The team are in the coastal county of Suffolk. Julia Bradbury celebrates the centenary of the birth of one of our greatest composers, Benjamin Britten.
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With golden beaches, rolling shingle,
and one of the most stunning wetland areas in the country,
has been inspiring artists for generations.
that the legendary composer Benjamin Britten
I'm going to be following in his footsteps,
finding out about the county he adored
the perfect combination for growing crops.
It's where man would often have been seen working alongside beast
Now, these magnificent Suffolk Punch horses
able to pull twice their own body weight,
but tractors took away their livelihoods
and now there are fewer than 500 of this breed left in the entire world.
those desperate to keep the Suffolk Punch horse working.
looking at claims that life as a hill farmer
Making a living from livestock in the uplands
But could changes to the way farmers are funded
But you CAN still find optimism for the future of the industry.
I'm here in Snowdonia, meeting up with a very lucky young lady
to run this beautiful and iconic Welsh hill farm.
And I'll be finding out what her plans are for the year ahead.
The East Anglian county of Suffolk is a lyrical landscape
rich in natural and cultural heritage.
I'm heading to the coastal town of Aldeburgh,
where one of our best-loved musicians made his home.
Suffolk has been inspiring creative minds for generations.
One of the most famous is composer Benjamin Britten.
This Friday marks the centenary of Britten's birth.
His passion for music was apparent from a young age,
he was always drawn back home to the county he loved.
he found international fame in 1945 with his opera Peter Grimes.
In later years, he created the Aldeburgh Music Festival
to educate and support young artists.
His career was followed closely by the media,
leaving us with a detailed archive of his life.
Benjamin Britten would walk out here for hours,
taking inspiration from the landscape.
is associated with the Suffolk coastline,
I'm on a walk Britten loved - Sailor's Path.
It's a six-mile route which follows the River Alde
from Snape to the coastal town of Aldeburgh,
where he lived with his personal and professional partner Peter Pears.
a man who knows all there is to know about Britten,
to discover more about one of his lesser-known operas.
the sort of slightly mystic-looking church -
would have been something he really gained a lot from.
This was his inspiration. Indeed, yeah.
which is very much based in East Anglian mysticism,
this is where he would have come to get the ideas.
Not one of his most famous works, by any stretch,
which Britten saw in the '50s on a trip to the Far East
and then, in a very typical way for him, he would have come back here -
"How can I use that in my own setting, with the place that I love?"
Incredible. How do you move from Japan to Anglia? Indeed.
Not the most logical progression, but it works very well,
and as a consequence it's very, very atmospheric.
So, I've got some of it here, so if you give it a listen...
FLUTE PLAYS # Curlews of the Fenland... #
You can hear the curlews actually, can't you, in the music?
Indeed, and there's a big population of curlews round here
and that's something that Britten would have seen,
and I think that's a really nice hook for him,
is such a nice sort of link to this location.
And did he wander around with a paper and pen making notes?
Not at all, that was the phenomenal thing.
He was able to hold ideas in his head, to sort of file them away,
and literally just soaked up everything,
then would have walked back, gone home, sat in his studio,
and this would have poured out of him.
At the end of the Sailor's Path walk is The Red House,
where Britten composed some of his most famous works.
His studio today feels as though he's just left the room.
It is quite sort of spartan in many respects -
Britten was someone who liked cold baths,
he liked that kind of puritanical thing.
But such beautiful artefacts in the room and everywhere.
In some ways both Britten and Pears were hoarders.
from the first jottings of his trip to Japan,
right up to the manuscripts and sort of costume designs
and things like that, it tells the story right way through.
And this is one of the original manuscripts.
and this would have been his first attempt at writing it down.
What's remarkable is the clarity on the page,
it's not sort of a torn-together, very, very roughshod,
which indicates, really, the clarity in his own brain.
This is an instrument that Britten brought back from Japan in 1956.
which is used to accompany the Noh theatre that Britten saw.
And when he brought that idea back here
and rooted it in his East Anglian community,
he mimicked the sound of this very strange oriental instrument,
which plays sort of clustery chords. Blow in here?
Yes, blow in the mouthpiece with your fingers on the little holes.
OK. Let's see if we can do a rendition of Curlew River.
It's not. There's a certain element of passing out involved,
there's a lot of puff required. But it's a very strange sound,
and I think you have to be a very skilled master to play it.
Curlew River was one of the three Church Operas Britten wrote.
It was well received, and premiered 12 years before his death.
By that time, he was considered to be the country's leading composer,
He was offered a grand funeral at Westminster Abbey,
but that wasn't Benjamin Britten's style.
He wanted to be buried here, in his beloved home county.
