The BEST Episodes of River Cottage

Every episode ever - ranked by fan votes!

Last Updated: Mar 17, 2020

Network: Channel 4

In 1999 Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall decided to quit the bustle of London and take on the life of a smallholder at River Cottage, a former gamekeeper's cottage in Dorset. The aim: self-sufficiency; to grow his own vegetables and raise his own animals for food. Over the years several series have been produced covering his experiences and watching his rural empire grow.

Every Day: Meat

#1 - Every Day: Meat

Season 14 - Episode 1 - Aired Sep 23, 2010

Hugh believes the way to make organic free range meat fit your budget, is to eat and enjoy cheap cuts rather than cheap meat.

star 10.00
29 votes
Return to River Cottage (6)

#2 - Return to River Cottage (6)

Season 3 - Episode 6 - Aired Feb 18, 2000

With a failed hay harvest, Hugh must somehow acquire enough hay to feed the animals throughout the winter. His solution? A party, instead of a bring a bottle party, it's bring a bale.

star 8.00
116 votes
Directors: Zam Baring
Writers: Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall
Winter's on the Way (1)

#3 - Winter's on the Way (1)

Season 13 - Episode 6 - Aired Nov 12, 2009

Winters On The Way as we return to River Cottage to join Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall growing rearing fishing and foraging for an array of winter treats. With his produce he hopes to turn this traditionally chilly season into the warmest of the year. Hugh lives in cider country which presents a problem when it comes to one of his favourite fruits the pear. As well as eating and cooking with pears he would like to enjoy them brewed as an alcohol or Perry. Hugh travels to Gloucestershire where David Kaspar is still making this traditional tipple. Catching fish is one of Hughs great passions. Be it line or fly fishing potting or scuba diving hes tried a whole range of intriguing ways to sustainably gather the fruits of the sea. However there is one technique he has not tried out and that is professional free diving. After a crash course in holding huge breaths underwater he takes to the open sea to try and bag the ultimate of shellfish scallops. Hugh prepares some comforting wintery dishes including a mixed mushroom tart with fungi picked fresh from the forest scallops from the sea with mushy squash and bacon hot ham hock and split pea soup and pot au feu.

star 8.00
29 votes
Directors: Richard Hill
Writers: Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall
Winter's on the Way (2)

#4 - Winter's on the Way (2)

Season 13 - Episode 7 - Aired Nov 19, 2009

Based on the nibbled nature of his vandalised veg, Hugh suspects robbers of the rabbit kind. But in order to get incontrovertible proof he'll have to rely on Pumpkin Cam.

star 8.00
29 votes
River Cottage Christmas Fayre

#5 - River Cottage Christmas Fayre

Season 15 - Episode 1 - Aired Dec 13, 2010

In an evening of traditional festive British foods, look out for luxuriously rich Christmas bread, Hugh’s take on a sweet chutney, a trio of recipes for that wonderful winter root celeriac, tips on filling the perfect homemade hamper, and some deliciously different ways to stuff a roast goose. All that plus a festive foraged cocktail, a gingerbread house competition, a caroling Christmas party and hangover cures!

star 8.00
29 votes
Directors: Stephen Leigh
Writers: Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall
Return to River Cottage (2)

#6 - Return to River Cottage (2)

Season 3 - Episode 2 - Aired Jan 21, 2000

The sheep and cattle are settling in, but there is a problem with some of the chickens. They seem reluctant to climb into their new high-rise home, so Hugh decides to sell them at the annual poultry auction.

star 7.70
87 votes
Directors: Andrew Palmer
Writers: Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall
Return to River Cottage (3)

#7 - Return to River Cottage (3)

Season 3 - Episode 3 - Aired Jan 28, 2000

Hugh's landlord [Anthony Hitchens] is holding the annual mediaeval fair in the garden of his house, Hugh has donated one of the River Cottage pigs to be spit roasted. Hugh also tries his hand at mackrel netting, the traditional Dorset method of catching mackrel and tries to discover the secret ingredient for the local bakers' lardy cake.

star 7.70
87 votes
Directors: Andrew Palmer
Writers: Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall
Return to River Cottage (4)

#8 - Return to River Cottage (4)

