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

Country Life Every Week - - In The Driving Seat -

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.

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