Press Centre

Britain’s Biggest Adventures with Bear Grylls

  • Episode: 

    3 of 3

  • Transmission (TX): 

    Tue 29 Sep 2015
  • TX Confirmed: 

  • Time: 

    9.00pm - 10.00pm
  • Week: 

    Week 40 2015 : Sat 26 Sep - Fri 02 Oct
  • Channel: 

  • Status: 

    Last in series
In this brand-new three-part series for ITV, adventurer Bear Grylls heads out on an epic journey of discovery across England, Scotland and Wales to experience the British Isles at their most spectacular.
The final episode of the series sees Bear take on the Highlands in mid-winter, on an adventure that takes him from the deepest point in Britain to its highest mountain, Ben Nevis. Along the way he discovers ancient pearl mussels, helps save an ancient forest and discovers reindeer are making a Scottish comeback.
Bear starts his journey at Loch Morar, which lies 90 miles north of Glasgow on the Western coast of Scotland. The loch was carved by a huge glacier during the last ice age that ended some 10,000 years ago. The deepest part of the Loch is deeper than all the coastal sea water surrounding the UK. It is an enormous abyss holding over 500 billion gallons of water and Bear is intent on reaching the deepest point.
Bear says: “To give you some perspective of how deep this Loch is – the deepest point is 1017 feet and if you took London’s biggest skyscraper The Shard, the tallest building in the UK, and dropped it down there, it would disappear.”
Bear is helping ecologists Lucia Lencioni and Laurence Carvalho, who are here to collect samples from the floor of Loch using a tube tied to rope. 
Laurence says: “We’ve never had a water sample from the bottom, so this is a first for both the sediments and the water.”
Despite the Loch being right next to the sea, it is filled with freshwater but the scientists wonder if the water at the very bottom of the loch has traces of salt water.  Bear is happy to taste the water from the muddy sample to find the answer.
The Morar water is so pure, Bear and the scientists actually detect very few signs of life on their underwater scanners.  Loch Morar has very little plankton, which is needed to help fish and other creatures survive. 
However, not to be outdone by the more famous Loch Ness, Morar has its own legendary sea monster called Morag, described as a brown, eel-like creature, some 30 feet long. Bear can’t leave the Loch without trying to find some evidence.
His adventure continues by canoe, through river rapids, as he follows the path cut through the Scottish West Highlands by ancient glacier waters. 
Bear says: “It’s just incredibly beautiful here. Sort of place that really makes your heart sing. Even in these conditions, where it’s a bit grey and drizzly.  There’s something other worldly about this place. It’s like a kind of magical wilderness that you can lose yourself in.”
Bear is on the hunt for one of the most endangered species in the world, freshwater pearl mussels. While they can live to well over 100 years old, they have a survival rate of around one in twenty-million.  
This survival rate has been significantly made worse, because humans have hunted them for hundreds of years.   Only one in every 100 contains a valuable pearl, and opening them usually kills them.  The survival of the mussels is still under threat, despite becoming a protected species in 1998.  Biologist Diane Baum explains to Bear that the mussels are very fussy about where they breed and must have just the right set of conditions.
Diane says: “This river is perfect for them, this really is clean water. We’ve got this amazing glaciated landscape with really pure water coming off the hills. There’s no pollution really.”
Diane uses an electro fishing back-pack to safely stun young salmon, so she can show Bear how these iconic Scottish fish play a key role in the mussels’ long and dangerous journey to adulthood. 
Next, Bear heads for the hills and begins his quest to discover how Scotland’s magnificent highlands were formed.  He pushes a dog sled through the snow covered ancient Caledonian Forest, the only native pine forest left in the UK.  With him is Alan Stewart, who has been training sled dogs in Scotland for over 20 years. Bear is introduced to Alaskan Huskies,  Harley and Davis, who can run for close to 50 miles in a single day.   
When the Romans invaded the British Isles, their expansion into Scotland was halted because of the size and density of this vast forest.  Today the forest is under threat, not just because of deforestation but also due to the fact that the native Scots Pine has been over- run by a non-native species.  Bear discovers there is a plan to save it and joins Henry Dobson from the Nevis Landscape Partnership, up a 100-foot Scots Pine tree in the shadow of Ben Nevis, collecting precious seeds ready to grow and plant. 
Bear says: “To climb this tree I’m using a special forces technique called Jumaring. The Jumar can only travel upwards. You let the harness take your weight, and use your leg and arm strength to haul yourself up... I never grow tired of climbing trees!”
Bear’s journey continues up into the Cairngorm Mountains, the windiest and coldest place in the British Isles. Wind speeds can reach 173 miles an hour, with temperatures plummeting to minus 17 Fahrenheit. Bear burrows into the snow to get out of the weather, a trick he has borrowed from a hardy local called the Ptarmigan, a bird species that can easily survive in these arctic conditions. 
Bear explains: “I’ve learnt over the years, always copy what nature does, generally, it knows best.  It can be up to 20 to 30 degrees warmer in a snow cave than outside. It makes such a difference to be out of the wind and nicely insulated by the snow. Snow’s a very good insulator.”
Skiing through the landscape, Bear meets a herd of 150 reindeer and feeds them lichen. Even though this herd comes from modern Scandinavian stock he discovers they were once regularly found in the region but were hunted for food and their skins. 
Finally, Bear heads up the formidable Aonach Mor, a mountain over 4000 feet tall where the weather can turn in an instant and the steep ice walls are capped by treacherous unstable overhanging snow called cornices. The summit offers the best views of its famous neighbour, Ben Nevis. Bear joins geologist and ace mountaineer Hugh Barron, for a challenging ice climb.
The highlands are infamous for avalanches and all it takes is one misplaced blow with the ice axe for a whole slab of snow to come away and crash down the mountain, taking Bear and Hugh with it.  The duo move fast and tread lightly as they head to the summit.  But within minutes, thicker, freezing cloud sweeps in and the visibility diminishes. They are forced to take temporary shelter and Bear learns more about how the Nevis mountain range was formed. 
Back on the move, 20 feet from the summit, they have one last hurdle – the cornice. Three feet of fragile snow jutting out, which if it gives way, could mean a 1500-foot drop to the bottom.  Will they make it to the top