A special edition of Countryfile celebrating the Great British summer. Matt Baker travels along the south Wales coast, while Naomi Wilkinson punts along the River Cam in Cambridge.
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MATT BAKER: The long, hot, hazy days.
The cloudless skies.
The soft breeze.
Summer has arrived.
And the landscape is in full bloom.
It's the perfect time to get out and enjoy our countryside.
So, in true British style, in today's special programme,
we're heading down to the beach.
We're hoping for sun and we are going to celebrate
our great British summer.
And summer wouldn't be summer without a barbecue by the sea.
I hope you're hungry.
Sam, you're going to have to put some more on.
Naomi's enjoying the long evenings with
a gentle punt along the River Cam,
on a bat safari.
It's so close to us.
-I've never seen this number before.
It's pretty fantastic.
John's in Suffolk, bringing in the bulrush harvest.
I've done lots of harvesting in my time but never like this before.
And Adam's in Northern Ireland where the summer months for some
farmers means taking to the water.
What happens if the boat sinks then, Andrew?
If boat sinks, I'm taking that cow's tail and you choose whichever one you want.
Just grab a tail and it'll take you ashore?
I don't know where you'll land, but you'll land on dry ground somewhere.
That's all that matters.
Britain at its very best.
A time for friends to come together,
head outdoors and fire up the barbecue.
A heatwave goes hand-in-hand with a "meat-wave."
But there's no back garden cook-up for me.
I am waiting for the first ladies of barbecue,
South Wales's very own Thelma and Louise - Shauna and Sam.
These are two ladies who have learned their barbecuing skills
around the Deep South of the USA and I'm supposed to be
meeting them here on this corner.
Bravely binning their careers three years ago,
executive Sam Evans and teacher Shauna Guinn headed off in
pursuit of the American dream, and a quintessential US feast.
-We're going to take you for some barbecues.
-Jump on in.
-Here we go, let's go.
The girls are taking me to a beach barbecue for their friends
but, first, we're off to source the very best of British produce.
Restaurateurs Shauna and Sam may live in the leafy vale of Glamorgan
but a trip to the Deep South saw them fall head over heels
Were you, like, obsessed with barbecue before you set off, then?
-How did it all start?
-We were what's known as backyard barbecuers.
We'd do a little barbecue in our backyard,
have some friends round but we didn't really have a plan.
We just knew what we liked and knew what we loved,
and just set out for the States, and that was it.
Did you have a barbecue teacher, then?
I think a lot of what they call pitmasters,
these are the guys that look after the barbecue pits throughout
the day and throughout the night,
a lot of them thought we were super quaint
so not only were we female,
so that's almost unheard of in barbecue,
we had these British accents, you know,
and we wanted to learn about barbecues.
So, they just thought we were a trip, you know.
-Were they quite open, then...
-Yeah, they were.
-..in passing on their techniques?
-They were very nice.
-They would never have thought
in a million years that two women from the UK
would go to America and take their national
traditional cuisine and bring it back.
I've got to put it out there.
I think part of the pull to the Deep South for me, personally,
was my absolute love of country music.
# ..get you with a fine tooth comb
# I was soft inside
# There was something going on...
Come on, Matt, take it home.
# Islands in the stream
# That is what we are
# No-one in-between
# How can we be wrong... #
'The ladies' meteoric rise from backyard barbecuers to winning
'last year's BBC Food and Farming awards for street food
'has benefited local meat producers, too.'
-I can see some cows.
'Just in land at Llantwit Major,
'is the ranch of fourth generation cowpoke, Hopkin Evans.'
Hey, Hopkin, how are you doing?
'Hopkin is one of a small but growing number of UK farmers
'hand-rearing high welfare veal.'
So, how old are they at this age?
These ones in here are between six and nine months.
So, this veal market, it's quite a new thing for you, is it?
Yeah, we've been doing it about five years now.
'Male calves used to be seen as worthless on Hopkin's farm
'but these days he's managed to find a market for them.
'While the heifers will go on to become milkers,
'Hopkin is rearing his male calves for veal meat.'
We take them to six months minimum.
It depends how well they've grown and they get
a bit longer if they need it.
They live a happy life and they make a fantastic product
at the end of it.
It's an untapped resource and, if you're drinking milk,
you should be eating veal.
Because these calves have no real purpose other than veal.
And when you were studying barbecue out in America, was veal on the menu
there, or is this something that's developed since you've come back?
We didn't see any veal at all in America.
The big cut of beef that would be used for American barbecue
would be brisket and, so,
no, it's absolutely a thrill for us and I think there's
a really nice synergy between the history and the roots of American
barbecue and what you're trying to do here, because it was always
about cheaper cuts, it was always about forgotten cuts.
It's a great product and we know that these guys are working
really hard to give us the most ethical, fantastic product.
'We need a whole range of veal for slow barbecuing at low temperature.
'And, over at the farmhouse,
'Hopkin's laid out a good selection perfect for slow and low.'
Talk us through what you've cut here
and from what part of the animal it's from.
Right, these are rump stakes.
