In late October, we journeyed north into Wensleydale. The tiny village of West Burton exists as an enduring microcosm of olden day, rural England. In the summer, this quiet community will buzz with visitors, all keen to catch a glimpse of the world’s most famous cycle race, le Tour de France, as it wheels through the dale.
As we wandered by lichened rocks, and sawn logs stacked to dry beside a cottage; the cries of jackdaws tore away on the breeze, and the smell of woodsmoke lingered under the eaves; evoking the spirit of this remote, romantic corner of the Yorkshire Dales.
Concealed at the end of a rutted track is West Burton’s other, more secret, attraction. Cauldron Falls, a spectacular waterfall with a broad plunge pool; is a popular spot for hardened swimmers, and photographers seeking the perfect ‘slow shutter’.
As we stood by the falls, admiring their torrential force, a grey couple beckoned us fervently to the packhorse bridge. The salmon were leaping, on migration from the sea; and after several minutes of staring into the churning mixture of water and peat, we saw one: a dark silhouette soaring upwards and forwards; as spiralling, orange leaves fell and washed away in the mêlée beneath.
This was the climax of a remarkable voyage home for the salmon, back to the Yorkshire Dales, and the pool of its birth.