Secret Britain (2010) s01e04 Episode Script

Borderlands and Beyond

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 the British countryside has to offer.
But we'll be taking the long way round because this journey is all about getting off the beaten track.
We're looking to reclaim the hidden and the overlooked to find the pieces of our history that might have slipped between the cracks.
And there she is, the Hidden Valley.
We asked you to share your secret places, and we'll be sharing our own.
Yeah, remote is certainly one word to describe this place.
This is Secret Britain.
We're on the final leg of an epic adventure which is taking us the length and breadth of Britain.
Oh, eh.
This is lovely stuff! We've discovered open spaces in the crowded south, explored the contrasts of east and west, and found hidden gems in some of the best-loved areas of the Peaks and Lakes.
It's absolutely amazing.
And this time we're travelling from the Borders right up to the most northwesterly point on the UK mainland Cape Wrath.
We're each taking a very different route to the furthest edge of our island.
To find the secret stories hidden in our last great wildernesses.
And I'm starting here in Northumberland.
Where the world famous Hadrian's Wall attracts nine million visitors a year.
'But few ever make it where I'm going.
'A quiet corner of Northumberland National Park.
'A lost world shaped by a hidden history.
' I'm heading for College Valley which is in the north of the park.
Now, they only allow 12 cars in it a day to preserve its tranquillity and today, I'm one of them.
Right, well, I've got my visitor's pass and that means I'm allowed through this gate.
Privileged access, you know! 'A payment of £10 means you can be one of the few 'to experience a beautiful secret space.
' Right.
And this is it.
College Valley.
Officially the quietest place in England.
'It's somewhere you can really lose yourself in the landscape.
' 'I'm walking with Russell Tait who's worked here for more than 20 years as a ranger and sheep farmer.
' There is not a soul around, it's quite an extraordinary place, isn't it? Well, I think in terms of tranquillity that's exactly what you've got here.
People have used the College Valley for hundreds of years, but it's so difficult to get to that, you know, it just keeps it on the quiet side.
'To learn the secret of why the valley is now so peaceful we've got to climb.
' What a view, when you look down there, the way that the hills just, kind of, bend off round the corner.
'We're heading into the Cheviot range, a ridge of granite 'that forms the natural geological border between England and Scotland.
How high have we made it to here then? We're just coming up to 500 metres here.
So quite a bit to go to get onto the top.
Yeah.
And it is a hardy, tough landscape, I mean, it's a beautiful day today, but, you know.
It's a rugged landscape and it's not a place you should come to without being well prepared.
You know, it's one of them places that the weather can change very, very quickly here and people who aren't prepared may get themselves into bother.
Tranquil today, this untamed countryside's troubling secret is that for centuries it was a war zone.
A no-man's land steeped in bad blood and feuding.
We have had 300 hundred years of border warfare, you know, between the Scots and the English and we also had the Border Reivers, you know, families who would pit themselves against each other so it wasn't necessarily the Scots against the English.
Very often it was similar people from similar parts of the world, simply coming into another valley taking cattle, taking possessions and heading back home.
This area was the Northumbrian equivalent of the Wild West.
A dangerous place fought over for years.
But the 1603 union formalised the border between England and Scotland, and College Valley was left in peace.
The only reminder of its turbulent history is the modern border, a rather understated testament to its bloody past.
And this is it it's the border between England and Scotland It's the only fence I've seen here since I came into the valley and I can't believe it, there's no barbed wire or passport control or anything.
Anyone could jump over there.
I'm in Scotland! Leaving the border behind, the twin cities of Glasgow and Edinburgh stand guard at the narrowest part of Scotland.
This is a famous landscape, packed with architectural giants, from the Forth's bridges to attention-grabbing castles like Edinburgh.
It's a Mecca for tourists, but I'm on the hunt for something you might otherwise miss.
A 2,000-year old piece of history which sits unseen in modern Scotland.
It's a UNESCO listed Roman site but it takes a bit of finding.
Well, this is the strangest gateway into a World Heritage Site I've ever wandered through.
Is there really anything waiting for us? 'Beyond the industrial estate the countryside opens up to reveal what I'm searching for.
' Allow me to introduce you to the less well-known Scottish little sister of Hadrian's Wall this is the Antonine Wall.
