Secret Britain (2010) s01e03 Episode Script

True North

This is a story of Britain.
But a Britain that we very rarely see.
Britain as an undiscovered country.
We're travelling from the southern tip of England to the far north of Scotland exploring the very best that the British countryside has to offer.
But we're going to be taking the long way round because this journey is all about getting off the beaten track.
We're going in search of the secret Oh, man! Honestly, I cannot stop smiling! .
.
the forgotten, the unexpected, the lost treasures of our landscapes.
It's absolutely amazing.
We asked you to share your secret places, the little known, the deserted, the hard to get to.
We're going through this gully.
Oh, yes! And we'll be sharing our hidden gems.
Who could fail to get lost in a place like this? We're on a journey to rediscover the epic grandeur of our country.
This astonishing place we call home.
Look at this for a view, it's absolutely extraordinary.
This is Secret Britain.
On our journey through Britain, we've already discovered that it's possible to find true wilderness in the crowded south.
This is absolutelyincredible.
What a spot! We've found a land of contrasts as we've journeyed through our nation's hidden heart.
So this is it.
Now we're on the third leg of our epic adventure.
And this time, we're travelling from dramatic Derbyshire right up to County Durham's wild coast.
We're each taking very different routes to explore England's true north.
Searching for secrets buried in some of Britain's best loved landscapes.
And I'm starting here in the breathtaking beauty of the Peak District.
This was the first National Park in Britain, and around 16 million people live right on its doorstep.
For many, the natural splendour of this landscape is a sanctuary, a quiet refuge from everyday life.
But these peaceful peaks hold a hidden history, they were once filled with people.
Here in Monsal Dale, archaeologist Clive Waddington is working to uncover this ancient past.
Clive, hello.
Good morning.
How are you? Very good, and yourself? Very well, thank you.
Now I've been walking here since I was a little girl because my dad used to bring me here.
What are you going to show me that I might not have come across before? We get thousands of visitors here every year in Monsal Dale, and what most people don't realise is that on the hilltop above us, just there Yeah? .
.
is a site called Fin Cop and that's a site of an ancient Iron Age hill fort.
So what you're saying is, in that hill lies a story? Yep.
Clive and a team of local enthusiasts are currently digging at the site.
What we've got here is the remains of the ancient fort and you can see running along here in front of us and behind us there, the ancient rampart, so this is the old wall of the hill fort.
If you were stood in the bottom of the ditch, the ditch face plus the rampart wall would have been about five to six metres high.
Making it very difficult to enter? It's huge.
It encloses about four hectares and if that was populated, there could have been upwards of 1,000, 2,000 people living up here.
The dig is slowly uncovering evidence of the busy life of this place.
Last year, the team discovered the remains of a woman crushed in the ditch of the fort.
A vital clue as to when it was abandoned.
The body of the woman that we found was in the wall tumble so they've deliberately reduced the ramparts, thrown the woman in with the tumbled wall and we've radiocarbon dated her bones to about 300 BC.
So that dates the end of the fort but we don't yet know when it was originally built.
Millions of walkers visit the Peak District every year but few ever realise the rich history buried beneath their feet.
That the mounds, ditches and stone walls that they're walking over are actually remnants of the dozens of prehistoric sites scattered throughout the landscape.
In fact, Clive believes that Fin Cop forms part of a forgotten route through the region.
A route linking a chain of ancient settlements in the sky.
Further up the valley, there's another fort which you can just make out on that ridge top and that's a site called Burr Tor.
And basically the valleys provide the main communication route and the hill forts are situated above the valleys in a position where they can signal to each other.
What this means is that using this spread of forts they would have controlled access up into the Peak District.
To this whole area, really? To the entire area.
Clive and I are retracing the path that our ancestors would have taken through these hills thousands of years ago.
So where are we heading now? We're on an old road here called the Portway and this is the main road over the Peak District and we think this dates back to Iron Age times and it links the fort at Fin Cop over towards the next fort in the chain up the valley at Burr Tor.
You have to look hard at this landscape to read its history.
Where once there was a hill fort, now there's a busy gliding club.
This is the site of Burr Tor and you can see just to my left the ramparts running along there.
And it's not as well preserved as the last site, there's not as much to see.
No, you wouldn't know at all.
The giveaway is these mounds which are really quite distinctive and at the next site we'll look at, the hill fort at Mam Tor, these are much better preserved and you'll be able to see them running all the way round the side of the hill.
