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Sunday 10 May 2009
7:30pm - 8:30pm
Matt Baker and Julia Bradbury head to the Tamar Valley, which borders Devon and Cornwall, to join the walkers being allowed to cross Isambard Kingdom Brunel's Royal Albert Bridge for only the second time in its 150-year history. They meet the farmers keeping the valley's market gardening tradition alive, wade through the River Tamar to monitor fish populations and find out why a new mountain bike trail is protecting local wildlife.
John Craven investigates why our dairy industry has one of the worst animal welfare records in Europe and what's being done to change that. Down on the farm Adam Henson takes on a female farm worker hoping to make it in what is often considered a man's world. Plus wildlife presenter and photographer Chris Packham shares some tricks of the trade with comedienne Jo Brand as they launch the annual Countryfile photographic competition for 2009, with the theme of 'Wild and Wonderful'.
It is 150 years since Isambard Kingdom Brunel built the Royal Albert Bridge which crosses the River Tamar. For the first time Cornwall was opened up to the rest of the country with a railway line running from London to the Cornish Coast. To celebrate its anniversary, Matt Baker joins a select band who will take part in only the second ever walk across it.
The river Tamar flowing beneath the bridge is one of just four rivers in England where salmon and sea trout are regularly monitored. Julia Bradbury meets the team from the Environment Agency who are assessing the health of the fish populations.
Julia and Matt report on concerns that some mountain bikers may have been putting their health at risk by riding on abandoned mine workings, where once arsenic was once mined. The answer is a network of bespoke trails which bikers can use safely.
Matt joins some enterprising local people who are trying to revive the area’s once thriving tradition of market gardening. The Tamar Valley’s temperate climate and high rainfall means fruit and vegetables of all kinds can flourish here. Matt meets a couple who are making it their life’s mission to revive long forgotten varieties of Cornish apples.
Finally, Julia travels just up river from Brunel’s famous bridge in search of one of the country’s rarest bats. The Greater Horseshoe Bat thrives in this part of the world where people are rare, and they can safely live and breed in some of the areas disused mines. With luck and the help of an expert she manages to see for herself this rare animal as it flies out of its roost at dusk to feed on moths, beetles and other flying insects.
Holstein cows are the heavyweights of the dairy world. Weighing three quarters of a ton and standing up to five feet high they have been specially bred to produce massive amounts of milk.
Critics maintain that this has come at a price, with lameness and udder disease in UK dairy herds amongst the highest in the world. The RSPCA say that we are in danger of milking our cows to death.
But a new scientific study into the welfare of dairy cows across Europe could mean new directives for standards of welfare. John Craven visits two quite different farms to look at the realities of the dairy industry in the 21st Century, and asks whether the price we pay for milk is a price worth paying.
Each Sunday Countryfile visits Adam Henson on his Cotswolds family farm to find out what life is really like for the working farmer. This week Adam introduces a new member of staff to his stock, just in time to witness the birth of a calf to one of his rare breed cattle. His new recruit is a woman trying to make her way in a man’s world.
John Craven launches the latest Countryfile photographic competition and this year’s theme is “Wild and Wwonderful”. Once again John leads a panel of judges which includes comedienne Jo Brand and wildlife presenter and photographer Chris Packham.
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