The Eden Project plans to bring its distinctive building design and appreciation for biodiversity to Morecambe. It's hoped that this Eden Project of the North would not only bring many visitors to the wider Morecambe Bay area but that it would also help us to understand the incredible ecosystem within the bay.
Until now the Bay has often been feared after tragedies such as when 23 cockle pickers were drowned in 2004. It is the UK's largest expanse of intertidal mudflats and sands and this ecosystem creates a feeding ground and habitat for many species as well as supporting a unique method of fishing on foot and tractor. Many of those fishermen know how to work and cross the bay safely but Cedric Robinson is the man intrusted as 'The Queen's Guide to the Sands'. In this role he has been helping people cross the bay for 55 years and he has seen the bay changing.
Helen Mark meets Cedric and hears how the Eden Project and the Morecambe Bay Partnership hope to transform the bay into a place of fascination for all with landscape art, iconic buildings such as The Midland Hotel and proposed Eden Project and the stories of those who know the bay best.
Surfing on Scotland’s North Coast
The reef break at Thurso on the rugged North Coast of Scotland is one of the best waves in Europe. Helen Mark meets Thurso's surfing community, from the pioneers who began surfing in the 1970s on empty waves, to the up-and-coming young surfers hoping to make Scotland's national squad this year.
Presenter: Helen Mark
Producer: Sophie Anton
The Pub at the End of Easdale
Easdale is a small, car-free island in the Firth of Lorn in Scotland. Once a centre of the British slate industry, Easdale Slate was exported around the world and the island was home to hundreds of quarry workers. After the quarries were flooded the island was nearly deserted by the 1960's but today over 60 islanders live there permanently and Easdale has become a thriving community again. Right at the heart of that community is the 'Puffer Bar and Restaurant' and its owner is looking for someone to take over. No cars, no street lights and no noise except the sound of the sea and the exceptional wildlife. It could be the perfect job. Helen Mark discovers what it takes to run the islands local and why Easdale is an island where everyone is welcome.
The Changing Thetford Forest
After the First World War the nation's timber stocks were at their lowest level with many trees being taken for the trenches and also used for coffins. 2019 marks the centenary of the Forestry Commission which helped create new woodlands to replenish stocks. Among them was Thetford Forest in Norfolk. Writer Ian Marchant explores how it was created and what it looks like now. Things don't stand still though and some of the original species are being replaced with others that can weather climate change. The people and animals aren't standing still either. Although they weren't originally encouraged to use the forest today visitors are crucial. Ian gets up early to join the cani-cross club - human runners who attach themselves to dogs to race as a team - and the alpaca walkers.
The Strawberry Line Community
The first trains ran on the officially named Cheddar Valley Line after opening in 1869. A branch line providing a vital local link for farmers and growers along the Mendip Hills and on through the moors of the North Somerset Levels. Their trade was destined for the mainline and then on to Bristol, Exeter, London and beyond. While the railway line was a vital economic link for passengers, its function developed for the the transportation of products particularly from local quarrying and agriculture, including a hectic month in high summer when strawberries rushed from the Mendip farms along the line, destined for the rest of the UK.
Then in 1963 what is now known as the Strawberry Line story could have ended. Along with many branch lines it was closed under the axe of the Beeching cuts. Over the years, the landscape consumed the track and it all but disappeared from the landscape it once dominated. Then, a few decades ago, local people got together and took it upon themselves to resurrect the line for the benefit of wildlife, for the benefit of local communities and as a green transport route. The Strawberry Line was reborn.
Local wildlife expert Chris Sperring MBE walks along the line to offer a glimpse into the function of the Strawberry Line today. It would be easy to go back in time and reflect on the past but this is a story about the future. From slow beginnings slowly the line brought the community along it together with a common purpose that of being part of this linear feature in the landscape. From a national cider producer who has created a permissive path through its orchards, to a cafe managed and run by people with learning disabilities. A local wildlife group manages the track for the benefit of everyone who uses it, as well as for the nature which now finds its home there. And a local heritage centre, run and managed by community volunteers, provides the history of this local line with a national reach. But, as they say, nothing is new and the Strawberry Line is now poised to play another role in a much more ambitious project to connect this least known area of Somerset to a regional, and national, network once again.
Producer Andrew Dawes
Presenter Chris Sperring MBE