This week Matt Baker goes back to his family farm in County Durham. It's in one of the most attractive dales in the county, just a stone's throw from many former mining communities. He and Julia find out how the industry shaped the landscape and the lives of the people who live here. From the rugged moorlands of the North Pennines to the coal-mining legacy of the east coast, the evidence of this area’s rich geology is visible all around.
Julia Bradbury discovers that lead-mining originally brought people to Weardale. It was a boom industry in the 18th and 19th centuries, with one of the richest and busiest mines in the country located at Killhope. Lead was prized for its malleability, but it was one of the minerals which occurs alongside it which appealed to the miners most. They reckoned it was one of the perks of the job if they discovered some "bonny bits"- their words for purple or green fluorite crystals which they would bring home and turn into stunning spar boxes. Julia goes underground to find some for herself.Killhope: Lead mining
Millions of tonnes of colliery spoil were dumped into the sea here when coalmining was at its peak. The black beaches have now almost recovered, but Matt meets a former miner who remembers standing waist-deep in the sea to collect coal, which sometimes washed up in heaps 10 feet deep on the beach after winter storms. Some families would even live in the caves. But there’s little evidence of this gritty past when Matt helps conservationists survey marine life in the rock pools. To find out more about the history of mining in the area check out this website.Beamish Collections
Photo: Matt at Blackhall Rocks
Matt Baker joins in with conservation work at Blackhall Rocks
Photo: Matt with Trevor Stephenson
Matt interviews former miner Trevor Stephenson at Blackhall Rocks, filmed by Countryfile cameraman Gordon Ross
On the farm, Matt helps dig out a new pond to encourage birds to make their homes in 20 acres of ancient woodland. To find out how much wildlife activity there is when no one’s around, he installs a motion-activated camera on loan from the Durham Wildlife Trust. They've lent out cameras to members of the public all over the North-East and recorded some truly amazing nocturnal visitors. And it's not just native mammals being caught on the Wildlife Trust's hidden cameras. There's also some amazing footage of a raccoon living wild in the heart of North East England.Urban WildPlaces
One of the most encouraging results is the number of otters which have showed up in unexpected places. With a view to encouraging more, Julia helps build an artificial otter holt at one of the county's most popular nature reserves. Low Barns at Witton-le-Wear is a haven for kingfishers and waterfowl, but will the new holt bring more otters to these restored gravel workings?Durham Wildlife Services: Otters
The price that Countryfile’s farmer Adam receives for his lamb is now very good, but his wool is practically worthless. He's determined to raise the profile of British wool and takes a sample to London’s Savile Row - the traditional centre of British tailoring - to see if they can turn his wool into a suit and perhaps create a market for it.
Photo: Adam's breakdown
Countryfile's Adam Henson manages a laugh as he's hauled onto a low-loader after filling up his diesel pick-up……with unleaded! Adam had been heading home to the Cotswolds after a very long filming day in Cumbria!
There are now nearly three thousand non-native species in the UK. Whilst most of them are non-invasive and harmless, others are a major threat. Dikerogammarus Villosus – otherwise known as the killer shrimp - sparked concerns with the Environment Agency and Anglian Water when it was found by a fisherman at Grafham Water in Cambridgeshire during the summer. From Eastern Europe, this non-native creature preys on other freshwater species, some of which could end up facing extinction if it’s not eradicated. John finds out what work is underway to deal with it.GB Non-Native Species Secretariat: FAQs
- Series Producer
- Andrew Tomlinson
- Julia Bradbury
- Matt Baker
- John Craven
- Adam Henson
- Executive Producer
- Andrew Thorman