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Berkshire

Countryfile is in Berkshire. John Craven visits the county's agricultural college, Shauna Lowry is in the valley of the racehorse and Sanjida O'Connell walks the Ridgeway.

Countryfile is in Berkshire. John Craven visits the county's agricultural college where, after more than a decade, the agricultural course is back up and running. He meets the native species, including polecats and pine martens, kept here for the students to study. He also discovers the picturesque village of Cookham, the inspiration for great British artist Stanley Spencer, and meets the painter's two daughters.

Shauna Lowry is in the valley of the racehorse, exploring the gallops where hundreds of horses train each day. She meets the son of legendary author and jockey Dick Francis, and discovers how injured jockeys get back into the saddle.

Wildlife expert and author Sanjida O'Connell is walking the Ridgeway, the Roman road which wends its way across the county. She explores the inspiration this landscape has had on storytellers and authors across the years, including the much-loved author of Wind in the Willows, Kenneth Grahame. And Adam Henson visits a very special dog's home which takes in and rehabilitates collies.

The RSPB say it's time to get tough in the fight against the persecutors of British birds of prey. But is the wider shooting industry being unfairly blamed for the actions of a criminal few? Tom Heap finds out.

1 hour

Last on

Mon 1 Dec 2014 02:20

Berkshire College of Agriculture

Berkshire College of Agriculture

Agriculture is back on the curriculum at the Berkshire College of Agriculture after a 13 year gap. John Craven learns more about the college’s history from retired graduate Phil Watts and finds out the course hasn’t really changed all that much since the 1950s. John then goes on to meet the next generation of agricultural students. Animal management is one of the most popular courses and the college is home a number of exotic species and one of the best collections of native British species in the country. John finds out why it’s important that students take an interest in our own endangered animals and meets a pair of inquisitive polecats.

Learn more about Berkshire’s agricultural courses

Adam and the Border Collies

Adam and the Border Collies

The Border Collie is a vital part of life on many British farms. Adam Henson certainly needs them to help control his 2000 sheep. However his Collie, Pearl, is now starting to struggle with duties out in the field, so he is trying out a new dog called Peg. Adam then visits the Border Collie Trust in Staffordshire, where they are responsible for re-homing hundreds of Collies every year. That’s no easy job as the Border Collie is a complex and varied breed and every dog needs individual care.

Find out more about the Border Collie Trust

Valley of the Racehorse

The historic village of Lambourn takes its name from the sheep that have grazed its pastures for centuries. But these days the valley is best known for the racehorses that thunder across its downland gallops.  Shauna O’Lowry finds out why Lambourn’s rolling hills and spongy soil make it the perfect location for training National Hunt racehorses. She meets the Gallopsmen who maintain the ground and the trainers whose winning horses continue to ensure the Valley of the Racehorse legacy lives on. 

Find out more about Lambourn

The Ridgeway

The Ridgeway

The Ridgeway is an ancient highway used by travellers for thousands of years. The remains of monuments strewn along the trail have inspired storytellers over the ages. On her journey Countryfile newcomer and author Sanjida O’Connell meets storyteller David England who explains why features in the landscape have inspired tales of folklore. Continuing her journey Sanjida discovers it wasn’t only our ancient ancestors that were inspired by the mythic landscape but also one of our best loved authors. To find out more she meets Margaret Bulleyment from the Kenneth Grahame Society.

Plan your visit to the Ridgeway National Trail

Stanley Spencer’s inspiration

Stanley Spencer’s inspiration

Stanley Spencer was one of the most original British painters of his generation and the Berkshire village of Cookham was his paradise on Earth. He saw the village not as a picture postcard but a masterpiece. It was the inspiration behind a number of Spencer’s most recognised works. John finds out more about the artist and meets art historian Carolyn Leder to discover the biblical scenes Spencer set in the village and landscapes that have changed little since he painted them.   

Learn more about the works of Stanley Spencer

Bird crime

Bird crime

Every year the RSPB produces a report on bird crime in the UK and this year’s has become one of the most controversial yet. The charity says that people within the shooting community have been targeting protected birds of prey in order to safeguard game birds. It has effectively challenged the whole industry to clean up its act. However the report has caused outrage amongst shooters who say that the persecution of birds of prey is down to the actions of an isolated few. Tom Heap takes a closer look at the report’s claims and asks whether the two sides can work together to protect and encourage some of our rarest birds of prey.

Jockey rehabilitation

Jockey rehabilitation

Galloping at speeds of up to 40mph, riding racehorses can have its pitfalls and a jockey is likely to fall once every ten races. Oaksey House in Lambourn is a rehabilitation centre supported by the Injured Jockeys Fund. Shauna visits Oaksey House to find out more about the specialist physiotherapy and facilities the centre offers. Here they teach apprentice jockeys how to fall and help those who have been injured to ride again. Shauna also meets Katie Watson, an apprentice jockey who has started riding after being paralysed in a car accident. 

Find out more about the Injured Jockeys Fund

Credits

Role Contributor
Presenter John Craven
Presenter Shauna Lowry
Presenter Tom Heap
Presenter Adam Henson
Executive Producer William Lyons
Series Producer Joanna Brame

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