Matt meets a writer who draws inspiration from the Thames Estuary and its people, and Naomi meets a photographer captivated by the waterfall at Lydford Gorge.
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Rising in high places,
tumbling over age-worn rock,
cutting swathes through valleys and plains,
ours is a landscape edged by water.
Rivers, streams and canals -
they crisscross our countryside, but eventually they all feed into
the sea, and on today's programme,
we're going to be telling the story of some of our water courses,
starting here with the most famous of all - the Thames Estuary.
I'm with the artist finding inspiration down by the river.
-That's a nice bit.
I'd say that would be a nice top fin perhaps, a dorsal fin.
You're finding all the good stuff. You are like a magnet.
Naomi's enchanted by one of England's highest waterfalls.
-There she is.
-Oh. That's lovely, isn't it?
Sean sees the amazing transformation of a riverside rubbish dump.
Ten years ago, we would have seen rubbish just on the surface here.
Well, this used to be one of the biggest landfill sites in
Tom's investigating if science is keeping up with the nightmare of bovine TB.
With a 90-year-old skin test that doesn't always get it right,
and a vaccination for cattle that can't be used,
do we really have the scientific tools to win the war against TB?
And Adam's gone to the dogs at one of the last traditional
country fairs in the land.
Oh, it's going to be a close-run thing! Oh, there we go!
Now it's got hold of the lure, and he's run-off with it.
I think that's probably the end of the race, because he's run off with the lure.
Brackish river water lapping against North Sea brine.
Huge tides and wader-haunted mudflats mark the ebb and flow.
The Thames Estuary is our gateway to the world.
It's a place of comings and goings.
Goods, livestock, food and people all carried in on the mighty River Thames.
Forget the Royal river of tourist photos.
The Thames I'm interested in is further out.
Far beyond the city, between Tilbury and Gravesend,
the river widens, and mingles with the clouds.
You get an incredible sense of space here,
and the bustle of the city feels like it's a long, long way away.
And it's easy to see how all of this calm can fire the artistic imagination.
# Once I was a rigger and I worked like hell... #
Every autumn, the Estuary Festival brings together art,
music and history.
# I go rolling down the river... #
Centre stage are the people of the Thames and their stories.
# We'll all get drunk in Tilbury town
# 24 hours to turn around to go rolling down the river... #
I started working on the cockle boats when I was
about 10 or 11 years old.
When you filled the baskets up, you put the yokes on, carried them
in the boat and emptied them into the hold.
Some of the things I've caught in my nets are bombs, mines.
I've had a whole aeroplane. I had a Boulton Paul Defender.
I had a lovely piece of amber that I've had made into jewellery
for my wife and my two daughters.
That was very nice.
The weather and the tides in the Thames Estuary are very much related.
A lot of storms come up from the east.
If you don't respect it, it can pay back very, very dear.
These words have been recorded for posterity by author
..who is also the curator of the festival.
These beautiful voices, then.
Why were you so keen to record them and to hear what they had to say?
Well, I've been writing this book about the history of the
Thames Estuary, and I really wanted to capture the voices of
those who've spent their working lives on the river,
so I gathered together this great chorus of voices to, kind of,
understand what goes on out there in the Thames Estuary.
It was amazing hearing their stories.
And all, no doubt, with that one thing in common - a love for this water.
An absolute love, despite the dangers.
Many of those people will have worked within sight of this place,
Tilbury's famous cruise ship terminal - a hub of comings
and goings for 80 years, and a place which features in Rachel's book.
I guess, Rachel, when you start researching this from a, kind of, book perspective,
the stuff that you must uncover,
and then deciding what to include, where do you start?
It's almost impossible.
You know, you can't capture the whole story of this river.
Boats, goods, people have been travelling in and out of the Thames Estuary.
It's been the gateway for millennia and more, you know,
into London and then out to the wider world you know,
from the Roman period, the Vikings onward,
-the great, billowing merchant ships coming down river...
-..in the 17th and 18th centuries.
You know, over the river there, we've got Gravesend, you know.
That's where the Mayflower stopped on her journey,
historic journey, out to New England full of pilgrims.
-I mean, all of history is here.
These days, there are 21,000 cargo ship movements a year.
40 million tonnes of freight - a good deal of it food, wheat,
barley, beans, edible oils.
The list goes on.
All of it handled by the Port of London authority.
Now, as far as boats and ships are concerned,
this is kind of air traffic control, and from here, all the vessels
out on the water are monitored safely in and out of London.
-And Kevin here... Good to see you, Kevin.
-Nice to meet you.
..is the man in charge, and the perfect man, obviously,
to tell me about what's going on on these screens.
So, where shall we start?
Well, we've got such a big area that we're looking after.
600 square miles, right out into Essex and Kent.
-This is your line here, is it?
-Yeah, I'm with you.
So, all of these are ships, so there's a container ship.
Following behind her are two tankers.
