Tales From Northumberland (2013) s02e01 Episode Script

Series 2, Episode 1

A land of beautiful ancient ruins, dramatic coastline and spectacular wildlife.
I thought I'd seen and done it all.
How wrong I was.
Oh, look at that! Doesn't that make your heart sing, eh? Yes, I'm back.
And it turns out there's a whole new side of Northumberland that I've yet to explore.
In this new series, I'll be discovering some of my home county's greatest hidden treasures.
From the secrets of its castles and stately homes It was the house where modern living began.
to the wrecks that lie at the bottom of the North Sea.
This is a whole new experience.
I'll be discovering parts of Northumberland I never knew existed.
It's my greatest adventure yet.
So come with me on a journey into the unknown, to the land they call The Secret Kingdom.
Big effort, guys.
You can do it.
There really is no place in Britain quite like it.
Come on! Yeah! These are more of my tales from Northumberland.
My journey into hidden Northumberland starts by the sea.
With more than a hundred miles of coastline, Northumberland's destiny has always been shaped and defined by its relationship with the sea.
Along these shores, you will find dozens of ancient monuments, spectacular rock formations and an incredible array of wildlife.
And it's wildlife that's brought me to the port of Beadnell Bay.
Beadnell can be found three miles south of Seahouses, and is the only west-facing harbour on the east coast of England.
I'm here to meet my old mate Ben Burville.
Ben is a local GP, but his big passion is marine biology.
Last time we met, Ben introduced me to the grey seals of the Farne Islands.
But on this new adventure, we're on the trail of a more elusive sea mammal - one that many people don't even know exists on these shores.
- Morning, Ben.
- Hello, Robson.
Nice to see you.
- Good to see you.
Looking well.
- Let's see what we find today.
- Alan.
- Hello, Robson.
Last time it was seals.
What are we hoping to see today? We're hoping to find white-beaked dolphin.
Yeah? So we're going to go out to the North Sea.
And they're going to come to us and we're going to have a joyous day.
- In a perfect world.
- "In a perfect world.
" But it's nature.
We never know what's going to happen out there.
- That's part of the excitement.
- OK.
Well, we won't see anything here.
- No.
Let's go.
- Let's get going.
Ben's taking me 30 miles offshore to a place known as the Farnes Deep.
Formed by glaciers millions of years ago, it reaches depths of 100 metres in places.
And is a popular feeding ground for a wide range of sea life.
Obvious question, Ben.
What are the white-beaked dolphins doing here? It's a really good question.
To be honest, we don't really know.
There's about between 8,000 and 10,000 of them in the North Sea.
They are the most abundant dolphin.
And we know that in sort of June, July, August, September, they're here.
What we don't know is whether they're here all year round.
They tend to mate in July and August.
So one thing they may be doing is meeting up here, off Northumberland, to mate.
Having reached our target area, Ben scans the horizon for any tell-tale signs of dolphins.
We've got quite a lot of gannets there, mate.
They all came up as a group.
What we're looking for are birds up high, cos that'll tell us predators are feeding.
Including the dolphins.
Finally, after what seems like an age, we get our first glimpse of a fin.
Ten o'clock.
Just slow it down, Alan.
Slow it down.
Our number one aim is not to disturb them, so if we just stop here, and they'll come to us.
But it was gone in the blink of an eye, and sadly, our cameras missed it.
This isn't going to be easy.
I'm starting to wonder if our trip has been in vain.
Ben, we've been out here for two hours.
Looks like those dolphins aren't feeling that friendly.
But good things come to those who wait.
I'm worried we might leave here today without a single shot of a dolphin.
So if you can't see 'em, may as well talk about 'em instead.
Some people come to Northumberland for the history.
Others, the beaches.
But the white-beaked dolphins well, to be honest Yes! Dolphin! - They're here! - They're there.
100 metres.
- Right of the bow.
- There he is, yeah.
Oh, you beautiful creature.
Right on cue.
What an intro.
There he is.
He's just under the bow.
He's at the bow here.
Just here.
He's about two metres under the water.
Hello, matey.
What are you doing in Northumberland? Oh, look at that! Wow.
What a sight.
White-beaked dolphins are fast, powerful swimmers, and love nothing more than a good bow ride.
Swimming in the waves at the front of a boat.
Oh, my goodness.
No-one knows exactly why they do it.
But it's probably just because it's fun.
And if you think that's a great sight, take a look at the view from underneath the boat.
As part of his research into dolphin behaviour, Ben has been given a special licence to film them underwater.
But to reduce the risk of disturbing them, he can only dive for ten minutes at a time.
Isn't that a wonderful sight? We have a pod of about five or six white-beaked dolphins.
