Fishing in National Trust Waters

A blue ‘NT’ on the map or the oakleaf device at the waterside means that a day’s fishing will either be staged in magnificent surroundings or steeped in history. It might even be free!

Few anglers are aware that there is some first-class fishing in the attractive surroundings of many National Trust properties in various parts of the country. In most cases day tickets exist, with permits usually available from the Trust Warden.

Some National Trust waters are controlled by local clubs and associations, but day or season permits are issued for most of these fisheries.

A stretch of the Thames at Pangbourne, Berkshire, offers free fishing from the banks of what is known as Whitchurch Meadow. Although this is National Trust, it is administered by Pangbourne Parish Council, and is a fine reach of the Thames, with good bream.

Also in Trust are the bankside meadows at Runnymede, where the Magna Carta and John F Kennedy Memorials are situated. This stretch provides free fishing for many species, including good barbel, chub, roach and dace. Also on this Trust land is a small water known as Langham Pond, where the fishing is controlled by the Old Windsor Club, which issues day tickets.

Buscot Weir

In the Upper Thames area, below Lechlade, the river banks around the Buscot Weir area are National Trust property. Fishing is controlled by the London AA and day tickets are issued along the bank.

A popular Surrey coarse fishery is the Wey Navigation Canal, owned by the National Trust since 1964. From Weybridge, where it joins the Thames, to Byfleet the Navigation is available on a reasonably priced day ticket issued by the Wey Navigation Canal Angling Association. Among the many different species are roach, chub, dace and double-figure carp, and the canal has been stocked with tench from the Black Boy Club pit, Weybridge.

River Wey

At Guildford, over three miles of the town stretch of the River Wey are owned by the National Trust. Guildford AS controls the fishing, issues day tickets and accepts bookings by visiting clubs. Roach, chub, dace and gudgeon are all available. Also in Surrey are the Frensham Ponds, sizeable and well-known coarse fishing waters. The larger of the two ponds is on National Trust land, with the fishing rights held by the Farnham AC which issues day tickets. These waters hold most species including big carp and tench.

Another interesting coarse fishery is Hatfield Forest Lake (4V5 acres), about three miles from Bishop’s Stortford, Hertfordshire. This old-established lake, owned by the Trust, is noted for its tench fishing, and also holds roach, perch, rudd, carp and big pike. Day tickets and boat hire are obtainable from the Warden on the bank.

Some lakes in the Lake District, a favourite weekend and holiday area, are on National Trust property. In most cases, these waters are either free or day-ticketed.

National Trust lakes include Buttermere, Loughrigg Tarn, Crum-mock Water, Yew Tree Tarn, Brotherswater and Ullswater; and other lakes are owned by the Trust but leased out to local clubs. En-quiries at tackle dealers will establish which other waters can be fished. The National Trust does not, at present, have a published guide to its fishing waters, but information can be obtained by sending an s.a.e. To the NT Head Office.

The well-known Loweswater Lake, about 1 Vt miles long, has pike, perch and brown trout. For trout, the fishing is by fly only up to June 16, then by other legal methods.

Buttermere Lake, 13A miles long and up to 90ft deep, holds pike, perch, brown trout and char, while Crummock Water, some 3 miles long and up to 130ft deep, has stocks of pike and perch along with brown trout and char. It also holds salmon, and the best time is reckoned to be from July onwards.


Ullswater (2,200 acres) near Penrith, Cumbria, some 7Vi miles long and over 200ft deep in places has the ad-vantage of being a free-fishing water. Most of the lake is owned by the Trust, with the rest in private hands. Skelly and trout to 8lb are caught, and all legal methods of fishing are allowed. Boats are available for hire.

Brotherswater, at the southern end of Ullswater, is an attractive small lake with free fishing for perch and trout. The National Trust also owns most of the shore line on Con-iston Water, and fishing for trout, char, pike, perch and eels is free. The Yew Tree Tarn, near Coniston, is also owned by the Trust, and day tickets can be obtained from the local angling club.

