The Adventurer’s Guide to Britain

Tuesday, 27 December 2011, 7:30PM – 8:00PM

Secret Exmoor: 

In the sixth and final episode of the series Gethin Jones and Charlotte Uhlenbroek journey to wild Exmoor to reveal a side of the region only a few get to see. 

On day one Gethin heads to Dunster Woods to push his strength and endurance to the limit by trying his hand at tree climbing. Although the adventure sport is already big in America, Dunster Wood is one of the few places in the UK you can give it a go. 

With the help of experienced climber, Roland Heming, Gethin gets to grips with the equipment and technique. Before he knows it he’s 30ft off the ground but he then faces the challenge of reaching the very end of one of the oak tree’s branches. 

“This branch is covered in slippery moss and there’s nothing solid to grab hold of – my brain knows I’m safely harnessed but there’s no rope on earth that can hold back the fear of falling,” explains Gethin. 

It’s not just about the climb though as Charlotte has asked Gethin to scout out a good place for some bat watching while he’s up there. As he reaches the outer branches he realises he is standing in the perfect spot – all he and Charlotte will need are a couple of hammocks, although at 30ft off the ground it might not be what Charlotte had in mind. 

Meanwhile, Charlotte sets off to Winsford Hill in search of Exmoor’s most iconic resident, the elusive wild pony. Exmoor is home to 300 wild ponies and is one of only 12 places in the British Isles that these ancient wild animals can be found. 

Getting close to the ponies isn’t easy as they are notoriously wary of humans, so for Charlotte and her guide to stand the best chance of an encounter they saddle up and set off on horseback – both riding former members of the free-living herd. 

“This is definitely the best way to see Exmoor – it is absolutely fantastic up here,” enthuses Charlotte, “and to be on the back of a [once wild] pony just makes it ideal.” 

After an hour of riding they find a group of wild ponies but they are very skittish around the crew so Charlotte sets off with her handheld camera to better her chances of an audience. She’s not left disappointed as she’s greeted, albeit tentatively, by members of the herd. 

”We’re amazingly lucky, you could stay up here for a year and not have an encounter as close as this.” says Charlotte. 

Later that day the adventurers meet up for some bat watching and Charlotte faces her greatest fear – heights! 

“This is really scary for me but Gethin has gone to a lot of trouble to find this really great bat watching spot.” admits Charlotte. 

With lots of encouragement from Gethin, a nervous Charlotte reaches the canopy and they both settle down with their bat detector and wait. Within an hour they are surrounded in darkness and they are both thrilled when they hear a group of pipistrelle bats. 

On day two the pair set off for a hike that reveals all three faces of Exmoor – moors, ancient woodland and sea cliffs. 

Although at first it appears to be a gentle walk it’s not long before they have to negotiate a path along some of the highest sea cliffs in Britain, which narrow to less than three feet in places. The sheer 500 foot drop to the sea below means that one slip could mean death. 

They make it all the way to Hurlstone Point which sits at the very edge of Exmoor and on looking out at the amazing views they both agree it’s a fitting end to their brilliant Exmoor adventure. 

Tuesday, 20 December 2011, 7:30PM – 8:00PM

In the fifth episode of the series Gethin Jones and Charlotte Uhlenbroek explore the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park, rich with wildlife, shipwrecks and smugglers’ caves. 

The adventurers are determined to explore as much of the rugged coastline as they can, so on day one they begin their adventure with a hunt for creatures of the deep. 

“The waters here are warmed by the Gulf Stream – direct from the West Indies and if you know where to look you can find exotic creatures you’d normally associate with the Med,” explains Charlotte. 

Their guide, Karen Flannery, has some exciting news for them; a pod of dolphins has been spotted in the bay, so they set off in a speedboat to try and track them down. 

Dolphins love to play in the wake made by powerful boats so Karen opens up the throttle hoping to entice them to the surface; however, it soon becomes clear the dolphins have moved on and all they manage to spot in the water is an old barrel! 

