For Hedgehog Awareness Week, Ellie Harrison meets three schoolgirls on a mission to keep the hedgehogs of Warwickshire safe from harm.
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Warwickshire, deep in the green heart of England.
Landlocked it may be, but it's awash with green spaces.
And today, I'll be meeting those doing their bit to preserve them.
'I'll be hearing how one man's legacy is set to transform the
How many do you think have been planted so far?
In total, since we started, 1.6 million.
That's mind-blowing, isn't it?
'John's at a nature reserve with a difference.'
It's not just all the wild flowers and the rest of the wildlife
that make it so special.
This is a very significant place for people.
Tom's asking why the UK's most popular fish is causing such
a row in Scotland.
There's a clear case here that when a farm is in the wrong place,
to keep it remaining in the wrong place is just wrong.
And in Cumbria, Adam's found some kindred spirits when it comes
to keeping traditional breeds.
These are one of the oldest recorded breeds of cattle in the world
and the family I'm meeting have been working with them for 100 years.
Tucked between its tourist towns and transport networks,
Warwickshire's woods and wetlands make a great habitat for
a wealth of wild creatures.
But this can be a great habitat, too.
A beautiful back garden, and I'm here to find out about an animal
that you're just as likely to find in a flower bed as a nature reserve.
It's the humble hedgehog and it's under threat from all sides.
Roads, habitat loss and modern practices in the countryside
have all hit numbers.
Today marks the start of National Hedgehog Awareness Week and
I've come to Stratford-upon-Avon to find out how we can all help
this spiky species to survive.
Rural hog populations have decreased enormously since the turn
of the last century,
but I'm meeting three girls who have decided to do something about it.
'Kyra, Eve and Sophie are on a mission to kelp the hedgehogs
'With the backing of several wildlife charities,
'they've established themselves as go-to girls for injured
'animals here in their hog hospital.'
Hedgehog hospital, also known as the garage. Love it! So, who's in here?
So, we have Sofia, Snowflake, and Tommy.
Tommy was an autumn juvenile, so he couldn't survive the winter.
And he had ringworm on his nose, so we had to treat him with his
medication by painting his medication on his nose.
Quite a serious condition. And what's the process today?
What's happening today, Sophie? What are we doing?
So, today, we're going to be cleaning out their cages,
putting new food in, disinfecting their cages.
-That sounds like teamwork. Shall we get on with that?
What was it that got you into the idea of rescuing and looking
after hedgehogs in the first place?
We thought that if we don't help now, they're going to go extinct.
-They're really cute animals.
And they always used to come at dusk and we used to leave cat food out.
-And we just missed seeing them.
So, we've got mealworms in there, a few seeds. What else? Cat food?
-And some kitten biscuits.
-Gross. Just what they love!
That looks cosy. Cosy and clean.
And anything else before the hedgehog goes back?
-Yeah, we need to weigh him now.
Lose the bedding and into the basket.
-You don't handle them all the time, do you?
No, we never handle them every day, unless they really need
monitoring on their weight because after all, they are wild animals.
-That's definitely bigger than before.
908, so nearly 49g weight gain. That's pretty good, isn't it?
'At the bottom of the garden are some healed hedgehogs,
'ready for release.'
-Are these the outpatients?
-Look at this set-up! Wowee!
'Meet Jayden, Maisie, and Horatio.'
What's the process, then, for releasing them?
Is it just sort of take them out from here and off they go,
-or have you got more to do?
-Well, we have to check their poo.
-Go on, then. Shall we do the poo process?
'It's a mucky job, but the poo has to be free from parasites
And have you done lots of looking through microscopes? You've seen
-some with parasites, so you know what you're looking for?
There would be some worms and they would be moving.
So, is this hedgehog ready for release, in your expert opinion?
-I would say so.
-You would say so. Wonderful.
How do you think you're going to feel when they go?
Are you going to be sad?
Well, it is sad, but it does mean that we can make room for
more hedgehogs to rescue, so it helps other hedgehogs get better.
That's a very good point. We've got two more to process
before they can go, so I'm going to pop off and leave you to it.
I'll see you a bit later on. Good stuff.
'One of the girls' experts advisers is Simon Thompson from
'Warwickshire Wildlife Trust.
'Their Help For Hedgehogs campaign is gathering data from
'likeminded helpers across the county to monitor hog numbers.'
-How are you doing, Simon?
-Hi. Good to see you.
-What do you reckon to this place? It's all right, isn't it?
It's great to see such enthusiasm from the girls for the species.
What does it mean for you, all these different individuals looking
after hedgehogs in their own way?
We literally have no data,
there's no centralised data from hedgehog rehabilitators,
so it'd be really interesting, primarily to look at the
numbers - how many hedgehogs are taken to rehabilitators each year?
And then to look at the reasons that they're brought in,
so is it through injury, is it through sickness,
is it perhaps inflicted injuries through garden equipment?
And we think probably we've lost about
a third of our urban hedgehogs since the millennium.
'We can all do things to help hedgehogs,
'from leaving wild areas in our gardens, to making ponds safe
'so they don't drown, and avoid using garden chemicals.'
Is the future bleak? Should we be really, really worried?