On top of that, we have all of the yachts,
the fishermen and the local traffic that we're looking after as well.
And just coming in here, beautifully, I can't really
recognise her on your screen, but I can out of the window, the Waverley.
My word, she's absolutely beautiful,
-and a new arrival in these parts for today.
First day on the river today for the new season,
so we've been looking after her and all of the passengers
-enjoying the lovely weather on the river.
The mixture of vessels that you've got on the water to look after,
-I mean, that's kind of the whole spice of it all.
And later in the programme, I'll be navigating these waters myself.
With another badger cull under way,
Tom is looking at the science behind the battle against TB in cattle.
There is a dark shadow looming over cattle farming in the UK.
Bovine TB is our most pressing and most costly animal health problem.
Regular testing has become a gruelling and emotional fact of life.
Just one positive reading, and a whole herd is under restriction.
So, if an infected herd is officially tested
and declared TB-free, you'd think that was pretty good.
But what if I were to tell you that
for every five herds declared TB-free,
one will still be harbouring the disease unseen and undetected.
And that is thought to be a major cause of reinfection of
cattle herds in many parts of the country.
Defra, the government department responsible,
says this applies to all previously infected herds in
the 14 counties which make up high-risk areas of England.
In all my years of reporting this story, I've never heard that figure before.
It appears to be a real weakness, that even when herds are
declared TB-free, in fact, more than 20% retain infected animals.
I've come to Devon to find out more.
These are some of the ten million cattle regularly tested for TB in the UK.
It's always an anxious time for farmers, because the lives of
their cattle, and the health of their business, are at stake.
Jilly Greed's cattle have been in and out of TB infection for 15 years.
The latest round of restrictions mean they all have to be tested
every 60 days, and Jilly can't move or sell live cattle.
It's emotionally draining and costing a fortune.
She can only be declared TB-free when they all test negative
twice in a row.
-How are you feeling today, Julie?
-Um, I'm apprehensive.
Do you find yourself, inevitably, sort of,
counting down as you go through them, thinking, fingers crossed?
I'm more, when the vet is checking with the callipers,
that's when she goes back to check.
When she's looked once and she looks more closely.
-That's when your pulse begins to race?
-It's millimetres. You know.
The test was devised in the 1920s. This is how it works -
three days ago, vet Christina Ruiz
injected each cow with two harmless strains of TB.
Today, she's measuring changes to skin thickness
in both injection sites.
Because Jilly's herd is under restriction,
if there's more than two millimetres' difference between
the way the areas have reacted, the cow is judged as having TB.
The theory is, any cow which already has TB will show a skin reaction.
The reality is, every cow reacts differently
and TB can take years to cause any reaction at all.
I notice you're pregnancy testing here, as well, today,
so that's added value, or added value that could be lost,
if you come down.
Oh, my gosh, yes.
I mean, you know, you'll have a cow that's four to five and a half months in calf.
You know, that cow will go to slaughter with a calf inside her.
And, I think, that's just such a travesty.
There's no compensation for an unborn calf.
So, that's an automatic straight loss.
Have you been able to put a figure on how much TB has cost you?
Over the 15 years, where we've been in and out, in and out of TB,
somewhere approaching £130,000.
That's £130,000 lost and it would have been even more
without the compensation.
So, there's a lot riding on the skin test here
and it's vital to Defra's 25-year eradication programme in England
So, what was that? Something good happen?
Yeah. That was Esther. That's my favourite cow.
And she's not only clear but she's also in calf, as well.
So that's good news.
So, what's being done about the fact that one in five
so-called TB-free herds retain unseen infection?
Well, Defra says when a study revealed this in 2011,
they were so concerned they "tightened up testing requirements".
But, despite that tightening up, on August 30th this year,
they announced new plans
to tackle this "substantial residual herd infection".
Those proposals include a more sensitive interpretation
of the calliper skin test,
further restrictions on movement of infected cattle
and new powers to enforce farm bio-security.
That's little comfort to Jilly.
A year of farming under TB restrictions has not been enough.
She hoped that today, at last, she'd get the all clear.
But at cow 225 of 230, she runs out of luck.
What just happened there?
Fifi is a reactor.
So, we'd gone all this way and we're in the last bit.
-Down to the last five, here, aren't you?
-Yeah. So, that's it.
We're now down.
So that just means more months, more testing
-and, for Fifi herself, she'll be slaughtered here, or taken away?
She'll go to slaughter. She's not in calf, so that's one blessing.
She's not in calf.
We, kind of, felt hopeful. Now, it's back to square one.
-You allowed yourself to hope.
-I did. Yeah. I truly did. We truly did.
I'm sorry. I can hear it in your voice. It's not a good moment.
Hopes dashed. A very tough time.
Like many farmers,
she worries that badgers on her land could be re-infecting her cattle.
Defra agrees and this year widened badger culling
to seven new areas,
but Defra also says that once it in a heard,
the principal source of infection is cattle to cattle.
