There are two reasons for those following the north shore of the Solway Firth to stop off at Caerlaverock. The first is the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust site, where among the species on view is a pair of ospreys who migrate to here from Africa each spring. There are also barn owls, which can be viewed via a webcam. If you visit the site in autumn or winter, meanwhile, you will be treated to the sight of large numbers of barnacle geese who have made their way here from Spitsbergen, and pink-footed geese from Iceland. There is also a large colony of rare natterjack toads. The site offers accommodation with the chance to see badgers as well as the wealth of birdlife. Recent sightings at Caerlaverock WWT include Marsh Harriers, Lapwings and Little Grebes.
The other attraction in the area is Caerlaverock Castle, a moated medieval fortification with an unusual triangular shape and a twin towered gatehouse. With its proximity to England, it goes without saying that the castle has had an eventful past. The Romans got here first, building a fort on Ward Law Hill, which overlooks the present-day castle. Around 1220 a later fort was built by Alexander II's chamberlain, Sir John de Maccuswell (Maxwell), but 50 years later his nephew built the "new" castle nearby, and this became the stronghold of the Maxwells for the next 400 years. The castle endured siege after siege during its history. In one such event in 1300 the men stationed at the castle lasted just two days of battering from Edward I's army before giving in to the onslaught. The castle's last siege in 1640 took place during the ongoing battle between Charles I and the Covenanters. This time the garrison managed to last 13 weeks before surrendering. Following this event the castle was looted and partially demolished. The castle, which is run by Historic Scotland, includes a siege warfare exhibition, a children's adventure park and a nature trail.
Map of the area.
|Photo by Iain Russell, via Wikimedia Commons|