We head up Hope Valley and along the road that passes through the deep ravine at Winnats Pass towards the highest and largest hill fort in the Peak District.
This is Mam Tor.
The name means "mother hill".
Look closely and you can see the Iron Age history carved into the curves of this brooding peak.
Coming through the main entrance here, this is the original entrance.
You can see it's quite narrow.
As we go through the gateway here, it would have been covered over so we're going underneath the gateway.
So into the actual fort area? Now we're inside the fort.
And if we walk over here, you've got a great view of the ramparts down there.
You can see the huge scale of these earthworks, a massive undertaking.
Mam Tor is a window on an ancient world.
It's hard to imagine that thousands of people once lived on these isolated peaks.
A chain of Iron Age hill forts, now almost hidden in this landscape.
We've basically followed the valleys up the Peak District and we've got to the head of the valleys now.
And here we are stood on the top of Mam Tor looking back on several thousand years of history.
Every hill here holds a story, a secret of a forgotten past and a glimpse of the treasures that await us on our journey across England's true north.
Heading west, the peaks roll down into the Cheshire plain.
Lush, green fields stretch towards the horizon.
They're calm, concealing another secret.
One of Mother Nature and industry battling for ownership of the Earth's riches.
220 million years ago, this plain was covered by a vast, shallow sea.
When the waters receded, that sea left something behind.
Deep deposits of salt.
That salt has been mined in Cheshire for centuries and the salt industry has left an indelible mark on this countryside.
Now a quiet backwater, this canal once played an important part in the salt's route to market.
Hold her to me, hold her to me.
Jim Taylor has navigated the Trent and Mersey Canal for decades.
There were salt works all round this area.
Over to the right, across to the left, the area thrived on salt.
That's why the canal was built, to transport goods and make money.
Back in the day, then, this would have been choca, would it? This was the M6 of the north-west of England.
Taking salt out, coal coming in, clay going up to Stoke-on-Trent and the potteries.
Salt was mined and then loaded directly on to the canal at sites like the Lion Salt Works near Northwich.
Here, brine was pumped up from below ground, dried out to form solid blocks of salt, and packed up to send out around the world.
The Lion Salt Works was the last in the country to use this open pan process.
It closed down in 1986.
The old mine buildings are now sinking into the void that was created when the brine was removed.
The top of the arches signify what were the top of the doors 50, 60 years ago.
Down here? Oh, yes.
And it's just sunk or settled? 2½ metres, I'd say.
This shift in the landscape gives just a hint of the secret I'm here to find.
A clue to the constantly changing world this canal is leading me through.
Since the salt works have closed, it's taken on a new lease of life, this canal.
It's gone back to nature since the industry finished and now predominantly, 99% of the traffic on the canal is pleasure craft.
This once-busy freight route has now become a quiet Cheshire backwater.
Beautiful.
But some evidence of the rich industrial heritage of this region still remains, like the magnificent Anderton Boat Lift.
This is the strangest feeling.
We're well above the rooftops in a narrowboat looking down on the water.
This incredible feat of engineering uses hydraulic rams to lift loads of up to 250 tonnes between the canal and the River Weaver, 50 ft below.
Well, that was something else, that, wasn't it? Very special, very special.
A wonderful sight as you leave it behind because you don't really get a sense of the scale of it, from the top.
No, no, until you reach this level.
It's not meant to look pretty but it certainly takes the breath.
Oh, definitely.
The old salt route is leading me to the true secret of this landscape.
The story of a tug-of-war between nature and industry that's been going on for centuries.
Sheltered just a few hundred yards behind the banks of the River Weaver is a glorious oasis.
These lakes, or flashes as they're known, are part of a remarkable fight back by Mother Nature.
150 years ago, a village and a large salt mine stood on this very spot.
But in the 19th century, the mine's caverns collapsed and water flooded in.
Twin lakes were born, Neumann and Ashton Flashes.
At first, the flashes were used as a dumping ground for lime waste.
But in 2001, the area was fenced off and nature was allowed to take its course.
The flashes took on a new life.
The legacy of the alkaline soil on Ashton Flash has allowed an astonishing range of beautiful, wild flowers to flourish.
It's usually only open to the public on special guided tours but park ranger, Stephanie Hefferan, works here every day.
I think the most obvious plant is this tiny little plant here which is the marsh helleborine.
It only occurs on lime beds.
These plants won't occur anywhere else but on lime grass and throughout Cheshire.
Another species here is the fragrant orchid.
Absolutely spectacular species.
Brilliant spikes of brilliant pink flowers.