This is all that remains of the northernmost border of the Roman Empire.
'Built in 142 AD, 'this ridge was once a wall nearly 10 feet high which spanned Scotland from coast to coast.
' Here that's just 37 miles from the Firth of Forth in the east to the Firth of Clyde in the west.
Today the wall is almost invisible, buried underneath 21st-century Scotland.
But if you look closely, it's still there, running through back gardens, alongside roads and through woodland.
Here at Falkirk, just to the west of Edinburgh, it breaks through the surface and you can see the line of the wall, the outline of a fort and a mysterious set of craters.
These pits on the north side of the wall, the Scottish side, originally would have been about three feet deep and buried in the bottom would have been sharpened stakes hidden under foliage.
So anyone trying to scamper across here would have come to a pretty sticky end.
'The wall was only garrisoned for 20 years, then abandoned to become a forgotten footnote of history.
' It's the high watermark of Roman military might still visible on the landscape almost 2,000 years later, but only if you know where to look.
For the Romans this was the end of the civilised world.
Everything to the north was considered uninhabitable wilderness.
That's where I'm heading next.
But first I'm crossing the ancient border of the Antonine Wall and taking a quick detour to nearby Dunmore.
'You expect castles and fortifications in Scotland 'but I'm looking for a more exotic architectural treat.
'The lush woodland hides a historical fashion statement.
' I love big high walls like this.
It's all very Secret Garden.
You just want to know what's looming beyond them, and you step through that lovely doorway onto this beautifully-manicured patch of grass and then you see that a big, giant stone pineapple.
I mean, who came up with that idea?! The culprit is John Murray, the eccentric 4th Earl of Dunmore.
In the middle of the 18th century, he built the pineapple as a way of celebrating his own sophisticated tastes.
It's not as bizarre as it might seem because in the 1700s pineapples were a bit of a status symbol.
And you could actually rent them by the day and people would park them up on their dining room table and that would suggest that they'd travelled to some far-off land like the Caribbean, so it's like renting a supercar and parking it on your driveway for the weekend.
But this was no folly.
It topped a set of greenhouses where the fruit was grown.
A piece of whimsy with a purpose.
In its day this would have been a thing of wonder, a true spectacle.
Today, it's a secret slice of exotica in the heart of Scotland.
Beyond Dunmore the Lowlands march ever northwards to the edge of the Grampians and the tiny town of Kirriemuir.
It sits on the edge of the Angus Glens.
Five valleys so picturesque that local legend has it they're God's handprint on the land.
And perched on the top of the cricket pavilion is an ancient optical device a camera obscura - a way to capture and celebrate the stunning views here.
It was donated to Kirriemuir in 1930 by the town's most famous son, JM Barrie, author of Peter Pan.
Like Barrie, Morag Cable was born here.
James Barrie wanted something that children could enjoy bearing in mind that at that time, in 1930, there wasn't television or computers or anything like that so the camera obscura was a wonderful thing to put up.
The camera obscura is the dark chamber which we're in.
Up on the roof here there is a window and behind it, a mirror which sits at 45 degrees.
And the image comes through the window, reflected off the mirror and down through the fixed lens and goes straight through and ends up on this table.
It is a nice way to look at the surrounding landscape, cos you get a panoramic view, you get a 360-degree view.
In 1930 I think this would have been the most wonderful thing for children to come and see.
It would have been like magic, like Barrie would have enjoyed his bit of magic.
Crossing the rocky heart of the Highlands I'm heading towards Oban.
This is the picture postcard vision of Scotland, packed with Munros, the name given to all peaks above 3,000 feet and loved by so-called Munro-baggers, who attempt to scale all 283 of them.
But I'm going somewhere that's fallen off the tourist trail.
Somewhere with its own secrets to share.
Loch Etive is a 19-mile sea loch just north of Oban.
It pushes inland at Dunstaffnage Castle, the seawater boiling and surging over a sill known as the Falls of Lora.
It cuts between steep mountains on either side, but is never wider than a mile from shore to shore.
We might call it a loch, but this narrow tongue of water is actually a spectacular fjord.
Loch Etive in Gaelic translates as "little, ugly one".
First impressions? That's not entirely accurate.
Today the loch is deserted, a well-kept secret among locals and the kayakers for whom it's on the list of the best places to paddle in Scotland.
