Secret Britain (2010) s01e02 Episode Script

The Hidden Heart

This is a story of Britain but a Britain that we rarely see.
Britain as an undiscovered country.
We're travelling from the south of England to the far north of Scotland, exploring the best the British countryside has to offer.
We'll be taking the long way round because this journey is about getting off the beaten track.
'We're going in search of the secret' It's absolutely amazing.
'The forgotten 'The unexpected.
'The lost treasures of our landscapes.
' Oh, man, honestly, I can't stop smiling.
'We asked you to share secret places - 'the little known, the deserted, the hard to get to' Oh, I'm hooked in ivy.
Urgh.
Where have you brought me? 'And we'll be sharing our own hidden gems.
' Look at this for a view.
Absolutely extraordinary.
'Over four weeks, we're journeying through the last great wildernesses of our amazing country, 'the place we call home.
' So this is it.
'We're looking to reclaim the hidden and the overlooked, 'to find the pieces of our history that might have slipped between the cracks.
' This is incredible.
'Secrets kept in shadow, waiting for their moment in the sun.
'Every road taken is an opportunity to explore.
Oh, hey! Oh, yes! This is Secret Britain.
In our journey through Britain, we've already discovered that it's possible to find true wilderness in the crowded south.
This is absolutely incredible.
What a spot.
Now we're on the second leg of our epic adventure, and this time, we're travelling from the flatlands of the East right across to the wild and rugged Welsh coast.
We're each taking very different routes across England's hidden heart, looking for secret Britain in the land of incredible contrast.
And I'm starting here - the Norfolk Broads.
This is Britain's largest protected wetland, a stunning 188 square miles of lakes and rivers.
It's easy to forget that this watery wilderness is all man-made, the result of excavations that began over 1,000 years ago.
This whole area was once manually dug for peat, and when sea levels rose it all naturally flooded, creating this waterscape of reeds, windmills, boats and utter peace.
Sailing along here isn't just the best way to see the quieter parts of the Broads - it's the only way.
Although these waters can get busy with over 12,000 boats each year, I'm looking for the one part of the Broads that's hardly ever visited.
A real treat, right off the beaten track.
Somewhere hidden behind this reed bed is an island, but because of these reeds, it looks so similar to everything else, you'd never know it was there.
It's one of Norfolk's best kept secrets.
It's known as Heigham Holmes.
Even from the air, it's hard to see amongst the narrow channels and tall reed beds, but these 500 acres are truly cut off, as getting on to this secret island is far from straightforward.
Thankfully, farmer John Stafford knows the way.
John, how are we doing? All right? Not too bad.
How are you? I'm very good.
I tell you what, I'm very, very intrigued about this bridge here.
Is it a bridge? Is that what you call it? The locals know it as Martham Ferry, but it actually is a floating bridge.
First, we'll unlock it.
Yeah.
So we're all padlocked.
Then we pull .
.
this chain here.
Right, so we just literally grab the chains and pull ourselves across? Yes.
It hinges In that corner.
.
.
from that point.
'It's one of just 13 floating bridges in the country, 'and it's the only way onto this island.
' It's a brilliant bit of kit, this.
And how long have you been doing this for? How many years? Oh 25 years.
25 years? 'There's one last trick to this unusual bridge.
' Here we go.
Here comes the tipping point.
Gently does it.
Brilliant.
Absolutely superb.
I tell you what, who needs modern technology when you've got something that's as brilliant as that? It's idiot-proof, isn't it? MATT CHUCKLES 'And that's how you unlock the secret of Heigham Holmes.
'This island was once private farmland, 'but since the National Trust bought it in 1987, 'it's open to visitors for just one day every September.
'For the rest of the year, 'Heigham Holmes is a wildlife refuge and pasture.
'The only other visitor is the island's warden, Stephen Prowse.
' It's certainly a very quiet spot.
Not a lot of people know it's here.
I had a job finding it.
Yes, you won't be alone in that.
Many of the locals in the village just up the road had no idea it was here when we started having our annual open day.
So we manage it as a sanctuary.
The Broads is perhaps one of the last wilderness areas in southern England.
Heigham Holmes is one of the remotest parts of that.
It's really rather special.
Once a shallow hill rising out of the Fens, Heigham Holmes became cut off as the rivers rose.
Over the years, its banks have been built up to stop the pastures from flooding, so now much of the island actually lies below sea level.
And it does seem to arc a little bit, does it? Yes, that's right.
I say the upland - people laugh - but it's a metre above sea level.
The whole site resembles a fried egg.
You've got the white, which is the low-lying area, which is below sea level, and then you've got the high level, which is the yolk, the little yellow bit, with the buildings.
It was the island's inaccessibility that led to this dairy farm being abandoned in the '60s.
Heigham Homes isn't just a secret in itself.
