DEE BEAT by JOANNA DICK Outreach Officer

Leanna and Ellis at the Dee.
Leanna and Ellis at the Dee.

A career in the countryside is a reality for some and a dream for others, with many keen fishermen wishing they could spend their working day on the river guiding others.

The Dee District Salmon Fishery Board bursary was created to encourage people to develop a career on the River Dee by giving them a helping hand to gain both vocational qualifications and access to some of the best fishing beats for work experience.

New ghillie Craig McDonald.

New ghillie Craig McDonald.

Now in its second year, the bursary has been awarded to Craig McDonald, who is a new ghillie at Cambus O’May.

Craig has grown up fishing on the Dee, Don and Spey with his father and grandfather from a young age.

He plans to use the funds to attend training courses that will help him learn the tasks required of a ghillie and further his future employment opportunities.

First on the list is the AAPGAI Casting Qualification that will allow Craig to help guide anglers.

He says: “Being a ghillie is the perfect job, because I love fishing and I love being outdoors.

‘‘I have always been interested in the casting qualification as it will allow me to help anglers that come to the beat to improve their casting.”

Lee Harper received the bursary last year and has completed placements with Dunecht and Balmoral Estates.

Lee has now started two months of work experience with the Fishery Board Bailiffs and Trust Biologist carrying out practical conservation tasks and assisting with research.

The Fishery Board plans to award the bursary again next year and applications will open early next year, for which details will be available on the River Dee website (

Another opportunity to further a career in the countryside is available through the Land Management Training Project run by the Cairngorms National Park Authority (CNPA), which offers land based workers funding towards training courses in practical rural skills.

A grant of 30 per cent is being made available for short courses that will help raise standards in land management activities, promote best practice and make rural businesses more versatile and successful.

Any employees working on estates, farms, rivers and fisheries or other land management businesses within the Cairngorms National Park – or anyone aspiring to work in any of these rural enterprises – can apply to the scheme.

The types of training courses which are eligible for funding include off road vehicle driving, chainsaw operation, deer stalking, habitat monitoring, pesticide use and first aid.

To find out more or apply for training support, visit the CNPA website ( or contact Penny Lawson (01479 870519 or

As well as gaining qualifications, practical experience in the form of volunteering or work experience is very important and is how many people start a career working in the countryside.

Last week, two Banchory school students joined Pamela Esson, the River Dee Trust Habitat Surveyor, for a day of work experience.

Leanna and Ellis joined Pamela while recording habitat types, non-native invasive species and obstructions to fish movement on the River.

Although it was a tiring day, the weather was glorious as were the views and Leanna and Ellis learned a lot about the river, how it is managed and what is involved in the day of a life of a River Dee Trust employee.

To read blogs which have been written by Ellis and Leanna about their work experience, visit the River Office blog (

If you are interested in work experience with the River Dee Trust please email or telephone the River Office on 01339 880 411.