone.
Just pulled over and spotted a group of Exmoors here,
quite close to the road.
The horse riders and quad bikes are coming across the moor
to bring them this way.
These animals are quite wild.
They live out on the moor all the year round
and they are perfectly designed for it.
They've lived out here for hundreds if not thousands of years.
They have really broad foreheads and the rain just runs off the eyes.
Their tail fans out over their rump
and they have amazing fur that keeps them warm and insulated
even in the harshest of conditions,
and out here on Exmoor, it can get very harsh.
It's not just the riders that get a thrill. There's plenty of spectators
to enjoy it as well.
Sue, you've been very involved in the Exmoor Pony Society.
I've never been up for the gather before. It's very exciting.
-It's your first time?
coming to watch gatherings for more years than I care to remember
and I'm still just excited,
and when you see a whole group of them break the skyline,
galloping in towards you, all identical, it's fantastic.
How long have they lived up in the moor for?
We are talking thousands of years, because we think
they are a relic population
of the original British hill pony.
The first wild ponies came to Britain over 100,000 years ago.
And we think they've been here ever since,
so you're seeing something pretty special.
There are about 20 cantering past now
and more coming up over the horizon.
I've never seen so many Exmoors in one place at one time.
It really is a spectacular sight
as more and more Exmoors are driven off the moor
and into the holding area before the next part of their journey.
That's the first bit of the moor gathered.
They now go through into the second
bit of the moor and then into the fields,
into what they call a funnel,
down the road to the pens.
The Exmoors look magnificent as a herd.
They're an enchanting and versatile breed
and can make great riding ponies
and are never more at home than here on Exmoor.
They love coming out and having a gallop across the moor,
they're sure-footed, they don't mind the terrain,
so, yeah, brilliant.
Is there any interaction between them and the wild ponies?
We sometimes get the free-living ponies following us on our rides,
-but they don't cause us any problems.
The team managed to gather 30-odd ponies off the moor.
Now there's just one last trot
down the lanes to David and Emma's farm.
After a hectic morning's work,
there's a well-earned reward for everyone.
How did it all go?
It went really well.
Considering the weather today,
we've gathered all our ponies off the hill
and it's been a spectacular sight.
It's very exciting to see
the mares coming off with their foals
and in the next couple of days we'll be weaning the foals from the mares.
Then the mares and stallions run back on to the moor?
They do indeed.
The foals are weaned from them.
They'll go back out onto the hill
and enjoy a winter without a foal annoying them
-and then hopefully give birth again in the spring.
There we are, the most ancient indigenous British breed of pony,
probably the toughest of the lot,
gathered safely off the moor for another year.
I'm in the High Peak village of Castleton.
It sits in the shadow of the Treak Cliff Cavern,
famous for its unique Blue John stone
not found anywhere else.
I'm here to meet former miner Peter Harrison,
who has been on the hunt for something for 68 years.
As a young man in 1945,
Peter was told of a new vein of Blue John
by an elderly miner in poor health.
He said, "Peter, I have some Blue John in here
"that I would like you to help me get out,"
so I said, "Just let me know
"when you'd like the help and I will,"
and I took him home and that was the very last time he came up here -
he died within a fortnight.
So nobody knew at all
where the new vein was.
The old miners were very secretive
and if they found anything good,
they'd cover it up with something -
maybe an old carpet or pieces of wood or stone.
Did you look for that?
We looked for it everywhere.
We thought wherever we looked,
we couldn't find it.
Couldn't find it at all.
Peter and his relatives spent decades searching for the lost
vein of the mineral
until the quest finally fell on the shoulders of Peter's 21-year-old
who - after a mining masterclass - struck lucky.
John, your grandfather spent 70 years searching for this lost
seam and everybody had just about given up hope.
Then along comes you. What happened?
Well, for the first week or so of working here,
the lead miner, Gary Ridley, was showing me where you find
crystal toppings that do indicate good-quality Blue John.
While he was doing that,
I was not getting bored but getting agitated
about getting on and trying it myself
so just looking around on the spot where I was, I did notice
the defined crystals Gary was talking about.
The telltale signs?
The pointy crystal tops, they look like melted dice.
