Great British Journeys
We know who explored new worlds, conquered mountains and sailed oceans.
But who ‘discovered’ Britain?
In this fascinating series, Nick Crane investigates eight epic and challenging journeys, following in the footsteps of our greatest indigenous explorers.
From the 12th century to the 20th, from major cities to the wilds of the Hebrides, Nick pieces together how the map of Britain took shape. And, in the process, discovers something about who we are.
Making the series
“Our first challenge was rediscovering the routes. Place-names, accessibility, the courses of rivers and roads: all can change over the centuries. All we had were the original measurements, Ordnance Survey maps and, not least, sheer map-and-compass logic. Luckily, our Assistant Producers, working with Nick Crane, did an invaluable job – and became explorers as much as producers!
“The locations were often dramatic and demanding, and Nick worked very hard on these shoots. Generally, he was on foot or bicycle (shot precariously from the moving tailgate of a 4X4), but he also canoed, sailed and, somewhat hesitantly, rode a horse. Cycling up ‘The Struggle’, a tortuous hill in the Lake District, is tough once – never mind being asked to do it over and over again for the wide shot, the long lens shot, the “sorry I wasn’t running” shot…
“Then there were the mountains. We carried minimal kit; nonetheless, the 2,000 foot climbs up Beinn-an-Oir on Jura, Lairig Ghru in the Cairngorms and Y Das in the Black Mountains took full days. I reckon filming Nick took three times what it would usually take a climber.
“Some of the terrain was risky, and we needed to capture that. Our cameraman chased shots many wouldn’t attempt. To see him suspended from an overhanging cliff, slithering down a steep wooded hillside or embedded in the middle of fast-flowing rapids, whilst Nick bounced past in a canoe, really took your breath away."
Series Producer and Director, Great British Journeys