Putting the disappointment behind them, Gethin and Charlotte decide to split up to explore different aspects of an exceptional local snorkelling spot called Stack Rocks, a haven for marine life. 

Gethin tries his hand at free diving for one of Britain’s largest crustaceans, the spiny spider crab. Pembrokeshire plays host to thousands of spider crabs each year as they migrate there to mate in the shallow waters. 

“There should be loads around and I’ve heard they’re very tasty so I’m going to try and grab a couple for tonight’s dinner, although we’re giving the crabs a fighting chance by not using scuba gear,” says Gethin. 

After an hour of diving Gethin manages to catch one but soon identifies it as a juvenile and puts it back in the water. 

Meanwhile, Charlotte heads to the north end of Stack Rocks and begins to snorkel in the hope of spotting exotic sponges, sea fans or colourful trigger fish but something totally expected happens and Charlotte comes face to face with one of Pembrokeshire’s 5,000 grey seals. 

“I don’t want to chase her, I’d much rather she comes over to check me out as then she’ll feel comfortable but she’s definitely circling me,” explains Charlotte. 

Charlotte’s tactic soon pays off and the inquisitive young seal swims up to greet her. “That was wonderful, I’ve made a friend,” Charlotte says of the priceless encounter. 

Back on dry land, Gethin and Charlotte meet up and journey north to the coast around St. David’s where they find the perfect wild camping spot. With only an hour of sunlight left, Charlotte starts to pitch the tents while Gethin heads off to try and catch some mackerel for their dinner. 

“I may have slightly exaggerated my fishing credentials to Charlotte,” admits Gethin. 

Once the tents are set up, Charlotte moves on to lighting a fire. “I love camping and for me no night under the stars is complete without a roaring fire,” says Charlotte. 

It’s dark when Gethin returns to the camp with their dinner. “I didn’t catch any fish but I managed to buy some,” confesses Gethin. 

On day two the adventurers make their way to St. Nons Bay, a dangerous coastline famous for its shipwrecks and smugglers’ caves, to try their hand at coasteering, an adventure sport in which you make your way along the coastline on foot or by swimming and without the aid of boats or other crafts. 

Once they’re kitted out with wetsuits and the necessary safety gear, they set off to explore with their guide, Tom Luddington, and after a full morning of jumping and swimming they reach the famous caves. 

Not content with their morning’s adventures they begin to climb up to the higher rocks in search of the ultimate adrenaline rush. 

“I think we may regret getting out of the water because in a few minutes we’re going to be climbing up this rock and launching ourselves from the height of a two storey building,” says Gethin. “I may look pretty calm but I’m putting on a brave face, we’re heading for a ledge which is way out of my comfort zone and beyond – I daren’t think how Charlotte must be feeling,” admits Gethin. 

Once at the top they manage to put their fears to one side and on the count of three they both jump into the waters below. 

“It took just a second to complete but that one jump was absolutely the highlight of the day and a really fitting way to cap off two brilliant days on the Pembrokeshire coast,” enthuses Charlotte. 

Tuesday, 13 December 2011, 7:30PM – 8:00PM

In the fourth episode of the series Gethin Jones and Charlotte Uhlenbroek head to the North Pennines in search of adventure and to unearth adrenaline gold. 

Upper Teesdale is one of Britain’s least visited beauty spots but its geology makes for some truly spectacular waterfalls. On day one Charlotte sets off up river from High Force, England’s biggest waterfall to Cauldron Snout which lays claim to being England’s longest waterfall. 

Charlotte’s seven mile journey to the most remote waterfall on the Tees is along a pretty valley cut by the river and packed with stunning wildlife as well as the largest juniper forest in England. 

After walking for two and a half hours Charlotte turns a corner and is overwhelmed by the sight and sound of Cauldron Snout. 

“There’s something about waterfalls, I think it’s just the sheer power of the water and the noise that you get this visceral reaction to them,” enthuses Charlotte 

The waterfall is so long that when you’re at the bottom you can’t see the top so, to appreciate it properly, Charlotte undertakes the 200 metre steep uphill scramble. 