To assist Ben with his underwater research, on deck Simon Laing from the Newcastle School of Marine Science is recording their sounds using an underwater microphone.
And how are they sounding? Are they in a good mood? Can you tell by the sounds if they're in a good mood or a bad mood? I don't know if we can tell about mood, but we can certainly begin to think about what they might be doing.
We just want to identify why they're here, when they're here, and also what they're doing when they're here.
That will help us to identify how we can manage the environment better, so we're not at conflict with the dolphins' activities.
Well, this is definitely a first for me.
Here I am, off the coast of Northumberland on the phone to a dolphin.
I am.
Dolphins use high-frequency sounds to navigate and locate food, as sound travels better through water than light.
It's a technique known as echolocation.
I'm getting a lot of rapid clicks there, Simon.
What is that referring to? The clicks are the sound of the dolphins investigating the hydrophone.
So they'll be using those clicks to identify how far away it is, how big it is, you know, whether or not it's a fish.
They're just the most intriguing animals.
Every time you see them, you don't know what you're going to get - big pods, small pods, breaching from the water, or maybe they'll be evasive.
You get all kinds of interesting sounds, so it's just exciting.
While I've been chatting to Simon, word's got round in the dolphin world that there's a boat in the area.
Ben's just told me that they're communicating to other pods of dolphins that there's something curious in the area, and they should have a look.
Ten to 15 white-beaked dolphins have just surrounded the boat and are now putting on one of the best displays you will ever see.
I truly believe these creatures are put on the planet just to make your heart sing.
The dolphins of the Farnes Deep are one of Northumberland's greatest treasures.
Yes! It's a sight that only a privileged few get to see.
Hopefully, by understanding more about them, and exactly why they're in Northumberland, we can help protect these beautiful creatures for generations to come.
In this new series, I'm exploring the hidden treasures of my home county of Northumberland.
It's a part of the world I know well, but as I'm finding out, there's so much still to discover.
From its rare wildlife and remote and secluded valleys, to ancient monuments that offer a unique window into our past.
Hidden amongst this vast woodland on the banks of the River Coquet, lies one of Britain's most important, but least well-known, historical gems.
You know, there really is no place in Britain quite like it.
It's been called the palace of the modern magician, and the birthplace of modern living.
Welcome to Cragside.
The Cragside estate is a wonder of the Victorian age.
150 years ago, inventor and industrialist Lord William Armstrong built a modest 12-room hunting lodge on the edge of his favourite fishing spot, one mile outside the market town of Rothbury.
Over the course of 40 years, he transformed the landscape.
Planting over seven million trees and shrubs excavating five new fishing lakes commissioning a six-ton iron footbridge and turning this country home into a mansion of over a hundred rooms.
The house itself was a masterpiece in state-of-the-art design and engineering.
This drawing room was created especially for visiting royalty.
And features a Renaissance-style fireplace carved from ten tons of Italian marble.
Every room is filled with what, at the time, were revolutionary gadgets.
Central heating.
And even a Turkish bath suite.
I mean, this place is incredible.
If you came here in Victorian times, it would be like stepping into a house of the future.
Cragside was one of the first houses to have hot and cold running water.
It had one of the world's first fitted kitchens.
And this Yeah, this you guessed it, one of the world's first ever dishwashers.
It's genius.
It's absolute genius.
To find out more about this Northumbrian pioneer, I've tracked down a man who's lived and breathed Cragside for over 25 years - curator Andrew Sawyer.
We've all heard of engineers such as Brunel and Stephenson, but do you think Armstrong deserves more recognition? I think he does.
He does need more recognition, because he did he invented many things.
Everything you see at Cragside is engineered.
He had hot and cold water on tap.
He had a water-powered lift, so he didn't even have to walk upstairs to go to bed.
He had a water-powered rotisserie in front of the fire to turn his meat.
It was the house where modern living began, really.
But perhaps Cragside's greatest claim to fame is that it was the first house in the world to be lit by hydroelectricity.
Lord Armstrong saw the use of coal as wasteful and extravagant, and instead looked at new ways to harness Northumberland's natural resources.
When he's just aged 25, while he's out fishing, he sees a waterwheel, and he thinks of that waterwheel as terribly inefficient.
It's only using five per cent of the available water to drive that.
And he goes away and he invents a hydroelectric machine.
By 1878, Armstrong had successfully used the estate's lakes to drive an electrical generator-the world's first hydroelectric power station.
Hydropower is just the most wonderful miracle, because it's turning a simple liquid - water - into light.
Over time, new technology has left the old engine room redundant.
But today, after more than a hundred years, it's time for hydroelectricity to return to Cragside.
After 30 years of planning, Andrew and his team have realised their dream of installing an Archimedes' screw at the entrance to the grounds.
And I've been given the great honour of officially switching it on.