It holds a secret in its recent past.
We've got an aerial photograph of Heigham Holmes in 1946, and here are the barns where we're at the moment.
You can see there's evidence of a secret runway.
A secret runway? Yes, a secret runway here.
This was used by 161 Squadron as a forward landing strip during the Second World War.
From here, we think they flew agents and spies, saboteurs, out to occupied Europe.
Any idea why they used this island? Basically, it was remote, and because of the floodbanks you couldn't see over.
you couldn't see what was going on.
A pretty special place.
It's seen a lot in its time.
It has.
It looks really calm, as if nothing would go on at all.
There are still people who don't really believe there was ever a runaway.
Even from above, there's no trace of that runway now.
It's some tranquil spot.
Absolutely amazing.
I can spend a whole day here without speaking to a single person, which is quite special in this part of the world.
You must love it here as the warden.
I do.
I'm extremely privileged to be out here.
You see a lot of wildlife, and you commune with nature.
It's really good.
It's a place to get away from it all and do your work and go home with a satisfied grin on your face.
The open grassland and big skies are quintessentially Norfolk - but a hidden Norfolk, one that few people ever get to see.
You really can sense the secrecy that inspired our spies to use it.
The wonderful thing is, it still feels like a secret today.
Heigham Holmes isn't the only secret of the East.
Time to leave the flatlands of Norfolk behind, travelling north to some of the more forgotten parts of Lincolnshire.
Lincolnshire has a reputation for being very flat, but it's not that flat.
I mean, I'm definitely going up a hill.
It's a little hill, but it IS a hill.
That's because I'm in the little-visited Lincolnshire Wolds.
Come on, dear.
They're an expansive landscape of rolling chalk hills.
In fact, this is the highest spot in eastern England.
It's a giant golf ball! Claxby Radar Station at the top of the Wolds adds a touch of mystery to the place.
But I'm here to delve deeper into another of Lincolnshire's unexpected wonders.
The Humber estuary is to the north and the Wash is to the south, but never the less, Lincolnshire is one of the driest counties in Britain.
But in the depths of these chalk hills lies a hidden water world.
'And the man who knows how to find it is Richard Chadd.
' Hi, Richard.
How are you? I'm fine.
Welcome to Lincolnshire Wolds.
Thanks.
Where are we heading? Down a chalk spring down here.
It's deep and inaccessible and damp - you'll need scruffy clothes and wellies.
OK, I shall put exactly that on.
'The hidden world we're off to find is a tiny chalk spring, 'one of the most protected and rarest of habitats in Britain.
' What's so special about this chalk spring? Well, you can see all around you it's very intensively managed landscape.
This one is so deep and steep that it's probably untouched for hundreds of years, so it's been left to nature, really.
'Richard is a scientist who monitors the health of these hidden springs.
' So through here? Through here, yeah.
Lead the way.
'And he's got permission to show me one that's on private land.
' Lots of nettles to battle through.
Absolutely.
Bits of hawthorn, too.
Watch yourself on those.
Suddenly we are in deep, deep foliage.
Yes, indeed.
You can see how steep it is.
Yep.
Gosh.
We're in the Lost Kingdom.
That's it.
It gets really steep here so you have to Where's the ladder? You could do with one of those! You have to use the ivy instead.
Yep.
Ooh.
And you can feel it's getting quite cold, too.
Yeah, the temperature is dropping.
You were not kidding when you said it's steep.
Oh, I'm hooked in ivy.
Ugh.
Oh.
Where have you brought me? HE CHUCKLES And here we are.
'Too steep to farm, this woodland is wild and natural.
'It's a landscape in miniature.
' So suddenly we've got all these ferns and lush species that you wouldn't get anywhere but in this habitat.
That's it.
I can see why you love it so much.
It's fabulous.
Nobody has messed with this for hundreds of years.
It's a magical place, I think.
'And the reason it's here at all is this crystal-clear spring water.
' Feel how cold it is.
Blimey.
Yeah.
It's almost like having a remnant of the mountains in the middle of the English lowlands.
'Chilled by its journey through the chalk, 'the water emerges at a constant temperature in both summer and winter, 'helping the native flora, 'like these Hart's tongue ferns, to grow in abundance.
' There's liverworts and mosses on all the boulders around here.
Some of them are quite nice.
This one here.
SHE SNIFFS Oooh, wow.
You can't quite describe what the smell is No.
.
.
but it's rather nice.
What is it? It's a sort of muted mint.
That's right, sort of.
Yeah.
It's called scented liverworts.
Never smelt anything like that before.
Very fresh.
It is.
It's not edible? No.
Don't eat it.
Not as far as I know.
I've never tried it.
We won't try it now.
'Even though it's tricky to get down here, 'these little ribbons show that we're not the only visitors.
' What are these? People have been here.
