IT started out as a simple cycle run from Glasgow to Kirkintilloch along the towpath of the Forth and Clyde canal.  A glorious day we thought, and a chance for an easy pedal with the occasional opportunity to find out how the regular small groups of anglers were faring in the bright sunshine.

For the most part the anglers were glum, including members of a club whose sole return for several hours of hard work, were a few measly dace,  a couple of roach and a solitary perch.  Attempts at conversation produced grunts of displeasure, but little by way of insight into the day’s activities.  The pike brigade, particularly those in the nice shady stretches east of Bishopbriggs, were taking a little liquid refreshment and waiting for sun down.

Still, it was heartening to see the number of youngsters receiving careful tuition at Auchenstarry.  Just a simple small rod with a fixed line and no reel, a short length of monofilament, a hook and some carefully-chosen bait was enough to raise excited spirits of anticipation in up to a dozen children, whose afternoon might otherwise have been spent in less productive pursuits.


Fishing the Forth & Clyde canal at Kilsyth
Coarse fishing: a great entry method for younsters into angling


One of the joys of coarse fishing is that it offers a great entry into angling for youngsters.  Kit can be acquired cheaply and there is little need to learn sophisticated casting.

My cycling companions, including The Ghillie Herself, could see the immediate appeal of not having to learn anything other than a couple of elementary knots and the chances of frustrating fankles and wind-blown loops of gossamer-like fluorocarbon were much reduced.  My witterings about knots and loops were to return to haunt me very soon.

We cycled on, admiring the glistening, but largely unoccupied new marina at Kirkintilloch before retracing our route back towards Glasgow. Less than half a mile before our destination at the Maryhill locks we had to negotiate a short section along the roadway and approached with some caution.

I stopped on the pavement, but as I put my right foot down to balance the bike, the loop of my shoelace caught in one of the teeth of the front crankset and I crashed over with my full weight, bike on top, into the roadway. The embarrassment of falling off was completely overtaken by a searing pain in my knee but somewhat lessened by the realisation that I had not been run over by a passing car.  And my cycling partners quickly mopped up the cuts and grazes. No great damage seemed done and we made it home safely, stowing both bike and bike rack for another day.

With in an hour any worries about a badly bruised knee [a joint already well past its prime due to previous surgery] faded quickly, to be replaced by rapidly multiplying pain in my right elbow.  This continued to worsen and swell overnight until I showed up early next morning at Glasgow’s Western Infirmary, where an X-ray suggested to the duty doctor that the elbow was broken.

My spirits sank.  I am due to spend a week’s salmon, sea trout and brown trout fishing in Uist later this month. It’s been planned for a year, but at a stroke seemed to be seriously at risk. A plastercast for six weeks would effectively write off not just the Hebridean trip, but the remainder of the season.  Attendance was demanded at a fracture clinic the following day where, to my relief, the specialist was less certain about a positive break and packed me off with a light sling and instructions for gentle exercise as the swelling subsided.

Daily exercises are now in place and a glimmer of hope exists that the Uist trip is still possible.  If not, I’ll be joining the kids at Auchenstarry on foot with a simple wand in my left hand and the prospect of a small dace at the end of the day.   Someone else can tie up the knots and who knows, I might have to take solace with a few swigs of whatever it is that some of the canal crew seem to add to their Irn Bru bottles of an afternoon.