Sport, recreation and tourism

Sport, recreation and tourism is a broad sector that combines marine recreation and tourism including operators of marine recreation activities, museums and visitor activities, accommodation, and food and beverage providers.

As mentioned in the overview for the Productive chapter introduction of the Solway Review, this section is populated with data and information from the Socio-economic Assessment’s for the Scottish (SEASS), and English Solway (SEAES), which are two separate projects completed in 2020. Text below will be predominantly directly from the SEASS or SEAES Reports but is altered at times. These reports are available here. These socio-economic reports were needed in light of the changing face of socio-economic aspects impacting the Solway Firth, and also for the purpose of populating the productive section of the Solway Review. Text from the SEASS and SEAES reports is not referenced individually.

 

Image; Stand-up paddle boarders at Stranraer Oyster Festival 2019. © Solway Firth Partnership.

Sport, recreation and tourism

Scotland - Summary

The environment of the Solway Firth supports a range of recreational activities. This includes sailing, with facilities in Stranraer, Kippford and Kirkcudbright, and plans for further development of Loch Ryan as a destination for watersports.

There are a number of designated wildlife reserves, managed by organisations including the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB), Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust (WWT), and Scottish Wildlife Trust, with varied visitor facilities. The coastline also offers popular beaches and bathing waters, with walking routes along much of the shore.

The Solway Firth is also one of the best sea angling locations in the UK, with a number of bait and tackle shops spread across the area, as well as charter boat hires.

Having access to appropriate infrastructure, particularly accommodation and food and drink, is vital to sustain and grow the tourism sector. Dumfries & Galloway provides a range of accommodation choices, including hotels, hostels, B&Bs, caravan parks and campsites.

Growing tourism in the region is seen as important in supporting economic growth in Dumfries & Galloway and tackling the area’s socio-economic challenges. Marine and coastal tourism has an important role within this, although there is a sense that the region’s strong offer is potentially underutilised and not well recognised outwith the region. For an indication off some of the vast range of tourism and recreational opportunities which the Solway coast can offer see the interactive map of the Borgue coast here. This map shows the historical buildings, ancient sites, geological features, beaches, hiking, kayaking and rock climbing opportunities which are all draws for tourism and recreation, for this small portion of the Dumfries and Galloway coast around Borgue. The variety and density of draws in this area alone indicates the huge range of opportunities which the entire Solway coast can offer.

Sport, recreation and tourism also supports a number of local supply chains, for example: the building and maintenance/repair of boats, equipment hire/purchase, and service sector activity (accommodation providers and food and beverage provision).

 

Defining the Sector:

There are challenges with measuring the economic activity generated by the sport, recreation and tourism sector as it encompasses a broad definition that cuts across many industry sectors. It is even more challenging to separate strictly marine tourism from terrestrial tourism.

Sustainable tourism is defined using the following Standard Industrial Classification (SIC) codes (Office for National Statistics, 2007), and includes only businesses/employers located within 100m of the coast: 55: Accommodation; 56: Food and beverage service activities; 68.202: Letting and operating of conference and exhibition centres; 77.11: Renting and leasing of cars and light motor vehicles; 77.21: Renting and leasing of recreational and sports goods; 79.12: Tour operator activities; 79.9: Other reservation service and related activities; 82.3: Organisation of conventions and trade shows; 90: Creative, arts and entertainment activities; 91: Libraries, archives, museums and other cultural activities; 92: Gambling and betting activities; 93: Sports activities and amusement and recreation activities.

 

A summary of the changes across economic indicators is presented in the table below.

Sport, Recreation and Tourism Change in Activity
Indicator Change
Turnover (2014 to 2017, adjusted to 2017 prices) -16%
GVA (2014 to 2017, adjusted to 2017 prices) -13%
Employment (2014-2018) +15%
International visitors (low sample size, 2014-2018) -20%
Domestic overnight trips* +3%
Domestic overnights* +11%

*comparing combined three-year average 2012-14 & 2015-17, for Dumfries & Galloway

 

Image; Powillimount and rainbow. © G. Reid/ Solway Firth Partnership.

Sport, recreation and tourism

Scotland - Contribution to the Economy

 

Employment

Employment in the sector has been subject to slight fluctuations over the last decade, peaking in 2015 and with a moderate annual decline since, see figure, ‘Scottish Solway: Tourism Employment, 2009-2018′, below. Employment in accommodation and food and beverage service activities accounts for more than three quarters of employment in the sector (80% in 2018). It is important to note that this is a headcount of employment and that a sizeable proportion of jobs in the sector will be part-time (57% in 2018) and/or seasonal.

Scottish Solway: Tourism Employment, 2009-2018

Scottish Solway: Tourism Employment, 2009-2018. (Source: Office for National Statistics (Various) (BRES))

 

The Location Quotient (please see the Productive overview for an explanation of Location Quotients) has been consistently high, indicating a greater relative concentration of tourism and recreation employment on the Scottish Solway coast than in Scotland as a whole. However, this has been decreasing over time as Scottish employment has increased. See figure,’Scottish Solway: Tourism Location Quotient 2009 – 2018′, below.

Scottish Solway: Tourism Location Quotient 2009 - 2018

Scottish Solway: Tourism Location Quotient 2009 – 2018. (Source: Office for National Statistics (Various) (BRES))

 

Economic Output – Turnover and GVA

Both turnover and GVA figures show a broad upward trend, with peaks in 2015 (GVA) and 2016 (turnover), see figures Scottish Solway: Tourism Turnover, 2009 – 2017′ and ‘Scottish Solway: Tourism GVA, 2009 – 2017′, below. The turnover and GVA of the accommodation and food service sub-sector saw a considerable spike in Dumfries and Galloway in 2015 and 2016, which was not reflected nationally.

Scottish Solway: Tourism Turnover, 2009 – 2017

Scottish Solway: Tourism Turnover, 2009 – 2017. (Source: Scottish Government (2019) (SABS))

 

Scottish Solway: Tourism GVA, 2009 – 2017

Scottish Solway: Tourism GVA, 2009 – 2017. (Source: Scottish Government (2019) (SABS))

 

The GVA to turnover ratio has been prone to fluctuation over recent years, ranging from 32% to 55%, see figure below,’Scottish Solway: GVA to Turnover Ratio, 2009 – 2017′. In common with other areas of Scotland, the region has a mix of lower and higher value tourism. However, it is challenging to discern the causes of this fluctuating trend from the available information.

Scottish Solway: GVA to Turnover Ratio, 2009 – 2017

Scottish Solway: GVA to Turnover Ratio, 2009 – 2017. (Source: Scottish Government (2019) (SABS))

 

Further data on tourism in Dumfries & Galloway is available from a range of sources published by VisitScotland and VisitBritain. VisitScotland reported that in 2018 there were 762,000 domestic overnight visitors to Dumfries and Galloway, a rise of +22% on 2017/18 visitors, with a total spend of £141 million. Domestic day visits to the region were 5.3 million based on the 2016-18 average, an increase of +29% on the 2015-17 average. International visitors also increased in 2018, with VisitScotland recording 39,000 visitors, an increase of +15% on the previous year, but a total spend of £12 million, a huge reduction of -71% on the previous year (VisitScotland, 2019). According to the same source, 2017 had an unusually high spend in Dumfries and Galloway.

It is important to note that this figure includes all tourism activity, and that a significant proportion of these visits will not include any marine or coastal element. The latest major visitor survey by VisitScotland was undertaken in 2015 and 2016. This showed that 44% of visitors to Dumfries & Galloway visited a beach as part of their visit, higher than the Scotland figure of 38% (VisitScotland, 2017). Overall, Scottish tourists are more likely to visit a beach than rest of UK or overseas visitors.

