Friday, 3 September 2010

Ffestiniog and the Demon Driver

Hi all, the photo above is a view of Barmouth, taken from Fairbourne.
Okay, it's time to carry on with the trip to Ffestiniog to do a bit of fishing. The first question you might ask is why anyone living in Staffordshire would want to go all the way to Ffestiniog to do some fishing? Travelling seventy odd miles to wet a line in a remote area of North Wales, could seem a little eccentric.

The answer is simple, and I'm sure that anglers old enough to remember split cane rods will still be feeling the pains of the closed season, a time when fishing wasn't allowed anywhere. It wasn't too bad during March and April because it was still a bit chilly in those months, but once May arrived and the sap started to rise, the need to go fishing bought on a bad case of cold turkey. So our trip to Ffestiniog was like a drug, we needed to feel the pleasures of the rod and couldn't wait until June.

We wouldn't be catching coarse fish, because the lake in Ffestiniog was trout only, but we would be allowed to use our coarse fishing tackle and coarse fishing bait.

Three of us set off early one morning and I would like to report that the journey was good and the scenery splendid. However, the trip for me was a nightmare. A friend of a friend called Dave had offered to do the driving and at the time it seemed like a good idea to accept. If only I'd known that he drove as if he was taking part in the Monte Carlo Rally (if you can remember split cane rods you will also remember this annual event too). It was flat out all the way, late breaking and overtaking at inopportune places. By the time we got to Festiniog I was suffering from nervous exhaustion and my arms were aching from having to hang onto the back of the passenger's seat. My Friend Paul, who sat in this seat seemed to take Dave's driving in his stride; perhaps he was either used to it or there againn he was probably numb with fright.

It didn't help that we went thirty miles out of our way. Each of us assumed that one of us knew the way and Dave being Dave just put his foot down and headed for Wales. Those of you from Stafford will know that to get to Wales you first go to Newport. Dave the driver did this, but then went straight on when a turn to the right would have been favourite. Because we were travelling at such a speed we were in a little village called Knockin before anybody thought to consult a map and we realised that we were well off course. Anyway we had a laugh at the sign over the village shop which is aptly called "The Knockin Shop," and then returned whence we came to pick up the A5.

Now I don't want you to go running off with the idea that I don't like speed because that isn't true. I'm as happy as the next man to be going fast; I just think that speeding is okay if done in appropriate places. If I tell you that I was once the proud owner of a Ford Capri you will understand that I know all about speed. It's a shame about that car, but when I married for the second time, my new wife and I couldn't afford to run two cars so I gave my beloved Capri to my son. He kept it for a few weeks and then traded it in for a Citreon that had suspension that he liked to play with. I can remember him showing me how he could raise the suspension on one wheel and lower it on the other. Now that isn't what I call a good swap and I still haven't got over it.

Anyway, we were soon walking around Ffestiniog lake looking for a suitable spot to fish from. We went over the dam wall and across to the far side opposite a strange building that had huge pipes coming out of it. The landscape around the lake was like a moonscape. There wasn't a blade of grass to be seen anywhere. The whole lake was surrounded by banks of loose rocks which varied in shape and sizes. Actually these rocks came in handy because after tackling up with a ledger rig and casting out it became apparent that the rocks could be put to good use. I built a nice little rest for my feet and a table for my coffee that was so skillfully built that a stone waller from Derbyshire would've been proud of it.

I was pleased to see that Paul was following suit and also building a table whilst keeping one eye on the tip of his rod. The three of us sat in a line contented to be fishing even though after an hour we hadn't had a bite between us.

Having not taken part in the table building stakes, Dave the demon driver, decided he'd move further along the bank and left me and Paul to enjoy the spot we had originally chosen. I guess it came with the impatience of being a fast driver, but the last time we looked at Dave he was wondering off up the bank to try his luck with a fly rod.

After another half hour of nothing happening and a similar period of nothing happening again either, there was a sudden roaring noise and water started pouring out of the pipes on the funny looking building opposite. We didn't know it at the time, but it was all to do with the lake being part of the Hydo-Electric generating system. Apparently they let the water out of a lake on the top of the mountain in the daytime and this is used to generate power. Then at night, when the cost of electricity is lower, they pumped the water back up to the lake at the top again. How this is commercially viable is beyond me, but that's what they do.

I suppose we were amused to begin with especially as we'd never seen water flowing so fast. But it all turned sour when we realised that the water was coming up the bank towards us and in no time at all it came up to my newly built footrest. We had to move our kit further up the bank and our lovely tables were soon under water as well. In fact we were so busy trying to keep ahead of the tide we had forgotten about Dave the driver and turned around just in time to see him trying to retrieve his tackle some of which was floating about on the waves.

The waters carried on rising for the rest of the day and we didn't catch a fish between us. But it didn't matter, we'd had a nice day out and had a good laugh and sometimes that's better than catching a netful of fish. In fact we finished up fishing at Ffestiniog again the following year, but that as they say is another story. I endured and survived the white knuckle ride back to Stafford with the aid of some liquid refreshment, but if Paul ever offers to take me on a trip with Dave behind the wheel, I'm afraid I'll have to decline.
Here's just a reminder that if you are interested in a free download of my book about fishing please click here

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