They're from the hindquarters of the animal.
They're slices of the brisket here from the lower part of the ribcage.
LMC, the leg and mutton cut.
It's named this way because the shape of it looks like
a leg of mutton.
This is taken from the top of the front leg of the animal.
-Is it making you hungry, Matt?
I'm loving it, I'm loving it.
The good news is that these won't take very long.
I mean, probably about eight hours for smoking that
and again slow and low,
so it's a very low temperature, it's a very slow process.
So, I think we better get it in the smoker.
Later on, I'll be heading to the beach to prepare our sizzling
summer barbecue feast.
But, first, Naomi is taking part in a time-honoured summer
tradition in one of our country's most historic university cities.
..and the living is easy.
Long, lazy days.
And, in Cambridge, there's only one way to travel.
But, for some of our British wildlife, the summer season
marks the very height of activity.
In fact, for our native bats, summer on the river is no picnic,
more of a feeding frenzy.
Britain's ten species of bat are at their busiest in the summer months,
increasing our chances of spotting these nocturnal mammals.
With the insect population reaching a peak, and with young pups
to feed, bats must make the most of the available banquet.
That seasonal insect feast comes from an unlikely source.
So, I'm calling on my very own Batman,
Iain Webb from Cambridgeshire Wildlife Trust,
to explain the link between bats and cowpats.
So, Iain, what are we doing in a cow field? Is this prime bat habitat?
It's producing prime bat food.
It's full of what cows produce, plentiful amounts of, is cowpats.
We'll be looking for beetles and flies etc in the cowpats.
So, there are loads of bugs in there?
This is a perfect pat, lots of holes, all the beetles or
whatever in there, and a nice crust.
We just scoop it up, dump it in the bucket
and see what floats to the top.
-All right, the whole thing?
-The whole thing.
This is gross!
You sort of rummage it around a bit like that.
-And they'll all come floating to the top?
-Yeah. Break it up.
-And it won't kill them?
-No, no, they're perfectly fine.
There's one. There's two.
Absolutely crawling, isn't it?
That's Aphodius fossor, one of the larger dung beetles.
A good meal for a bat.
I must admit, I'm quite surprised a bat would eat
a beetle of this size.
Not just bats - hedgehogs, owls, everything loves dung beetles.
So, how does a bat get to one of these?
Well, it doesn't do what we're doing.
These dung beetles will be flying to other piles of dung at night
and the bats will be flying past and, you know, seeking their
food, their prey and will find them and pick them off and eat them.
Everything loves to eat them.
Exactly, who wouldn't want to eat a dung beetle?
'Well, I wouldn't, for a start.
'It's fascinating to see what they might eat but to see the bats
'themselves, we'll need to wait until after dark.
'We're taking to the water for a nocturnal safari and I'm
'keeping my fingers crossed for a close encounter
'of the furred kind.
'Iain has the technology to help us.
'He's brought along detectors which convert the bats' echolocation
'calls, which we humans can't normally hear, into low-frequency
'sounds which we can, allowing us to tune in to their world.'
-What will we hear?
-The pipistrelle bat,
which is the commonest bat we have in Britain,
has a wet slap sound.
-It's not the most romantic of sounds.
-There we have one.
That was a pipistrelle, quite loud.
Whereas the Daubenton's, which we'll hopefully see later,
they have a more rapid, quiet and a drier sound.
Oh, yes. I saw it then, there.
There's Daubenton's and pips.
-So we've got both here?
So close to us!
'I can't believe our luck at spotting bats already
'but there are even more in store.'
There's about ten of them, aren't there?
That is phenomenal.
Wow! Look at that!
I've never seen this number before.
-It's pretty fantastic.
The highlight of my year so far for bats.
So, these are all Daubenton's bats?
Also known as the water bat.
Quite a distinctive flight pattern,
just a couple of inches above the water.
They're just skimming.
And they'll be catching insects either in their mouth,
or they catch them in their feet and in their tail membrane.
As they go up and down, they're sort of following
the flight of the insects, are they?
They've focused in on an insect,
they've followed it and try and catch it.
-You can see all the insects around for them.
That's why there's so many bats under here.
How many insects, then, might one individual bat take on
a summer's night like tonight?
Well, a pipistrelle could eat up to 3,000 midges a night.
So, they are making a contribution to keeping the insect numbers down?
Without them, there'd be far more little insects
flying round now around our heads.
Somebody described it as they were like flying bowties
which I think's really quite appropriate.
They really do!
Summer really is a frenetic time for bats, isn't it?
Definitely, certainly for the females.
They're having to feed up so they can feed their pups
before they're ready to wean in a couple of weeks' time.
Oh, look at those pips.
'Feeding here on the outskirts of the city, these bats have given
'me the most atmospheric and unexpected of wildlife encounters.'
I can't think of a better way to spend a midsummer's night.
-Thank you, Iain.
Now, for many people, cooling off during our hottest season
means heading to the beach.
But summer for one man
means scaling some of Scotland's highest mountains.
But what he's searching for is chilling.
