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Where to see leaping salmon

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Jeremy Torrance web producer Jeremy Torrance web producer | 15:22 UK time, Friday, 14 October 2011

Leaping salmon

Leaping salmon (photo: Ian Llewellyn)

It's not just birds that migrate in autumn. Watching leaping salmon fighting to get upriver to spawn is one of the season's highlights. Here are a few spots where you can witness one of this country's natural wonders. But as always, over to you, the experts... Are there any places you'd recommend? Any particular favourites where you can get the best view of these migratory shoals?

Visitor centres:

Philiphaugh Salmon Viewing Centre
Philiphaugh Estate Office
Tel/fax: 01750 21766

Falls of Shin Visitors Centre
Achany Glen
Highlands and Islands
IV27 4EE

Non visitor centres

  • Stainforth Force: River Ribble to the North of Settle in the Yorkshire Dales
  • Falls of Braan: The Hermitage, Dunkeld Perthshire
  • Cenarth Falls: Cenarth Pembrokeshire, South Wales

Watch Charlie Hamilton James follow the epic journey of the salmon, from the sea to their spawning grounds on Autumnwatch, at 8.30pm Friday 14 October.


  • Comment number 1.

    I can vouch that Falls of Shin is a fantastic place to see salmon leaping (followed by a good meal at Bonar Bridge!).

    Another good place is the fish ladder at Pitlochry :-) Wish I was up there now!

  • Comment number 2.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 3.

    Falls of Shin. I have video of salmon leaping in July this year, it was fantastic

  • Comment number 4.

    Anyone know when/where the salmon leap on the Weir at Shrewsbury?

  • Comment number 5.

    We were watching the Salmon leap at the Soldiers Leap at the Pass of Killiecrankie on the River Garry this afternoon....amazing!!

  • Comment number 6.

    Rocks of Solitude near Edzell is another good place to watch Salmon leaping!

  • Comment number 7.

    Are there any rivers especially good for salmon watching in Devon or Cornwall?

  • Comment number 8.

    The river Feugh, Banchory, Aberdeenshire, my son took a photo of a salmon leaping
    last year.

  • Comment number 9.

    Greetings from Scotland!

    Has anyone on Autumnwatch taken the trouble to read Kathleen Jamie's wonderful book, "Findings"? If they had, then they would know that the Falls of Braan, recommended on your website, are impossible for salmon to leap up successfully - which is maybe why there is no footage on the show of a salmon finally making it up the falls. Read Kathleen's book - here is an extract:

    "Now I knew a secret, something the salmon didn't know, that whether it be instinct or technique it didn't matter, their effort was all hopeless....it's deliberate...it's not a natural salmon river...there are hatcheries upstream. That's why they put them on the Braan, just so the hatchlings couldn't return there and spawn...it would mess up their studies. They're studying hatchlings, how they get on, how they disperse and survive. If they came back as adults and spawned, they wouldn't know which was which. Which had been born in the tanks and which naturally."

    So, 'fess up Autumnwatch, it's good for the cameras, and the tourists, isn't it - but it's an entirely artificial set-up all the same, so you really should be explaining that to your viewers.

    On another matter altogether, the lovely Michaela Strachan once gave up her seat on a busy plane from Canada back to the UK, so that I could sit next to my mum. Kudos! Nice to see her getting a prime-time BBC gig at last.

    All the best

    Annie x

  • Comment number 10.

    Is anyone aware of any places to see the salmon in Northumberland? Cheers

  • Comment number 11.

    The River Tyne at Wylam Bridge is a good spot

  • Comment number 12.

    We have been watching the salmon jump at the pots of gartness, west stirlingshire since the end of august this year (earlier than last year by a month or so). Beautiful, and addictive watching.

  • Comment number 13.

    The River Dove on the Derbyshire/Staffordshire border has salmon running now which can be seen at Ellastone/Norbury at the weir.

  • Comment number 14.

    I watched Autumn watch first time.Went on to site for Salmon locations and found too far with fuel costs.Would be a good idea to have a cam at at least one location so all could enjoy without the cost plus would be greener and less enviomental impact

  • Comment number 15.

    Just a note to AnnieGL - the falls of Braan are on the River Braan, not on the River Almond, where the Autumn Watch sequences were shown - how do you think the salmon that Charlie filmed in the river upstream got there?

  • Comment number 16.

    Does anyone know a good salmon leap in Hampshire / Surrey/West Sussex/ Dorset?
    If so - when are the salmon leaping?

  • Comment number 17.

    Please could anyone confirm if atlantic salmon manage to scale the falls at Aysgarth in Wensleydale, North Yorkshire.

  • Comment number 18.

