Glen Banchor is a familiar Highland landscape. Brimming with drama, its seemingly endless heathery hills echo to a soundtrack of roaring stags and chattering grouse. Yet far below the craggy peaks, there’s a secret hidden in the rushing waters of the River Calder. Carving its way across a gravelly floodplain before cascading through sculpted gorges towards the village of Newtonmore, the Calder is an upland tributary of the globally renowned River Spey. Salmon anglers from far and wide fish the Spey and many of its tributaries, but their prize is under threat. Atlantic salmon are in hot water.
For millennia, Scotland’s salmon have lived not only in the rivers but also in the forest. And in the soil that spawns the forest. And in the predators, scavengers and even herbivores that live in the forest. The King of Fish is not only the ultimate angler’s prize, but a key element in an intricate cycle of birth, death, decay and regeneration; a building block in a vibrant living system and all the life it supports.
But in return, salmon need the support of a rich and diverse landscape that stretches far beyond the banks of the river. Over centuries, the loss of Scotland’s natural woodlands has profoundly changed its river catchments and their ability to support the salmon runs that once flourished.