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