“This is fantastic up here, you can actually see the whole stretch all the way down,” exclaims Charlotte. 

Charlotte then sets off to explore the unique flora of the area including varieties of tiny alpine plants, rare survivors from the last ice age. 

“I love this kind of bleak landscape and then all those beautiful pretty little plants that I’ve ended the day on, but it has been a pretty gentle day so I’m ready for some high drama tomorrow,” says Charlotte. 

Meanwhile Gethin joins professional guide Alistair Myers to explore one of the regions disused lead mines. They arrive at the point of entry, an old drainage tunnel and begin the journey to the heart of the 240 year old mine. 

“We’re only five minutes into the tunnel and it’s already getting colder and scarier with every step,” admits Gethin. 

50 meters later they hit the bedrock. “Now that I’m in the heart of the mine, the overwhelming feeling is just how hard life must have been for the miners,” says Gethin. 

Alistair convinces Gethin to push on further into the mine but it proves to be a claustrophobic’s nightmare as, in order to do so, the pair have to lay flat and squeeze through a gap of just 18 inches high. 

“I’m told that even the most hardened of cavers are not keen on mines because of the loose rock, and right now, I can honestly say I don’t blame them,” says Gethin. 

Upon reaching the working face of the mine that once produced 11,500 tonnes of lead, Gethin is genuinely blown away by the perfectly preserved chamber. 

“There’s no dust to cover the walls, no spiders to spin webs, no sun, no decay and when this underground time capsule is candle lit it transports you back to that forgotten era,” says Gethin. 

On day two the adventurers meet up and head off to the upper reaches of the River Tees to try out a hot new adventure sport – white water tubing, a sport that took off 5 years ago in Colorado when local college students started using the inner tubes from car tyres to run the rapids. 

Lloyd Murray, a white water tubing pioneer, takes Gethin and Charlotte to his favourite tubing spot, a rapid called Salmon Leap Cascade and, after a crash course in river safety, Lloyd offers the adventurers valuable advice on how best to negotiate the tricky rapids – by imitating salmon! 

After practising on the smaller rapids it’s finally time to tube and the pair are keen to have a go at something bigger. 

“I love a bit of adventure sport and his is a real challenge,” admits Gethin 

After three attempts Charlotte proves she’s the better salmon and manages to make it all the way down the series of rapids, but Gethin can’t manage to stay in his tube. “Just when you think you’re in control of Mother Nature she bites back,” says Gethin. 

Tuesday, 6 December 2011, 7:30PM – 8:00PM

Wild Lake District: 

In the third episode of the series, Gethin Jones and Charlotte Uhlenbroek head to the Lake District. Though it’s the busiest week of the tourist year, their mission is to get away from the crowds and find those hidden gems that most visitors overlook. 

On day one, Gethin is joined by world champion fly fisherman and wilderness fishing pioneer, Jeremy Lucas, and the pair set off to the River Eden, one of Europe’s cleanest rivers, to fish for wild brown trout. 

Wild fishing demands plenty of skill and total commitment, particularly in the Eden where it presents a real challenge. 

“The Eden has never been stocked with farm-reared fish – so the brown trout are totally wild and very wary.” explains Gethin.

Wilderness fishing is tough – no short cuts, no technology and no cheating, just fishing the old fashioned way. It requires a great deal of stamina and it’s certainly not a sport for the fainthearted. 

“My legs are going numb and the concentration is killing me but a brown trout weighing 8lbs was once caught on the Eden and I don’t want to miss a thing.” admits Gethin. 

After hours of fishing in several locations they strike it lucky, managing to catch one of the river’s elusive brown trout. 

“Four hours of fishing, [and] a soaking, for 10 seconds in the presence of an ancient fish – until it broke free,” laughs Gethin. 

Meanwhile Charlotte is at Pooley Bridge with former Royal Marine, Craig Palmer, to experience a river adventure of her own – heading to Ullswater, the Lake District’s second biggest lake, in a canoe! 