The message really is that we need to go out and do things to
help our hedgehogs. We need to pass the message on,
which is great about the work here because the girls are not
only looking into hedgehog welfare, but they're out,
talking to their local community.
So no, we need to be proactive, we need to do things, but we shouldn't
focus on the negative, we should focus on the fact that we can
go out there and do things to help our hedgehogs.
'Once the girls have nurtured the hogs back to health, they
'release them locally and these guys are going somewhere rather special.'
We couldn't come to Warwickshire without mentioning the Bard, now,
could we? This is his wife Anne Hathaway's cottage.
Shakespeare mentions hedgehogs, or hedge-pigs,
four times in his plays, and he could well have seen them here.
There's certainly a thriving population here today.
'Glyn Jones is head gardener here.'
-I can see why the hedgehogs like all this.
-Oh, it's fantastic.
Absolutely superb kind of habitat for them. Lovely foraging areas.
We've had them here for several years because we see
the droppings all over the place, but what we're wanting to do
-is to encourage more of them because the site can hold more.
-So, we leave habitat piles all over the place.
-That's ideal, isn't it?
We let one or two kind of corners of the garden go
a little bit wild and a little bit native, and there's plenty of food
round here for them as well,
-so it's the perfect site for release, really.
'Hedgehogs are, of course, nocturnal, so Kyra, Eve and Sophie
'are placing them carefully into a nest box, so they can come out
'in their own time after dark.'
-Fantastic job. Well done, girls. Shall we leave them to it?
Sure enough, our camera traps show that Horatio was soon exiting
stage left in his new Shakespearean home, along with a cast
of other characters.
"Thrice the brinded cat hath mew'd.
"Thrice and once the hedge-pig whined.
"Harpier cries, 'Tis time, 'tis time.'"
Let's hope they don't come to any more drama than that.
Now, a tiny parasite is causing big problems north of the border.
It's affecting native fish like salmon and trout.
Could one of Scotland's most important industries be to blame?
The Scottish Highlands and Islands.
Remarkable places of breathtaking beauty.
But they're also places of industry.
Home to businesses which generate billions of pounds
a year for the Scottish economy.
And in the last few decades, a new industry has emerged.
With the backing of the Scottish Government, it's become
Scotland's biggest food exporter, employing more than 2,000 people.
That industry - salmon farming.
At any one time, there are about 240 active salmon farms around Scotland,
producing about £1.8 billion worth of fish every year.
And there are ambitious plans,
supported by the government here, to double that by 2030.
Good news, you might think, but not everyone's quite so keen.
-That's not too bad.
The only thing you're doing is you're coming down too much.
That's a lot better, Tom. Well done.
'Frank Buckley has lived near Loch Maree, in Western Scotland,
'for 30 years and he certainly knows a thing or two about fishing here.'
Loch Maree was the Mecca in Europe for sea trout fishing and we
used to get people coming from all over the world.
And year after year, it brought massive amounts of tourism
and tourism income into the area.
'The fishing was good on Loch Maree,
'but Frank says that didn't last.
'In the early '90s, something strange happened.
'Anglers started to land fewer fish.'
The customers noticed a decline and gradually the customers stopped
coming because they were going out all day and not catching any fish.
This was over a period of years, was it?
This was over a period of a few years, not many years.
The decline happened quite quickly.
'Frank says this decline had a big impact
'on the angling operations he ran at the nearby Loch Maree Hotel.'
The records here paint a picture of a time when people were
catching plenty of fish and big ones, too.
We've got Messrs Purdie and Purdie here,
they caught three sea trout and it also says they caught the
heaviest trout that month, weighing in at 5.25 lb.
Sadly, those days seem to be consigned to the history books.
'Locals like Frank lay the blame on one thing - sea lice,
'tiny parasites which can kill fish like salmon and trout
'and they say these lice only became a big problem
'when the salmon farm was set up here.
'It arrived n the 1980s at the start of a massive expansion in
'the industry and that growth, helped by the Scottish Government,
'turned salmon from a luxury into today's firm fish counter favourite.
'But to get cheap fish, you need industrial farming
'and critics claim this creates a breeding ground for sea lice.'
-This is the fish farm, Tom, straight out in that direction.
-You can see the feed barge, which looks like a boat.
And then it has the feed rings round about it.
'Bill White, chairman of the Westeros Area Salmon Fishery Board,
'says the sea lice are spreading to wild fish.
'And he believes it's a particular problem here
'because the location of the farm means wild fish
'have no option but to swim past it.'
So we have sea trout and salmon smolts from Loch Maree coming
down the River Ewe, into Loch Ewe,
down here heading north and they have to pass that.
What you're saying is because of that salmon farm over there,
there are many more sea lice in these waters and all the
salmon and trout go past them.
Exactly, there's a natural background
of sea lice in any body of water on the west coast.
Where you have salmon farms, with the elevated number of salmon,
which host the sea lice, then it's a natural occurrence that the
sea lice levels will be elevated.
So, what do you want to happen to that farm?
I would like to see that farm relocated, possibly further out.
They could be moved where it's not causing such
a problem within this area.
Is that just another way of saying you want to see it closed?
Not really. Moving it and closing it are two different things.