I've come here to meet one of his close friends, Stuart Bedford.
What's your first memory of Benjamin Britten?
I'm not sure that I can place it is exactly,
but it would have to be either 1947 or '48.
We got up to all sorts of wonderful games.
He had an enormous sense of fun, it was the thing he adored most.
and he would pick up a fork and twang it
He took his music very, very seriously though.
There was a lot of tension around when he was working.
What does this piece of music evoke in you?
I was intimately involved with the Church Operas.
What was it like, then, making this transition
larking around with him in the garden,
to actually working with him professionally one stage?
It was like two different worlds. It really was.
Because that side of him was very much covered up.
It was still there, you could get it out of him
if he was playing a game or something.
The music was his profession, and really serious.
But I worked with him for at least ten years,
A stained-glass window was commissioned
as a memorial to Britten in Aldeburgh Church.
It features the three Church Operas with Curlew River at its centre.
But his lasting legacy will always be his music.
Any time he touched the keyboard there was magic there.
to get exactly the right colour out of the piano.
Nobody else had ever done anything like that.
Did you know him as Benjamin, Mr Britten...? Ben. Always.
I said, "What do we call you now you're a Lord?"
Farming the uplands is one of the toughest jobs in agriculture.
things could be taking a turn for the worse.
Britain's uplands, bleak yet beautiful.
The farmers who work this land have one of the country's hardest jobs.
It's tough to make a living from farming up here
with the rugged terrain, the fierce weather,
and the huge areas of rough land - in fact many people say
without European subsidies it'd be virtually impossible.
Nigel Miller and his two sons farm 550 hectares -
Well, this is this year's land crop, that we'll be taking over the winter.
These are all ewe lambs, and they're getting their fluke dose,
to just get rid of liver fluke before the winter comes.
He's run this farm for over 30 years,
working the exposed hills in all seasons and all weather.
But on its own, this hard graft doesn't pay the bills,
and he's in no doubt where he'd be without a helping hand from Europe.
It looks like a tough job physically as well as economically.
out of the hill-farming side of this business?
We've got a strange business, it's about half hill land,
I would guess about ?10,000 a year is generated off the hill land.
Roughly how much of that is made from the subsidy, the farm payments?
we probably wouldn't be making any profit at all.
That's the difference it makes, it's absolutely key? It is critical.
Shall we get the last batch through and get these ones out?
'The latest farm income figures show that without support
'most hill farms across the UK would make a loss
'They're only kept afloat by cash coming from subsidies
'through the Common Agricultural Policy.
But now both the amount of cash and the way it's shared around
and that's likely to have a big impact in Scotland.
'This summer, the governments of the European Union got together
'to negotiate a brand-new Common Agricultural Policy.'
So does subsidy help you with a bit of this as well? It does, yeah...
'but also to money available for environmental schemes,
'like the one that paid for this woodland planting.'
This is the time of year just to check out
whether they've done well over the summer,
and if they haven't, we'll just pull the tube out
and we know these are blanks we've got to fill in the spring.
'As he's also President of Scotland's farming union,
'Nigel's being paying close attention to how changes to the CAP
'are likely to affect him and his fellow Scottish farmers.'
So how are the way they calculate these payments
Well, historically, support in Europe was very much based on production,
so a farm like this, the number of cows, sheep that you kept,
the amount of barley you grew, that fixed your payment. Right.
and we're going to go to an area payment system,
so that every hectare of land gets a standard payment.
There are worries that this could mean many Scottish hill farmers
Especially when you add into the mix the 13% reduction
in overall farming subsidies across the EU.
I think the area payment system is quite a blunt tool,
and in Scotland almost certainly there'll be a tiered system -
the lower ground will get quite high payments
and the hill land will get relatively low payments.
Now, for hill farmers that's a bit tough,
within the hill area the money gets averaged out
over all the farms, so that those that are the most active,
the most productive, will tend to be big losers.
How much of a hit is this going to be for you, do you think?
Well, our area payment just now, or single farm payment,
is moderate, it's about 180 euros a hectare,
and that reflects the cattle we had in the past.
Going into the new system, the area payment on our hill land
could be 40, 30, 50 euros - we're not sure yet.
but England's already been operating this area-based system since 2005.
So it seems only fair to bring Scotland
and the UK's other home nations into line
In the tangled web of European deal-making, though,
Time for a masterclass on current subsidy payments.
The total Common Agricultural Policy subsidy is decided in Brussels,
and it's there too that they decide how much each member state will get.
and they reckon that the UK deserves 229 euros per hectare on average.
Then, the Government in the UK, in Westminster, decide -
with some consultation with the individual nations -
Northern Ireland get the most, with 339.
