Griff Rhys-Jones falls out of a coracle and explains the disappearing salmon

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Rivers: irritating at times, but often interesting and always beautifully photographed

I’ve always said coracles are cheeky little chappies that are just a little too fly to be trusted… Anyway I was greatly amused last night to see Griff Rhys Jones fall out of one into the River Wye on the latest episode of his beautifully-shot BBC series Rivers.

For a few moments I thought GRJ had the thing licked, but I can’t say I’m surprised he ended up in the water – the one time I tried to paddle one I found it nearly impossible.

This was the best episode of the three so far, and by far the best part was the section on two forms of salmon fishing that seem to be about to disappear, netting with lathe nets (like giant butterfly nets, but used in the water) and trapping with wicker baskets called putchers.

Both techniques are practiced only by older gentlemen, but a large part of the problem seems to be that the natural upstream spawning habitats used by salmon have been disrupted, as have the peat bogs that used to help moderate the river’s flow. GRJ’s key message in this series seems to be that councils and others are allowing commercial interests to wreck the longstanding natural functions of rivers while 96 per cent of the river network is closed, even to canoeists. I’d say the wrong activity (and the wrong people) are being banned.

If you’re in the UK, catch it on the iPlayer before it gets replaced by next Sunday’s episode.

3 thoughts on “Griff Rhys-Jones falls out of a coracle and explains the disappearing salmon”

  1. "…. that councils and others are allowing commercial interests to wreck the river …."

    Why am I not surprised, 'commercial interests' give cash away to ensure a smooth path, happens everywhere. Given the 'legal' corruption recently revealed in the nations parliament why would you suppose that other levels of government behave differently?

    Waterfrontage is real estate gold, a cash cow and most everyone has their price. I doubt things will change.


    1. Of couse it's easier to be critical if you've already made your pile, or if like me you never will. From that perspective things are perhaps less easily obscured by issues of personal gain.

      But yes, I fear you're right Jeff. And if you add to that the knowledge that humans can find ways of justifying almost anything, well you know how we get into the messes that we do get into.

      But humans have redeeming features too. It would be nice to see some them coming into play rather more often…


  2. The portrayal of coracles was in a way that was to be expected from television, a comedy feature. The type of coracle featured was an Irish type from the River Boyne (last used commercially there in 1949.) It has no place on a programme about mainland British rivers. I briefed the programme makers many months ago about coracles-where to go and what to see yet it was ignored and featured coracles in a way one would expect from commercial television not the BBC

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