My name's Iain Cameron. In summer, I can be found trudging around
the Highlands of Scotland
looking for the last vestiges of winter snow.
As you can see there, that bridge is really, really thin.
That's because the melting process is happening from above and below.
I'm just going to have a little look.
This is one of the classic shapes that we see over summer.
I was nine years old.
I saw Ben Lomond, which is a big mountain beside Loch Lomond,
and there was a big blob of snow on it.
I thought, why is it still there?
And, so, it really developed from there.
Now, we're at about 1,100 metres above sea level here,
so it's quite a bit cooler.
Over winter, huge amounts of snow blow in.
Builds up really, really deep.
Quite a depth there, so that obviously takes
a long time for it to melt.
I thought I was fairly unique in liking this sort of thing and
it wasn't until some years later that I read something that
a well-known Scottish scientist, Adam Watson, had written.
He's a man who's been studying patches of snow since...
properly, since the 1940s.
And the two of us started to correspond with each other.
I started to contribute to his studies
and the Royal Meteorological Society's
weather publications as well.
So, it really was the beginnings of a friendship
based upon this love of snow.
It really is, for me, a hobby which I love doing and, fortunately,
it has a wider scientific worth as well.
What we do when we see a patch like this,
if it's at all possible, is to measure it.
This provides good data set going forward.
Modern technology is a wonderful thing
and we've got a laser tape measure.
400 metres plus size of snow patch.
Depth wise, it would be difficult to say accurately
but I'm looking at that thinking it's about seven, eight metres deep.
In summer, in a whole weekend, we go out and we actually count
every patch of snow across the Highlands and, for that,
you need quite a lot of volunteers because in 2015 we had 670 patches
of snow, you know, and one man can't do that.
So, the 30-odd volunteers that went out last year did
a great job, where we covered the whole of the Highlands.
So, we hope that the work that we are doing now will be of some
value to scientists in the future
so that they can understand how much snow is about just now and
how that fed into the wider climate.
A lot of people would scarcely believe that if you were to
drive a couple of hours up into the Highlands and get your boots on
and walk up you'd find these massive banks of snow still
left, you know, in high summer,
when the sun is shining and people are in their shorts and T-shirt.
For me, that's part of the fascination and the day that
I stop enjoying it is probably the day I'll hang up my boots.
But I don't foresee that happening any time soon.
-The Waveney. 59 miles of meandering river.
A watery border between Suffolk and Norfolk.
In the summer, bulrushes sway in the breeze,
reaching towards the inviting light.
Ever since Anglo-Saxon times,
summer has been when the bulrushes have been harvested in Suffolk.
But, for the past 50 years, here on the Waveney, the crop
has remained untouched. Until now.
Anna Toulson owns and runs Waveney Rush,
a local company that makes baskets and carpets out of bulrushes.
She's determined to really bring the river's harvest back to life.
-Hello there, John.
I've done lots of harvesting in my time but never like this before.
Not on the river? No?
Why is it that it's been such a long time since these have been cut back?
We always used to get our rushes from the local area but
unfortunately in the 1960s the water quality just deteriorated due
to farm run-offs and the quality of the rushes deteriorated as well.
-So, where did you get them from then?
-So then we had to look abroad.
Because we just have to get the best rush possible for our customers.
'But, now, with the health of the river improving thanks to
'better farming practices,
'the company can reap the benefits of the river once again.'
So, if you take the sickle, and you're aiming to get as close
-to the river bed as possible. But not disturbing the roots.
So, you make a clean cut.
So, we'll just bring one of those rushes up to show you here.
A nice, clean cut, and you see how pithy?
It stores a lot of water in there. It's lovely and soft.
-It's like spongy.
-So, perfect for weaving then?
'The natural flow of the river lends a hand with the hard work.'
Will you take that? I'll take this. Right. Here we go.
-And as far down as possible?
-Yes. As close to the river bed as possible.
-You don't wear waders, do you?
-I don't get cold at all.
I find the temperature lovely, actually. Refreshing.
-Especially if the sun's out.
-My legs feel cold inside the waders.
'Anna's plans to harvest came along at just the right time as
'this stretch of river was causing concern for the Environment Agency.'
It's a lovely, sustainable way of harvesting and it maintains
the river in a sustainable way as well which is one of the key
points for the Environment Agency.
This particular stretch of river is quite narrow and it's very
shallow in part so it's always been very difficult for them to manage.
It was really choked with the rush and with weed,
and also you have a lot of debris coming downstream
into a very narrow and shallow channel.
Anna, other people will be very grateful as well.
-I mean, the kayakers use this river a lot, don't they?
And a few completely got stuck. And it becomes a danger because,
as you see, even from the central channel, the rushes are
in the middle and, if you get caught up,
it can cause the kayak to overturn.
'With a morning's work completed,
'the rushes are taken downstream...
'..before arriving at a converted malt house
'on the edge of Oulton Broad.
'Here, the warm conditions and the cooling breezes make summer
'the perfect time of year for preparing the rushes for weaving.
'They're left out to dry and turn every day.
'The vivid green changing to reveal different tones of beige and honey.
