Chalkstream: in Praise of the Ultimate River

Book Review: Charles Rangeley-Wilson's "Chalkstream: in Praise of the Ultimate River"

First published in Fly Fishing & Fly Tying magazine, November 2005

The last year or so has been good for the chalkstreams. First we saw the UK Biodiversity Action Plan's report and proposals on "The State of England's Chalk Rivers". Now, we've got this anthology of gloriously evocative chalkstream writing - and who better to compile it than Charles Rangeley-Wilson, founder of the Wild Trout Trust, in partnership with Tony Hayter, recent biographer of Halford?

As you'd expect from such a collaboration - including, presumably, years spent pleasurably poring through back copies of Waterlog, The Field, and The Fishing Gazette - the results are ancient and modern, familiar and fascinating and utterly, mysteriously obscure.

They're all here, those giants of old and not-so-old: Negley Farson and HT Sheringham, JW Hills and David Profumo, Neil Patterson with his "Trout out of Hell", and Richard Walker stalking trophy dace on the Cam. Military men catalogue their red-letter days on classic southern streams, culminating in Sidney Vines driving 4,000 miles to research his own authoritative guide, and Colonel Peter Hawker "ludicrously amused with throwing a fly on horseback" at Longparish on the Test. But any southern bias

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