Louise Minchin - why I love walking by the River Dee in Chester
PUBLISHED: 09:00 13 June 2017 | UPDATED: 09:00 13 June 2017
The popular BBC TV presenter has discovered a new love since moving to the Chester area.
I never imagined living by a river would be such a restorative and wonderful experience until I moved to Cheshire, near to the mighty Dee.
I have always loved the sea, in any form. Whether it is being transfixed by towering deep blue waves, tipped with frothy white fringes smashing into the rocks in north Cornwall, or being mesmerised by the vast expanse of the gun-metal grey water of the North Sea when I was at university, in St Andrews.
Compared to those dramatic scenes, I am ashamed to say, I always thought rivers were a little bit boring, but after five years spending hours walking and running with my labrador, Waffle, up and down the banks of the Dee I have realised they are nothing of the sort.
The first thing I noticed, was that the river changes every day. One morning the water can be so still it is like a mirror, reflecting in intricate detail, the leaves on the trees bending towards it. I can go back at the same time the next day, and the river might be swirling furiously, dragging huge branches effortlessly downstream as if it were a liquid giant carrying tiny twigs.
I love the way the light changes it too, sometimes it is the colour of molten chocolate, and at others it is as dark as slate. It is never exactly the same.
Then there is the wildlife, and it is the birds I particularly love. From the cormorants and gulls perched on rocks at the weir in Chester, watching eagle eyed for something to catch; the lone heron standing serenely on one leg on a fallen log, fishing; and the pairs of ducks shepherding their fluffy ducklings into the shadows. I love it especially at this time of year, when the birds are singing so loudly I feel like I am being deafened by a riotous avian festival.
The highlight of my river walks, is the wonderful but rare moment, when out of the corner of my eye, I catch a fleeting flash of bright blue, skirting fast along the water, so quickly it’s gone almost before I realise it is there. It is the magnificent and elusive kingfisher, aptly known as a symbol of peace and prosperity. I am always elated when I spot one, but have a curious sense of disappointment too, as I know it could be many walks with Waffle before I am lucky enough to see another.