VisitBritain data further illustrates the importance of visits to coastal areas within the UK visitor economy:
10% of international visitors to the UK visit coast or beaches as part of their trip (a total of 3.8m visits), and 8% of international visitors to the UK walk along the coast as part of their trip (VisitBritain, n.d.); and
23% of domestic overnight trips in the UK are to a seaside destination, with 107 million overnight stays and spend of £6bn in 2018 (VisitBritain/ VisitEngland, 2018).

 

Note on Economic Activity

As highlighted above, the economic activity data (employment, turnover, and GVA) captures wider sport, recreation and tourism activity and not just that related to the marine and coastal environment. However, as the GVA and turnover data relates solely to locations within 100 metres of the coast, it can be assumed that the marine and coast plays a role in a substantial proportion of them.

 

Image; Sandyhills Bathing water quality sign. © G. Reid/ Solway Firth Partnership.

Sport, recreation and tourism

Scotland - Sport, Recreation, and Tourism Activities

A wide range of marine and coastal sport, recreation and tourism activities are undertaken in the Solway Marine Region. This includes coastal walking routes, sailing, diving, wildlife watching, and beach recreation and sports. Data on certain recreational activities in the Scottish Solway recorded in 2011 can be seen in the National Marine Plan Interactive data layer; ‘Solway – Recreation Activities – September 2011‘ and can provide some visual and spatial indication of certain recreational uses of the firth at the time. A separate, and more recent, data layer has been created for Loch Ryan, and provides spatial data on recreational activities in the Loch in 2013. There is useful information on recreational use of the Solway coast between the Isle of Whithorn and Southerness as part of Rediological Habitat Surveys of the Dumfries and Galloway Coast 2012 & 2017. These surveys looked at habits and consumption patterns which may be subject to long-range effects of permitted radioactive liquid discharges into the Irish Sea primarily from the Sellafield Nuclear site in Cumbria. A variety of recreational activities are included, many of which have limited other data available such as dog walkers, people picnicking, beach combing and paddling.

 

Sailing

There are sailing clubs within the Scottish Solway Marine Region in Stranraer (Stranraer Water Sports Association & Loch Ryan Sailing Club), Kippford (The Solway Yacht Club), Isle of Whithorn (Wigtown Bay Sailing Club) and Kirkcudbright (Kirkcudbright Sailing Club). Most sailing activity on the Solway is seasonal (May – September).

Stranraer Water Sports Association and Dumfries & Galloway Council are developing regeneration proposals for Stranraer, with water sports and marina expansion set to play an important role. With Loch Ryan’s natural shelter providing a suitable environment for water sports, there will be a focus on developing Stranraer as a marine leisure destination. Proposals include a new training and education centre, 300 berths and improvements to the pier and surrounding public realm, linking up the shore area to the town (BBC News, 2019). This project has, in part, come about as a response to the Stena Line ferry service switching their base to Cairnryan in 2011. A feasibility study will further develop the plans in 2020.

On the other side of the Rhins of Galloway, Portpatrick Harbour has 40 resident berths and 20 visiting berths and, unlike harbours in the Inner and Outer Solway Firth, is accessible at low tide. Permission for an expanded 57-berth marina with pontoons was applied for in 2007, but this was rejected by Dumfries & Galloway Council. In 2015, the harbour was taken into community ownership, The Portpatrick Harbour Community Benefit Society, financed through a community share scheme. Mooring fees are now invested in community projects, with a new community hub at the harbour opened in 2019.

In the Solway Marine Region, there are also harbours at Port Logan, Drummore, Port William, Wigtown, Kippford (with a pontoon for visitors), Isle of Whithorn, Garlieston, Kirkcudbright and Annan. Kingholm Quay, and Glencaple pier are located up the river Nith towards the town of Dumfries, approximately 2 and 5 nautical miles, respectively, from the river mouth into the Solway. Both Kingholm Quay and Glencaple pier have limited use as they are tidal and difficult to access. Kingholm Quay is used primarily for pleasure crafts since it was brought back into use through works on the sluices. Glencaple is where the independent and voluntary Nith Inshore Rescue is based. Port William, Isle of Whithorn, Garlieston, Kirkcudbright, and Stranraer are all the responsibility of Dumfries and Galloway Council. Facilities for visiting sailors are generally limited at these locations. An exception to this is Kirkcudbright, a busy fishing port, has more extensive facilities with 40 moorings and 50 pontoon berths. The Sailing Tourism in Scotland study identified that waiting lists are in operation for spaces at Stranraer, Kirkcudbright and Portpatrick (EKOS Ltd, 2016).

Annan Harbour, in the upper Solway, has recently been the focus of regeneration efforts by the local community. Led by the Annan Harbour Action Group, funds have been raised to promote and develop the harbour, with the group organising a range of marine and shoreside activities, including an annual festival, for this purpose. The harbour had fallen out of use in the 1980s and silted up, but was reopened in 2015 after a new channel was dredged and it is now able to accommodate visiting leisure crafts (Yachting Monthly, 2015).

However, sailing opportunities in the Scottish Solway are still limited by the small, silted harbours and tidal river estuaries in the Firth itself. While dredging is one solution to this, it requires ongoing and expensive work. Outside of the Firth, the North Channel can also experience rough seas that would be off-putting to less experienced sailors. Sailing activities tend to be within 5km of the coast.

Automatic identification system (AIS) tracking data shows a low intensity of leisure sailing in most of the Solway. There is a slightly higher level between Kirkcudbright and Whitehaven, which is unsurprising given that both have yachting facilities, and are in the North Channel. While most recreational boaters do not have AIS (the Royal Yachting Association estimate around 10% have it in place), the data provides a useful indication of where activity is concentrated. This data can be viewed here; ‘Leisure and Recreation – Recreational AIS intensity – RYA UK Coastal Atlas of Recreational Boating – September 2019‘. There is also known to be a popular trans-Solway sailing route between Kippford and Maryport. This route is not seen on the data layer, but as previously mentioned, most recreational boaters do not have AIS.

 

Other Water Sports and Diving

Other examples of water-based activities in the region include Kirkcudbright Canoe Club, Annan Harbour Rowing Club and Newton Stewart Sub Aqua Club.

Stranraer Water Sports Association brings together a number of different groups who undertake water sports activities in Loch Ryan. This includes Stranraer Coastal Rowing Club, an outdoor swimming group, and informal paddle boarding, kayaking and kite surfing groups. Maps of recreational sub aqua activity, sea angling, surfing and sailing in Loch Ryan (as of 2014) were made available in the 2014 Loch Ryan Management Plan, available here.

In 2020, Scotland’s Year of Coasts and Waters is being marked with a coastal rowing baton relay around Scotland (ITV News, 2019). This was to be launched from Gretna, with Annan Harbour Rowing Club taking it as far as Stranraer, where rowers would take the baton onwards to Kintyre. This event was replaced with a virtual RowAround Scotland due to COVID-19 restrictions in 2020.

As noted, the Water Sports Association are investigating the potential for a new Training, Education and Regatta Centre at Stranraer Waterfront.

 

Beaches and Bathing Waters

Scotland has 86 designated bathing waters where the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) monitor water quality from 15 May to 15 September each year. Seven of these are within the Solway Marine Region, all located on the stretch of coast between Gatehouse of Fleet and Southerness. In 2018/19, three were graded as ‘good’ and four as ‘poor’, see table below.

