In Scotland there are about 180 rivers and 50 lochs
where salmon can be found. Almost every yard of lakefront or riverbank where
the fishing is good is privately owned and very hard to get at. Buying your own
salmon beat can cost upward of $56,000 a mile on the best rivers. And the only
other access to most of these private waters is to rent a beat or somehow make
friends with the owner.
But the Spey is different. Though it is one of
Scotland's most celebrated rivers, it is also one of the most accessible. If
you live or lodge in Grantown you can have the freedom of several miles of the
river for $2.80 a week ($1.40 for trout only). But the best idea, to get a
combination of good fishing and relative privacy, is to stay at one of the many
hotels along the river; most of these have beats available to their guests.
WHEN TO GO. The fishing season on the Spey runs
February 11 to September 30. As on most of the other Scottish rivers, the very
best time is April or May. But in the deep, strong waters of the Spey the
fishing holds good throughout the summer. Rods and reels can be rented at most
local tackle shops for $5 to $6 a week.
GETTING THERE. From London the most comfortable way to
go is by night train. The Royal Highlander leaves London at 6:40 p.m., arrives
at Aviemore in the Spey Valley at 7:28 a.m., where you change for Grantown.
Sunday night's train leaves at 7 p.m., arriving at Grantown at 9:36 a.m. There
are sleepers and dining cars.
STAYING THERE. In the 40 miles from Grantown to
Speymouth there are many hotels that cater to fishermen. Of these, one of the
most attractive is the Ben Mhor in Grantown, a hotel with 27 beds, tartan
carpets and a new wing with six rooms, all with baths. Dining room specializes
in such Scottish dishes as haggis. There is also a cocktail bar. American plan
is $35 to $42 per week. The hotel's private beat is an eight-minute walk
The Grant Arms in Grantown is 200 years old, has 60
bedrooms, some furnished with antiques. And, if you care about that sort of
thing, Queen Victoria slept there. American plan rates are $45.50 to $52.50 per
week. Some private baths are available for $1 per day extra.
The Craigellachie Hotel, Craigellachie, Banffshire,
where the author stayed, is a gabled building only 200 yards from the Spey. It
has 26 rooms, only two with private bath, good, plain cooking and a 2�-mile
beat on the Spey. American plan rates are $38 to $44 per week, with fishing
charges at $29.40 per week or $5.60 per day. The Glen Hotel in Rothes,
Morayshire is under the same ownership as the Craigellachie. Formerly a country
mansion, it has Scottish baronial turrets and gables, luxurious furnishings,
excellent food and wines. Its rates are $40 per week, American plan, $1.40 per
day extra for private bath. Guests use Craigellachie beat. All hotels pack
lunches for fishermen; and most of them will help you sell those fish you don't
want to keep, although a few of the inns stipulate that a guest must surrender
every other fish to the management as a kind of bonus room rent.
If you prefer to try any of the other rivers, an
excellent guide to hotels and fishing water is a publication put out by the
Scottish Tourist Board called Scotland for Fishing. It can-be obtained by mail
for $1 from the board at 2 Rutland Place, West End, Edinburgh 1, Scotland.
Wherever you stay, hire a gillie; he will cost only
about $25 a week. By all means bring a waterproof coat—it rains. And when you
come home, it would be downright sinful not to bring back a duty-free gallon of
one of the local malts (Glen Grant and Glenlivet are superb examples), together
with a few of your own salmon, which your hotel will arrange to have