So, surely, a better TB test might help us avoid much of this misery.
We're using science that's 90 years old and it's clearly not precise.
And, yet, TB is still a major problem,
so does modern science have any answers emerging from the lab?
That's what I'll be finding out later.
Dartmoor's landscape is magical, ancient, and mysterious.
Many of Devon's rivers begin their life here in the bogs
and marshes of the high moor.
A brooding place
where myths are carried down in the flowing waters.
I'm heading for a special place where the landscape is steeped
in stories and legends.
Isn't this stunning?
Lydford Gorge, all of it carved out by melting waters
at the end of the ice age, 10,000 years ago.
You can really get a sense of the mystical here.
National Trust ranger Stuart Mathieson and his dog Dylan
are going to be my guides.
Hi, Stuart. I'm just admiring this wonderful view.
It's stunning, isn't it?
You've got a settled oak woodland, which is unique to western Britain.
And, in Lydford Gorge, in particular, you have lichens
and bryophytes, lower plant species because it's so moist and wet.
It all adds to the mystique and the, you know,
special nature of the place.
Today, Lydford Gorge is a Site of Special Scientific Interest
but visitors have been coming here to experience the magic
first-hand for centuries.
When was it that Lydford started to become really popular with tourists?
Really, it was towards the end of the 18th century
and during the Napoleonic wars.
That's when the grand tour, which previously the landed gentry
had gone on throughout Europe, that came to an end.
Because of the fighting, it was too dangerous.
So they then turned their attentions to Britain
and what came along was the picturesque movement
and it was, sort of, an appreciation of the wild places,
and Lydford Gorge fitted the bill perfectly.
It's been a popular tourist attraction ever since.
Yeah. Not surprised.
Then, as now, one of the highlights of the gorge
is the White Lady waterfall.
There she is.
-That's 30 metres high, 90 feet,
which is the highest in Devon.
There's a legend attached to the White Lady's waterfall
and, like all good legends, there's a couple of different versions.
The first one is at the bottom of the falls,
it's actually haunted by a lady who wears a white gown.
The second one, which I kind of prefer,
it's a bit more benign, she's a water spirit.
She rescues people who fall into the water
and the last one is when the river's in full spate,
as it cascades down,
it looks like a bridal gown, a white flowing bridal gown.
The legend of the life-saving lady may just have been wishful thinking
on the part of the Victorian visitors
who risked life and limb seeking out the most spectacular views.
These days, access is much easier.
Getting up close to the falls is less hazardous
than in those Victorian times.
One person who spent more time than most here
is photographer Jo Bradford.
She takes people on walks to the falls for photography lessons
with a twist.
So what is different about YOUR photography walks?
Well, for a start, we don't go out with proper cameras.
Mainly because everybody has already got a mobile phone
in their pocket, so why not be out in nature
being creative with your electronic device,
instead of sitting at home playing games on it.
I have, no surprise, got one in my pocket.
So, maybe you can give me some hints and help me to capture
-a really nice shot of the waterfall?
-Yes. Let's do it.
Right, so, as we're approaching,
you want to have some more of the reflection
and less of the top where there's a lot of...
It's too bright. If you've got a white area, drag it in...
What I like about this kind of scene is that there's lots of
things that really scream "Dartmoor" at you.
You've got the, kind of, mossy branches hanging down
and these kind of, little bits of root and tree sticking out.
And ferns, it's a bit like a scene out of The Lord Of The Rings.
So this magical, mystical Dartmoor at its greatest.
In 2015, Jo undertook a special project
called A Love Letter To Dartmoor.
In it, she posted a picture
of the landscape on social media
every day for a year.
And she amassed a huge following.
Keep the camera really low,
so it's quite close to the surface of the water.
So, little bit, or nothing. Yes? Try.
You can't change your aperture.
That's a great photo.
Nothing like working with an expert to help you capture
much better images.
-There you go.
So, what's been your favourite photo that you've taken today?
I was leaning towards one of the waterfall shots but,
as we've looked at this path and got that lovely afternoon light,
I think I'll go with this one.
-And you like to post your pictures straight away.
Our little picturesque corner of Dartmoor and it's gone global...now.
-Brilliant. You've got to love it.
Ah, that's not too bad.
-Never quite as lovely as yours.
Like most of our great rivers,
the Thames and the countryside around it
has struggled with pollution.
Industry and urban sprawl have taken a heavy toll.
And every day, boatloads of waste still leave London,
bound for huge landfill sites along the Thames.
And yet today, the Thames has turned a massive corner from its dark past.
These days, the river is clean, and some of these landfill sites
have undergone amazing transformations.
East of Tilbury in Essex there's one such place,
Thurrock Thameside Nature Reserve...
..a former tip nursed back to rude health.
-Hi, how are you? You all right?
-Nice to meet you.
It's a great spot up here, isn't it? You're surveying your empire.