The classifications are normally calculated on four years of monitoring data, to give a more consistent picture of water quality condition of each protected area location, using the two key mandatory microbial parameters of Escherichia Coli (E coli) and Intestinal Enterococci (IE). Each beach is then scored according to a European Union grading system as poor, sufficient, good or excellent. An excellent resource is the interactive map available from the European Environment Agency which provides a map of bathing water quality at designated sites across Europe, but when zoomed in to the Solway shows each designated beach, and provides additional data such as the quality rating for the past 10 years, site ID, and more.

Scottish Solway:Bathing Water Quality (2015/16, 2017/18 & 2018/19)
2015/16 2017/18 2018/19 
Carrick Good Good Good
Mossyard Poor Good Good
Southerness Good Excellent Good
Brighouse Bay Good Poor Poor
Dhoon Bay Poor Poor Poor
Rockcliffe Poor Poor Poor
Sandyhills Poor Poor Poor

Source: Scottish Environment Protection Agency (n.d.).

 

Keep Scotland Beautiful co-ordinates a Beach Award scheme, with nominations put forward by local authorities, community groups and other agencies. Of 61 beaches awarded in 2018, none were in Dumfries & Galloway.

Scottish Water provides most waste water collection and treatment services in Scotland. A number of improvements to local sewage works and public septic tanks have been undertaken in the area in recent years, with the aim of improving bathing water quality. For example, upgrades to the waste treatment centre at Kippford have been identified as crucial for improving water quality at Rockcliffe.

As agriculture is the dominant land use in the area, heavy rainfall can lead to outflows from the surrounding land negatively impacting on the quality of bathing waters (Scottish Environment Protection Agency, 2020). The level of pollution can also be influenced by geographical features of the coast.

 

Wildlife and Nature Reserves

Dumfries & Galloway is renowned for its birdwatching opportunities, particularly along the Solway Coast, with the estuary attracting large numbers of migratory birds during the winter months (wildfowl and waders). There are various natural environment designations (Sites of Special Scientific Interest, National Nature Reserves, National Scenic Areas, RAMSAR, etc) and areas of land managed by conservation agencies and charities, which is indicative of the importance of the area’s biodiversity.

There are six Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) landholdings in Dumfries & Galloway, with four of these on the coast: Kirkconnell Merse, Crook of Baldoon, Mersehead, and Mull of Galloway. The latter two each have a visitor centre and open seasonally. Kirkconnell Merse, an area of saltmarsh on the Nith Estuary is not a visitor site, but is managed by the RSPB for conservation purposes. The RSPB employs 14 staff across Dumfries & Galloway, of which 12 are year-round roles.

The Scottish Wildlife Trust (SWT) manage seven sites, although onsite facilities are typically limited to footpaths and signposts. Two of the SWT sites are by the coast, Southwick Coast and Drummains Reedbed, with extensive birdlife.

The Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust (WWT) operate their only Scottish reserve at Caerlaverock Wetland Centre, which is open throughout the year. In 2018, it had 14,000 visitors.

Research undertaken for the RSPB at the Mull of Galloway reserve in 2010 helps to illustrates the economic impact of wildlife tourism on the Scottish Solway coast:

  • around 7% of visitors said that Mull of Galloway reserve was their main reason for visiting the area, but a much higher proportion (71%, including the 7% listed it as the main reason for visiting the area) said that the reserve was among their reasons for visiting the area (Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, 2010).

Initiatives such as special trails can cause even more visitors and spend in the local area. There was also a report published the same year (2010) which indicated the economic impact on Dumfries and Galloway off ‘The Galloway Kite Trail‘ (Molloy & Rollie, 2010). This report detailed the positive economic impact the Galloway Kite Trail had for the region (between 2004 and 2010);

  • a total £2.63 million new spend in the region;
  • the trail was a motivation in the visits of over 10,000 people to Dumfries and Galloway
    (Molloy & Rollie, 2010)

The Galloway Kite Trail is no longer being managed by the RSPB, and is not directly on the coast, this report shows the economic contribution environmental initiatives can have to the Dumfries and Galloway region.

The findings indicate that the recognised reserves and other areas for watching wildlife, particularly birds, help draw visitors to the region. This will provide direct benefits for businesses in the area, such as accommodation providers, tour operators and food and drink businesses.

The Galloway National Park Association was founded in 2016 and has been campaigning for the Galloway region to receive National Park status from the Scottish Government. The campaign has argued that developing a Galloway National Park would increase the area’s profile and bring social and economic benefits. It has won the support of Dumfries & Galloway Council and local politicians, with the campaign arguing that a National Park could, each year:

  • attract between 243,000 and 486,000 additional visitors to the area;
  • generate between £30-£60 million of additional visitor spend; and
  • support or create between 700 and 1,400 jobs
    (Burrow, 2019).

 

Scottish Solway: Wildlife Reserves and Gardens

Scottish Solway: Wildlife Reserves and Gardens. (Source: Online searches. Map Data © Google Maps)

 

The Galloway and Southern Ayrshire Biosphere, designated by The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) in 2012, covers a large area stretching from Cumnock in East Ayrshire to the eastern edge of Luce Bay and Wigtown Bay in the south. Managed by a partnership board comprised of community, agency and local authority representatives, the Biosphere promotes conservation, learning and sustainable development, focused on supporting natural heritage and rural communities. Its current management plan covers the period 2017-22.

Of course certain recreational and tourism draws of these areas, such as excellent birdwatching opportunities, can also be enjoyed out with these designated sites around the Solway. There are helpful guides to birdwatching in various areas of the Scottish Solway such as the Solway Firth Partnership guide for the many great places to visit around Loch Ryan for bird watching. As you can see from the ‘birding sites‘ map on Bird Guides, there are dozens of sites around the Dumfries and Galloway coast, and 200 sites in Dumfries and Galloway overall, for bird watching.

 

Wildfowling

Wildfowling is the pursuit of ducks, geese and waders on the foreshore with a shotgun. The Solway Firth is one of the main sites where this activity takes place in Scotland, with the shooting season between September and February.

While wildfowling is effectively permitted anywhere on the Scottish foreshore, permit systems are operational in some areas, including parts of the Solway. Wildfowling permits on the Inner Solway are administered by the Scottish Solway Wildfowlers Association and in Wigtown Bay by Machars Action, on behalf of Dumfries & Galloway Council Ranger Service. Within the Caerlaverock National Nature Reserve, permits are administered by NatureScot, through the Caerlaverock Panel, with a maximum of 80 permits granted. The safeguarding and promotion of recreational wildfowling in the Nith Estuary is the aim of the Caerlaverock and District Wildfowling Association (affiliated with the British Association for Shooting and Conservation).

A small number of self-employed shooting guides work in this field, and some accommodation providers specifically target the fishing and shooting market.

 

Angling

The Solway Firth is renowned as a good location for recreational sea angling, with a rich diversity of marine life supported by nutrients supplied by its large tides and complex currents. Research undertaken by the Scottish Government in 2009 on recreational sea angling found that the Solway had several of the most popular sites in Scotland for this activity. Survey work found that just under half of anglers in Dumfries & Galloway were doing so from the shore (49%), with 32% by boat, and the remainder (19%) by charter. The research also showed that the vast majority of anglers were from outside the region, with 59% from the rest of the UK, 35% from the rest of Scotland, and only 6% from within Dumfries & Galloway (Scottish Government, 2009).

This indicated that there is significant inbound tourism to the Solway region in order to undertake angling. Gross annual expenditure from this activity was estimated at £25m (£34m in 2019 prices), supporting 534 jobs. The study estimated that the Solway supports 18% of all expenditure on recreational sea angling in Scotland (Scottish Government, 2009).

There is lots of advice for recreational sea anglers available on Solway Firth Partnership’s website.

For details of current fisheries landing statistics in the region, see the Sea Fisheries section.

