Exploring the Bowland AONB: Fishing Spots

When it comes to true variety in environment and challenge, the Forest of Bowland AONB offers some of the sweetest fishing spots in the UK.

We discovered this on our sixth fishing trip, one that saw us hire a caravan in a popular forest park for the weekend, so that we could truly surround ourselves in nature and get the most of the local area.

Bowland Fell Park is a holiday and caravan site that rests on the very edge of the Bowland Fell Area of Natural Beauty. It’s picture perfect location offers some of the best views of green spaces that I can remember seeing. As far as facilities go, you couldn’t really ask much more of this place. There’s a farm shop on-location, as well as a pub which was perfect for a few evening pints after a long days’s fishing. A peaceful, relaxed atmosphere reigns here at the Park, which makes it little surprise that this is one of the top sites to find static caravans for sale in Yorkshire.

We spent a long weekend in the Forest of Bowland with the express purpose of finding as many great places to fish as possible, luckily for us we’d spent the months leading up to this holiday researching spots all along the various rivers that run through this Forest. The Ribble, Lune and Hodder all flow through the Forest with day-ticket fishing available for as little as £5 at some sites. If you want to fish on the Ribble, then you’ll need to purchase a specific passport first for the area, as well as enough tokens to cover your stay.

Tokens cost £2.50 each and can be bought in sets of 5 or 10. These can be purchased in advance online, so it’s a good idea for you to think about booking these before you make your trip to Bowland. There’s a good variety of beats to fish at once you do make it up to Bowland – what you choose to actually fish is very much up to you. Fisheries all around the area specialise in keeping large stocks of carp, trout and pike amongst loads of others – and as there are so many spots to go to, you’re almost guaranteed to find a peaceful spot to settle down for the day.

Don’t expect to be overwhelmed with activities to do in the evening here – this is the middle of the countryside after all, hardly what you’d call Piccadilly Circus – however, after a long day of fishing, we often found that we didn’t have much energy left, so we spent most of our nights in the caravan cooking up a storm or simply drinking a bottle of wine or two.

The fishing itself will vary greatly depending on where you go and at what time. When we visited Bowland, we were all up for a bit of a challenge, so we spent the majority of the week up to our knees in the river attempting to hook one of the elusive trouts that make their way downstream throughout the Winter months.

None of us were that lucky – but we had a great time nonetheless!

February 8, 2018 author

Staying in Langmere Lake: Couple’s Fishing Holiday

Fly-fishing is not what you’d describe as a female-dominated sport.

It’s hard not to get into the ‘hows and whys’ of the current state of female-representation in the world of fly-fishing without necessarily touching on some divisive issues.

Instead of skirting around these problems, I’m just going to wade straight into them and hope that the fact that I survived (sorry, I meant enjoyed) a Couple’s Fishing Holiday is enough to prove that I’m not a raging misogynist and all-round bad egg.

Now, if you’re wondering what a Couple’s Fishing Holiday entails then I’ll enlighten you. In many ways, it’s a lot like a traditional couples holiday. It’s a short-holiday, perhaps 3 or 4 nights tops, that takes you and your wife, as well as a good friend and their wife, to a secluded place somewhere romantic, where you can spend the days and evenings together in peace and quiet away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life.

Destinations for your average Couple’s Holiday could be some luxury villas in the South of France, or perhaps a weekend break to the Black Forest in Germany. Now – a Couple’s Fishing Holiday is just the same plus you have the added bonus of being able to catch some fish as well.

It should probably go without saying that a holiday such as this one might not hang together that well if you don’t all get along. If you don’t get along with your mate’s wife or, worse still, your wives don’t see eye to eye at all, then there’s a chance that the whole thing could be a massively awkward waste of time and money.

Luckily, my wife and I are as close to besotted as a couple could be with my pal Gerald and his missus. We all love to cook and we share a passion for the outdoors, but this holiday was the first time that we’ve attempted to mix our friendship with fly-fishing.

Our destination was Langmere Lakes, a purpose-built holiday park that features five decent sized fishing lakes offering a variety of coarse fish, including carp, roach, rudd and perch. As with many well-established fishing lakes, there are a number of larger fish swimming through the murky waters of these lakes, including carps in excess of 20 lbs.

As the fishing lakes at Langmere operate on a catch and release system, there was unfortunately no opportunity for us to catch and eat our dinner, so we brought enough food to feed all of us for the weekend and prepared for a long weekend of fishing. Up until the start of this weekend, my wife had very little fishing experience. She had a dim idea of what it was about, but always felt it best to leave the details up to me. The more weekends and holidays that I began to disappear off fishing though, the more curious she got about it. Gerald’s wife was similarly curious, this lead to us organising the holiday together.

The close proximity of the well-equipped lodges to the fishing lake meant that it was really easy for us to get fishing early on in the day and the variety of the lakes also meant that our wives could spend some valuable time getting to grips with the basics, before they felt comfortable moving on to the bigger challenges that Langmere had to offer.

The lodges themselves provided a great place for us to relax in the evening, there was even a wood burning stove (wood pellets could be bought on site) to keep us all cosy at night!