There's jobs at stake here. Nobody wants to see anybody unemployed.
But there's a clear case here that when a farm is in the wrong
place, to keep it remaining in the wrong place is just wrong.
Can sea lice from the salmon farm really be to blame?
A recent report written
for Salmon and Trout Conservation Scotland
concluded it's highly likely
the farm was a major cause behind the collapse of
sea trout numbers here in Loch Maree,
but it did note there may be other factors, such as climate change.
No-one was available at Marine Harvest,
the company behind the Loch Ewe farm, when we were filming.
In a statement, the company said the fall in sea trout catches started
years before the arrival of the farm and the area had been overfished.
It added that salmon catches
in the Loch Ewe area have actually increased.
Finally, Marine Harvest said it was open to looking at the
relocation of sensitive sites into less sensitive areas.
Whether or not lice caused the collapse of
sea trout populations here in Loch Maree,
the fact is they are a huge problem for the fish farming industry
and that's not just an issue for anglers and conservationists.
At the last count, dealing with sea lice cost fish farming here
£30 million a year.
This is bigger than just Scotland.
There's an appetite for cheap salmon across the world,
but globally, prices are rising and some experts say
the sea lice issue has contributed to that.
So how are salmon farmers tackling this problem?
That's what I'll be finding out later.
We're in Warwickshire and self-confessed wildlife geek
Steve Brown is on the trail of another vanishing species.
You might not immediately think of North Warwickshire as a wild county.
Green and pleasant maybe, but with big cities nearby,
this is a landscape that has been manhandled by humans.
But over the past few years, nature has been creeping back.
This is the River Tame and it's the largest river to flow
out of Birmingham.
Right now, it's at the centre of a project to restore, conserve
and connect the landscape, to create a haven for wildlife.
The Tame is going back to the wild.
To find out what it takes to re-wild a once industrial river,
I'm meeting Tim Hazelton. He's the man with the plan.
What an environment you've got here.
Tell me how you've created this, just on Birmingham's doorstep.
Well, it's an amazing site, the Kingsbury Water Park.
It's about 250 hectares in size and it's basically left over from
sand and gravel extraction,
and these open pits all filled with water.
The River Tame was incredibly polluted in the past.
Not even fungus that survives on sewage could survive
-in the River Tame.
-Wow, that is bad.
It was really bad before, and the work from the Environment Agency
and the money we've got from The Heritage Lottery Fund has enabled us
to do a lot of work to re-profile the banks, cleaning out the water.
The whole landscape has changed from this very degraded landscape
that not many people knew about to this amazing, amazing
band of wetlands on the doorstep of over a million people.
These newly connected wetland spaces
aren't just great for enabling people to get out and about -
the wildlife is getting a helping hand, too.
Conservation relies so heavily on volunteers. You can see them
all working hard behind us. What is it they're putting together?
They're actually working to stabilise the banks of this
-sand martin bank.
-I see, so these holes here are for the sand martins?
Yeah, and a little one that you can't quite see at the moment.
There's some kingfisher nests in there as well.
So they are nesting naturally on the river,
but actually what we're doing is creating an area out of the
flood plain where they can nest without getting washed out
in times of really high river levels.
And what other attractions are you putting in for the local wildlife?
We're actually creating this amazing wetland in front of you with
various ditches and reed beds and we're trying to encourage
a lot of rare and endangered species, as well as
a few more common species, back into the area.
But there's still just that one thing missing, isn't there?
Yeah, so about 10-15 years ago, the area was full of water voles,
along with many other places in the country,
but over the last few decades,
they've declined and we're doing work here, because they're not
-too far away, to try and encourage them back.
The conditions are right, so give it five, ten years,
and we're really hopeful we'll have this really nice enigmatic
and endangered species back in the landscape.
Water voles used to be a common sight on river banks.
I remember seeing them back when I was a kid out fishing.
Here in the Tame Valley,
they managed to hang on through the industrial years,
but they were wiped out by incoming American mink that ate them.
Although they're currently missing in the new wetlands,
they can be found just a few miles away upstream and Tim Precious
knows all their favourite hang-outs.
So what've you found there, then, my friend?
So, we've got a tennis ball sized burrow,
so we know for sure that this is water vole.
There's loads of them, too. It's not just one or two.
Two, three, four, five.
Here you've got nice cropped grass where you can see the water voles
have popped out and just nibbled around the hole and
actually you can see another sign here, which is some vegetation
where they've left and you can just about see that that's a water vole.
They actually nibble it off and it's classically 45 degrees for
-So that pretty much can't be anything else.
-I can also see some droppings just here.
And do you often see them?
We've got all the signs here, we know that they're here,
-but do you see them?
-You do rarely see them.
If you're walking along the towpath here, you do hear them plop in.
That's more of a sort of classic sign, the plop,
and then you won't see them, they'll just go into their burrow.
If you're really lucky, you get to see them sort of sitting on
the bank and feeding, if they're relaxed.
In time, these healthy water vole numbers could repopulate the
Tame Valley downstream, but there's a problem getting them from A to B.
So straight away you can see the difference here between the
stretch a little further up. These higher side...
Yeah, it's a real, real different bankside here.