'Between them, the craftswomen here have more than 100 years of
'and the technique hasn't changed in living memory.'
-Well, Millie, this is like stepping back in time, isn't it?
-Yes, it is.
'Millie Baxter is the workshop manager and today she is
'weaving with Dutch rushes until the local ones are ready.'
Once the rushes are collected, what happens then?
Firstly, they're dried for storage. Then they....
we re-wet them and put them through the mangle to get the excess
-water out of them.
-So they're softened up, basically...
-Yes, they are.
-..before you start weaving with them?
-They are, yes.
And what are you doing here?
This is nine-ply, which is used for the carpets.
And why is it called nine-ply, then?
You have nine ends and you're just braiding them into three inch strips
and then three inch strips will be cut off at the end
-and they'll be sewn up.
-Sewn together to make a big carpet?
To make a big carpet, yes.
'The carpets furnish some of the most noticeable properties in
'the land, from Hampton Court Palace to even the Tower Of London.'
-I've got my gloves on.
-Right. Here we go then.
-Yeah. Goodness me.
-What a responsibility. So, how do I start?
-You bring that one forward.
-Yeah, and over.
-Push that one back.
And then the next one forward. That's correct, lovely.
-And the next one back.
-That one back? All back and forth,
-isn't it, really?
-And then you bring the other one through.
-Unless you've lost it!
-Where is it?
Oh, I'm getting in a heck of a mess here.
'Thank goodness that my weaving can be undone.
'To create an ocean of carpet like this can take four weeks of
'skill and dedication.'
It really has been great taking part in this harvest of bulrushes
on the River Waveney.
It hasn't happened on this scale for more than 50 summers.
It marks the start of a new beginning for this
sustainable crop which almost disappeared.
And, hopefully, it'll be soon back at the heart of Suffolk tradition.
Summer is the time to get out of town into the countryside,
far from the madding crowds, to explore a landscape less-travelled.
And one of the best ways to reconnect with the world is
a good, old-fashioned camping trip. So, I've got my gear.
I've got my rucksack, my sleeping bag, my cooking kit. I'm good to go.
My guide is wild camping enthusiast and author Laurence McJannet
who's promising me a memorable journey off the beaten track.
-Nice to meet you.
-Good to meet you.
-Got your toothbrush in there?
-I've got just about everything
in this rucksack, although I notice you've got bikes.
I'm going to struggle with this on those, aren't I?
You're not going to need any of that. We can ditch that.
'Looks like I'm going to be travelling light.
'Laurence is taking me bikepacking.
'It's a new, niche, off-road speciality
'that takes you further into the wilderness,
'savouring your journey from the saddle.
'And bedding down when you get there.'
-Oh, and the shades. Oh.
-It's a good day for it.
I've forgotten my shades.
'Minimalist, featherweight equipment turns mountain bikes into tourers.'
-Right, let's hit the hills.
So, Laurence, where are we going today?
I thought I'd take you out on an exploration of the Gower, basically.
It's one of my favourite rides.
It's a really interesting mix of trails.
Some glorious places to camp as well.
'Laurence is the perfect guide
'to take me on my first bikepacking trip.
'He's peddled 2,000 miles across the UK in search of off-road routes
'and wild camping spots all for the best bikepacking adventures.'
-This is quite easy, really, isn't it?
-This bit's easy.
I thought I'd ease you in gently.
Some of the hills we've got later on are a little...
testing, to say the least.
'Just west of Swansea is the rugged Bishopston Valley.
'A challenging maze of stony tracks, tumbling streams and muddy trails.'
Come down into the valley here.
We've just got a bit of a steep climb ahead.
We're just on track on the bridle path.
How important is it to plan your route?
It's good to get an idea of the kind of terrain that you face.
There's all kind of trails, as long as they're not footpaths,
that you can use.
-You think we're up this way?
-We are up this way. Bit of a climb awaits.
I like a climb.
'Bikepacking is as much about stopping as going.
'Taking time out to take in the spectacular land and
'seascapes of South Gower.
'It's somewhere very close to my heart as my wife grew up
'in the shadow of the peninsula.'
-Well, Laurence, this is absolutely spectacular, isn't it?
Every time I come here I'm just in awe of the beauty of this coastline.
Most bike riders could get out here under their own steam but
just to be able to get here completely unfettered by
timetables and really immerse yourself in the landscape.
I mean, this is exactly why I do it.
The whole thing becomes much more of a relaxed kind of journey, really.
More than a bike ride.
Now, Laurence, you don't know this but there's a special place
for me just around that cliff.
It was one of my first dates with my wife. We had a little barbecue.
-Glass of wine.
-Nostalgic place to come back to.
I think we better go before I get too emotional.
'The next part of our journey is a climb onto the Gower's backbone -
It's amazing here, isn't it?
Cos you can see both sides of the Gower coast.
-The north and then the south.
Not just here but for pretty much all of its five mile length
you can see both coasts.
It's got to be one of the highlights of the Gower ride for me.
'As the summer sun sets, at the end of a long day's cycling,
'it's time to settle for the night.