But the real secret here is buried beneath the thick woodland surrounding Neumann's Flash.
When the salt caverns collapsed, they swallowed entire streets and houses.
The man-made world swapping places with nature in a flash.
In the 1880s and previous to that, this central bun that we're on was actually old Warrington Road.
So we had the Platt Hill mine and all the housing and stuff that grew around that.
Pubs, shops, all that sort of thing.
What, down on the stretch here? Yes, yes.
So we're over the very point where there would be houses? Yes.
Are they all buried underneath? Pretty much.
Beyond the trees lies the precious wetland that now covers most of the lost mine.
We've made it through and here we are.
My word! Yes! What a sight.
We've got almost golden sands across there.
Crystal clear water here.
It looks really inviting, doesn't it, down here? It does look spectacular but the thing that you described as the golden sand is actually the lime waste that's dried out.
So it's extremely corrosive.
People have been tempted to go out on it before but they learn very quickly not to, or certainly not to do it again.
Yeah, yeah.
So this is a very protected environment for the birdlife out there, especially from a human point of view.
Exactly, exactly so it's an ideal location for them.
Yeah.
And so quiet as well.
It's quite an extraordinary spot, this.
Throughout the journey that I've had today, I've seen these massive icons of the past, the Industrial Revolution with the big lift, you sense all of the salt works, I've been through the yards, I've looked at the buildings crumbling and it is a landscape that's constantly changing, and this spot, really, it's a perfect example because it's been a mine, there's been a housing street just behind us which has disappeared and now it's a haven for wildlife.
Time to leave the flashes and flatlands of Cheshire behind and head for the coast.
The shoreline snakes north towards the wide open arms of Morecambe Bay.
This vast, watery wilderness is one of Britain's greatest natural wonders.
The tide rolls back daily to reveal over 120 square miles of sand and mud flats.
A treacherous and beautiful no-man's-land(???).
An open book for all to see.
But to the south of the bay is a forgotten corner, a place stranded by tide and time, at the mouth of the River Lune.
This is Sunderland Point, not quite an island, not quite the mainland.
A secret world where Lancashire meets the sea.
This tiny village takes a bit of getting to.
High tide covers the single-track road completely, cutting it off from its nearest neighbours.
Unlocking this secret requires careful planning and a special key.
A timetable for the tides.
Right, before we go any further let's just check that the road is actually going to be open and that there isn't going to be a big problem.
Date Fine, no tide.
Good.
It's called Sunderland Point because of the way the sea sweeps in to set it apart, or asunder, from the mainland.
"Danger, do not proceed when these posts are in water".
They absolutely make sure that you're not going to make a mistake.
When the waters recede, they leave behind a bleak, beautiful marshland.
An unusual sort of back garden.
The dock was built early in the 18th century to land goods from ships that were too big to make it the five miles along the Lune to the main port at Lancaster.
Now it's used by local fishermen who work the sea within sight of their homes.
But there are others who've chosen to make a life in one of the two rows of houses clustered on the shore.
Lynne Levey moved here 29 years ago from her native Merseyside.
She now lives on Sunderland Point's Second Terrace.
What made you want to come and live here, first of all? Born in Liverpool, where all you could ever see was the back of somebody else's house.
This is justwonderful.
This is it.
How do you cope with the isolation? You come home and pull up the drawbridge till the tide comes up and personally, I welcome it.
But what about the practical side of it? I mean, I'm always late.
Well, you kind ofyou just live your life around the tide.
We've all become quite proficient at working out when the tide's going to be on but of course, the wind blows, the weather changes and the tide comes up a bit sooner and you either miss the tide and are stuck across the other side or you miss the tide and you can't go to work.
Oh, dear.
What a shame(!) Yeah, actually that's quite a good excuse.
"I'm sorry, I can't come to work, the tide has come in!" You can't use it too often though.
What about when the weather turns? All the doors have got flood barriers on.
Have the houses been flooded a lot? Yes, they have actually.
Although we'll bale if necessary.
And it really is all hands to the pump.
And that's where this community is so great, because people help each other, you know? What's your favourite thing about living here? What I love most about this place is the big sky.
I mean, look at this sky, and it changes all the time.
When it's stormy, it's so dramatic.
It's a big, big sky.
And time after time, I come out here and just look at the sky.
Sunderland Point holds another secret.
Hidden away in a remote field on the opposite side of the peninsula is a reminder of one of the darkest chapters in our country's history.
When Sunderland Point was in its prime, Lancaster was a major hub of the slave trade.
