MATT BAKER

THE COUN­TRY­FILE PRE­SEN­TER GOES BE­HIND THE SCENES ON HIS SHOWS AND FAM­ILY FARM

Countryfile Magazine - - Contents -

Why the won­ders of Northum­ber­land make it a per­sonal favourite.

NA­TURE’S GREAT­EST COUNTY

Peo­ple al­ways ask me to name my favourite county or place I’ve been. It’s a tricky ques­tion be­cause of all the won­der­ful places we visit, but Northum­ber­land is def­i­nitely my favourite.

As I travel around film­ing, I can’t help but com­pare land­scapes to those of the an­cient county that bor­ders the place I grew up. I was talk­ing re­cently to Si King, one of the Hairy Bik­ers, and Vir­ginia McKenna from Born Free, whose late hus­band was from the area, about how you couldn’t wish for any­thing else from an place to visit.

Northum­ber­land seems to have the lot, es­pe­cially at this time of year. Grow­ing up in County Durham, I was a stone’s throw from the place that I now re­ally ap­pre­ci­ate as an adult. From sail­ing on Kielder Wa­ter, ex­plor­ing the wilder­ness of the na­tional park or drift­ing out to the Holy Is­land of Lind­is­farne, zipped in my cagoule to visit the puffins on school trips, I re­mem­ber look­ing out of the win­dows of the school bus at this in­spir­ing area of out­stand­ing nat­u­ral beauty.

Of course I didn’t ap­pre­ci­ate its beauty as a boy, but its rugged and di­verse land­scape has had a last­ing ef­fect on me. I have vivid mem­o­ries of trav­el­ling with my Dad on the back of his mo­tor­bike, him show­ing me the map of where we’d ex­plore and that feel­ing of ex­cite­ment as we went over Post­man Pat-style hill­tops, see­ing the land­scape of past bat­tle­grounds spread out in front of us. It re­ally was ex­cit­ing. Hadrian’s Wall was a firm favourite for a trip on the week­end, af­ter I’d spent hours pol­ish­ing the mo­tor­bike, only to spend hours on our re­turn clean­ing the un­lucky Northum­ber­land flies off my pre-pol­ished paint­work.

NAT­U­RAL TEMPO

For me, it’s a county where you get a real sense of hu­mans and an­i­mals liv­ing along­side each other. It’s a place where the tempo is set by na­ture, and I think that’s why it is so re­lax­ing for vis­i­tors. You can’t help but be en­gulfed by its aura and char­ac­ter, which is a world away from any­where else you’ll go. Coun­try­file shot the last Christ­mas Spe­cial from Bam­burgh Cas­tle, and as we stood on the beach record­ing the open­ing, ev­ery­one was en­thus­ing about how spe­cial the area is.

I may be a lit­tle bi­ased but I’m sure ev­ery one of the Coun­try­file pre­sen­ters will agree that this mag­i­cal county takes some beat­ing. So if you haven’t been, as lo­cals say: “Howay man, get yer sel owa” (What are you wait­ing for, you’ve got to come).

“I re­mem­ber drift­ing out to Holy Is­land, zipped in my cagoule, to visit puffins”

BE­LOW Bam­burgh Cas­tle on the coast of Northum­ber­land. The county is Matt’s favourite, hav­ing grown up near its amaz­ing nat­u­ral de­lights

Watch Matt on Coun­try­file on Sun­day nights at 6.30pm on BBC One.

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