'And what a spot for my first wild camping adventure.
'At the western tip of the Gower is Rhossili Bay.
'Three miles of sand dunes opening onto a gem of an unspoiled beach.
'The bikes may have got us here but they're not finished with just yet.'
-So the bikes become the main framework of our little...
Basically, they become the kind of frame of the tent.
We use the bars to pitch the tarpaulin across.
'Wild camping is legal in Scotland and on Dartmoor but
'everywhere else you have two seek the landowner's permission
'and clear away all traces of your stay before leaving.
'Now, it may look basic, but this will be my home for the night.
'And wild camping means no facilities. So, tonight,
'the sea is our washroom.'
Sean, I know I said bikepacking's all about travelling light
but there's one particular piece of equipment
that I won't leave home without.
-And I think tonight you've earned it.
-I like the look of that.
Thank you. Cheers.
-That's warmed me up.
-You needed it.
Being here tonight with the sound of the waves and the warmth of
the fire and there's not a soul about has made it really special.
And that sense of achievement after cycling all day has made it magical.
I'd recommend it to anyone.
Our countryside reflects the beauty of summer.
But, for some, the season also brings with it
its own set of challenges.
And that's true for those who farm the dramatic landscape of
Lough Erne in Northern Ireland,
where moving cattle from A to B can be, shall we say,
not as straightforward as it seems,
as Adam's finding out.
The picturesque Lough Erne.
It's one of the largest freshwater lakes in the UK.
The vast expanse of water flows for 50 miles right through
the heart of County Fermanagh.
It's made up of more than 150 islands.
And, during the summer, when the grass is flourishing,
livestock make the most of the island's pastures.
I've been told to expect the unexpected
and I'm very excited about it.
Because this is far from your classic farming landscape.
You won't find many tractors out here.
'Stockman Andrew Gallagher has an unusual daily commute,
'travelling around the lough by boat.'
Hi, Andrew. Can I climb in?
'Andrew works for the RSPB managing livestock for
'conservation grazing. Their aim is to promote birdlife.'
-This has got to be a pretty unusual job in farming.
-Yes. Pretty unique.
There's not many farmers go to work on a boat, I'm sure.
That's the beauty of it. You're out here every day on the lough.
-How many cattle?
-There's about 140 cattle give or take on the islands.
-In the summer it must be beautiful, mustn't it?
-It's definitely now.
You couldn't beat today. You could spend all day on the lough,
even with no cattle to see.
-And you're moving some cattle today?
We're bringing across five cows and two calves.
-I'm looking forward to seeing that.
-Yes. It will be good.
'Livestock has been transported around the lough
'for at least 1,000 years.
'Fred Tiernan was the last person to be born
'on one of Lough Erne's islands.
'He has some interesting family footage from the 1950s of how
'they used to swim the cattle between the islands.'
The end of the rope was passed to a man in the boat.
And then the boat was rowed out a bit from the shore
and, as you can see, the cow doesn't really want to go swimming
at all but eventually the cow is pulled up close to
the back of the boat, where it will be held,
and swims quite contentedly along behind the boat.
Who's in the boat here?
This is my father rowing the boat and that's myself as a little boy.
-Incredible. It must have been exciting.
-It was indeed.
It was good fun when you were small.
And the cows could swim all right then? I've never seen a cow swim.
They could swim. And, in fact, they can swim without being on a rope
providing they know where they're going. They can get across.
But it's much safer to have them on a rope and to ensure that
they don't swim off in the wrong direction and then you've got
to round them up again.
'The cattle were traditionally transported on
'a special boat called a cot.
'Today, livestock are still being moved on
'a boat based on this ancient design.'
-Well, they're nice and quiet, aren't they?
-Yes. Yeah, yeah.
They'll stand now quiet admiring the scenery.
-The same as us until they get across.
Right, let's go, skipper.
ENGINE TURNS AND COMES ON
'Ah. We seem to be stuck.'
Do you want me to jump off and push?
FARMER SHOUTS TO COWS
So, just by moving the weight of the cattle,
-it's getting it off the bottom?
-That's all it'll take.
There we go. We're away now.
How far are we going to take these?
We're just taking these across the lough over to that pen over there.
They're beautiful islands, aren't they? How many are there?
There's over 150 all together.
Incredible to think that people lived on them all, isn't it?
-Yeah, it's mad.
-Doing this job in the old wooden boats.
Yeah, and towing them across, and all sorts.
-Do you swim them occasionally?
-No! Never. No.
We've never went down that route.
'In the summer sunshine, Lough Erne is looking at its best.
'Even the cattle seem to be enjoying the view.
'It's almost 30 degrees so it's a good job we're surrounded by water.
'The cows know exactly how to cool down.'
You must have seen some sights or have some interesting stories.
Oh, yeah. Last week we had the Highland bull on one island
and we had heifers on another island, about half a mile across.
And I came back onto the island with the heifers and there
he was standing looking at me. The big bull.
He had swum, I'd say, half a mile across the lough himself.
-And onto the island.
