Last week, residents along the Solway Firth were lucky enough to witness a tidal bore, an infrequent phenomenon where the leading edge of the incoming tide forms a wave of water that travels up a river against the direction of the current (thanks, Wikipedia!).
Ten of us stood in a line, holding the heavy haaf-nets at right-angles to the incoming tide, the waters of the Solway Firth rising around our waists. Then there was a rushing sound, an insistent murmur; a black line, white-crowned, was advancing toward us up the Firth. With laughter, and a flurry of upended nets, everyone waded quickly to the shore. The bore passed, continuing its rapid and steady advance up the Firth, and behind it the silty water, froth-edged, filled the creeks and crept quietly across the muddy sand; there was no swishing to and fro of waves, just this unnerving and steady rise. We waded back into the Solway again, to continue fishing for salmon on the rising tide.
Last month ‘big tides’ were predicted and conditions were right for good tidal surges in the Upper Solway and some of its tributary rivers. I watched the bore come charging up the River Wampool, shushing and swishing along the banks, rattling over exposed shingle, filling the river as it passed. Kayakers took advantage of the wave out beyond the marshes and on the River Eden. In 1848, an enthusiastic and probably over-imaginative observer wrote that “a long cloud or bank of spray is seen, as if whirling on an axis, and evanescently zoned and gemmed with mimic rainbows … sweeping onwards with the speed of a strong and steady breeze.”
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Photographs courtesy of Ann Lingard.