Nearly 30,000 slaves were transported on Lancaster ships.
Most of the slaves were sold in the Americas but in 1736, one unfortunate young man ended up here.
He died in this house within just a few days of landing.
The local landlord arranged a burial for a boy they called Sambo.
This is the path that Sambo's body was carried along by the townspeople.
Because he wasn't a Christian, the young slave was laid to rest in unconsecrated ground in a lonely corner of a farmer's field.
So here it is Sambo's grave.
And he's been buried here for nearly 300 years .
.
in a windswept field on the Lancashire coast.
Six decades after the burial, a local schoolmaster laid a plaque on the grave with a poem commemorating him.
It says here that a man should be judged not on his colour but on the worth of his heart.
The site has been marked by local people ever since and even now, visitors regularly come to this secret little spot to remember the unfortunate boy who travelled so far to die at Sunderland Point.
It's a story and a place that touches people.
Remote, inaccessible and haunting.
A fragment of a forgotten past.
Leaving the coast and its secrets behind, the landscape rolls down into the heart of Lancashire.
Here, the former mill town of Chorley sits on the edge of the West Pennine Moors.
And above Chorley stands the beacon of Rivington Pike.
An unexpected treasure watching over a wooded wonderland which was once the private playground of soap baron Lord Leverhulme.
Everyone has a special place and for Laura Mole, it's the walk up to Rivington.
Full of fairy-tale relics and Leverhulme's forgotten follies, this is a path she's loved since she was a child.
It's my earliest memory.
I know I was up Rivington and we were having a picnic.
I just remember the laughter.
It's just such a happy place, I just love being up there.
It makes you smile, it's lovely.
You can see the pigeon loft from a long way away and I believe that Lady Leverhulme spent some time right at the top in a sewing room and it must have been an absolutely fantastic place to be.
Because you can see for absolutely miles from there.
When you get to the top of the gardens, you can see the path that takes you up to the pike.
The pike used to be some sort of a beacon, maybe in Elizabethan times.
A short, steep climb, but it's worth it.
Look at what you can see.
You can see green, you can see the sea.
You can see towards Blackpool, towards the Lake District.
Just an amazing place.
Rivington sits in the landscape and in our history, a place you might otherwise pass by but a place full of riches yearning to be explored.
As we travel across the north on this leg of our search for Secret Britain, there are stories like this everywhere, secrets that have slipped between the cracks.
I'm heading into the great county of Yorkshire.
The land rises up into the Pennines, and the mountains of Whernside, Ingleborough and Pen-Y-Ghent.
A well-known challenge for walkers, the peaks stand proud against the skyline.
But what I'm looking for lies deep within this landscape, shaped by nature and time.
I'm searching for secrets created by a very special combination of Yorkshire rock and Yorkshire rain.
A cracked and beautiful world of stone.
What we're looking at is a limestone pavement.
It's the unusual properties of limestone that create this startling environment.
What's special about limestone is that it actually dissolves in water.
Most rock is physically eroded, battered by the elements, but limestone sort of melts away and creates these big gaps known as grikes.
The water has created a stunning landscape sculpted from the limestone for visitors to explore.
But for local farmers like Rodney Beresford, this astonishing land is their livelihood.
Hiya, Rodney.
Do a bit of tap dancing over the pavement! You have to do that round here.
This must be really hard land for the sheep and you, the farmer.
It's nothing but hard work.
But we're used to it, and the sheep get used to it.
Do the sheep actually graze on the pavements? They do graze it, they nibble in the grikes.
They'll get a lot of minerals out of the grasses.
They seem to enjoy it.
Really? We do train them, we put sheep on here without the lambs for 12 months and then when they do have a lamb, they seem to know not to go on the rocks as much.
Instinctively? Yeah.
When a lamb does get down a hole in lambing time, the sheep'll come running to me from 500, 600 yards to tell me.
Really? I usually follow it back and you find the lamb, which is pretty good.
That's incredible.
Do you appreciate how beautiful this is? We don't appreciate it as much as what we should do.
We live here, we don't notice it as much, but it is beautiful.
This limestone pavement isn't entirely as nature intended.
It's grazed clean by the sheep.
A more secret, wilder landscape thrives at nearby Scar Close.
Ungrazed for almost 30 years, the pavement bursts into life.
Yet even this isn't the most spectacular view of limestone country.
For that, I need to look beneath the surface.
Potholer Duncan Morrison is going to take me through a subterranean passageway to the ravine at Alum Pot, a buried beauty spot that can only be approached from deep underground.
