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Duration: 1 hour

Matt Baker and Julia Bradbury are in the Cairngorms, a part of Scotland which has seen its heaviest snowfall in more than a decade. Matt makes the most of the icy conditions by taking part in the annual sled dog rally and finding out what makes a good racing husky. Julia helps to create a snow hole, which can offer a lifeline for people caught out in the mountains.

Back on his farm in the Cotswolds, Adam Henson ensures his sheep and cattle get what they need to stay healthy through the winter, and John Craven heads to Herefordshire to investigate one of the biggest issues in rural Britain - its ageing population.



    Nordic, or cross-country, skiing attracts those more interested in landscapes and nature than high-speed thrills. It's a relaxed way of ski-walking on snowy tracks, through pristine forest, well away from the bustle of crowded ski resorts.

    Because of Britain's unreliable snowfall, it's often done on 'roller-skis' along tarred tracks, but in this most snowy of Scottish winters Matt Baker samples the full, authentic Nordic experience. He also takes a look at the extreme side of Nordic skiing – biathlon. It's a mixture of cross country skiing and shooting. Some of Britain's best young biathletes are on hand to show Matt the ropes, as they gear up for the GB Biathlon Championships.

    Cairngorm Biathlon & Nordic Ski Club


    This winter is likely to go down on record as one of the coldest and snowiest in history. For one set of winter visitors the cold weather has encouraged them to linger here a little longer. Huge numbers of Bewick Swans on route from Northern Russia have been cramming onto the frozen lakes at the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust site in Slimbridge, Gloucestershire. They've joined a host of other birds to feed and fuel up as the harsh winter has left many species searching for food. Jules Hudson has a look at what we can do to keep our feathered friends fed in the final weeks of winter.

    Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust: Bewick's Swan


    Traditionally, snow-holing was a vital but rarely-used survival skill. It's a last resort for climbers and mountaineers caught in freezing blizzards or disorientating white-outs, when they're forced to "dig in" and spend the night on a mountain. But more and more people are going snow-holing in the Cairngorms for fun. Julia Bradbury hikes to one of the best sites for snow-holing in the National Park and, with the help of some tough mountain guides, learns how to survive a night in the elements.

    Cairngorm Mountain Rescue Team


    In ten years time, a quarter of people living in rural villages will be pensioners – forty per cent more than now. According to the National Housing Federation, which represents England's housing associations, this will put huge pressure on already stretched public services. John Craven discovers that, as young people and their families are priced out of the countryside, the public purse has to take up the slack to support older people who once relied on their younger neighbours to help them remain independent.



    As Adam heads towards the lambing season, he needs to make sure his ewes are getting the right diet. He feeds them silage, which is long grass that gets cut and baled in the summer. Unfortunately, after having it tested, Adam realises that his silage is lacking in nutrients, so expert Barry Vowles comes to the rescue.

    Barry recommends that Adam gives all his ewes a 'drench', which basically gives them all their vital minerals in one squirt. It could prove expensive but it may save the lives of many of his spring lambs.



    Every year a major dog sled rally gets underway in the Glenmore Forest. More than 200 competitors and a thousand dogs race around the four mile track in the shadow of Cairngorm Mountain. There are four main breeds that take part in the dog sled rally - Siberian Huskies, Canadian Eskimo Dogs, Alaskan Malamutes and Samoyeds. Matt Baker takes a look at each breed and tries his hand at husky training. He joins owners Helen and Matt Emery to find out what to look for in a good sled dog, how to care for them…and how to make them run for him!

    Siberian Husky Club


    Thanks to the deep snow this year, competitors at the dog sled rally are ditching their wheeled rigs for the first time in 15 years. Taking there place are the sleds. These state-of-the-art pieces of kit are designed to get the best manoeuvrability on the snow and to hit top speeds. Julia and Matt meet some of Britain's fastest dog teams and mushers. Then, with a bit of training, are pitched against each other on the racetrack.

    BBC News: Husky dog sled race held on snow


    Adventure for everyone

    Countryfile and BBC Learning have come together to create BBC ThrillSeeker, a brand new campaign encouraging people to try new activities.

    There are thousands of exciting, free or low-cost adventures happening across the UK. Just go to the ThrillSeeker website and start searching for your next adventure.

    BBC ThrillSeeker


Matt Baker
Julia Bradbury
Adam Henson
John Craven
Teresa Bogan
Executive Producer
Andrew Thorman


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