The team pull on their thermals for a walk on the wild side of winter. Adam heads to North Ronaldsay, where their rare seaweed-eating sheep are under threat.
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Winter. A season stripped bare.
It may have started unseasonably mild
and relentlessly wet, but its bite came back.
So pull on your thermals
and grab your gloves for a walk on the wild side of winter.
Alternatively, you just sit in your nice, warm house and we'll do it.
Ellie is getting a bird's-eye view
of one of wildlife's greatest wonders, winter migration.
This is amazing,
I am cheek-to-beak with these beautiful greylags.
Ha-ha! Love it!
John has been lured to Cumbria by the call of the wild.
Howling with wolves!
Sounds like John is the leader of the pack.
In Yorkshire, Sean's winter rock fishing.
Though it's him taking a battering, not the fish.
It's blowing a gale here, but I've been told,
the wilder the weather, the more plentiful the fish.
No guts, no glory.
And Adam is in Orkney,
where their rare seaweed-eating sheep are under threat.
Winters up here can be pretty tough, but not as tough as these sheep.
Many years ago, I came up here
to help save the North Ronaldsay breed from extinction.
But now, wild winter storms have meant
they've had some severe setbacks.
If there's a part of the country that knows how to cope with
a proper wild winter, it's Upper Teesdale.
The vast expanse of fell is a stage,
set for the weather to play out its many different moods.
sleet and snow.
This place gets hammered by the weather.
And I should know, I grew up not far from here.
Our farm is just on the other side of that dale.
Teesdale is no stranger to brutal winters.
Nearly 70 years ago, it was tested by one of the worst.
The infamous winter of 1947,
and in that year, Teesdale recorded the most snowfall
of any inhabited place in England.
In fact, it was recorded at the bottom of this hill.
But the people who can remember that winter are slowly disappearing.
And with them, their stories.
It sparked an idea.
The North Pennines Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty Partnership
started an oral history project called A Winter's Dale.
By recording interviews with elderly locals,
they created a treasured archive of winter memories.
I was a ten-year-old boy at the time
and I can remember walking along the top of the heaps
and you could reach up and touch the telephone wires.
The sheep were in dire need of food.
And it was pitiful to see them.
They were just skeletons,
Well, it was the most magical walk down that valley.
A moonlight night.
And great icicles hanging off barns.
Oh, it was a dream, a dream.
One of the surviving contributors to A Winter's Dale
is retired farmer Maurice Tarn.
He is now 86, but remembers those years like they were yesterday.
So, Maurice, what are your memories then, of that winter of 1947?
Oh, very, very savage winter.
It blew from the east, it blew from the west.
And all of this snow-cutting business as well, then.
I mean, no diggers and all this, that and the other back then.
Was it all shovels?
Yes. It was hand shovels. My father had to go out snow-cutting.
When the sun shone, he came home with a tan.
-What, off the reflection on the snow?
-Off the snow, yes.
And you didn't have the five-day forecast from Countryfile, did you?
-You had to act on instinct.
Just had to look up this valley
and see where the clouds were coming from, like.
So you're telling me all of this, Maurice,
with a huge smile on your face.
-And you've enjoyed your time in the Dale, then.
-I wouldn't live anywhere else.
Times have changed since Maurice was a young lad.
But winter is still tough here.
Tom Hutchinson is a tenant farmer
on 100 acres near Middleton-in-Teesdale.
Today brings clear skies, a blanket of snow
and a frosty bite in the air.
The kind of conditions in which Tom, his dog Kyle
and the quad bike can cope.
Right, then, Tom, let's get these fed up, shall we?
'It's a welcome change from
'the eight weeks of solid rain he had before Christmas,
'which turned his fields into a mud bath.'
So, how has this winter been for you, so far?
It's been very, very wet and very, very horrible
and made life very, very awkward.
Yeah. I mean, obviously using the quad today,
but I bet you haven't been able to use one for a while.
The problem with the quad is you need traction.
If you've got an inch of water and slop on the top,
-it just doesn't go anywhere. It goes downhill quite easily.
But if you want to go uphill, it's a bit awkward.
Dales and Dales folk are all the same -
whatever the weather comes, they just get on with it.
Tom's utter passion is his purebred Swaledales.
He's even been known to describe them
as the worst addiction known to man.
It's what drives him to weather these winters year in, year out.
The thing about the Swale sheep, you have so many different ideas
and different thoughts on what is a good one.
So it means when you go to the mart,
you can have people having a conversation about the same sheep
but have a completely different opinion of it, completely different.
And it might just be down to one hair that's on its head.
And when you look down a line of sheep like this,
the wonderful thing is that back story
and that connection that you have with each of your animals.
Yeah, well, for me it is.
It's probably not the same for everybody, but for me,
I like to have a bit more history with them.
I can go back and I know their great-great-grandmothers.
Farming these hills is no bed of roses.
And it's not just Tom's dedication, but the efforts of the whole family
that keep this place going.