Am I going to like it? I think you will.
It's quite a secret place.
You're walking along on the moors and suddenly there's a hole in front and what's down there is often quite unexpected to people.
I've caved in various parts of the world and I always think this is one of the most spectacular places I've been.
It really is truly awesome.
This limestone pavement leads to an elaborate caving system.
Somewhere under here is Alum Pot.
We're following a stream that leads right into the rock.
So, into the gloom.
This is where Yorkshire's rain has worked its magic.
Just a bit of a step down here.
That's a powerful little waterfall! It is.
The water finds every crack and crevice, carving out a route through the limestone.
We've got a little bit of a traverse here.
Right.
Just find yourself some handholds, keep your feet in the water.
There's a very, very good handhold there.
Just don't leave your fingers behind in it! Easier said than done! That's nice there.
Wow, that's impressive.
It is, isn't it? They call this St Paul's Chamber, probably because of its grandeur.
The next step across will take us to the fault line which Alum Pot has developed on and which has given you this spectacular scenery.
This is a secret that requires some effort to get to.
Narrow passageways lead to a vertical drop, and it's time to put on the climbing gear.
That's lovely.
Where are we going now? We're going down this drop here.
It's around about 60 feet.
Blimey.
It's a fair way down.
Yep.
Are you ready? I'm ready.
So, down we go.
Oh, yes, I can see daylight.
As I head even deeper into the cave, somewhere, somehow, there's a glimpse of sunlight in the darkness.
Stop jiggling me around! This is what we've come to see, Alum Pot.
It's a very special place, I think.
It's the contrast between the darkness of the cave and then the light in the shaft itself.
It makes it very special, really.
It's absolutely amazing.
It is gorgeous.
It's the green and the fern and the moss, and then you've got the waterfall.
Oh! I've never seen anything like it.
It's Tarzan, and it's dinosaur films, and it's Lord Of The Rings, all rolled into one.
It's a complete fantasy, isn't it? Forged by rock and rain, Alum Pot is an incredible example of Mother Nature's flair for architecture.
Totally unexpected, and utterly beautiful.
Water has carved its way all through the north of England.
To the west is the mountainous glory of the Lake District.
But first I'm heading into a more forgotten part of Cumbria, the Howgill Fells.
Celebrated fell walker Alfred Wainwright likened the curves of these rolling hills to a huddled herd of elephants.
This is the geological borderline between the limestone of Yorkshire and the hard slate and gritstone of Cumbria.
The Howgills are a well-kept secret, loved by the people who live here but rarely visited.
As well as being a shepherdess, Alison O'Neill is also a keen walker and she's happy to share these hills and their hidden treasures with me.
Alison, how are you? Hello, nice to meet you.
I tell you what, you've got some spot here, haven't you? It's beautiful, isn't it? My word.
Just give us an idea of what we're looking out on to.
You've got the Howgill Fells over there to the left, and there's 40 square miles of them and 44 peaks.
Most reckon it's about some of the quietest hills in the country.
On a busy bank holiday, you won't meet anybody up there except sheep or a skylark.
You've got Baugh Fell in the middle there, and these fells lead down to the Lune Valley to Kirby Lonsdale.
Have you been here most of your life then? Yes, I was born and bred in a farm at the bottom of the Howgill Fells, and when I hit teenage years I went off travelling, but returned home and got the farm here about 10 years ago.
They say home is where the heart is, and mine's definitely here.
So what route are we going to take today? We're going to go to a tiny little valley called Uldale, which has a very beautiful secret.
I was told to bring some swimming shorts That's a good idea.
That's all I know.
Yeah, that's all you need to know at this stage! Let's get our bags and get headed off, shall we? OK.
Alison is taking me to a secluded valley on the slopes of Baugh Fell.
When you come down here, it's just the little stream.
But nothing prepares you for how beautiful it is further upstream.
What's this river down here, then, Alison? This is the River Rawthey.
If you look down into it, it's so clear, it's full of trout.
You can sometimes see them just swimming in there.
You can see the little tiddlers trying to get up the Yes, the minnows, yes.
We used to come here when we were little with our rods to catch them.
We always put them back but we spent hours trying to fish them out.
It's a lovely little sheltered valley, this, that we're in, and looking all the way down You've got the Howgills there.
It's quite something, isn't it? Absolutely glorious.
The Howgills feel like a remote, lost world, a place you could walk for hours without seeing another soul.
But this stream is leading us somewhere.
I can hear rushing water, Alison.
