Matt Baker and Ellie Harrison are in Port Talbot in South Wales. Ellie takes to the water to have a go at the country's fastest-growing watersport. Matt is in pursuit of a strange and unusual animal in the magnificent Margam Park. New face Shauna Lowry tells the story of the biggest electricity-generating waterwheel in Europe.
Tom Heap looks at predictions that from 2015 more than 40 British beaches will be labelled as unsuitable for bathing because of new European regulations on water quality, and Adam Henson meets the old boys of a little-known pre-war farm training scheme.
Ellie Harrison is exploring the abundance of wildlife in the waters of the Afan river, which winds its way through a lush green valley. She meets local fisherman John Phillips and discovers that these waters ran black with pollution just 40 years ago. From the idyllic valley the river goes on through the heart of Port Talbot. In the past numerous weirs were built to divert the water here to the heavy industries. The return of species, such as the dipper, is a strong indicator of the improved river health. Natural Resources Wales have installed cameras so we’re able to record the incredible diversity of life now calling this urban river home.
Matt Baker is in Port Talbot’s Margam Park. Overlooking the stark landscape of the steelworks, the park boasts an impressive mansion and vibrant gardens. However the most dramatic and visually dominant flowers are the rhododendrons. They are not as innocent as they might appear. These flowers can play host to a deadly disease which has already infected six million trees in Wales. Their roots also release poisons into the soil. Matt speaks to park manager Mike Wynne about the ways in which they are tackling the problem and helps with trials of a method called stem injection. One redeeming feature of the rhododendron is that the three deer species in the park all use its foliage to conceal their newborns, so Matt goes on a mission to find some two-week old calves.
Aberdulais Falls is one of the most beautiful waterfalls in Wales but for the past 400 years its history has been entwined with that of industry. Shauna Lowry is here to visit Europe’s largest electricity-generating waterwheel, which has fuelled copper smelting, iron working, milling and working tin. The wheel now turns for a very different reason. Every single watt of energy produced stays on site and provides electricity for the visitor centre and volunteer office. However in December the channel to the great wheel ran dry as maintenance work was due. Shauna discovers more about the history of this hidden powerhouse and assists Paul Beckett as he greases the bearings and tops up the oil before pressing the big red button which will start the wheel in motion once more.
Not suitable for bathing!
In 2015 new, stricter regulations on bathing water are being introduced across Europe. Good news for bathers maybe, but bad news for around 40 British beaches which are now at risk of being reclassified as ‘poor’. Under the new rules, stretches of coastline that don’t meet the new standards will have to display signs warning against bathing. After dramatic improvements to British bathing water cleanliness over the last few decades, the new rules have frustrated people who rely on tourism in the areas now at risk. So why are some of our beaches still struggling to make the grade? Tom Heap investigates.
British boys for British farms
In 1932, the largest and oldest youth charity in the world started a new scheme. It was called British Boys for British Farms and it was run by the YMCA. The charity saw a desperate need for young men to find employment and make a better life for themselves. At the same time, farming was in a sorry state and needed a bigger skilled workforce. Boys were referred from towns and cities across the UK. Some came from less wealthy backgrounds or left school with few qualifications, so didn’t have the choice of going to agricultural college. But they all had one thing in common - they were going to train as farmers. Adam Henson finds out about the life of the trainees and joins some of them for the first ever national reunion of British Boys for British Farms.
Stand up paddleboarding
Stand up paddleboarding is the fastest growing watersport activity. The origins of this sport may lie in exotic Hawaii but Ellie discovers there’s a large paddleboarding community in South Wales. One resident was even building his own paddleboards in the fifties. Ellie gets a lesson from Welsh champion Chris Griffiths before joining with the locals as they paddle around the Mumbles coastline. Keep your eyes peeled for a four-legged enthusiast too!
|Series Producer||Joanna Brame|
|Executive Producer||William Lyons|