Countryfile visits Gloucestershire. Julia Bradbury is at the National Arboretum in Westonbirt, while John Craven is on the trail of home-grown truffles.
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Deep in the Gloucestershire countryside there's a treasure trove...
600 acres of wooded groves and glens.
Our woodlands are under threat.
The National Arboretum here in Westonbirt is a haven
for more than 16,000 trees.
So why am I chopping down one of its most ancient limes?
It may look unkind, but this small-leaved lime will shoot up again.
The future for many other trees is far from guaranteed, though,
as disease threatens our woodlands with a national crisis.
More than double the number of tree diseases have crossed the Channel
in the last 12 years than in the whole of the last century,
and there are more waiting in the wings.
So, what are we doing to protect our trees against deadly
invaders like ash dieback? I'll be investigating.
But in this wood, tucked away in a secret location,
I'm on the trail of something rather special.
Good boy, good boy!
Well, this is what Tino's been searching for.
It's a truffle, black gold, a very expensive gastronomic delight.
And because there's been so much bad weather this year,
it's a bumper harvest for truffles.
Not too far away,
Adam's experiencing a true woodland tradition.
Here in the Forest of Dean, the sheep are allowed to roam freely
all over the forest, and the commoners that own the sheep
teach them where their own patch is - a process known as hefting -
and I've come to find out how they do it.
Westonbirt, our National Arboretum.
The burnt tones of autumn giving way to the bare bones of winter.
Gnarled wooden skeletons flanked by exotic maples.
Their fallen leaves an explosive carpet of colour.
We're a stone's throw from the Gloucestershire town of Tetbury,
exploring 600 acres of woodland, home to 16,000 trees.
Westonbirt began life in 1829 as a rich man's passion.
His name, Robert Holford.
But now it's a sanctuary with one of the largest collections
of British native trees and shrubs.
Intrepid Victorian plant hunters journeyed to the four corners
of the globe back in Holford's day,
in search of ever more exotic species,
many of which ended up here in this rather wonderful back garden.
But today I'm here to see a native tree,
one with its own claim to fame.
This is possibly the oldest tree in Britain,
and don't be fooled by all the stems, it is just one tree.
It's thought to be around 2,000 years old,
and today we're cutting it to the ground.
'It only happens once every 20 years,
'and it's a practice that dates back centuries.
'As Arboretum curator, it may be the only time in his career
'Mark Ballard will get to oversee the coppicing of this small-leaved lime.
'No pressure then.'
Mark, this isn't what I was expecting,
and I'm sure other people who are visiting one of the oldest
lime trees in the country aren't expecting all of these.
I thought it would be one big tree.
Most people do, and I think what's happened here, there was originally
a tree in the middle, and as it's grown and spread and branches
have touched the ground, they've layered, they've put down roots,
and they've formed these individual little stools
we can see around us, and over time they've spread out
to form this huge ring we've got in front of us now.
When we mention this tree being 2,000 years old,
there's quite a bit of guesswork involved in that.
It's open to conjecture exactly how old it is, but you can make
a guestimate by the outward growth of this ring.
-How far they've spread.
So we know it's centuries and centuries old,
but exactly how old, we're not sure.
Explain to me again why it's important to coppice,
because, essentially, all of this will be flattened,
and that's a frightening thought.
It is a frightening thought, I am a little nervous,
I have to confess, but if we don't cut every 20 years,
we're not doing this tree any favours at all.
It will start to split out...
CREAKING AND SPLINTERING
..and you'll hear that noise,
and, basically, what we're trying to do is perpetuate its life.
Are you absolutely sure you want to go ahead with this, Mark?
We are sure, yes.
We know how these trees grow, we know what the effect of coppicing is
and we're going to help it live on by promoting this fresh,
vigorous new growth in the spring.
-You're absolutely positive?
-I was, yes!
No, I am, I am.
Brian Williamson and apprentice Patrick
are experts in traditional methods of woodland coppicing .
Hi there, Brian. Doing it the old-fashioned way?
Yes, the old-fashioned way stood the test of time for a long, long time.
You've been doing this for a while yourself, haven't you?
Well, I didn't plant this thing, but...
-I wasn't suggesting that you did!
I've been working with these kind of hand tools for a long time.
Why is coppicing so important to the country?
People have been working woodlands ever since the Romans came
and long before that.
They relied on wood to cook, wood to keep them warm,
wood to smelt their medals, what ever it was,
so you had to manage the woods
to provide the wood for all of those things.
We're faced with several crises, including the ash.
Do you think people are beginning to realise how important our woodlands are?
We've had oak dieback, we've had canker in chestnuts,
we've had leaf miners in this,
and now we've got the ash dieback coming through, that people are
getting more and more concerned about the trees in the countryside.
And, to some extent, you have to manage them to keep them alive
and healthy, and this is a case in point -
possibly 2,000 years' worth of management in here.
-Are you going to let me loose?
-If you like.
You'll have to take your gloves off, get your hands dirty.
OK, that's all right. That's possible.
'I've done a bit of coppicing myself recently,
'but that was a mere fringe trim compared to what's going on today.'
It's hard work, isn't it?
