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

Arts and Entertainment
The Doctor and Clara have their first real heart to heart since he regenerated in 'Deep Breath'
TV
Life and Style
Apple showed no sign of losing its talent for product launches with the new, slightly larger iPhone 6 making headlines
techSecurity breaches and overhyped start-ups dominated a year in which very little changed (save the size of your phone)
Arts and Entertainment
Jamie Oliver
filmTV chef Jamie Oliver turned down role in The Hobbit
News
The official police photograph of Dustin Diamond taken after he was arrested in Wisconsin
peopleDownfall of the TV star charged with bar stabbing
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Jeremy Clarkson, left, and Richard Hammond upset the locals in South America
tvReview: Top Gear team flee Patagonia as Christmas special reaches its climax in the style of Butch and Sundance
News
people
Sport
Ashley Barnes of Burnley scores their second goal
footballMan City vs Burnley match report
Arts and Entertainment
Peter Mayhew as Chewbacca alongside Harrison Ford's Han Solo in 'Star Wars'
film
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Man of action: Christian Bale stars in Exodus: Gods and Kings
film
Arts and Entertainment
Tracy Emin's 1998 piece 'My Bed' on display at Christie's
artOne expert claims she did not
News
Ernesto Che Guevara and Fidel Castro, right, met at Havana Golf Club in 1962 to mock the game
newsFidel Castro ridiculed the game – but now investment in leisure resort projects is welcome
News
Hackers revealed Oscar-winning actress Lawrence was paid less than her male co-stars in American Hustle
people
Arts and Entertainment
Clueless? Locked-door mysteries are the ultimate manifestation of the cerebral detective story
booksAs a new collection of the genre’s best is published, its editor explains the rules of engagement
Sport
Robin van Persie is blocked by Hugo Lloris
footballTottenham vs Manchester United match report
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: Business Manager

£32000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Business Manager is required ...

Recruitment Genius: Operations Manager

£45000 - £55000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Panel & Cabinet Wireman

£20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Panel Wireman required for small electro...

Recruitment Genius: Electronics Test Engineer

£25000 - £27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An SME based in East Cheshire, ...

Day In a Page

A timely reminder of the bloody anniversary we all forgot

A timely reminder of the bloody anniversary we all forgot

Who remembers that this week we enter the 150th anniversary year of the end of the American Civil War, asks Robert Fisk
Homeless Veterans appeal: Former soldiers pay their respects to a friend who also served

Homeless Veterans appeal

Former soldiers pay their respects to a friend who also served
Downfall of Dustin 'Screech' Diamond, the 'Saved By The Bell' star charged with bar stabbing

Scarred by the bell

The downfall of the TV star charged with bar stabbing
Why 2014 was a year of technological let-downs

Why 2014 was a year of technological let-downs

Security breaches and overhyped start-ups dominated a year in which very little changed (save the size of your phone)
Cuba's golf revolution: But will the revolutionary nation take 'bourgeois' game to its heart?

Will revolutionary Cuba take 'bourgeois' golf to its heart?

Fidel Castro ridiculed the game – but now investment in leisure resort projects is welcome
The Locked Room Mysteries: As a new collection of the genre’s best is published, its editor Otto Penzler explains the rules of engagement

The Locked Room Mysteries

As a new collection of the genre’s best is published, its editor explains the rules of engagement
Amy Adams on playing painter Margaret Keane in Tim Burton's Big Eyes

How I made myself Keane

Amy Adams hadn’t wanted to take the role of artist Margaret Keane, because she’d had enough of playing victims. But then she had a daughter, and saw the painter in a new light
Ed Richards: Parting view of Ofcom chief. . . we hate jokes on the disabled

Parting view of Ofcom chief... we hate jokes on the disabled

Bad language once got TV viewers irate, inciting calls to broadcasting switchboards. But now there is a worse offender, says retiring head of the media watchdog, Ed Richards
A look back at fashion in 2014: Wear in review

Wear in review

A look back at fashion in 2014
Ian Herbert: My 10 hopes for sport in 2015. Might just one of them happen?

Ian Herbert: My 10 hopes for sport in 2015

Might just one of them happen?
War with Isis: The West needs more than a White Knight

The West needs more than a White Knight

Despite billions spent on weapons, the US has not been able to counter Isis's gruesome tactics, says Patrick Cockburn
Return to Helmand: Private Davey Graham recalls the day he was shot by the Taliban

'The day I was shot by the Taliban'

Private Davey Graham was shot five times during an ambush in 2007 - it was the first, controversial photograph to show the dangers our soldiers faced in Helmand province
Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Many flyers are failing to claim compensation to which they are entitled, a new survey has found
The stories that defined 2014: From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions

The stories that defined 2014

From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions
Stoke-on-Trent becomes first British city to be classified as 'disaster resilient' by the United Nations

Disaster looming? Now you know where to head...

Which British city has become the first to be awarded special 'resilience' status by the UN?