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OPEN COUNTRY
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Open Country
Sat  6.10 - 6.35am
Thurs 1.30 - 2.00pm (rpt)
Local people making their corner of rural Britain unique
This week
Saturday 12th January
Listen to this programme in full
Wanlockhead
In the first of two programmes from the Southern Uplands of Scotland, Helen Mark visits the record breaking villages of Wanlockhead and Leadhills and achieves some personal firsts by panning for gold and watching wild salmon spawn.
High up in the Lowther hills at 1531 feet is Wanlockhead Scotland’s highest village and it’s near there that Helen gets gold fever as Charlie Smart discloses the secrets of gold panning in the River Nith. Some of the world’s purest gold at 22.8 carrats has been found in these waters and was used in the Regalia of the Scottish crown (on display at Edinburgh Castle) and more recently made in to the mace for the Scottish Parliament. Why the gold is there is explained by Bob Reekie of the Wanlockhead Leadmining Museum where visitors can pan for their own gold!
The neighbouring village of Leadhills is Scotland’s second highest village and boasts the highest narrow gauge railway, the highest golf course and its graveyard is the final resting place of John Taylor, reputedly the oldest man in Britain who lived to 137. Local resident of Leadhills, Alison White also takes Helen to the UK’s oldest Subscription Library founded in 1741 when 23 lead miners clubbed together to set up the Leadhills Reading Society.
Yet perhaps the most extraordinary records are held by the Atlantic salmon which migrate thousands of miles each year to spawn in the River Nith and its tributaries. Late at night and guided by Jim Henderson, director of the Nith District Salmon Fishery Board, Helen is enthralled by the sight of wild salmon spawning just feet away from her
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