River Thames and County Wicklow
Matt Baker travels along the Thames from Pangbourne to Windsor, and meets the people who live, work and play along the river. Meanwhile Julia Bradbury retraces the steps of J. B. Malone, the Irish author and walking enthusiast who established the Wicklow Way.
Canoeing at Pangbourne
Matt begins his journey at a canoe club in Pangbourne, where the Thames forms the boundary between Berkshire and Oxfordshire. The £1.6 million centre opened in September, and caters for students working towards their Duke of Edinburgh awards. Matt meets a group who are taking their badges this year, and finds out if he has what it takes to make the grade.Duke of Edinburgh Award website
J. B. Malone taken in 1962Wicklow Way website
Dublin’s Marlay Park is the official starting point of the Wicklow Way, which is nearly ninety miles long. It begins in an urban setting on the outskirts of the city, but it’s not long before this gives way to countryside. Not far from the start is Ireland’s largest waterfall at Powerscourt Estate. It’s nearly 400 feet tall it has a rich history behind it. Julia makes her way to the hill above Lough Tay, site of the memorial to J. B. Malone – and she’s greeted by a spectacular view.
The African Queen
Matt travels by luxury river boat the African Queen to Mapledurham lock which sits next to the famous Mapledurham house, said to be the inspiration for Toad Hall in Wind in the Willows. It was also used as a location for some of the cult film ‘The Eagle has Landed’ in 1976. Matt finds out a little bit about what life on the water is like, taking in some of the sights of the Thames on the way.Mapledurham lock website
In Wicklow, Julia takes a slight detour to take a look at a bird that’s enjoying a revival in Ireland. Red Kites died out here in the early 19th Century, but in 2007 they were reintroduced from Wales. In May this year the first chicks in over 200 years were successfully hatched, and Julia meets Damian Clarke who heads up the Red Kite project in the area, to see if they can catch a glimpse of the bird that’s now thriving.Bird Watch Ireland website
Matt’s final stop is Swan Lifeline, a rescue centre on the banks of the Thames near Eton. They take in injured and sick swans, nurse them back to health, and release them when they’re fit enough. This time of year is particularly busy, because cygnets are beginning to leave their parents. Matt meets up with centre manager Wendy Hermon, and helps her to tag, transport and release two cygnets back on to the river.Swan Lifeline website
The death of a magnificent stag on the outskirts of Exmoor horrified some people, but others were shocked at the media storm it created. The final pictures of the Emperor of Exmoor appeared on the front pages of papers for a week, as arguments raged over the rights and wrongs of killing stags for trophies. John Craven hears both sides of the argument.Report on the BBC website
Adam welcomes a new rare breed of cattle to his farm and is proud to show them to his father Joe Henson, who has never kept Irish Moiles. These cattle were once a traditional dual purpose breed, supplying both milk as well as meat in Ireland. They have largely been replaced by purpose bred dairy and beef cattle. Today, numbers have dwindled to a few hundred breeding cows, but now there's a small herd of Moiles in the Cotswolds.
James Wong takes us back to Autumn and the pleasure of a day spent foraging for food in the hedgerows of Cornwall. An expert on plants himself, he joins expert local forager Caroline Davey. Together they explain what’s good to eat and recommend how best to enjoy it.Foraging guide on the BBC website
RECIPE: POACHED MACKEREL WITH A WILD SALSA VERDE
Serves 4 as a starter
1/2 cup loosely packed dried seaweed (kelp, laver, dulse, sea lettuce)
4 Mackerel, filleted and pin boned
Salsa Verde (see next recipe)
Place the seaweed in a large pan and with about 2 litres of water. Bring to the boil and then remove from the heat to infuse for about 1 hour. Strain
Bring to a gentle simmer, check the salt. Add the mackerel fillets skin side up in a single layer and poach gently (without boiling) for about 3 minutes.
Carefully remove with a slotted spoon onto a plate. Spoon some salsa verde over followed by a little of the cooking stock. Serve warm or at room temperature
WILD SALSA VERDE
2 good handfuls of the following wild herbs leaning heavily on the mint and mustard:
Wild apple (round leaved) mint
1 tablespoon pickled three cornered leek buds or capers (or pickled nasturtium seeds as a caper substitute)
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
4 tablespoons of Cornish rapeseed oil (or olive oil)
(depending how loose you want your sauce you can alter the vinegar and oil).