It is, and it does warm you up,
and they say of wood that it warms you up three times -
once when you cut it down, once when you cut it up,
and the third time when you burn it.
this is a momentous occasion, but I'm not sure
that I'm really helping, so I'm going to leave it to the expert.
-It's progress, albeit fairly slow.
-It's much slimmer now.
I've made it much easier for you.
-One blow from behind and it'll be straight over.
-There you go, see?
After 2,000 years of progress, woodland management
has moved on a bit, and if we're going to complete the job in hand
in one day, we're going to have to call in the big guns, as well.
I'll be back later to see how they get on.
Sadly, the arrival of ash dieback disease is threatening
to wipe out one of our most common trees.
But is this just the beginning?
Tom's been investigating.
Our ancestors believed the ash tree was sacred.
Folklore tells of newborn babies being given
a spoonful of its sap to ensure a healthy life.
The tree once thought to keep us safe is now fighting for its own survival.
Autumn of 2012 will be remembered as a season of crisis in our forests,
in our parks, and in our gardens.
In fact, anywhere that our 80 million ash trees grow.
When discoloured leaves and dark lesions were found
on ash trees in East Anglia, it confirmed the worst.
The deadly fungus Chalara fraxinea, now dubbed ash dieback,
was here in British woodland.
In October, it prompted a ban on all ash imports,
a top-level tree summit, and dominated the headlines.
We don't have a magic potion
which we could stick in a helicopter this afternoon and spray.
There is no immediate cure.
It first came to Britain with infected young stock,
but now even nurseries like this one in Northumberland with healthy,
home-grown ash, are feeling the effects of ash dieback.
Charles Beaumont is stuck with 50,000 ash trees he can't sell
due to movement restrictions aimed at containing the disease.
So, Charles, what am I looking at here?
Well, we're looking at a crop of ash
which has had two growing seasons in this spot.
So, you've nurtured it for this long,
but what about the future for this?
Well, I'm afraid the future is not looking very promising at the moment.
We're looking at, by the time that movement restriction comes off,
-I suspect we're going to have to just get rid of it.
Cos I don't think there'll be any demand at all by then.
-So how much money will you have lost?
well, I think this crop's probably worth about 12,500
-as it stands at the moment.
-Really? And that's just gone.
I'm afraid that's just one of the penalties one has to pay.
Charles is not alone.
Millions of diseased and healthy ash trees
will be destroyed over the coming months.
So, how did we get here?
The disease was first discovered around 20 years ago in Poland,
and from there some of the spores spread rapidly across northern Europe,
particularly northern Germany and Scandinavia.
Also, into the Netherlands.
Now, the Channel and North Sea do provide a bit of natural defence,
but it's thought the spores could have also...
blown across into the east of the country.
But even without the spores...
we brought the disease in ourselves, through imports from infected
nurseries in Holland into Buckinghamshire,
and it was found in other nurseries across eastern England,
also in Scotland, and Wales.
Pretty soon, the disease had spread throughout the UK.
But ash isn't the only tree under attack.
Oak, horse chestnut, Scots pine, and even some Christmas trees
are currently fighting pests or diseases from abroad.
Juniper is another victim,
and just look at the gnarled beauty of this trunk.
So what do all these invasive killers have in common?
In the last 12 years, more than double the number of tree diseases
have come to Britain than in the whole of the last century.
So, where has this sudden increase come from?
Plant health experts, like Dr Stephen Woodward from Aberdeen University,
believe global imports are to blame.
We can see the evidence on native juniper
in this reserve in County Durham.
So, how are these foreign diseases getting to Britain?
Well, over the last 20-30 years, we've seen a massive increase
in the amount of global trade in plants -
plants for planting, plant materials - and some of those
plants will be contaminated with the organisms we're thinking of here.
-And we're bringing them in?
So what are we looking at here?
This is one of the more recent ones we've discovered in Britain.
This is Phytophthora austrocedri.
The only other place in the world we know of this organism
is Argentina, where it's killing one of the native trees there.
So there's no way that this came in naturally?
Absolutely not, no.
But it doesn't just affect the bark, it affects the branches, too?
Here's a healthy branch, with nice juniper needles,
but here's a branch off a plant that's been killed by the disease,
where we see the foliage has turned brown and obviously dead.
Do you think we are being a bit irresponsible with our imports?
Yes, we probably are.
We should be taking far more care in what materials
we're actually transporting around the whole planet.
We can't afford to keep losing native species
to this sort of damage again and again.
No-one knows exactly how many plants come into the UK from abroad every year.
Conservative estimates say millions,
but some plant disease experts believe it's closer to billions.
Heathrow airport handles most of the incoming air freight in the UK.
And Countryfile has gained rare access to the plant inspection area.
Guy Nettleton is one of those working on the frontline.
What are you scrutinising there, Guy?
These are some roses from Zambia,
so they've flown in from Africa, they've landed this morning,
but my job is just to check there are no pests or diseases present...
'They intercept problems here nearly every day,
'but how easy is it for something to slip through the net?'
Is it enough to stop the diseases getting in and keep the UK safe?
There are relatively few outbreaks associated with direct imports
from third countries, so the evidence would suggest
that the system is currently working quite well.
