In the old life we either had to look out across the Solway Firth or turn round and look the other way towards Skiddaw. In our new life, as we walk down the hill we can look at Solway Firth over there and a little bit father along Skiddaw rears just above the trees. It is quite possible that when the trees are in full leaf, next spring, our ‘eye-line’ will not have the same reach.
There were three ways of crossing what we now call Solway Firth in the old, old days and they carry the wraith of border raiding and smuggling about them. There’s the Bowness Wath – a ness is a mound or a hillock – from near Annan to Bowness. A Wath is a ford or a crossing or, don’t mention it to any historians could it mean, a walk or a way? The other one is nearer the head of the estuary and was known as the Sandy Wath. Then, there was the shortest and most used crossing, the Sol Wath or Mud Way – or dare we suggest The Soil Way?
Over the years we’ve had the occasional glacier around here and most of the Solway area is made up of all the loose bits that were scraped off the Scottish Hills on that side and the Cumbrian Mountains that make up the Lake District on this side. Then, as if having everyone else’s cast-offs wasn’t bad enough, when all that ice melted we got dunked in the sea a few times too.
With all the ups and downs we’ve seen around here, it’s amazing that there are any mountains left to stick up on our horizon, but there are.