Season 3 - Episode 4 - Aired Feb 4, 2000

Prolonged wet weather has ruined Hugh's chances of gathering a hay harvest this year, blight has struck the tomato crop too, plunging his plans to sell them at the farmers' market into doubt. However, the wet weather means that wild mushrooms are on the menu.

star 7.70
87 votes
Directors: Zam Baring
Writers: Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall
Return to River Cottage (1)

#9 - Return to River Cottage (1)

Season 3 - Episode 1 - Aired Jan 14, 2000

Having decided to stay at River Cottage rather than return to the city, Hugh is expanding; he's rented a four acre field in which he intends to keep cattle and create Chickenopolis!

star 7.60
145 votes
Directors: Andrew Palmer
Writers: Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall
Return to River Cottage (5)

#10 - Return to River Cottage (5)

Season 3 - Episode 5 - Aired Feb 11, 2000

With his entire tomato crop harvested, Hugh has bet Michael Michot that he can earn more money than him at the local farmers' market, despite Michael having three poly-tunnels to Hugh's one. With half of a River Cottage sheep at stake, this calls for a cunning recipe or two, including one for the unripened tomatos. The River Cottage Glutton is launched.

star 7.50
58 votes
Directors: Zam Baring
Writers: Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall
Beyond River Cottage (9)

#11 - Beyond River Cottage (9)

Season 6 - Episode 9 - Aired Nov 26, 2004

Nine months after opening River Cottage HQ Autumn is approaching and Hugh prepares an Autumn Feast. He is fattening up 10 cockerels for main course and for canapes decides on mushrooms. However to find enough mushrooms he takes to the air on a paraglider for a good vantage point. To cook the chicken he has special pots made and fired by a potter.

star 7.50
58 votes
Escape to River Cottage (2)

#12 - Escape to River Cottage (2)

Season 1 - Episode 2 - Aired Mar 25, 1999

Hugh's been at the cottage a month, his vegetables have been planted and they are growing nicely.Pike is on the menu today, but he'll have to catch one first. There's also a trip to the local fruit farm for a day's fruit picking with the transient eastern European workforce.

star 7.50
58 votes
Directors: Billy Paulett
Writers: Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall
Escape to River Cottage (5)

#13 - Escape to River Cottage (5)

Season 1 - Episode 5 - Aired Apr 15, 1999

Hugh decides that the river that give the cottage its name should contribute to his larder. So he has an eel trap made and puts it to use in the river.He also spends the day as a pheasant beater being paid with pheasant not money for his day's work. Then it's a lesson in cider making with the Chiddick Cider Circle. He tests the theory that the cider's purity - despite an alcohol content of 15% - will never result in a hangover.

star 7.50
58 votes
Directors: Andrew Palmer
Writers: Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall
Beyond River Cottage (10): A River Cottage Christmas Feast

#14 - Beyond River Cottage (10): A River Cottage Christmas Feast

Season 6 - Episode 10 - Aired Dec 3, 2004

In this hour-long special "A River Cottage Christmas Feast", Hugh prepares a gluttonous ten-bird roast: a woodcock in a partridge in a pidgeon in a pheasant in a guineafowl in a mallard in a chicken in an Aylesbury duck in a goose in a turkey. Hugh also learns how to build a smoker and makes sausage baubles for the Christmas tree. Then he joins the cider circle for some mulled cider and wassailing in the orchard. The River Cottage H.Q. team is treated to a day of squid fishing. Finally, all of Hugh's friends join him in the medieval-themed feast.

star 7.30
116 votes
River Cottage Forever (1)

#15 - River Cottage Forever (1)

Season 4 - Episode 1 - Aired Jul 18, 2002

In his third year at River Cottage, Hugh is finally about to see the first birth at River Cottage, but some things take time and a few sleepless nights ensue.Chickenopolis is also extended in readiness for Hugh's quest to breed the "ultimate" roasting chicken.He also travels the 8 miles down the river Brit from River Cottage to the sea by canoe.

star 7.00
29 votes
Directors: Zam Baring
Writers: Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall
River Cottage Forever (2)

#16 - River Cottage Forever (2)

Season 4 - Episode 2 - Aired Jul 25, 2002

Hugh has his eye on the grass carp in Anthony's ornamental lake. He pursuades Anthony to let him catch one and prove it's edible. If he fails, there's a forfeit to pay. Hugh's sheep finally delivers the first River Cottage livestock, but not without a scare for Hugh.