 

Events

A variety of marine events are held in the Scottish Solway Marine Region – a mix of annual and one-off events, and leisure and sport. This includes:

 

Image: Dhoon Bay Video. © Solway Firth Partnership.

Sport, recreation and tourism

Scotland - Coastal Routes and Walks

 

Walks

There are numerous recognised and more informal coastal paths and walks in the region including many core paths. The more established coastal paths and long distance walks that are partly or wholly within the region include:

  • Whithorn Way: a 143 mile walking and cycling route between Glasgow Cathedral and Whithorn Priory;
  • Southern Upland Way: Britain’s first official coast to coast long distance foot-path, running 214 miles from Portpatrick to the east coast;
  • Annandale Way: a 56 mile walking route starting in the hills above Moffat and following the River Annan down to the Solway Estuary at Annan;
  • Mull of Galloway Trail: a 25 mile route between the Mull of Galloway lighthouse and Stranraer;
  • Rhins of Galloway Coast Path: a new 64 mile walking route, which will link in with the Mull of Galloway trail, creating a circular walk around the peninsula. The project, led by Dumfries & Galloway Council, has received £1.1m investment over recent years, with the National Lottery Heritage Fund a major funder.

 

Cycle Routes

National Cycle Network (NCN) Route 7 runs for 600 miles from Sunderland to Inverness. After passing through Carlisle, the route runs through Gretna, Dumfries, Castle Douglas and Newton Stewart before heading towards the Ayrshire coast, via Glen Trool Forest. The southern section of NCN Route 73 runs between Newton Stewart and Stranraer. There are also various core path cycle routes around the Scottish Solway Coast.

 

Driving Routes

Largely avoiding major roads and aimed at capitalising on a recent trend for long distance, ‘bucket list’ driving routes, the South West Coastal 300 was launched in 2017 by Visit South West Scotland. The route takes in much of the Scottish Solway Coast, see map opposite from Visit South West Scotland.

 

Image; South West Coastal Interactive Map © Visit South West Scotland (n.d.)

Sport, recreation and tourism

Scotland - Pressures and Impacts

An assessment of the socio-economic and environmental pressures and impacts of the sport, recreation and tourism sector is provided below.

Socio-Economic
Positive Negative
•   Sustainable tourism is recognised as a key growth sector in Scotland, and the marine and coastal environment is a key draw for visitors across the country

•   Marine and coastal events attract significant numbers of visitors every year, and work is ongoing to further develop the Solway region’s offer and range of facilities

•   Being used to drive regeneration of Stranraer waterfront following the change in location of the Stena Line ferry service to Cairnryan

•   Availability and access to outdoor and sports activities contributes to the healthy living agenda

•   Seasonal employment that is often considered ‘lower value’

•   Increased activity and usage could lead to an increase in litter from recreational activity – potentially damaging the perception of the area and attractiveness as a tourism destination

•   Increased visitor activity has potential to damage sensitive sites, such as sand dunes

•   Potential conflict with other users – although this can be mitigated through careful management, e.g. the Loch Ryan Management Plan

 

Environmental
Pressure theme Pressure Impact
Pollution Introduction of hazardous substances

 

Recreational boats and commercial charters that use the marinas and harbours will likely be treated with antifoulant to protect the bottom of the boat from fouling. The Royal Yachting Association’s Green-Blue programme provides guidance for recreational boaters on the use of antifoulants. There is also the potential for sewage discharge from marine toilets.
Habitat change Habitat damage The development and expansion of breakwaters, jetties and marinas (including land reclamation) can lead to disturbance of the seabed and coastline and may lead to changes in erosion and accretion patterns – there is regulatory guidance in place to help minimise and mitigate against these potential impacts.
Other physical Litter The increased use of the water and coastal areas for recreation and leisure could lead to an increase of littering. Not only does this impact on the visual amenity, there is a risk to marine wildlife for example through entanglement or smothering, as well as to people using the water for recreation.
Biological Introduction of Invasive Non-Native Species (INNS) Organisms living on vessel hulls and equipment used in the water are just two ‘pathways’ by which INNS can be introduced. Campaigns such as ‘clean, dry, check’ is an initiative that looks to educate water users and promote biosecurity.

The Solway is known to have at least nine INNS according to the 2018-2021 Solway Firth Partnership Biosecurity Plan.Solway Firth Partnership’s Biosecurity Plan, the most recent iteration of which covers the period 2018-21, sets outs steps to limit the risk of the introduction and spread of marine INNS within the area.

Sport, recreation and tourism

Scotland - Regional Look Forward

Growing the number and value of visitors to the south west of Scotland is seen as important in supporting economic growth and tackling the area’s well recognised socio-economic challenges. As it stands, the region is felt to not be reaching its full potential, particularly given its close proximity to large population centres in central Scotland and the north of England. This is in part because the area lacks a ‘major draw’ and does not have the same profile among visitors as other parts of Scotland, such as the Highlands and Islands.

Stakeholders in the sector, including Visit South West Scotland and the new enterprise agency for the south of Scotland, are continuing to work together to develop the region’s tourism infrastructure, marketing, and overall proposition. One recent example is the South West 300 touring route, aiming to replicate the success of the North Coast 500, which has had a sizeable direct economic impact in the north of Scotland.

Marine and coastal tourism has an important role within the region’s wider tourism offer, as summarised in this chapter. In particular, the area enjoys superb opportunities for watching wildlife, and the coast also plays a central role in initiatives such as the Solway Military Trail and many of the region’s other attractions, such as the Mull of Galloway Lighthouse (see section Historic Environment and Cultural Heritage). This is recognised in the Dumfries & Galloway Regional Tourism Strategy (2016-20), which highlights the potential for growth in nature-based tourism, developing new marine tourism product offerings, and maximising waterfront opportunities.

Efforts are underway to grow the attractiveness of the region for recreational boating and marine leisure. Efforts are being made, often by local communities, to renew harbours around the Scottish Solway, notably at Annan and Portpatrick. Major investment, through initiatives such as the Borderlands Inclusive Growth Deal, is also being sought for the transformation of Stranraer waterfront into a marine leisure destination. These plans are now being taken forward by Stranraer Water Sports Association and Dumfries & Galloway Council. The town’s potential has already been displayed through the hosting of the Skiffieworlds World Championship Coastal Rowing & Shoreside Festival in summer 2019, which saw teams competing from around the world, and the annual Stranraer Oyster Festival.

Other recent and ongoing initiatives include the Rhins of Galloway Coast Path, which has received over £1m investment, and the campaign for Scotland’s third national park in Galloway.

 

Image; Stranraer Oyster Festival. © Solway Firth Partnership.

Sport, recreation and tourism

England - Summary

The environment of the Solway Firth supports a range of recreational activities. There are yachting marinas in Maryport and Whitehaven, where plans are being taken forward for a new coastal activity centre. There are a number of designated wildlife and nature reserves, managed by organisations including the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB), Natural England, the Cumbria Wildlife Trust, and the Solway Coast Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB), with varied visitor facilities. The coastline also offers popular beaches and bathing waters, with walking routes along much of the shore.

Having access to appropriate infrastructure, particularly accommodation and food and drink, is vital to sustain and grow the tourism sector. The Solway Coast provides a range of accommodation choices, including hotels, hostels, B&Bs, caravan parks and campsites. Tourism in Cumbria has traditionally been dominated by the Lake District, which has been a National Park since 1951 and, since 2017, a World Heritage Site. It is recognised as one of England’s key destinations for visitors. However, there is a growing focus on encouraging tourists to visit other parts of Cumbria, as part of an “attract and disperse” policy aimed at spreading the benefits of tourism across the region (In-Cumbria, 2019).