All the points stick up and that indicates
quality Blue John.
So I started digging, as anybody wood,
and as I dug through the clay there were layers
I went through - strange layers you wouldn't normally find in a cave.
At the top was a layer of carpet -
very old carpet.
Underneath the carpet were layers of wooden batons
and underneath them were stone -
clean lime stone.
The more they came back, the more Blue John was shown to us.
The cavern had finally given up its secret
and this is it.
This is the lost seam that you found.
Exactly. We are currently sat on top of
a blue gold mine, let's say.
How much is there, do you reckon?
We estimate around 15 tonnes.
A nice prize.
Now that you've found the vein, this is how you mine it, is it,
chipping it out?
This is exposing what hasn't been drilled, if you see what I mean.
You see how it's falling out really easily?
It means there's not much holding it together
and it's just clay pushing it down,
so what we're trying to do is dig behind it, drill behind,
drop the big pieces out.
Use a big power drill, then?
We have a big drill. We try and get as much out
as we possibly can, even the little bits,
even the pieces that are really small,
they hold some fantastic-quality veins
that are really good for the small jewellery like necklaces,
pendants, rings and things like that.
What nature begins, Pete Sharp finishes
here in the workshop.
What's the quality like
of the seam John's found?
There you have some really nice colours coming through.
You have this nice blue band
going all the way round,
a nice blue band at the bottom as well...
You can see through some of it.
Especially now I've thinned it right down,
you have this nice shape going on here
fluting out slightly.
It's rather nice.
It'll keep you busy for quite a few years.
Certainly. I have plenty turning to do.
How much would a bowl like this cost me?
Anything from £400 to £600.
It just depends on what the vein is.
With it being a new vein,
it could go in the region of four to seven.
What sounded like an old miner's tale has actually proved to
be a legacy
that means Blue John, so unique to the Peaks,
can live on for yet another generation.
Peter, what do you think of your grandson
finding this treasure you searched for years for?
He must have the luck of the devil.
There it was and all he did
was scratch the top off the carpet and found it with his feet.
And I'd been looking for it for donkey's years.
You've got the wrong shoes on.
-You'd walked over that spot many times?
-Oh, dozens of times!
How do you feel about it, John?
You found the treasure your grandfather had spent
nearly 70 years looking for.
I was always worried about filling his shoes,
so to speak,
and with this vein of Blue John, it's done it in one swift go.
-You think so?
-Yes, I do.
There it is. 70 years of looking
and finding nothing and there it is.
John had been here five minutes and finds it.
It's a sunny outlook here at Treak Cliff Cavern.
But what does the week ahead have in store for us weather-wise?
Here's the Countryfile forecast.
Today John and I have been exploring the Peak District
and discovering some of the secrets this beautiful landscape keeps.
One of the best ways to enjoy this terrain
is to get on your bike.
The roads that zigzag the Peaks are ridden by
locals and tourists
who come to enjoy these views, which are spectacular.
They also come for the terrain which pushes pedal power to the limit.
That's a fact that has not gone unnoticed
by the cycling elite.
This is the sleepy village of Holme on the edge of the Peaks.
It may look quiet and serene now
but come next July,
it's set to get the biggest wake-up call in its recent history.
Because, for the first time,
the world-famous Tour de France cycle race
is set to thunder through here on day two of this epic race.
150,000 people are expected to come along to watch.
But that's nothing. 12 million people line each stage of the route
Stage two of next year's race is from York to Sheffield.
But it's hear in Holme competitors will need to get a handle
on their handlebars
as they will face a hill that climbs to 524 metres above sea level.
That's more than 1,700 feet.
I'm meeting Lee Rylands, keen cyclist
and sports lecturer at Derby University, to find out more.
What are they going to face?
Obviously it's fantastic because the tour's coming to the
north of England for the first time ever
and this hill will really be a game-changer for them.
There is a hill here which is 7% through to 14%
and if the riders can make a break at a specific point on that hill,
and gain that break,
I think, leading through to Sheffield,
that could be the winning hill here.
So the chances are if they make it to the top of this hill
first or make a break away here,
they'll sustain that through to the end?
Definitely. I don't think some
of the European riders when they come here will expect
the steepness because it's 14%, which is quite brutal.