People find this place very precious indeed for spiritual reasons.
I guess you've got the water coming out the bones of the earth, so they've put these in.
I don't know what they mean, but it's a precious place to somebody.
Mind yourself - there's a little waterfall just here.
A spring right here.
Oh, look.
It's a little one, but it's a waterfall.
It isn't exactly towering.
When I found this, I told somebody I'd found a little waterfall, and they didn't believe me.
You don't get waterfalls in Lincolnshire.
What's the definition? Within a habitat survey, the definition is the water has got to leave the rock face surface, which it does.
It certainly does.
And if it doesn't leave the rock face? It's called a chute.
A chute.
Yes.
It's not exactly Niagara, but But it's something.
Especially for Lincolnshire.
'Although many of these natural water sources are on private land, 'you can visit some of the 18 chalk streams 'that flow throughout the Wolds.
'They add a beauty and a diversity to the landscape.
' South of the soft springs and rolling hills of Lincolnshire is another landscape shaped by chalk.
A place where secret Britain can be found in our imaginations.
In no time, they arrived through windy woods and at the ruin 'Author Carrie King has written a children's book 'about a girl called Joni-Pip and her adventures in Barton Hills.
' "Are you all right, Pops?" asked Joni-Pip anxiously This place relates to Joni-Pip's world - she lives on the edge of a hill and she spends lots of time up in the hills and in the woods and amongst the trees with her friends.
The Circulites are fans of Joni-Pip.
This place is actually a place which is in the book and it's what we call our secret place, so we usually come here quite often to hang out.
18, 19 They love to roam all over the countryside and just have fun and play hide-and-seek.
Just like run around and mess about, shouting.
They do all the things children used to do, and they act out parts of the book.
I'm going to pretend to give it to Liam, and I hand it to you.
And they decide to go to their secret place, Barton Caves.
Barton Caves, our secret place.
That sounds fun.
Barton Caves are actually not caves at all.
They're just the roots of the trees, where the chalk has been worn away, and underneath the roots are these wonderful alcoves, almost - coves where I used to play as a little girl, and where children play today.
A writer always writes to be read, and the most beautiful part about being a writer is when people really love, not just what you write but the places you write about, and it just gives me such a thrill to think these people just love it here and they just want to come as much as they can.
It's just really exciting.
Back on my journey, I'm entering the hidden heart of Britain.
I'm just north of Leek, in the quieter corner of the Peak District.
A place full of forgotten treasures just waiting to be discovered.
This is a landscape that promises to satisfy any superstition.
I'm looking for a man.
A hard man.
A man made of stone.
Where is he? There he is! Known as the Winking Man, this rock has a gleam in its eye that's supposed to help women get pregnant - so the story goes.
This local character is part of a sharp gritstone escarpment that marks the south western edge of the Peak District.
Named from the French word "roche", meaning rock, this ridge is known as the Roaches.
This one, known as the Bawdstone, is no exception.
Apparently, if you get under here, then you can literally get the devil off your back.
Oh, it looks quite tight, but to be honest, I need every bit of help that I can get.
Ah.
There he goes, yep.
Oh.
I think he's gone.
In the past, pagans visited this rock for its healing powers.
But Christians attempted to purify the stone each year by painting it white .
.
right up until the 1940s.
Now nature has reclaimed it for its own.
Higher up, the Roaches have been sculpted by the elements.
You can see how all these bizarrely-shaped rocks have captured people's imagination.
Look at this giant lizard lurking behind me.
'Over time, our stories have given these stones their enigmatic quality.
' Rock formations like these often hold secrets and myths deep within their crevices.
The Roaches really exude this craggy mystery.
Every rock, every giant boulder, holds a secret.
Or so it seems.
All across the hidden heart of Britain, there are secrets waiting to be explored.
At the northern end of the Roaches, the land rolls down into Back Forest.
Buried deep in these woods is another forgotten piece of our history.
Now, I'm on my way to Ludchurch.
All I really know all is that it isn't a church, but it is a place that's shrouded in myths and legends.
'Ludchurch is so well concealed in the forest 'that my only chance of finding it 'is with local historian Doug Pickford.
' How did you come across this? I was born here, so it's been a playground forever.
A great place to hide in.
Even Robin Hood, Little John - they were hiding away in here.
'There are tales that many of history's renegades took refuge in Ludchurch.
' Just here on the right, is it? Here we are.
Oh, wow! Yeah.
It looks pretty eerie through there! You ain't seen nothing yet.
Oh, this is something else.
'We're descending into a rocky cleft 400 ft long and 50 ft deep.
' Oh, my word! Doesn't that look magical? 'A damp chasm, draped in moss and ferns.
' It's tropical, almost.
'Legend has it that this crevice was made by the devil, 'slashing the earth with his fingernail '.
.
creating a deep wound.
' What a place.
