Saturday morning, an enjoyable time of the week, a late breakfast had just been consumed and I was into my second cup of Douwe Egberts whilst casually scanning the estuary in front of me with my bins here at Campfield. Suddenly crashing into view came, what could only be described as ‘a regiment of horse at full gallop’ - banners and flags waving; horses plunging and rearing entering the waters of the Firth; small groups detaching and reforming; sounds of cheering and halooing - eventually coming to a stop, some of them up to their fetlocks in the surging waters of the Firth.
Now, without exaggeration, I can say that I was disconcerted by this rather hostile warlike manifestation on the Scottish side of the estuary. In my haste to get the scope focussed up I knocked the remaining contents of my Douwe Egberts into its saucer. Could this be a hostile act from the newly emergent Scotland? Intimidation? I thought these moments had passed into history and legend! Were we at Campfield about to receive the first wave? I can now honestly say that I know how Cromwell’s Parliamentarian forces felt when about to receive a charge from Prince Rupert’s Royalist cavalry!
I was trying to gather my scattered wits and remember what re-enactment or pageant of border history this scene might represent - but at such short notice was unable to do so. However we’re a sturdy lot here at Campfield (exactly on the line of Hadrian‘s Wall and the mile fortlets), gazing out as we do across the estuary towards our Scottish cousins - and I resolved to look on this in the spirit in which it was meant i.e. a thoroughly good set of ‘sports’ having a great day out - frightening the pants off we poor English, once again!
We were, however, delighted to see them turn back towards Annan and their respective crofts and castles. Later in the day the sound of bagpipes and drums could be heard drifting on the northerly wind over the estuary - a scary sound at the best of times! It’s hard here living up on the Solway. You people in the south lead a very sheltered life, you know!
It may be of some interest to note that the annual Shelduck moult migration which we have been observing at this very spot for the past few weeks, now seems to have taken place - as there was no sign of a single Shelduck here on the channel this morning.
Could this historic annual event; the Annan Riding of the Marches taking place in July, have any bearing on the mass departure of Shelduck to the Heligoland Bight for moulting and safety?
Link to Annan Riding of the Marches: http://www.annan.org.uk/rom/
Shelduck flying - Scargavel Point