That IS brutal.
So they think, "It's just England, it won't be that bad.
"We're used to the Alps." And they'll get a nasty surprise.
I definitely think they will.
There's only one way
to see what the Tour de France competitors will face.
I'm going to cycle the hill myself.
I'm joining Mark Etches and some of the lads from Sheffrec Cycling Club
from Sheffield and this hill is part of their training.
So Mark, this is your standard route as part of your training.
What sort of perils will the Tour de France riders face?
This is one of the penultimate climbs of stage two.
This is quite a climb,
so we expect some attacks to come on these slopes here.
This is where it starts to kick up.
A mile and a quarter now to the top of the climb.
There's a mark on the road there.
That's right - so we know how far we have to go.
It's not easy, is it?
I'm struggling to keep pace with Mark
at around five miles per hour.
The riders in the Tour de France
will attack this hill at three times that.
Around this corner now,
the wind will start to come across.
-Can you feel the wind now?
A bit of a push.
We're at 5%/6%.
It's just starting to pull on those calves.
-God, it is.
I'm a keen cyclist, but this gradient is testing me to the limit.
I know I can do better than this, and although I shouldn't blame my tools,
there's got to be something wrong with this bike.
A quick stop to check, and I don't believe it -
I've been riding with the brakes on.
There you go, look.
I'm not THAT unfit - the brake was locked on.
A likely story!
Thank goodness I can hold my cycling helmet high again,
and we're nearly at the top.
This is where, you know, the many thousands of spectators
will be jumping for joy
at the sight of the biggest cycle race in the world.
And what about you personally? Why do you love cycling in the Peaks?
Oh, it just doesn't get any better.
You know, good cyclists seek the hills out,
whereas, you know, the novices tend to shy away from the hills.
-We go looking for them.
-We're nearly there!
-Yeah, we're getting towards the top!
-Are we going to have a sprint?
-No, we're not!
-Last push to the line.
-Just keep going.
-Feel those legs burn.
Yes! All right!
I'm out of breath.
Oh, I've got nothing... nothing to say!
Wow, that was amazing.
-Did you enjoy that?
I feel sorry for them, they're not going to be able to enjoy this view.
-They'll be pedalling so hard.
-It's a stunning place now, up here.
-It's like, on top of the world.
Well, I'm not going to "Tour de Chance" my luck on that descent,
because it looks more terrifying than the climb.
I've cycled just one hill of the 2,701 miles of next year's race,
that will take riders from Leeds to the finish line in Paris.
Instead, a quick change, and time to find John.
Well, that is it from the Peak District
-Not quite, Ellie.
Not quite, because - have you got yours yet?
-No, not one of these!
-No? Well, now that it's December,
time to start thinking about Christmas presents.
-And what better than a Countryfile calendar?
Here's how to buy one.
The calendar costs £9, including free UK delivery.
You can buy yours on our website, that's...
Or by calling the order line on...
A minimum of £4 from the sale of every calendar
will be donated to the BBC Children In Need appeal.
And that IS it from the Peak District.
Next week we're in Cheshire, looking at, among other things,
the silk industry started by farmers making buttons for extra cash.
-Hope you can join us then. Bye-bye.
Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd
The team is in the Peak District, where John Craven looks at the secrets this familiar landscape is hiding deep underground. There's the precious shining mineral called Blue John, of which a new seam has just been discovered, thanks to a family riddle.
In 2014, part of the Tour de France cycle race route will take in the highs of the Peak District. Ellie Harrison tests out part of this challenging route with a seasoned cyclist. Along the way she finds out the history of a very special site where tanks were tested ahead of going to the front in World War II.
Helen Skelton is also in the Peaks, in the village of Tideswell which is trying to persuade local people to buy their food from the village shops. She takes part in a local initiative which teaches people where their food comes from in the countryside, and also learns to shoot at targets and then cook up a delicious game pie.
Over the last few decades more and more of the fish we eat has come from farms. Tom Heap is in Scotland to see fish farming for himself, discover the benefits and find out about the controversy that this relatively new form of farming has caused.
Adam Henson is on Exmoor, helping out with the annual round-up of wild native ponies.