Whereas Scotland appear to be the losers,
So, Northern Ireland end up with almost three times
the per-hectare payments of Scotland,
which appears to lag way behind everyone else.
at the Scottish Parliament they feel somewhat short-changed.
Scotland gets by far the lowest level per-hectare payment
and indeed the whole of Europe, it looks like, under the new formula.
That's based on historic reasons from many years ago,
and for all kinds of political reasons and negotiated reasons.
That's a bit of a scandal, it's caused huge anger in this country.
Europe allocates the money to the UK on the basis of the total area,
but then it's unequally distributed within the UK. What do you think?
Well, one of the reasons why Europe adopted this new formula
is because they want the payments right across Europe
to be on more of a level playing field,
and that should happen within the UK as well.
But the UK still qualifies for a bit of an uplift
so that's about worth about 220 million euros between 2014 and 2020.
So clearly, in Scotland we feel 100% of that uplift the UK is getting
because of Scotland's low level of payments
But these issues are being decided many miles from Edinburgh.
And claims that their northern neighbours get a rough deal
are met with some scepticism here at the heart of Westminster.
Scotland has tended to have a lower allocation per hectare
simply because historically its land was less productive,
and it's important to note that per farm in Scotland,
because the farm units tend to be larger,
per farm they tend to get greater payments than other parts of the UK.
For the first time, Scotland's doing its own consultation,
it's got much more freedom in how it implements the CAP.
They will be able to focus more money on the uplands,
It's certainly true that some of Scotland's larger landowners
and that the UK's individual nations have some leeway
to prioritise how their pots of money are spent.
But Scotland also insists the UK has just received
because generally its farmers get such low levels of cash.
Does Defra feel all that money should be heading up north?
I don't really accept the arguments being put forward -
as I said the reality is that Scottish farms still get per unit
more money than a lot of other parts of the UK.
Historically they've tended to have lower payments per hectare
simply because the land is less productive,
and we will listen to the representations
but we've got to be fair to all of the constituent parts of the UK.
In fact, even since we spoke to the Farming Minister,
Defra has decided against passing on this uplift in full.
Although it has promised to review the way the UK's individual
nation payments are calculated - in 2017.
At the sharp end of this political wrangling are farmers like Nigel.
that Scotland's lost an awful lot of sheep.
We've lost over 1 million sheep since 2000,
so things are in a very fragile state.
This additional cut is quite frightening.
But I think also, at a personal level, at a community level,
seeing communities running down is a pretty sad thing,
because the farming community is quite a close community
it's going to be a difficult few years.
probably there's never been a better time to farm.
So, despite the cloud of uncertainty on how this deal will play out,
Nigel's trying to see the silver lining.
Farming these hills has always demanded resilience,
and in the short term at least, that quality will continue to count.
Today we're exploring Suffolk, a landscape that stirs the imagination.
South-west of its wild, expansive coast lie the Claylands,
of one of England's finest landscape painters.
John Constable famously immortalised the rural character of south Suffolk
almost two centuries ago in his paintings.
But this beautiful borderland around the River Stour
isn't just synonymous with the works of Constable.
Another Suffolk great earned its status here
and it did so through sheer hard work.
A thoroughbred, revered for strength, not speed,
this gentle giant made light work of the county's rich yet heavy land.
it helped turn Suffolk into the breadbasket of England
and worked its way into the hearts of its people.
Roger Clark has farmed with the Suffolk Punch,
the oldest and rarest of all heavy horses, for 50 years,
Roger, how are you doing? Morning, Matt. Welcome to Wylands.
Ha-ha, thank you very much. Introduce me to them before we go.
Yep, this is Bugle. Bugle! Hello, my man. And that's Jester.
So what makes a Suffolk Punch a Suffolk Punch?
Face like an angel, middle like a beer barrel
and a backside on it like a farmer's daughter.
I mean, that amalgamation of power, it's standing here, I mean,
They get their height through their depth of heart. Yep.
Strong forearms, short cannon. That means they can walk,
and when you walk behind these, you'll realise they can walk.
But don't forget, with a cart horse, Matt,
he's not only got to pull a load, he's got to back a load as well,
so this is where the farmer's daughter comes in.
You want a good britch and a good second thigh.
Right. Cos that's where your strength is.
Yeah! And is it right, then, that they can all be traced back
to just one horse? Yeah, Crisp's horse of Ufford, 1760.
goes back in an unbroken male line to this horse.
Good lad. The Suffolk horse was THE agricultural horse.
They wouldn't go back to the stable for dinner.