'Marine Scientist Mark Carter's lived here for 12 years.
'And he's taking me on a tour.
' All set? 'The best way to explore Etive's riches is from the water.
' So Loch Etive, it's a sea loch, isn't it? Yeah, down at Connell and Dunstaffnage it's joined to open ocean, so from there you can go literally right round the world.
The area is really very special, we're at the both northern and southern limits of species, we've got the Gulf Stream offshore which then comes into the North Atlantic Drift.
That brings us our climate and makes it very warm.
We've got the continental shelf which comes up from the Bay of Biscay that sort of area, that brings us some warm currents.
We've got the boreal Arctic currents coming down and it's that junction of the warm and cold, so we get both warm and cold species all at the same time.
'These special conditions mean the waters here are home 'to more than 80,000 salt and freshwater species, 'from tiny bacteria through to eels and cod.
'Although the glassy water only gives a hint of the world beneath.
'I'm hoping to spot a few of Etive's larger residents though.
' There is maybe the chance of us catching a glimpse of some common seals? Seals and kayaks don't normally go, so we have to be very careful as we approach.
Right, are they quite close to this point we're at now then? They're literally just half a mile ahead of us on the reefs.
Right, Matt, can you come over to me now? If you look very carefully over there, see where the rock comes down, you've got two little bits sticking up, and they're seals.
Oh, yeah, I can see them.
That's the Loch Etive colony.
'It's a rare glimpse of some of Etive's shyest inhabitants.
'We leave them to the serenity they enjoy here.
' Today this loch is hard to visit, with no road access for half its length, unlike its more celebrated cousins, Loch Ness and Loch Lomond.
There's quite a few impressive things about Loch Etive, of course, there's the magnificence of these mountains and hills and the beauty of the water that just seems to cut and carve itself through the landscape.
But I think the most special thing, the most impressive thing is that we have paddled and paddled today.
We've travelled about 13 miles and we haven't seen anybody.
We have simply had this place to ourselves.
But 170 years ago this peaceful place was rather more crowded.
Etive's secret past is as a tourist hot spot.
Queen Victoria fell in love with the Highlands in the 1840s and where she led, thousands followed.
A paddle steamer ferried Victorian tourists from the sea up to the end of the loch.
Etive was their gateway to Scotland.
From here their journey was by horse and carriage.
'And I'm following their trail,' driving the 14-mile route they took up to the honey pot of Highland tourism .
.
Glen Coe.
Glen Coe is the jewel in Scotland's craggy crown.
It's a mountain wilderness with towering peaks and rock faces hung with clouds, formed when a super-volcano exploded more than 420 million years ago.
A main road runs straight through the middle and gives visitors easy access to its spectacular views.
But driving through this great glen doesn't do it justice.
To experience this huge landscape fully, and to uncover its secret history, I'm going to walk it.
And on a rainy day like today, it's easy to identify with its history of clan warfare and the infamous massacre of 1692.
This is where the familiar story of the MacDonald clan took place, 38 members of the clan were murdered by their treacherous neighbours the Campbells.
And so the Victorians would flock here to soak up the morbid atmosphere.
The south side of the valley is bordered by the majestic mountains known as the Three Sisters.
And they conceal a secret chapter in the story of the massacre.
On that cold February night, running from the sound of gunfire, some of the MacDonald clan fled here and began to climb.
I'm following their route, into the mist.
It's certainly a wild and windy day.
'It isn't the easiest path.
' How am I going to get over this?! 'But the place I'm heading for has a long history and many names.
' This place is known as the Hanging Valley, the Lost Valley, the Valley of Capture and the Hidden Valley.
It is pretty difficult to find.
'The very inaccessibility of this place is why it's managed to stay so secret.
' It's a tough old scramble, and generally I find the better the scramble the better the reward.
'And finally I find the special place 'the MacDonalds were heading for on that cold night more than 300 years ago.
' And there she is the Hidden Valley.
Looking very moody under the mist.
Definitely worth the climb.
'Invisible from the glen, this flat valley floor is entirely unexpected.
' The treacherous climb to this valley was the MacDonalds' only hope.
It was their secret refuge.
Somewhere they knew they'd be safe.
'Today it's a peaceful place, a part of Glen Coe you can have entirely to yourself.