Isn't it? There are all these little natural alcoves.
They're everywhere.
'According to folklore, Ludchurch was a primeval place of worship 'dating back before the druids.
'You can understand how the shapes in the rock might inspire fear or reverence.
' You can see why people worshipped here.
From very early times right up to present day - still people come down today.
It is a great hidey-hole as well.
Coming off that path you'd never know it was here.
Perfect, it's a fantastic place for that.
'It's fairly certain that in the 15th century one group of runaways did hide here.
'The Lollards were religious dissenters, widely condemned as heretics.
'On the run from their oppressors, 'this is where they met and worshipped in secret.
' The altar up there, you can imagine the congregation down here.
What, so he'd have been stood about where I am now? He'd have been stood here, and you've got the congregation here.
And just imagine the voices, 100 or 200 voices down here, echoing Singing.
Singing away.
It would have been absolutely amazing.
You can just kind of sense the activity that has gone on here.
You feel the presence of that which has gone before.
'Not only is Ludchurch hidden in the landscape, 'it also seems to be hidden in our history.
' There's hardly any written records of this place at all.
That's really surprising, when you think about the activity that's gone on here.
I know, I know.
I like folklore, and whatever the folklore is, there's a grain of truth in it.
It is, in a way, nice that there hasn't been much written about it, because it keeps its mystery and it magic.
It keeps its awe.
'Ludchurch is one of those places you remember long after you leave.
' Of all the secret places that I've visited so far, there's something very different about Ludchurch, that's disguised under this grassy bank, in thatpeople have used it to keep their secrets.
It's a really sobering thought that we can come here today and enjoy it, you know, come here for pleasure, and yet, you think about all those people who have come here in the past and they've used it for protection.
They've used it because they're in fear of losing their lives.
Just south of Ludchurch is another vestige of the forgotten history - Rudyard Lake.
The River Dane leads us to the lake, whose allure lies in its glamorous and romantic past.
The secret starts here, where some of the Dane's waters are diverted down a channel.
This might look natural and wild and swampy, but in fact it's man-made, dug out in the early 1800s by hand.
Its purpose was to fill a valley and create a 2.
5-mile-long reservoir.
Rudyard Lake was intended to feed Britain's ever-growing system of canals - the vital arteries of the Industrial Revolution.
Today, it's a haven for locals to enjoy, but it wasn't always that way.
It's difficult to imagine, but this quiet backwater was once a tourist hotspot.
'And to take me on a trip down memory lane' Here comes my lift.
'.
.
is Rudyard Lake's ranger, Ray Perry.
Hi, Ray.
Hello, fancy meeting you here.
Hello, hello.
Just catch hold of the end.
Good landing! Perfect.
The best we could.
Pleased to meet you.
Nice to meet you.
I'll put this on.
You have to be careful around here, it's a very romantic place.
It's supposed to be the third most romantic spot in the country.
We might fall in love! I don't know the other two.
I'll leave you to do all the hard work.
You'll not want to do hard work.
Old-fashioned in that way.
Why not, why not? 'We're at the lake's northern end, 'what was once Rudyard's most exclusive spot.
' Over on my left hand side here is what was to be the first golf course to be built in North Staffordshire, back in 1906.
It opened as a nine-hole course, and the golfers built a little chalet for themselves to be their tenth hole.
Looking at some of the old postcard pictures of it, it was full of paraffin lamps and linen tablecloths, really for the hoi polloi, as you might say, of the day.
You see, if I look at that now and try and imagine back to the 1920s, I've got Great Gatsby, I've got them in their plus fours That's right.
.
.
with their golf clubs casually slung over their shoulders.
You can see why the upper crust would want to hang out here.
It was a golf club with vistas.
So lovely were the views from the 17th hole, they named it Paradise.
And now the cows are enjoying the shoreline.
That's right.
'Although there's nothing left of the golf club, 'these restored boathouses hark back to Rudyard's bygone era.
' So what are we coming up to here? This is known as the Lady of the Lake.
It was built back in 1898 for a wealthy local family.
This was their weekend retreat? Very much so.
They'd use it obviously to keep their boats underneath.
It's positively grand compared to some of the wooden cabins along the bank.
There's a statue.
They gave a lot of thought to it, because they actually built that little alcove in the chimney area especially to accommodate it.
The Lady of the Lake.
'Rudyard Lake's glamorous past 'all began back in 1829 with the building of its railway line.
'The trains brought a constant stream of day-trippers, 'and with boating, tea rooms and entertainment all on offer, 'the lake became a thriving tourist spot.
'On one day in 1877, 'more than 25,000 people gathered to watch Captain Webb, 'the first man to swim the English Channel, 'swim the length of the lake.
'Since the 1960s, with the decline of local railways, 'Rudyard Lake's crowds have disappeared.