The view is absolutely fantastic of the Thames,
you know, across to Kent, it's a wonderful place.
Ten years ago, we would've seen rubbish just on the surface here.
This used to be one of the biggest landfill sites in Western Europe,
but basically, we're right on the Thames here
and London's waste used to be brought out by barge
and was put here.
It's good for migrant birds, it's really good for birds of prey.
In the winter, we get short-eared owls here,
there's barn owls here, it's really good for reptiles,
there's adders, slowworms, etc, some lizards,
and in fact, it's good for insects,
there's some really good invertebrates here.
The site is covered in wild grasses, and right now,
a team of volunteers is here, making hay the traditional way.
So, we've been talking about the grass being important here.
Why are we cutting it back?
Wild flowers, they like low-nutrient soil, so by cutting it short,
taking away the hay, that ensures
that there aren't that many nutrients.
So come the spring and summer, there will be some fabulous flowers,
hopefully, like bee orchids and red clovers.
The English wild flower meadow, it's a real iconic habitat
for the country and we've lost up to...
I think it's as much as 97% of these meadows,
so we and others
are really making an effort to try and preserve them and create more.
The reserve currently covers 240 acres,
but that's going to increase to 850
as more landfill gets capped and handed to the Trust.
That means more work for these guys, keeping the grass short.
Today, they need moving to pastures new.
We want to spread out into a nice thin line,
we're then going to walk forwards towards the cows, not scaring them.
Don't start running after them,
cos if they start running it's all going to go wrong.
-Go on! Up!
-They're checking us out, aren't they?
-Go on! Go on.
-Come on, quick, come round, come round!
-Go on, go on.
-Well done, everyone.
-Good job. Hey, we made it!
There are a variety of habitats across the site,
all bursting with wildlife,
but there's a real abundance of species down by the water.
That's where I'm meeting reserve manager Mark Houghton.
We've got the mudflats here.
We've a whole range of worms and snails that the birds feed on,
We get wintering wildfowl piling into
this part of the estuary, and they're actually coming in now,
we're just starting to see the first part of that migration.
Are they the avocet out there I can see by the boat?
Yes, they'll feed by swaying their head from side to side,
sifting the mud and the water,
and getting whatever tasty morsels they can get.
It's remarkable to think that this used to be a landfill site.
Are you worried some of that stuff
might be leeching out into the water?
No, the landfill is sealed
and the rich biodiversity that we see in the Thames
is a good indicator of that, as well.
So, you know, we have harbour porpoise in the estuary,
which is an amazing sight to see. Erm, seals. We get seals throughout
the estuary here, even up to London, but we also get large, fairly large
colonies sitting on sandbanks as the tide draws out, as well.
And it's interesting to see, you can see the industry today
right alongside, cheek by jowl, alongside the nature.
Yeah, nature and industry can definitely live side by side.
You know, we've got London Gateways Port here,
we've got the landfill site here. It can. We can work together,
and that's what we should do,
if nature's going to survive in our countryside.
Now, as we were hearing earlier, Tom's been looking into
the science involved in the fight against TB in cattle.
So, are there any solutions on the horizon?
I've been witnessing the heartache of bovine TB.
Devon farmer Jilly Greed was devastated when vets found
infection in her cattle.
We've gone all this way, and we're in the last bit...
So, that's it.
She'll go to slaughter.
As we heard earlier, it's a little-known fact that even
when a herd with TB finally gets the all-clear,
one in five can still harbour unseen infection,
so it might not be clear at all.
Across the UK, Defra says that TB is the most pressing
and most costly animal health problem.
In the last year alone,
more than 50,000 cattle were destroyed after testing positive.
So, what's being done?
Well, one failing of the current skin test,
which was devised in the 1920s,
is it can't detect TB in the very early stages.
So, can science provide a new, better test?
At Nottingham University,
doctors Cath Rees and Ben Swift are working on just that.
The current skin test is only about 80% to 90% sensitive.
It will miss some animals, we know that.
So, tell me about your test and what it's doing to address this problem.
OK, so ours is a new blood test that we've developed,
and it's different because it looks directly for the bacteria,
rather than looking for the immune response.
So, it's very... We either find it or we don't, it's very definitive.
It's exciting news.
This quick and cheap test involves laboratory analysis
instead of farmyard skin measurements.
It could be ready for use in two to three years and Dr Rees hopes
it will soon supplement the existing test.
What we think would be the best approach would be where you have
a skin test positive herd,
that you could go in afterwards with a blood test and try and find
the ones that maybe will go skin test positive
on the next round and control the disease.
So, you short cut the process of this slow immune response
and waiting for the skin test positives to happen.
What it's saying to us is that using the blood test,
we've got a way of finding animals earlier and if we can get them
before they go skin test positive, we can get the herds cleaned out.
This isn't the only science out there.
The big prize in the war against bovine TB
is a vaccine to protect cattle.
