Countryfile fame for East Northants stretch of Nene Valley as seen on TV

The programme can be seen on the BBC iPlayer

Monday, 22nd February 2021, 5:23 pm
Updated Monday, 22nd February 2021, 5:29 pm

The Nene Valley has been basking in the limelight of TV fame after the beautiful river was featured on the BBC Sunday night flagship programme Countryfile.

Presenter Tom Heap made the trip to East Northamptonshire to see various projects along the length of the valley, including the impact of flooding.

Despite shocking many viewers with his pronunciation of the Nene (to rhyme with mean not men), Tom Heap was shown exploring the Nene Valley near Oundle and at Stanwick Lakes as well as Cogenhoe and Northampton.

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Nene Valley

Destination Nene Valley, which was instrumental in bringing the Nene Valley to the small screen, worked with presenters of BBC Countryfile with the filming of the episode which was screened yesterday (Sunday, February 21).

Cllr Sarah Peacock, chairman of Destination Nene Valley, said: “I thought the programme did us proud. It highlighted how, in under 40 years, we have uncovered the biggest archaeological site in the country, completed incredible conservation work, reduced flooding and continue to benefit the current settlers of the Nene Valley for future generations.

“Destination Nene Valley is committed to promoting the area as an incredible place to visit, work and live and we hope Countryfile has inspired visitors to discover our hidden valley and all it has to offer.”

Viewers of the flagship countryside programme watched scenes filmed in the stunning landscape surrounding the River Nene looking at the flooding in the area, its impact on local communities and how the river has shaped the lives of the people and wildlife who live beside it.

Nene Wetlands

The programme showed how farmer John Gent works with the natural ebb and flow of the river and has embraced wetland wildlife to make his land sustainable.

Presenter Tom Heap also got hands-on with a project that has unearthed evidence of riverside residents dating back to Neolithic times.

Helena Darragh, Nene Valley Land Adviser for The Wildlife Trust in Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire & Northamptonshire, said: “I was speaking from floodplain farmland near Oundle, where in 2019 we carried out wet grassland improvement work for wading birds as part of the Farming for the Future project.

"The features were created to attract lapwing, snipe, redshank. Unfortunately, the flooding this year meant that the shallow V-shaped ditches we dug with the RSPB’s rotary ditcher were totally underwater, meaning the wet grassland habitat was too soggy for waders to be seen on the day, but demonstrates how the ditches fill up with floodwater, and then retain this water once the floodwater has receded.

“It also shows the carrying capacity of floodplain meadows to hold floodwater – much of which has been lost due to development pressures and intensive agriculture over the past decades.”

Destination Nene Valley is the official tourism body for the area, funded by East Northamptonshire Council, working closely with the Nenescape Landscape Partnership Scheme.

Nenescape is a five-year National Lottery Heritage Fund initiative, which is delivering a number of partnership-led projects tasked with promoting and protecting the heritage of the Nene Valley. Farming for the Future is one of these projects, which involves working with farmers and landowners in the Nene Valley to help restore and create meadow and wetland habitats, as well as undertake vital infrastructural improvements to tackle diffuse pollution and aid water quality, such as the one featured in the Countryfile episode.

Amanda Johnson, project manager at Nenescape, said: “We are so grateful to BBC Countryfile for recognising the hard work that is going into restoring and conserving the natural flood plains along the River Nene.

"Farming for the future, alongside our partner project Resilient River, bring together landowners, wetland managers and charitable trusts to ensure the valley does what it was naturally intended to do by our ancestors and is conserved for generations to come.”

Settlers of the Nene Valley, another Nenescape project also featured, The three-year project, tells the stories of the people who settled in the Nene Valley over the past 5,000 years, from Neolithic to Medieval.

Working with local communities and schools, the project has explored, recreated and celebrated the lives of those settlers as they travelled, settled and traded along the river. The project is run by the Rockingham Forest Trust, an environmental charity which has been connecting people and places for more than 20 years.

Settlers of the Nene Project Manager, Becky Gill said: “The project has allowed us, working with the local community, to better understand how previous settlers would have lived and how the river would have influenced their lives.”

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