The Solway Firth

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The Solway Firth

Solway Firth map.png


The Solway Firth (Scottish Gaelic: Tràchd Romhra) is a firth that forms part of the border between England and Scotland, between Cumbria (including the Solway Plain) and Dumfries and Galloway. It 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 Sea. 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. It has also been used for the location of films such as The Wicker Man (starring Edward Woodward), which was filmed around Kirkcudbright. The Solway Coast was designated an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty in 1964. <ref>"Solway Coast AONB". Retrieved 2009-08-10.</ref>

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 Eskmouth. Sol is the word for mud, and wæth 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 drink was available. The viaduct was demolished between 1931 and 1933.

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