Before air travel, Britain's harbours were gateways to global adventure. There are more than a thousand ports, big and small, around the UK coastline, all with fascinating secret stories, many of them revealed for the first time in this episode.
At the Cornish fishing harbour of Newlyn, Nick Crane re-lives an astonishing, unsung feat of heroic British seamanship. In 1854, a tiny fishing boat, The Mystery, set sail from Newlyn to make the 12,000 mile voyage to Melbourne. She was the smallest boat ever to attempt the journey, but the seven Cornishmen on board were prepared to risk their lives in the world's wildest seas to join the Australian gold rush.
In the ship-building town of Barrow-in-Furness, Dick Strawbridge explores a forgotten top secret project involving building airships that might rival the German Zeppelins. In the face of entrenched opposition, the venture would be dubbed 'the work of an idiot' by one royal navy admiral. Meanwhile, the Zeppelins soared to new heights, the unlikely secret of their success being the cow guts used to make the gas bags which kept them aloft.
Elsewhere, Tessa Dunlop heads to Portsmouth to discover the hidden history of the tattoo, Mark Horton joins an archaeological dig at the Irish Pompeii in Northern Ireland and Ruth Goodman investigates how the building of a new harbour and docks at Birkenhead would lead to the opening of the world's first municipal park there in 1847.
There is also a celebration of a classic piece of British eccentricity at Peasholm Park in Scarborough, where, in a tradition going back more than 80 years, staff from Scarborough Council take to the boating pond concealed inside man-sized model warships, and boldly facing the torpedoes, shellfire and dive bombers of a hostile fleet.