In North Wales, the National Trust has various stretches of good fishing. On the River Conwy it con-trols about 11 miles of water both banks from Conwy Falls Bridge to Rhydlanfair Bridge excepting a field at each end on the north bank; a stretch on the right bank from Hen-dre Isaf, on the A5, to the point of overflow from Llyn Conwy; and a length on the opposite bank below Bryniau Defaid footbridge to the point of overflow from Llyn Conwy.

The Trust also controls both banks of the River Glasgwm from its source to below Henrhyw Uchaf near Penmachno, and sections of the River Machno—from the Conwy Falls to Pandy, the south end of Pandy Mills field to approximately 1,000 yards south, a 500-yard stretch opposite Ysgwfraith, and both banks from Pont Oernant near Penmachno to Siloh Chapel, Cwm Penmachno.

The Trust’s Conwy fishing is for brown trout, and there is a catch limit of 10 fish and a minimum size limit of 8in. Day-ticket prices (Sun-day included) are reasonable, and vary with the particular section. Tickets are available from local agents or direct from the National Trust Office, Dinas, Betws-y-Coed.

Clumber Park lake

The beautiful lake in Clumber Park near Worksop, Notts, is an 80-acre National Trust water that has pro-duced huge catches of bream and roach. In recent seasons numerous 2 lb-plus roach have been caught, and bream up to 9lb 3oz. Day and season tickets are issued on the site.

For those interested in fishing Trust rivers in Devonshire, there is a three-mile double-bank length of the River Lyn from Lynmouth to Watersmeet, and from there, one mile of double-bank fishing on the East Lyn as far as the Rockford Inn. There is also one mile of double-bank fishing on the West Lyn past the Combe Hotel and the Hilsford Bridge. These waters are leased to SWWA, and permits may be obtained from them or from tackle dealers.

Another Trust trout fishery is the Winkworth Arboretum, near Godal-ming, Surrey, where brown trout to 4lb 6oz were caught in recent seasons. The two lakes, known as Upper and Lower, and connected by a stream, are stocked with brown and rainbow trout. Fishing is from boats only, and by fly, with a catch limit of six fish. Day tickets are available and include boat hire and the use of two rods. Fishing is allowed only three days a week, so bookings must be made in advance to Commander J A H McKean, Thicketts, Hascombe, Godalming, Surrey (Tel Hascombe 218).

A little way from Guildford is the Waggoners Wells National Trust property at Haslemere, near Hind-head, with three attractively situated lakes fishable on day tickets. The two upper lakes, reserved for trout fishing, are stocked regularly with brown and rainbow trout, while the other holds good carp, and tench, with some rudd and roach. The size limit for trout is 10in. Fishing permits are available at the lakeside.

Source of the Dorest Stour

Every angler knows of the Dorset Stour and the fabulous fish that swim in its clear waters. At the ex-treme top end of the river at Stourhead is an estate at Stourton, near Mere, with a series of seven lakes. They are recognized as being the source of the river and hold mainly coarse fish, with a few big trout. The top lake belongs to the National Trust, and holds mainly roach, rudd, tench, perch, pike and bream, though there are a few big trout—the record brown trout weighing 7lb. Tickets are available at the entrance.

For seekers of big pike, there are Norfolk Broads situated on National Trust ground, such as Brundall Broad, which is connected to the River Yare, and Surlingham Broad, which have yielded pike of over 30lb.

About six miles from Settle, Yorkshire, Malham Tarn, is a nature reserve leased by the Trust to the Malham Field Centre and available on a day ticket. Fishing is by fly only for large trout, and boats can be hired. Advance bookings should be made to the Warden, Malham Tarn Field Centre, Settle, North Yorks.

National Trust waters are well looked after, so it is up to everyone to take care of them. Obey the country code, and leave no litter.