Believe me, my young friend, there is nothing — absolutely nothing — half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats, Rat told Mole in The Wind In The Willows. What he forgot to add was ‘except fishing’.
According to the Environment Agency, nearly a million of us bought a fishing permit in the past year and the majority of anglers are older folk — aged over 45.
No wonder, then, that holiday home parks around Britain’s lakes and rivers have become a treasured preserve among retired anglers seeking a peaceful alternative to the crowded beach.
Peaceful: Carlton Meres Holiday Park in Suffolk has well-stocked fishing lakes
A dedicated fisherman will tell you he doesn’t mind if he doesn’t catch anything; sitting on a grassy bank by the water enjoying the peace and solitude, waiting for his line to twitch is enough.
For the past 20 years, retired storeman, Dan McGarry, 80, has spent his summers with his wife Leah, 79, at their holiday home on the Riverside Caravan Park in the Yorkshire Dales.
Attracted by its salmon and trout-rich river, the Wenning, a tributary of the Lune, Dan persuaded the park owner to convert a pond into a lake and stock it with carp, which he now looks after.
He has been fishing since he was four years old and has a collection of some 60 rods and a reel dating from the 1870s.
‘I grew up on the edge of a reservoir,’ he says. ‘I used to fish seven days a week when we first came here. Leah doesn’t fish, but she loves going on walks by the river and enjoying the wildlife.’
It’s a deal: Nearly a million of us bought a fishing permit in the past year and the majority of anglers are older folk — aged over 45
Dan insists he only fishes with barbless hooks and never takes the fish out of the water. ‘No one does these days,’ he says.
It takes an hour and a half for the couple, who have been married 59 years, to drive from their home in the Wirral to their 38ft-long, two-bedroom home which they bought five years ago for £56,000.
‘There’s a nice community of retirees like me who enjoy fishing,’ Dan adds.
‘It’s like going back in time here. There’s no traffic. We can look out over the hills and if we want the beach, Morecambe is just 12 miles away.’ (riverside caravanpark.co.uk).
Similarly close to the coast with the Suffolk seaside 20 minutes away is Carlton Meres (park holidays.co.uk), which has fishing lakes and new homes from £39,995.
The UK’s inland waterways are not only popular with fisherman. A short stroll from the shores of Lake Windermere, Skelwith Fold Park in Ambleside is a magnet for lake-loving holiday-home buyers and wild swimmers.
‘Wild swimming is becoming increasingly popular, and we’ve noticed a growing passion among guests for slipping into cool, clear waters of Cumbria’s lakes and rivers,’ says park owner Henry Wild.
‘But for many home owners, one of the biggest draws is enjoying the tranquillity and beauty of a ramble by the lake or following a mountain stream. And a peaceful waterside picnic in Cumbria is so much more relaxing than a packed beach with sand in your clothing, and probably in your lunch, too.’
Skelwith Fold’s 130-acres of grounds even has its own tarn in the surrounding woodlands, which was used in the 1974 film Swallows And Amazons.
Holiday home owners can visit the park nine months of the year, and new homes start from £30,000 (skelwith.com).
Weir Holiday Park, which occupies an island surrounded by the River Derwent in Yorkshire has static caravans for sale from £36,000 and a lodge for £52,500 (yorkshireholidayparks.co.uk).
In Cornwall, Stonerush Lakes near Looe, has 60 lodges and four lakes within 28 acres, with one-bedroom homes priced from £174,000 (charteroak.co.uk).