star 7.00
29 votes
Directors: Andrew Palmer
Writers: Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall
River Cottage Forever (3)

#17 - River Cottage Forever (3)

Season 4 - Episode 3 - Aired Aug 1, 2002

There's plenty of bad news concerning the livestock today: Marge's pregnancy has been greatly exaggerated and the Indian Game cock turns out to be all beak and no trouser. This means that there won't be the beef steer Hugh was expecting and his plans for the "ultimate roasting chicken" have been set back.On the bright side, there's a successful day's work catching cuttlefish and shooting wood pigeon.

star 7.00
29 votes
Directors: Zam Baring
Writers: Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall
River Cottage Forever (5)

#18 - River Cottage Forever (5)

Season 4 - Episode 5 - Aired Aug 15, 2002

River Cottage is alive to the sound of chirping chicks, after the initial set-back due to the 'under-performing' cockrel. Hugh and Delia are entered in the Oakhampton Show.

star 7.00
29 votes
Writers: Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall
River Cottage Forever (6)

#19 - River Cottage Forever (6)

Season 4 - Episode 6 - Aired Aug 22, 2002

Hugh has set his sights on the Vegetable Cup at the Beaminster Show. Covert tactics to observe the competition are undertaken. There's also an opportunity to get some cash out of Devon's tourists with home-made iced-lollies and a blind-folded Hugh is taken to a secret location to hunt for truffles with Delia.

star 7.00
29 votes
Writers: Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall
River Cottage Forever (7)

#20 - River Cottage Forever (7)

Season 4 - Episode 7 - Aired Aug 29, 2002

There is a sombre start to the day as one of the sheep has died in the night, the first animal Hugh has lost. An orchard is planted which will give apples all year long and with the help of Victor, Ray and Richard, the "ultimate roasting chicken" is found.

star 7.00
29 votes
Writers: Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall
River Cottage Forever (8)

#21 - River Cottage Forever (8)

Season 4 - Episode 8 - Aired Sep 5, 2002

It's Hallowe'en at River Cottage and Hugh is celebrating with the locals and trying his hand at the ancient game of pumpkin fettling. There's also money to be made so Hugh teams up with Michael Michot to sell their chillies in London - the "city of sin".

star 7.00
58 votes
Writers: Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall
Beyond River Cottage (1)

#22 - Beyond River Cottage (1)

Season 6 - Episode 1 - Aired Oct 1, 2004

With 44 acres the farm has 10 times more land than he had at River Cottage, which allows for a lot more veg and livestock than his family needs. With this in mind Hugh is unable to resist the opportunity to expand further. He plans to set up a culinary headquarters, or food outlet, where he can sell his home-grown and home-reared produce direct to the public. Having found a collection of muck ridden and ramshackle barns in which to base his venture however he wonders if this time he's bitten off more than he can chew.

star 7.00
58 votes
Beyond River Cottage (2)

#23 - Beyond River Cottage (2)

Season 6 - Episode 2 - Aired Oct 8, 2004

Hugh has taken a lease on some barns near his new farm in Dorset. He plans to turn them into a culinary HQ – a place he can use as an outlet for his home-grown food and for hosting dinners for customers. But the place is still filled with mud and muck. He sets himself a two-week deadline to create a working kitchen and a charming dining room, after which he hopes to kick off with an opening Valentine's Night Special for some of the people who have helped him. To stock up his kitchen he visits Auction houses, ala Bargain Hunt

star 7.00
58 votes
Beyond River Cottage (3)

#24 - Beyond River Cottage (3)

Season 6 - Episode 3 - Aired Oct 15, 2004

Hugh's sow, Maggie, is about to give birth to piglets. While he waits for the birth, he must install proper plumbing and loos before he can welcome members of the public to The River Cottage HQ.

star 7.00
29 votes
Beyond River Cottage (5)

#25 - Beyond River Cottage (5)

Season 6 - Episode 5 - Aired Oct 29, 2004

Hugh is invited to an Easter Blossom picnic. He has to take something along and for his dish he needs morel mushrooms to make a mushroom and chicken mousse. He also tries his hand at baking bread and helps out at a cider festival. Back at HQ he starts a miniature orchard where all the apple trees are in pots. His tunnels are also up and this should guarantee his supply of fresh veg during the year

star 7.00
58 votes