The river races into this moss walled grotto, clattering over the stones and running at full tilt towards the wall of rock. Little sunshine filters down beneath the crowding trees on the high bank and the water looks inky black until it is turned aside and thrown briefly into sunshine to reveal the true dark auburn colour. For only about an hour around mid-day the sun lifts high enough to clear the hillside and trees on the one bank, it sweeps the river, but all too soon it dives behind the trees again and the water is plunged into blackness once more.
I have caught the hour of sunshine and hanging my bag from a stubby branch I stumble into the river sliding on the soft round rocks. Oops, I appear to be sat unexpectedly on my bum. High above on the far bank there are the voices of people walking by, hurrying to the pool everyone knows about further up river, never knowing there is another pool here.
There are 3 pools within a few hundred meters along the river here and each is a gem in its own right. Sharrah Pool everyone knows of, it appears in every guide book, the cascade, the swoosh, the rock to dive from and it is fair to say scenery that is hard to beat. But there is a pool just a little further upstream, not so big, not so deep, but another swoosh, another rock to dive from, a sandy beach and flat rocks in the sunshine and just as stunning scenery.
Then there is this pool downstream. Anywhere else on the river and the scenery would be hard to beat but here it is eclipsed, and there is no real swoosh, nor beach, nor does it get much sunshine. It is however incredibly deep under the cliff and the only reason not to dive from the rocks is the overhanging branches. The river does a left and right into the pool and under the water is a ledge beyond which the bottom of the pool drops away 8 or 10 feet all along the cliff side until it shallows rapidly at the foot of the pool. As I duck down to the bottom a second time a fish flicks by, a blurred silver flash, for the next month the river should be full of these salmon.
The sun is swinging into the trees and the water beneath the cliff is darkening again, one last swim amongst the boulders on the river bed and it’s time to get out and get changed before the sunshine is gone completely. There are more people walking by, oblivious, and maybe I shouldn’t be too disappointed about that.