-To get in with the heifers?
-To get in with the heifers, yeah.
-That's a long swim, isn't it?
So, he can just smell them on the wind?
He smelt them on the wind and away he went.
What happens if the boat sinks, then, Andrew?
If the boat sinks, I'm taking that cow's tail and you
choose whichever one you want.
Just grab a tail and they'll take you ashore?
I don't know where you'll land but you'll land on dry ground somewhere.
That's all that matters.
'It's not long before land is in sight.
'With the promise of summer pastures and fresh grass ahead,
'the cattle don't hang around.
'It's a quick leap of faith into the water...'
'..and finally the cattle are awarded
'with as much grass as they can eat.'
Well, they're certainly enjoying that, Andrew.
Yeah, there's tons here for them. Plenty of good grass.
They'll be here now till October so they'll be in good shape by
-the time that comes round.
-It's beautiful, isn't it?
'The cattle love all this fresh grass
'but their grazing also benefits other species on the islands.
'I'm meeting with conservationist Amy Burns from the RSPB.'
Well, there's certainly plenty of grass here, Amy, isn't there?
There is, yeah, plenty.
Which is part of the reason we put the cattle out onto the islands.
There's no other way we could manage this apart from,
-from grazing. So...
-And you want it for the birds grazed down?
The curlew, which would have been widespread across the UK and
Ireland, they've suffered really significant declines but
we're trying to help bring them back from the brink here in Fermanagh.
But also birds like lapwing and snipe that are associated
And what we're trying to achieve with the grassland is to get
it into suitable nesting conditions for the birds so we want
a variation of height in the swords.
So, species like curlew will prefer a taller sword, maybe
about 30 centimetres. Lapwing like it very short, about five.
-And is it working?
-It is. It's working really well.
I mean, we've had some fantastic success and our numbers keep
going up year-on-year because of the management that we do on
-So this is a safe haven, really.
It's probably one of the best spots in the whole of
Northern Ireland, I think, you know for breeding waders.
'There's no time to hang around.
'At the other side of the lough, some sheep are patiently waiting
'their turn, but this might not be plain sailing as sheep really
'aren't keen on water.'
-How many have you got in here?
-There's about 12 ewes in here.
-OK. Shall I stand this side?
-You stand that side there, yeah.
'Farmer Mark Thompson has made this crossing with his flock
'many times so we're in safe hands.'
-Not great swimmers.
-No, they hate water.
And if you try to swim sheep they're likely to drown, aren't they?
Particularly when they've got a full fleece on.
Full fleece on, just sucks in the water straightaway and that,
you know, cows are different. Cows, the bellies, can float.
Whereas a sheep will not do it. They don't like it.
'Warm summer sun and woolly coats are not a good combination.
'So we need to get them into the shade as soon as possible.'
Well, they seem pretty keen.
Yeah, they're mad to get to the grass now.
And a wee bit of shelter now.
Well, it's a wonderful summer holiday for your sheep and cattle...
-..on this beautiful island. And a perfect habitat
-for the birds. Couldn't be better.
-Oh, yes. Both complements well.
Both works together well, so it does.
Like I say, you have to work with the conservation end as well, so...
'Summer means something different to every farmer.
'Here on Lough Erne, it's been fantastic to see how both
'farming and nature are benefiting from working together in harmony.'
Managed and owned by the National Trust, the Farne Islands off
the Northumberland coast are a haven for wildlife.
This summer, GP and underwater cameraman Ben Burville
is taking a bird's eye view of the islands.
Albeit from beneath the waves.
I grew up being around the sea. I've always had an interest in wildlife.
You know, not near the sea for too long, people laugh and say
"Your gills are drying out."
In the last 16 years, you know,
this is an area that I've come to really love.
The wildlife around this island is magical.
At this time of the year, in the summer,
it's a spectacular place to be.
You've got everything coming alive with the summer warmth.
You've got 40,000 pairs of puffins here mating
and 37,000 guillemot pairs.
You've got the chicks here.
You've got sand eels being flown in by their parents.
And this really is the pinnacle because, come the start of August,
all these birds are going to start
to disappear and they're going to go out to sea.
But, really, for them, their natural environment to fly around is
not in the air but actually underwater.
These birds that are really specialised divers.
Over the years,
I've become rather addicted to filming wildlife underwater.
To me, it's a magical world beneath the waves.
I first really had an interest in these diving birds when I was
diving a wreck not far from here,
and I was on this wreck, at about 20 metres down...
..when I glanced to my right and saw something fly by.
And it was only when I focused that I saw that it was actually a bird.
A bird flying by me underwater.
A puffin can dive down to 60 metres underwater
and hold its breath for... for nearly two minutes.
A guillemot really is the supreme diver that we find
around the British shores.
They can dive down to 180 metres
and they can hold their breath for three minutes.
They move at... at a ridiculous rate,
and they can turn literally 180 degrees with one wing beat,
and they use their feet as rudders.
These birds are incredibly well-adapted to function in
an underwater environment.
In a year, I spent probably hundreds of hours underwater.
