The true value of being close to running water, breathing fresh unpolluted air, is being somewhat forgotten in the urban controlled and influenced 21st century, but in actual fact, is paramount to mans wellbeing, more especially as we get older. We forget about the importance of this by-product of every sizeable settlement/town being built close by a flowing river.
In the same way as a good varied diet cleanses our body, keeping us fit and strong, the ambiance, sights, sounds and in late evening, smells of a flowing river helps cleanse our mind, providing us with inspiration for writing, learning, spiritual meditation and contemplation.
In our 30s through till our 50s and beyond, activity such as walking and cycling both keep us fit, taking us into the countryside and generally looking forward. However, at a later age we tend to look at things retrospectively, at a somewhat slower pace. Those things important to us as young men and women, now seem less so. We find ourselves being influenced by more simple things, particularly the plethora of wonder given to us my nature.
People have often asked me what I like most about my passion which is salmon fishing? My answer to this is extremely varied. I’m so fortunate to have spent a whole lifetime in the pursuit of those wonderful creatures. One of the main reasons being, my office, which I accessed by boat each morning, and n the summer time, every evening, was in the most remote part of the most beautiful and productive Salmon River in the world. One of the many lucky byproducts of following my passion, was to appreciate in my 20s what most people will never do until at least their 50s or later.
Having taken my car the 2 miles through single track road from our home, a further mile on farm track before turning into a field, getting out and walking the 300 yards down the steep sides of the River Spey, before rowing my boat over to the most idiic and peaceful place each day, with nothing but the noise of the river and it’s animals, I can only say, was heaven.
Those times sitting waiting for fishing clients to arrive, or after they left, here at Lower Pitchroy, because it had no roads for miles, just me, my dog and what Mother Nature decided I could enjoy that day, let me tell you, those we amazing and very special moments.
Those moments made me appreciate what I had and that 99.9% of the worlds population will never feel the inner peace and experience the mental well being such moments and places provide. A sad byproduct of a world with an ever expanding population.
I see the human mind like a diesel engine, well, a man's mind! Wonderfully powerful, versatile, reliable, complex, wonderfully simple, and sometimes a little dirty! A woman, on the other hand is definitely more like a petrol engine, powerful too, more refined, a little temperamental, needs less servicing, has a higher maintenance cost and can be dirty, especially when not firing on all cylinders! But like every other machine, it requires fuel and care. But as was so eloquently pointed out by Trig, on Only Fools and Horses, “Look after your broom, and your broom will look after you”!
Spending time by the riverbank, particularly in the early morning and summer evenings, watching, listening, smelling, feeling; contemplating the past and future is the fuel and oil required for your mind and mental well-being. To us humans, the sound of the running water to our ear is like the look of an open fire in a sitting room, we are naturally drawn toward it.
The full charm of a river cannot be appreciated in written word, nor can it be grasped in poetry or lyrical song. The appeal of the river can only be fully appreciated when standing on its banks, using all your senses, scenting its clean fragrant air as the dew shimmers on the grass in the early morning. Listen to its sparkling Sea Trout plopping around the quiet pool as the gloaming gives way to the still, but not quite darkness, of a summer evening. Watch a Salmon slowly roll on your fly in that wonderful glassy tail and live that breathtaking split second before you feel the line tighten.
Appreciation of this river can be felt through every sense, but the combination of all those provides me with the greatest of all, those who know and recognise it, call it a sixth sense, a wonderful “Feeling” which only come through being at one with all the river has to offer.
So when I’m asked what I like most about salmon fishing, this is just one of the many byproducts, and thus far I haven’t even cast a fly.
Add to this some Salmon, Trout or Char to put my wits against, an Icelandic waterfall and a wilderness full of the song of wading birds different to that of my native Scotland , now there’s a whole new can of worms!