Thursday, 8 May 2008

Solway Tide

There is something not quite right about the Solway coast. Something about it disturbs me.

Outwardly there is nothing remarkable. An area of great yet subtle beauty, with low seacliffs and treeclad slopes, rough shorelines, pastoral grazings and quiet, self-sufficient, rural villages, cut off from the rest of Scotland. Galloway and the Solway coast are integral to Scotland, yet Scotland seems a place entirely unnecessary to the Solway.

The tales of the Solway are different. They are tales of religious persecution, of smugglers and sailors, heroic sea rescues and self-sufficiency - but not stern self-sufficiency. It was hard to imagine a sea rescue - the place seemed so benign.

The weather last weekend was unScottish for May. Warm - no, hot - with a lushness unseen in Edinburgh: the trees and flowers are a good couple of weeks more advanced than on the east coast. Lambs grow fat on the long grass, birds sing everywhere and bees buzz busily about. I had a flashback to the last time I was here in my youth - it was hot then too, and the girls my age were everywhere and suddenly fascinating. The Wicker Man was filmed in this area.

Solway mudflats:

We walked a little way out from shore to look at the seabirds inhabiting the edge. The tide goes far out, several kilometres, and we were aware of the dangers of the onrushing floodtide. I lifted my binoculars and enjoyed the feeling of the water running over my bare feet. When I looked down, the water had travelled further than expected. It was shallow, but we were suddenly surprisingly far from land. We turned, with no great haste, back to shore. The tide was rising faster. We sped up. It was curling around a previously unnoticed dip, a channel that was being filled, cutting us off. I decided to ford the channel - it wouldn't be deep. I went in up to my waist. My breathing quickened. Not wanting to run - but wanting to get out of there - we hurried, and walked round the head of the channel to safer ground. People relaxed on the shore. The placid Solway had spooked us, on a day of serene beauty. Back on shore, we walked a coastal route to Rockcliffe, the mudflats we had been walking on so recently now a shimmering mirror of sea.

An adder coiled as we walked past, disturbed from its basking on the little-travelled path.

1 comment:

Dave said...

I was at Rockcliffe in July. It was very hot. Had a pint sitting outside the Anchor Inn. Could have been abroad. Did a bit of the coastal walk but it was too much for the kids who had been to Kirkcudbright Wildlife Park in the morning.