It's hard to put into words what it's like to be with wildlife
in their domain.
The pressures disappear and a sort of inner calm takes over.
Time totally stands still.
Just for that moment, you're totally at one with nature...
..and that's a calming privilege.
from vivid scarlet, to purest yellow -
summer wildflowers bring the season alive with colour and form.
But the beauty of the blooms is only fleeting.
Artists have been inspired to capture the allure of wildflowers
for centuries, but I'm joining somebody who captures the delicacy
of summer plants in the most concrete of ways.
'Rachel Dean creates plaster panels with such fine detail that
'the living plants she records seem suspended in time.'
Oh, doesn't that cornfield look good?
'We've come to the tranquil surroundings of
'College Lake nature reserve in Buckinghamshire, where volunteers
'have been specially cultivating rare wildflowers and arable weeds
'for their heritage cornfield.'
What is it about these wonderful summer wildflowers
that inspires you?
Summer is like the crescendo.
In the spring, they start off very little,
and the pieces can't be so big,
but, when it gets to summer, I can make larger pieces.
'Drawing inspiration from the bouquet of wildflowers found
'all around us in the specially-sown cornfields here,
'Rachel is going to preserve these precious plants in a new work.'
-Is that too big?
-No, that's good.
-Something like that?
-And keep the stems longer?
Top of that leaf, yeah. Perfect.
And you might find another leaf at the bottom, a bigger leaf.
This one's my favourite.
How beautiful is that?
-That's very pretty.
-Could that be my centrepiece, do you think?
-Oh, they're sweet.
'Wildflowers should only be gathered at sites
'where they're abundant,
'and threatened species should be left untouched.'
Some of the summer flowers grown here by the volunteers are
so rare, like this field cow-wheat, that we can't pick them,
stunning though they are.
'This is one of several critically endangered species found at
'just a handful of sites in the UK.
'Frequently poisonous, arable weeds can contaminate harvest grains,
'creating tainted flour and sour bread.
'Field cow-wheat can even turn bread blue.'
-I've got my posy of flowers.
Right, I will follow your lead, yes?
-So, grab your rolling pin.
And, basically, I'm just going to start bashing it out
to roll it out flat.
Yeah, it's quite satisfying.
'Having rolled our clay flat, it's time to arrange our harvest.'
So, just gentle pressing, pinning it into position.
A little over, do you think?
Yeah, I think make it full.
'First, our compositions need to be pressed into the clay,
'before carefully removing them to reveal a perfect impression.
'For the next part of the process,
'we need one vital ingredient that's in great abundance here.
'We'll need plenty of water to mix the plaster of Paris.'
And how full?
-To the top.
-And then that'll set in about 45 minutes?
-Time for a stroll, then?
-Oh, yes, that would be lovely.
'Home to a rich variety of habitats and birdlife,
'College Lake is the perfect place to take a summer walk.'
Oh, look at the sun hitting the water.
'And now for the moment of truth.'
-So you think they might be set?
-Yeah, yeah, let's see.
They should be, by now.
-Yeah, all done.
Peel it away.
So, in every detail...
-And the poppy is almost ghostly, isn't it?
-Oh, can I have a look at mine?
-Yeah, your turn.
-That is not too bad, is it?
I just love that you can see all these intricate details.
The true thing is the cast,
that's just uninterfered with - as accurate as the plant can be.
It's like a photograph.
I'm pretty astonished that the plaster has managed to capture
-a sense of summer, hasn't it?
-From these gorgeous plants.
I'm going to treasure this,
especially in the winter.
Well, we have been blessed with some glorious summer sunshine today,
but it's time to find out what's in store in the week ahead.
Here's the Countryfile five-day weather forecast.
'This week we're celebrating the great British summer...'
'..and I've been on the road with
'the Welsh queens of American barbecue,
'Sam Evans and Shauna Guinn,
'collecting supplies from a local veal farmer
'for a "backwoods barbie", to quote Dolly Parton.'
Oh, well, look at this for a lovely barbecue scene.
Shauna and Sam, they've obviously got everything set up.
We're expecting some very hungry guests for
a summer party on the sand very shortly.
Let's just hope the sun decides to show up.
Anyway, let's get this food on the go.
I've got the veal.
CHEERING Hey, hey, hey!
'Award-winning barbecue chefs Sam and Shauna are cooking the local
'veal steaks and kebabs over hot coals.'
All righty, Matt.
This is our grill, Big Momma.
-Big Momma, yeah.
Was Big Momma an oil drum before?
-She was an oil drum. We made her ourselves.
And you can see the temperature gauge is beautifully soaring, there,
-so it's now hot enough for us to grill on.
-Oh, it is. 450.
-It'll cool down when we open it,
so careful you don't burn yourself.
There we go. Yeah.
So, what we're going to start doing is pop these...
I've already oiled these.
Oh, that smell.
-It's good, isn't it?
-Oh, it's delicious.
This is what the Americans would call "grilling."
This is more a typical British barbecue.
This involves direct heat, so you can see you've got the heat from
the charcoal and that's really penetrating the meat.