There is one that's very similar to the BCG jab
that most of us had as kids, but it's no use,
because the current testing can't tell the difference between
a cow that's infected and one that's been vaccinated,
and that's not acceptable
when the meat is going to enter the food chain.
In a joint project between Bath and Newcastle universities,
Dr Jean van den Elsen has been examining TB proteins.
A problem with bovine TB is it can hide unseen in cattle for years.
This image shows how he's linked a protein from TB to a protein
from staphylococcus aureus, a bug that's often found on human skin.
This combination helps our immune system to see the TB
and start to fight it.
He's already tried it in mice.
As soon as you inject it into a mouse,
the mouse immune system will immediately spot
the staphylococcus protein
and become activated and then it can see the TB protein
and generate a good immune response against it.
So, by using that protein from staph-aureus,
you're in effect putting, let's say a shiny hat on the TB protein
so it can't hide any more - the immune system can see it.
It's been so far really successful in the mouse,
so when we inject this in the mice,
you see immediately a really good immune response,
compared to TB, where you initially don't see an immune response.
And the big news - this vaccine to protect cattle from catching TB
doesn't have the drawbacks of BCG.
The big difficulty is that it's very difficult to distinguish
a vaccinated cow from an infected cow and the reason for that
is because the mycobacterium that causes the disease
looks very similar to the BCG vaccine.
So we have now a completely different type of vaccine
where we hook up these two proteins
and they will generate a completely different immune profile
that we will be able to distinguish from an infected cow.
And that's absolutely key, isn't it? That's a key driver of this work.
That's absolutely crucial,
because we're not able to export any cows that have been vaccinated,
so we really need to come up with something
that distinguishes vaccinated from infected.
If all goes to plan,
this new protection against TB could be with us in ten years,
well within the Government's eradication target for England
But until then, farmers like Jilly
are living with the day-to-day reality of TB.
A second of her cattle has tested positive.
The rest, all 228, will have to be tested again in 60 days' time.
Jilly's herd is returning to the field
but, sadly, with two fewer cattle,
condemned because of being infected by TB.
Now, the new science may not be helping this herd today,
but beating this disease is a long-term exercise,
and the work that we've seen in the lab
does give some glimmers of hope for the future.
We've been looking at some of our rivers and waterways,
and I'm here at the narrowest point of the Thames Estuary,
where Tilbury, on the north bank, and Gravesend, on the south,
are just three quarters of a mile apart.
Which makes it the perfect place to cross the river.
The Tilbury to Gravesend foot ferry is a well-kept secret,
known only to a few savvy commuters and day-trippers.
But back in the 13th century, this was a busy route.
Farmers used it to move cattle and sheep between grazing sites,
soldiers made use of it,
and even pilgrims hopped on board
on their way to Canterbury Cathedral.
It's goodbye to Essex, as I'm bound for Kent.
The crossing takes less than ten minutes,
it only costs a couple of quid,
and I have to say, it's a lovely way to see the Thames.
And up in the wheelhouse is skipper John Potter.
It's a beautiful day today. I mean, it looks like a millpond.
But watching you come across, on the way...
I mean, the ferry was literally going sideways.
The tide here is incredibly strong.
Yeah, well, you have a tide in the Thames
of three to three and a half knots.
That's four to four and a half miles an hour.
You're fighting that, so that's why you crab across the river.
-If you want to feel how the tide is...
-Have a go, yeah.
Oh, yeah, you do... Yeah, even now, you are, yeah, turning.
-Quite dramatically, actually.
That's it. Push it down a bit.
How long have you been out on the Thames, John?
Well, I'm only a baby.
I was apprenticed in 1959,
so I've been out here about 55 years.
Good lad. So, you know the route by now?!
Well, I just about know the river, yes!
It's incredible to think
that people have been making this journey for over 700 years,
day in, day out, just like clockwork.
And all without the help of the Countryfile calendar,
sold in aid of Children in Need.
And with your generosity,
last year's calendar raised over £2 million,
so it goes without saying that with our 2017 calendar,
we want to continue that support, so here's John
with all the details of how you can get your hands on one.
It costs £9.50, including free UK delivery.
You can go to our website,
where you'll find a link to the order page.
Or you can phone the order line on:
If you prefer to order by post,
then send your name, address and a cheque to:
A minimum of £4 from the sale of each calendar
will be donated to BBC Children in Need.
Now, tomorrow sees the start of UK Wool Week.
Its aim is to raise the profile of UK wool.
And to celebrate the occasion, Adam's on Dartmoor,
where wool is at the heart of a special tradition.
Widecombe Fair has taken place for more than 160 years
and it's one of the last traditional events of its kind.
Held in the tiny village of Widecombe-in-the-Moor,
it's a chance to celebrate many different breeds of livestock.
I'm here to find out about our woolly friends.
Our relationship with wool goes way back,
when primitive man first collected wool from wild sheep
to clothe themselves.