' Beyond the glen I'm heading deeper into the Highlands, to Corrour, somewhere many pass through, but few ever take the time to explore.
But even here I'm following the trail of those intrepid Victorian tourists.
'And today I'm relying on a triumph of 19th century 'technology to reach a place almost forgotten by the 21st.
' 'I'm up early to join the passengers on the Caledonian Sleeper at Crianlarich.
' It's an iron road linking the rest of Britain to the more remote areas of the Highlands.
This is the West Highland Line, and incredibly recently it's been voted the best railway journey in the world.
The majority of these people here would have got on in London about 12 hours ago and here they are waking up to views like this.
This extraordinary feat of engineering opened in 1894 to service the tourists desperate to jump on the tartan bandwagon.
'But it was a troublesome line to construct, running across 'miles of soggy peat bog which threatened to consume the tracks.
'It was so ruinously expensive that the builders joked the bog 'was not just swallowing the line, but also their money.
' Well, these views and this scenery is hardly surprising because we are in the heart of the Highlands, but what is surprising is where I'm getting off.
This train is my route to a secret place.
'But as I head through Rannoch Moor it seems an unpromising spot to disembark.
'All signs of life have disappeared.
'There's no roads, and no houses here.
' But there is a station.
This is Corrour.
Officially the highest and most remote railway station in the UK.
'Most people take this train directly north, 'few ever get off here.
' 'It redefines "the middle of nowhere".
' Yeah, remote is certainly one word to describe this place.
It's such a quaint lovely little station, it feels like a toy station on a model railway.
You know, with like spongy hills and little bits of gravel placed as your stones.
Matchbox there.
And there's no taxis, there's no tannoys, there's no barriers to get through.
And a whopping view.
When Corrour station was built it didn't even appear on the public timetable.
it was used exclusively by guests of the private estate here who came to hunt and shoot.
You have to feel grateful to the Victorians for the colossal effort they went to putting this line in.
If it wasn't for them people wouldn't be able to experience this.
I mean, the nearest road, even these days, is over 10 miles away.
'But there is one unexpected home comfort.
'A small cafe run by Lucy Millns.
'And I want to know what it's like to live and work somewhere so remote.
' It does look idyllic, but obviously it has its complications living here.
It does, there's things that you can't really think of before you come here.
You know, and then you get here and think "Oh, yeah.
" And then something that seems so normal to somebody is actually quite a big thing for us, like the rubbish.
How do you get rid of it? Of course.
You can't put the bins out.
No, there's no-one to come and collect the bins.
Well, there is, but they're 16 miles away.
16 miles away?! It's a bit of a trip.
"I'm just going to put the bins out, I'll be back in an hour.
" Yeah, at least.
How busy are you then? There are some days we don't see anyone for a good few hours, so it can be really quiet, you watch the trains go by and no-one comes off.
And do you all run to the window when you hear a train arriving? Run up to the glass? We did to start with.
It was like "Everybody, train, stop what you're doing.
" But, yeah, you count how many people get off.
But not doing that so much now.
Corrour is a moment frozen in time, a window on an ancient landscape opened up by intrepid Victorian engineers.
You know, so many people only witness this landscape by looking at it whizzing past it from a train carriage, but if you do make the effort, come up here, fill your lungs with this air, you really feel a part of it, and if it wasn't for that tiny, little train station at the bottom, this would only ever be the privilege of some very extreme walkers.
Leaving Corrour and heading north, the landscape tells its own turbulent stories.
Mountains wear the ancient scars of glaciers and volcanoes.
But Scotland's coasts are also rich and beautiful.
North of Aberdeen, the Forvie Nature Reserve is home to the largest range of sand dunes in Scotland.
For Alex Geddes the coast between here and the village of Collieston is his own piece of Secret Britain, a special place where he can escape city life.
I think when you look around here you realise how beautiful the area is, I mean, really, you could be anywhere in the world at all.
Who'd believe this is Scotland? It gives you such an inner feeling of peace and tranquillity and that's why we love coming out here so much.
'If you just listen, 'we're 10-15 minutes away from a major city.
'But here you're so alone, the tranquillity, you can sit here for ages' and when I leave here I feel as if I've been on a week's holidays and I've maybe only been out one or two hours.