But inspectors like Guy are only checking plants
imported from outside the EU - so-called third countries.
That means they wouldn't have seen infected ash trees
flooding into Britain from just over the Channel.
So, does that seem a little bit odd to you,
-that you can't things coming from within Europe?
There's a different scheme in operation for Europe.
As well as inspectors at the airports and the sea ports,
we also have inspectors all round the UK,
and they're carrying out inspections routinely inland,
just to ensure that nothing has escaped those import controls.
However effective these inspections are,
free trade means an open door to Europe,
a door that many would like to close.
Even if we caught every creepy-crawly on plant material
at our ports and airports, every speck of fungus,
every bit of bacteria - diseases can still get blown in
from the mainland, so what can we do once they're here?
I'll be finding out a little later.
JOHN: The rolling hills and shady valleys of Gloucestershire
make for perfect riding country.
It's a county with a long tradition of equestrian sport,
a fertile breeding ground for top-class riders and horses.
No surprise, then,
that two of Britain's Olympic superstars live around here.
Charlotte Dujardin and the stunning Valegro
claimed gold twice at London 2012.
They pranced into the history books with the highest-ever points
in the individual competition
and played their part in Team GB's first Olympic dressage gold.
And this is him, the famous Valegro.
It's the first time I've ever met an Olympic double gold medallist.
He seems quite friendly.
Later, Charlotte is going to be putting Valegro through his paces,
but first of all, I want to discover how you create a dressage horse like this.
How do you spot and train and look after a potential world beater?
Top dressage horses are like athletes.
There's a whole team of people involved in their training,
from grooms and farriers
to nutritionists and physiotherapists,
not forgetting fellow Olympic gold medallist and Charlotte's trainer,
-Carl, Charlotte, lovely to meet you.
-Nice to meet you, too.
And after all that Olympic glory, the reality of daily training again.
Yeah, back in the murky old arena. We have to produce horses,
we have to think about the next Olympics,
so here we are with a four-year-old horse, Charlotte's young horse,
which is Johnny Cash, and of course one you might recognise, Utopia,
my gold medal ride from the Olympics this year.
And how do you compare the two?
The interesting thing, when you look at these two horses, this one is obviously 11 years old.
He's a finished product, grand prix horse,
and it's the muscle structure that's so different.
You can see how developed his neck is, how developed his hindquarters are,
and then of course we look at Charlotte's four-year-old horse Johnny Cash,
and we describe him like a beanpole, really,
but he's just a skeleton, and at four years old, he's got a lot of developing to do.
-He looks ready to go. Can we see him in action?
-Of course you can.
Can you tell at the start whether he might or might not make it?
I'd like to foresee the future. It's not that easy.
All we're looking at now is what is attitude's like, and his paces,
and he has three very good paces.
He's a big, good-looking, impressive horse,
and he's nice and loose.
Dressage horses have been gymnastic and they have to be supple,
and he seems to have all the right qualities at this age.
It's all very graceful, very balletic,
but in fact, dressage can be traced back to classical Greece,
where the cavalry trained their horses
to perform movements that could be used in battle to evade or attack the enemy.
Today, it's a career for the horses as much as it is for the riders,
and keeping these four-legged athletes in shape
is a full-time job,
as stable manager Fiona Lawrence knows only too well.
What is the daily routine, then?
Well, we all start at about half past six, and feed and hay the horses,
and then we'll start mucking out.
Carl and Charlotte will then start riding about eight o'clock,
and then it's constant riding until two.
And once you've mucked them out and exercised them,
it's time for a late lunch. For the horses, that is!
-Who is this for?
-That's for Barney.
-Right. Back a bit, boy, that's it.
I'm going to put it in here.
And when they've eaten, the horses are allowed to have some down time.
After lunch, normally the horses go out in the field after exercise,
but because we've been flooded so badly, the fields are too wet,
so they go on the walker to have another stretch of their legs.
-It's a bit like a fairground ride for horses, isn't it?
-It is. OK.
In we go...for a little walk. And how long will he be in here, Fiona?
Then the pace hots up.
It really is non stop. New shoes are being fitted.
Saddles have to be measured.
There's warm-ups and warm-downs, but it doesn't end there.
Physiotherapist Marni Malgarin
makes regular visits to keep the horses' muscles in tiptop condition.
-Hello, Marni. What's going on here, then?
-I'm treating Liebling today.
He's having his regular physio treatment.
Basically, he's having an equine sports massage.
I think they work the hardest of all the disciplines.
They have to take a lot of weight on their hind legs.
You see them, when they work, physically,
it's a very hard job for them, so we really need to look after them.
-It does look a bit like pampering. Is it?
They are top athletes and they can't do their job unless we help them.
Well, I'm amazed at what goes on here every day,
to turn these horses into elite and very specialised athletes.
Talking of which, it's time we saw one of the very best in action.
Well, this is it, isn't it, the ultimate in dressage.
This is the Olympic level.
This is Valegro at his very best, and this is why,
when you see him here, moving like this, why he won the gold.
And won the nation's hearts.
Well, Charlotte, what a year it's been for you two.