' The nice thing about Rudyard today, I think, is that the southern end, the other end of the lake than we are currently at, is commercialised, in inverted commas, whereas this end remains, much as it's ever done, a very tranquil, scenic spot.
'And forever a romantic one.
' Amongst the thousands of tourists who once visited these banks, two fell in love and married in 1865.
They named their first-born after the lake.
He became one of Britain's greatest writers - Rudyard Kipling.
Leaving behind the memories of Rudyard Lake, I'm delving deeper into England's hidden heart, a world where there's more to the landscape than meets the eye.
Since the 17th century, the Peak District has been Britain's largest limestone producer.
Everywhere you look, you can see how the search for this versatile stone has left its mark.
And it's here that I'm beginning my search for our next strange secret.
This route is known as the High Peak Trail, and it follows the line of the old railway which was built in 1830 and was used to carry all of this limestone from the quarries down to the canals.
Not only was this one of the earliest railways to be built, as my thighs are finding out, it was also one of the steepest.
Which is why they built an engine at the top, to haul the wagons back up the hill.
Middleton Engine House is the only one that survives of the nine that once dotted the High Peak Railway.
But one of the biggest legacies of that industry is here, at Middleton Moor.
And it's almost invisible.
You could walk across this whole moor without the faintest idea of what lies beneath.
Hidden under the moor is the only limestone mine in the UK.
To understand the secrets of this landscape, I need to burrow right through it .
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with the only people that know how.
Now then, lads! Hello, Matt.
How we doing? Very well, thank you.
You? Are you all right in there, Derek? Yes, thanks.
Welcome to Middleton.
You're good? Super stuff.
What's the plan? We're going to do an inspection of the mine.
You're going to navigate us, so don't get us lost, will you? OK.
Now disused, the mine is kept safely under lock and key.
Jeremy Hewitt is in charge of its safety.
In we go, then.
Since Middleton Mine closed in 2005, it's been stripped of all equipment.
So the only light in these tunnels is from our headlamps.
Just going down what we call the main drag.
Right.
Massive, isn't it? It is.
It's a lot bigger than I was expecting, to be honest with you.
I thought it would be quite You know, a feeling of real claustrophobia.
Yes.
You come in here and you think we're going to be scraping the sides if you're driving through it, but they are enormous.
They are.
They were actually cut to allow 30-tonne dumpers to drive in and out.
In fact, you could get a double-decker bus through this immense subterranean labyrinth.
Middleton Mine was created because it was cheaper to mine this deep limestone than to quarry it.
Since the 1950s, miners have carved out 26 miles of tunnel.
Your initial reaction is that it's like an underground world.
It's like a main high street, and then all these little roads leading up.
Yes.
Large square pillars have been left to stop the roof from caving in.
So we're just coming up to what was the first developed area.
Jeremy's taking me to the mine's largest cavern.
This is enormous, Jeremy, isn't it? It is.
It certainly is.
It's an amazing structure that developed over quite a lot of working.
Yeah.
It's like a cathedral, almost.
The roof here is very flat.
It's like ripples of sand on the beach or something.
Yeah.
And that's broken out very cleanly.
This is an ancient seabed, formed 280 million years ago.
The limestone is prized for its purity.
The mine once produced 120,000 tons of it a year.
What's left is Middleton Moor's hidden maze.
It's an extraordinary creation.
I remember the first few times I came down, thinking this is amazing, just like yourself, in absolute wonder.
And so deep down, below the moor, that I feel quite privileged to come here and have a look around.
All those sheep up there, totally oblivious of what's going on underground.
Yeah.
Before I see daylight again, Jeremy wants to show me one of the mine's potential dangers.
This big boulder down here fell out probably 18 months ago, and although there has been one or two small spills since then, it's pretty stable, so I'm happy with it and we're not worrying about it.
There's a junction here.
I, er, left the map in the car.
It's OK.
I know where we are.
MATT LAUGHS So now we're up here, we're over the main road again.
If you just climb carefully onto this bank, we can look down at the truck.
I see where we are now.
What a view from up here.
That's super, isn't it? Yeah, but we'll not get too close.
There's not many mines where you have to worry about such big drops.
Mostly you're crawling around on your hands and knees.
But not here.
The caverns of Middleton Mine inspire awe and respect.
Being in here requires constant vigilance.
In the 70s, two sections of the mine collapsed, causing tonnes of land to move .
.
and making its mark on the moor above.
And this is the area where the mine collapsed.
It's the only sign of the secret that lies below.
Ah, yes.
It looks perfectly circular.
Just like a natural hollow.
From the air, you can just make out the square shapes of the limestone pillars beneath.
A ghostly epitaph, written in the landscape, to Middleton Mine.
To the south, the hills of Shropshire conceal the enigmatic Silvington Common.
It's a place where secret Britain can be found in one man's memories.
