Caught by the River began as an idea, a vision and a daydream shared between friends one languid bankside spring afternoon.
It was conceived as an online meeting place for pursuits of a distinctly non-digital variety: walking, fishing, looking, thinking. Birdsong and beer. Adventure and poetry. Life’s small pleasures, in all their many flavours. It was – and still is – about stepping out of daily routines to re-engage with nature. Finding new rhythms. Being.
Launched in May 2007, the website initially drew inspiration from a variety of singular figures renowned in their various fields as writers, explorers, conservationists and, perhaps than anything, dreamers: Roger Deakin, Alice Oswald and Chris Yates – each as inspiring as the pop stars that many involved in Caught by the River grew up in awe of.
The site soon established itself as what early champion Robert Macfarlane described as “a true confluence of currents,” with a growing number of hill-top philosophers and holloway wanderers converging to share their many landscape-based passions. Early contributors included Bill Drummond, Chris Yates, Bobby Gillespie, Frank Cottrell Boyce, Chris Watson, Charles Rangeley-Wilson, Tim Dee, Pete Fowler and Emma Warren.
With rivers as its arterial theme, 2009 saw the publication of Caught by the River: A Collection of Words on Water, a compendium of writing from renowned figures such as Jon Savage, Jarvis Cocker, John Niven and Edwyn Collins. It was followed in 2011 by On Nature: Unexpected Ramblings on the British Countryside, as diverse a collection as the British landscapes, coastlines and islands that it paid homage to. For newcomers, the website also hosts its Nature Book Reader and Music Book Reader, two growing archives of writing on contributors’ favourite reads.
Caught by the River has always offered space and encouragement to emerging voices. The evolution of the site has coincided with the renaissance in nature and landscape writing and is proud to include amongst its contributors writers who have gone on to acclaim, including Amy Liptrot, Melissa Harrison, Richard Benson, Will Burns and Benjamin Myers, as well as emerging musicians and multi-media artists such as Jeb Loy Nichols and Rob St. John.
Branching out into book publishing, CBTR has also published Neil Sentance’s beautiful series of lyrical recollections Water & Sky, followed by On The Snap, legendary journalist Brian Case’s encounters with leading names in jazz, rock, film and crime fiction.
Caught by the River regularly stages events at festivals around the country. Their fifth birthday party took place at the Southbank’s Purcell Rooms and they can be found annually at Port Eliot Festival in Cornwall and Festival No 6 in Portmeirion. They have also hosted Caught by the River Teifi – a festival of music, talks and workshops in Cardigan, West Wales – and the forthcoming Caught by the River Calder in Hebden Bridge, West Yorkshire, as well as regular CBTR Social Club nights.
An Antidote To Indifference is the website’s semi-regular print off-shoot, a DIY fanzine that collates articles from the site, as well as commissioning new works that explore themes such as sound recordings, islands, illustration and site-specific pieces.
The website’s record label Rivertones has released the vinyl companion to At Hawthorn Time by Melissa Harrison, an audio collaboration between Robert Macfarlane and Chris Watson, and the much-loved Dylan Thomas-meets-King Tubby soundclash ‘Under Dubwood’– a work that seems to encapsulate everything that the site stands for: disparate strands coming together in perfect symbiotic harmony. Doing something for the sheer joy-giving hell of it.