He meets farmer Graham Hunter Blair, a self-confessed weather obsessive, who kept a comprehensive record of that summer’s drought, and John hears of the impacts it had on Graham’s farm. John then heads for the woods to meet ecologist Dr George Peterken and Professor Alistair Jump who show him the damage done to beech trees by the long hot summer. And he helps take a tree core sample that shows the trees are still suffering the effects.
The River Wye was hit hard too, shrinking to a trickle. John meets George Woodward, who was a water bailiff back in 1976. George remembers seeing salmon struggle in the shallow waters and recounts how poachers had a field day. John talks to Stephen Marsh Smith, whose work with the Wye and Usk Foundation is helping to restock the river with fish. He hears about the kind of measures in place to help avoid a repeat of 76. And Matthew Oates from the National Trust tells us it wasn’t all bad news. The summer of 1976 was a boom time for insects, especially ladybirds, aphids, and Matthews own favourite, the rare adonis blue butterfly.
We also rerun some of the best weather-related stories to have featured on Countryfile, including Matt Baker in Teesdale remembering the harsh winter of 1947, John Craven looking at how drought affects farmers, and Ellie Harrison getting battered by driving hail on a scenic cycle ride in Scotland.