The Hutchinsons are typical of most farmers -
braving the elements every day to make a living.
It's a way of life that caught the eye of a documentary maker
who wanted to bring the harsh realities of life as a hill farmer
to the masses, making the Hutchinsons unlikely film stars in the process.
We'll have more on that later
after Ellie's looked at one of wildlife's greatest spectacles.
Get on the bike.
The wonder of migration.
Millions of wild birds
escaping the bitter winters of their breeding grounds,
travelling thousands of miles to warmer climes.
Here at Slimbridge Wetland Centre in Gloucestershire,
one early visitor put everyone on winter alert.
Now, there's an old saying that the swan brings snow on its bill,
with the arrival of the first heralding the start of the season.
So, when Bewick's swan number one arrived here back in October,
there was quite a bit of speculation
that we'd be in for a long and cold winter.
Well, Matt might have got the snow in Teesdale,
but here the forecast was a little off.
But whatever the weather, the team here at Slimbridge
has to prepare the wetlands for the influx of migrating visitors.
Reserve manager Dave Paynter is the man in charge.
Let's start off with some raking.
This is an area that we've just cut.
How many additional birds do you get here in the winter?
We're looking at anything up to 30,000 or 40,000 waterfowl.
That's ducks, geese, swans and waders.
But add to that anything up to 60,000, 70,000 gulls
are roosting out here each night.
So, how do you manage the land for those additional winter visitors?
Grazing is important,
getting the swards right for the birds when they return.
You've seen the big one, of course, which is water level management.
Holding on to the floodwaters across the fields here.
Some of this willow management is really important
for runways for the birds. It's all about flight lines,
allowing the birds easy access into open areas.
Flood levels here at Slimbridge are carefully managed,
so it's not too soggy or too dry when the birds arrive.
This year, around 300 Bewick's swans made the extraordinary journey.
-Julia, how are you doing?
Julia Newth has been studying these beautiful birds
for more than ten years.
Well, the Bewick's swans are very special birds.
They embark on this 2,500-mile migration
to reach us here at Slimbridge.
Several winters ago,
four Bewick's swans were fitted with trackers that enabled the team
to gain a greater understanding of their migratory route.
You can see this is one particular bird called Maisie.
And she spent the whole summer up in the Arctic,
near the Pechora Delta, which is a key hot spot for them.
On the 9th of September she left the Arctic,
came down through Russia and she ventured into Estonia.
-So a refuel and rest.
So she was there for a couple of weeks.
Then, you can see she's left the coast of Latvia
and heading towards the UK.
So she made that overseas crossing there in about six hours,
before venturing on to Slimbridge here.
And this study will help with their conservation,
it's a pretty perilous journey.
What this allows us to do is to be able to track the Bewick's swans.
We can see where they are going in relation to these hazards.
So, for example, offshore wind farms,
we can see whether the Bewick's swan migration
coincides with the proposals for new turbines.
But when they are here,
Slimbridge is a safe haven for these extremely timid birds.
And this hide is as close as I'd normally be able to get to them.
But here, when the low winter sun goes down,
there's a magical experience
that will allow me to get just a little closer.
Slimbridge are allowing me
to give the overwintering guests their floodlit feed.
Now, I can only do that
because these birds have learnt to trust the source of the food.
And it's particularly important for their cygnets
who might be learning this for the very first time.
So there's only one thing for it. Do not mess it up, whatever you do.
'So, while the camera crew film from the hide,
'I venture out alone with my wheelbarrow.'
See you later.
I'm not just being the jolly postman, I've been told to do that.
Right, down to the water's edge, slow and steady wins the race.
Demeanour is quite important when doing this kind of thing.
I've been told the way to act is...bored.
Which is definitely not what I am right now.
OK, this is good. Here we go with the first scoop.
Oh, yeah, yeah, the Bewick's are coming in.
Just a few cheeky mallards in there. Some lovely shelduck.
There's even some pochard in here.
Here you go, everybody, how's it all going?
I've been told that I can't actually leave the arms of this wheelbarrow,
because if I step out of the way of it, they won't like that.
I've never felt so stressed feeding the birds.
These Bewick's are absolutely beautiful.
You can actually see the different markings on their bill here.
There we go, my friends, that's your lot. Bye-bye, Bewick's.
You've been posting your own wintry scenes on Twitter lately,
but we'd love to see more.
Tweet us your photos at...
Or send via our website...
For some, wild winters bring extreme adventures.
The tragic death of British adventurer Henry Worsley this week
showed just how dangerous polar exploration can be.
Earlier this winter, we went to the Cairngorms
to meet a woman who knows the perils only too well.
The preconceived image of your polar explorer to this day remains
tall, hairy, handsome bloke.
Nothing to do with my sort of dimensions and size.
And yet, the irony lies in the fact
that it's not at all about brute strength and biceps.
It's about the strength that lies in your head and your heart.
Rosie Stancer has been described by some
as a cross between Tinkerbell and the Terminator.