Sport, recreation and tourism supports a number of local supply chains, in particular service sector activity (accommodation providers and food and beverage provision), as well as equipment hire/purchase, construction, etc.

 

Defining the Sector:

There are challenges with measuring the economic activity generated by the sport, recreation and tourism sector as it encompasses a broad definition that cuts across many industry sectors. It is even more challenging to separate strictly marine tourism from terrestrial tourism.

For the purposes of this study, we have defined tourism using the following Standard Industrial Classification (SIC) codes (Office for National Statistics, 2007): 55: Accommodation; 56: Food and beverage service activities; 68.202: Letting and operating of conference and exhibition centres; 77.11: Renting and leasing of cars and light motor vehicles; 77.21: Renting and leasing of recreational and sports goods; 79.12: Tour operator activities; 79.9: Other reservation service and related activities; 82.3: Organisation of conventions and trade shows; 90: Creative, arts and entertainment activities; 91: Libraries, archives, museums and other cultural activities; 92: Gambling and betting activities; 93: Sports activities and amusement and recreation activities.

 

A summary of the changes across economic indicators (2014 to 2018) is presented in the table below.

Sport, Recreation and Tourism Change in Activity, 2014 – 2018
Indicator Change
Turnover -23%
GVA -5%
Employment (2014-2018) +15%
International visitors (Cumbria) 0%
International overnights (Cumbria) +15%
Domestic overnight trips* +1%
Domestic overnights* 0%

*comparing three year average 2014-16 and 2016-18, for Cumbria region. Adjusted to 2018 prices

 

Image; Waves at Workington. © Solway Firth Partnership.

Sport, recreation and tourism

England - Contribution to the Economy

 

Employment

Employment in tourism within the English Solway has been subject to some fluctuation over recent years, peaking at just under 4,900 in 2012, see figure, English Solway: Sport, Recreation & Tourism Employment, 2009 – 2018′, below. In line with the Scottish Solway, accommodation and food and beverage service activities account for more than 70% of total employment in any given year (77% in 2018). It is important to note that this is a headcount of employment and that a sizeable proportion of jobs in the sector will be part-time (56% in 2018) and/or seasonal.

English Solway: Sport, Recreation & Tourism Employment, 2009 – 2018

English Solway: Sport, Recreation & Tourism Employment, 2009 – 2018. (Source: Office for National Statistics (Various) (BRES))

 

Location Quotient (LQ) measures the concentration of employment against national averages (please see the Productive overview for a fuller explanation of Location Quotients). The level of employment in tourism and recreation in the English Solway has typically been fairly close to the English average, fluctuating between 89% and 116% of the national proportion, see figure below, ‘English Solway: Sport, Recreation & Tourism Location Quotient’. This indicates the importance of sport, tourism and recreation in the local economy.

English Solway: Sport, Recreation & Tourism Location Quotient

English Solway: Sport, Recreation & Tourism Location Quotient. (Source: Office for National Statistics (Various) (BRES))

 

Economic Output – Turnover and GVA

Both turnover and GVA have been prone to some fluctuation over recent years, with both peaking in 2015 followed by a decline, see figures,’English Solway: Sport, Recreation & Tourism Turnover, 2009 – 2018′and ‘English Solway: Sport, Recreation & Tourism GVA, 2009 – 2018′, below.

English Solway: Sport, Recreation & Tourism Turnover, 2009 - 2018

English Solway: Sport, Recreation & Tourism Turnover, 2009 – 2018. (Source: Office for National Statistics (Various) (Bespoke))

 

English Solway: Sport, Recreation & Tourism GVA, 2009 - 2018

English Solway: Sport, Recreation & Tourism GVA, 2009 – 2018. (Source: Office for National Statistics (Various) (Bespoke))

 

The GVA to turnover ratio has fluctuated, ranging from 29% to 54%, see figure below, ‘English Solway: Sport, Recreation & Tourism GVA to Turnover Ratio, 2009 – 2018′. In common with other areas of England, the region has a mix of lower and higher value tourism. However, it is challenging to discern exactly what has caused this fluctuating trend from the available information.

English Solway: Sport, Recreation & Tourism GVA to Turnover Ratio, 2009 – 2018

English Solway: Sport, Recreation & Tourism GVA to Turnover Ratio, 2009 – 2018. (Source: Office for National Statistics (Various) (Bespoke).

 

As the ONS data was provided at local authority level, the GVA and turnover data presented above has been apportioned to the Solway Firth portion of the North West Inshore Marine Plan Area on the basis of the percentage of sectoral employment within this geographic area. The Solway Area GVA and turnover therefore represents between 29% and 34% of the local authority total.
In 2017 Cumbria and the Lake District received over 47m visitors, the vast majority were day trips (87%). This was estimated to be worth £2.9bn to the regional economy. However, it is important to note that this covers a much broader region than the Solway Firth. At local authority level, Carlisle had 19% of the region’s tourism revenue, Allerdale 16%, and Copeland 6% (Cumbria Tourism, 2018). Much of the non-coastal area of Allerdale and Copeland falls within the Lake District National Park, with the area covered by the Lake District National Park accounting for almost half of Cumbria’s total tourism revenue (49%).

It is important to note that this figure includes all tourism activity, and that a significant proportion of these visits will not include any marine or coastal element. VisitBritain data provides an indication of the importance of coastal and marine tourism:

  • 10% of international visitors to the UK visit coast or beaches as part of their trip (a total of 3.8m visits), and 8% of international visitors to the UK walk along the coast as part of their trip (VisitBritain, n.d.); and
  • 23% of domestic overnight trips in the UK are to a seaside destination, with 107m overnight stays and spend of £6bn in 2018 (VisitBritain/ VisitEngland, 2018).

 

Note on Economic Activity

As highlighted above, the economic activity data (employment, turnover, and GVA) captures wider tourism activity and not just that related to the marine and coastal environment. In order to provide some context to the figures, it should be assumed that around 10% to 50% of the economic activity can be attributed directly or indirectly to the marine sport, recreation and tourism sector.

 

Image; Harrington. © Solway Firth Partnership.

Sport, recreation and tourism

England - Sport, Recreation, and Tourism Activities

A wide range of marine and coastal sport, recreation and tourism activities are undertaken in and around the English side of the Solway Firth. This includes coastal walking routes, sailing, diving, wildlife watching, recreational sea angling, and beach recreation and sports.

 

Monitoring Engagement in the Natural Environment Survey

Each year between 2009 and 2019, Natural England ran the Monitoring Engagement in the Natural Environment Survey, which collected data on people’s engagement with the natural environment and outdoor recreation. Survey respondents were asked about trips they had made to the natural environment over the previous week and specific details about one visit – through this, information about 198,000 visits was gathered over the ten years of the survey.

Over this time, 980 respondents provided details of a trip in the three Solway local authority areas of Allerdale, Carlisle or Copeland. Of these, 182 respondents specified a trip to a seaside resort or town (46%) or other seaside coastline, including beaches and cliffs (54%) – the results from this cohort are shown in more detail in the table below, ‘Activities undertaken on visits to the coast’, with comparison to the English average.

Activities undertaken on visits to the coast

 

Allerdale, Carlisle & Copeland

England

Walking without a dog

44%

39%

Walking with a dog

29%

29%

Playing with children

15%

15%

Eating or drinking out

13%

21%

Beach, sunbathing or paddling

13%

19%

Appreciating scenery from a car

9%

4%

Visiting an attraction

5%

6%

Wildlife watching

3%

4%

Picnicking

2%

5%

Running

2%

2%

Informal games and sport

2%

2%

Swimming outdoors

1%

3%

Water sports

1%

2%

Any other outdoor activities

1%

2%

Road cycling

1%

2%

Field sports

0%

0.2%

Fishing

0%

1%

Horse riding

0%

0%

Off road cycling or mountain biking

0%

1%

Off road driving or motorcycling

0%

0%

None of the activities in the list

0%

1%

Note;
N=182 (Solway) & 24,039 (England), multiple responses possible.
Source: Natural England (2009-2019) aggregated 2009-19 results

 

The average party size taking a coastal trip in Solway local authorities was 2.5, with children present in 28% of groups. This is lower than England, where average party sizes were 3.4 and 32% of groups contained children.