For Derek Markham, this common defines his family history.
When I come to Silvington Common, the first place I head for is this tree.
My mother used to meet my dad here in the wartime.
That's the only way they could meet in private.
My dad was stationed down there, in the war, in 1941, and my mum actually ran away to be with him.
She was 18, he was 20, and they were sweethearts.
They would meet here.
This was where they said their hellos and their goodbyes and they did their courting.
It was a lovers' tree, really.
And she wouldn't leave the tree until my father had gone back safely through all the sheep tracks and got back to the camp.
Where he would wave his white vest to let her know that he had arrived.
My parents were totally devoted to each other.
They got married two years after they used to meet here, and they kept coming back here and coming back here, and we would spend so much time around here.
I think one of the earliest memories I have is actually coming out from this tree and picking bilberries in the area.
And we brought our family up here.
It's very emotional because I know that my mother will always be here.
She always wanted to be here.
She never wanted to be away from here.
And we scattered her ashes around here.
This place is really part of what I am.
And I really don't think many people pass this way.
It's almost exclusive to my family and our thoughts and our memories.
And it's just so beautiful.
West of Shropshire lies the Welsh border.
Here, the landscape gets ever more rugged, and the secrets more difficult to get to.
Snowdonia National Park is one of our great treasures.
For centuries, the Welsh have called these mountains "The Place of the Eagle".
Eryri.
I'm heading for the hanging gardens of Snowdonia, that grow somewhere in a valley called Cwm Idwal.
My guide is nature reserve manager Hywel Roberts.
Morning, Hywel.
Good morning, and it certainly is a glorious morning.
Isn't it? You don't expect this every time in Snowdonia.
In my experience, no.
But it's a nice surprise.
It is indeed.
So what is it you want to show me today? What I really want to show you is Cwm Idwal, one of the most special nature reserves and valleys in Snowdonia.
This is the most southerly place in Britain, where arctic plants still grow.
But it's better known for its spectacular landscape, created during the Ice Age.
Now, Julia, welcome to Cwm Idwal.
We're right on the shore of Llyn Idwal, now.
Ah.
So this is it.
It's like being in the Lake District.
Well, a bit better, I'd say.
Of course you would! Well of course, parts of the Lake District were created by glaciation.
And here you've got classic signs of glaciation.
This imposing amphitheatre was sculpted by ice more than 12,000 years ago.
And the lake is a watery reminder of the glacier that once flowed down this valley.
But the secret here is the hanging garden.
Plants left over from the Ice Age.
They survive in a place they call the Devil's Kitchen.
It's quite a scary name, isn't it? Well, the reason it's got the name Devil's Kitchen is because sailors in the olden days looking at this place from the Irish Sea would see clouds rising out of this valley here, up towards the summits.
And they would have thought of that almost like a boiling cauldron.
It's a dark foreboding place, but to be appreciated.
It's the plants that grow on its high ledges that we're searching for.
So, Hywel, as we climb deeper and deeper into the crevice, what other sorts of plants and flowers are we looking for? We're looking for more montane plants, plants we'll find on the shelves and perhaps in the crevices between the boulders.
If we look carefully in a minute, I think we might start seeing some roseroot.
Ah, directly ahead of us.
Growing out of that crag, there.
Oh, yeah.
The next crag we come to is absolutely full of vegetation.
Hence the term "hanging gardens.
" Finally, at 2,000 feet, we find them.
Careful.
Now, I completely get what you say by "hanging garden.
" You can see that it's a really lush, deep vegetation there.
Can you see the mass of roseroot that's there? Imagine just down below us, when we stopped below, it was just that one little plant.
But there, a mass of it.
And absolutely full of rare plants.
Look at the Mossy Saxifrage here.
The place is full of plants.
I love the tree over there, just hanging off the rock.
What are the roots bedded into? There's just that little bit of nutrient there.
It's given peace and quiet, no grazing, and off it goes.
Look what you've got there.
A fully grown mountain ash.
Woodland growing out of rockland.
Amazing.
12,000 years ago, arctic plants lived on the mountain peaks that rose up above the ice.
Since the glaciers disappeared, they still survive, clinging on to these chilly north-east facing crags.
Just think of the thousands of people that go past here, storming up to the top of the mountain, just to say, "We've been to a 3,000ft peak.
" But what did they see? Did they actually see the rare plants? Did they see the lost world? Indeed.
And what a gem it is.
It's this craggy landscape that keeps Wales' secrets so well hidden.
Leaving Snowdonia, we're heading south, to a place deep in the slate mountains.
A secret spot for three generations of the Hinds family.
And a location only shared with friends and family.
About 50 years ago, a friend said, "Do you know where the blue pool is?" and I said, of course, "No.
" And I was shown where it was.
And I've been coming here ever since.