She's already earned the accolade for being the first solo female
to reach the South Pole.
And ten years ago, Rosie came agonisingly close to becoming
the first woman to also reach the North Pole.
On the last expedition, day three,
I got frostbite in my toes,
which then got infected with gangrene and I had to amputate them.
Incredibly, it wasn't this that prevented her reaching the Pole.
Winter storms caused treacherous ice conditions,
and she was forced to abandon the trip just 89 miles from her goal.
But next year, Rosie is taking on the Arctic again.
The harder it is, the better training,
because you've got to be ready to get through any sort of rubbish
and go on and past it, because that's what the Arctic's all about.
You've just got to get past whatever obstacle it throws at you.
So, er, the meaner the better.
Rosie's fundraising travels take her all around the globe.
Aside from the Arctic,
she also plans to trek across a desert in China later this year.
But her first love is the British landscape.
Especially in the wilds of winter.
Can't get much better than this.
Whiteout, lousy visibility.
Got snow, it's cold.
It's perfect training for polar expeditions.
Life on the ice is unimaginably tough.
Especially in the Arctic.
Yes, of course it is cold, it is bitterly cold, it is
hard to describe how cold -60 feels on the flesh.
It's very intimidating.
Three times colder than your deep freeze at home.
Your flesh must be covered up - it'll freeze within two minutes.
It hurts to breathe -
it's like inhaling daggers.
My major concern is the ice and the shifting ice,
because it's moving around you all the time and it's very violent.
And at any given moment, that ice can break up right beneath you.
Even beneath your tent at night.
Thankfully, the snow-covered ground
of the Cairngorms is far more stable.
This is what it's like on the ice,
and this is about as fast as you go, so...
if this were my first day on the ice, I know I'd probably be
very pleased with achieving two nautical miles at the end of it.
Only 415 to go.
There is nothing winter - here or in the Arctic - can throw at me
and defeat me. I will not be conquered.
This sort of training makes me feel invincible.
At least in my head, I am Superwoman, and mighty strong.
In fact, really, I'm just a bit of fluff,
but with a hell of a big attitude.
And it's that attitude that drives Rosie forward,
taking her to places very few will ever experience, and to
witness first-hand the fragility of the northernmost part of the Earth.
There's added importance to this expedition,
because it's no longer about these big, macho firsts.
It's really rather more about a big last,
because I don't think the ice is going to be there in years to come.
And this could be the last solo expedition
all the way to the North Pole.
Not just by a woman, but by anyone.
I've come to the snow-capped fells of Cumbria for a slightly less
strenuous walk on winter's wild side.
And centuries ago, it wasn't
just the landscape around here that was wild.
The hills and fells of this region were home to
ferocious animals that struck fear into the hearts of local people.
And the wildest of them all was the wolf.
WOLVES HOWLING AND BARKING
This is called Humphrey Head, and it's said that back in the 1390s,
the very last wolf in England was speared to death up there
after killing a child from a nearby village.
Or so the story goes.
From the Humphrey Head wolf to Little Red Riding Hood, wolves have
always made a good subject for stories - usually as the baddies.
But one Cumbrian couple are keen to separate
the fact from the fairytale.
Just a stone's throw from Humphrey Head,
Dee and Daniel Ashman offer people the chance to walk with wolves.
To meet them, I've come to private land well off the beaten track.
-Ah, Dee, Daniel, good to see you.
-Morning to you.
And it's the first time I've ever seen wolves in the back of a truck.
-This is Kajika and this is Maska.
Yeah, they are Native American Indian names.
Maska means "strong" and Kajika means "walks without sound".
They're an F3 hybrid.
What that means is we have crossed a pure wolf with a Czechoslovakian
wolf dog to third generation.
Because they are hybrids,
humans are legally allowed to get closer to them
and interact more than they would be able to do with pure wolves.
For us, it's conservation by connection.
We're not here to teach people about what a wolf hybrid is,
we're here to teach people to care about the plight of wolves
and how wolves affect an ecosystem.
-And they still look pretty much like wolves to me.
Handsome creatures, aren't they?
Yeah, they are beautiful, they really are.
Do I have to introduce myself to them, Daniel?
Put your hand up towards the bars here.
So they've got the opportunity just to lick and smell.
Oh-ho! I got a lick, then.
Had a lick from a wolf, that's the first time that has ever happened.
-So they have accepted me, do you think?
-They have, yes.
-You are part of the pack.
-Good, so we can let them out now, then.
We'll let them out.
And off we go.
'Understanding just how wolves communicate with one another
'and the complex social structure
'of the pack is important to Dee and Daniel.'
-Is it at all risky, doing this?
Even a wild wolf is actually a suspicious,
but actually a social animal.
If people come across wolves in the wild,
they are more likely to run away than anything else.
-Anything we shouldn't do?
-The most important thing is don't bend down.
-Because that is actually inviting them.
If you go down to greet them, bend down to greet them,
they will assume you are greeting them
and that is like saying to them, "Put my neck in your mouth."
