In ExploreTravel

Cumbria’s most north westerly quarter is perhaps the most undiscovered part of the county, being tucked between the city of Carlisle to the east, the coastline of the Irish Sea to the west - and across the watery expanse of the Solway Firth, Southern Scotland to the north.

Look closely however, and you’ll unearth plenty of hidden treasures during a visit here, including birds, planes and supermen from Cumbria’s Roman age.

Bowness on Solway is a coastal village consisting of traditional Cumbrian cottages, houses and farms, balanced on the edge of the Solway Firth and the Solway Coast Area of Outstanding Beauty which has been designated thanks to the quality of its landscape and scientific interest. The village’s most westerly point is marked by a Roman Fort – part of Hadrian's Wall and a great starting point for a wander along the Hadrian's Wall Path National Trail.

Bowness on Solway

Stunning views across the Solway Firth can be enjoyed at all times of day, but given Cumbria’s position on the west coast, sunset is an essential time of day to find a bench to perch on as the sun sinks over the horizon.

Looked after by the Cumbria Wildlife Trust, The Bowness on Solway nature reserve forms part of the Solway Coast National Landscape and is free to enter. This small reserve is the home of a large number of habitats – the diversity of which means there’s always something interesting to see, whatever the time of year.

The Spring is best for flocks of migrating birds, while frogs, toads and newts are especially energetic! In the summer, it’s party-time for Dragonflies and more than 20 species of butterfly, while birds large and small can be enjoyed all-year round.

A clearly marked one-mile circular walking trail means the reserve can be enjoyed all-year round too, thanks to special boardwalks over wetter areas and several sections of paths are suitable for wheelchair users. Dogs are also welcome, but must be kept on a lead.

Bordering the Solway Coast National Landscape is Allonby beach which stretches for a stunning five miles up to Silloth. This shingle and pebbled beach is best enjoyed at low tide when the golden sand is revealed, giving you an opportunity to walk further out to enjoy beautiful views of Scotland and across to the Isle of Man.


The home of the Solway Coast Discovery Centre, Silloth also has a long promenade which provides further views of the Solway Firth and beyond. The Silloth Golf Club - one of England’s top-rated courses can also be found here, running alongside the beach.

At Carlisle Airport, the Solway Aviation Museum is the home of large collection of aircraft, aviation artefacts and displays which celebrate the UK as a world leader in jet aircraft design and innovation during the 1950’s and 1960’s.

The Soldiers in Silloth museum is a collection of more than 6,000 toy soldiers and models displayed by theme. Youngsters will love it too, thanks to activity sheets and large battlefield layouts. There’s also a special Hadrian's Wall feature to whet your appetite for a visit to the World Heritage Site.

A former line of defence between England and Scotland, Hadrian’s Wall stretches for 75 miles from The Solway Firth to Wallsend-on-Tyne in the east. Long stretches of the wall are easy to explore thanks to good bus links, the Hadrian’s Wall national walking trail, and Hadrian’s Cycleway (Route NCN 72).

This 174 mile cycleway passes through the entire World Heritage Site by taking-in existing shorter cycle routes, quiet roads and off-road tracks. Clearly signposted, the Cycleway passes through several stages including a 16 mile section between Maryport and Silloth, and a 12 mile stretch from Silloth to Angerton. If you fancy taking a ride but don’t have a bike, call in at Solway Cycle Hire in Allonby.

The cycleway follows the route of Hadrian’s Wall into the centre of Carlisle, where the city’s stunning castle is worth a visit. Meanwhile, Carlisle Cathedral features 14th century stained glass windows, stunningly preserved wood carvings and medieval painted wall panels which tell the exciting history of the city.

Another of the city’s best attractions, Tullie House Museum and Art Gallery, is the home of many impressive collections of fine art and human history including the Costume Collection exhibition which covers hundreds of years of fashion and working clothing.

And what visit to Carlisle would be complete without a trip on the world-famous Settle to Carlisle Railway? One of the most scenic railways in the UK, Carlisle is the starting point for the 70+ mile route which carries passengers across more than 20 viaducts and bridges, as well as through 14 tunnels.




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