Inspired by the Solway
Driving slowly through a forgotten land of mudflats, salt-marshes and reed swamps seeking fresh inspiration, I see a man struggling to erect a tourist signpost in the strong wind. It's breezy, fresh and salty as I step gingerly onto the raised clumps of sediment and salt-resistant vegetation, next to the abandoned site of the once busy harbour and canal entrance of Port Carlisle. Roger is the first person I have seen on my journey. He tells me he is here every day providing a photo opportunity for the Hadrian's wall hikers who pass through this unspoilt landscape.
The route continues, tightly hugging the coastline, with signs that warn of tidal flooding and bright yellow gorse scrub shaped into topiary hedges. Criffel is the instantly recognisable fell of the Southern Galloway hills that looms across the horizon on the other side of the Firth of Solway.
In a perfectly isolated layby there is nothing but the lapping and lolling of the gentle waves and unabated birdsong. I suddenly feel peaceful, centred, small. The sky is so conspicuous here. Ochres, mustards and maroons shift on the sands, redistributed with each new tide. Silver, blue and pink shimmer on the surface of the unpredictable and chaotic currents.
I have found the inspiration I was looking for and already I am planning my return in the evening when the sky is on fire to see the Solway sands change colour with every passing moment.