-Oh, they want to play.
-So they would.
Yeah, they would greet you and then they'd start playing.
-I don't fancy my neck in your mouth, mate.
-It's very gentle.
'With permission from private landowners, we are able
'to let the wolves run freely inside a fenced enclosure.'
There we are.
Off they go.
'Here, you can really appreciate their superb predatory powers.'
We, as humans, have 400 sensory receptors in our nose.
They have over 200 million.
And our 400 allows us to smell a trillion scents,
-so you can imagine what 200 million for you.
-That's why they never stop.
-They are always on the alert.
-They are always on the go.
And always smelling and looking.
The wolf is the perfect all-terrain mammal.
They can run, they can jump, they can swim,
they can climb up steep areas of screed or embankment.
For that ability, they have got fully developed webbed feet.
They are webbed right up to the nail bed.
Also, they have a dual-layered coat.
They have got their inner thermal layer and then they've
got their outer layer of fur, traditionally known as guard hairs.
'And the hairs that make up the coat are hollow, like a polar bear's,
'allowing them to tolerate temperatures as low as -40.
'It makes our winters rather mild for them.'
So, lots to be learnt, then, from walking with wolves - and of
course, they do have their classic form of communication, don't they?
-Yeah, there's lots of different howls.
There isn't one magical howl that does everything,
there's lots of different ones.
And they all change in tone and structure, depending on what
-they are trying to say.
-Can you do them to communicate with these?
We can, yes. The one we use the most is a family-bonding howl.
And what does that sound like, then?
You do it first and I'll try and copy. And see what happens.
We'll see how it goes.
Howling with wolves!
It seems to me that wolves are much misunderstood creatures.
It probably goes back to those childhood tales of the Big Bad Wolf.
But having just walked with them - and howled with them -
it's made me realise that they are in fact highly intelligent,
very social creatures, really worthy of our respect.
I'll tell you what,
John's pretty impressive at howling like a wolf, isn't he?
Don't worry, there's no wolves around here.
Now, these Swaledales, they're rock hard, they're hardy,
they're bred for conditions like this.
But from here in Teesdale, it's over to Adam, who's in Orkney,
where the wild winter weather is threatening their native sheep.
Come on, then.
North Ronaldsay. The northernmost of the Orkney Islands.
Low-lying and exposed to the elements.
This is a tough place to live - man or beast.
Many years ago, Dad and I came up to these islands to help secure
the future of these wonderful little North Ronaldsay sheep.
And it's a trip that brings back fond memories.
In the 1970s, this rare breed only lived on this one isolated
island, so they were vulnerable to disease wiping them out.
But with the help of the locals, my dad and I managed to move
some of the sheep to safer locations around the UK.
Now, with several flocks established on the mainland,
the future of the breed looks more secure.
However, back here on their tiny native island,
things aren't looking so rosy.
The North Ronaldsays were banished to the beach
back in 1832, when the Laird built a sheep dyke around the whole
island to reserve the pastures for cattle.
Deprived of grass, the sheep soon adapted to their new environment,
living solely off seaweed.
'Kevin Woodbridge moved from England 39 years ago to become
'the island's GP.
'Now retired, he's become clerk
'of North Ronaldsay's grandly titled Sheep Court.'
I know here, it's very different to our sheep back home -
they get fat in the summer.
Your sheep get fat in the winter, don't they?
Yes, yes, in the summer,
they are entirely dependent on what they can pick up in the ebb tide.
In the winter, the storms uproot all the seaweed beds out in the sea,
and bring huge banks of seaweed on to the foreshore
and the sheep will actually gorge themselves
on that and they are fittest and fattest
at this time of year, and the best time to send them off for market.
-Can we get up closer to one, catch one?
-What's a good one?
-He looks pretty big, that one. Him?
-A good one there, yeah.
Let's have a feel of him.
There's a good covering of meat over his backbone and on the rib there.
-He's really quite podgy.
-And the meat's delicious, isn't it?
The meat's wonderful, it's very lean and very tasty.
During the winter months, on that seashore, it must be so harsh.
What is it, then, in the sheep, that makes them such good survivors?
It's a primitive breed which has been adapted entirely to living
here on the seaweed.
You can see the fleece is really lovely and thick
and downy underneath, and you've got these hairs coming through
and the guard hairs on the outside,
which gives both a warming and a lining,
but also it sheds the rain,
the snow and the sleet away from getting in and soaking the fleece.
So, they are in fine fettle, pretty good condition,
there's plenty of them. What's the problem?
The problem really is that the depopulation of the island
has reduced the number of people who are keeping sheep
and so maintaining the full flock is a challenge for the reduced
numbers, and also maintaining the dyke,
which has been very seriously storm damaged in the last few years.
We haven't got the manpower on the island to get it back up.
The dyke being the sea wall that keeps the sheep on the seashore.
Like the rest of the UK, in the last few years,
Orkney has experienced some huge storms.
