When, after swimming several thousand miles, Atlantic salmon reach the Riverside Hotel on the River Kent, they are within sniffing distance of their final destination. It must come as a shock to them to find their way blocked by a weir, which they can’t swim over- they have to jump. None make it at the first attempt and nothing pleases visitors to the Riverside more than watching them try and try again until they finally make the leap over the top.
From there it’s a quick sprint to the spawning ground at Kentmere. Or it used to be. For now, a new hazard has arisen, just above the weir, where a family of hungry otters are waiting to grab the exhausted salmon. Otters are nocturnal creatures, rarely seen, but here at the Riverside there have been numerous sightings this autumn. One lucky guest saw an otter pluck a salmon from the swirling water and settle down to eat it on the river bank. Other guests have seen two new offspring of the otter family playing on the base of the piers to Stramongate Bridge, directly in front of the hotel’s restaurant.
If you can stay at the Riverside, who needs Autumnwatch?