A brave new Dawn
On a solo fishing expedition in the Highlands, Mark Hedges luxuriates in the slick style, supreme comfort and sheer power of the new Rolls-royce Dawn
The Rolls-royce Dawn, launched earlier this year, is exceptional even for this most prestigious of car brands. It is, in essence, a sports car distilled—from the great vintages that have preceded it— into as graceful a piece of art as the car industry has ever imagined.
According to its blue-blooded makers, the Dawn is the most powerful and dynamic Rolls-royce ever produced. With a 6.6-litre, twin-turbo V12 engine that blasts out 624bhp and 590lb ft of torque, it will launch you from 0mph to 62mph in 4.6 seconds and has a top limit of 155mph. However, these are mere numbers compared to the experience of driving such an impressive machine.
The sunshine was ideal for the convertible, but a worry for the forthcoming fishing. The Alness, an hour north of Inverness, is as beautiful a Highland river as you could imagine, cutting through steep gorges, wooded valleys and softer farmland, as it races its way to the tidal waters of the Cromarty Firth. Roughly halfway through its journey, the river forms Loch Morie, which is partially controlled by a small dam with a fish pass. It’s one of the fastest-flowing rivers in Scotland.
Below the town of Alness, and less than half a mile from the firth, there is a small weir, where salmon can be watched ascending the river when migrating.
I was fishing on the Novar estate (01349 830208), which is largely the creation of Hector Munro, who made his fortune as a soldier and statesman in India during the 18th century and who had the misfortune to have one son killed by a tiger and another by a shark. The estate passed to his daughter Jean, who married Ronald Ferguson, and it’s still owned by the MunroFerguson family. We stayed in a delightful cottage on the estate surrounded by parkland and a vast herd of fallow deer.
Like all spate rivers, the Alness is best just after rainfall and, unfortunately, the rain gods had not been tempted to come out to play for many days. However, it was easy to access all beats in the Rolls-royce and, for a bet, I even cast my Willie Gunn without getting out of the car, although that’s another story.
Elsewhere, a fish swirled at my Cascade Skullhead; otherwise, the fishing was hard going despite the best efforts of Roger Dowsett, the charming river manager. The previous week, they’d caught 24, but that’s fishing. Predictably, as I loaded up the Dawn for the drive south, it started to rain.