Tuesday, 19 April 2011

The urban river

I live beside the river, it is just across the lane from me. I can hear it now and if I look out of the window I can see the sunlight glinting off it where the flow is breaking around stones.

That might sound like I live in some country idyll, but I don't. I live in a town in the Peak District, UK. It is quite a busy town that was built on its mills, its textile industry - built on its rivers. No river, and there would have been no power for the mills and there would have been no town.

This urban river cuts the town in two. It can have a hard time of it, the river. There are not just the natural hazards to contend with, like the last harsh winter and flooding that is eating its way at its crumbling banks. There are the other, man-made hazards too. We have fiddled with it for centuries now, from pumping up its weirs to chucking in our rubbish.

I was talking to the fly-tyer and fisher Roy Christie the other day about this. Roy has done a fair bit of urban river restoration in his times. As he says, everything ends up in the river. And so it is with mine.

Road signs...

Bottles and bags...

Traffic cones... and sometimes even ducks!

But it is not all bad news. I've had some beautiful little brown trout out of this stretch, that runs alongside the factory:


I have written a story about this which appears in the current Spring 2011 edition of Waterlog Magazine. It is called 'The Urban Angler'. Briefly, despite the short-comings of fishing my industrial - or post-industrial stream, I would choose to do so over the pristine and famous Derbyshire waters that may be less obviously contaminated with the results of human activity.

I like the constant reminder of human endeavour as I am fishing, of necessity, the remnants of the industrial past that surrounds me. It reminds me of why I love fly fishing so much myself - that hunting instinct, a different facet of that same struggle, that need to survive, to eat.

Waterlog, Spring 2011

Waterlog, Spring 2011

Take a look if you get the chance. Waterlog is a very beautifully produced publication, and I am very pleased to be in it.

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