Yeah, I've had a fantastic year. I can't complain.
I get called "the girl off the dancing horse" now!
It's not dressage any longer, it's the dancing horses!
And what's next for you two?
We are actually competing in a fortnight at a World Cup qualifier,
so we obviously haven't had a run since the Olympics
so it'll be very exciting.
All eyes will be on you two there. Well, all the very best.
Thank you very much.
At ten years old, Valegro is young for such a master of his art.
He's the product of years of training and a whole team of people,
and, without them, the breathtaking harmony in his partnership
with Charlotte just wouldn't be possible.
I'm at the National Arboretum in Westonbirt
witnessing a spectacle so rare it only happens once every 20 years.
One of the country's oldest small-leaved lime trees is being coppiced.
But, fear not, these branches certainly won't go to waste.
The inner bark, or the bast,
is one of the most ancient materials known to man,
and these chaps really know how to get the best out of the bast.
-Is this lime I see before me?
-This is the lime you cut earlier.
-I'm harvesting the bast now.
-This being the bast.
It has traditionally been a very, very important part of the woodland economy.
This was harvested, and inner part of the bast was peeled
and twisted into cord, and it was the earliest European textile.
-So it would have been used across the board in a whole range of products?
So that the Iron-Age man, or Bronze-Age man they found up in the Alps,
the scabbard for his knife was made of twisted lime bast.
-Lime bast nets have been found, 6,000 years old, on a Danish boat.
-Lime bast nets, yes.
The Vikings sewed their boats together with it,
so it was this stuff that allowed the Vikings to discover America.
It just does peel straight off the log,
so it would have been readily available and abundant and easy to use.
We've got some of this that we've had sitting in a lake for a couple of weeks,
so it's just started to rot - retting, they call it -
and Matt is going to show you the bast we've had retting and the way in which it was twisted into cord.
-Right, I'll go and see Matt. I'll leave you to strip that off.
Matt, Paul gets a nice fresh lime to work with
and you get the rotten stuff.
-Is that right?
-Yes, that's right, Julia.
-Is this it?
We've got some stuff that's been retting for a couple of weeks here.
-Let's have a smell.
-It is quite smelly and very slimy.
-Phwoar! That is pungent.
But it has started to delaminate.
It's a bacterial process. After four or six weeks,
this is all flaking apart
and there's lots and lots of layers,
starting to become very thin,
and then they can be moved on to the next phase of the process.
-And this is the next phase?
-That's the next phase.
-Which is beautiful.
-This is dried and cleaned to a degree.
-It's such a lovely feel.
-It's like a wooden ribbon.
-It's very soft
-and quite easy to work with, really.
-It doesn't smell so bad now.
-And it looks a bit nicer as well, doesn't it?
-Yeah. That's lovely.
The process for the making of cordage is then to cut or peel that down into thinner pieces.
That's then twisted into cords of different sizes
and then, through the process, that can be built up thicker and thicker
to make stronger cords and ropes.
Makes you appreciate why the lime has been so important over the centuries.
Mind you, if it was left to me,
I don't think that Viking boat would ever have made it to America.
Earlier, we heard how foreign diseases are killing our native trees.
What can we do to save them? Here's Tom.
The Government banned imports of ash trees at the end of October
to try and stop the spread of ash dieback.
For many, though, it was too little, too late,
and just days later,
they announced the disease was here to stay.
We can't get rid of it. And it's not alone.
There are already dozens of lethal, non-native pests
and tree diseases established in Britain,
so what can we do to stop them spreading here on our home soil?
The slopes of Upper Teesdale, shrouded in juniper.
Many of these precious native conifers are infected with
another deadly disease - Phytophthora austrocedrae.
Juniper is pretty rare, even without a disease making things worse,
and it can live to a ripe old age.
Some of these are probably 250 years old.
So, it is a real shame that one of the only ways of containing it is to burn it.
It's a distressing job for Martin Furness,
who manages this precious reserve.
It's a terrible shame, in a way, Martin, to be having to do this.
It is. I've spent years of my life down here,
working to get juniper regenerating,
and then this disease comes along and it's like another nail in the coffin for juniper.
-Do you really feel it's essential, though?
-I think it is.
I think it's only way we can contain it. I don't think we'll get rid of the disease.
If we can contain it and it doesn't spread any further than this, I'd be happy.
And how big a problem is it in the area we're in?
It's over the whole site, which is probably about 13 hectares.
We got probably thousands to cut out and burn and get rid of.
What about looking to the future? Is there a hope that juniper could come back in this area?
Well, one of the key ways that juniper regenerates
is through disturbance, so this ground disturbance here might bring on some seedlings,
but then they might just get nobbled by the disease again.
There are a range of other measures, some of them less dramatic,
aimed at limiting the reach of tree diseases like ash dieback.
We can play our part, too.
You might remember these disinfectant footbaths from Foot and Mouth.
Expect them to start appearing around some of our woodlands
and forests, so make sure you use them.
Also, gardeners, burn your old, dead ash leaves.
So there are some things we can all do to slow the spread of diseases,
but what hope is there of getting rid of them altogether?
Dr David Slawson and his team of scientists are trying to stay ahead of the game.