Whilst the sheep and the islanders have adapted to cope with
the worst the winter weather can throw at them,
the stone sheep dyke has been devastated.
'Peter Titley is a former chairman of the Rare Breeds Survival Trust,
'and founder of the Orkney Sheep Foundation -
'a special organisation dedicated to the North Ronaldsay's survival.'
-Hi, Peter, great to see you.
-Hello, Adam, great to see you.
Goodness me, I knew the dyke was bad,
-but it's absolutely devastated, isn't it?
It's very hard to imagine the power of the sea.
How important is it, then, to keep the sheep on the seashore?
If they were to go elsewhere and mix with other breeds of sheep,
we'd lose the genetic integrity, and once that's gone,
then these special sheep with thousands of years of history
are lost to the world for ever, because this is the only place
where they actually live in this traditional way.
This is a very special place, very special sheep.
So, a daunting task ahead, but maybe fencing is the answer.
We have a fence here already that can contain the sheep.
Well, it's a temporary answer.
If the dyke's down, one has to rely on this temporary fencing,
this wire fencing, but it's not ideal.
What we want to see is some restoration.
We want to see the dyke rebuilt
so that we can actually return these sheep to something that
actually fits their ancient history on this shoreline.
The islanders are doing what they can...
..but in the face of such devastation, they need help.
Kate Trail Price is the great-great-great-granddaughter
of the Laird who originally commissioned the dyke.
She's also working with the Orkney Sheep Foundation to help rebuild it.
Back in the day, you'd have had over 500 people living on the island.
Everybody was in charge of their own section,
they'd help to repair it
every time it was down, and it really worked for generations.
And, of course, now, with less than 50 people living on the island,
it's a mammoth task for these guys.
As you can see, they are all skilled,
they all know how to do it, but there's just not enough hands.
It's a massive job.
Presumably you've got to raise funds and awareness.
We do indeed.
Yeah, we are applying for funding, taking donations,
and we are looking into things like bursaries,
so dry-stone wallers of the future who want to come over to the island,
maybe learn from these guys, learn the skills, learn the secrets.
There's not that many rules to it,
but there are skills and things to be learnt
and so people could come over, learn
and then come back every summer and help to rebuild what's come down.
It's quite a skilled job.
I'd better have a word with some of the masters at work here,
find out how they do this.
With the dry-stone walls in the Cotswolds,
we build them really tight so you can't see through them.
Here, there's lots of gaps in the wall.
The sea is meant to be able to come through the holes in the dyke
and we like to see it coming through,
rather than staying on the other side and knocking down the dyke.
Oh, I see. If you had a solid barrier,
the wave would just knock it down, rather than come through.
Yes, of course, it only works in a limited way,
because eventually, it knocks it down anyway.
So, how long have you been building dry-stone walls on Orkney?
-Getting on 70 years.
-70 years? So, how old are you, then?
Goodness me. It must be this Orkney air.
-Actually, come to think of it, I'm just 79 today.
-You should wish me a happy birthday.
What a way to spend your birthday - what a treat -
building a dry-stone wall!
The islanders have a huge task ahead of them
to win their constant battle with the sea.
Hopefully, they will get the help they need to rebuild the whole
dyke and keep these rare sheep on the beaches they now call home.
Like Adam, Sean's also on a wild and windy shoreline,
a bit further south in North Yorkshire.
The angry North Sea waves that batter
the coast are one of winter's most deadly weapons.
This wintry weather keeps many people away,
but, for some, these are the perfect conditions for a spot of fishing.
But I'm not talking about your average angling. This is extreme.
Winter cod fishing is said to be one of the most difficult
forms of the sport that there is.
And it's that challenge that attracts committed anglers
like Glenn Kilpatrick to these blustery beaches.
So, Glenn, I've done some fishing in my time,
but it was coarse fishing in tranquil lakes and rivers.
Quite a bit different to this.
Yeah, this is going to be a very different day for you, I think.
'Glenn's been fishing the numbing North Sea around Whitby
'since he was a boy.
'His real passion is winter rock fishing for cod.'
I never would have thought you could do cod fishing from the land.
I always would assume that you'd be out on a boat.
Yeah, well, this time of year, because of the winter storms
we get, it churns all the food up out of the local shoreline,
so you've got worms and shrimps and everything living in the sand here.
You've got sand eels underneath us.
In the rocks, you've got crabs and shrimps.
So the fish will come right in,
right into a few feet of water, to find that food.
It's like a big banquet for fish, really.
And in this part of the country, it's really popular, isn't it?
Yeah, each weekend, there's some big competitions right across the coast.
Hundreds and hundreds of people enter.
You get large groups of people out most nights of the week,
right through winter, fishing.
'Glenn and his die-hard mates think nothing of braving gale-force
'winds like this in pursuit of a prized catch.
'This lot are like the SAS of the angling world.'
Is this the most difficult type of fishing you can do?
Most definitely, yeah.
I think the skill and the knowledge involved here to really get
the best out of this type of fishing environment,
yeah, it is probably the most difficult.
