In the 17th century the writer Izaac Walton called salmon "the King of freshwater fish" and they have continued to inspire authors as diverse as Henry Williamson and Ted Hughes. Their vivid life cycle, as they leave freshwater rivers, go to the sea and return home, is one of intense struggle as they swim upstream against the current.
In her third Essay on Britain's wild animals, writer and poet Ruth Padel explores the history of salmon and investigates their significance to the landscape and to our imagination. She compares the lives of wild salmon with those which are farmed and considers the problems for the wild salmon's survival, such as pollution and disease.
Producer: Emma Kingsley.