Monday, April 27, 2009

Quays, trawlers, geese and the White Steeds of the Solway.

Making our way down the River Nith from the port of Dumfries, we came to Kingholm Quay.

Substantial boats can use Kingholm Quay at high tide. Petronella of Portsmouth is a converted beam trawler P673. She was built in Holland in 1964 and is 78 feet long. She worked out of Portsmouth then Shoreham before becoming unregistered in 2004.

Beyond Kingholm quay we caught our first sight of distant Criffel, 569m. Our destination Southerness, lies a further 8km south of Criffel's summit.

Huge flocks of wintering barnacle geese made an impressive sight as they flew from field to field, fattening themselves on spring shoots before their migration to Svalbard.

We now approached the quay of Glencaple on the long entrance to the Nith from the Solway. There is a warning in the Nith Navigation web site for boats not to anchor in mid channel as the Solway bore can flood in increasing in depth by 2 metres in 2 seconds!

In his History of the Burgh of Dumfries, 1867, William McDowall wrote:

"The Solway, into which the Nith flows, has peculiar characteristics, that render it quite a topographical study. Numerous currents meeting near its mouth keep up a perpetual conflict; and twice in every twenty-four hours the tidal flow, suddenly raised above its ordinary level, and rendered fierce by the tumult, seeks an outvent at the estuary, through which it rushes with a speed that is nowhere rivalled in the United Kingdom, or perhaps in the world. It hurries on, carrying a head four to six feet high, filling up the tortuous channels, and sweeping over the broad level beds of the Frith with a rapidity that has earned for its foam-crested billows the title of the White Steeds of the Solway."

Another old trawler Alison Louise, UK77, is tied up at the quay. She looks very battered and forlorn. She last operated out of Brixham but her days at sea are over. The smaller flat bottomed boat is the Askari, BA17 a scallop dredger. She can also be seen in Kirkcudbright and Girvan harbours.

The tide was due to arrive at any time. We could have waited for its arrival in the safety of the Nith Hotel but we chose to press on in search of the White Steeds of the Solway!


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