The Solway Coast is an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) and stretches over 40 miles from Rockcliffe Marsh near Carlisle to Maryport on the West Cumbrian Coast.
It has a rich heritage, fascinating wildlife and birdlife, and stunning views over the Solway Firth. You're only a 30-minute drive from the lakes and mountains of the Lake District, and the area has a handful of quaint villages.
Cottages on the Solway Coast
Beaches along the Solway Coast
Cumbria isn’t famous for its beaches, but in our opinion, it’s where you’ll find some of the finest in the country! The Solway Coast boasts the best of the best and, when the tide is out, long stretches of sand stretch out for miles. Backed by pebbled shores and rolling dunes, these are perfect for a refreshing walk, or even a picnic in the warmer weather. The best beaches include Ravenglass, Seascale, and Drigg Dunes and Beach.
Cycling on the Solway Coast
Cycling has always been a popular activity along this stretch of coast, and this has further been improved over the last few years with the installation of tarmacked, off-road cycle tracks. Once only suitable for hardy road cyclists, now families and casual bikers can enjoy the wonderful scenery too. Follow a section of Hadrian’s Cycleway all along the Solway Coast and take in the sights, wildlife and villages along the way.
The pretty towns and villages of the Solway Coast
Part of the charm of this section of the coast is its relative remoteness, with only a handful of small towns and villages to be seen. Maryport is the biggest, in the south, and has lots to offer visitors, including an annual ‘Taste of the Sea’ festival, museums, and family-friendly activities. Allonby has some of the best ice cream in the county: you’ll often see long queues of people on hot days. Silloth is an old Victorian resort that invites you over with an award-winning green, an amusement arcade, and a long promenade.
Golfing on the Solway Coast
The Solway’s spectacular location is perfect for golf courses, with the rolling dunes, natural sandy bunkers, and great scenery. At Maryport, you’ll find a mix of links holes and parkland holes in one, while Silloth on Solway Golf Club was picked as one of the top 100 golf courses in the world by Fergal O'Leary.
Roman heritage on the Solway Coast
It’s on the Solway Coast where the famous Hadrian’s Wall Path finishes, in a village called Bowness-on-Solway (not to be confused with Bowness-on-Windermere!). Hadrian’s Cycleway also passes right along the coast, so you can take in the whole amazing stretch.
For more sedate Roman-based activities, you’ll find loads to interest you at Senhouse Roman Museum in Maryport. Standing high above the sea, this is an award-winning museum next to a Roman fort that is thought to have been founded in the 1st century AD. It also holds the oldest Roman collection in the UK, as well as the largest group of Roman military altar stones and inscriptions. Also be sure to see some of the highest remaining Roman walls in the UK; visit Glannaventa at Ravenglass. Finally, stop on your way along the coast road for a peek at Milefortlet 21, which was one of a number built to defend the coast from Scottish invaders!
Fishing spots along the Solway Coast
Fishing on the Solway Coast is a real pleasure. Thanks to its complex currents and large tides, there is a vast diversity of marine life. In fact, most sea creatures native to the UK can be found in this area.
It’s quite possible to catch nine different species when fishing from the shore, and even more when on a boat. You might see anything from mackerel and cod to sharks and conger eels! Just remember to check relevant licensing and catch and release guidance.
Nature reserves on the Solway Coast
There are several nature reserves near the Solway Firth including RSPB Glasson Moss, RSPB Campfield Marsh, and the Solway Coast AONB. Saltmarsh, peat bogs, wet grassland and farmland create diverse habitats for all sorts of flora and fauna. Much is being done to restore depleted peat bogs, and you can enjoy many pleasant walks around any of the reserves. Children will love counting the number of different animals they can spot!
If you’re fascinated by sea creatures but don’t want to go as far as getting a rod and net out, then Maryport Aquarium has you covered. This fascinating museum includes a deep reef, where you can spot fish that lurk in the murky depths; a shipwreck where octopuses adapt to match their surroundings; and a shark and ray pool where you can pet the friendly rays. The museum also includes crazy golf, an adventure playground, and a café.
Silloth Motorcycle Museum
Petrolheads will love this hidden gem at the Silloth Motorcycle Museum. Surprisingly large, there’s an impressive collection of production and Grand Prix bikes, as well as motorbike memorabilia. Expect to learn about Silloth’s old race track, spot some big names, and have a thoroughly good look at some vintage bikes. Entrance is free.
Bird watching on the Solway Coast
The Solway Coast is a protected area for good reason. The birdlife here is fabulous, with Arctic breeders visiting in the winter, migrants passing through in spring, and natives enjoying the diverse landscape throughout the year.
What you see will depend on where and when you visit. Barnacle geese are seen on the estuary’s salt marshes in winter, skylarks and meadow pipits flit about Allonby Bay, and gulls and waders are in abundance at Grune Point. You can even download a handy free birdwatching guide to get started.
The toy soldiers of Silloth
If you’re in Silloth, then add this small, speciality museum to your itinerary. Soldiers in Silloth has over 5,000 toy soldiers covering all eras and from countries across the world. Quaint and charming, this is an unassuming spot that deserves all the love it receives. Entry is free.
Go-karting on the Solway Coast
Have you got a need for speed? Then get along to West Coast Indoor Karting in Maryport! Perfect for parties, a special treat, or days when it’s a bit damp outside, you can zip around the twists and turns of North West England’s largest indoor karting track!
Indoor climbing on the Solway Coast
Another offering from the town of Maryport, the Clip ‘n’ Climb at The Wave Centre, is an excellent climbing experience. Colourful climbing walls sit alongside speed climbing challenges, the ‘Leap of Faith’ and the ‘Skyscraper’. Adults needn't get too jealous, though, as this clip ‘n’ climb welcomes all ages to join the fun!
Holme Cultram Abbey
Holme Cultram Abbey, established in 1150 by Cistercian Monks, was once bigger than Carlisle Cathedral. Nowadays, it is much depleted, but still a fascinating building to visit for any enthusiastic historians amongst you. Look out for the colourful stained-glass windows, fragments of tombstones, and medieval tiles.
Solway Firth and Coast FAQ
The Solway Firth is well known for its species diversity, both on land and in the sea. It also played an important part in Roman history and includes the westernmost point of Hadrian’s Wall. In popular culture, the area can be seen in the 1973 film The Wickerman, and is even the name of a song by metal band Slipknot!
The Solway Coast is a wonderful place to swim, with its long stretches of beaches and beautiful scenery. It is cold most of the year, even in summer, and has large tides so just take care before you head into the water.
The Solway Firth is really an inlet, but it forms part of the Irish Sea. It borders both North West England and South West Scotland, and extends inland for 38 miles.
Different people have different opinions of where the Solway Coast starts and ends. However, the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty stretches for 40 miles from Rockcliffe Marsh near Carlisle to Maryport. Some would argue that the Solway Coast continues down to St Bees, and others, even further to Ravenglass in South Cumbria!
Stay at a self-catering holiday cottage on the Solway Coast
We have some beautiful properties all along the Solway Coast from Ravenglass to Skinburness. Browse our Lake District collection to find your next holiday home in Cumbria.
Browse Solway Coast cottages
Disclaimer: Whilst every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information at the time of writing,
please ensure you check carefully before making any decisions based on the contents within this article.