About 35 years ago I went on my first holiday without parents. A group of school friends camped in the Yorkshire Dales for a week near Settle. We listened to Monty Python and Genesis, we found a pub that ignored the fact we were well under age and served us beer and we spent hours plunging down the waterfalls at the bottom of the field. We also spent hours watching salmon returning to their place of birth jumping up the waterfalls we splashed down.
With my new passion for photography I decided I’d return and watch this peculiar ritual again and capture some award winning National Geographic style pictures, I mean how hard can it be?
Well for a start off its incredibly difficult, its like nailing jelly to a wall using a spanner and a spear gun. The fish never jump in the same place twice and unlike humans would they don’t tell you when they’re about to do it. They should get the crowd clapping along like long jumpers at the Olympics because I guarantee they’ll have a go as soon as you shift your position or scratch your nose or speak to one of the watching crowd. Nor do they respond to the ooo’s and aaah’s of the assembled throng or acknowledge the applause when one of them clears the first hurdle.
And does Mother Nature make it easy for them? Not in the slightest. Further down from these falls the river is quite shallow and some of these fish are big. So they have to wait till there has been sufficient rain to swell the river so they can make progress upstream. And of course all this water means the falls are faster, more powerful and that much more difficult to clear. And there are three of them in rapid succession (pun intended).
So Mr and Mrs Salmon I salute you, you earned my admiration and you provided more entertainment in a couple of hours than any number of series of reality TV. I know you won’t be back but I hope your offspring are up to the task when they return because I will definitely be back to watch you jump.