Thursday, 8 August 2013

Aysgarth Falls - plus trout

It's the school holidays and so I can't just go fishing all the time. A few days ago we all jumped in the car and I ended up in the lakes driving around Windermere, having a walk and an ice cream etc. I've no idea how I resisted the urge to fish the place but I did. I think it's the shear size of the water that leaves you wondering where to start. There were plenty of people fishing from boats but I stuck to family duties despite my gear still being in the car. Today we were all up and out again and as usual no one knew where I was going. Often I don't even know and I just set off and then decide on route. I fancied the Yorkshire Dales and after not long knew where I was taking the family, Aysgarth falls. First off, if you go here make sure you drive along Wharfedale, the valley that leads to the falls if you follow the B6160 is spectacular. I did enjoy the lakes and a day up there is certainly not long enough to take it all in, but you can't beat the Dales for me. The Missus is already planning on saving up to move out there one day. Not sure that will happen as I'd struggle to find good pike swims up there.

Aysgarth church
We pulled in to the car park and after a few tips from the car park attendant we were off. There's three falls, upper, middle and lower and we headed for the upper falls first. Passing through the old church, and down some stairs we found ourselves at Yore Mill which is now converted in to a little tea room and craft shop. Situated on the river bank right next to the bridge you get a good couple of views of what's in store for the trip.

Yore Mill

view downstream from bridge

View of upper falls from bridge

At the upper falls there's a nice area of grass to have a picnic and plenty of people had already got settled down for the day. I'm glad we came on a week day as I would imagine at the weekend this area would be full to bursting. We sat around five minutes watching the water race past and then my lad went off up river on a scouting mission with his nan. They came back and said it was a little more chilled out and so off we went. It was so peaceful at this bit we decided to just stop here for a while. As usual it was Dads job to go back to the car and get the food, Jack came with me to offer support. We got the food and I grabbed my small box of lures and my ultra light rod, that might be of use at some point I felt and on the way past the Mill craft shop we grabbed a couple of kids fishing nets, they might just save a blank. 

Back at the river we stuffed some food down our necks and then got to fishing. The waters edge had plenty of minnows so I knew the kids would catch, and I was hopeful they might find something else in their nets. We spotted a few smaller fish hiding under the stones which I thought were small bullheads, but could we hell catch any of them to take a closer look. Maybe I should have tried a Squirrelly Burt? The kids however were in to the fish and bagged stacks of minnows. I don't think they spotted anything else in there. Had they been using the nets the rivers I fish for pike they'd be bagging up on mixed fry, but I guess so far up this river it's a totally different world.

Fish pedicure

I'm much better with pike
Once the kids were settled and the wife and mother in law were relaxed I got the rod out, tied on a small clip and stuck on my Super Vibrax. I could see a couple of small pools behind some rocks where the water slowed up and I figured something should be hiding there waiting. However cast after cast proved fruitless and I was left wondering if there were any fish in the river. I did see the odd small fish topping from time to time and to be honest the river just screamed trout so I wasn't about to give up. I kept at it, fishing the fast water and the slacks back and forth even though just 50m down stream there was a man, his daughter and his dog in the water making a right noise. I reckoned the fish would be used to people splashing around and they'd still be sat in those pools or in the fast water that ran along the far bank. So I kept at it and then I felt a tap.

I shouted for Emily to fetch her net, I had a fish and I didn't want to lose it. The fish fought like stink for a little un but I managed to get it in close, up stream of the kiddy net and then Emily scooped it up. Everyone came to have a look at the little brown trout. I was chuffed to bits that I'd winkled one out. I gave it a good rest in the waters edge to make sure it would swim away fine. it sat there for a few moments and then it went back in to the fast water, brilliant! They're a stunning fish which I might have to have a proper crack at one day.

I had a few more chucks, tried another spot briefly and then called it a day after losing another small brownie. I was happy that I'd caught a brownie, that was all I wanted and I also knew that if I pushed it too much then I'd be in trouble with the missus and risk everyone else getting bored. We'd had a good couple of hours now just chilling, messing in the water and just enjoying ourselves but there was still much more to see so we made the call to head off to see the other falls, though first I had the job of going back up those steps to the car again. Why is it always Dad's job? Luckily I'm not too bad on my feet and the steps were not much of a problem to me. I've always been nimble but I also work in a place that is nine stories high and there is no lift!

Upper falls
Upper falls, though this view is one you have to find

The walk to the other two falls isn't a bad one at all, not far in anyone's book. I think it's a couple hundred metres to middle and then eight hundred to lower falls.The middle falls is only really seen from a viewing point as the banks are far too dangerous but the lower falls were pretty good to get up close and have a look. The river had been in flood a few days ago but had run off so you could get on to the rocks and right up close. There's no end of places to rest up and just relax but I was surprised to see that a few parents felt that it was safe to let their very young kids paddle in water that was rushing past just eight feet away and ten metres below them was a very nasty water fall which would see the strongest of adults struggling to survive if swept away. There were much better places to paddle in my opinion but some people seem oblivious to the danger right in front of them. Anyway, rant over, what a cracking place for a day out. The falls are spectacular and we had a fantastic day out. We're not ones for going back to a place time and time again but I reckon we'll give this place another visit at some point. You don't have to just go to the big theme parks to have a good day, there's some pretty special places in your own back yard that are far better and cost a damn site less too.

Middle falls

A view down lower falls

Lower falls - where kids play just ten metres up
Water craft?

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