This office-cum-laboratory is reacting to the latest threats.
Can you give an example of where you've been able to act quickly
where something's already in the country?
Quite a good example is, in the summer,
when inspectors were looking at trees in Kent,
and we found an outbreak of the Asian longhorn beetle,
-which is a really nasty pest that we do not want in this country.
-What does it do to trees?
Basically, it chomps through them and they die. We found it, we took prompt action.
Fingers crossed, we hope we've eradicated it.
But fungal diseases like ash dieback spread far more quickly than beetles.
Different tactics are needed.
The answer could be making trees defend themselves.
What we've seen in Europe is that some trees die of it
and some look to be resistant or tolerant to it,
-so the solution may come from the ash tree itself.
-How difficult a job is that,
-to replace our existing ash trees with resilient...?
-You are talking years.
It's not like you're breeding a wheat plant for resistance,
which is much, much quicker. It is a long-term project.
The warning may have sounded a little late,
but ash dieback has definitely raised the alarm about diseases that
are already in this country and those that are waiting on our borders.
The question is, will we be able to tighten up our import rules
or improve our science
so that more of our trees don't end up on the funeral pyre?
Back in Westonbirt,
the coppicing of the small-leaved lime is well underway.
But there's plenty more winter maintenance to be done.
I'm meeting up again with curator Mark Ballard,
and he's come equipped with a rubber hammer.
Mark, you're the expert, but I'm going to tell you,
you're definitely not going to find a reflex in this tree.
This, believe it or not,
is a really important tool in our annual tree inspection programme.
What are you listening for?
We're listening for cavities, for any hollow sounds,
because, at this time of year, we'll see lots of fruiting bodies.
This is a fungus. It is called Pholiota squarrosa.
What it does, it affects the buttress roots and attacks the stem,
-and eventually it can cause tree failure.
So we're just trying to assess
with a simple hammer what's actually going on inside the tree.
-How stable it still is.
-And what are you hearing?
This one sounds OK, to be honest, so I think we're OK for now.
We can just monitor this tree. However,
-we can walk this way, and this is also an eastern hemlock.
-DULL THUDS You can hear that.
This is obviously where the decay is much more advanced.
If we come to the back, and if you tap on the opposite side,
just here, again you can hear that.
What's going to happen to this baby?
It's at a much more advanced stage, unfortunately,
than its friend over there, so this particular tree I think we need to remove.
And how does this relate to, say, the ash dieback story?
Trees are like us. They succumb to various diseases and decays,
and most of them we're aware of,
and they're like Nature's clean-up agents.
Ash dieback is a different thing altogether.
It's like an epidemic which could wipe out a particular species,
which is native, so that's much more worrying.
These are just things we find year on year,
and we manage them accordingly.
Talking of management,
the team has been cutting back the ancient small-leaved lime all day.
Now it's the big moment - time to see the results.
-What do you think?
-It's fantastic, really.
We've had the courage of our convictions,
and it's history before our very eyes.
Hopefully, this cycle will continue, and hopefully, we've done this tree a favour
and it will sprout in the spring. Fingers crossed.
-These invigorated stems will rise up...
-..more powerful than ever.
The phoenix from the flames.
An hour down the road on his Cotswolds farm,
Adam manages 1,600 acres, and right now, he's keen to see how the latest edition
to his hard-working team is getting on.
My day starts like many others - a quick breakfast, a cup of tea,
the house pets get their breakfast, and it's off to work I go.
It's only a short commute for me to get to work - out of the house,
straight into the farmyard, and the farm office is just across here.
-In here is my business partner, Duncan. Morning, Dunc.
-He's doing all the paperwork,
and I spend quite a lot of time sat behind a desk too,
but what I really enjoy is being out on the farm with the animals.
My working dogs are an important part of the team,
and there's always work for them to do out in the field.
I've got about 2,000 sheep. These are my Herdwicks, with the new ram that has come down from the Lake District.
It feels like the Lake District today, it's raining so much.
We've got about 100 cattle, we've got pigs, goats, horses,
chickens and around 1,000 acres of arable.
There's an awful lot going on. I've got a lot on my plate.
Trying to keep on top of this mammoth task is something I couldn't possibly do on my own,
which is why we have three arable and two livestock staff.
Back in the summer, I employed a new member of staff to work with the livestock.
I'm just heading to see how he's getting on.
David grew up on a traditional family farm in Devon,
so I'm interested to see how he's getting on with all my rare breeds.
-How's it going?
-Yeah, not too bad.
-They've grown well, these ewe lambs, haven't they?
They've had a bit of lameness, I'm worming them now.
-How are you enjoying being on the farm?
-Yeah, it's good. I'm learning a lot.
-Hopefully I know all my different breeds now!
So, go on, then, tell me some breeds.
-There's a Norfolk, Cotswold and it's a Dartmoor at the back.
-Very good. You know them all!
-Hopefully! Getting there.
-And how's the rugby coming on? Have you started playing?
Not this season, but hopefully next season, I'll be back playing again.
-It's good to get the work-life balance right.
-As long as you don't go hurt yourself!
-I'll let some more in for you.