They would be fed at five in the morning,
they would turn out to work at seven, half past,
when the chaps had something to eat during the morning
and then they'd finish at three o'clock in the afternoon.
For decades, the magnificent sight of a Suffolk Punch
to cultivate the land for crops day in, day out,
the flat fields of East Anglia were thought ideal
for piloting new machinery designed to increase output.
The petrol power of tractors would replace the muscle of the Suffolk
My mother made me a member of the Suffolk Horse Society in 1964
and I was the only new member that year. You know, things were...
I mean, it was just on the verge of shutting down.
By the '60s, the Suffolk had become almost completely redundant.
In 1966, only nine foals were registered.
The fate of many of these proud work horses lay in the slaughterhouse.
To some farmers, the Suffolk Punch became worth more dead than alive.
You'd go to any sale and you might see 200 heavy horses there,
and good sorts too, and 95% of them would have gone for slaughter,
because there was no trade for them, you see.
But thanks to a small number of devotees like Roger,
the horse that gave so much to this county
has been brought back from the brink of extinction.
There are now nearly 500 Suffolk Punches in existence,
but that still makes them more critically endangered
than the giant panda and the Siberian tiger.
I'm very intrigued, Jeanie, that we're standing on what is...
It's like a horse version of a snowboard. It is like a sledge, yeah.
The plan is to go in and out the cones, find our balance,
Just as vital to guaranteeing the Suffolk Punch's future,
it's the need to keep the skills to work them alive.
20-year-old Jeanie Letch is one of a small number of people
Today she's refining her techniques with Suffolks Boxer and Sovereign.
I've been with horses all my life, but generally light horses. Right.
I wanted to learn something different.
And I guess the new generation coming through is so important. Yes, it is.
I mean, when the older generation goes,
Yeah. I think the history of the Suffolk
and how they work is good to carry on.
It's not good to see a horse breed die out.
With the responsibility of working these horses
being taken on by the next generation, with people like Jeanie,
it's obvious that these historic horses do have a future
'Later I'll be harnessing the pulling power of these noble beasts
'to help fight for the survival of another rare breed.'
some rather avant-garde newcomers to the region.
Suffolk's salty air is thick with inspiration.
It brought us Constable, Gainsborough and Britten,
all who captured its classic English charm,
but if Gainsborough were to paint this scene today,
he'd need to add a touch of South American flair.
On a trip to Peru, East Anglian couple Paul and Jude fell in love...
One thing led to another and now they've got a farm,
or should I say a ranch full of them.
A small slice of the high Andes in the flatlands of Suffolk.
of these curious, camel-like creatures in Britain,
small fry compared to our 32 million sheep,
and Paul and Jude's alpacas have been busy at it
'Paul wants to check if one of his females, Ursula, is pregnant.
'What happens next gives him the answer he needs.'
Is this Fergus, then, Paul? This is Fergus.
We're going to find out whether Ursula is pregnant.
'Watch Ursula, the one in the middle's reaction.'
That's enough for you to be sure she's pregnant?
Well, that's enough for us to be 98% sure.
So Fergus was keen - she definitely wasn't.
She would have just sat down, but she spat in his face.
She said, "I'm pregnant, get out of here." She spat in his face? Yep.
'usually happens on days 10, 20 and 30
'of the female alpaca's 11-month gestation period.'
'It's a reliable indication, but Paul and Jude follow up
'with an ultrasound at two-to-three months to confirm the results.'
So is it quite a fleshy bit that I'm looking for?
You're going just here. Yes, I feel what you mean.
What am I..? Ah! And you're looking for that fluid-filled sac.
What's that, Paul? Is that any good? Oh, yeah! There you go! Yeah!
OK, so we'll save that. Here's the uterus.
What you can see here is a transverse section of the cria
Now, I can't tell you which bit of the cria it is, but it is there,
These females aren't first-time mums.
They already young alpacas, or cria, still at foot,
but because they're quite far into their pregnancy,
The cria need weighing and assessing.
Those above 25kg and strong enough can be separated from their mothers.
Thought it was going to be very solid. Right, here we go.
Well, thanks for being so good to me, little friend.
Off you go. 'This little one needs to put on a bit more weight.'
As that a good moment to do this? Ready now.
'But some of our chums are ready to be weaned.
'Paul and Jude have come up with a novel way
'to smooth the transition to independence for the young alpacas -
So, Jude, what's the story here? Why have we got little ones and a llama?
They've been with Spring, so they're used to the llama Spring,
she's going to basically behave as their nanny.
So they've got an adult figure there
so that they can feel a little bit more secure,
they'll follow her around in the field,
so the whole process of being away from their mums is less stressful.
