Tyne and Wear
Matt Baker visits a country park near Newcastle that was once the site of a coalmine, and Ellie Harrison looks at the restoration of Roker Lighthouse near Sunderland.
Matt visits a country park just near Newcastle, built on the site of what was once one of the biggest coal mines in Britain. Matt joins warden Chris Tucker to see for himself the rich wildlife and wetland birds that have made this once-derelict site their home. He helps volunteers with habitat restoration and speaks to Matt Sharpe, a young farmer raising sheep and cattle on 140 acres at the edge of the reserve.
Ellie is down the coast near Sunderland, where restoration of the beautiful Roker Lighthouse is nearly complete. She discovers the secret tunnels used by the lighthouse keepers to get to the light in rough weather and learns that, in its day, it was the most powerful lighthouse in Britain.
Ellie then travels further down the coast to Seaham, where she goes in search of seaglass - glass smoothed by the tide and highly valued by collectors all over the world - a legacy of the town's Victorian glass industry.
Comedian Ed Byrne talks about his favourite bit of the countryside, while Adam Henson looks at the county breeds of Suffolk, including the magnificent Suffolk punch working horse.
Tom Heap looks at whether the dramatic floods seen across the UK in recent months and years are extraordinary events or a taste of things to come. Tom also investigates the flood defences that protect communities and asks whether they can be relied on in the future.
The Rising Sun Country Park
Tyne and Wear is still very much an industrial landscape, but nature is finding a way to reclaim it. Right on the edge of Newcastle-upon-Tyne are 400 acres of special countryside - The Rising Sun Country Park. It is a green phoenix rising on the site of what used to be one of the world’s largest coal mines. The pit closed 40 years ago and in that time the landscape has been transformed. Matt Baker meets Danny Harrison, a former colliery worker who has seen that transformation. He remembers the pit’s heyday and marvels at the green space it has become.
The sea was a vital link for the heavy industry around Newcastle, but this stretch of coastline could be dangerous. Lighthouses became an essential safety measure and in 1903, as Sunderland grew as a port, Roker lighthouse was built. More than 100 years later it still functions perfectly but needs a bit of TLC. Ellie Harrison finds out about the work of the local volunteer restoration group. She also gets the chance to explore the secret lighthouse tunnel and finds out how even this damp and cramped passage is going to become a tourist attraction.
Ed Byrne: My Countryside
Stand-up comedian Ed Byrne travels to the Isle of Skye to climb to the summit of Sgùrr Dearg, otherwise known as the inaccessible pinnacle. Ed is a self-confessed Munro bagger, that’s someone who aims to climb every Scottish mountain that is more than 3,000 feet high. The inaccessible pinnacle on the Cuillin range is well named. It is the only Munro that requires ropes to climb. We follow Ed on his journey to bag the toughest Munro of them all and take in the fantastic landscapes as he scales this unforgiving rock face. So, will he make it to the top?
Suffolk’s county breeds
Adam Henson is in Suffolk, continuing his journey to find out about British ‘County Breeds’. He visits Suffolk Punch horse breeder Nigel Oakley and discovers their amazing story. The Suffolk Punch worked and shaped this rural landscape. It thrived for centuries, but unfortunately the invention of the tractor took away their role on the farm. This breed is classified as ‘critical’ by the Rare Breed Survival Trust so they need all the help they can get. Adam also finds out about some of the other county breeds including the Suffolk sheep, the Large Black pig, Red Poll cattle, the Appleyard duck and the Ixworth chicken.
Floods and the future
In recent years we've seen records for rainfall broken over and over again – and this extreme weather has brought with it devastating floods. Tom Heap asks whether climate change means that this kind of weather is the ‘new normal’. He meets BBC weather presenter John Hammond to look at the reasons behind the record rainfall – and find out what the future might hold. In the UK we’ve spent billions on man-made flood defences. They are expensive to build and maintain so – if our weather really is getting worse – can we continue to rely on them in the years to come?
Ellie Harrison travels to Seaham on the Sunderland coast to discover why so-called pollutants washed up on this beach are so prized. A Victorian bottleworks, one of the largest in the world, used to dump its waste glass into the sea here. 100 years later little pebbles of polished sea glass are washed up with each tide - making Seaham renowned worldwide as a top sea glass collecting site With the help of local jeweller, Gavin Hardy, she looks for that special bead to turn into a beautiful item of jewellery in his workshop. But will she find an elusive multi-coloured piece?
Farming on the fringe
At the edge of the Rising Sun Country Park is one last vestige of the time before the colliery arrived - nearly 200 acres of farmland that have been worked since the time Newcastle was just a village. Matt Baker meets Matt Sharpe, the young farmer who took over the farm two years ago. Matt is not from a farming background and if it wasn’t for this farm he would never have got a chance. The wet winter has been testing for young Matt and he’s got 80 sheep to get into a poly tunnel - away from the rain so they are ready for lambing. Luckily our Matt is there to lend a hand
|Executive Producer||William Lyons|
|Series Producer||Joanna Brame|