Discover more from Misc Adventures Digest
Issue # 33 The Misc Adventures Digest
Testing the “Journey is greater than the destination hypothesis” by way of fly fishing.
Hello there! We hope your week has been full of encounters with Nature in one form or another? This week’s Digest tells a story in which a fly fishing trip proves a useful proving ground for the “Journey is greater than the destination hypothesis”. Plus a short account of a weekend hike into the mountains and a short film to share.
You may have noticed that our Nature Happenings section has been absent the last couple of weeks. That’s not because Nature isn’t happening of course. In fact it’s going crazy, with recently fledged wild creatures flitting about everywhere and flowers turning into fruits, but because we have been overwhelmed by the chaos of having our (rented) house turned upside down and inside out by building work. We hope to get back on it soon and we can only apologise for the interruption to the regular schedule.
Fly fishing in Borrowdale
I had never been fly fishing before until last week. Actually, I’ve not really fished at all. It seems that fishing is something that all outdoors people do at some point or another, so perhaps I have erred somewhere along the way. But when long time friend of Miscellaneous Adventures, Jeffrey Bowman invited me to join him and a small crew of like minded explorers on a two day fly fishing trip I eagerly accepted, intrigued at the prospect of trying a new way to spend time in Nature, and if I allow myself to admit it, grateful for the rare chance to hike unencumbered by the needs of someone with small legs.
We had originally planned to hike up into the mountains, fishing and camping at one of the high tarns between Seathwaite and Wasdale Head. However, a poor weather forecast forced us to change plans at the last minute, so we opted instead to follow the river Derwent, stopping to fish along the way, dictated by the ebb and flow of the river. It had been sunny and warm for the previous six weeks. The thought that rain might fall and that the wind might blow never crossed our minds until the day before we were due to go. I was looking forward to an adventure up high in the hills and was initially a little dejected at the change of plan, but the Borrowdale Valley (the best of the valleys I think) with its steep craggy shoulders cloaked with oak woods and the river at its pulsing heart was no bad second option.
The five of us, two fly fishing experts and three enthusiastic amateurs, met in Braithwaite, made a few last minute additions and alterations to our packs and headed out towards whatever watery adventures awaited. Setting out on a journey, pack loaded with just the basic equipment required to facilitate eating, drinking and sleeping in the outdoors is such a liberating experience. I would like to do it more often. The last minute panic of making sure you’ve remembered to pack everything soon fades as you settle in to the steady, rhythmic meditation of putting one foot in front of the other and heading along the trail.
Before I get too carried away on minimalism and the joys of self reliance, perhaps now is good time to mention that due to the weather we decided to make things easy on ourselves by camping at the YHA. Hot food and showers, beer on tap, flat camping pitches and cooked breakfasts were not really part of the original plan, but hey, it doesn’t all have to be a challenge, right?
Before we set out, Jeff and Rich, whose fly fishing experience we had put our trust in, warned us that we probably wouldn’t catch any fish. Catching fish wasn’t even really the point.
It was about being by the river, hanging out, catching glimpses of the other wild creatures that call the river and its riparian fringes home.
Ah, I see.
This is the kind of adventure I like. We are keen proponents of the “Journey is greater than the destination” hypothesis and it sounded like fly fishing was going to be a good proving ground for the theory.
It’s funny that we need to give ourselves an excuse to slow down. That we need to attach an activity or purpose to what would otherwise be just enjoying Nature for the sake of it, as if that couldn't possibly be a worthy enough pursuit in itself.
The valley and its arteries and veins did not disappoint, enchanting each of us with its different moods at every twist and turn. Dark deep, pools, giving way to white, fast flowing riffles and confluences cascading into one another between rocks and channels eroded over deep time. Alders lined the banks, along with slender, crooked oaks clad in mosses, lichens and liverworts, telling us we were somewhere both frequently damp and ancient. The trees dripped with dew drops and quiet wisdom. We stopped to fish along the way, casting our flies into the places that we thought we would like to be if we were trout.
Two days and many miles later we did actually catch a fish. Just one. A small brown trout that got away before I had a chance to take a photo of it. Not that it mattered, the journey had proved to be what we were all seeking after all; the chance to be out with friends, travelling by foot, as free as the flowing river itself.
With thanks to Jeff, Rich, Harvey, Axel and most of all the river for the good company.
The Misc Adventures Digest is a reader-supported publication. If you enjoy our weekly dose of Nature and adventure, you can help us to keep doing what we do by subscribing as a free of paid subscriber.
Into the heart of the mountains
Having not been able to make it up to the high tarns on the fishing trip during the week, me, Emma and Benji decided to investigate at the weekend instead. A lovely hike ensued in wild weather, windy, showery and bracingly cold for the time of year. Patches of bright sun burst through brief windows in the clouds and raced across the landscape, picking out crags and gullies and highlighting upward flowing waterfalls, blown into reverse by the wind. We followed a tumbling sapphire blue beck, right into the heart of the mountains, and traversed back along the lower slopes of a prominent and well known conical peak along a rocky path.
Before we go we want to share a link to a short film we watched this week, Thriving by Clare Dyson (aka the horseback adventurer). The film follows Clare’s journey as she travels across the Lake District on horseback, visiting farmers and ecologists along the way who are striving to work hand in hand with Nature. We met Clare recently and it turns out we have lots of mutual friends and connections and we love the way she uses storytelling to spread important messages about the peril that Nature finds itself in. Watch the whole film for free here on the Kendal Mountain Player.
Well that’s all from us this week, we hope you have many rewarding journeys ahead!
With warm wishes,
Andrew, Emma and Benji