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On the Coast

John Craven and the team explore summer in the British countryside. Margherita Taylor reports on a summer crop that is being grown for pain relief.

Summer is boom time in the countryside and on our coast. It's a season when temperatures rise and the days lengthen. A crucial time when every living thing must make the most of the sunshine.

Every day this week, John Craven and the Countryfile Summer Diaries team - Keeley Donovan, Jules Hudson and Margherita Taylor - unveil the stories behind this extraordinary season.

As summer season gets underway, many of us head to the coast to cool off, but the unpredictability of the cold water combined with strong currents can prove fatal. Keeley investigates what we should do if we get caught in a rip current. Jules finds out why our seagulls are heading into town for an free urban lunch. From a top-secret location, Margherita reports on a summer crop that's being grown for pain relief. And each day Paul Martin will be breathing new life into his Victorian smallholding in Wiltshire. His summer diary starts with his fruit trees.

45 minutes

Last on

Sat 3 Sep 2016 03:05

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RNLI – Safe Swimming

RNLI – Safe Swimming

With the number of people losing their lives through drowning at a fire year high, Keeley Donovan investigates how we can tackle this often seasonal life and death issue head on.  Keeley meets Gillian Barclay whose son Cameron lost his life jumping into a flooded quarry and hears what is happening in Scotland to try to prevent deaths like these. Later, she visits Scarborough beach to join in a ‘swim safe’ lesson and discovers first hand how mother nature may look especially warm and inviting, but beneath the waves there’s a killer lurking - the rip current. 

Find out more about the RNLI and the lifesaving work they do

Rent A Cherry Tree

Rent A Cherry Tree

Our countryside and gardens come alive in summer with vegetables and salad growing in our allotments and fruits appearing on our trees. But if you don’t have a garden big enough to grow your own fruit tree – fear not. There’s now a growing trend for ‘renting’ a tree.  Paul Martin heads to East-Sussex to meet fruit farmer Michael Dalloway, who has hit on the idea of renting out his trees to cherry-loving, local families. A fun, effective and economic way to support our home-grown summer produce.

Find out more about picking your own fruit and veg this summer

Morphine Poppies

Morphine Poppies

In a field at a secret location in Hampshire, farmer Richard Monk is growing a crop with an altogether different use - pain relief.  Richard’s farm is one of 45 in the UK growing opium poppies.  Margherita Taylor finds out why he’s diversifying. Out in the poppy fields, she joins Chris Spain from pharmaceutical company Macfarlan Smith who is responsible growing, harvesting and processing this controversial crop. 

Find out more about opium poppies

Fresh Water Pearl Mussels

Fresh Water Pearl Mussels

The Ballinderry River flows out of the Sperrin Mountains and snakes down to Lough Neagh, the largest freshwater lake in the UK. En-route the river has a vital role as the home to some very precious creatures, freshwater pearl mussels. John Craven meets conservationists Mark Horton and Rebecca Kyle whose hard work is halting the decline of what, until recently, was a mussel population heading for extinction. These mussels can live up to 150 years but are vulnerable to water pollution or suffocation by silt kicked up by cattle. John sees the product of collaborative work with local farmers to reduce the chance of cattle entering the river. He then helps the conservation team as they release juvenile mussels into the river to boost numbers.

Find out more about the freshwater pearl mussel conservation project

Lavender Harvest

Lavender Harvest

The weather this year has been perfect for arable crops such as barley and wheat and as the harvest on Adam Henson’s farm gets under way, he ventures to find out how other crops are also benefiting from the glorious weather. He travels to Kent to visit a farmer whose fields are ablaze with purple lavender. While he’s there Adam learns how the oil extracted from these plants is used for massage sessions out in the open - in the middle of the lavender fields.


Find our more about lavender



Seagulls are a common sight in our towns and cities. In fact, studies have shown that the number of urban seagulls has nearly quadrupled in the last 15 years. It’s during the summer months that these birds can cause a real problem.  It’s not uncommon to hear tales of stolen pasties, nicked chips and dropped ice creams. Jules Hudson travels to Swansea to discover who’s to blame for their increasing bad behaviour and finds out what we can do to live alongside them in harmony.

Learn more about our common seagull - the herring gull


Role Contributor
Presenter John Craven
Presenter Keeley Donovan
Presenter Jules Hudson
Presenter Margherita Taylor
Presenter Paul Martin
Series Producer Andrea Buffery
Executive Producer Bill Lyons