On a day like today, nowhere finer than this little place here
because of the shelter of the bay.
We've also got a big reef
that runs offshore about half a mile out off here.
So, on the roughest of rough days, this is a place to fish.
'I've got to be honest,
'with these fierce winds hammering away at us,
'it doesn't feel that sheltered to me and the camera crew!'
So, this is the bait. What is it?
There's a mix there.
There's peeler crab, there's mussel and there's lugworm,
which are all found naturally here. That's the reason we use them.
Doesn't look very nice to you and I,
but I guess that's a cod's feast, is it?
To a cod, that's a big fillet steak.
Glenn, is it always like this? These conditions are awful!
This is as harsh as it gets.
As long as the sea is rough, we like to be out in this sort of weather.
-This is when the fish come in to feed.
-My hands are getting so cold.
-I find the back of my hands go very numb.
I find all of my hands go very numb.
'Glenn has caught a 15-pounder here in the past.
'But today is proving tough for all of us.'
-He's caught a fish.
-He's caught one?
-Yeah, in the red.
-Is that lunch?
That could be lunch.
'These guys are hugely experienced,
'but the dangers of winter rock fishing shouldn't be underestimated.
'For us, today, the weather has continued to worsen.
'So we're playing it safe and heading in.
'Thankfully, we can seek refuge in a local restaurant,
'where chef Simon,
'an honorary member of Glenn's fishing fraternity,
'is going to work his magic with our catch of the day.'
Here we are, Simon, this is what we caught this morning.
-It's not a lot. Is this going to be enough?
-It's not very big,
but I'm sure I'll be able to put something together with it.
The local people, they love it deep-fried in batter, but I'll do
something a bit different today and do you a nice piece of pan-fried.
-So, what do we all think of the food?
Great, isn't it? Can I just point out, when I took the fish in there,
he was pretty derogatory about it.
He said it was very small - how is he going to do this?
How is he going to cook for you guys?
He's sort of performed a biblical miracle, hasn't he?
-Feeding all six of us.
-He's done well.
I think maybe after we get finished,
we could pop out and do a bit more fishing.
-Yeah, sounds good.
-I think I'm going to sit this one out, guys.
-The fishing's always better at night.
-No, it's all right.
I'll leave it.
LAUGHTER AND CHATTER
'Mm. Perhaps I'll stick to the coarse fishing.'
We're leaving Yorkshire's stormy shoreline now,
and heading inland, yet we're still out on the edge.
Nature writer Rob Cowen draws inspiration for his work from
the edgelands of Harrogate - the wilderness between town and country.
Winter may be cold and cruel, but look hard enough,
and there is beauty in the bleak.
It was something about the winter landscape that I've always loved.
You get less tree cover. You see things you wouldn't normally see.
Buildings, old gateways, bits of industrial relics.
Each of these things helps create this idea of the layers to
the landscape - this landscape freighted with stories.
You can see further, the sun is lower in the sky,
so you get these dramatic shots of light and length and shadow.
I found this patch of interesting ground.
It was just amazing, it was a kind of immediate
shift from the urban into this strange, wild edgeland.
I began to come here sort of obsessively, day and night,
and look and record and start to write what I saw.
"There is a depth that comes from revisiting a place relentlessly.
"I would pass a fallen pine and suddenly see it
"as a sapling breaking through the mud.
"I would see the river - not as a man, but as a mayfly.
"I'd approach hares with the tread of a medieval trapper.
"Tracing the screaming arcs of swifts,
"I could feel thermals above as keenly as they did."
People think of winter as a dead time. It's not dead.
Everything is just lying dormant or starting to break through
the winter crust.
This is an alder.
You can see the beautiful colour of its buds here.
This kind of dusky, purple, lilac colour.
Absolutely lovely, lovely colour.
This is around all over the place. A mushroom called wood ear.
It's a great mushroom for that fallow period in wild food
when there isn't much going on.
Often I'd stay out, and so I'd set up a hammock in the trees,
get up early with the first light.
You see completely different things at that time, especially in a place
like this where you wouldn't imagine
there could be such a density of wildlife.
But it is all here. There are otters in the river.
There are buzzards in the fields.
I've seen roe deer and watched them move at dawn.
I think edgelands are incredibly valuable.
There isn't any of the manicured-ness.
There isn't any of the management. There's the kind of...
The raw negotiation between human and nature occurs all the time here.
I hate to think that a place like this would one day just be
forgotten, lost, waiting to get built over, but, actually,
they are the honest sort of space. There is nothing hidden.
It exposes and reveals itself to you,
and I've found that hugely rewarding.
I'm in the upper reaches of Teesdale,
a place where I feel very comfortable.
Growing up on a sheep farm not so far from here,
I've experienced many a Dales winter.
Do you know, I just love this part of the world.
It's wild, it's rugged, but it's beautiful.
And I may be biased - because, for me, this area is home -
but I'm not alone in admiring its filmic appeal.