“Most canoeists go downstream but Craig has other ideas for us, he’s taking me on a more adventurous route – upstream to Ullswater, against the current,” says Charlotte. 

Although the half-mile journey starts off as a gentle paddle it soon becomes hard work going against the current. 

“It’s important to head straight into the strong wind coming off the lake. Rather like an umbrella in a storm, if a gust catches the side of our canoe, we could capsize,” explains Charlotte. 

The hard work pays off and when they get to the lake Charlotte is in awe of its beauty and surroundings. 

“Of tens of thousands of visitors, I’m one of the privileged few who get to experience Ullswater this way – this is just the very best view you’re going to get of the lake,” enthuses Charlotte. 

Back on dry land, the adventurers meet and head off in search of one of Britain’s most magnificent wild animals – the red deer. 

For the best chance of seeing these beautiful creatures up close, Gethin puts his faith in naturalist Charlotte’s expertise. They leave the crew behind to avoid spooking the herd and set off with just a handheld camera. 

They stay low and scramble through bracken and over boggy ground before making it to a hillside where they sit and wait for the herd to pass by. Although the trek was hard going they are not left disappointed as before long the stunning wild animals are within a few hundred feet of them. 

When the crew catches up with them, Gethin is still on a high. “You’re a genius,” he tells Charlotte. “I thought we’d be chasing them the whole time but then you said, ‘Let’s just stay here and let them come to us,’ and it’s happening in front of my very eyes. This is genius, I love it!” 

On day two of their Lake District adventure, Gethin and Charlotte journey nine miles from Pooley Bridge to the southern end of Ullswater and head up the mountain for a wild swim in Angle Tarn, one of Cumbria’s 2,000 mountain lakes. 

Following a long and tiring climb they reach the top. After changing into wetsuits they’re soon enjoying a swim on top of the world. “This is the perfect reward for that hard sweaty climb – a refreshing swim at 1,500 feet,” says Gethin.

Tuesday, 29 November 2011, 7:30PM – 8:00PM

In the second episode of the series, Gethin Jones and Charlotte Uhlenbroek head to North Yorkshire to discover the secret treasures along its famous coastline. 

The area is renowned for its picturesque villages and towns but on the stretches of rugged shoreline in between, there are adventures to be had. The coastline is made up of a crumbling rock that once formed an ancient seabed, which over the years has fallen away to reveal secrets from the time of the dinosaurs, 180 million years ago, making it the perfect place to go hunting for fossils. 

Joined by fossil expert, Mike Marshall, Gethin and Charlotte set off from Runswick Bay to Kettleness in search of prehistoric treasures. A series of landslides has made the remote cove virtually impossible to access by land so in the spirit of adventure they journey there by sea kayak, striking out into the choppy waters of the North Sea. 

“This is properly exciting, I have never sea kayaked before and I’m instantly aware of being in a very small vessel crossing a large expanse of moody sea – our destination suddenly looks quite a long way away,” exclaims Charlotte. 

They complete their mile-long journey to the cove and waste no time in exploring. Charlotte makes the most of the low tide and heads off to a cave she’s spotted from the kayak where she discovers Jet (fossilised Monkey Puzzle Tree) embedded within its walls. 

“I think this is pretty much the only place in Northern Europe, along this coastline where you can find it.” Charlotte enthuses. 

Gethin then sets Charlotte a challenge – they are both allowed to collect three fossils which Mike will then judge to find the best one. 

“This is one of the best places in the country to find fossils, but it’s hard for a novice like me to spot the likely rocks from the duds,” admits Gethin. 

However, with their bounty gathered and assessed, the verdict is unanimous – Gethin wins! 

On day two Gethin is at Boulby Cliff, the tallest cliff on the east coast, where he meets up with Peter Leeming, a mountaineer turned photographer who will go to almost any lengths to take stunning pictures of the wilderness. With Peter leading the way they head off in search of the ideal location to capture the coast’s amazing scenery in a way that most people will never see. 