And for the mothers, this is an important time for them too.
They're at a stage of their pregnancy now -
because they're already pregnant, to give birth next year -
where the demands of the foetus as it develops
so they now need to concentrate on putting their energies into that
rather than producing milk as well, which is an extra demand on them.
I love the idea of Mary Poppins llama. Yes! It's brilliant!
The Incas didn't keep alpacas for thousands of years just for fun.
Stronger and warmer than the finest wool,
the people of the high Andes valued alpaca fibre more than gold.
These days, the best-quality alpaca fleece
sells for 50-100 times more than sheep's wool.
Fleeces are graded from one to four,
according to the average width of individual hairs.
This would be a grade one, so if you have a feel of that,
That's about 17 1,000ths of a millimetre across.
Almost like a cobweb, yeah? Yeah! So this is a grade one.
That's a grade one. Now, this would be a grade four.
Oh, yeah, there's quite a clear difference, isn't there?
but by comparison you can see it's a thicker hair.
Yes, and this would be around 30 1,000ths of a millimetre across,
or 30 microns. And the interesting point there is once it's 30 microns,
you can actually feel it on your skin,
so it becomes what's known as the prickle factor.
will just feel like butter on your skin,
but anything over 30, you'll feel, "Ah, that's a bit itchy."
'This fleece is classed as a grade three,
'so we're sorting it into one pile for socks
There you go. Somebody's good night's sleep.
'But the Holy Grail when it comes to alpaca fleece is the grade one.'
We're starting to see much more demand now
particularly from the luxury fashion houses of Italy.
are gobbling up huge quantities of alpaca.
The demand for it really is going up exponentially, which is fabulous.
MUSIC: "In The Night" by The Pet Shop Boys
Suffolk alpaca is THE look for 2014.
owning or running a hill farm isn't without its challenges.
But for one young woman, it's a dream come true.
Before Adam heads to Snowdonia to meet her,
there are a few sheep on his own farm that need sorting out.
so they've been taken off their mothers
and they're used to following their mother's guidance
and the ewes would know the way into the pens,
but it's really difficult moving a bunch of lambs around.
who don't really know what they're up to.
It's quite hard work for us and the dogs.
At this time of year, the quality of the grass on this farm,
cos we're so high up, starts to fall off,
and the lambs won't be getting any benefit from it.
So what we're doing is going through them, sorting out any lambs
that are fit and heavy enough, ready to go for slaughter,
and the rest will be sold on to other farmers,
And they will finish them on better grass
and get them to go to slaughter in that way.
that we can save our grass for all our breeding ewes
that will be going to the rams in the autumn
I was very fortunate to inherit the tenancy of this farm from my dad,
getting on the farming ladder is nigh-on impossible.
So when I heard a scheme had been set up to help do just that,
Trystan Edwards is part of the team from the National Trust
Well, this is Llyndy Isaf and it was owned by Mr and Mrs Ken Owen
and they'd farmed it extremely sensitively
for the four decades that they were here
and they came to the trust saying, "We'd like you to take it over
"and manage it in the same way and protect it for the future."
So what sort of money did you have to raise?
and we went out for a public appeal last year.
And we managed to achieve that in six months
and over 20,000 people actually donated at the end of day.
So you ended up with a farm, then you've got to run it.
Well, at the end of the day, because the public donation,
we decided we had to have something quite special as a public benefit,
wouldn't it be great if we had an opportunity for a young farmer
to have an opportunity to start farming?
23-year-old Caryl Hughes grew up on a farm.
to run this 614-acre farm for 12 months.
She moved here with her dog, Mist, on the first of September.
Caryl, what made you decide to apply?
Basically, opportunity of a lifetime, isn't it?
key to a house, it's not a chance that comes every day.
I wasn't sure where I wanted to go either.
I'd got a degree, so I wasn't sure what I wanted to do,
so I'm hoping this will make or break me.
If I love it, then I'll be going on to manage farms and carry on,
or if I hate it, I won't want to see a sheep again, so we'll see.
I don't know. Perhaps they're crazy. I don't really know.
I've seen plenty of the country - plenty of the world.
so maybe I threw some ideas out about what I'd like to do here
and, obviously, I'm from a farming background as well, a sheep farm.
That's Snowdon up there, you can see just in the cloud area.
Northeast Wales, where Llangollen is, sort of thing,
so pretty used to this sort of terrain up there.
Part of the Berwyn Mountains, so it's all rock, heather and rivers,
like it is here, so home from home, really.
This is going to be hard work, isn't it?
It hasn't been farmed for a while, so there's no tracks,
I'm going to be fit as a fiddle anyway.
And what are your plans initially, then?