This is the area that's called Hackley Bay.
A beautiful little inlet just south of Collieston.
It's so lovely sitting down there, out of the wind, just enjoying the sea coming in.
I've got to say this is probably my favourite place.
My mind's never far away from here and although my head might be in work, my heart is actually out in the nature research.
Beyond Forvie is one of the best-known features of the North of Scotland, Loch Ness.
This is part of the Great Glen, a huge flooded fault line a watery divide running from the east to the west coast.
Here the land meets the North Atlantic, and 550 Hebridean islands are strung out along 240 miles of coastline.
I'm heading to North Uist in the Outer Hebrides, in search of a precious, secret habitat.
This island is no slouch when it comes to beauty.
The white shell sand beaches and turquoise water look almost Caribbean in the sunshine.
It's hard to believe I'm still in Britain.
I tell you, it's a real treat for me to be here.
Ever since I was a little lad I've always wanted to come to the Outer Hebrides.
I think even its name - the Outer Hebrides conjures up the idea of a place that is completely inaccessible.
'It is undeniably hard to get here, but it's far from deserted.
' 5,000 people live and farm here, and the island is also home to thousands of birds.
I'm meeting conservationist Julia Gallagher.
Julia, how're you doing, all right? Ah, hi, Matt.
What's going on out here? Well, I'm just having a look, actually.
We've got some eider ducks just at the front of the shore here, you see them floating around.
They're females, but they've actually got some youngsters with them.
Oh, lovely.
What've we got coming here, right on cue, we've got some oystercatchers.
You see those wonderful red beaks and red legs.
You hear them before you see them.
Yup.
It's absolutely delightful here.
Uist's staggering beauty has a purpose.
The land has a sandy secret which bursts into life every spring and summer.
A wildflower meadow which seems to grow out of the beach.
This is the machair.
Sand blown on top of peat to create a unique habitat.
Machair is only found in the British isles and 70% of it is right here in the Hebrides.
It's a paradise for bees, insects and birds.
In May and June all these fields just come completely alive with all the birds that that are really vocal, so you have your lapwings that make this wonderful evocative call, so they're really very much reliant on this type of habitat to put their nests down and it's essentially all to do with the open areas of ground.
Birds like lapwings, they're ground nesters and they just dig a little scrape out, it's not a very elaborate nest.
And they also need to be able to see predators and having this low vegetation they can see for miles around.
But there is one bird that owes its very existence to the machair.
The elusive corncrake.
That's the one that everybody knows and most bird-watchers come up to see.
They're very lucky if they can see it, but they can certainly hear it, a very distinctive call.
SOFT SCRAPING The corncrake was once familiar in meadows throughout Britain, but intensive farming has pushed it towards the brink of extinction.
Here on Uist it's thriving in the safe haven of the machair.
It owes its survival to the unique way this land is managed.
Crofters still use traditional, low-intensity farming methods to grow barley, oats and rye for animal feed.
John Allan MacLellan is a crofter here.
He's working hard to preserve these farming traditions and with them, the machair.
How proud are you John Allan of having the machair here? Well, extremely proud, extremely proud of having the machair.
When you think of how hard people have crofted over the years to have the habitats we've got here.
If it had been done any other way bar crofting it just wouldn't be there, To be quite honest, the machair just wouldn't be there.
It would have probably blown away years ago.
And how would you sum up a crofter's life in the Outer Hebrides? I've been on Uist all my life, brought up and worked on a croft from the age of four or five.
I think it's just a fantastic way to live.
It's probably not the best-paid job in the world, but it's a cracking way to live, I would say.
DISTANT BAGPIPES PLAY Is that your ringtone? No.
I thought it was your ringtone.
No it's a local boy who plays the pipes.
That is great! Here we are just stood on a lovely little hillock in the most spectacular landscape and then a piper starts up.
Yup.
You'll only get that in Uist, eh? Remote and inaccessible.
Uist is full of life.
A secret world of productive and protected beauty.
Back on the mainland I'm moving on towards Ullapool in search of a place that will allow me a glimpse of Scotland's prehistoric lost world.
But the further north I go, the harder it's getting.
Today, the weather and some of Scotland's least popular residents have taken against me.
This is a wild and fierce environment.