January 22, 2018 author

Big Catches and Lessons Learnt: River Annan 2013

On our third trip to the River Annan, we decided to up the ante in terms of our living arrangements.

Whereas our first few trips to the River Annan had been hampered by our own rookie errors, the third time that we made the journey up North to our veritable mecca of fly-fishing was a far smoother, if not slightly more expensive, experience.

Before we’d embarked on our first fly-fishing holiday, I’d unfairly aligned the sport, with skiing and golf, as one of many upper-class hobbies that I was simply destined not to experience. All of us had come from working class backgrounds. Growing up on the grubby council estates of 1980s Essex, I’m always overcome with a feeling of pride when I think about how far us lads have come from there. My idea of leisure time growing up largely consisted of booting a tired football around and breaking glass windows – so it’s not hard to imagine why I thought fly-fishing in Scotland was perhaps a past time that I was not destined to enjoy.

Regardless of these pre-judgements in my mind, we made it to the River Annan, three Essex lads very much out of our own depth, struggling to land trout during the day and get some sleep in our poorly constructed tents by night.

Things have changed somewhat since those early days. We learnt these important lessons the hard way on our first few trips, allowing us to enjoy our later ones much more:

Eat well from morning to night.

You only fish as well as you eat, at least that’s what we discovered on our third trip up to the River Annan. On our first trip we were subsisting off tins of beans and cereal bars, by the third trip we’d wised up and started eating out most nights.

There are a good variety of well-reviewed hotels around the local area, all of which offer great dinner menus. Whilst you might end up spending more money, we’ve found that a decent meal in the evening will guarantee that you’re on the top of your game the next day.

Don’t drink too much in the evenings…

Although it might be tempting to knock back a bottle of wine (or two) with each fancy dinner that you consume, no one likes to spend a day hung over on the river.

When you’re fly-fishing you have to have quick reactions and sound strategy, you’ll have neither of these if you choose to over-indulge on drink every night at dinner. We’ve found that a couple of glasses are the upper limit of what you should drink if you need to be up early the next day.

Get a good night’s sleep each and every night.

Catching a monster 25lb trout is really much easier when you’ve had a good night sleep. On our first trip we really struggled to sleep each night, mostly because we’d completely failed to pitch our tents properly.

We had no trouble sleeping when we stayed at the spectacular Auchen Castle this year. Each night might have cost the same as half a year’s stay at a campsite, but the treatment we received from the staff made us glad that we’d spent the cash.

As with most things in life, the more you spend, the more you will get.

Obviously, it might not always be possible for you to spend exorbitant amounts of money on food or lodgings, but it is these touches of luxury that make the holiday that much better.

January 15, 2018 author

Where To Stay: River Annan

We’ve been coming on holiday up to the River Annan for well over 6 years now.

Although many groups of lads who go on holiday together will tend to get stuck in a rut, going back to the same B&B or hotel year on year, we’ve found a way of switching it up each time that we go back.

Just a half an hour’s drive away from the popular market town of Dumfries, there are plenty of accommodation options for eager fly-fishers coming to visit the area. For those seeking a touch of luxury to offset their days spent mucking about in the river, then there are a host of high-tier hotels, but if you’re looking to stay close to the river then there are a number of humbler options, perfect for the fisherman who wants to make the most of spending time in this wonderful bit of countryside.

Ravenshill House, Lockerbie

You can always expect a warm and relaxed welcome at Ravenshill House, which makes for an ideal cosy base to return back to after a long day of fishing.

Just a short drive away from some of the best fishing spots on the River Annan, this hotel is a great option for small or large groups of fishermen looking to clock in as much time on the River as possible. Whilst it’s nice and close to the river, it’s also a relaxing place to get a stiff drink and decent meal at the end of a long day.

Luxury Flat for 6, Moffat

You might not have the benefit of room service or laundry, but staying in this private two-bedroom apartment makes for a great secluded escape for those looking to get off the beaten track.

This smart Victorian villa has got bags of charm and loads of space. The nearby village of Moffat has everything that you’ll need in the way of groceries shops and the kitchen is big enough to cook a feast in! The River Annan is a half an hour drive away, it’s also close to some stunning golf courses.

Auchen Castle, Beattock

A few minutes away from Moffat, near the village of Beattock, is one of the swankiest hotels that we’ve had the good fortune of staying in over the years. Whilst the 5-star Auchen Castle might not come cheap, you can guarantee that you’ll get a sound night sleep in this centuries old castle.

There’s a tonne of heritage wrapped up in this castle with famous guests including Margaret Thatcher and The Beatles – although it’s mostly used as a wedding venue, you can book rooms from £159, which includes breakfast.

Annandale Arms Hotel, Moffat

One of the friendliest places that we’ve had the chance of staying in, the Annandale Arms Hotel is that rare kind of establishment that offers a comfortable night’s stay along with excellent service and a cheap price.

Not many hotels feel like such an important pillar of the local community either, there’s live acoustic music every Thursday night, as well as a great blues band that plays each Friday. This is a great option for fishermen looking to enjoy a lively evening as well as good proximity to fishing.…

November 6, 2017 author
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