Image for 01/08/2010Not currently available on BBC iPlayer

Duration: 1 hour

Ellie Harrison and Adam Henson visit the area around Coniston Water in the Lake District. Adam helps one of the local farmers round up his Herdwick sheep, a breed known for their hardy nature and their mass of tangled fleece. Ellie finds out how the sound of local slate is being used to create music.

John Craven is also in the Lake District, finding out if the recent heavy rain the north of England has made any real difference to the drought conditions.

  • Coniston

    From dark, dramatic hills to lush meadows, the area around Coniston is a hidden gem of contrasting landscapes. At five miles long and 56 metres deep, lake Coniston is the third largest area of water in the Lake District. Higher up, the hills are peppered with Herdwick sheep, and these same hills inspired the famous art critic and naturalist John Ruskin. Adam and Ellie explore the wild beauty in and around the valleys.

    Lake District National Park: Coniston
  • Herdwick Sheep

    For generations, the hills around Coniston have been shaped by one animal. The Herdwick Sheep. This hardy, rugged breed are born with a black coat, which turns grey as they get older. For most of the year, they live high up on the windswept fells, but once a year in Summer, they come down to get their heavy wool sheared off. Adam lends a hand to a farmer who is bringing his flock down from the hills and finds out how Beatrix Potter helped secure the future of this rare breed.

    Wikipedia: Herdwick Sheep
  • Barn Owls

    Graceful and silent, with a heart-shaped face; the barn owl is one of our most loved birds, but their numbers have decreased dramatically in the last 50 years from around 9000 breeding pairs to 5000. Ellie travels to the hamlet of Hulleter – the word Hullet is Anglo Saxon for barn owl - to find out why these beautiful birds are in decline. She learns how managing the land can help to restore the population of these beautiful species.

    World Owl Trust
  • The Birth of Wild Tourism

    Coniston is famed for its raw, rugged beauty. But this wildness was often feared rather than revered. However, all of this changed in 1778 when Thomas West wrote one of the first guidebooks to the lakes. Adam retraces some of these early tourist routes around Coniston, with the help of a local artist, and takes a ride on a unique steam yacht called ‘Gondola’ , the original of which was launched one hundred and fifty years ago.

    National Trust: Steam Yacht Gondola
  • Rock Music

    Slate has been quarried in the Lake District since Roman times, along with a range of other rocks and metals. This rock was formed in layers under high pressure and heat. Today, the familiar blue-green slate is most commonly used across the world for roofing and cladding, but a group from the University of Leeds have found another way to use the local stone – to make music. Taking inspiration from stone instruments created by John Ruskin in the late 19th century, they are using the sounds from the rocks to create an entirely new and unique instrument.

    University of Leeds: Ruskin Rocks Project


Adam Henson
Ellie Harrison
John Craven
Andrew Tomlinson
Executive Producer
Andrew Thorman


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