Return to River Cottage

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Return to River Cottage
StarringHugh Fearnley-Whittingstall
Country of originUnited Kingdom
Original languageEnglish
No. of episodes6
Running time30 minutes (with commercials)
Original networkChannel 4
Original release14 January (2000-01-14) –
18 February 2000 (2000-02-18)
External links

Return to River Cottage is the second series of the Channel 4 programme that follows Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall during his second year of living in the country at River Cottage, Dorset after leaving the city behind. The preceding series was Escape to River Cottage.

Show summary[edit]

In this series, Hugh turns his smallholding into a real home farm and edges a little closer to self-sufficiency. He also explores some of the local traditions and continues to meet the residents of Dorset.[1][2][3]

List of episodes[edit]

Ep. Air Date Summary
1 14 January 2000 It's April, one year since Hugh moved to River Cottage. Hugh negotiates with his neighbour to secure the use of a four and a half acre (18,200 m²) field, just enough to support a cow called Marge and her calf, a steer of beef and a small flock of Dorset Down sheep. The cattle are joined by Hugh's chickens, which he introduces to high-rise living, and three "Spice" pigs which he names Ginger, Baby and Fat. Hugh takes part in a pub's annual raw nettle-eating competition and makes nettle gnocchi. He also goes scallop-diving and prepares a soup of wild watercress and wild garlic foraged from his newly acquired field.
2 21 January 2000 Two of Hugh's chickens aren't acclimating to their 8-foot (2.4 m)-high coop, so he sells them at the annual poultry auction and buys three new birds. Hugh prepares a fruit fool with fresh gooseberry, elderflower and Marge's cream. Hugh calls in vet Jeff Johnson to castrate his bull calf, then they enjoy the testicles on toast with sage leaves. Michael Michaud helps Hugh plant tomatoes in his newly constructed polytunnel. Finally, Hugh joins gamekeepers to hunt rabbit, then he sells bunny burgers and spicy rabbit satay at a farmer's market.
3 28 January 2000 Hugh's landlords the Hitches are hosting a medieval fair, and Hugh offers up one of his pigs for spit roasting. Hugh attempts to breed Marge the cow with a bull named Regulus. Hugh participates in traditional mackerel-netting at Chesel Beach, then preserves his share of the catch as a gravlax. A Kiwi sheep-shearer teaches Hugh to shear his ewes for summer. Then, Hugh has his local bakery prepare lardy cakes using the fat from his pig. Barbara Gunning helps Hugh roast the pig, whose succulent meat is served on rolls at the fair. Finally, the River Cottage team loses at tug of war, sending Hugh flying into the moat, to the delight of all.
4 4 February 2000 Unseasonal rains flatten Hugh's potential hay crop, and the tomatoes in his polytunnel are stricken by blight. Sheep shower Joanna helps Hugh groom one of his sheep—coincidentally also called Joanna—for competition in a show. Hugh joins Nick and Paddy to forage for a full dinner of wild garlic, pigeon, and Chicken of the Woods stuffed in a 6-pound giant puffball. Hugh traps signal crayfish in his river, and prepares a leg of lamb in hay. At the livestock show, Hugh's sheep wins second prize.
5 11 February 2000 The tomato crop has survived the blight, and Hugh prepares to take on organic grower Michael in a friendly competition at the farmer's market. Hugh turns his tomatoes into a variety of upmarket products including ketchup, tomato and apple jelly, and samosas stuffed with green tomato and pumpkin. Hugh enlists Trish, a graphic artist, to design labels for his new brand, The River Cottage Glutton. Meanwhile, Hugh fears his "Spice" pigs may have been targeted by a horny wild boar, so he sets up a whimsical tripwire alarm system around the pig pen. Victor the ham expert returns to sample the dry-cured ham from last year. To thank Trish, Hugh invites her for a dinner of Lobster Thermidor. At the farmer's market, Hugh's strategy of selling prepared foods proves successful.
6 18 February 2000 Hugh tries brewing his own beer, using a hop plant he's found growing atop a tree. Later, he employs Nigel, an expert in hedge laying, to tame the trees behind the cottage. In exchange for a few bales of hay, Hugh acts as the quarry in a bloodhound hunt. Finding that too exhausting, Hugh decides to hold a "bring-a-bale" party to shore up his supply of hay for the winter. He cooks a Moroccan tajine with lamb, and Ray the butcher prepares steaks from Hugh's steer, which they eat with fresh horseradish sauce. The series closes with Hugh's party, as he's joined everyone who has helped him over the past year.


  1. ^ "River Cottage: River Cottage - Episode Guide". Channel 4. Retrieved 4 January 2019.
  2. ^ "Return to River Cottage | TV Guide". Retrieved 4 January 2019.
  3. ^ "River Cottage Series and Episode Guides | TV from RadioTimes". Radio Times. Retrieved 4 January 2019.

External links[edit]