Helen Skelton and Bill Birkett
Bill Birkett and BBC Countryfile team
Bill Birkett and Helen Skelton from the BBC Countryfile team

Towards the end of January 2014 I was asked if I would like to take part in a BBC Countryfile Programme featuring the Langdale Valley and covering The Birkett’s involvement  in rock climbing. Of course I was only too pleased to take part. Helen Skelton interviewed me in the Old Dungeon Ghyll Hotel – Climbers and Hikers Bar – and also tackled a rock climb on Lower Scout Crag located on the hillside just beyond the New Dungeon Ghyll Hotel. In the ODG Helen covered the climbing from my father Jim Birkett (see below), through my own contribution, and on to Dave Birkett, my nephew and one of the leading rock climbers in the world, and my son William. Three generations of climbers – which must be unique. Thanks to Helen, a down to earth fellow Cumbrian, producer Kieron Schiff and Researcher Natasha Fellows and an enthusiastic crew, we were able to cover quite a bit of the history and also take a look at my book writing/photographic work covering climbing, walking and the Lake District in particular.

Maybe it was something to do with the convivial atmosphere and roaring log fire in the Old Dungeon Ghyll, maybe due to the professionalism of the BBC Countryfile team, but it felt like I was talking to friends rather than being interviewed.

Though I must admit I was a bit worried about getting up to Scout Crag to take part in the climbing bit. The problem being that I’ve just had a full knee replacement only a matter of some six weeks before. Actually, thanks to modern medicine and the excellence of the NHS and Wrightington Orthopaedic Hospital, it all went well and I managed to get there and walk about without too much problem. Despite the weather, everything from rain through to sleet and snow, the crew kept filming and Helen managed the climb – despite wet rock and freezing fingers – a good effort on everybody’s part.

The BBC Countryfile programme is scheduled to go out on 9th February 2014.