My Journey North… Farewell to the Eden

Eden caddis
Meadow Crane’s-bill
Guelder Rose
Cow Parsnip
Musk Mallow
Melmerby bicycles

My deepest thanks to those who have wished me well in the Eden and, indeed, what a treasured valley it is. To be honest, I had not fished here since the mid-1980s, and to be even more honest I failed abysmally then.

I do remember the tackle dealer in Appleby, who I recollect was called John Pape, taking care of me and consoling me that the water was too low and clear for any trout to make a mistake much before midnight.

Today has been cold with a sneaky wind and barely a whiff of sun, and after a while I gave up and just took in the glory of it all, this wonderful river called Eden.

There’s almost a relief when you decide not to fish any more, and the kid-like fascination of just looking around kicks in. Take your eyes off the water and there is much to see.

Even below the water. Turning over stones is a detective story that never tires, always has a fresh plot. Today… the numbers and sizes of the caddis confounded me. I saw but could not identify a crayfish, but surely a white claw.

A puzzle. Under several stones lay inch-long, bleached-out corpses that looked for all the world like baby bullheads. Are there bullheads in the river? Probably, but what has sucked out their lifeblood and left them drained shells?

I know I should be here later in the autumn for the full impact of the turning leaf forests but, take your time and there was colour to see all round.

Star, of course, happened to be a five pound grilse that I’ll not quite explain just yet, apart from saying it really was a miracle fish considering the almost frighteningly low levels. It wasn’t sea silver, but there were strong reminders of its salty past and it fought like a trooper.

Once the rod was packed away, then there were specimens of guelder rose, dogwood, mullein, cow parsnip and musk mallow to admire, and a field of raddish looked glorious. When I got back to Melmerby, where I am staying, I noticed even the bicycles are painted yellow, and lean against every available wall. And don’t get nicked!

So, tomorrow, it is the Tyne and a dawn farewell to the Eden. It’s thirty five years since I was here. For all manner of reasons, it had better not be that long again!

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