It was like a little adventure, because you're walking up into a slate mine, which is very Welsh, and then you have to go through these bridges.
Up there, up that path there, to your left.
And then onto the terrace.
Lovely.
See, look.
You came up through the trees and you came through those two bridges.
The map came about because there was a family that wanted to know how to get to the blue pool.
So I decided to draw a picture, which was more artistic, for other people to find the blue pool.
And there's a tunnel which leads to the blue pool in the quarry.
Even though it is sometimes quite wet And you don't know what you're going to find.
And then you suddenly come out on to this area and see this water.
Which, on a day like today, reflects the blue sky, and it's just beautiful.
Oh, it's quite nice.
I brought Jasmin when she was a baby.
I think she came when she was two.
It became a place to come to.
It was always the place we'd come.
And it was fun.
It's a nice place to paddle in the pool and have a nice time, really.
Quite often we come in the morning and we'll be here for a few hours and never see another person.
A lot of fish up there, isn't there? Yes.
A lot of trout.
Yes, trout.
There's one And I love to watch those up there.
They skim the surface, catching the flies.
Just generally seeing the family playing around and skimming stones, etcetera.
Whoa! Look at that one.
That's going! Nearly made it.
The water's so still and you can get it to bounce probably 20 times.
Ding, ding, ding Right the way across and ping! Off the far wall.
Psshung! Almost! It's an art form.
Bing, bing, bing You won't find it in any brochures.
I think people rely on other people to tell them.
And it's worth the effort because of the scenery and the views and the pool.
It's just a nice place to come and enjoy the day.
We'll let the Hinds keep the blue pool for themselves and move on to the rugged wilds of the Welsh coast in the far South West.
Our final destination on this leg of our journey.
Pembrokeshire Coast National Park protects over 150,000 acres of shoreline.
But before I explore the vertical landscape of these dramatic cliffs, I'm taking a detour to one of Pembrokeshire's secluded little treasures.
Tucked away behind Broadhaven beach.
I reckon that this beach is a real gem in itself, but I am told that just behind it is something really, really special.
And if I follow this trickle, all should be revealed.
This water flows from an enchanting series of lakes.
These are the Bosherston lily ponds that nestle in a steep valley behind the coast.
What a contrast these ponds are.
It feels so protected from that offshore wind, because it's kind of framed by this thick canopy of woodland and it's so peaceful.
It's so tranquil here that all you can hear is the sound of the birds.
CHIRRUPING Bosherston's secret is its water lilies that burst into bloom each June.
The pond's clear water comes from underground springs.
Down here, it's one of the richest, fresh water habitats in Europe.
But perhaps the biggest surprise is that these 80 acres of pond are all man-made.
They were created in the 18th century by the Earls of Cawdor who once owned the valley.
They wanted a garden pond on a grand scale.
So they brought in a canal engineer and one beautiful evening, in 1794, he took a stroll down to the beach where I've just come from and he had a vision and that vision was of water flooding these valleys.
So beautiful was that thought, that he came up with the idea along with the Cawdors of damming the river right at its mouth to create this.
So the Cawdors got their garden pond and Pembrokeshire got a hidden gem.
More than 200 years later, anyone can enjoy this haven.
They can also see the remains of the Cawdor's manor.
On the very last leg of our journey, I'm moving just two miles west of Bosherston.
This coast was also once owned by the Earls of Cawdor but today it's occupied by someone entirely different.
It's one of the many places where the army practice their manoeuvres.
An eight-mile stretch of coast known as the Castlemartin Firing Range and like many other MoD ranges, it's not always open to visitors.
You can walk along the Pembrokeshire coast on the coast path but you only get access to this particular section when, of course, there's no training going on.
But it is worth the wait because just over there where the land stops and the sea starts are some of the most spectacular sea cliffs in Britain.
Someone who knows the best way to explore Castlemartin is climber, Libby Peter.
It's all open in there.
Is it safe to go in? It's all open, the flag's down.
We've got a clear run, anywhere we want to go.
Anywhere where we like? Well, speaking of which, you should lead the way.
Ready for an adventure? Definitely.
Definitely.
You can get access to Castlemartin's eastern range every weekend.
And there are seven miles of trails on some of the wildest sections of the Pembrokeshire coastal walk.
For climbers like Libby, it's all a brilliant backstage pass.
This is an incredible place.
Oh, my word.
Isn't it amazing? Look at that! Oh, man.
Yes.
It's called "huntsman's leap".
It gets your belly when you look over.
Yes.
Some of the routes, you can only access at low tide.
Oh, yes.
You can see them down the bottom.
They look really small, don't they? Hello.
Hello! There's some amazing, world class climbing.
You don't want to go in here unless you know that you can get back out.
We don't need to start off in here, Matt.
Right.
We'll come here later, shall we? Castlemartin's cliffs offer climbers of all levels a chance to get close to nature.