Nearly nine in every ten (89%) of those visiting the coast in the Solway local authorities travelled less than 20 miles to do so – see figure below, ‘Distance travelled to visit the coast’. This reflects that most visitors to the Solway coastline are local, rather than visitors from outside of the region.

Distance travelled to visit the coast

Distance travelled to visit the coast. (Source: Natural England (2009-2019) aggregated 2009-19 results, aggregated 2009-19 results)                                                               Note;
N= 182 (Allerdale, Carlisle & Copeland) & 17,690 (England)

 

The average spend among those on a trip to the coast was £11.67 in Allerdale, Carlisle and Copeland, lower than the English average of £19.44. This is largely a reflection of the type of activities people undertake at the coast, with a lower proportion eating or drinking out in the Solway local authorities. A breakdown of this spending is shown in the table below, ‘Spending during visits to the coast’.

Spending during visits to the coast

 

% Reporting spend

Average spend

Allerdale, Carlisle & Copeland

England

Allerdale, Carlisle & Copeland

England

Food and drink

43%

48%

£6.00

£10.41

Fuel

13%

14%

£1.10

£3.52

Car parking

9%

15%

£0.19

£0.67

Public transport fares

2%

4%

£0.13

£0.61

Hire of equipment

0%

1%

£0.00

£0.10

Purchase of equipment

0%

1%

£0.00

£0.25

Maps\Guidebooks\Leaflets

0%

1%

£0.00

£0.02

Gifts\Souvenirs

2%

5%

£0.21

£1.27

Admission fees

13%

5%

£4.02

£1.35

Other items

2%

4%

£0.01

£1.24

No spend

49%

42%

Note;
N= 47 (Solway) & 4,409 (England), multiple responses possible.
Source: Natural England (2009-2019) aggregated 2009-19 results

Sailing

First opened in 1998, Whitehaven Marina has 400 serviced pontoon berths as well as quayside berthing for larger vessels. The marina offers a range of services for both resident and visiting boats, including its own boatyard. Since 2009, it has been operated by a privately owned company, Marina Projects. Whitehaven is home to the Whitehaven Sailing and Boating Association established in 1967, and was also scheduled to hold a sailing regatta in 2020, ‘Whitehaven Sailing Regatta 2020’, which was unfortunately cancelled due to COVID-19 restrictions. However the association is known to hold competitions and events each sailing season.

Maryport Marina has been open since 1990, and has 190 serviced berths and facilities for visiting boats, as well as being the home of the Maryport Yachting Association.

The Vanguard Sailing Club is based in a tidal basin adjacent to the Port of Workington, with moorings and a slipway. Usage of these facilities is largely for use by members and is not advertised for use by visiting boats.

There are also harbours in Silloth and Harrington, and a slipway in PartonSailing opportunities in the Inner Solway are, however, limited by the small, silted harbours and tidal river estuaries in the Firth itself. Whilst dredging is one solution to this, it would require ongoing and expensive work.

Outside of the Firth, the North Channel can also experience rough seas that would be off-putting to less experienced sailors.

Automatic identification system (AIS) tracking data shows a low intensity of leisure sailing in most of the Solway. There is a slightly higher level around Whitehaven, which is unsurprising given that it hosts a large marina, and in the North Channel. While most recreational boaters do not have AIS (the Royal Yachting Association estimate around 10% have it in place), the data provides a useful indication of where activity is concentrated. This data can be viewed here; ‘Leisure and Recreation – Recreational AIS intensity – RYA UK Coastal Atlas of Recreational Boating – September 2019‘. There is also known to be a popular trans-Solway sailing route between Kippford and Maryport. This route is not seen on the data layer, but as previously mentioned, most recreational boaters do not have AIS. Sailing activities are primarily seasonal, undertaken between May and September.

 

Other Water Sports and Diving

Proposals are being advanced for a new Cumbria Coastal Activities Centre in Whitehaven, which will include a café, bunkhouse accommodation, classrooms, changing facilities, a new slipway, and equipment storage space.

The proposed development is being led by Whitehaven Harbour Commissioners, and it is anticipated that a Community Interest Company will operate the building once open. It is hoped that the project will increase the appeal of Cumbria’s coastline for both visitors and local residents. The new building will provide facilities for water sports as well as arts and education space for wider community use.

The beach at Allonby is popular with windsurfers and kitesurfers. Although, as the sea is prone to strong currents, it is not recommended for beginners.

Carlisle and District Divers offers diving and training.

 

Beaches and Bathing Waters

Water quality at designated bathing water sites in England is assessed by the Environment Agency (EA). From May to September, weekly assessments measure current water quality, and at a number of sites daily pollution risk forecasts are issued. Annual ratings classify each site as excellent, good, sufficient or poor based on measurements taken over a period of up to four years.

There are two designated bathing water sites on the English Solway Coast, at Allonby and St Bees – the grading each has received over recent years is shown in the table below,’Bathing Water Quality’.

Other sites along the English Solway coastline have been de-designated as bathing waters in recent years:

  • Allonby South was de-designated ahead of the 2019 season, following an assessment by Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) which concluded that there is a low level of bathing on the beach. There are no facilities to promote bathing, and the car park and public toilets were damaged by flooding in 2009 and there are no plans to reinstate them’ (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, 2019) ;
  • Silloth was de-designated at the start of the 2018 bathing season, with DEFRA stating that “usage for bathing at the site is very low and is expected to continue to be low” (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, 2018); and
  • Skinburness, north of Silloth on the Inner Solway, was de-designated in 2012.
Bathing Water Quality

 

2015

2016

2017

2018

2019

Allonby

Poor

Sufficient

Good

Good

Good

St Bees

Good

Excellent

Excellent

Excellent

Excellent

Allonby South

Sufficient

Sufficient

Sufficient

Poor

N/A

Silloth

Poor

Sufficient

Sufficient

N/A

N/A

Source: Environment Agency (n.d.)

Keep Britain Tidy co-ordinates the Blue Flag and Seaside Awards, which recognise well managed beaches with excellent water quality and environmental education programmes. In 2018, there were no awards in Cumbria.

An excellent resource is the interactive map available from the European Environment Agency which provides a map of bathing water quality at designated sites across Europe, but when zoomed in to the Solway shows each designated bathing water, and provides additional data such as the quality rating for the past 10 years, site ID, and more. It is worth noting that this map has not removed the Allonby South bathing water, however this bathing water has been de-designated.

 

Wildlife and Nature Reserves

The Solway carries multiple national and international conservation designations, reflecting the sensitivity of its natural environment and its importance as a habitat for many species of wildlife, see map ‘English Solway: Wildlife and Nature Reserves/Attractions’, below.

In particular, its saltmarshes, lowland bogs and wet grasslands attract large numbers of wading birds. The area’s wildlife is a key draw for visitors, with a range of facilities on offer across sites managed by different organisations and charities.

The RSPB manage two reserves in England in close proximity to the Solway:

  • Campfield Marsh: attracts around 10,000 visitors per year, with footpaths, a hide, screens and viewpoints for visitors; and
  • St Bees Head: limited visitor facilities, with three viewpoints overlooking the cliff-nesting seabird colony, a picnic area and a car park.

