Saturday, June 4, 2011

The Boyd River

I have'nt written in my blog for ages, writer's block perhaps, or the fact that I've been spinning furiously the Bluefaced Leicester wool I received last week.  I should write an article or two for elsewhere but nothing comes, so heigh-ho.... but I did come across the following poem. My mind had been wandering down the events of this week, firstly, Marlborough Mound in Marlborough College has a prehistoric foundation, it was thought to be a Norman motte but core drilling has proved otherwise.  Silbury Hill down the road in Avebury (the biggest artifical mound in Europe) has a 'sister' it seems now, though not so big but nevertheless large artifical 'hills or mounds', seem to be part of the sacred landscape scheme for this part of Wiltshire, there is also the large Hatfield barrow (now destroyed) as well. 
Then on a forum people were talking about 'Springwatch' and it bought to mind another TV show which I enjoyed far more than Springwatch this was something called 'Secret River' in which husband and wife (and their two young children) team naturalists explored the river running alongside there cottage.
It was the River Boyd in South Gloucestershire, and one I had walked along.  It runs through a beautiful gorge, now quarried, though a great deal of it is a nature reserve called the Golden Valley, it also at one stage had an ochre factory in it in the 19th century...  but which, before I run on, has a fairly large barrow at the point where the River Boyd runs into the the larger River Avon (the mother river)..

So if we take the second line of part of the poem; The two villages now are Doddington (Deington) and Wick (Weeke) and the cliffs are of course the gorge in Wick. 

And thou sweet Boyd that with thy watry sway

Dost wash the cliffes of Deington and of Weeke
And through their rocks with crooked winding way
Thy Mother Avon runnest soft to seek
In whose fair streams the speckled trout doth play
The roche the dace the gudgin and the bleeke
Teach me the skill with slender line and hook
to take each fish of river pond and brook.

John Dennys is described as the first poet to write on angling, in the early 17th century (The Secrets of Angling) three books I believe of poetry to the fish, angling and beautiful countryside round his home, Wick by the way is only a few miles from Bath and falls on the boundary between Somerset and Gloucester.

As a child, catching the little minnows that swam in the ponds in the park, was later augmented by fishing in Bovey Belle's river, though I'm sure she doesn't own it! But for the moment can't think of its name. As children we were sent away to farms in the school holidays, the one in Wales we were sent to had the river running through the bottom field.  Here I learnt to 'tickle' trout, often in the company of the farm pig, who was a friendly creature and followed us children around like a dog.  The only thing I can remember about this huge pink sow, was how large spidery things rushed through the dense prickly hair of the creature, cannot think what they were...
My grandfather also spent weekends fishing here for salmon, which would be brought home and would fill the old refrigerator in the scullery, these were the days when food was still restricted after the war late into the 1950's.  So though I  frown on the sport of angling as it is conducted today, catching and then throwing the fish back,  line fishing for one's supper is the best way to go about it.


  1. I really enjoy reading your blog. To me it's like strolling along side a river. One must take your time to enjoy it. Thank you for sharing your thoughts with us.

  2. Hi Jarmara, we went down to the Chelmer yesterday, the river is as always beautiful, and incredibly calming, you can see why people just like to potter along it.

  3. Hello there. What a lovely couple of posts. The river looked in superb condition and it was a pleasure to see the photos. I've also not come across that particular poem before, so thank you for that!

    There is a great deal of poetic writing about angling, as it was practiced, perhaps the best example is Ted Hughes. There are still some angling writers like Chris Yates, whose books are full of references to nature, flowers and butterflies and keeping the old spirit alive too. His book Casting at the Sun is a classic.

  4. Thanks for that GL, Dennys is surprising, apparently he seems to have known Shakespeare, who was also an angler. Ted Hughes is a favourite of mine - 'Pike' immediately comes to mind.
    Wiki link....

  5. Ah - now if it was "my" river - then it must have been the Towy or the Cothi . . . A neighbour by-passed the trout tickling and was wont to chuck a bottle of bleach into the best pools, and the Very Clean fish would then float to the top!

  6. Hi Jennie, it must have been the Cothi, I have an even worse tale to tell, and hopefully no one will read it because it miles down my blog.
    But my grandfather threw a stick of dynamite in once, and got a lot of fish that way. He used to go fishing/shooting on the farm, My older half brother by mistake shot the farm terrier dog when they were looking for rabbits. The good thing was though, that it so shocked him that he would never go shooting after that.