And very soon, I'll be joining them.
Well we're drastically running out of land so I guess we're nearly here.
Yes, this is the top of the climb.
Oh, my word.
Somewhere down there is a tried and tested route, known as Blue Sky.
The idea is to abseil down and climb back up.
Libby will lead and I'll follow.
It's really happening.
I'm afraid it is.
Oh, gosh.
OK.
Yes, no turning back now.
Yes.
How far down is the sea? At the moment? It's at the end of the rope.
OK.
How long's your rope? It's probably 50 metres or so.
OK.
If you hit the sea, then you've gone too far.
Right.
OK? Oh, my word.
That is a long way down.
Libby's climbed here for 20 years so it's no time before she's reached the sea.
Now, it's my turn.
As soon as I drop over the edge here, the only way out is back up this rope.
And as weird as it feels, I'm off.
Once over the edge, I'm in a different world.
Look at this for a view.
It's absolutely extraordinary.
Nearly there, Libby.
There's a nice ledge to stand on there.
Is this all right? Yes, come to there.
What a spot this is.
It's crystal clear water.
Think it looks inviting? Do you know what? I was just thinking, I wouldn't mind having a little dip but I bet it's a bit nippy.
There is a special sense of isolation down here.
But with the tide creeping up the cliff, it's time to start climbing.
Right then.
Blue Sky, here we come.
It's Libby's job to secure our rope to the cliff as she goes up.
Have you got enough slack? Is that all right? Yes, that's good.
That's great.
That looks a bit hairy round that outside.
Quite an odd feeling when your climber disappears.
Once Libby's safe and on a ledge, it's my turn.
OK, Libby? Yes, I'm ready when you are.
Climbing now.
OK! Blue Sky.
Stand by.
Oh, it's lovely rock.
This is the secret of Castlemartin.
It's the way the sea exploits the cracks in the limestone cliffs that's created fantastic gullies, overhangs and sea stacks.
A vertical landscape and a limitless playground for climbers.
You've got to look at this.
You can see the way that all this limestone has been weathered.
Yeah.
The rock formation's incredible there, isn't it? Yes.
Really sharp.
Sharp edges.
Like it's been made to climb this, isn't it? I think it probably has been, yes.
What a lovely day for a cruise.
Hello! That's it.
This is the first stage then? Yes.
Please tell me you've got a picnic ready?! Yes, we've got some wine chilling in the cabinet there! I thought this ledge would be a little bit bigger than it is.
This is quite palatial.
This is massive(!) Yes.
Yeah.
After our pit stop, Libby's off again to mark the rest of the route.
Climb when you're ready, Matt! Climbing! While Libby had breezed up the cliff with ease, it wasn't turning out that way for me.
This is so annoying.
I can't see that hand cord at all.
Castlemartin's secret world was turning into a bit of a trial.
I think I'm a bit knackered here.
Are you on that nice ledge then? I'm not, to be fair I think I've come a route that I shouldn't really have bothered.
Maybe I should have stayed up to the right of where I am, but I'm going to work my way around.
OK.
Do you know, as lovely as places like this are, when you're hanging on by your fingertips, really the view is the last thing you're thinking about! But I'm sure it looks lovely behind me.
Oh! Goodness me! That was tricky back there.
I've just found a new route.
Blue Sky variation.
Yes.
It's the Secret Britain route.
Yes! No-one's ever been there before.
And probably never, ever again either.
Yes! You're all right.
Last little bit.
Oh, I know.
That's it.
Well done! Yes! Big hugs.
Yeah.
Don't lean back.
Yeah.
Brilliant.
That was terrific, I tell you.
At times it was hairy, but when you do take a moment just to catch your breath Well done.
Even if the view was just of this! This is secret Britain at its best.
A place that only seabirds can call home.
But it's ours to discover.
That really does feel like the calm after the storm and I have an exhausted sense of achievement.
But I've got the war wounds to prove that I really have been part of this landscape.
I've literally been clinging on to it with my fingertips.
But I can now just sit back, look at this place and think that I've experienced it in a way that not many people have.
We've journeyed from east to west, crossing a land full of contrasts.
We've uncovered hidden water worlds in the east, forgotten fokelore in the heart of England .
.
and seen wild Wales in the west.
It's a journey that's shown us incredible beauty, lying just off the beaten track.
But there are plenty more secrets just waiting to be discovered.
We're only halfway on our adventure as we travel the length of Britain.
Next time, we're back on the road north to find the secrets hidden away amongst the country's best known beauty spots.
I'll be visiting a dramatic waterfall in one of Cumbria's undiscovered valleys.
Oh, man.
Honestly.
I cannot stop smiling.
While I'm heading underground to see Yorkshire's famous Three Peaks country in a whole new light.
It's absolutely amazing.