I'd start off with just getting the boundaries done,
about four and a half kilometres to do of that,
We've got some posts down there that need carrying up,
so we'll get a helicopter involved with that
so the contractor can do all of that work.
And then getting the sheep up here, getting the stock onto the farm
and we've actually got about 50 coming this afternoon.
Caryl will eventually farm more than 250 sheep.
The first batch is being delivered today by Arwyn Owen,
He'll be using all his experience to mentor Caryl over the coming year.
Nice new home for them! Nice new home!
Erm, it's very different from the summits of Snowdon,
or the slopes of Snowdon, where they've come from.
You know, they don't see grass like that up there, so...
So I'm sure they'll be very happy. Very happy.
And the Welsh is the breed that can live on those mountains, is it?
The thing is, it's been bred and developed
that this sort of climate and terrain throws at them, really.
I wish I was as tough as them! I often wish that!
And Caryl's got to be pretty tough as well,
hasn't she, to withstand this terrain?
It's wonderful that she's got someone
with all your years of experience of working these mountains
and it's going to be difficult in the winter, isn't it?
The winter is the most challenging period, there's no doubt.
and that's what makes working and farming here so interesting,
in that each of those seasons brings something different.
Caryl's a young person coming onto this farm for 12 months.
What are the things she's going to find difficult?
Maybe working with us is going to be one of those challenges!
You know, it's classed as a marginal farm,
and when you're farming on the margins,
I think all the challenges are that much more extreme.
The soils, you know, because they're thin, actually working them
and doing anything with them, you know, there's a big challenge there.
And then, in terms of the topography,
That combination does make farming difficult.
And it's great that people such as Caryl are coming through
and are interested in taking up these challenges,
and I'm sure, in 20 years' time, 30 years' time,
I'm sure Caryl will be one of the leaders in the industry.
What sort of things have you been up to?
Going round some fences, knocking more staples in.
And do you feel quite a lot of pressure, taking on the farm?
Erm, I wouldn't say it's, like, pressure,
Everyone's watching me, aren't they? It's going to be quite a big...
so there's a lot of people going to be watching what I'm doing
and, obviously, people put money in towards the farm,
so they're going to want to see what's come out of it.
because I've got enough help and support off Arwyn
so it's not so much pressure, but just people overlooking it.
Not only is Llyndy Isaf a beautiful place,
it's also got a very special legend attached to it.
Up on that hill over there, Dinas Emrys,
is where a red dragon and a white dragon fought.
The white dragon fell and lost, and fell into the lake here,
and then the red dragon won and became the emblem of Wales.
And here you are, farming the land around that legend,
and you'll be a legend in your own lifetime soon.
SHE LAUGHS Yeah, not so sure!
Most of it is designated as an Area Of Outstanding Natural Beauty,
and RSPB Minsmere sits right at its heart.
Every year, migratory birds touch down here
after thousands of miles on the wing,
and I'm hoping to catch some of the new arrivals.
On a wet day like today, the best place to see them from is the hide.
The RSPB's Adam Rowlands is my guide.
So, what have we got out there now, Adam?
we've got a haven for a variety of species.
and big numbers of teal in front of us here.
The ones with the white breasts and the chestnut sides,
asleep just beyond them, are shoveler.
There's widgeon, and just beyond this bund in front of us,
you can see black-tailed godwits feeding in the mud there.
Oh, they're such a great shape, the godwits.
And where have all these birds come from?
Well, they've come from a variety of different locations.
A lot of the duck that we can see right in front of us
and a lot of these birds will breed in Russia
and right the way across into Siberia.
But the godwits, they've come from the North West,
and spend the winter here on the Suffolk coast.
What impact has the warm summer had?
All the evidence is it's been a good breeding season.
The late spring had an impact, but they had a good second half,
and we're seeing lots of young birds arriving.
Here comes your very difficult question for your quizmaster -
how many birds do you think you'll see this year?
Well, it's always difficult to predict.
but literally thousands of birds come to spend the winter here.
Minsmere's a haven to a wide variety of wildlife,
so over 5,300 species of plant and animal recorded here.
More than any other reserve in the country.
So your pre-booking predictions are good? Well, let's hope so!
When you come here, you expect to see birds,
but there's a little spot up the coast
that you'd imagine wildlife thriving.
From the time it first started producing electricity
almost 20 years ago, Sizewell B power station
has worked alongside the local wildlife trust
to ensure that the natural world is cared for
has been to care for the environment that surrounds the plant.
and anything else we've got swimming around, any other mammals.
Right, so you've got a little pot of clay here. We have.
Anything that's inquisitive enough to come through the tunnel
will leave its footprint. Ah, you're after the footprints.