Sheep can suffer from stomach worms, so what we do is,
we take a dung sample, look at it under the microscope
and then you can work out what worm eggs they've got inside their gut,
and then we use the right chemical to kill it,
so David's what's known as drenching - puts the pipe inside the sheep's mouth,
squirts the wormer down their throat, they swallow it,
it goes into their gut and kills the worms in their stomachs.
And then they'll grow on much better.
Otherwise, the worms can affect their growth rates and make them ill.
But that should work well. I'll leave you to treat those lame lambs.
Catch you later. Cheers.
Employing the right staff on the farm is absolutely essential,
and then hanging onto the good ones once you've got them,
and David's got some great skills and he's a quick learner. I'm really pleased we've got him.
On my farm, to keep an eye on my sheep, to make sure they're OK,
I just drive around the fields and round them up with a sheepdog,
but over in the Forest of Dean,
where the commoners allow their sheep to roam around
in thousands of acres of woodland,
I don't know how they keep track of them,
so I'm heading over there now to find out more.
Grazing animals here on the open forest is an ancient rite.
It's a tradition that still remains today.
I've come to meet Mick Holder.
He's secretary of the Forest of Dean Commoners' Association,
so there's not much he doesn't know about keeping sheep on common land.
So, how many sheep have you got?
We've got about 2,000 sheep in the forest at the moment.
-So quite a lot?
So what sort of range have the sheep got? How big is the forest?
We've got 11,000 acres, really, that they can go wherever they want to.
This is a lovely setting here, with the sheep and forest behind.
-Who is this gentleman working with the sheep now?
What Gilbert is trying to do is reintroducing this small bunch of sheep back to the forest.
He is using the hefting pen, and he shuts the sheep in in the evening time,
comes in the day time and lets them out, and gradually
allows them to roam further and further away from the pen, as days progress.
So, hefting is really the knowledge of the sheep in the forest,
so they know where to go to find water and shelter and food?
-It's getting the sheep used to the area.
-I might go and have a chat with him.
-Thank you very much. Good to see you.
-Good to see you, sir.
-Good morning, Adam.
-A nice little flock of sheep you've got here.
-Yes, it's not too bad at all.
-So, what breeds of sheep have you got?
-A few Badgers and a few Suffolks.
Do you need a specific type of sheep to be able to manage them in the forest?
You can't bring anything into the forest. They've got to be hardy breeds, you know?
-I see you got a few more over here.
-Yes, there's a few just out there.
-Shall we go and see if we can call them in?
-We can call them from here, I expect.
-They recognise your voice, do they?
-Yeah. ..Come on.
-They're looking up now, yeah. Here they come.
You've got a good yell on you.
Are there many people that know how to do this?
We're getting very few on the ground now.
-So you need to be teaching the next generation?
-Well, I try my best.
Try my best!
Bev Turpin West is certainly passing on her knowledge.
Her children are keen to learn how to heft, to keep the tradition going.
-How have you learned the art of this kind of shepherding?
Because it's very different to what I do.
I learned to lamb on an old man's farm up the road,
and I used to help him. That's where I learned about sheep.
You then helped him when I went out to work.
And then we got our own flock. And you learn your own flock and sheep.
Learning stories about the forest, and the old traditions,
-and then you adapt them to your own situation.
-So, what do you use them for?
We tend to keep them on for mutton.
We also keep them for fleeces and also, we get the skins cured.
-It's a good little industry, really.
So what you want to do with these sheep now, then?
We're going to take them round and take them into the pen,
-so if you'd like to give us a hand, that'd be brilliant.
Not everyone living in and around the Forest of Dean like having sheep on their doorstep,
because they see them as a nuisance, so it's important
they're kept within the forest and away from houses and roads.
Come on, then.
-Well, that was quite easy, wasn't it?
This pen is to re-heft the sheep, so they come here
and this is their place, rather than around the houses in the rest of the hamlet.
They're going to eat their feed now.
They'll all lie down, have a sleep, and first thing in the morning,
they'll be let out again and they should spend the day grazing.
Well, it's been a great pleasure to come and see you working in this way,
and I'll go back to my boring fields!
-Nice to see you! Bye, girls.
Next week, I'm back on the farm getting some of my animals ready for the winter.
JOHN: Julia is exploring the beautiful parkland of our National Arboretum at Westonbirt,
but I've come to a very different place.
Over the border in Wiltshire, the wooded views give way to wide valleys and open chalk hills.
This countryside was home to some of our earliest ancestors.
Back then, Stonehenge and Avebury
were centrepieces of prehistoric life.
The chalky soil makes farming rather difficult around here,
but one rather exclusive crop is thriving.
Believe it or not, wild truffles are growing in abundance
somewhere around here, and I'm on the hunt to find them.
On the continent, the cousins of these British truffles change hands for thousands of pounds a kilo.
Here, it's more like £400, but they've never been so highly prized.
They're a kind of fungi,
and were plentiful in our woodlands a few hundred years ago.
But, as our landscape changed,
the truffle, like the wild boar that helps spread them around,
began to disappear.
They're considered by some to be just as delicious as
their French or Italian counterparts,
and in this country, even rarer.