I know, we're not far now, Matt.
You can hear it.
You have to take care on this bit.
Oh, I can see it now! Goodness me.
What do you think? It's everything you want a waterfall to be, isn't it? It is, it's quite beautiful.
This is the point where I ask you, would you like to have a swim? Well, I tell you what, if you're looking for a swimming pool, that's the spot, isn't it? Oh, man, honestly, I cannot stop smiling.
That has to be one of the best swims that I've ever had.
The Howgills aren't Cumbria's only secret.
To the west lies the Lake District proper.
Rolling hills rise up to the mountains in England's largest and perhaps most celebrated national park.
More than 8 million people visit the Lake District every year.
It's a pleasure playground for walkers, boaters and lovers of the great outdoors.
And you can see why.
The maps here read like tourist brochures, but with a little effort, you can still find the hidden corners of this celebrated landscape.
That is Derwentwater, one of the best-known stretches of water in the Lakes and, beyond, the Borrowdale Valley.
Down there is Keswick, a lively little market town.
It's busy, it's bustling, but even there, there are secrets waiting to be uncovered.
We're just minutes from the hubbub of Keswick here, and that man over there .
.
is going to take me somewhere that you'd never even know existed.
Douglas Barnes and his wife Fiona live in almost complete seclusion on Derwent Isle.
Even though their island home is just a stone's throw from the shore, it's completely concealed from any passers-by.
This secret spot on a very busy lake is only open to the public for a handful of days every year.
Today, I'm a specially invited guest.
How are you? Great to see you.
Nice to see you as well.
You must do this journey quite often? I've just worked it out, and this boat's probably done it about 16,000 times in its life.
Let's make it 16, 001, shall we? How long have you been living on the island? Five-and-a-half years, but we do it by winters.
Six winters, five summers.
A good winter is the best time, cos we don't get the rain.
Right, this is home.
I can feel the peace already.
Stay as long as you like.
I might never go home! 'In 1778, the island, then open pasture, was sold to Joseph Pocklington.
'He was a banker's son from Nottinghamshire, 'but he became one of the first wealthy men to settle in the Lake District 'just to enjoy its beauty.
'And he had ambitions for this island.
' Would you tire of that view? I can't imagine that I ever would.
And suddenly we're on a cricketing lawn! This is not a bad little view.
What I like about it, if you were designing it, you'd put that island there.
Castle Crag slightly to the left, Glaramara exactly where it is.
In other words, you wouldn't change the picture? No, no.
And that is your house? That's home.
Wow.
That's not what you expect to see on the island, is it? Well shielded by trees, nice and secret, but not when it was first built.
No foliage? Not a tree on the island.
So that was built to be seen? 'Pocklington completed his villa in 1781.
'For purists like Wordsworth, it was a blot on an otherwise perfect natural landscape.
'But 200 years on, it's a fine National Trust property.
' Let's go in.
Thank you very much.
After you.
Thank you.
'He built this handsome house to impress.
'Now it's a private residence, only open a few times a year.
' What a lovely room.
'The house is carefully maintained by tenants Douglas and Fiona, 'who have a privileged view of Derwentwater from their top terrace.
' Cheers.
Enjoy the tea.
Enjoy the view.
You can't not enjoy the view, can you? The views are stunning.
Absolutely stunning.
One of the joys, I think, is sitting here and deciding where you're going to go for the day.
Just to stand and think, "I think we'll go there, take an hour-and-a-half, "somewhere else will take us two hours," and make the decision From here? From the visuals, rather than looking at a map.
That sounded like a good idea.
So I picked out a location along the Borrowdale Valley, at the far end of Derwentwater, and set off.
The path leads to a well-known beauty spot called Surprise View, which allows you to see Derwent Isle and even catch a special glimpse of its hidden house.
And there she is.
Millions of people visit the Lake District every year, but millions of them have no idea that Joseph Pocklington's villa lies nestled behind this wonderful wall of trees, which is quite ironic, because back in 1781, his aim was to be as conspicuous as possible.
Leaving Derwentwater and its secrets behind, we're heading east.
On the very edge of Cumbria, the Eden Valley runs down towards the market town of Kirkby Stephen.
Just to the south on the banks of the River Eden itself stand the ruins of the 12th century Pendragon Castle.
Local lore links the castle to King Arthur's father, Uther Pendragon.
For Libby Bateman and her family, it's been a magical place for generations.
We used to come up here and play hide-and-seek in the castle.
