Rutland Water is home to a rich array of wildlife, including osprey, but beneath the water there may be much more natural history to discover. Last year Joe Davis found the largest and most complete Ichthyosaur skeleton yet seen in the UK. This inland reservoir was once a tropical ocean and there may be many more fossilised remains that remain beneath the water. In fact, there was a recent discovery of the fossilised jaw of a Jurassic crocodile-like creature.
Today the habitat around the reservoir provides a perfect home for waders and wildfowl, as well as sand martins and other birds. Helen Mark discovers how this watery world also hides the most fascinating aquatic insects. Once the reservoir was hated by locals who lost their land and homes, but today it provides the perfect setting to make the most of our natural world and understand more about both the wildlife of today and the creatures that swam here millions of years ago.
Presented by Helen Mark. Produced by Helen Lennard and Perminder Khatkar.
Opening Up County Down
Helen Mark is in County Down, where woodland which has been in private hands for centuries is being opened up to the public. Mourne Park was owned by the same family for five hundred years, but has now been bought by the Woodland Trust. Restoration work is underway at the 385 acre site - clearing invasive plants which have smothered some of the ancient trees, and marking out new walking trails for visitors. Almost half the forest here meets the criteria to classify as ancient woodland, which is one of Northern Ireland's rarest habitats.
Helen also finds out about recovery work going on to restore the land after last year's devastating wildfires in the Mourne mountains, and learns how sheep are helping the National Trust to monitor the recovery of the landscape, by wearing GPS trackers attached to special collars.
En route she encounters St Patrick’s Way – an 82-mile walking trail which spans two counties and connects Christian heritage sites between Armagh and Downpatrick. Helen walks a section of the route, with a journalist-turned-nun as her guide.
Presented by Helen Mark and produced by Emma Campbell.
Matlock Bath Illuminations
In 1897, the Matlock Bath Illuminations were first held to celebrate Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee. Supposedly, a young Princess Victoria looked out of her hotel window and saw candle lights reflected in the River Derwent which flows through the centre of the village, and so the idea for illuminated boats was born. Today, the tradition continues - with a parade of boats made and rowed each year by the local Matlock Bath Venetian Boat Builders' Association.
Helen Mark meets the boat builders and discovers how industry, leisure and tourism here have been built around the River Derwent and the warm springs of Matlock Bath. These thermal springs feed the Matlock Bath Lido and have brought visitors here to experience their healing capabilities since the 17th century. Today the open air lido at the New Bath Hotel has been re-opened and is providing local people and visitors with a chance to be reinvigorated by the traditions of this place and to discover the secrets of the waters beneath.
Presented by Helen Mark and produced by Helen Lennard
The Mushroom Man
"Mushroom fans, foragers like myself - and mycologists even more so - hate the word toadstool because it's basically just yet another example of British prejudice against mushrooms." Writer and forager Daniel Butler leads the charge against British mushroom ignorance as he steers a small group - plus dog - into the woods of mid-Wales. They're looking for tasty porcini, or penny bun mushrooms, to cook and eat. They find so many we can't tell you where they went.
Presented by Helen Mark and produced by Miles Warde
Tolkien once remarked that reviewers, "seem to think that Middle-earth is another planet!" In fact the Shire, Isengard and the horses of Rohan are much closer to home than you think. Tolkien had a car in the 1930's and used to drive out of Oxford and visit sites that definitely filter into the books he wrote. Now Miles Warde has been out with Tolkien expert John Garth to find traces of Tolkien Land at Faringdon Tower and the Rollright Stones. There's also a brief appearance for Sarehole near Birmingham, where the young Tolkien grew up, plus archive of the great writer talking about where his books may have been based.
John Garth is the author of The Worlds of JRR Tolkien - the places that inspired Middle-earth.
The producer for BBC audio in Bristol is Miles Warde