Saturday, July 26, 2008

Teesdale's Big Cow.

Six o'clock this morning saw me across the Pennines and driving through glorious Upper Teesdale, past whitewashed farmsteads and pastures thick with blooming meadowsweet. It's difficult to put into words how magical this part of the world is, a part of our country which time appears to have forgotten; bleak grouse moor and sylvan hay meadow for miles on end as I passed across the watershed of first Lune to Eden, then Eden to Tees, then later Tees to Tyne, and finally Tyne back to Eden.
My initial target was the Northumbria Water controlled Cow Green Reservoir - a place I have intended to visit many times, but never quite found the time. It lies three miles up the Widdybank Fell road from Langdon Beck, high in the Pennine moors, and at nearly 800 acres is a huge, formidable, lonely expanse of water. This sort of thing is right up my street and I was looking forward to losing myself in one of England's last remaining wilderness areas for a few hours.
Jeremy Lucas quite rightly states that a solitary angler can feel ill at ease in such a remote spot and that it is a good idea to stride out in pairs. After a week at work however, I've never had any problem keeping myself company in the hills for a day, so I was a happy man as I hiked out along the northern shore towards the inflow of the infant River Tees. The weather up here is seldom favourable, but appeared to be spot on for this sort of fishing: overcast and warm with just a slight ripple disturbing the reservoir's surface. I was all set for fine day's fishing....
Unfortunately though, things just didn't go as planned. An hour after setting up, the breeze just died and the sun burned off the thin cloud to leave me squinting disconsolately at a massive inland sea of flat calm water!
I battled on bravely with a tapered leader and a single Griffith's Gnat for a while, targeting the few extremely spooky trout which were rising occasionally to black midge, but as my face began to scorch and my back began to sweat, I fell to thinking that a hasty retreat to the valley bottom might be the order of the day.
So at 11am, I called it a day for Cow Green. Five wild brown trout were the reward for my not inconsiderable efforts - the best pushing 1lb - so not altogether a waste of time, but I will be keen to return on a cloudier, breezier day.
Following a pleasant drive to Langwathby via Alston, I spent the afternoon on the Eden. I might have been better off in the pub though. The day had turned into a real scorcher and around the bridge, local kids were horsing around, swimming in the clear pools.
I buggered off downstream in search of shade but despite my best endeavours, managed only a couple of grayling to conventional nymph methods, and a single trout to the prospecting dry fly.
It was hard, very hard. Hard as white dog shit, if you'll pardon my turn of phrase.........


Gareth said...

Matt, love the picture of that brownie!

Matthew Eastham said...

Cheers Gareth - luckily, just got the timing right on that one!