The Solway Coast
The Solway coastal area lies to the north of the Lake District Park and provides an area which is away from the hustle and bustle of the more touristy areas but within a 30 minute drive away from the nearest mountains and lakes.
This area, a designated area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, has an abundance of natural landscapes and is renowned for its spectacular sunsets. The area has something to offer photographers, birdwatchers and botanists alike.
The area is very attractive with villages scattered amongst agriculture land of rolling pastures and coastal plains. This agricultural landscape can be attributed to the monks of the Holm Cultram Abbey at Abbeytown ( the abbey is still standing and can be visited) who farmed the land and took the salt from the sea , remains of the saltworks can be seen at Saltcotes and Newton Marsh.
The Solway is a birdwatcher’s paradise all year round. The wintering birds include migratory waders and wildfowl arriving from the arctic to overwinter in the milder conditions of the Solway Coast . The Svalbars breeding barnacle geese winter on the saltmarshes of the estuary. Other birds include pink footed geese , whooper swans, pintail, wigeon, shovelier and teal ducks, dunlin, oystercatchers, golden and grey plovers, turnstone, curlew. lapwing, snipe, redshank can be seen in the spring and summer. Further inland birds of prey are common, including peregrine, merlin, short eared owl and hen harrier.
These millions of bird feed on the rich life found under the sand and mud flaps. Porpoises can sometimes be seen along the southern stretch of The Solway Coast - This area has an unbroken belt of sand dunes, further inland the dunes support a wide range of grasses and herbs.
The Watchtree nature reserve near Great Orton has several hides and a visitor centre as well as woodland trails and the RSPB has a nature reserve at Campfield Marsh .
The Solway area is one that has a great deal of history mainly connected with the Roman occupation of Britain. The last fort on Hardrians Wall was built in what is now the lovely village of Bowness on Solway. The Roman settlement at Maryport, to the south of the area, has yielded some of the most important Roman finds in Britain, some of which can be viewed in the museum at the northern end of the town.
The Solway area is ideal for walking, both for shorter walks or the start or end of the 84 mile national walking trail along Hadrians wall. Further details can be found on ww.nationaltrail.co.uk/hadrianswall
Cycling is also popular in The Solway Area . Though flatter than the Lake District the fells provide a constant backdrop along the routes. The country lanes and minor roads are blissfully quiet and wildlife can be enjoyed in this tranquil setting. For further information visit www.cyclingcumbria.co.uk . The 174 mile Hadrians Cycleway national cycle network passes through the area - the majority of the route being well signposted.
The coastal town of Silloth, which was a thriving Victorian seaside town in it’s heyday, has an invigorating but mild climate and glorious sea views and sunsets. The town centre has an attractive green of 36 acres wide elegant tree lined streets and a magnificent promenade. The mild climate is conducive to all year round play at the Silloth Golf club. The Solway Coast Discovery Centre has a tourist information centre shop and art gallery
The border county town of Carlisle to the eastern end of the Solway area is well worth a visit. As well as the usual shops, the Castle owned by English Heritage is open to the public and houses the Kings Own Border regiment museum with displays of uniforms, medals etc. The Cathedral and Tuile House museum are interesting places to visit The museum and art gallery contain an outstanding collection of fine art, porcelain and textiles. Carlisle racecourse on the outskirts of town and The Solway aviation museum in the grounds of Carlisle airport provide for an interesting day out.
Days out in the Solway area can be rounded off with tea at the various tea rooms in the area, some attached to art galleries and garden centres,or an evening meal at one of the several pubs.