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Portillo returns to the historic Settle-Carlisle line to find out what has happened to it since he helped save it in the 1980s.Along the way, he explores the magnificent Ribblehead viaduct, finds out about the [Navvy At Windermere, Portillo delves into the history of the railway station and takes a steamboat tour of the lake, then visits William Wordsworth's home village of Grasmere and makes sausages with a local Herdwick sheep farmer.
Portillo has gone on to present three related series, Great Continental Railway Journeys from 2012, Great American Railroad Journeys which began in 2016, and Great Indian Railway Journeys, which is to be broadcast in autumn 2017.Portillo goes birdwatching on the wild cliffs of Flamborough Head, learns to decipher traditional knitting patterns in Filey and meets one of the oldest residents of the Victorian seaside resort of Scarborough - a 4,000-year-old skeleton called Gristhorpe Man.Portillo explores the origins of the temperance movement in Preston, samples the attractions of Blackpool such as the Blackpool Tower. Portillo takes a walk across Morecambe Bay with the official keeper of the sands.He visits the scene of the Rainhill trials and finds out about the first railway fatality.Then, in Eccles, he explores the origins of the Eccles cake.Portillo goes fishing with the last eel trapper on the Fens at Ely and visits one of the great triumphs of 19th-century engineering, the Denver Sluice.
He ends this leg in King's Lynn, where he uncovers an ambitious plan to reclaim the Wash in Bradshaw's day.
Filmed entirely on location, the series features a mix of Portillo delivering dialogue to camera, as well as performing ad-hoc interviews with members of the public or fellow travellers, in addition to pre-arranged interviews.
All episodes were originally broadcast on weekdays on BBC Two, in the pm timeslot.
Great British Railway Journeys is a BBC documentary series presented by Michael Portillo.
It premiered in 2010 on BBC Two, and has returned each year for a total of eight series.
Travelling on to Mevagissey, he goes pilchard fishing, discovering that the pilchard was renamed as the Cornish sardine in the 1950s, and visits the Lost Gardens of Heligan on the Heligan estate.