Tom and Kay Hutchinson farm these isolated hundred acres
with their children, Jack, Esme and Hetty.
Theirs is not a lifestyle that seeks the limelight.
Hill farming can be a lonely existence.
But a film-maker sought out the Hutchinsons
and turned their everyday life into a feature-length documentary.
-He loves every minute, really.
-He's a typical, grumpy old farmer.
Which was an ambition in life, obviously, from day one.
That he's fulfilling quite well.
The film is called Addicted To Sheep,
and it follows the year in the life of a hill-farming family.
Now, just as farming is a labour of love,
so was the film-making process.
This is the director who almost got hypothermia
getting the perfect shot. I don't know -
the directors on Countryfile think that they've got it tough!
'Her name is Magali Pettie -
'a farmer's daughter from Brittany in France.'
So, what are you doing there, Tom?
We are going to trim the ends of his horns to stop them
growing into his face.
'Back in 2010, Magali set out to compare French and British farming,
'but became so fascinated with life on a Teesdale hill farm,
'it took over the show.'
Magali, have you stopped filming? Can I come in?
-Is that all right? Have a chat?
So, this is such an intriguing concept, then,
this documentary-maker from France here in Teesdale.
What were you hoping to achieve with this?
In France, we don't have tenant farmers, and I just thought
it was such a fascinating thing, really, that it still existed.
I saw my parents kind of struggle as farmers
and I wanted to see, why on earth would anyone want to be a farmer?
But a tenant hill farmer at that!
Kay, were you really excited about this,
or were you a little bit reluctant?
We were a little bit reluctant, but we were hoping that it would
showcase exactly what we do, how passionate we are about our work.
It's certainly a place you've got to want to be -
you've got to want to live here - because it is literally 24/7,
and to show people what it is like to produce food
and to put food on people's plates in this country.
Do you think this, Magali, will attract people to hill farming,
or just kind of surprise them, or put them off?
I think it will certainly surprise them.
I think some people have come to us and said, "Actually,
"it's made me want to be a hill farmer after this."
I think a lot of people even live in the countryside,
but don't live on a farm, and they have no idea what the farmers
go through every day, and the challenges.
And without getting too political, who has it harder -
French or British farmers? SHE LAUGHS
Right, I've been asked that before and I have said French people,
and they all booed me, basically.
Listen, we won't boo you, don't worry.
You were just filming a little scene as I walked over there,
talking about cutting one of the horns off this Swaley tup.
Let me come in there and give you a hand.
His horn is just a little bit close.
You can see there, it is close to his cheek.
Just going to take the end of this horn off
with Kay's good cheese wire.
-This is... Yes, fresh out of the kitchen.
Just start pulling, just there.
-That's it, good lad.
-See, it doesn't hurt him
-because it's just like getting your fingernails cut.
'I think I'll pass on the cheese and biscuits.
'Almost there. And there you have it.'
There you go. Through.
That is a very good way of keeping warm on a snowy day.
Tom's farm would be nothing without his Swaledales,
and neither would Magali's film.
The other stars of the show are Tom and Kay's three children.
There's nine-year-old Jack...
You've got certain ewes that you want to put to a certain tup.
So you put them in the same field without another tup in.
I might not be a farmer when I'm older,
I might just keep horses and do artwork and stuff.
..and six-year-old Hetty.
I don't really want to be a farmer
because you have to work on the farm,
muck up the sloppy, sloppy poo.
I think they should pick it up theirselves instead of us.
Your dad said I'd find you in here.
Oh, my word, haven't you grown?
Great to see you.
'It's been a few years since this lot
'have had to perform for the camera.'
-Jack, how old are you now?
-14. Esme, how old now?
-13, and that must make you 11.
And have you worked out, Hetty,
why these cows can't clean up their own poo?
-Yeah, because they don't have any hands.
-No, that's fair enough.
I love that clip so much.
So, having watched the film, is the plan at all for you to
carry on farming, or have you got your sights set on other things?
I don't know what I'd like to do in the future,
but I wouldn't mind farming.
It wouldn't be bad, but I want to see what else there is, as well.
Fair enough, fair enough. Go on, Esme.
Well, I don't mind farming, but I don't know if I could do it.
But I'd like to do something with animals, because I've worked
with them all my life, so I'd like to carry on a bit or something.
You're just enjoying life at the moment, Hetty, aren't you?
-That's the way.
Keep going, girl, that's what I say, just keep shovelling.
Sometimes, looking at life through a lens can skew reality,
but when you're working with animals and children in a landscape as wild
and as windswept as Teesdale, what you see is exactly what you get.
-Very good work. Right, Hetty, where is your muck heap?
-Over there, right.
Harsh and unforgiving.
A time for us all to adapt.
And, as I've been exploring at Slimbridge Wetland Centre,
for some migratory birds,
that means undertaking a perilous journey over thousands of miles.
It's one of the most impressive sights in nature -
millions of birds on the move with flocks in their thousands.
