A Guide To: The Solway Firth

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Solway Firth

The Out About Scotland complete guide to the Solway Firth

About the Solway Firth

The Solway Firth is rightly regarded as being one of the most beautiful areas of Scotland, and yet it’s often overlooked by visitors to the country. Stretching out across both England and Scotland, the Solway Firth borders the stunning coastlines of Cumbria and Dumfries and Galloway and reaches out into the Irish Sea to almost touch the Isle of Man.

Along both coastlines, visitors will get to enjoy a remarkably diverse landscape that encompasses sandy beaches, grassland, mudflats, woodland, salt marshes and rolling fields, and it’s here where two of the most important wildlife areas in Britain can be found; Caerlaverock National Nature Reserve and the RSPB Mersehead reserve.

These reserves are absolutely stunning and they’re a great place to take a sunny afternoon stroll with the kids. There’s a huge amount of wildlife to see all along this part of the coastline and some of the hidden-away beaches easily rival those on the west coast islands in my opinion.



Things to do at the Solway Firth

There are over 110 square miles of Sites of Special Scientific Interest in the Solway Firth which has to make it one of the best locations in Scotland for getting your hiking boots on and heading out on a trek, and walkers are well rewarded with the many routes available. Perhaps the most popular trail is the 55-mile long Annandale Way which runs between the towns of Annan and Moffat and offers spectacular views of the broadleaf and coniferous woodlands at Hoddam Estate as well as the largest body of freshwater in Dumfriesshire, Castle Loch.

Tourists visiting the Solway Firth won’t be disappointed with the quality of beaches on offer either, with the ever-popular Rockcliffe, Southerness and Sandyhills areas all within close distance of each other, and many other hidden bays are just waiting to be discovered around the next corner.

But it’s not just people who flock to this area of Scotland. Due to the marine environment with its plentiful food supplies, the Solway Firth has become a haven for wildlife, and bird watchers will enjoy seeing thousands of barnacle and pink-footed geese making the area their home from autumn through to spring. At other times you can see finches, yellow-hammer and reed buntings, lapwings and skylarks, to name just a few.

Moving slightly inland you will find a variety of lochs and ruined castles (Caerlaverock Castle with its unique triangular shape is a highlight), while tourist attractions such as Gretna Green Blacksmiths Shop and the market town of Dumfries are within easy driving distance. If you wish to investigate the land further south you’ll find the Hadrians Wall World Heritage Site which has several fascinating Roman ruins, with the Senhouse Roman Museum at Maryport being a firm favourite with tourists.


What I liked about this attraction

  • Great for birdwatchers and photographers
  • The Solway Firth has some spectacular walks
  • There are loads of other attractions in this area

What I didn’t like about this attraction

  • I haven’t got any negative comments about this attraction

Address and directions map

There are several options for enjoying the Solway Firth but perhaps the best way is to explore some of the beaches that lie along this part of the Dumfries and Galloway coast:

  • Southerness beach: Dumfries, DG2 8AX
  • Sandyhills beach: Dalbeattie, DG5 4PT
  • Rockcliffe beach: Dalbeattie, DG5 4QQ
  • Mossyard beach: Gatehouse of Fleet, Castle Douglas, DG7 2ET
  • Nun Mill bay: Kirkcudbright, DG6 4TQ
  • Brighouse Bay: Kirkcudbright DG6 4TS
  • The Dhoon: Kirkcudbright DG6 4TL
  • Port Logan: Stranraer DG9 9NG


Contact details

Prices and opening times

The Solway Firth is open at all times throughout the year. There are no charges to visit any of the public beaches, although car parking charges may apply.


Virtual Tour


Craig Smith

Craig Smith is your guide to the best attractions in Scotland. He loves exploring the Scottish wilds and is happiest when he's knee-deep in a muddy bog in the middle of nowhere.

Out About Scotland