My dad used to tell us stories about all the myths and the legends, now it's moving on into the next generation, to my daughter and her friends.
My favourite, favourite story about the castle is, legend has it that there's an underground passage between Lammerside Castle and Pendragon Castle.
There is! But nobody has ever found the underground passage.
I think I might know where it is.
Do you? Where is it? Somewhere around Maybe near the tree.
Maybe you guys should go look for it.
Good luck! 'It's our playground.
We don't have swings, we have Pendragon Castle.
' Coming, ready or not.
It seems to us to be our secret place, and it's where we come when we want some time to ourselves and our family.
The myths and legends are our secrets, and they're probably not true, but we like them.
Come on.
Heading up the Eden Valley from Pendragon Castle, Kirkby Stephen is dominated by its own dramatic landmark, Nine Standards Rigg.
The cairns loom on the horizon like a row of dragon's teeth, a mysterious monument and an ancient secret, one hidden in plain sight.
For a long time, people believed that this was a Victorian folly.
But local historian Stephen Walker has been searching for solutions to what he believes is a prehistoric puzzle.
It's a fascination that started many years ago.
So how old were you when you first saw Nine Standards? I must have been three or four, because our house, which you can see from here, just down there, looks straight up here.
It was the first thing you saw every morning and the last thing you saw at night.
It was great.
That stimulates your appetite to get up there yourself.
But they decided I was too small, so I eventually got up here at the age of about five or six.
But I couldn't make it all the way back without riding on my father's back.
That's what dads are for, though.
That's what dads are for! Yeah! It's a steep hike up to the proud spires of the Nine Standards, a landmark that has been here longer than most people realise.
We know they're on the Ordnance Survey maps.
The first ones are 1858.
They're on a map from 1770.
They're on a Swaledale map of 1748.
That's as far back as reliable maps go.
Before that, you're looking at the charters that were written by the Norman owners of Swaledale.
That's also been recorded.
So we can say that Nine Standards is at least 800 years old.
What about them as physical bodies? What are they? These have been built and rebuilt many times over the centuries.
But I think they've been used by people for several thousand years.
I think they're that ancient, because there were trade routes coming through here from the Lake District, bringing axes to North Yorkshire.
Monuments like this are also useful locally as land markers.
They define the territory of the people down there and the people over here.
Now I think it's time for some serious fieldwork to be done up here.
You want to get digging? Yeah, get underneath and see what's really there.
What do you think is under there? I think what's happened is, they've made a barrow over a natural feature.
I think there are people buried up here.
Oh! If you look at the view, it's a classy place to be buried.
But the only person who'd command that kind of respect is the guy who ran that parish down there.
Somebody powerful.
Somebody powerful.
And if the mound beneath the Nine Standards really is a prehistoric tomb, Stephen believes he may even know where the entrance to this ancient resting place lies.
If that is a barrow, if there are burials underneath, this is almost certainly where the entrance would be.
It would be a quick job to take this loose stuff up and have a look and say once and for all, "Yes, it is," "No, it isn't.
" Beyond Nine Standards Rigg, our journey ever eastwards is entering my home straight.
Cumbria and Yorkshire give way to County Durham.
This is where I was born.
For me, it's filled with an incredible beauty.
From the vast expanse of the untamed Durham moorlands .
.
to Teesdale, where the River Tees thunders over one of the tallest waterfalls in England.
The breathtaking High Force.
But I'm heading to the coast, and a forgotten wilderness hidden behind the urban sprawl of Peterlee.
Here on the edge of the modern and the industrial is an incredible green world.
This is Castle Eden Dene.
Traffic roars past the head of the dene, or valley, on the dual carriageway of the A19.
But the deep ravine shelters a spectacular ancient woodland running down towards the sea.
This is a place that I know quite well because during the summertime, every school holiday, I used to come down here because I was part of the wildlife club.
I'm heading past the actual castle of Castle Eden Dene on the way into the woodland.
The Burdon family lived here, and owned the dene for about 200 years.
They decided that they couldn't keep this beautiful wilderness to themselves.
So they opened a series of trails through the dene and built a bridge to allow visitors to cross the deep gorge at the top of the valley.
This hidden oasis is now managed by Natural England, and it's Christine Pope's job to look after it.
How long did the Burdon family have this dene to themselves? They came in about 1750, something like that.
It was in the 1800s that they decided they'd like to open it up to the public and started putting some paths in, and the dene became a tourist attraction after that.
We have pictures of people in lovely Victorian dress, with their parasols.
So this bridge was part of the trail? That's right.