Right, where does it need to go, then?
We're going to pop it just on the edge here, on the edge of the water,
and we'll then wait and see what happens.
Are you going to drag or lift? We'll just lift. OK.
And then...hopefully without falling in!
Alan's monitoring this area for the non-native American mink.
They're escapees from fur farms during the '50s and '60s,
which have devastated our native water vole population.
First impression, you start to lose your moorhens,
but they will take things like kingfisher.
Again, you've got a bankside-burrowing bird,
and it's been known that kingfishers have been predated by them.
I don't think I've ever come across a conservation site -
an award-winning conservation site -
so close to a nuclear power station either.
Well, we've been working hand-in-hand with EDF Energy
and, yes, it's awarded by the Wildlife Trust
for good conservation work on sites owned by businesses.
The wildlife seems to be thriving around here.
The power station takes in and pumps back
5 million tonnes of seawater every day.
Rochelle Grimmer's job is to make sure that the water's safe.
Rochelle, am I dressed appropriately? Enough layers?
Good! What are you doing with this, then?
OK, what we're going to do is take a test of this water here.
What's it been doing, and where is it going?
It's seawater that comes through our building,
cools our secondary circuit, which is non-active,
and then comes out to our outfall here,
So it hasn't had any contact with anything nuclear?
No, this is completely from our non-active side.
It's a long way down, isn't it? It is.
Before the seawater enters the plant,
these drums filter out any fish, mussels and seaweed,
so they can be returned to the sea safely.
Today, we're testing the chlorine levels
What's that? OK, this is a powder agent
This will form a coloured complex, which will be proportional
to how much chlorine is in the sample.
So the chlorine becomes coloured...
Exactly. ..and then you can identify how much is in the water.
So, as you can see, it's already started
to turn to a pink colour here. Pale pink.
Is it quite a strange place to work, here at the power plant?
Because you're surrounded by all this amazing countryside,
testing for chlorine and all sorts of things.
Well, you say that, but you get used to it,
because it's your daily job, and then, on my lunch breaks,
I can go out, wander down the beach, get some fish and chips,
The wildlife that surrounds the power station
It's even making inroads into the heart of the site itself.
I suppose you could say that that is a living landscape,
because that is the theme this year of the Countryfile calendar.
But, to be absolutely honest, there are nice pictures in this.
Here's how you get your hands on one.
The calendar costs ?9 including UK delivery.
You can buy yours either via our website...
To order by post, send your name, address, and cheque to:
And please make cheques payable to BBC Countryfile Calendar.
A minimum of ?4 from the sale of every calendar
will be donated to the BBC Children In Need appeal.
Now, I'm going to get out of my hard hat.
Here's the weather for the week ahead.
Could evening. We will definitely have to exchange hard hat is for
woolly ones through the weekend. We are in for our first blast of winter
weather is arctic air descends to the country through the course of
tomorrow. It has been a chilly November day today, with this
weather front meandering. To the north of it, cold enough for Apache
frost and icy patches even, to the south of it, grey and misty. -- cold
enough for patchy frost. Hide the weather systems the cold, arctic our
lives. It will filter into tomorrow. Grey and misty, the rain trickles
southwards, but at least with the arctic air it brightens up with
sunshine but, boy, will it feel cold. Temperatures barely three or
four degrees above freezing. I that stage, snow will be settling at
lower levels in Scotland. Temperatures in the South on a par
with today, but tomorrow the cold air filter southwards, so there is
an increasing risk that the snow showers will descend southwards.
More importantly, it will dampen the ground. So with the first widespread
frost of the season, clearly, we are concerned about ice. It looks like
it will be our first significant icy venture through Monday night and
into Tuesday morning. It could quite slippery underfoot and on the roads.
There will be a bracing north-westerly wind. The risk of the
show was inland -- showers inland, don't be surprised to see snow. It
sunshine in eastern areas. Up to seven degrees on the thermometer,
the first cold day throughout the country. It will feel below freezing
in the North with the wind. Tuesday night and into Wednesday,
this developing area of low pressure will be a fly in the ointment. It is
possible that many of us will see snow, even in seven areas and even
at lower levels. Hopefully it will turn back to rain. It will be cold
and frosty on Wednesday but it looks like miserable, wet, windy and cold.
