The Tweed, one of
fair river, broad and deep"
Sir Walter Scott, 'Marmion'
shapes the landscape, provides power and is an essential habitat
for freshwater plants, insects, fish, birds and otters. From lochs
that fill troughs gouged by glaciers and peaty pools on the mountaintop
bogs, the uplands are drained in all directions by an extensive
network of river systems.
Of the numerous
rivers, the Tweed is the most famous for salmon and trout fishing.
Pike, perch and grayling are widespread and lampreys and eels also
migrate from the sea to breed in the Tweed, all providing good hunting
for otters. The river weaves its way past the wonderful walled garden
of Kailzie, the Pirn Iron Age hillfort, majestic abbeys, ancient
towns and Floors Castle, inspiring fishermen and poets alike. Aquatic
plants flourish in the clean, clear waters, including the largest
area of water crowfoots in Scotland. Dippers and grey wagtails are
common while sand martins colonise sandbanks in summer. Goosanders
feed and roost and Ospreys have recently recolonised the area and
are breeding. Its estuary at Berwick-Upon-Tweed supports large flocks
of mute swans and overwintering goldeneye ducks.
In the west,
the River Cree and its estuary support two rare very fish - the
Sparling and the Twaite Shad. High in the Galloway hills and western
moors, the lonely call of the black-throated diver carries over
remote lochs, like Loch Doon. This has the only southern Scottish
population of Arctic char, a fish that used to migrate to the sea
before becoming isolated as temperatures rose after the last Ice
In summer the
coastal cliffs of the outer Rhinns Peninsula are splashed with pink
thrift, white sea campion and golden yellow gorse. Cormorants, kittiwakes,
guillemots and razorbills form raucous colonies. On stormy days,
gannets dive dramatically, close to the shore. Puffins and black
guillemots may be seen around the Mull of Galloway while in winter,
red-throated divers, grebes and scaup gather in Loch Ryan.
The Solway Firth's
mudflats and adjacent grasslands support 120,000 wintering wildfowl
and waders, including the entire Svalbard population of barnacle
geese from Spitzbergen, Norway. The sand and mud flats, saltmarsh
and dunes provide rich feeding grounds and roosting sites and are
a vital resting and wintering area for birds that migrate along
the eastern Atlantic seaboard every year.
On the east
coast, the volcanic island of Bass Rock supports 14% of the British
population and 8% of the world's population of gannets. Marine life
thrives in the comparatively clear waters of St Abbs and Eyemouth