It's hard piling and this is erosion protection, but
it's obviously very difficult for the water voles to exit the canal.
Because this is important, isn't it?
If you're going to get them from A to B,
-they need to pass through here.
-This is vital, yes.
This is a real serious barrier.
So we're just making these water vole motels or service stations,
basically, for them to jump out, have a rest, feed and allow them
to have that connectivity with the other better sites further down.
Well, look at this, then. So this is it all being put together -
a water vole motel.
A line of posts hold back bundles of brush and a sausage-shaped roll
of coconut netting, which is filled with plants.
So, a few sticks...
..a few branches, five volunteers, a bit of hard work...
-and it all comes together!
Brilliant stuff. Well done.
It's good to know this classic character can still be found
on the river banks of Warwickshire and hopefully the work I've seen
here today will help to increase those numbers.
Away from the lure of Shakespeare's Stratford
and the royal connections of Leamington Spa,
the south of Warwickshire is the quieter end of the county,
the perfect place for a nature reserve.
The field on the edge of the Cotswolds used to be farmland -
not very productive farmland - but in the last 11 years,
it's been slowly evolving into a haven for wildlife.
And at this time of year, nature starts to show its appreciation.
It's all down to the work of Emma Restall Orr and her husband, David.
This, I think, is cattail.
Hello, Emma, David. What's going on here, then?
What we're doing at the moment is just seeing what will come up
here in this area of wild flower meadow -
The knapweed and trefoils and vetches - and looking for
species that we haven't seen that often out here wild,
which is like the musk mallow.
And what was the land like before you started?
We started with agricultural land.
It was set aside for ten years and before that it was just in hay
for about 30 or 40 years.
So we had an empty open field with some tatty rye-grass and not
much clover left in it and that was about it.
Establishing a nature reserve from a standing start isn't easy
and this is very much a work in progress.
But this place is actually much more than just a simple nature reserve.
It's also a natural burial ground for people.
Named after nearby Sun Rising Hill,
it's received a prestigious Green Flag Award for conservation.
Only one other place like this has the accolade.
And which idea came first,
the nature reserve or the natural burial ground?
We were looking to create an ethical business,
an ethical project, and the idea of creating a nature reserve
funded by a natural burial ground made absolute sense.
And in the woodland area, you can have a little plaque by the grave
so it can be marked, and then a native deciduous tree is planted.
And in the meadow areas, the graves are not marked,
so they do disappear.
So what happens if a relative wants to come out to pay respects?
Well, in the woodland, you've got a good ten years before the
grave disappears, if you like, under the trees, but in the meadow,
some people don't need to know, don't want to know.
They like the idea of disappearing.
But other people want to know exactly where.
Every burial area is gridded with a metal spike into the ground,
so using a medieval system which you can find with a spade, we should
be able to still use that system in another 100, 500, 1,000 years.
Natural burial means natural coffins and some are the handiwork of
Avril Smolders, who weaves them from willow.
They're constructed from completely natural materials, from the bases
made from straw, to the cattail lining and the rope handles.
The hazel comes from the garden just outside her workroom.
-How are you?
-I'm fine, thank you.
-Can I weave my way through your willow?
So, what got you into making willow coffins, then?
Well, I've been making baskets for a while now
and then I was collecting some willow down in Somerset
and I saw a course advertised and I thought,
well, as my mum was getting on a bit,
I thought it would be lovely to actually make a coffin for her.
Right! This is in fact a rather large basket, isn't it?
It is a very large basket. It's a bit like a Moses basket.
You know, you start life off in one of those
and you finish in a willow coffin.
And how long does it take you to make one?
It takes, probably from start to finish, two weeks.
And is it hard work, then, to make a coffin?
It's quite hard on the fingers, actually.
Have a go, see what you think.
It's just a matter of taking each one in turn, just behind an upright
and back to the front, and then take the next one along to the left.
-So this one goes behind this one...
-And back to the front.
-And then you push it down.
-Push it down.
And you've really got to push it down, then, have you?
-Well, you have, but you can also use the wrapper.
This makes the weave good and tight.
So that's one of the old tools, is it, of basket-making?
It certainly is, yes, absolutely.
-This coffin, is that your own design?
-It is my design, yes.
I mean, I like the idea it was more like a basket
rather than a traditional sort of tapered shape of a coffin
and just simple, absolutely.
Whatever a coffin is made from, for natural burial,
it must be totally biodegradable.
There are now around 270 natural burial sites in the UK and,
in the past decade, more than 600 people have chosen to be
buried here amidst a maturing nature reserve that will be a permanent
memorial to the dead, as well as a place of beauty for the living.
The North and West of Scotland, the setting for a modern day
business success story, salmon farming.
Over the last 40 years, our love of salmon has turned this into
this industry into a multimillion pound global enterprise.
But, as Tom has been finding out, the fish farmers have a problem.
Sea lice, tiny but often deadly parasites.
They're an issue on salmon farms,
where lots of fish live in a relatively small space.
They cost the industry millions to tackle and it's thought
they're spreading to wild fish.
The traditional way to treat sea lice usually is chemicals,
but there's concern over what impact that could be having
on the wider environment.
So the industry is coming under a lot of pressure to use
cleaner methods of control.