But in recent years, there's a top-secret location that's been
consistently turning out kilo after kilo of this black gold.
To protect his treasure, the farmer needs to hide his identity,
so instead, I'm meeting someone a little less reclusive.
Roger Phillips is an expert in mushrooms,
and it was he who identified the first truffle found here.
-Where are these truffles, then?
Well, I'm going to blindfold you,
-because we mustn't let anyone know where we're going!
It's that secret, yeah.
Right, well, this is going to be intriguing.
OK, I am going to do the camera as well.
Well, the camera's obviously not allowed to see where we are going.
He can't see! Let's go.
-Off with the blindfold.
-Well...obviously in a wood.
In a wood, yes. A very young wood.
So do they actually grow on trees or around trees?
Well, they don't grow ON trees but they grow in association with trees.
They are symbiotic with the trees.
Without the truffles, the trees wouldn't grow.
Because we've got hazels here. Do they like hazels?
They like hazel and they like beech.
And how come that this particular little wood is a truffle...trove?
It's because the land is dreadful and the truffles supply water
and minerals to the trees and help them grow on very poor soil.
I'd only ever found one meagre, horrible,
dried-up truffle before in my life.
-And I came down here... In England, yes.
And how many did you find here?
I went out with the farmer and we collected, I don't know,
maybe 25 or something like that. I was out of my mind!
Well, you've won me over with your enthusiasm for the truffle.
What I need to do now is to try and go and find one somewhere here,
but I might need some help.
'Traditionally, female pigs were the truffle hunter's faithful friends.
'The scent of a mature truffle is similar to that of a male pig,
'so when the female sniffs one out she becomes excited
'and roots around for the truffle.'
The trouble is, unless the hunter is quick off the mark, the pig
will eat the truffle before it even sees the light of day.
'And for this reason dogs are now
'the truffle hunter's companion of choice.
'This is Valentino, a specially bred Italian truffle hound.
'He hunts with Tom Lywood,
'following in the hectic footsteps of truffle hunters of old.'
Good boy, good boy.
'And it's not long before Valentino's supersensitive nose
'sniffs out some secretive delights.'
-Good boy, good boy.
This is a great truffle. This is your winter truffle.
-Yeah, it's not about size,
it's really about the quality of the truffle.
And I think 100 years ago they were nothing special.
They were ordinary food
and they came from the great sort of craft of the woodland industry,
which has gone.
-Find another one now!
-OK, let's go.
Good boy, Tino.
Good boy, good boy.
-This is quite amazing. Truffles are everywhere!
-They're growing like turnips.
-Yes, like turnips.
This is unusual, because it's a young wood.
There are a lot more places in England where the truffle exists,
and there's a lot of...
Good boy, good boy, good boy.
And there's a lot of work you can do to bring them back.
'If you want truffles to flourish, you need chalky,
'alkaline-heavy soil and well-managed woods like this one.'
Good boy, good boy. Tino. Tino, hup, hup.
'We've gathered quite a haul in no time at all.
'But that's only half the story.
'Zach Frost is the farmer's right-hand man
'and, as well as hunting truffles, he also takes care of the business.'
And here you've got some drying out on a towel.
-Very much a cottage industry, this.
-Indeed, or a shed industry.
As you can see, we take them from the wood into this shed,
where they're dried for about four hours and then packed
into padded bags and sent off to chefs around the country.
You can see we've got some great big ones at the back there.
These are probably 100 grams or so.
We find them up to 600 grams on the farm.
So how much would all of this be worth, then?
-Truffles from Italy are selling for up to £4,000 a kilo this year.
That kind of price, anyway, and these are perhaps a 10th, if that.
The crucial thing is that this wood was never planted
as a commercial venture.
It was a complete happy accident, and so the money
side of things has never been the driving force behind the project.
It's been a nice little bonus, if such a wonderful hobby can
bring in some extra money on the side as well.
Whatever it was that brought the truffles here,
this place has provided the perfect home for them.
And in a time when our native trees are under threat
here's a healthy new wood giving birth to an ancient delicacy.
And from one treasure to another.
The BBC Countryfile Calendar for 2013,
which is now well on its way to raising at least £1 million
for BBC Children In Need. It makes a great Christmas present
and if you'd like to buy one here's how you do it.
You can order a copy right now, either on our website...
or by calling the order line, on...
To order by post, send your name, address and cheque to...
Please make your cheques payable to BBC Countryfile Calendar.
The calendar costs £9
and at least £4 of that goes to Children In Need.
In a moment, Julia's going to be finding out
why British truffles are taking the Continent by storm.
But first here's the Countryfile weather forecast for the weekend.
I've left the glorious parkland of Westonbirt behind
and crossed the border into Wiltshire
to gather the fruits of a very different kind of woodland.
They're odorous, they're underground and they're here.
Top-quality British truffles.
I'm expecting a delivery from John at any moment.
This year our British truffles are giving our Continental cousins
a real run for their money. Why?
Well, where better to find out than a Michelin-starred country pub?
Alfredo Romani is a London truffle dealer,
who for the first time this year has been supplying
the capital's top restaurants with British truffles.
Alfredo, hello. Nice to see you.
