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Thursday, 5 November 2009

Weardale Salmon Run and a Cave

stanhope dene woods

Stanhope Dene

Brian called to swap wellies the other day and mentioned that on his way home he was going to watch the salmon jumping at Stanhope. This gave me the idea for this little trundle.

Every year, just about now, the salmon queue up in the weir at Durham and wait for rain. When it does rain (note its been raining a fair amount just recently) – and there’s enough water in the River Wear, they make their way upstream and into the little tributaries to mate, spawn and die.

To get up the Wear, and, specially up the little tributaries, they must jump over various obstacles to meet their ultimate fate. This can be quite a sight – some of these fish are quite big.

A good place to watch this is a pool with a small waterfall on the beck in Stanhope Dene. Here is a comfy spot to sit and the fish are often no more than a couple of feet away. If you were a brown bear – you might be able to nab a few…

stanhope dene salmon pool

Salmon pool

And so, me and superdawg journeyed to Stanhope and walked up through the woods to sit and drink coffee by the pool and fall, and, straight away, it became clear from the thrashing of fins and one or two plops and leaps that the pool was chock full of salmon.

I tried my best to photograph the buggers jumping up the fall and failed every time. Then they stopped jumping, except whilst I was pouring myself another coffee – then there was mayhem till I picked the camera up and it all stopped again.

The best I could do is on the short video – at approximately 19 seconds, a fish appears in the nearest of the flows of white water, has a look and decides not to bother. You have to be quick to see it. Just after this two very large fish were seen slipping quietly downstream. I thought I heard some fishy sniggerring. I swear I heard a little squeaky voice say "That's it, I'm gonna jump!" followed by a fishy chorus of "Don't do it, Kevin". You have to be tuned in to nature, y'know, like wot I iz.

After an hour or so, I gathered up the dog, who was busy collecting stones a bit upstream, and we clambered off over the moor to the Crawleyside incline – an ex-railway line to Sunderland – and along the very pleasant Crawley Edge and down the unpleasantly named Shittlehope Burn to have a look for the cave – which we found.

the incline

The Incline

This is in a deep limestone gorge which would be fun to explore sometime. Brian would enjoy this place.

shittlehope cave

Shittlehope cave

We finished off with a little riverside ramble and back home for a coffee

8 miles and 850 feet of uphill.

stanhope dene and shittlehope


Alan Sloman said...

So - Did Kevin jump?

mike knipe said...

Did he Shittlehope - not whilst I was looking, anyway.