Leaps of faith

Been out and about locally quite a bit recently, putting various items of kit through their paces.  And I’ve taken the liberty of to devising several routes which all took me past Stainforth Foss in Ribblesdale, where the salmon have been returning to spawn further up the valley.

The sight of the salmon leaping the foss is one of the most magnificent I’ve experienced since Steph and I moved to the Dales last year. 

Plenty of other folk gathered at the falls last Sunday and the collective “ooohs” and “aaahs” reminded me of a crowd at a firework display – though the sight of the salmon casting themselves against the tremendous force of the water was far more special than mere gunpowder and lights.


During the week I pretty much had the place to myself. The Atlantic salmon spends most of its life – usually around six years – at sea before returning to the river in which it was hatched to spawn and die.

Adult males can reach a length of about a metre and a half (5ft in old money) but I suspect if I saw a salmon that big in the Ribble I wouldn’t sleep easy in my bed.

The biggest examples I’ve seen at the foss were probably two foot long at the most. Maybe three after a couple of pints in the Craven Heifer, four after a session at the Helwith Bridge.

The fact that we have them on the Ribble is a sign of the river’s purity and I feel privileged to be able to pop down and see them any time I wish at this time of year. I took my camera down one afternoon and tried to capture a few of the fish flinging themselves upstream.

One or two of the better efforts are posted here but I’m afraid that without a big fat expensive lens and a tripod, in poor light, they’re not the best salmon pics you’re ever going to see.

And the salmon’s leap is so fast that it’s virtually impossible to capture using the amateurish techniques I employed: for each picture here, I’ve got some great pics of frothing water and nothing else!

It’ll probably be a year before I can attempt to photograph them again but in the meantime I’ll practise my technique.  img_5891_2.JPG

John Manning

Freelance outdoor writer John Manning and his family are based in the Yorkshire Dales

5 thoughts on “Leaps of faith

  • 30/10/2008 at 6:11 pm

    Off with you then to the hills, and I will look out for that report:)

  • 30/10/2008 at 5:55 pm

    Cheers Martin, I’ll see what I can do! Walked by the salmon leap this afternoon and it was quiet – I guess they’ve finished for this year. Which means I’ve no excuse not to go back to Bowland.

  • 29/10/2008 at 11:43 pm

    Magic sight to see. Also good that you are testing kit now. I actuly wished you had wrote up more about the Forest of Bowland in the TGO. It sounds great and the report gave a tast. How about a full write up and point us to the good bits?

  • 24/10/2008 at 6:03 pm

    Many thanks Roger – I should confess that the pics are also all cropped and sharpened though the fish are just as they were on the day, and not cut and pasted!
    Tea tonight is some trout out of the same river which were caught by a friend recently. Washed down, of course, with a pint of Thwaites Original. Can’t wait!

  • 24/10/2008 at 6:08 am

    John they are impressive photos though, well done on your patience and efforts. We all know how many photos it takes to get a good one, no matter what the camera is.

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