Today's a summer's day and I'm being pelted by rain and eaten alive by midges.
But it seems that our ancestors refused to be put off by the bugs.
These fields are filled with remnants of Iron Age settlements.
There are signs of habitation here dating back more than 6,000 years.
'Prehistory is breaking through the surface of the land here.
'And as I walk on, I'm heading further back in time.
' I've been following the river for about two miles upstream now and it's just got louder and louder, but I still can't see anything.
But this ancient landscape is about to reveal itself in all its geological glory.
That is quite a vision.
It looks like someone's taken a giant knife and gouged it through the earth.
This is the Corrieshalloch Gorge.
300 feet deep, more than a mile long, with its main waterfall, the Falls of Measach plummeting 150 feet.
It's a box canyon - a narrow channel with sheer drops on three sides formed when glacial meltwater forced its way down between faults in the rock.
It's a rare geological phenomenon, and looking into the gorge is like looking into a primitive world.
Its rocky walls clothed in damp greenery.
'Alex Scott is an expert on the botany here.
' Is this pretty much how it would have been, I don't know, 1,000 years ago? I think it probably is.
We have other plants round us that tell us that it's been a woodland for a long time because we have ferns.
I've always loved ferns.
That's a very, very good taste that, loving ferns because they're really an ancient group and the ferns are really taking us further back in time because in the carboniferous period when the coal that we use today was being laid down, it was tree ferns, club mosses that produced all that.
So ancient ancient? Very ancient, as ancient as you can get.
Hmm.
'Corrieshalloch has given me a glimpse of primordial Scotland.
' A real sense of how it would have looked in the distant past.
But I'm leaving its wonders behind as I travel even deeper into this great wilderness.
To the east lie the rich waters of the North Sea.
The ports here were once the biggest providers of herring in the world.
The so-called "silver darlings" were landed in their millions.
Just South of Wick, at Ulbster, a forgotten story of man's talent for improvisation is carved into the structure of the rocks.
The only inlet for fishing boats sat at the bottom of a 250-foot sheer cliff.
Not the easiest place to land a catch.
So the resourceful 18th century fishermen built a staircase known as the Whaligoe Steps.
The last fishing boats left here more than 60 years ago, and Iain Sutherland, now in his 70s, is one of the last people to remember it in use.
He's dedicated 40 years to a personal labour of love - preserving and renovating the 350 steps.
'I had to go up and down here seven times in one day.
'I was in my bed for the next two days recovering.
' It's easy enough to come down, going up's a different problem altogether.
The first time I came down the steps was about 1948 or '49 and my granduncle John Miller and his brother were still fishing from here.
And it wasn't till later that I just realised what it really was to earn a living here.
It was a very hard life.
This is where they landed the herring here from the boats down there.
Each would land about a basket or so of herring.
The old winch is still there, that winch was installed about 1890 and that was a great boon for hauling up the boats.
Well, I've had a love affair with this place since I was literally born.
And it's undiminished, still the same yet, I still feel the same way about it, and I will do anything I can to keep it that way and help it being that way.
20 miles north of Whaligoe the land runs out at John O'Groats, the most obvious place to end a journey across Britain.
But that's not where we're heading.
Our alternative journey south to north finishes at Cape Wrath, the most northwesterly point on the British mainland.
It's the most sparsely inhabited part of the UK.
25,000 acres of wind-lashed rock and sea, a wet desert, without trees or shelter.
A true wilderness with some final secrets for us to discover.
We're heading for Kervaig, a tiny bay on the north coast.
I'm walking in from Kinlochbervie in the south.
While I'm starting at Faraid Head and travelling in from the east.
But first we have to get there.
Cape Wrath is 100 miles from the nearest city, and closer to the Arctic Circle than it is to London.
You don't end up here by accident.
'It's also the wettest and windiest place in the UK and today it's throwing everything it's got at me.
' Cape Wrath is certainly living up to its fearsome name.
Some people are always searching for solitude, that chance to get lost in the landscape, but there are very few places you can actually do it in this country.
This is one of those places though, no noise, no hustle and bustle, just this.
'Finally I've reached a landscape that is untouched and truly wild.
'And it's a privilege to be here.
' Virgin sand, can't resist it.
But this very lack of human influence has a special appeal for the cape's modern landlord.