They realised its valuable properties.
It was hard-wearing
and kept them warm and dry during the winter months.
Then later in history, it became such a valuable commodity,
and the wealth made from wool helped pay for manor houses,
churches and villages across the UK.
Wool made Britain rich, and it was all thanks to the humble sheep.
It is important we continue this legacy by farming these breeds
and celebrating them in any way we can.
This beast of a ram is a Whiteface Dartmoor.
They're born survivors.
Their coats can cope with all the weather Dartmoor can throw at them.
And with horns like this, they'll fend off against any predator.
The people here on Dartmoor
have an incredible relationship with this breed of sheep.
And here at Widecombe Fair,
they're celebrating the success between man and beast.
-Lovely to see you again.
-And you, yes.
'Local farmer Colin Pearce
'knows all about the history of this famous livestock fair.'
It was recorded in 1850 as the first fair,
when there was 736 sheep penned on the green.
And back then, the Whiteface Dartmoor
was known as the Widecombe, wasn't it?
Well, that's where it probably got its name.
Because Widecombe had so many...
There were as many as 14,000 Whiteface Dartmoors
in the parish of Widecombe alone.
And you cannot really believe that churches like here
were actually ignited by the cash from wool sales.
Wool is no longer as valuable as it once was,
but people like Kim Stead are finding new ways of using it.
-I've brought some wool for you.
-Bit of Whiteface Dartmoor.
-Wow, that looks great. Look at that.
And why do you love it so much?
Well, it has a long staple length, so we can spin worsted yarn,
and worsted yarn is the strongest yarn you can spin.
When you talk about staple length, that's the length of the wool fibre?
-It is, yes.
-What sort of things are you making from the wool?
Well, we have a range of products.
We're making a fantastically strong garden string.
We have this wonderful resource that's here, that's underused.
That's lovely, isn't it? Really strong.
What else have you got?
We've got this lovely range of British wool dog leads,
which are all hand-laid in Cumbria.
Horse and cattle halters.
And we've even got a sheep halter
that you can actually show your sheep with.
There we go! Wonderful.
So I can show my Whiteface Dartmoor sheep
in a Whiteface Dartmoor woollen halter.
You certainly can!
It's great that you're making this beautiful wool
-into these lovely products.
-And helping the Dartmoor breed.
-Ultimately, that's what it is.
-Well, well done, Kim.
-Keep up the good work.
There are Whiteface sheep everywhere.
But there's one special ram that's caught my eye.
I recognise this ram. It used to belong to me.
And he was sold to a lady down here on Dartmoor,
so he's come back to his native roots.
It's lovely down here, mate, isn't it? What's it like to be home?
Clare Butcher has high hopes for Hector.
She's hoping he picks up a rosette later today.
-Good morning, Adam.
How are you enjoying the new ram? Has he settled in?
Yeah, he's great. He's settled in really well at home.
You've entered him into the show today.
-He's entered into the show today.
-Quite strong competition.
You never know how it's going to go.
It's what the judge is looking for on the day.
-Well, good luck. I'll be gunning for him.
-All the best.
Whilst I'm waiting for Hector to enter the show ring,
I'm keen to find out what else is going on at the fair.
This is the beginning of the terrier racing,
and there's a lure tied to a bit of fishing line,
and it races it down the track with the terriers trying to catch it.
Why aren't you involved?
There's one down there now where the terrier's got hold of the lure!
And they can't get it off.
They've got a grip like iron, haven't they, those terriers?
And then there's a lady down there as well.
She's rolling around on the floor, out of control.
It's chaos. Absolute chaos.
Right, well, the flag's up. And off they go.
Goodness me! They've got a turn of pace.
That tan one, I think, is going to win.
It's going to be a close-run thing.
Oh, there we go.
And now it's got hold of the lure and it's run off with it.
I think that's probably the end of the race
because it's run off with the lure. Hysterical.
And if you thought that was a one-off,
anything could happen in the next race of the day.
Well, here we are. We've got a couple of ferrets here.
An albino one and a polecat ferret.
Of course, traditionally, ferrets are used for catching rabbits.
You put them down the hole and the rabbits bolt out into nets.
-And these are for racing, aren't they?
These are my adult ferrets here.
-Now, mine's trying to bite me.
-No, no, no.
No, if he wants to bite you, he'd have bit...
he'd have bit you before now.
-Have you ever been bitten?
-Yes. I've been bit several times.
He's got proof of how much they bite!
He's got fingers missing. This is a dangerous sport!
Right, let's... let's get on with it, quick,
before it eats me alive.
Right, get in.
Mine doesn't even want to go in the box. Get in there.
-Are we ready? Steady.
-There you are.
Look, yours has won already. I think you gave me a dud.
Ahhh! Here he is!
-He... He was stuck.
-You haven't got the knack!
He's so podgy cos he's eaten your fingers, he got stuck!
Right, enough of the fun and games.