We can track their migratory route with technology,
but just how do their avian instincts get them here?
As head of research Geoff Hilton knows.
All migratory birds have a genetic sense that they want to
-migrate at certain times of year.
But the trigger that actually makes them
start doing it is usually day length.
They are then looking for a good weather window,
because they really want a nice, calm following wind that will
sort of steer them on their way.
Once they get ready and they've got their fat onboard to fly,
they are then looking for that weather window that will
take them where they want to go.
The young birds, they kind of have a direction they want to travel in,
that their genes are telling them to travel in,
and a sort of approximate distance before they stop.
The bigger birds, and especially things like these geese
and the swans that we have on the reserve,
their first migration is guided by their parents.
The bird follows them for their first flight
and after that they kind of know the route for future years.
It is a big, arduous journey, isn't it? It takes a lot of their energy.
How do they try and make these energy efficiencies along the way?
Migration is incredibly energetically demanding,
but they are trying to find ways to save energy.
One of these ways to save energy is to fly in a V formation.
What they're doing there is the bird is following its neighbour,
just behind it, and picking up its slipstream.
Not only are they getting this slipstream advantage,
but they are timing their wing beats absolutely perfectly
to pick up the sort of maximum benefit of this
airflow off the back of their neighbour.
And this can save them as much as 20% of the energy costs
of the flight, which can be life or death, really.
Now, obviously, if I wanted to experience up close just how birds
fly in this formation, I couldn't just tag along on a migration.
But there is another way.
I've come to a gliding club in the heart of the Cotswolds
to meet a family of greylag geese with an unconventional mother.
When these geese hatched,
the first moving object they saw was Rose Buck...
Good lads. Go on, Thomas.
..so they instinctively thought she was their mother
and followed her, even as adults.
It's known as imprinting.
-Hi, Rose, good to see you.
-These are your lovely greylags.
-They are fantastic, aren't they?
How much work is involved in imprinting them?
It's a huge amount of work.
As soon as they hatched, I spent 24 hours a day with them
until they were four weeks old.
We spent the whole time together, forming that bond.
And now they'll follow you in flight.
How do they behave as a group when they are doing that?
I'm always the lead goose
and they're always looking to see what I'm doing. They switch around.
And will they communicate with each other, as they would do
in the wild, when they're flying with you?
Oh, yes, they absolutely do.
I talk to them a lot when we're flying, to encourage them.
"Come on, guys," and, "You're doing really well," which is
exactly what they do in the wild.
Now for the moment I've been waiting for,
a bird's-eye view of one of nature's most recognisable sights.
They're on their way now.
And we're off! There we go. Yeah!
Whoo-hoo! They're flying right overhead. Hello. That's beautiful.
So quickly, they've taken flight, that's amazing.
Come on, boys.
Right next to us now. Look at that. What a beaut!
This is amazing. I am cheek-to-beak with these beautiful greylags.
Ha-ha! Love it.
-Come on, boys.
-What a sight.
This is the formation they'd be in for thousands of miles on migration.
From this distance, you can
really see how each bird benefits from the one in front.
You really get a sense of being part of this formation
when you fly like this.
-Come on, then. Good boys.
Rose is communicating to them.
There's a few vocalisations going on, which helps them.
That's another reason for flying in this formation.
It really makes you appreciate what an almighty migration
birds like these undertake, year in, year out,
to reach their wintering grounds.
Here we go. End of the runway now. Whoo-hoo! Hey!
-That was fabulous! Well done.
We've reached the end of our walk on winter's wild side...
..from those seeking sanctuary to those living dangerously.
..we've seen how winter can transform our landscape
into a wild wonderland.
Pull on your thermals, grab your gloves and join us for a walk on the wild side of winter. Matt visits Tom and Kay Hutchinson, currently in the grip of winter on their hill farm in Teesdale. As Matt helps out with the day-to-day tasks, he hears about Tom's passion for farming and his never-ending ambition to breed the perfect sheep. They are a fascinating family whose lives caught the eye of a farmer's daughter turned film director - making the Hutchinsons unlikely film stars in her documentary Addicted to Sheep.
Ellie is in Gloucestershire getting a bird's-eye view of one of wildlife's greatest wonders - winter migration. At Slimbridge Wetlands Centre, she prepares dinner for more than 1,000 over-wintering birds! She also gets cheek to beak with some greylag geese in flight.
John is going for a wild woodland walk in Cumbria - with two hybrid wolves. John learns how they are perfectly adapted for winter with webbed feet and hollow fur fibres - like a polar bear. Far from the fairy-tale villains chasing anyone in a red hood, these are highly intelligent and social animals worthy of our respect.
Sean tries his hand at winter cod fishing off the wild North Yorkshire coast - though it is him that takes a battering more than the cod.
And Adam's on North Ronaldsay in Orkney, where their rare seaweed-eating sheep are under threat. Years ago, he visited with his dad to help save the North Ronaldsay breed from extinction - but wild winter storms mean they have suffered further setbacks.