The Solway Coast between Maryport and the River Esk has been designated as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) since 1964. The primary purpose of an AONB designation is to conserve and enhance the natural beauty of an area.

The Solway Coast AONB is managed by a small team based in Silloth. They oversee a range of projects, often working with national and local partners. Between 2011 and 2017, the AONB managed the Solway Wetlands Landscape Partnership Scheme, which was funded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund to help preserve and improve access to wetland sites.

The Colourful Coast project covers the 10km stretch of coastline between St Bees and Whitehaven. Established in 2009 by a number of partners including Copeland Borough Council and the National Trust, the project has worked to improve access, infrastructure, interpretation, public awareness and enjoyment of the area.

Wildlife and Nature Reserves/Attractions

English Solway: Wildlife and Nature Reserves/Attractions. (Source: Online searches. Map Data © Google Maps)

Of course certain recreational and tourism draws of these areas, such as excellent birdwatching opportunities, can also be enjoyed out with these designated sites around the Solway. There are helpful guides to birdwatching in various areas of the English Solway and useful birdwatching information on the Cumbria Bird Club website. As you can see from the ‘birding sites‘ map on Bird Guides, there are many sites around the Cumbrian Solway coast for bird watching.

 

Angling

The Solway Firth is renowned as a good location for recreational sea angling, with a rich diversity of marine life supported by nutrients supplied by its large tides and complex currents. There are a number of bait and tackle shops spread across the area, as well as charter boat hires. The Ship Hotel Sea Anglers club is based in Allonby, offering boat trips and beach-based fishing for its members.

The North Western Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authority has published a Recreational Sea Angling Strategy, initially drafted in 2016 and updated in 2019. The strategy sets out an ambition to build a positive relationship with anglers in the region, and work to balance their needs with those of other users of the sea. It also sets out an objective to develop a greater understanding of the social and economic importance of recreational sea angling in the North West Marine Plan Area.

There is lots of advice for recreational sea anglers available on Solway Firth Partnership’s website.

 

Wildfowling

Wildfowling is the pursuit of ducks, geese and waders on the foreshore with a shotgun. The wildfowling season runs each year from September 1st to February 20th. This activity on the English Solway is managed by the South Solway Wildfowlers Association, who issue permits for the large area they control.

 

Events

A variety of marine events are held along the Cumbrian Solway – a mix of annual and one-off events, and leisure and sport. This includes:

  • Maryport Annual Trawler Race: held each summer, with a race involving fishing trawlers from the area and shoreside entertainment;
  • Whitehaven Festival: held in some form between 1998 and 2013, the festival grew to become a major annual three day event, featuring aircraft flyovers, visits from tall ships, open air concerts by the harbour, markets and funfairs, with an estimated attendance of 250,000 in 2013. However, the organisers said this would be the final event, citing increasing costs (BBC News, 2013);
  • Solway Coast Marathon: an athletics event held each July, starting and ending in Kirkbride; and
  • Annan to Bowness Bell Raid Cruise: organised by Bowness Community Group in association with the Annan Harbour Action Group, this re-enacts events of 1626 when a raiding party from Annan rowed across the Solway Firth to steal the church bell from Bowness – the residents of Bowness now ‘defend’ the town with water pistols.

 

Sport, recreation and tourism

England - Coastal Routes and Walks

2021 is the ‘Year of the Cumbrian Coast’ and additionally is welcoming significantly more tourists to the UK’s coasts on ‘staycations’ in light of the impacts COVID-19 has had on travel and holiday plans. A new 200-mile Cumbrian Coastal Route has been launched, targeted towards motorhome and caravan owners. This new route will help encourage visitors to the Solway and wider Cumbrian coast and will help with effective trip planning alongside the new Motor Caravanners’ Code, which also helps navigate the most suitable routes to avoid rural and narrow roads.
 

Walks

There are numerous recognised and more informal coastal paths and walks in the region.

The more established coastal paths and long distance walks that are partly or wholly within the region include:

  • Cumbria Coastal Way: a 182 mile path running along the entire Cumbrian coast – however, it is no longer endorsed by Cumbria County Council and has been withdrawn from OS Maps, due to access issues. However, it should regain its official status again once the England Coast Path is fully implemented;
  • Hadrian’s Coastal Route: a coastal path between Maryport and Ravenglass; and
  • England Coast Path: currently being implemented by Natural England, the England Coast Path will be the longest managed and waymarked coastal path in the world, intended to follow the entire English coastline. This is in line with new access laws introduced in 2009 – in Cumbria it will follow the same route as the Cumbria Coastal Way. The portion of England’s Coast Path between Whitehaven and Silecroft is now open. Information about this 32.2 mile portion of the coast path, including maps, is available here.

In 2019, Natural England released data showing that the economy of England benefits by £350m each year from coastal walking, with day-trippers spending on average £8.65 per day in coastal shops and overnight visitors spending on average £36.73 (UK Government, 2019).

 

Cycle Routes

National Cycle Network (NCN) Route 72 starts in Kendal and makes its way around the Cumbrian coast via Barrow-in-Furness and Whitehaven to Silloth. From Silloth the route heads along the Solway Firth to Carlisle and across Northumberland, roughly following the route of Hadrian’s Wall. In 2020 work began to add a 14.1km coastal addition to the NCN Route 72 cycle route between Allonby and Silloth. The section of this route between Allonby and Silloth currently diverts away from the coast inland, and off road sections of this new addition will also be suitable for pedestrians.

National Cycle Route 7, running from Sunderland to Inverness, passes through Carlisle and then along the Scottish Solway coast. The Sea to Sea cycle route (C2C) travels 137 miles between the Irish Sea and North Sea, between Cumbria and Tyneside. There are start/end points at St Bees and Whitehaven.

Sport, recreation and tourism

England - Pressures and Impacts

An assessment of the socio-economic and environmental pressures and impacts of the sport, recreation and tourism sector is provided below.

Socio-Economic
Positive Negative
•   Sustainable tourism is recognised as a key growth sector, and the marine and coastal environment is a key draw for visitors across the country

•   There is potential to grow the number of visitors to the Cumbrian coast, helping to lessen the pressures of high volume tourism on the Lake District and spread economic benefits more widely

•   Coastal activities and harbours are being used as a key driver of regeneration projects in Whitehaven and Maryport

•   Availability and access to outdoor and sports activities contributes to the healthy living agenda

•   Seasonal employment that is often considered ‘lower value’

•   Increased activity and usage could lead to an increase in litter from recreational activity – potentially damaging the perception of the area and attractiveness as a tourism destination

•   Increased visitor activity has the potential to damage sensitive sites, such as sand dunes

•   Potential conflict with other users – although this can be mitigated through careful management

Environmental
Pressure theme Pressure Impact
Pollution Introduction of hazardous substances

 

Recreational boats and commercial charters that use the marinas and harbours will likely be treated with antifoulant to protect the bottom of the boat from fouling. The Royal Yachting Association’s Green-Blue programme provides guidance for recreational boaters on the use of antifoulants. There is also the potential for sewage discharge from marine toilets.
Habitat change Habitat damage The development and expansion of breakwaters, jetties and marinas (including land reclamation) can lead to disturbance of the seabed and coastline and may lead to changes in erosion and accretion patterns.

There is regulatory guidance in place to help minimise and mitigate against these potential impacts.

Other physical Litter The increased use of the water and coastal areas for recreation and leisure could lead to an increase of littering. Not only does this impact on the visual amenity but there is a risk to marine wildlife, for example through entanglement or smothering, and to people using the water for recreation.
Biological INNS Organisms living on vessel hulls and equipment used in the water are just two ‘pathways’ by which INNS can be introduced. Campaigns such as ‘clean, dry, check’ is an initiative that looks to educate water users and promote biosecurity.