Over at the show ring, Hector, the ram I used to own,
is ready for his big moment.
The judge is walking down the line, assessing each ram individually,
looking at their conformation, the way they stand, their feet,
checking their teeth, which is very important.
And then he'll probably bring his favourites forward.
The judge is just sorting out the line.
I think his favourite sheep is at the far end.
And at the moment, Hector is standing in fourth.
Let's just hope he swaps them around a bit in the right way.
Here we go. It looks like Hector's being brought forward.
That's really exciting.
It looks like he's pulled Hector up into first position.
With the first place rosette in his hand,
the judge makes the final decision.
Fantastic! Well done, Hector.
-He was wonderfully behaved, wasn't he?
Such a good boy. I'm absolutely thrilled.
And a really strong class of rams at the Widecombe Fair.
-I mean, this is the Dartmoor show, isn't it?
-It is. It is.
-Money well spent, Clare, wasn't it?
-It was, I think!
-Brilliant. Well done, you.
-Well done, Hector.
Well, I'm delighted my ram did so well back here on his home turf.
And I've had a lovely time here at Widecombe Fair,
that's steeped in history,
all centred around these beautiful Whiteface Dartmoor sheep.
Devon's main river, the Exe,
rising high on Exmoor,
before flowing down to the sea at Exmouth.
Since Roman times, this river has provided protection, food, leisure
and wealth to the people of Exeter.
And right next to it, the oldest ship canal in the UK.
Celebrating its 450th birthday this year,
the canal was built to link up with the River Exe
so that trading ships could sail into the heart of Exeter.
And they did.
Right up until the 1970s.
Those trading ships may be long gone,
but now there's a very different kind of craft
ploughing up the waterway.
This activity is one of the fastest-growing in the country.
Even dogs are doing it.
Instructor Mark Bloxham and Cookie the springer spaniel
are taking me out for a spin.
-Hello there, Mark.
I see you are adding a whole new twist to the doggy paddle!
-We are indeed! We are indeed.
-This is Cookie?
-This is Cookie.
-Cookie, are you going to say hello?
-Are you going to take me out to do some paddleboarding?
-We are indeed.
-'A quick change...'
-So, first things first.
'..a run through the basics...'
So come on to your knees.
Forward. Hook the water.
And come up nice and slowly.
..Grip away from us.
And we're kicking out. Perfect.
-Right the way in front. But then again...
-And then just back down...
'..and we're off.'
Have a play about.
Oh, yes! This is the life.
Right, Cookie, we're up.
It's all right on my knees? I might just stay on my knees.
And the next one. And stand up. Look up. That's it.
-This really is the perfect place to learn, isn't it?
-Just really pond-like water.
It's one thing pootling around on the calm waters of the canal.
It's quite another on the mouth of the river just a few yards away.
A brisk wind and a fast current
make it much harder to balance out here.
-It is quite different, isn't it, out on this water?
Ah. I'm getting my down and up all back to front.
I may be struggling to find my sea legs,
but someone who makes it look easy is national champion Marie Buchanan.
Marie's taken paddleboarding to a whole new level
and competes for Britain all over the world.
Marie's a Devon girl and knows the local waters.
I'm hoping some of her expertise will rub off.
Marie, Mark has been giving me some basic tips,
but I could do with a few more.
Just get your weight really low, so bend your knees.
-You're doing really well, though.
So a couple of good, hard strokes on the right,
and then just keep focusing.
-Pick a point ahead that's...
-..a little bit more sheltered.
-Oh, my word!
You can't stop concentrating for a second.
-So, how long have you been paddleboarding?
-Nine years now.
-Yeah. As soon as I tried it, I was hooked.
As children, we were brought up on the water, really,
and then I learnt to windsurf when I was 16.
So before paddleboarding came about,
I was actually a competitive windsurfer.
-OK, so you had the strength and the balance nailed already?
-I did, yeah.
Paddleboarding can be a good workout.
It's also a great way to explore the countryside.
It's so open and new,
and you can just explore and visit new places that you couldn't before.
-For instance, we can go to the marshes down there,
a foot of water, and paddle right through
and really explore the wildlife.
-Kayaks, canoes, you just can't do that.
-Couldn't reach that, yeah.
It's great. I really like it.
I'd like to spend more time paddleboarding, for sure.
-You've got the bug?
I'm clearly not quite international standard just yet,
so I'm going to let you carry on with your training.
I don't want to hold you up.
-Thanks for all the top tips.
-You're very welcome.
Best of luck with your championships.
-Yeah, and enjoy the rest of your paddle.
Whilst Marie tears off for some full-on sea training,
Mark and I are heading back to the canal for an unusual cooldown.
Cookie waiting for us.
-I think that's a yes.
This is yoga.
But then Mark has another idea.
And that's it. See how low you can get your body.
That's it. That's it. Up. Up. Up.
Legs together. Legs together.
-OK, you've got to hold it together. I'm letting go.
