Covering more than 800 square miles, Snowdonia National Park is home to some of the most magnificent scenery in Britain. Each year more than half a million people climb, or take the train, to the summit of the mountain which dominates the park, Mount Snowdon.
The peak of Mount Snowdon marks the highest point in England and Wales. It stands 3,560 ft above sea level. In 1998, after a public campaign, the National Trust raised over £4m to buy Hafod y Llan, a 4,000-acre farm that includes part of the summit of the mountain itself. Farming at such altitudes throws up many challenges, so to find out the best way to overcome them, Matt joins local farmer Arwyn Owen.
The Rhododendron was first brought into the UK in the late 18th century to adorn ornamental gardens. But one species, Rhododendron Ponticum
, has long escaped the confines of its intended home and is causing havoc in Snowdonia. The plant, which has enveloped 5,000 acres of the area, is threatening biodiversity, turning the national park into a green desert. Ellie Harrison joins a team from the National Park Authority that is trying to tackle the problem.
WELSH SLATE AND THE GRAVITY TRAIN
For centuries slate has been mined in North Wales. 150 years ago, when the industry was at its peak, more than half the world’s slate was came from the region’s quarries. Matt Baker visits one of the surviving mines, in Blaenau Ffestiniog, where they still cut slate by hand. He follows the journey that this natural product still makes down the mountainside, using nothing more than gravity.
Sheep and cattle farming in North Wales have long been vital to the area. But since 2003, the Welsh Assembly has also been trying help businesses to develop innovative ways of growing new crops and plants. Ellie meets one man that is using science to trick mushrooms into growing all year round. And he’s growing varieties like shitake, that we would usually have to import, so he’s saving on all those food miles too.
The government’s target is to cut CO2 emissions by 60 per cent by 2050. It’s highly dependent on the use of renewable energy sources like wind and sunlight, but now the UK is leading the way in utilising another massive reserve of sustainable energy – the ocean. The waters around the islands of Orkney, in the north of Scotland, are the site of some of the world’s strongest currents – as well as violent storms. Now the hope is that this energy can be used as a new source of electricity, creating what could be the biggest marine energy site in the world. However, the prospect doesn’t please everyone. John Craven has been to Orkney to investigate.
This week Adam is off to Hereford in search of a new boar to introduce to his Kuni-Kuni sows. His regular boar is unwell and is struggling come up with the goods, so he’s had to be sidelined. If Adam doesn’t get a stand-in soon, there’ll be no new piglets this year.
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