Compilation - Beaches
Ellie Harrison is on the beaches of Norfolk. They took a battering in December from the biggest storm surge in 60 years. But now they are bouncing back. Ellie visits the RSPB's big reserve at Snettisham to see for herself what's being done to repair the damage done by the storm. She goes to Hunstanton to meet Michael Kennedy. He has spent 20 years walking the beach picking up pebbles to help protect the cliffs there from the elements and she visits the RSPCA rescue centre where they are just about to return seal pups scattered by December's storm back to the wild.
Ellie also looks back at some of the best bits of Countryfile to have featured beach-themed stories. Like the time Matt Baker helped clean up one of our most beautiful stretches on the Gower Peninsula. Or when Julia Bradbury witnessed one of the biggest spectacles in the bird world at Snettisham a year before the storm. And when Adam Henson went on a welly safari off the Dorset coast.
With storms battering the British coastline and waves rising to 60ft in places, it was inevitable that our wildlife would suffer. Grey seal pups, merely a few weeks old, were washed away from their mothers or stranded on the wrong side of sea walls. But the local RSPCA East Winch Wildlife Centre was the staging ground for the biggest seal rescue since its inception in the 1980s, turning everything from duck ponds to offices into temporary homes for the lost pups. Ellie Harrison joins centre manager Alison Charles and her team to see how the seals have fared. She’s also lending some muscle for that wonderful moment when some of the strongest are released back into the wild.
Julia walks the ‘Doomway’
Julia braves the Essex tides when she explores one of the UK’s most treacherous public footpaths, the Broomway. Located on the flat wild expanse of Maplin Sands, this ancient walkway was originally used by farmers to access Foulness Island. It’s subject to fast flowing tides and those who stray off the path are in danger of sinking into the softer mudflats, hence its nickname – the “Doomway”. What’s more, on weekdays the walk is used by the Ministry of Defence during firing practice. Julia takes the safe option for the final bit of her journey when she hitches a lift with the RNLI who rescue walkers in trouble.
On Easter Sunday 1901 the cargo ship ‘Stuart’ came to grief at Porth Ty Mawr. It had been bound for New Zealand with a large load that included pottery, pianos and a significant amount of whisky. More than a century on, John Craven explores the site of the wreck’s remains, which can still be seen on the spring tide. Historian Tony Jones tells him the amazing stories of six-month parties as the locals made the most of their whisky bonanza from the sea.
The dunes Of Sandscale Haws
To the north of the Furness Peninsula is an area dominated by sand dunes that are driven by the wind and sea currents. James Wong finds out how the plants that have colonised this area are essential in holding the sand together. As old dunes collapse into the sea new formations are created in this ever-shifting landscape. The instability of sand may be essential to the dune system, but it has frustrated generations of sandcastle builders. James thinks he may have the solution thanks to some groundbreaking sand science.
Find out more about the dunes of Sandscale
Rhossili Beach, at the western tip of Gower Peninsula, has been voted one of the best the world has to offer. It’s famed for its surfing, swimming and paragliding. But such a centre for leisure is also a magnet for litter. Matt Baker joins the volunteers collecting rubbish from the three-mile stretch of sands. He also learns that this is just a sample of the problems experienced up and down the country where breathalysers, fridges and even false teeth have been found amongst the 180,000 items collected from our shores.
On 5th December 2013 the east coast was hit by its highest tidal surge in 60 years. It destroyed homes, farmland and wildlife habitats alike. At the RSPB’s wetland reserve at Snettisham hides were upturned like unwanted toys, dumped on their backs or shattered on the rock. Ellie is meeting reserve manager Jim Scott to help make the most of what’s happened. Together with apprentices from the National Construction College, they are clearing up the debris and improving the past design of the reserve.
Wild goose chase
We also look back in our archive to less hectic times at Snettisham. Julia Bradbury and Matt Baker learn about the waders and wildfowl that spend their winters in this exposed part of eastern England. There’s one bird they’re particularly keen to spot - the pink-footed goose. They arrive here in their thousands every autumn, roosting in safe havens like Snettisham by night and feeding in local farmers’ fields by day. Julia teams up with local farmer David Lyles and Autumnwatch cameraman Richard Taylor-Jones to help her follow these shy geese from dawn until dusk. The question is - will this very special gaggle of geese come home on cue?
Stone shifting on Hunstanton beach
The recent tidal surge didn’t solely affect wildlife, it took its toll on people too. While some lost their homes, others lost a lifetime’s work. Ellie is meeting Hunstanton resident Michael Kennedy, a man who has a singular passion in life – to move stones from Hunstanton beach to the base of Hunstanton cliffs. Over 20 years, what began as Michael’s outdoor gym has become a living art installation. Then on the night of the storms it was all lost – taken by the sea. So what did Michael do when he lost 20 years of toil? Start again of course!
Ormers, or abalone, are not pretty, not easy to catch, and not available to harvest except on certain tides and when the moon is in the right phase of its cycle. Some even say the shellfish are not particularly tasty! But on the island of Lihou ormer harvesting is a long established tradition and local Mark Tabell takes Ellie out in the cold water of the Channel on the hunt for the perfect one. Later local chef Tony Leck gets Ellie involved in the traditional method of cooking these “love them or hate them” shellfish. Will they be worth the time spent in the cold water?
Marine safaris and super-small snails
Adam Henson explores the shore both on foot and on a special kayak to learn more about why our precious marine environment needs greater protection. Joining local volunteers at Kimmeridge Bay on Purbeck’s south coast, he takes part in a welly survey. Then he heads out into the bay in a glass-bottomed kayak to get a clearer view of what lies beneath. Finally, he goes in search of the tiny but rare and beautiful Lagoon Snail to spy into its tiny world.
Find out more about Kimmeridge Bay
|Series Producer||Teresa Bogan|