The Solway is known to have at least nine INNS according to the 2018-2021 Solway Firth Partnership Biosecurity Plan. Solway Firth Partnership have prepared a Biosecurity Plan (2018-21) which sets out steps to limit the risk of the introduction and spread of marine INNS.

 

Sport, recreation and tourism

England - Regional Look Forward

Tourism in Cumbria has traditionally been dominated by the Lake District, which is recognised as one of England’s key destinations for visitors and features prominently in national promotional material. However, tourism stakeholders in Cumbria have a growing focus on “attracting and dispersing” visitors, which aims to ease the pressure on the most popular tourism hotspots and spread economic benefits more widely across the region.

Marine and coastal tourism has an important role within the region’s wider tourism offer. The region is benefitting from improved rail connectivity, with a Sunday service on the Cumbrian Coastal line implemented in 2018 for the first time in recent history. This was part of an initiative specifically aimed at driving the visitor economy, recognising its proximity to the Lake District (Network Rail, 2019).

The England Coast Path is currently under development and will connect and improve routes along the Cumbrian coast line, including some which were no longer used. In Whitehaven, the Cumbria Coastal Activities Centre will provide facilities for water sports as well as arts and education space for wider community use. A regeneration plan is being progressed for Maryport, aimed at improving the quality of the built environment and stimulating investment. A new Cumbria Tourism Strategy is also set to be published by the regional destination management organisation, Cumbria Tourism, replacing the previous 2008-2018 document.

 

Image; Cumbria Coastal Railway. © Solway Firth Partnership.

Sport, recreation and tourism

References

Baxter, J.M., Boyd, I.L., Cox, M., Donald, A.E., Malcolm, S.J., Miles, H., Miller, B., Moffat, C.F., (Editors), (2011). Scotland’s Marine Atlas: Information for the national marine plan. Marine Scotland, Edinburgh. pp 191. Available here. (Accessed 22.07.19)

Borderlands Inclusive Growth Deal (n.d.). Available here. (Accessed: 21.09.20)

Galloway National Park Association (2019). Galloway National Park: It’s Our Time. Available here. (Accessed: 17.09.20) 

Marine Management Organisation. (n.d). Marine Planning Evidence Base. Available here. (Accessed: 14.05.18)

Marine Scotland (n.d.). Scotland’s National Marine Plan Interactive. Available here. (Accessed: 06.08.19)

Mills, F., Sheridan, S. and Brown S., (2017). Clyde Marine Region Assessment. Clyde Marine Planning Partnership. pp 231, Available here. (Accessed: 14.05.18)

North Western Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authority (2019). IFCA Recreational Sea Angling Strategy. Available here. (Accessed: 21.09.20)

News and Star (2020). Major, M., Work begins on new cycleway for Solway Coast. Available here. (Accessed: 11.12.20)

Office for National Statistics (Various). Annual Business Survey (ABS): custom data request from the ONS & Public data. Available here. (Accessed: 28.07.20)

Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (n.d.). Mapping and GIS. Available here. (Accessed: 21.09.20)

Royal Yachting Association (n.d.). UK Coastal Atlas of Recreational Boating. Available here. (Accessed: 21.09.20)

Scottish Wildlife Trust (n.d.). Reserves Map. Available here. (Accessed: 21.09.20)

 

In-Text References;

BBC News (2019). Study examines Stranraer’s marine leisure potential. Available here. (Accessed: 15.09.20)

BBC News (2013). Whitehaven Festival ‘will not return’, organiser says. Available here. (Accessed: 15.09.20)

Barrow, G., C. BA (Hons) MSc MPhil for the Scottish Campaign for National Parks (SCNP) and the Association for the Protection of Rural Scotland (APRS) (2019). The Potential Socio-economic Impacts of a New National Park For Galloway. Available here. (Accessed: 17.09.20)

Cumbria Tourism (2018). Latest Tourism Research Newsletter, Volume 9, Issue 1. Available here. (Accessed: 18.09.20)

Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (2019). Consultation Outcome, Summary of Responses, Bathing waters: removing Allonby South from the list of designated bathing waters. Available here. (Accessed: 18.09.20)

Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (2018). Summary of Responses, Consultation on the proposal to remove Silloth from the list of designated bathing waters. Available here. (Accessed: 18.09.20)

EKOS Ltd (2016). Sailing Tourism in Scotland, Report for The Crown Estate, Highlands and Islands Enterprise, and Scottish Canals. Available here. (Accessed: 15.09.20)

Environment Agency (n.d.) Bathing water explorer tool. Available here. (Accessed: 18.09.20)

In-Cumbria (2019). Efforts to attract and disperse visitors throughout Cumbria is working, claim tourism chiefs. Available here. (Accessed: 18.09.20)

ITV News (2019). Youtube Video report; Annan’s rowers to kick off national coastal event in 2020. Available here. (Accessed: 16.09.20)

Molloy, D. and Rollie, C.J., (2010). The Galloway Kite Trail: Economic impacts within Dumfries & Galloway. RSPB Scotland. Available here. (Accessed: 16.09.20)

Natural England (2009-2019). Monitoring Engagement in the Natural Environment Survey. Available here. (Accessed: 19.09.20)

Natural England (n.d.). Monitoring Engagement in the Natural Environment Survey (2009 – 2019) Interactive Dashboard. Available here. (Accessed: 21.09.20)

Network Rail (2019). Cumbrian Coast Study, Railway Investment Choices. Available here. (Accessed: 21.09.20)

Office for National Statistics (Various). Custom data request from the ONS (Bespoke). (Accessed: 28.07.20)

Office for National Statistics (Various). Business Register and Employment Survey (BRES). Available here. (Accessed: 28.07.20)

Office for National Statistics (2007). Standard Industrial Classification of Economic Activities. Available here. (Accessed: 22.07.20)

Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (2010). The Local Value of Seabirds: Estimating spending by visitors to RSPB coastal reserves and associated local economic impact attributable to seabirds. Available here. (Accessed: 17.09.20)

Scottish Environment Protection Agency (2020). Bathing Water Profile for Rockcliffe. Available here. (Accessed: 16.09.20)

Scottish Environment Protection Agency (n.d.). Bathing Water data for each Designated bathing water on the Scottish Solway. Available here. (Accessed: 16.09.20)

Scottish Government (2019) Scottish Annual Business Statistics 2017 (SABS). Available here. (Accessed: 28.07.20)

Scottish Government (2009). Technical Report: Economic Impact of Recreational Sea Angling in Scotland. Available here. (Accessed: 17.09.20)

UK Government (2019). Press Release, Nearly 30 million walks demonstrates huge popularity of England’s coastal paths. Available here. (Accessed: 17.09.20)

VisitBritain/ VisitEngland (2018). Great Britain Domestic Overnight Trips Summary – All Trip Purposes, 2018. Available here. (Accessed: 15.09.20)

VisitBritain (n.d.). Inbound countryside & coast research. Available here. (Accessed: 15.09.20)

VisitScotland (2019). Dumfries and Galloway Factsheet 2018. Available here. (Accessed: 15.09.20)

VisitScotland (2017). Scotland Visitor Survey 2015 and 2016 – Dumfries and Galloway summary. Available here. (Accessed: 15.09.20)

Visit South West Scotland (n.d.) South West Coastal Interactive Map. Available here. (Accessed: 21.09.20)

Yachting Monthly (2015). Annan Harbour in the upper Solway Firth reopens. Available here. (Accessed: 15.09.20)

 

Image; Entrance to the Stranraer Oyster Festival 2019. © Solway Firth Partnership.