Despite the bracing wind, we start to push the brighter weather back in
by the end of Wednesday as high-pressure slips in from the
north. It changes the orientation of the wind and the showers, a really
cold day in the bracing north-east winds on Wednesday. I think the
wind-chill will be significant. The best of the sunshine is in the
south-west, although by that stage on Friday we are losing the wind,
especially in the north, as high-pressure establishes. Some
really cold starts in the morning, away from the south and east we will
not have such a significant wind-chill. Showers and a bracing
wind, not a bad day for many but it will be a lot colder through the
weekend. The first taste of winter, widespread night-time frost is, icy
roads and even snow. Stay tuned to the forecast, we will be digging out
the hat, We've been exploring the beautiful
low-lying landscape of Suffolk. While Julia's been finding local
wildlife in the most unusual places, I've been paying tribute to a true
Suffolk legend - the Suffolk Punch. Unsurpassed in its dedication
to work, these benevolent beasts But Britain's most historic
draught horse is now category 1 on the
Rare Breeds Survival Trust Watchlist. There are fewer than 500 Suffolk
Punches alive in the world today, making this horse more rare
than the black rhino. Well, what made these Suffolks
so popular for farm work Now, pulling double their body weight
is well within range It's almost a twig for you,
I'm afraid, 'In the 20th-century, the cherished
Suffolk lost its traditional job 'to a new kid on the block -
the tractor.' 'At last, the Suffolk Punch
is coming back into its own, And what better way
to employ the selfless animals than to harness their might
for conservation? Bruce has been working
on a construction project for another of the world's
most threatened species. but the stag beetle is among
the most vulnerable As a larva and pupa, it spends
up to seven years underground, chomping its way
through decaying wood. We all like to clear dead wood
from our gardens, but our tidying up has a devastating side effect
on the stag beetle's population. It is, this is
a stag-beetle log pile. Well, I've seen some
log piles in my time, Well, the stag beetles,
their larvae, they need soggy wood So a normal log pile
that isn't underground So your message would be, then,
if you've got some dead wood, Yeah, yeah, certainly.
Don't burn every bit of dead wood. Try and do imaginative
things with it. Make different sorts of log piles,
have some in the shade, some in the sun, do some modern art
with dead wood, yeah, like this. of what potentially
could be moving in very soon? Yeah, absolutely, yes.
I'll show you. OK, so these are some things
that came out of this area here. Oh, yeah. Just about
half an hour ago. Oh, gosh! This is what we're looking for,
isn't it? This is a grub of a stag beetle.
Look at that! And how old would this be,
at this stage in its life? That one's about
four or five years old. It's just munching away at the wood,
and it's helping to recycle it. And, in fact, we've got
this bit of wood here It's almost like
a bit of art form, really. Isn't it just, yeah!
But that's been done by the grub eating away and helping
to recycle the wood. Otherwise, we'd be, you know,
sort of 20 miles deep in dead trees. So what happens to it
after this state here? it forms a cocoon
about the size of a duck egg, and it's in the cocoon
for about six weeks. Right, having spent six years
like this? Yeah, absolutely. And then it comes out as an adult,
and we've got an adult here. With these amazing jaws.
Look at that! Only the dads have
the jaws like that, and they use them for rutting,
like a deer. Like stag deer. It may look ferocious -
it can't do a thing to you. And how long would it be
in this stage for? This four-week stage
is about attracting a female That's right, yes.
Magnificent, isn't it? But it's not just
beetles that benefit It can also be converted
into a desirable bee hotel. as opposed to the basement.
Absolutely. And they'll go off and help to
pollinate all your local orchards, and your gardens, but you can
use all your drill bits, because all the different-sized
holes you make in the wood will attract
different species of bees. The small ones will go for
the little-diameter holes, the bigger ones, like leafcutters,
will need the biggest holes. The perfect refuge
for lots of little beasties, Next week, John will be
in Oxfordshire, looking at the part played
by our British countryside It'll be nice to see you,
to see you... Bruce?
The team are in the coastal county of Suffolk. Julia Bradbury celebrates the centenary of the birth of one of our greatest composers, Benjamin Britten. He was inspired by many aspects of the Suffolk countryside, so Julia spends some time looking at one of his less well known operas, Curlew River.
Matt Baker is with some of the county's best loved but rarest farm animals, the magnificent Suffolk Punch heavy horse. Ellie Harrison is also in Suffolk, meeting some alpacas on a farm where they are ultrasounding the pregnant mothers to be. Julia Bradbury is also looking for wildlife in an unlikely place, Sizewell B Nuclear Power Station.
Tom Heap is in Scotland, finding out why hill farmers think they are going to get a raw deal in the future. Then he heads to Wales, where upland farmers are challenging the controversial view that they should no longer receive subsidies.
Adam Henson is away from his Cotswold farm this week and is in Wales, where a young woman has won a competition to run a sheep farm in Snowdonia for a year - as Adam arrives, she is just taking in her first load of ewes.