-This is a very expensive table in front of us.
What do you think of British truffles?
Well, I never seen them before,
so I was quite surprised to see how good they were.
And why do you think it's been such a good year for British truffles?
One is the weather. But it's not just that one.
I think that the people are realise that there are
so many truffles in your soil.
-That they're finding them!
-Exactly. They concentrate to find them.
What is the difference between them, then? We've got...
These are Italian black truffles, these are British black truffles.
If you see inside, the Italian is lighter in colour.
-But if you smell them...
-Oh, I love that smell. Yeah.
I hope you love this one as well.
I don't think you can smell much difference between the two.
-No, not at all.
-Because actually it's the same variety.
So sometime the acidity of the soil makes some
difference in the flavour and smell,
but the difference is really, really...
-Exactly. You not even say which one is from where.
So if I did a taste test with you
and gave you a bit of this truffle and a bit of that
you might not know which one was the Italian?
-You will! OK.
-No, not necessarily.
Let's talk about the money. How much...is that worth, for example?
It depends on the availability,
because every week on the truffle market the price could go up or down.
-More or less, exactly. It works in the same...same way.
Well, it's been lovely talking to you,
-and I'll just look after those for you.
-OK, thank you!
They may not be the prettiest things on the menu
but they've got to be the most opulent.
They've graced the dining tables of the rich and famous
since the dawn of time.
The Egyptians apparently liked them coated in goose fat.
And the Romans liked them smothered in a fermented fish sauce. Lovely.
They first appeared in British dishes in the 18th-century
and the wonderful Mrs Beeton
had a couple of very lovely truffley recipes.
This one is with Champagne, slices of fat bacon and mace,
and there's another one here with spoonfuls of good brown gravy.
I think I prefer the Champagne, Mrs B.
Michelin-starred chef Guy Manning is going to show me
how best to appreciate these prized delicacies.
Right, so I'm here as your sous chef,
and I have never cleaned a truffle before.
I've no idea how you do it. I guess it's like mushrooms.
It's fairly straightforward.
You can be slightly more aggressive with them than mushrooms,
because actually what we want to do is remove all of this dirt.
They're not as fragile as a mushroom,
that will very easily bruise or break up, so we're going to
take our nail brushes, which work very, very well.
-No nails have been cleaned with these!
-No, virgin nail brushes.
-And just dip it in your water.
-And give it a little scrub.
-There we go.
-And they end up very nicely.
-There we go, how have I done?
So I'm loving the thought of Champagne and truffles,
and of course it's just such a magical combination, isn't it?
-It is, it works together very well, yep.
-We've got English truffles.
-How about English champers?
-Sounds like a marvellous idea.
'Pink bubbles combine with onion, carrot and bacon.'
-That is sturdy bacon.
-I like my bacon chunky.
'Then pop the truffles into the posh poaching liquor for an hour.'
absolutely delicious, and it's such a unique
texture and flavour, isn't it?
It is, yeah, very decadent.
John's coming for dinner and, after all that snuffling in the woods,
he deserves something a bit more substantial.
Guy's signature dish,
a freshly made pasta with Parmesan and British black truffle.
-Oh, what have you got there?
-Well, you've been working very hard in the outdoors.
-This is a beautiful fresh taglialini pasta.
But as you are a very special person I'm going to follow
the custom of Italy.
In Italy, if you're a celebrity, a politician, a king, a queen,
whatever you might be, then you're presented with a truffle as well.
-A whole truffle?
-This year Obama got a truffle.
So we're on a budget, I'm giving you a slice of truffle.
Oh, just a slice, right!
Because they say it adds to the flavour of whatever you're eating.
-Two and a bit there.
-Four. That's your lot.
-Thank you very much.
-Isn't that incredible?
And the truffle does sort of... explode the flavour.
-Worth all that snuffling?
I'll say goodbye.
Next week we're going to be along the Norfolk coastline,
witnessing one of nature's most spectacular events,
involving tens of thousands of beautiful birds.
And we'll be discovering what happens
to some of the money that you raise
when you buy the Countryfile
Calendar in aid of Children In Need.
-Go on, then, just that little bit.
-Have a little bit, yeah. Bye.
Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd
Countryfile is deep in Gloucestershire exploring some woodland treasures. Julia Bradbury is at the National Arboretum in Westonbirt, finding out why workers at this haven for more than 16,000 trees are about to cut down one of its oldest residents.
At a secret woodland location across the border in Wiltshire, John Craven is on the trail of home-grown black gold; English truffles are thriving, thanks to our rainy summer. They are even giving their continental cousins a run for their money, and John has found a four-legged, furry friend to help him sniff out these expensive delicacies. John also finds out what it takes to create an Olympic dressage champion, when he visits Carl Hester's gold-medal winning stables.
Not too far away, in the Forest of Dean, Adam experiences a true woodland tradition when he meets up with the commoners who have the right to graze their sheep on the forest floor.
Meanwhile, Tom Heap has discovered that more than double the number of tree diseases have crossed the Channel in the last ten years compared to the whole of the last century, and there are many more waiting in the wings. He investigates what more, if anything, can be done to protect our trees.