Walking Through History is a documentary series which follows Tony Robinson as he takes some spectacular walks through some of the country's most historic landscapes looking for the richest stories from Britain's past.
Tony takes a 40-mile walk through the glorious Peak District, along the Derwent Valley, where the world's industrial revolution was born. This is a journey that reveals how Britain transformed itself from a nation of farmers into the industrial powerhouse of the world. En route Tony visits sleepy Peaks village Cromford, where Richard Arkwright established the world's first ever factory, and examines the grip that Arkwright had on Cromford, including enforcing his own currency. Nearby is the building that would lay the foundations for today's skyscrapers. Tony also encounters a 900-year-old stately home that has been used to film three different Jane Eyres. Brian Blessed introduces Tony to the joys - and the huge significance - of the Cromford canal. Later Tony climbs to the heights of the Peaks, drawn by the chance to operate a huge steam winding engine that's been working in the same place since 1829. He ends his incredible journey through economic time in Derby; the railway town's secret crown jewel is the world's first engine roundhouse, built in 1839 and now restored to its former glory.
Tony's walk in this episode takes him back to 1940 when Dorset became the unlikely frontline in the war against Hitler. His five-day, 60-mile walk along the Jurassic coast reveals the county's hidden World War II story. Starting by the defences on Chesil Beach (still standing 70 years on), Tony's journey encompasses stunning scenery and amazing acts of ingenuity and bravery as he heads east towards Swanage and Studland Bay. He uncovers the strange part a world-famous swannery played in developing a secret weapon. He hears of the bravery of the man who won the Victoria Cross serving in Portland Harbour when it became one of the first places in Britain to be bombed by the Germans. He reveals the role Dorset had to play in protecting Britain from invasion, and in an emotional climax he meets one of the veterans who survived after landing on Omaha Beach on D Day.
Tony sets off on a 45 mile hike through the beautiful countryside of the Weald in Kent and the Downs of East Sussex to discover the area's rich and surprising Tudor heritage. At the impressively preserved Penshurst Place, author Philippa Gregory helps Tony relish the fate of the Grand Duke of Buckingham at the hands of the young Henry VIII. From there, he travels up what used to be secret paths to Hever Castle. Henry's saucy courting of the Boleyn girls at Hever comes as perhaps no surprise, but Tony travels on to find out how the monarch's reign brought not just fame and disaster to the women who caught his eye, but also wrought huge social, political, and industrial change to the country - and especially this area. Before finishing in the town of Lewes, where he relives one of the more brutal monastic dissolutions, Tony will have uncovered treason in Henry's court, discovered how the Weald's iron ore deposits made it the industrial heart of Tudor England and he'll have seen the ruthless extent of one man's ambition - Thomas Cromwell.
Tony takes on a tough four-day trek through the Kintail region of the west Scottish Highlands to discover the story of the Jacobite uprisings of the early 1700s. On three occasions, Highland armies, assisted by the French and the Spanish, attempted to overthrow the King and put a Stuart back on the throne. What made the Highlands such a breeding ground for revolution and how did the unique character of this landscape shape the character of the Highlanders? Tony's journey of discovery starts in Shiel Bridge, at the mouth of Glen Shiel, where he heads to the site of the earliest known dwellings here, the 'skyscrapers' of the Iron Age. On to the village of Glenelg with its fantastic views over the Sound of Sleat to Skye... and the hulking remains of a British barracks built 200 years ago by George I to pacify and terrify the locals. Via the town of Kyle of Lochalsh, Tony reaches the stunning Eilean Donan Castle. It has now been rebuilt, but it was destroyed after the invading Spanish troops landed here and were attacked by British warships. Finally, Tony heads up the awe-inspiring Glen Shiel to the site of the climactic battle where royalist troops faced off against the rebels.