Two years ago, Andy was commissioned to film the Arctic Char breeding programme in the Lake District. As the Environment Agency team worked to save Ennerdale Arctic Char from extinction, he was captivated by their story. This year, we’re back, making a short film.
Relics of the ice age, Arctic Char are one of the rarest freshwater fish in Britain. A small population was stranded thousands of years ago in deep, glacial UK lakes while their cousins migrated north to escape rising temperatures. Most UK-bound Arctic Char adapted to spawn in lakes. Ennerdale Char still follow their primal instincts upriver to spawn, for just a few hours each day, just a few days each year.
Filming Arctic Char is an exercise in patience. Ennerdale Water glistens, guarded by the Cumbrian mountains, framed by glorious woodlands. Weather rolls in from the Irish sea. The valley’s natural beauty fills you with peace and tranquillity then grabs her treasures away from the lens with a wild, moody spirit. Every image is hard-won. Flighty fish swim, vibrant with breeding red bellies, white-edged fins kissed by the ice that left them behind. And then, with a flick of the tail, they are gone.
We’ve been chasing the Arctic Char story in a crystal-clear river, with the help of a team from the Environment Agency. Jackie’s written the film script and Andy’s completed two weeks of filming, with one more to go. Stay tuned for our short film. Here’s a brief clip of Arctic Char until then.
Images by Andy, words by Jackie.