Next Episode of Great Coastal Railway Journeys is
Season 2 / Episode 16 and airs on 12 June 2023 05:00
Michael Portillo embarks on railway adventures around the coasts of the British Isles.
Michael Portillo is on Northern Ireland's spectacular Causeway Coast to begin a railway journey that takes him along the north and east coasts of Ireland through the provinces of Ulster and Leinster.
Beginning on the windswept shores of Loch Foyle, he investigates the 17th-century origins of Ireland's sectarian divide, braves choppy seas to join an archaeological expedition, meets local teenagers learning about their costal home, and surveys the spectacular basalt landscape of the Giant's Causeway.
Michael Portillo is in the glens of Antrim, where Ireland's folklore and magical myths flourish and he is transfixed by tales of fairies and legends of the sea.
At the entrance to Belfast Lough, in Whitehead, he discovers a glorious museum, which tells the story of Ireland's railway heritage. Meanwhile, on the seafront, Michael joins a crew belonging to the Whitehead Coastal Rowing Club as they prepare to race.
At the medieval Carrickfergus Castle, Michael learns of the town's important role in the history of Ireland, when William of Orange landed at its harbour and went on to fight the Battle of the Boyne.
Michael Portillo is in Bangor, County Down, en route to the Northern Irish capital, Belfast. Admiring the handsome waterfront houses, he recalls the resort's prosperity after the railways arrived and learns how local groups are launching a cultural revival.
He learns about the history of Stormont and the Good Friday Agreement, explores the regenerated waterfront on the Maritime Mile, visits the largest coastal inlet in the British Isles, and discovers a scheme to generate power with a tidal kite.
Michael Portillo continues his railway journey along the Atlantic and Irish Sea coasts of Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.
From Newry, he sets off to cross the border into the Republic. On the Carlingford Peninsula, he helps turn and shake 70,000 bags of Pacific oysters. At Newgrange, Michael is blown away by the ancient, acre-sized cairn and his guide's explanation of what happens inside.
Michael visits Dublin Castle, from where Ireland was once ruled by Britain, and meets the grandson of Irish revolutionary Eamon De Valera. At Dublin's docks, he finds out about how investment in the tech sector has transformed the Irish economy.
Michael Portillo begins the final leg of his railway journey, beginning in the harbour town of Dun Laoghaire. He joins a crew of geological surveyors to discover what lies beneath Dublin Bay.
In Sandycove, he meets James Joyce devotees in the town where he found inspiration. At New Ross, he sees a replica of a ship that toook emigrants to America during and after the Irish Famine.
At the Kennedy Homestead in Dunganstown, Michael meets JFK's great-great-great nephew, and at Rosslare, Michael discovers how business is booming in Ireland's closest ferry port to France.
Michael is on a rail journey across the southern coast of England, beginning in Dorset. In Portland Harbour, Michael takes to the water with four-time Paralympian Hannah Stodel. After a quick stop on the distinctive 18-mile-long Chesil Beach, Michael makes his way to Abbotsbury Swannery to take in the amazing sight of their 800-strong colony of mute swans.
In the county town of Dorchester, Michael hears the story of the Tolpuddle Martyrs, who paved the way for today's trade unions. Finally, he visits the ghostly village of Tyneham, whose residents were ordered by the British Army to evacuate temporarily just days before Christmas in 1943 but never returned.
Michael alights at Wareham to visit Dorset's internationally renowned Jurassic Coast. Exploring the geology, he discovers black gold locked into its rocks and visits one of the county's oldest oil fields.
In Swanage, Michael visits the pretty Victorian harbour before riding the magnificent Swanage heritage railway to Corfe Castle, the location for one of the most dramatic hilltop castle ruins in the country.
In Poole, at one of Dorset's biggest employers, handmade cosmetics maker Lush, Michael is introduced to a phenomenon entirely new to him, the bath bomb. Heading back to the sea, Michael takes a stroll along the beach at Sandbanks, reputedly the home of the nation's most expensive coastal real estate, with local resident Harry Redknapp.
Michael ends his journey on Brownsea Island. He learns of Mary Bonham-Christie, a controversial conservationist who rid the island of almost all its human residents to create a protected habitat for wildlife - which today includes the red squirrel.
Michael is in Southampton, one of the busiest ports on the south coast of England and home to the National Oceanography Centre. From the port, Michael takes a ferry to the Isle of Wight, where he rides the island's railway, made up of recycled London Underground trains.
In the island's hinterland, he discovers a highly specialised farm which produces up to 15 different types of garlic and hears of a daring wartime mission behind enemy lines to procure this pungent plant.
Finally, Michael reaches the Needles, the islands iconic chalk stacks where a top-secret Cold War operation took place to develop and test British space rockets.
Michael's journey has brought him to Lee-on-the-Solent in Hampshire, the coastguard's training centre. He finds out about their role in search and rescue and helps in one of their highly skilled operations: a mud rescue.
Michael's next stop on his coastal travels is the great maritime city of Portsmouth to meet the harbour master, whose office oversees more than 200,000 maritime movements through the port each year.
From Portsmouth, Michael travels eastwards to Chichester's vast natural harbour and learns about a conservation project reversing coastal erosion and providing yummy treats for both local and not-so-local wildlife.
The final leg of Michael's journey begins in Fishbourne, the location of one of the most significant Roman sites in Britain. Heading into East Sussex, he makes for a British resort synonymous with seaside jaunts, Brighton.
He celebrates the burgeoning winemaking industry of the South Downs, visiting one of the area's largest vineyards to toast the future of British winemaking and the end of his coastal travels.
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