But what exactly is an Archimedes' screw? I asked Cragside engineer Robin Wright to shed some light on the subject.
I have to say, Robin, at a glance, the Archimedes' screw looks like a giant corkscrew in a cage.
How does it work? Well, basically, water comes in the top, sits on the blades, drives the blades, provides the power.
And in the box at the top is a generator, and the generator provides power for the house.
And what would something like that actually power? A light bulb? A fridge? A room? It's enough power to light the house today.
Which Armstrong, I think, would have been pleased that we were still doing that.
Now, then, you've given me the impossible responsibility of pushing the button and turning this thing on.
Can you guarantee that I'm not going to look stupid? It is going to turn, isn't it? I would say it was going to turn, yes.
Right, well, here goes.
There's a bit of a crowd and the news cameras are here too.
Looks like one of Northumberland's best-kept secrets might not be that for much longer.
Let's just hope the technology doesn't let me down.
Do you know what? It's like a first night at the theatre.
I've never been so nervous in all my life.
Well, good evening, everyone, and welcome to Cragside, on this wonderful occasion, where we're going to launch the Archimedes' screw hydro generator.
Let's have a countdown.
Three, two, one Fantastic.
At the touch of a button, Cragside is once more powered by hydroelectricity.
- How does seeing that make you feel? - Brilliant.
It's a great day.
And as the sun sets, it's time to see this magical house at its finest.
Solet there be light.
We can only imagine what Lord Armstrong would think of Cragside today.
But I've got a feeling he'd be very proud that his ideas and his inventions are just as relevant today as they were 150 years ago.
The final leg of today's journey into hidden Northumberland takes me to the sweeping sands of Druridge Bay - that stretch for seven miles from Amble to Lynemouth.
The bay was once the site of an ancient sunken forest, and is now home to several nature reserves created from old opencast mines, making it a haven for birdwatchers.
But I'm here to meet another set of nature-lovers, who, for the past few years, have been secretly visiting Druridge Bay for a very different reason.
It's 4am, and as dawn approaches, a group of people are gathering on the beach.
They're here for a practice run for one of Northumberland's most unusual annual events.
Now, there are many ways of getting back to nature in Northumberland.
Some people go walking in the Cheviot Hills.
Others they go seeking wildlife in the Farne Islands.
But there are those who always have to go that little bit further.
Every September since 2011, the North East Skinny Dip has drawn hundreds of people to this bay, in an attempt to break the world record for naked bathers.
They've not broken it yet, but it's all in a good cause, to raise money for mental health charity MIND.
- We're all gonna get naked soon.
Whoo-hoo! The event is the brainchild of paramedic Jax Higginson.
When the sun rises, right over there, we're going to run right towards it.
The water looks perfect this morning.
I'll take your word for that, Jax.
It may be July, but the water is still just a chilly 12 degrees.
Rather them than me.
Jax, how the devil are you? Really, really well.
- How are you? - Good.
I've not heard of skinny-dipping on Druridge Bay.
Is it legal? I believe it's OK, as long as you're not erm taking your clothes off with the intent to cause offence or harm.
- Mm-hm.
- Skinny-dipping, for me, is about connecting with nature.
- And when I connect with nature, I feel good.
- Mm-hm.
And what kind of people join you in this skinny-dip? All sorts of people.
I'm part of a big community, an international community, of wild swimmers.
Then there's people who just want to take a risk and experience something new, and they're inspired.
But why not put on a five millimetre suit which is going to keep you nice and warm and you can swim in there for hours? Why do you have to be naked? It's very cold in there, I don't deny that.
It's very cold.
But that's that's the thing that brings the feeling to your whole body.
There's nothing quite like that feeling.
Do you know what? Getting into the North Sea at four o'clock in the morning is not really my idea of fun.
But you know what they say? When in Rome Whoo! Whoa! - Come on! - Yeah! - This is Northumberland! - Yes, it is! You bunch of lunatics! What an experience.
So what did the others think of it? Well, this is my first time.
Exhilarating, I think is the word, yeah.
The first time I did it, I couldn't breathe, quite literally.
It was just magical.
Bit different.
Bit special.
Beautiful beach, out in the middle of nowhere.
I grew up in a city.
I moved here 11 years ago.
It's just amazing.
It amazes me every time we do it.
Yes, it is perishing.
And I think I'm nearing hypothermic shock.
But there's nothing better than starting your morning with a dip in the North Sea off the Northumbrian coastline.
I highly recommend it.
Everyone should do it once in their lifetime.
Where's my clothes? Next time, I continue to discover a whole new side to my home county as I head into the wilderness of the Northumberland National Park - a land of hidden valleys ancient traditions and some real surprises.
This particular area that I'm walking through now is actually a war zone.

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