-Don't let go!
-Thank you so much.
-That was really well done.
Oh, it's been so much fun.
We have lucked out.
We've had the perfect weather for paddleboarding,
but what is the Countryfile forecast for the week ahead?
Today, we've been looking at some of our rivers and waterways.
How, on their journeys from the countryside to the sea,
they've shaped our landscape, our lives and our fortunes.
The Thames is a massively important trading route.
40 million tonnes of cargo are carried by it every year,
but there's also plenty of stuff in the Thames that shouldn't be there,
and a good deal of it ends up here on the shoreline.
I'm joining a team of volunteer beach cleaners
scouring the North Kent foreshore.
Thames21 organise social litter picks.
These clear-ups benefit the river banks
and also encourage locals to explore their waterways.
Of all the things that you've pulled out, Chris, is there...
is there a thing that everyone goes,
-"Oh, do you remember the day we found..."?
-I... I had...
One of the strangest things I've ever found
is a tin of emergency drinking water, so like a tin of beans,
and it was US Coastguard emergency drinking water, stamped 1956.
-Now, tell me how that's got into the river.
You know, we found a Saxon spearhead once
just lying on the foreshore,
which was sent away and preserved and we still have in the office.
You know, beautiful leaf-shaped blade.
You never know on any given day.
The tide is always bringing new rubbish,
but it's also moving the shore around as well, the waves are turning the shore over.
-That reveals the old stuff.
And then the new stuff is brought by the tide
or, sadly, people depositing it.
One person's rubbish is another person's treasure.
Artist Nicola White puts her shoreline finds not into a bin bag
but into an art gallery.
When did all of this start for you, Nicola?
Well, I grew up in Cornwall and I always loved to beachcomb
-and pick up little bits and pieces to make pictures.
And when I moved to London about 15 years ago,
I went down to the river
and I was delighted to find all sorts of glass and pottery,
so I started to pick that up, and it went from there, really.
And it's the natural environment that Nicola reflects in her work.
These are just beautiful.
What a lovely idea this is.
I find that the fish just sort of develop.
-I never actually have a plan for it.
-It's almost like playing at putting a jigsaw together.
And, I mean, this one... This is lovely, isn't it, this angelfish?
Just the ridges and the dimples and what have you that's on each piece
and the stories that they tell.
Exactly. I think it's that each fragment of fish has a story.
Some of those bottles might have come
from an old Victorian chemist,
some might have come from an old tavern.
And it's those stories behind the pieces which I love.
So, let's see what treasure was left behind by the last tide.
-You're a natural.
I'm used to losing things, you see!
That's a nice bit. That's a...
That would be a nice top fin, perhaps, a dorsal fin.
You're finding all the good stuff. You are like a magnet!
-You have to get your eye in.
-Right, OK, that's the trick.
Over the years, Nicola's sharp eye
has turned up the most romantic of tideline finds.
Well, Nicola, for me,
finding a message in a bottle feels like a once-in-a-lifetime thing.
-But for you, it's quite a common occurrence.
-It is, yes.
When I go for walks along the Thames Estuary
picking up bits and pieces to make art,
I often do come across messages in bottles,
and I'm still as excited every time when I find one.
Yeah. And, I mean, this one, for example,
it's such a beautiful bottle anyway.
What's the story in here?
This one was written on a napkin,
and it's actually somebody looking for love.
"Hi, my name is Simon
"Please write back to me, please. This is my number.
"Feel free to send me a text with your name and your number.
"I'm 28 and single, looking for a nice relationship. Thanks."
Well, there we are. If you're out there, Simon...
Who knows if you've had any replies? Well, good luck with it all.
-Well, what a magical and wonderful thing to do.
-It is exciting.
-It is exciting to see that rolled up bit of paper in a bottle.
Well, that is all we've got time for from the beautiful Thames Estuary.
we are going to be on the Isle of Wight,
where I'll be dangling from a rope doing a bit of gardening
and Anita will be helping out with a once-yearly round-up.
Hope you can join us then.
The team look at how rivers and waterways have shaped our landscape. Matt Baker is on the Thames Estuary to meet a writer who draws inspiration from the estuary and its people. He also meets the Port Authority staff who oversee some 30,000 annual ship movements, jumps on the foot ferry that once would have brought livestock into the city and meets an artist making beautiful things from the flotsam brought in on the tide.
Sean Fletcher is just a few miles from Matt, finding out what it takes to turn a landfill site into a thriving nature reserve. And Naomi Wilkinson is in Devon at the beautiful Lydford Gorge, meeting a photographer captivated by its waterfall and whose pictures have become an internet sensation. Naomi then takes to the oldest shipping canal in Britain on a paddleboard!
Meanwhile, Adam visits Widecombe Fair in Devon - one of the country's last traditional country fairs. And with the badger cull once again well underway, Tom Heap explores the science around bovine TB and asks what the future might hold.