I don't know how many barbecues you've ever been to.
Quite often, you go round your friend's house and they
light the biggest fire that they can possibly light,
and then we wonder why we get that delicate balance of
burnt on the outside and raw in the middle.
How do you avoid that? What's the secret?
Well, the secret is having different parts to your grill.
Always bank your coals to the left or the right,
leaving a little cool part where you can...
-you can run to if things start to get a little bit hairy.
'If you thought Big Momma was impressive, then meet BB King,
'the American barbecue smoker Sam and Shauna made from
'an old compressed-air tank.'
Here's the difference between British barbecue
and American barbecue.
This is a completely different kettle of fish -
this is a smoker.
Now, what we're doing here is we're creating indirect heat.
So, what you've got is our fire here,
so we're not going to be creating any sizzling grill,
because this is turning into the smoking chamber.
But the really clever thing about this -
the smoke and the temperature of the smoke gets firstly pulled
along the bottom, and then up and over,
and then out on this side.
-What you get is the double pass over the meat.
This is our reverse flow smoker.
'And in BB King's belly, being smoked to tender perfection,
'is our beautiful Glamorgan veal brisket.'
And we have an old saying in American barbecue,
"If you're looking, you ain't cooking."
So, once we get the fire going and we maintain the temperature
in our chamber, we can't be looking too much,
cos every time we open that, the temperature's going to drop,
and it's going to take us a little while to get us back up to temp.
It's nice cos it brings around a whole different style of eating.
-Instead of sitting there, flashing it on the grill
and then, you know, wolfing it down, you actually invest.
-You see, it doesn't actually matter if it's cloudy or whatever.
You just go outside, light the reverse flow and off you go.
'Shauna and Sam's barbecue may be all about the meat,
'but they do some mouthwatering sides, too, to serve with it.'
We're going to make some delicious chimichurri,
-which is like an...
Yeah, it's this really great, sort of, Argentinian pesto.
'It's so easy. Just chop coriander and parsley,
'glugs of oil and vinegar...'
A little seasoning,
so a really good pinch of salt to really bring out those flavours.
-And that's great, you know, by the sea.
-And we have a seagull.
-There's a seagull eyeing us up.
Don't get any ideas.
And what we're going to finally add is a little smoked paprika
and a little chilli flakes.
-Look at that.
-There we go.
-Have a sniff of that.
I'm might have a taste of it as well.
So, should taste a little garlic,
-a little of that red wine vinegar...
Oh, yeah, that's great.
-All right, come on over!
-Come on, guys!
-Here's the troops.
-Come on in.
-Here's the party animals.
-I hope you're hungry!
'Sam and Shauna have invited friends and family to
'come and enjoy the feast.'
There you are, sir.
Yeah, one of each. Oh, you got the big bit.
Oh, trust you.
'So, the kebabs and veal steaks went down well...'
Sam, you're going to have to put some more on.
'..but it's time to serve the jewel in the US barbecuing crown -
'brisket, smoked in greaseproof paper for eight hours
'and beautifully tender.'
That's heaven on earth. That is literally heaven.
'It's only right that farmer Hopkin Evans also gets a taste
'of the brisket that he so lovingly reared.'
-Happy with that?
'And it goes down well with his son Jack, too.
'A perfect end to a slightly cloudy summer barbecue.'
Now, while we're on the subject of barbecuing,
if you would like to know how to make your own charcoal,
then you can find out on Countryfile Summer Diaries,
where the team will be finding out
all about the stories of the seasons.
All this week, we're bringing you the top countryside stories
that define our British summer.
Oh, my goodness me. What's that?
'Join us as we investigate the state of our beaches...'
This, of course,
is just a tiny selection of what's still out there.
'..an unexpected countryside menace...'
This is one of the most dangerous plants in Britain.
'..and provide top tips to help you make the most of the season.'
These British blooms are a sure sign summer is here.
'Tune in every morning to Countryfile Summer Diaries
'at 9:15am on BBC One.'
But, from all of us here,
let's lick our fingers and wave goodbye.
-See you later. Bye-bye.
-Oh, let's have a "Yee-ha." ALL:
Summer has arrived, and the landscape is in full bloom. It's the perfect time to get out and enjoy the countryside in all its glory. And in a special programme, Countryfile are cooling down by the water's edge in celebration of our Great British summer.
Matt is travelling along the coastline of south Wales with Sam Evans and Shauna Guinn, who are known as the first ladies of barbeque, sourcing the best cuts of meat for their summer beach party.
Naomi Wilkinson is enjoying a summer evening punt along the River Cam in Cambridge, where she is joined by Iain Webb from the Wildlife Trust on the lookout for feeding frenzy of bats.
Also in the programme, John Craven is on the river Waveney in Suffolk bringing in the summertime bulrush harvest for the first time in more than 50 years.
Sean Fletcher is getting on his bike and heading off the beaten track along the beautiful Pembrokeshire coastline to enjoy a spot of wild camping.
And Adam is in Northern Ireland, where the summer months for one farmer mean taking to the water with his cattle.