    And a wee note back to Neil: it's a fair cop - I missed the beginning of the item and assumed the footage related to the only place in Perthshire listed on the Autumnwatch website as a good place to watch salmon, ie. the Braan, not the Almond. What happens on the Braan is that the salmon eventually give up trying to jump the falls, and spawn further downstream. I still think that the website ought to point this out! And I'd still recommend Kathleen Jamie's book! Nighty night.

  • Comment number 19.

    Are there any Salmon leaping in the West Midlands??? :/

  • Comment number 20.

    What happens to the salmon who don't manage to jump the falls? Have been watching at Feugh, Banchory and not one managed to jump up the steep rockface in well over half an hour., although 2 herons were keeping guard.

  • Comment number 21.

    Stainforth Force just north of Settle in North Yorkshire was excellent for Salmon today.
    The water level is just right for them at the moment, and the light conditions just perfect for photography. Photo opportunities were roughly one every five minutes!

  • Comment number 22.

    Still plenty of salmon at the Falls of Shin and there is a wonderful Fish Ladder just off the A9 at The Mound near Rogart but we still have our very special place that is a lot less commercial than Shin Falls and we normally have to ourselves.

  • Comment number 23.

    I saw a salmon leap today at Cenarth Falls in Ceredigion/Cardiganshire, West Wales. We'd given up as we'd been sitting for some time waiting, and were about to go home, when suddenly a large writhing salmon leapt up right out of the water where the larger waterfall is ont eh right hand side. Spectacular sight and very exciting. Humbling too... Then we had icecream in the rain!

  • Comment number 24.

    I am a salmon life long fisherman, and I am involved in salmon conservation and hatchery projects , hence I find it a bit embaressing to hear the film maker tell the viewer that a salmon living in the river is a smolt. All salmon fishermen will be cringing at this, young salmon prior to migration to the sea are called parr. The smolting of salmon happens shortly before migration to the sea, and involves changing from trout like markings which provide good camouflage to the river environment, to a silver salmon colour that provides good camouflage in the sea environment. While this may seem a minor detail,it is infact a fundimental part of understanding salmon morphology aln life cycle and should be correct.

  • Comment number 25.

    We cheered on the salmon at Stainforth Force on Sat. Along with a good few others.

  • Comment number 26.

    that was a parr, surely, not a smolt.......

  • Comment number 27.

    In the South Lake District try Force Falls near Sizergh / Sedgwick on the River Kent at map reference SD509865. Best after heavy rainfall. River Kent fish tend to be smaller than average but remarkable to watch them all the same. The runs started earlier this year due to regular rain in the last couple of months but there should be plenty more to come. Recommend nearby award winning farm shop and cafe Low Sizergh Barn only a few hundred yards away and worth a visit as well if you are visiting the area.

  • Comment number 28.

    The place to see probably the most salmon and sea trout leaping is Hexham weir on the Tyne. Over 40000 fish have gone through the fish counter at Ridings mill this year. have a look on youtube there are a couple of "videos" that i posted under salmon leapinh - not as good as autumnwatch but ...

  • Comment number 29.

    Nick Taylor wrote about salmon on the river dove interested in going as I live nr Sheffield/Worksop is it at the weir near the road between Ellastone and Norbury as this the only one I can see on google maps and also would there still be leaping going off by the weekend

  • Comment number 30.

    Didn’t realise this list was up before heading to The Hermitage at the weekend… I did think it was strange the car parks were completely full. As we had taken a bit of a drive we waited patiently for a space.

    So glad we did. This was my first sighting. Took my video camera and got some footage too. I was thrilled… not as good as Charlie’s though but if anyone wants to see https://blog.shirlsgardenwatch.co.uk/2011/10/missing-salmon-leaping.html . BTW Autumnwatch got all the links before I knew of this list :-)

  • Comment number 31.

    A couple of Octobers ago the kids and I were mesmerised for hours watching leaping salmon from the bridge at Betws-y-Coed... Even if there are no salmon on the day you go, the river there is a marvel of nature!

  • Comment number 32.

    We have just come back from The Hermitage in Perthshire and saw no salmon. The ranger said I was about a month too late. Obviously from other posts on here this doesn't seem right. It was beautiful and we did see red squirrels but I really wanted to see leaping salmon.

  • Comment number 33.

    I saw dozens of leaping salmon at the River Wear in Durham last year, just below the cathedral!

  • Comment number 34.

    We were at the Hermitage Falls near Dunkeld on 13th Oct and saw salmon leaping and then again on The River Garry at the famous Soldiers Leap Killiecrankie 15 miles north the same day. I took some footage and have sent it in so hopefully it will be shown tonight??? I captured a hen fish on film who had leaped clear onto the rocks, I had just stopped recording when she flew out but managed to scramble to get recording again and got some great shots of her flapping about until eventually slipping back into the water, unfortunately for her the wrong way!!! Definately be going back next year to get some even better shots!!


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