Humbled by rampaging river's speed and beauty

I stared down as the river lapped against the bank.

"Do you think," asked Ally, "that the river is rising or falling?" I stared down as the river lapped against the bank. Alistair Gowans knew, of course, but he was testing me. I ummed and ahhed, betraying my country-girl genes; Ally then said, ever so slightly exasperated: "well, were you standing in water a minute ago?" I looked down at my wader-clad feet which had been on dry land just two minutes before. The rising water of the North Esk in Angus, Scotland, was now at my ankles!

"You always need to keep an eye on a river," Ally sagely told me. "If you're ever in doubt about whether the water is rising or not, get a stick and push it into the bank near the water's edge, then go back to it to see if the water's reached it." This I did about an inch from the edge. Then I turned and walked up the bank to get my waterproof, which I'd thrown off in a moment of hotness. This took me all of 15 seconds, but when I went back to my stick it was now two inches under water. The river was rising dangerously fast and, further upstream, we had two colleagues wading.

When you're busy wading, it's much harder to notice if the water is rising, and you can find yourself cut off from the bank, unable to pass through channels you safely waded across just minutes before.

This, coupled with the sheer brute strength of a river, shows that when she floods it can spell disaster for a wading fisherman, so it was imperative we made sure the other two knew what was happening. The air was freshening. We raced up the bank which was now, in parts, more difficult to pass than it had been just half an hour previously.

"She's blown," shouted Ally to Mark Bowler and Pete Warren, "get out." The boys scrambled out and we made our way back along the bank, all of us humbled by the strength of the river. "God I've heard about this," said Mark, editor of Fly Fishing and Fly Tying, "but I had no idea a river could rise this fast." In 15 minutes it had risen one foot, it was to rise in total by over two feet by the time we left, just an hour later; the result of heavy rain the previous two days.

We looked at the river. It looked beautiful, but terrifying. Great channels of muddy water hurtling along, churning up huge frills of white. A whole tree trunk that had once innocently lain on the river bank was now part of the river and came flying along (another danger if you find yourself wading when a river blows, the debris that gets picked up). We were all a bit gobsmacked and very glad to be watching from the safety of the hut as we drank posh coffee and ate too many biscuits. A lesson had been learned.

Undettered, Ally got out his Angling in Tayside fishing guide (available from the tourist information centres listed at www. angusanddundee.co.uk) "Where next?" we pondered, knowing that any river in these here parts would probably be as un-fishable as the North Esk now was. As the water of a flooding river rises, you have about a 15-minute slot when the salmon are more disposed to being caught.

But then as the water starts coming through the salmon start moving, and anyway, they wouldn't be able to see your fly as the water of a river in spate is too muddy. Luckily we'd managed to get a few hours salmon fishing in earlier that morning on the lower half of the Dalhousie Estates' beat of the North Esk, which you can fish for just £30 a day (May to Aug call: 01356 624566, email: dalhousieestates@btinternet.com).

Back at the hut, Mark and Ally got out their Ordnance Survey maps whilst we picked off a dozen giant stoneflies that seemed to have made their home on Mark's jacket. Then we set off in Ally's Land Rover, a vehicle that we were to test to its limits in the hours to come. Part two in a fortnight's time...

a.barbieri@independent.co.uk

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Parts Advisor

£16500 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: One of the leading Mercedes-Ben...

Recruitment Genius: Software Developer

£27500 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Telemarketers / Sales - Home Based - OTE £23,500

£19500 - £23500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Experienced B2B Telemarketer wa...

Recruitment Genius: Showroom Assistant

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This global company are looking for two Showro...

Day In a Page

Fifa corruption: The 161-page dossier that exposes the organisation's dark heart

The 161-page dossier that exposes Fifa's dark heart

How did a group of corrupt officials turn football’s governing body into what was, in essence, a criminal enterprise? Chris Green and David Connett reveal all
Mediterranean migrant crisis: 'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves,' says Tripoli PM

Exclusive interview with Tripoli PM Khalifa al-Ghweil

'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves'
Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles: How the author foretold the Californian water crisis

Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles

How the author foretold the Californian water crisis
Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison as authorities crackdown on dissent in the arts

Art attack

Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison
Marc Jacobs is putting Cher in the limelight as the face of his latest campaign

Cher is the new face of Marc Jacobs

Alexander Fury explains why designers are turning to august stars to front their lines
Parents of six-year-old who beat leukaemia plan to climb Ben Nevis for cancer charity

'I'm climbing Ben Nevis for my daughter'

Karen Attwood's young daughter Yasmin beat cancer. Now her family is about to take on a new challenge - scaling Ben Nevis to help other children
10 best wedding gift ideas

It's that time of year again... 10 best wedding gift ideas

Forget that fancy toaster, we've gone off-list to find memorable gifts that will last a lifetime
Paul Scholes column: With the Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards

Paul Scholes column

With the Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards
Heysel disaster 30th anniversary: Liverpool have seen too much tragedy to forget fateful day in Belgium

Liverpool have seen too much tragedy to forget Heysel

Thirty years ago, 39 fans waiting to watch a European Cup final died as a result of a fatal cocktail of circumstances. Ian Herbert looks at how a club dealt with this tragedy
Amir Khan vs Chris Algieri: Khan’s audition for Floyd Mayweather may turn into a no-win situation, says Frank Warren

Khan’s audition for Mayweather may turn into a no-win situation

The Bolton fighter could be damned if he dazzles and damned if he doesn’t against Algieri, the man last seen being decked six times by Pacquiao, says Frank Warren
Blundering Tony Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

Blundering Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

For Arabs – and for Britons who lost their loved ones in his shambolic war in Iraq – his appointment was an insult, says Robert Fisk
Fifa corruption arrests: All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue

Fifa corruption arrests

All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue, says Ian Herbert
Isis in Syria: The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of President Assad and militant fighters

The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of Assad and Isis

In Syrian Kurdish cantons along the Turkish border, the progressive aims of the 2011 uprising are being enacted despite the war. Patrick Cockburn returns to Amuda
How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields: Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape the US

How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields

Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape to the US
Stephen Mangan interview: From posh buffoon to pregnant dad, the actor has quite a range

How Stephen Mangan got his range

Posh buffoon, hapless writer, pregnant dad - Mangan is certainly a versatile actor