And twice a year the wilderness is invaded.
Today this land is owned and managed by the Ministry of Defence.
And David Halpin is the Officer Commanding.
Hi David.
Hello, Julia.
Welcome to Cape Wrath.
You've brought the weather with you, I see.
I don't think it's me, I have this feeling it's like this most of the time.
I think you're probably right.
'The MoD have been here since 1933, using the Cape as an enormous live bombing range.
' I can guess why it's such a good place for you guys to practise, I mean, the conditions must certainly test your soldiers.
Yes, indeed, I mean, one of ideal places about Cape Wrath or the Parph as it's known locally is its extreme terrain it's arduous, it's isolated and it gives us the ability to train our service men and women in difficult climates.
Does the topography and the geography of the place help? It's very important.
It is the only range in the UK where we can use land, sea and air assets all at the same time.
Access to the cape is restricted during live firing for understandable reasons.
But the rest of the time, if you can get here, you're free to explore this extraordinary empty space.
So what do newcomers think when they first land here? The servicemen? Yeah.
Well, obviously they think it's awful because they don't want to be here.
There's no wi-fi, there's no mobile telephone connectivity, or very limited, and it's arduous terrain.
So it is very, very uncomfortable.
You're getting absolutely soaked, can I ask you, does one ever get used to this? I would personally say that it's a good drying day.
There's an old saying here that if you can see the Orkneys it's going to rain, and if you can't see them, it's raining.
Right, OK.
I shall bear that in mind.
Well, there's certainly no sign of the Orkneys today, and on the east side of the Cape I've run out of road, so I'm getting a lift.
Roberta, morning! How you doing, all right? Well, she's blustery It is a bit windy, yup.
'Roberta Mackay's been working here as an MoD warden for almost 5 years.
'Unlike the troops, she chooses to live here year round.
' Is it really tough weather-wise, living here? It can be very tough at times, yeah.
You're seeing our summer at the moment so you can imagine what it's like in the winter time.
It was very bad this winter, we couldn't get over onto the range for about four weeks, there was a lot of snow.
Cos to get here it's about 55 miles of single track road.
Yeah, yeah.
Do you think of going further south? Or do you like it here, the most northwesterly point in Britain? I enjoy it.
You've maybe got to be a certain kind of person to live in areas like this, you know, you don't have all your home comforts close at hand as it were, but it's good, it's good.
The weather's beaten me at last.
Well, thank you for saving me.
You're welcome, Julia.
I hope you eventually dry out.
I doubt it.
'So I'm catching a lift with David to our final destination.
' 'But I'm determined to get there under my own steam.
' I've got the offer of one of these and to be honest, it would be rude not to use it.
This rough track across the Cape is the only way to reach the beach.
And it's a cracking ride.
Well, this has to be the definition of feeling isolated in Britain.
You're certainly at the mercy of the elements here, being battered by the wind.
'Back on foot, I'm almost there.
' I can feel the end point in my toes.
Kervaig beach is just that way.
And it's a real treat.
Wow! That is a gem.
The dramatic sands of Kervaig are my reward for struggling through the weather.
Arguably the most secret beach in Britain.
'But I don't have it to myself for too long.
' Noisy wheels! How're you doing? Good.
Look at that.
It doesn't get much tastier than that.
Goodness me.
That was some ride, I tell you.
'It's overlooked only by a stone bothy for the intrepid explorers who make it this far.
'Kervaig beach is the perfect place to end our epic adventure.
'Our travels have brought us to the very edge of Secret Britain.
' 'Now, ahead of us lies nothing, 'but the cold waters of the North Atlantic and the Arctic beyond.
'Behind us the UK stretches out, 'a heart-warming reminder of all the places we've been.
' 'It's a journey that's shown us just how different Secret Britain can be.
'An adventure through a country we thought we knew.
'A country where every road can lead to the hidden or the forgotten.
' There you go.
That's where it is if you want to know.
X marks the spot.
'We've found secrets to discover, to reclaim, and to respect.
' Places to inspire.
Who could fail to get lost in a place like this? Places to remember forever.
From the most southerly point in England to the very north of Scotland, we've seen some of Britain's best countryside in an astonishing new light.
And we've only just scratched the surface.
Our Secret Britain is all around us, you've just got to get out there and find it.