Solway Firth is a firth that
forms part of the border between
England and Scotland, between Cumbria (including
the Solway Plain) and Dumfries and Galloway.
stretches from St
Bees Head, just south of Whitehaven in Cumbria, to the Mull of Galloway, on the western end of Dumfries and
Galloway. The Isle of Man is also very near to the firth. The firth comprises
part of the Irish
Map of Solway Firth.
The coastline is characterised by lowland hills and small
mountains. It is a mainly rural area with fishing
and hill farming
(as well as some arable farming) still playing a large part in the
local economy, although tourism is increasing. However, it has also
been used for the location of films such as The Wicker Man (starring
Edward Woodward) which was filmed
The Solway Coast was designated an Area of Outstanding Natural
in 1964. Construction of Robin Rigg Wind
Farm began in the Firth in 2007.
The water itself is generally benign with no notable hazards
excepting some large areas of salt and mud
which often contain dangerous patches of quicksand
that move on a regular basis. It is
recommended that visitors do not attempt to navigate them without
There are over 750 km² of Sites of Special Scientific
(SSSIs) in the area, as well as the National Nature Reserve
Islands in the Solway
Unlike other parts of the west coast of Scotland, the Solway Firth
is generally devoid of islands. However there are a few
Whithorn is actually
Man is also not far from the Solway.
the islands on this section of the English coast are much further
south in the Furness
group, which is outside the Firth.
The name 'Solway' is of Anglo-Saxon origin, and originates in the
thirteenth century as the name of a ford across the mud flats at
is the word for mud
refers to a ford
. The three fords in the
area at that time were the Annan or Bowness Wath, the Dornock Wath
(once called the Sandywathe), and the main one was the Solewath, or
Solewath, or Sulewad.
Between 1869 and 1921, the estuary was crossed by the Solway Junction Railway
on a 1780 m
(5850 ft) iron viaduct
(Edgar and Sinton,
1990). The line was built to carry iron ore from the Whitehaven area to Lanarkshire and was financed and operated by the Caledonian Railway of Scotland.
The railway was not a financial success. After the railway ceased
operating, the bridge provided a popular footpath for residents of
Scotland (which was dry
on a Sunday) to
travel to England where alcoholic
was available. The viaduct was demolished between 1931
Defence had by 1999 fired more than 6,350 depleted uranium rounds into the Solway
Firth from its testing range at Dundrennan Range.. The adjacent Irish Sea is a carrier of
radioactive pollution as Sellafield is nearby.
- Edgar, S. and Sinton, J.M., (1990), The Solway Junction
Railway, Locomotion Papers No. 176, The Oakwood Press, ISBN
- (available at books.google.com)
- Ordnance Survey, (2003), Carlisle & Solway Firth,
Landranger Map, No. 85, Ed. D, Scale 1:50 000 (1¼ inches to 1
mile), ISBN 0-31922-822-3
- Ordnance Survey, (2006), Solway Firth, Explorer Map,
No. 314 , Ed. A2, Scale 1:25 000 (2½ inches to 1 mile), ISBN