Scottish Sea Farms is one firm trying alternatives.
It claims average lice numbers in Scotland have been falling.
At its site near Oban,
they're using other fish to keep the parasites at bay.
This is a ballan wrasse, which is a species of tuna fish,
which we're using as biological control for sea lice.
These cleaner fish eat the lice from the skin of the salmon.
This one is a wild wrasse,
but the company says it also uses more sustainable farmed fish.
So how many, roughly, would you have in each of these cages?
It's a very low proportion which is sufficient to deliver
the control that we've require.
It's something we're working hard on,
to reduce the numbers we actually use.
You are still having to use some chemical treatments,
-aren't you, on salmon farms?
But it's in rotation with also use of our biological controls,
such as with the cleaner fish,
but also with non-medicinal physical lice removal.
These methods include pumping salmon at up to 80 tonnes an hour
into a machine where warm water washes off the lice,
but it's not without problems.
Last year, a large number of fish at another company died during
this Thermolicer treatment.
Well, unfortunately, they had an underlying ill health issue,
which meant they weren't able to cope with the treatment.
So it's because they had an underlying health problem
-with their gills that they died in the Thermolicer?
In fact, the entire Scottish industry has experienced more
ill health challengers over the last 2-3 years,
which is then making treatment for sea lice much more challenging.
So there are other methods and other challenges.
Along with the Thermolicer,
hi-tech treatments include zapping the parasites with lasers.
The Scottish economy is so reliant on salmon farming that the
government has now joined with the industry to fund
the search for more solutions.
We've been funding some innovative research projects.
We've got 15 of them underway. And the industry,
we've got 21 different companies working with us
and they're investing heavily.
So they have invested £15.5 million
in projects that we're helping them deliver.
One solution being developed in Norway is a giant pod which
forms a barrier between the farmed salmon and the open water.
But we're still some way off seeing this in Scotland.
When do you think we're going to see lice-free salmon farming?
Sea lice are a prevailing parasite that just exist in the environment,
so we haven't yet found a way of completely getting rid of them.
What we're trying to do is help farmers to reduce the threat
and manage the problem.
So maybe the only way we can make sure salmon are lice-free is
to take them out of the open water entirely.
-Yes, as a matter of fact,
this is the biggest tank of its kind for salmon farming.
Further down the West Coast, that's something
Norwegian entrepreneur Arve Gravdal is doing.
And the unlikely location for his fish farm,
a disused aircraft hangar.
So what are you doing here?
We are taking the fish onshore,
the fishnet on shore in a tank,
where we are recirculating and cleansing the water inside.
It sounds like a dumb question, in a way,
-but I guess no problem with sea lice here?
-No. No problem.
-You're not connected to the sea, no sea lice?
We had several test tanks before and we never had any sea lice,
although we took seawater in directly from the sea.
No sea lice and Arve says there are other advantages
to his inland salmon farm.
Waste from the 10,000 fish in this tank generates more energy than is
used to power the pumps and he says he can cut other production costs.
We can put the farms directly next to the processing plants,
so there is a lot of logistical costs we can save.
Is there any reason why you couldn't put this next to
the big markets for salmon, like London or Glasgow?
-That is exactly what it will become in the future.
-It'll be in, like, industrial estates outside the city?
So Arve has ambitious plans for a sustainable
and lice-free salmon industry.
And he says firms like his can be set up anywhere with a water supply.
So, when you buy your salmon in the future, it may not come from
the Scottish wilderness, but from a giant warehouse somewhere near you.
This may not fit with the popular image of salmon leaping from
the crystal waters of a Scottish loch,
but fish farming is already food production on an industrial scale,
and maybe this is the logical conclusion.
Now, in a moment, I'll be hearing how one flamboyant publisher's
legacy is set to change the Warwickshire landscape after
he left much of his multimillion pound fortune to a forest.
But first, we're off to Cumbria to meet a fifth-generation farmer
who's as passionate about traditional breeds as Adam.
Is that even possible?
Over the last 50 years or so, the traditional British dairy cow
has been deemed unfashionable and pushed aside in favour of
the high-yielding black and white dairy cow.
But I'm here on a farm near Kendal to meet a family who have
stuck with the same breed of cow for more than 100 years.
James Robinson is the fifth generation of his family
to farm traditional dairy shorthorn cattle up here in Cumbria.
Helping manage the 250-strong herd is James' father, Henry,
and his eldest son, Robert.
-How are you?
-I'm very well, how are you?
-This is looking lovely in here.
-Thanks very much. They're all right, aren't they?
So a lot of people moved away from these old-fashioned breeds
and moved on to the sort of modern black and white dairy cow,
-the Friesian and then the Holstein.
-But you've stuck with these old girls?
I wouldn't call them old or old-fashioned.
It's a modern dairy shorthorn for a modern grassland system
and they do a great job for us.
And how do they differ, then, to the modern day Holsteins?
Managed well, the Holstein can do a fantastic job for you.
But quite difficult to manage?
But difficult to manage as well and obviously
a high input means high cost as well.
These have got fantastic health traits, great fertility.
They're a robust cow, they're not fat but they've got
a bit of reserves to produce milk off very little, really.
