Image for 12/12/2010Not currently available on BBC iPlayer

Duration: 1 hour

Julia Bradbury and Adam Henson are in Devon, exploring the River Exe and the countryside around it. Julia joins RSPB guides to experience one of the UK's most beautiful wetlands and to spot avocets.
Adam joins Devon farmers as they prepare for the winter and John Craven reports on the growing menace of illegal off-roading in the countryside.

  • Winter Birds

    The mudflats of the Exe provide a rich feast for around 40,000 winter birds who flock from as far away as Siberia to feed here. And where there are birds, the birders come in their droves to see the spectacle. Julia joins an avocet cruise organised by the RSPB to get close to the waders and discovers more about a project to monitor the Icelandic godwits who make Devon their Winter home.

    Where to see Winter birds
  • Julia goes birdwatching

    Julia goes birdwatching

    Julia gets a lesson in watching winter wildfowl from Urban Birder David Lindo

  • Bringing in the boats

    Bringing in the boats

    Adam helps local boatbuilder Mark Trout to bring small craft off the estuary for the winter.


    For centuries the Exe was the lifeblood of Exeter as a natural trade route from the sea. But, as Adam discovers, control of the river was heavily contested. In the 16th century, the Exe was dammed, making it un-navigable and a canal had to be built alongside the estuary. Though changed, both canal and river are still alive with boat builders, traditional ferries and leisure craft.

    Exeter ship canal – more information
  • Lunch on the canal

    Lunch on the canal

    Adam and the crew take a well-earned break from the cold at the Lock Keeper’s cottage on the Exeter ship Canal.


    Fertile soils and rolling hills surround the Exe estuary, providing a perfect place to keep stock and grow crops. The Dart family’s farm near Topsham started off as a small strawberry shack in the 1970s and has grown to be the hub of the local community, recently winning the best local food retailer category of Radio 4’s Food and Farming Awards 2010. But there’s still work to be done all year round, including preparing the herd of 55 Red Devon cows for the Winter months. Adam pays the brothers a visit and lends a hand on the farm.

    Red Ruby Devon Cattle breeders website
  • Adam at Darts Farm

    Adam at Darts Farm

    The crew film brothers Michael, Paul and James Dart harvesting Winter veg on their farm near Topsham

  • Mussel harvesting on the Exe

    Mussel harvesting on the Exe

    Julia gets a taste of life at sea, on this purpose-built mussel harvesting platform


    Mussels have always grown wild in the mouth of the exe estuary, but fierce winter storms and flooding can wipe out a whole season’s growth. Julia meets the local ‘musselers’ who move and manage the beds. The team use a special vacuum to gently suck the mussels up and sort them before returning ones that are too small to their beds creating a sustainable resource.

    BBC News Website – Exmouth Mussels
  • Off-Roaders

    Innocent pleasure seekers or indiscriminate vandals? Thrill seeking off-roaders in 4x4’s or on motorbikes have long been criticised by people who use the countryside for more gentle pursuits. But there’s a new breed of off-roader – one who will stop at nothing to get access to the country in pursuit of their pastime. Archaeological sites and areas of special scientific interest have been destroyed by the illegal activities of a few. This has led to widespread condemnation of the sport and even the activities of those who take part in organised and perfectly legal off-roading activities have been called into question. John Craven meets victims from sides and joins the police on patrol in Derbyshire’s Peak District.

    Off-road vehicles damage habitat

    Jules is in Scotland to see if he can catch a glimpse of the wildcat – one of our rarest mammals. There are just 400 of these Highland ‘tigers’ left in the wild and Jules meets those responsible tasked with the job of keeping them from extinction by preserving both their habitats and their bloodlines. He meets experts who are using DNA testing to find out which wildcats are pure in order to help conserve the species.

    Highland Tiger project website


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


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