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Solway Firth

Solway Firth

The Solway Firth is a large arm of the sea replete with picturesque scenery, which extends eastward from the Irish sea, forming the boundary between England and Scotland for upwards of 50 miles. While navigation is considered difficult, the firth is navigable for vessels of 100 tons burden within six miles of its extremity; but the sea is gradually retiring, so that many places are now covered with verdure, over which, even in the memory of those alive, the tide was wont to flow. A number of rivers pour into this arm of the sea on the Scottish side, where it receives the Dee, the Urr, the Nith, the Annan, and the Kirtle; while the Sark, the Esk, and the Liddal, united, form its eastern extremity. It contains various kinds of fish, especially salmon, which are here caught in great numbers. The narrow part of it, at Boulness, 10 miles from its eastern extremity, is fordable at low water, and not more than two miles over at high water. The coast is bold and rocky, and the cliffs rise to a great height. They are clothed with samphire, the gathering of which, a " dreadful trade," gives employment to a considerable number of persons.

The banks of the Solway have been apparently a favorite spot with the author of Waverley; as the story of more than one of his novels has been laid in that vicinity. The shore, particularly on the Scottish coast, is low and sandy, with a few hidden rocks ; but almost every part affords safe landing-places for small vessels. Allonby is a neat and well-built town, occupying a flat situation on the coast, and is much resorted to in the summer season for the purpose of bathing. On the shores of the Firth expired Edward 1, exhausted by his attempt to establish his dominion in Scotland, a favourite object of his ambition.

The Solway recedes to a great distance from high-water mark, and leaves its banks bare and exposed; an effect which it has been the object of the present view to portray. The Solway is found exceedingly useful, furnishing a very considerable navigation for Dumfriesshire and Kirkcudbright, the shores of which it sweeps. " During spring tides' says Mr. M Diamid, "and particularly when impelled by a strong southwester, the Solway rises with prodigious rapidity. The tide-head, as it is called, is often from four to six feet high, chafed into spray, with a mighty trough of blue water behind-swelling in some places into little hills, and in others scooped into tiny valleys, which, when sun-lit, form a brilliant picture of themselves." Pennant states that the Solway has made great encroachments on the land, but this is contradicted by the residents on the coast.

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