And as far as their yield goes?
Ours are doing about 7,000 kilo average, or 7,000 litres.
And a Holstein would do, what? 10?
10, 11, for the high-yielding herds, yeah.
-And what are they like to work with?
-They're great to work with.
They've got a bit of fire in them.
They kind of remind you that they're still the boss.
Which is why they're good at surviving.
Which is why they have a good survival trait, they do.
Our vet bills is far lower than a commercial
black and white herd, definitely.
This traditional British breed and the Robinsons go back a long way.
James is the current president of the Dairy Shorthorn Society
and his herd books shows that his family first
registered the breed nearly a century ago.
And this one here is particularly good, born virtually 100 years ago
today, this one, so that was bred by my great-great-grandfather, Henry.
-Pretty amazing. So he was the first Robinson here.
And how has the breed changed?
Because, at one time, it was a dual-purpose animal, wasn't it,
-for beef and milk?
-That's it, yeah, yeah.
So when the shorthorn breed was set up,
it was definitely a dual-purpose animal.
The majority of breeds around were, at the time.
And then after the war, there was a real drive for milk
production and meat production sort of separate, really...
We've got a picture here, Adam. Shorthorn...
So that was pretty much what was being bred in the 1930s,
so that is prewar. You know, that is...
So you can see there, fairly robust.
She's in milk, got a nice udder on it.
But, yeah, you can see, it's just a different style...
-A beefy, quite meaty looking animal.
-And they were even brushed up.
You see, they had to make them look even wider than they were.
-Like you would a beef animal.
You take that to this one, which is at a different extreme again...
So this was champion of ours at Highland Show two years ago,
-Dairy Shorthorn Champion, and just look at the difference there.
You know, the dairy bone, the quality of the udder,
and she's just made for milk.
A beautiful looking animal, isn't she?
What else have you got in here?
My grandfather Willie in his Home Guard uniform with Larkerin Casket
stood just on those steps there, just on the house steps, virtually.
So that's a young bull.
That's a young bull, Larkerin Casket, its name was.
He's there in his Home Guard outfit,
probably going to go off to a Home Guard meeting that night,
-Very different times then,
with war going on, food rations,
-the country in a very difficult state of affairs.
But still passionate about his farming
-and his breeding of his animals.
He'd be, just like we are now,
he'd be trying to breed the best type of cattle that he could
for his farm and for the time,
and that's what it's all about, really.
As well as old photos of James's grandfather, there are other,
even more poignant, records of the family's farming past -
personal diaries going back to wartime that tell the story
of a different age.
-Henry, more history.
-Oh, loads of history.
We've got here the old diary that my father did in 1940,
starting with the weather.
January 8th, and it says much frost in the ground,
they've carted some muck out, sold some cows here
for £26 and 5 shillings, and then another one for £22 and 5 shillings,
but rationing started,
which is always at the bottom of the page, just as a matter of a fact.
Incredible, isn't it? The weather being the most important thing.
That's right. Yeah, yeah.
Again, Friday 10th of May - fine, sunny and warm.
Cleaned some calf pens out, went round fencing.
There's another cow calved there, a Janet,
but right at the bottom of the entry again,
"Germany entered Holland and Belgium. Chamberlain resigned.
"90-odd German planes shot down
"in Holland, Belgium and France... and Britain."
-And in history, that is pretty significant.
It would have been at the top of the page.
But as far as he's thinking about,
-Janet calving is much more important.
-It is, it is.
And it kind of makes the hairs stand up on the back of my neck a bit,
-listening to those stories. It's amazing, isn't it...
..to think what they went through,
but that same passionate enjoyment of farming
as you and your family have got now.
That's right, yeah.
Times may have changed, but the Robinsons still keep
their shorthorns indoors during the cold Cumbrian winters.
Today is a big day,
the day when the cattle are turned out onto the fresh spring pasture.
But there's one final treat before the ladies hit the new grass.
A motorised back-scratcher.
Come on, then, girls. Come on.
There's something very special about turning cattle out in
-the spring, isn't there?
-Oh, it's the best time of the year. It is.
You get a day like this and look how happy they are. Tails up.
This is where this breed do very well on lovely grass.
Oh, definitely. Definitely.
I mean, they are fantastic converters from grass to milk.
That's what they're known for, efficient milk production,
and that's what we need, as an industry, now.
It's just so lovely to meet a family that's passionate
about dairy farming, but also this wonderful British breed that's
-standing you in good stead as a family, isn't it?
-Oh, it has.
100 years' pedigree now with this breed,
so we're not going to give it up in a hurry.
It's wonderful that the Robinson family have stuck with these
beautiful British dairy shorthorns,
a breed of cow and milking system they know that works,
and hopefully they'll be able to continue to celebrate success
for many years to come.
I'm just a few miles west of Stratford-upon-Avon,
in a precious fragment of ancient woodland.
But there's not much of it left. Broadleaf trees like this oak,
hazel and birch were chopped down way back in the Bronze Age to
create farmland, and their numbers still haven't recovered.
However, here in Warwickshire,
an ambitious project is under way to help change that,
creating a vast new forest of native broadleaf trees.