We've got Elizabeth Burdon's diary, who was the daughter at the time, and she writes about how her father threw this across with chains.
We had to restore this bridge last year, and the headaches it caused us with scaffolding and all of these 21st century techniques.
They just threw it across with chains.
It's a long way down.
You wouldn't want to drop your keys, would you? No, you wouldn't.
Christine and I take one of the original paths built by the Burdons .
.
working our way along the gorge.
Might have to mind your head a bit under this one.
As we go further down, you're getting a real sense of entering the tangled, wild wood.
Yeah.
These huge yew trees.
These are fantastic, aren't they? Are they quite old? It's difficult to tell the age of them, but you're certainly talking hundreds of years for some of the yews here.
Is it the yew trees that give the dene its name, Castle Eden? Yeah, the Saxon name for the area was Yoden, which we think came from "Yew Dene", a kind of amalgamation of the name, which then evolved into Eden.
Into Castle Eden.
Yeah.
So this is the course of the burn? We're in the burn, at the bottom of the burn.
Which is like a massive stream that runs through.
It runs all the way through and goes down to Denemouth, out to the sea at the end.
Yeah, yeah.
It's dry at the moment.
Sporadically, you will get a lot of water flowing through here, enough to remove bridges.
You get a sense of the geology, with the cliffs.
Huge limestone cliffs with boulder clay on the top.
You do wonder how it's managed to survive with everything that's going on around it - the A19, the town.
Yeah.
But I guess it's because of its shape? Definitely.
That's what's kept it as natural as it is.
I left Christine behind, and followed the riverbed down towards the coast.
All the sections of this dene feel really different to each other.
And what a contrast this is to the shady, enclosed woodland.
You come out into this open, wild flower meadow.
And this carpet of flowers leads me towards perhaps the greatest secret of Castle Eden Dene.
I'm heading down to where the dene meets the sea, in search of something very special.
Here, two tiny colonies of the extremely rare Northern Brown Argus Butterfly are clinging on to survival.
'Conservationist John Hope knows the best places to look for them.
' This is where we might spot them, then? Yes, it is.
This is the rock rose, the plant they lay their eggs on.
Oh, right.
And the other important plant with it is the bird's foot trefoil, which is the main nectar source.
Which is this one behind it.
And there's a Northern Brown Argus here.
Where? Oh, it just landed there at the top.
'The dene is one of the few remaining havens for this beautiful butterfly.
'They live in tiny pockets on these flower-covered hillsides.
'You have to be very lucky to spot them'.
Incredibly, we've seen them in seconds of stepping onto here, but it's quite a small area that they're found in? Yeah, they're very small colonies, about 100 metres in all.
It's like a stone's throw, isn't it? Yes.
From that side to that side and up there.
Yeah.
This really is the only patch? Yes, and the next colony's over the other cliff face.
You've got one there as well? Yes.
It's not a million miles away, to be fair, is it? But they wouldn't mix? No, they don't mix.
They've never flown over to that side.
How many are you hoping to see here? On the last count, there was eight on this bank side and six on the south bank side.
Eight and six? Yes.
And that's .
.
not a bad average for these small colonies.
How long do they fly around for? They live about a fortnight.
Just a fortnight? Yes, that's all they live.
They're all over with by the first week of August.
This is an incredible corner of secret Britain, a hidden woodland leading to these beautiful butterflies and their miniature, momentary world.
They've only got a two-week window in their life, and to see this colony on this bank side that's thriving Albeit there's only eight of them, but at least they're looking very healthy.
Just feels reallyreally good.
The dene is an unexpected sort of wilderness, and a fitting place to end this leg of our journey.
We've travelled all through the north of England, searching for secrets in some of our best-known landscapes.
This is the true north, a place where you need to look beyond and below the surface to reclaim the hidden treasures of our countryside.
From the incredible limestone of Yorkshire .
.
to Cumbria's remote waterfalls and pools .
.
to a window on the ancient world of the Peak District, it's a journey that's taken us into the heart of secret Britain.
But there are plenty more secrets just waiting to be explored.
'Next time, we're on the last leg of our epic adventure.
' I'm in Scotland! 'Heading northwards now and crossing the border.
'We're looking for secrets in some of Britain's wildest landscapes, 'seeing how our turbulent history has left its mark.
'I discover a secluded valley at the heart of Glencoe that lives up to its name.
' There she is, the Hidden Valley.
'And I take a trip to Britain's most isolated railway station.
' Yeah, remote is certainly one word to describe this place.