“It’s easy to see why it’s deserted here, this inaccessible bit of shale is crumbling away making it treacherous underfoot, it’s 300 feet down and I don’t suppose anyone would find you if you fell,” says Gethin. 

On finding the perfect spot Gethin and Peter are faced with the tricky bit. Using only a ‘dodgy’ fisherman’s rope, they tackle the descent of the cliff. 

“Joking apart, you do feel like you could become part of a landslide at any moment, it’s extremely dangerous and too unstable to use proper abseiling equipment,” admits Gethin. 

They make it to their chosen spot safely and manage to capture some beautiful images of the dramatic and ever-changing coastline. 

Meanwhile Charlotte is once again at sea and this time she’s aboard fisherman Sean Baxter’s boat and in search of that most luxurious of seafood, the lobster. Charlotte is put to work and helps haul in the lobster pots. She’s not left disappointed and manages to secure a lobster for that night’s dinner. 

On the way back Charlotte is given charge of the boat and takes it further out for a spectacular view of the coastline. 

Back on dry land Charlotte is joined by foraging expert Chris Bax and the pair go in search of edible seaweed to compliment the lobster Charlotte caught earlier in the day. After collecting several varieties they meet up with Gethin on the beach to sit on the sand and enjoy a delicious meal prepared by Chris using the day’s spoils.

Tuesday, 22 November 2011, 7:30PM – 8:00PM

This information is embargoed from publication and broadcast until Tuesday 15 November 2012. 

In a new series, action-man Gethin Jones and naturalist Charlotte Uhlenbroek uncover a side of the British outdoors that only the adventurous will ever see. 

Over six weeks Gethin and Charlotte will explore different areas of Britain. In each episode their mission will be to seek out, to discover and experience the most inaccessible, unexplored and unknown sights, sounds and heritage of the UK and to capture their splendour on camera.

In the first episode of the series Gethin and Charlotte journey above and below Britain’s oldest national park, The Peak District, better to understand the forces that have shaped its amazing landscape. 

On day one of their two-day adventure in the district described as nature’s adventure playground, Gethin takes to the skies in a microlight, soaring over the radically different landscapes at 2,000 ft, witnessing the staggering effect the ages have had on its dramatic terrain. 

“If you’re flying away for a holiday or something and you’re in a commercial plane you’ve really only got a view to your right or to your left, out here its 360 degrees and on a day like today it’s just breathtaking, absolutely magnificent,” enthuses Gethin. 

Meanwhile, Charlotte sets off in the opposite direction – 300 ft underground! Guided by experienced caver, Nigel Atkins, a nervous but excited Charlotte begins her descent into Giant’s Hole, part of Derbyshire’s longest cave system. 

“I’m not really sure I want to go in there, it seems a bit unnatural to disappear into a black hole in the ground – still I suppose there’s a bit of excitement about heading off into the unknown,” says Charlotte. 

Relatively unexplored and hidden away under fields, Giant’s Hole leads to a honeycomb of tunnels and cathedral-like caverns dug out of limestone by the waters of the Ice Age. 

During Gethin’s microlight flight he spotted a great place for an extreme bike ride so having explored from above and below he and Charlotte meet at ground level on day two and set off to find out how steep a peak in The Peak District can be. 

The first is Winnats Pass. Considered to be one of the top 10 toughest cycle paths in the country, the pass was once a huge cave which collapsed leaving a vast canyon. The steep half-mile stretch takes about half an hour but each push of the pedal is brutal. 

“From the air you can appreciate the scale but not the height of it or how the road rises rapidly to a 1 in 3 gradient. Driving up is easy enough but this is the way to find out what 1 in 3 really means,” says Gethin. 

Their second bike ride is on one of the most bizarre cycle routes in Britain along a ruined road at the bottom of Mam Tor, a steep local peak. The road was built in 1819 to bypass Winnats Pass but a landslide in 1979 destroyed half of the road. The only way down is by bike and even that is a challenge as they soon find out when their ride is cut short when they simply run out of road.

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