And it's largely thanks to one man, Felix Dennis - poet,
publisher and planter of trees.
He was a larger-than-life character,
so much so that he commissioned this larger-than-life sculpture
of himself, which now marks his grave
and overlooks the part of Warwickshire that holds his legacy.
Dennis was a true one-off.
His roots were in 1960s counterculture, as co-founder
of controversial magazine Oz.
With his fame and fortune came the obligatory country pile,
but beneath the flamboyance was a mellow side, a tree lover.
Shocked at Warwickshire's lack of trees,
he had the idea of creating a 30,000-acre forest.
Saplings soon stood in the landscape like soldiers on parade.
Alison Hunter worked for Felix Dennis, and is now
a trustee of the charity charged with making his dream a reality.
-I'm just admiring this statue.
-It is quite a memorial, isn't it?
-It's amazing, isn't it?
-So, what was he like, as a character?
He was very generous, very generous with his time,
very generous with his energy and his ideas and his creativity.
He was a very different and unique character.
Where did his love of trees come from?
Originally it was his love of the outdoors.
I mean, he did spend hours and hours walking in the country,
but also the fact he just did an awful lot of reading about trees,
bought hundreds of books,
and he was shocked at the lack of native woodland in this country,
and especially in this area that he was so fond of.
When Dennis first moved here, there were no hedgerows on his land,
so he set about putting them back.
Then he planted his first wood,
visible from his bedroom window.
-So, here, yeah, this was planted '96, so...
-20 years old?
It's looking good, isn't it?
Yeah, it's slow grow, isn't it, broadleaf,
but you can definitely get a sense of the woodland that's coming.
This was the beginning of the forest of Dennis,
now known as the Heart of England Forest.
Currently, it's a patchwork of sites that stretches for 15 miles
across the Warwickshire countryside.
This is a great spot, really, because it just shows you
the scale of what we're aiming to achieve with this project.
So, just over to the south, you see that white tower,
the water tower there, that's a couple of miles down to the south,
and then, just up to the north there, the white tower at Oversley,
that's three miles, halfway to our Spernal Estate,
-so as far as the eye can see.
-Yes, so horizon to horizon, pretty much.
And we're hoping in years to come that this will all be joined up,
and all the parcels of land will form
one contiguous native broadleaf forest.
More than 1,500,000 trees have already been planted,
but that's just a drop in the ocean
if Dennis's huge vision of a forest that goes all the way into
neighbouring Worcestershire is to be realised.
That's a lot of holes for head forester Stephen Coffey to dig.
This is what it's really all about, isn't it, Stephen?
-Planting the trees! Are you all right?
-How are you?
I'm all right. What are you putting in there?
-This is a small-leafed lime.
-A small-leafed lime?
It's one of our native broadleaves.
-I want to have a go. I want to leave my own little legacy here.
Even if it's just the one!
-We need a hole...
-There we go.
Try and get this out.
-You can still see the relics of the crops on this fields.
It is amazing, isn't it, to see the transformation.
-There was wheat on here until last September.
What's the technique for where they go?
Is there, like, a plan?
It's random spacing, so we make sure that we have got oak
everywhere through the field, and then everything else is just
slotted in where the planters feel it should be.
There are 19 species altogether, of trees.
Put it in as close as you can to the stake.
In a bit further, that's it, so the mud goes over the top.
-Are you happy with that?
-I want this one to last.
-I'm probably only going to do the one. There we go.
-There we go.
And how long will these covers stay on, to stop the nibbling wildlife?
Stay on for five to ten years, and then we will start taking them off.
The ambition is for 30,000 acres. It's pretty impressive.
It'll be 60 to 100 years' time before that's achieved,
but in my time here, I think I've been responsible for planting
just over a million trees. I hope to double that in my time here.
-I like that. And I have added my one tree.
-You have, yeah.
You stay good, nice and strong.
The Heart of England Forest couldn't do without its volunteers and,
for them, the forest will be their legacy as well as Felix Dennis's.
It's wonderful to think that
when you look out at all these green tubes,
to your children and more so your grandchildren,
it's going to be a forest here, and that's why most of us do it,
because you're investing in the future as well as what
people can enjoy today.
There's an old saying that the best time to plant a tree
is 20 years ago, and that the second-best time is now.
It was a saying that Felix Dennis lived by,
but he wasn't just a publisher and a lover of trees.
He was also a poet,
so it seems only fitting that I give him the last word.
Woodland cherries, flowers ablaze
Holds no hint of human praise
Leaf and shoot know naught of debt
Twig and root are dumb, and yet
Choirs of songbirds greet each day
With eulogies, as if to say
Whosoever plants a tree
Winks at immortality.
How about this for a spring scene full of colour?
And if you're thinking of heading off to see the bluebells
near you this week, you'll want to know what the weather's doing.
Time to find out with the Countryfile forecast.
We're in Warwickshire, the heart of England.
So far, we've met those doing their bit to preserve
its precious green spaces in the face of progress.
How many do you think have been planted so far?
-In total, since we started, 1.6 million.
But what about those in the countryside trying to make a living
from the landscape in these ever-changing times?
I'm here to meet a family who recently won a British farming award
for taking their business in a new direction.
