I don’t watch a lot of television these days, but occasionally a programme comes along that justifies taking time out to watch on BBC iPlayer. Such was the case with The Great British Countryside which saw Julia Bradbury and Hugh Dennis exploring the South Downs.
The hour long programme gives a wonderful taste of the South Downs, never lingering long in one place and covering the length of hills from the Seven Sisters on the East Sussex coast, through to the watercress beds of Hampshire.
There is some wonderful scenery, as one would expect, but also some explanation of how the Downs were formed and some of the properties of chalk and flint. Hugh Dennis climbs the chalk cliffs (presumably one of the Seven Sisters) and sees just how soft and crumbly the chalk is. We also learn how the chalk impacts on things like horse racing and growing grapes.
Subjects are varied, taking in the history, agriculture, industry and leisure aspects of the South Downs, in short a real cross-section of how man has interacted with the Downs over the centuries.
This programme is a great introduction to the South Downs and even those like me who have grown up in it’s shadow may learn a thing or two about this wonderful landscape.
This episode of The Great British Countryside is available to watch on BBC iPlayer until Thursday 15th March 2012.