LOLHAM Curlew, a pedigree British Friesian Heifer, was no ordinary cow; 75 years ago, in 1946, she had yielded a record breaking 26,002 pounds of milk in 365 days.

The heifer was used in an advert for Manus Milking Machines and appeared in the Craven Herald with the headline ‘Record-breaking heifer’.

It was, went on the advert, ‘A British record and believed to be a world record’, and she was still giving 48Ibs at the end of 12 months. Farmers wishing to buy a Manus Milking machine were invited to drop the company a postcard, and it would respond with the details of its nearest agent.

The advertisements in the pages of the Craven Herald post Second World War, 75 years ago, in 1946 are fascinating. Apart from farming, there was also a great interest in the health of the family.

HOT on the heels of the RSPB’s Big Garden Birdwatch, which ran last weekend, now its the turn of the ‘custodians of the largest song bird habitat in the country’ - farmers , landowners, and gamekeepers.

Between Friday, February 5 and Sunday, February 14, the Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust (GWCT) is asking its members to spend half an hour recording the farmland birds they see in one area of their land.

“A custodians of the largest songbird habitat in the country’, farmers, land managers and gamekeepers play a crucial role in the survival of the UK’s farmland birds,” says Dr Roger Draycott of the trust.

“The GWCT Big Farmland Bird Count aims to encourage even more of them to include conservation measures in the daily running of their farm, estate or shoot.”

He added: “Many land managers carry out vital conservation work, largely unseen by the public. By taking part in the count year on year, they can see how the conservation work they are doing is having an impact and our scientists can build a picture of the health of the UK’s farmland bird species.

Modern farming methods mean there is often not enough natural food left in the countryside in late winter and early spring for wildlife, says Roger.

“One of the best ways to support wild and game birds is to provide extra winter seed food. Supplementary feeding is particularly beneficial for birds of conservation concern like grey partridge, yellowhammer and corn bunting.”

The use of ‘conservation headlands’ – wide field margins where little or no pesticides are used – is also highly beneficial to farmland birds. Allowing broad-leaved weeds to flourish boosts insect populations which are a food source for birds. Planting and preserving hedgerows also provides crucial food, as well as nesting habitat and a safe haven from predators.

“We also encourage land managers to maintain small wet areas around the farm, such as ditches, scrapes and even old horse ponds,” says Roger. “These can help to attract wading birds and provide nesting and foraging sites for a wide variety of birds ranging from mallard to threatened species like snipe and lapwing.”

Lapwing, once common on farmland, have declined by 45 per cent since 1970 and they are now a “red list” species - although the birds are relatively common in Craven.

One of the main factors has been the widespread switch from spring-sown to autumn-sown crops, which has dramatically reduced habitat suitable for nesting. By leaving an area of uncropped, cultivated land farmers can provide suitable nesting and foraging areas for lapwing, and other birds which prefer to forage on open ground, such as skylark, stone curlew and turtle dove.

“Farmers and gamekeepers look after 71 per cent of the UK’s countryside, so their commitment to conserving it is vital,” says Roger. “It is brilliant to see so many of them giving up their spare time to record the bird species they see for the GWCT Big Farmland Bird Count.”

As most participants count on their own land, alone or with family members, the count can be safely carried out within Covid restrictions. Find out how to take part at

ACTOR Bill Nighty described ‘picturesque Settle’ as having one of the ‘finest landscapes in the country’ when he travelled on the luxury Northern Belle train over the line from Carlisle for Channel 5’s The World’s Most Scenic Railways programme.

And engine driver Chris Cubitt, on the footplate of the magnificent crimson steam engine Princess Elizabeth, proudly told viewers that Yorkshire was “God’s own country” before the train left Carlisle to head for the Dales.

As well as raving over the rugged, rainswept scenery, Surrey-born Nighy, 71, called the 1,300ft, 24-arch Ribblehead Viaduct “one of the great Victorian landmarks of northern England”.

But while passengers on the train sipped champagne, the film also showed railway enthusiasts Steve Thomson and Daniel Dobson waiting in the pouring rain to film the train crossing it.

“My wife thinks I’m a bit mad,” admitted a drenched but still laughing Steve, as he tried unsuccessfully to shelter under a windblown umbrella.

The Settle-Carlisle line has been voted number two in the top 10 of the world’s greatest railway journeys.

But the programme also paid tribute to the navvies who toiled in harsh conditions to build it during the 18th century.

Settle historian and novelist Sarah Lister said their lives were tougher than we could imagine and men died of exhaustion as well as in accidents.

More than 200 are buried in the graveyard at Chapel-le-Dale.

After arriving back at Preston, Nighy described the Northern Belle as “the Grand Duchess of luxury travel”.

He said passengers had “discovered wonders that lie along the line” during their journey through some of Britain’s most beautiful countryside.

And he added: “Our plush grand tour has been the experience of a lifetime.”

Princess Elizabeth, which once hauled crack expresses through Skipton from London to Scotland, will be steaming through the Dales again on several occasions this summer.

See Bill Nighy in The World’s Most Scenic Railways on Channel 5 plus 1. For more details on the train trip,

THE makers of a new BBC game show called Unbeatable, hosted by Jason Manford, have thrown down the gauntlet to people in Craven to take part.

12 Yard Productions says it is looking for ‘lively, intelligent and competitive personalities’ to take part in the programme and is holding video auditions now.

A game of knowledge and risk, competitors are given a list of answers, and challenged to find the unbeatable answer? It’s not just about finding a good answer, it’s about finding the best answer. Four players, one winner and the chance to win thousands of pounds.

It will be broadcast in the afternoons on the BBC later this year.

Jason Manford says: “I know how important daytime quizzes are for a lot of people, I used to sit with my nana Manford and mum watching them, they keep the brain going, they’re a chuckle and I’m really looking forward to being a part of this exciting brand new one.

People can apply to take part in Unbeatable on the BBC’s Shows and Tours website