Co Durham

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Duration: 1 hour

Countryfile is in the beautiful County Durham, a place Matt Baker likes to call home. He grew up on the family farm in the Durham Dales and this week makes an extra special visit to help his mum with lambing.

Beyond the farm, Ellie Harrison explores one of Britain's great undiscovered secrets. The farmsteads of Weardale used to have a thriving farming community, but now only ruins remain. Ellie finds out about the people who lived here and learns what is being done to preserve a part of Weardale's evocative heritage before it disappears forever. She also takes a trip along the River Deerness, one of the many tributaries of the River Wear, where volunteers are out in force monitoring fish passes and rebuilding the banks of the river.

Meanwhile, Adam takes a trip to Cornwall to see a breed of sheep more at home in the Swiss Alps, and Jules Hudson joins the steam enthusiasts preparing the Severn Valley Railway for the start of the tourist season.

Working dogs play a vital role in the life of the countryside, and the best ones are worth many thousands of pounds. But, as Tom Heap discovers, these valuable animals are now becoming the victims of organised crime.

  • At home on the farm

    Matt Baker

    It's Mother’s Day and Matt Baker wouldn’t be anywhere else but back home on his mum Janice’s farm.  He’s giving her a well-deserved rest and helping with the sheep - which are lambing - the miniature donkeys and the rest of the Baker brood.  Matt also meets volunteers from the Heart of Durham who do some much needed woodland work with farmers in the area. He then heads to the old mining town of Wheatley Hill to meet a group of mother’s who’ve been looking after the town for 65 years.

  • Severn Valley Railway

    One of Worcestershire’s gems is the magnificent Severn Valley Railway. For over 10 months of the year, steam trains pass through the glorious countryside here. So in a brief six week shut-down over the winter all the maintenance jobs need to be done. And it’s no mean feat, as Jules Hudson finds out when he joins the volunteers who hang from the viaducts to clear out the weeds, refit the vintage teak to the buffet cars and tirelessly polish the brass to keep one of the areas’ best-loved treasures really sparkling all year round.

     

    Find out about apprenticeships with the Severn Valley Railway

  • The lost farms of Weardale

    County Durham is home to the stunning yet bleak area of Weardale.  Once famous for its lead mining industry, the ghosts of its past survive in the form of derelict and often forgotten farm houses.  The miners who worked in the hills once lived here with their families and worked the small amount of land to supplement their income. But conditions were hard and when the mines closed much of the land was left to nature.  Ellie meets a resident of one of these farms and learns about a scheme to help preserve this almost forgotten heritage.

     

    Find out more about Weardale

  • Black-nosed sheep

    Adam is on Bodmin moor in Cornwall meeting with an inspirational couple who have found a unique market for their farm. Emma and Stuart Collison have imported the first black-nosed sheep from Switzerland. Adam finds out how animals form this extraordinary breed have settled in and helps introduce the first black-nosed lamb to the Cornish countryside, where they will live alongside some Alpacas.

     

    Join the Black-nosed sheep fan club!

  • Fish tagging

    The River Wear has been restored to its former glory after suffering the effects of industrial pollution and neglect for years.  But some of its fishy residents, life is still tough.  With culverts, wears and dams making life hard for all types of fish, something needs to be done to ease their passage.  Thanks to the Wear Rivers Trust different measures are being put in place to help the fish get to their spawning grounds. But how do we know for sure that they are doing their job?  Ellie meets Dr Martyn Lucas who tags fish with chips to make sure!


    Find out more about the Wear Rivers Trust

  • Dog thefts

    Working dogs play a vital role in the life of the countryside but, as Tom Heap discovers, these valuable animals are now becoming the victims of organised crime. Tom meets two owners whose pedigree dogs were stolen from their homes in the countryside and finds out that right across the UK this is an increasing problem. Working animals, from sheepdogs to lurchers, are a particular target as they can be worth many thousands of pounds. So what’s being done to find these stolen animals? Tom investigates.  

     

    If your dog is lost or stolen

Credits

Presenter
Matt Baker
Presenter
Ellie Harrison
Presenter
Adam Henson
Presenter
Jules Hudson
Presenter
Tom Heap
Series Producer
Teresa Bogan

Broadcasts

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