After the tea and Tunnock's tea cakes - how long since I'd last eaten one of those?! - my sister and I decided to let the folks get on with their reminiscing while we took off for a walk along the inner Dee, just down from Tongland Power Station , a hydro plant with a salmon ladder.
The tide had just turned, we were essentially following the tide out as we walked past the new lifeboat station - a rib replacing the traditional design based further out to sea back in my day - and a fish processing plant. Since my last visit it looks as if there has been some kind of attempt to turn this stretch of river into a business park. Across the river from where the cheese factory used to waft its odours onto the town.
No longer. It seems to have been transformed into an eco-housing estate with solar panels reflecting a lowering sun. As we got nearer to the harbour, I remembered the feral cats I used to chase along here as they mooched in and out of the boat sheds, pausing now and then to snap up a morsel of decaying fish. Later semi-official town cats like Caesar the enormous ginger tom who used to roam around the square found their way onto postcards, but no longer.
The harbour was quiet when we got there, most of the boats had left on the 2am tide to go and gather their scallops from the Irish Sea and beyond. It was from here that the Solway Harvester went fishing in 2000, only to go down with all hands and wipe out the breeding male population of the Isle of Whithorn. Ghostly broken shells littered the harbourside like a memorial.
The harbour is not as busy as it was, it seemed to me, with fewer and larger boats tying up alongside.
The town is beautiful. But it is diminished. The streets are quiet, with few young people round, and by 9pm positively deserted. Houses are boarded up. Communications are dreadful. Where can the town go? What is its future?
All text and images copyright CreamCrackeredNature 19.10.15
|Following the tide|
|Another wreck, beautifully matching the landscape|
|Sister inspects the queenie boats|
|Redshank arrived after the tide left|
|Feeding on the mudflats|