They turned their milking parlour into a microbrewery.
The Reynolds family has been farming here
in the shadow of Warwick Castle for more than 50 years.
Andrew, known as Ren, grew up here
and he's seen farming go through many changes during his lifetime.
That looks to be a nice, new orchard you've got going there.
Yeah, we planted about four years ago.
-You used to have a dairy farm, didn't you?
-We did, yes.
1983, I started milking cows.
And that was the very same year that milk quotas came in.
We started from scratch, so I had to build the milking parlour
and then five years later, we started processing our own milk
on the farm, and that was another big investment
because we put up a new building for it.
We used to bottle our own milk on site and deliver it,
you know, to doorsteps, so it was quite an expensive thing to set up.
It was good for a few years.
And then the supermarkets decided to have a bit of
a price war with milk and that about killed the job.
So, Ren said goodbye to his cows, bought some barrels
and started producing pints of beer instead of pints of milk.
To set up the business, he used what he already had on the farm -
both above and below ground.
This is Audrey's Well.
-I inherited some money a few years ago
and I thought, because we were brewing,
I thought it would be a good idea to find our own water,
so that's what we did.
So we took this borehole and we use this water to make our beer.
-Couldn't be more local.
-No, no, very, very local. Absolutely.
-About 250 feet down, that goes.
-And cheap as well.
-And no big water bill.
'Ren even turned his grain store into a workshop.
'The milk processing tanks he used when he first started brewing
'are still here, but they're too small to cope with today's demands.'
These tanks are enormous, aren't they?
3,500 litres, these hold, John.
-That'll keep us going for a while.
-It would, yeah.
I think it should see us all right for this afternoon, that's for sure.
Well, you're obviously being very successful here.
What do you put that down to?
Um, good ingredients, mainly.
We use the only floor-malted barley in the country.
And you just get a little bit extra from it, I think,
as opposed to being done by a big machine.
But you've got all these fields, why not grow your own barley?
Well, we've just started this year, actually.
We planted our first 20 acres this year.
Do you miss the cows being in here?
Er...no, as it happens, no, I don't.
No. This is just a dream job, really,
compared to, you know, seven days a week,
five o'clock starts,
I don't have to get up early in the morning to make beer.
I can start when I like, finish when I like.
-And no quotas?
-And no milk quotas.
This family-run, handcrafted real ale brewery
is a classic example of modern diversification.
It's an entirely new business,
built from the failing foundations of a dairy herd.
Ren's even named one of his beers after his younger son Harry.
And the cows on the label aren't the only ones on the farm.
Ren's keeping his hand in by looking after these for a neighbour.
And here, as on any farm, there's always one more job to do.
-And what have we got here, then, Ren?
-These are brewers grains.
This is the waste product from making beer.
And this will go for cattle feed now.
-Do they like it?
-Oh, they love it.
Which shovel's yours, then?
-Oh, I'll have the little one, if that's all right.
OK, then. So we'll just fill that barrow.
-That should do, shouldn't it?
-Let's go and find some cattle.
-Yeah, where are the cows?
Follow that road.
-They know what's happening.
-Yeah, they do.
They know it's nearly lunchtime, don't you? Here we come.
-Have some of this...
-They're ready for you.
..lovely leftover from the beer.
There you are.
Right, girls, how about that?
I heard you were filming in a brewery, I was expecting a beer.
Can you wait a minute cos I'm just finishing
giving these brewers grains to the girls here,
and they love it, don't you, girls?
-It's all lovely and warm, as well.
-It is, yeah.
That's all we've got time for from Warwickshire.
Next week, I'll be on the River Severn
giving some tales from the river bank.
-Hope you can join us then. Goodbye.
-Yeah, bye for now.
-Now, about that drink.
-Yes, about that drink.
-Anything but milk. What do you fancy?
-A beer, I think.
It is Hedgehog Awareness Week. Populations of wild British hedgehogs have declined rapidly since the turn of the century, and Ellie Harrison meets three schoolgirls who on a mission to keep the hedgehogs of Warwickshire safe from harm. She pays them a visit in their back garden hedgehog rehab centre!
Ellie also visits the Heart of England Forest, which is planting a great native woodland. It is largely thanks to one man, Felix Dennis, who bequeathed millions to the project after recognising a need for more woodland.
Steve Brown meets the volunteers 'Taming the River Tame' to bring the wildlife back. The river, canal and floodplain that make up the wetlands are remnants of Warwickshire's industrial past, but they're now joining up the waterways for nature.
John Craven is at a nature reserve with a difference - it's not just a home for wildflowers and wildlife, it's a permanent resting place for people too. The Sunrising Nature Reserve is a burial ground for people who want a very natural resting place after they die. John also visits a farming family who have swapped pints of milk for pints of beer by turning their dairy into a microbrewery.
Adam Henson is in Kendal, Cumbria, with a farming family who love their traditional breeds nearly as much as Adam does! It is the Robinson family's 100th year of registering shorthorns on the farm. With dad, lad and grandson in tow, we hear from three generations of Robinson about their passion for the cows.
Tom Heap travels to Scotland to find out why Britain's favourite fish is causing such a big row and asks what the salmon industry is doing to try and solve the problem.