RECIPE: ALEXANDERS, NETTLE AND WILD CHERVIL RISOTTO & WILD AUTUMN SALAD
For the basic risotto
2 pints of vegetable stock
1 tablespoon of olive oil
1/2 cup 3 cornered leek bulbs, finely chopped (Please note you should seek permission from whoever owns the land before picking three cornered leek bulbs. Alternatively use shallots.)
1 clove of garlic, finely chopped
400g risotto rice
2 glasses of white wine
Generous knob of butter
5 tablespoons of freshly grated parmesan
1 large bunch of alexanders, leaves and stalks separated
Bowl of nettle tops, blanched in boiling water for 1 minute, then roughly chopped
6 tablespoons of freshly picked wild chervil/cow parsley leaves
1 teaspoon of dried fennel flowers
Half a lemon
Gently sweat the diced garlic, bulbs and/or shallots in the olive oil. When suitably softened, add the risotto rice. Mix for 2 minutes or so, until the outside of the rice grain turns translucent. Add the white wine and mix thoroughly until the liquid has all but evaporated. Add 1/2 the alexanders stalks finely chopped. Adding the stock, ladleful by ladleful, ensure each measure of liquid has evaporated before you add the next. Stir the pan continuously. This will help in making a creamier risotto.
Tasting grains of rice continuously, your risotto should be ready in 16 – 18 minutes. You want the rice to be al dente.
Roughly chop the remaining alexanders stalks, leaves and chervil and stir into the risotto with the fennel flower, the nettles, the knob of butter, and 3 tablespoons of Parmesan. Give the pan a thorough stir and lid the pan to ‘rest’ for at least 5 minutes.
To finish your risotto, check for seasoning, adding salt, pepper and lemon juice as needed. Serve in wide bowls or plates and scatter each dish with the remaining Parmesan.
RECIPE: CARRAGHEEN SEAWEED PANNACOTTA WITH BLACKBERRY COMPOTE & FENNEL FLOWER SHORTBREAD
Serves Approx 6
6 moulds - these can be ramekins, coffee cups or small bowls
30g wet or rehydrated carragheen seaweed
300ml double cream
300ml whole milk
55g caster sugar
A small handful of meadowsweet flowers
2 strips of lemon peel - no pith
If using dried carragheen soak it in tepid water for 10 minutes. Drain well.
Warm the milk and cream gently with the sugar, meadowsweet flowers, lemon peel and carragheen seaweed in a saucepan
Bring the mixture to the boil and simmer gently for 5-10 minutes. When the mixture just begins to thicken allow it to simmer for a fraction more. Remove from the heat, strain through a muslin lined sieve into a jug. Immediately pour into moulds.
Allow to cool and thicken. These can be refrigerated for later on if required, though they will set at room temperature. Allow a couple of hours before eating.
Gently heat 300g of blackberries in a saucepan with some sugar to taste or with some apple and blackberry syrup. You can add some cassis if you like. Simmer until some of the liquid has evaporated for a thick blackberry compote.
FENNEL FLOWER SHORTBREAD
Makes 24-32 biscuits
350g plain white flour
110g caster sugar
75g ground rice
Pinch of salt
Pinch of baking powder
275g unsalted butter (cold, straight from the fridge)
Dessertspoon of dried fennel flowers
Caster sugar for sprinkling
Preheat oven to 170?C
Sieve the dry ingredients into a bowl. Cut the butter into cubes and rub it in (by hand or use a food processor), until the whole mixture comes together.
Roll into a log, cover in clingfilm, leave in the fridge for at least one hour.
Slice up the roll into rounds, lay each round on a greased baking tray, with enough room between each biscuit to allow it to spread during cooking, and cook for 30 mins or until the biscuits begin to colour around the edge.
Remove, cool on a wire rack, sprinkle with caster sugar and dried fennel flowers.
- Series Producer
- Andrew Tomlinson
- Matt Baker
- Julia Bradbury
- John Craven
- Adam Henson
- Executive Producer
- Andrew Thorman