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Full Report: Solway's smuggling history

Smuggling walks in Dumfries and Galloway are proving a lure for tourists to the area.

The rich history of smuggling in and around the Solway coast have long been of interest.

Everything from alcohol to tobacco was smuggled into Scotland from the Isle of Man, and now businesses are reaping the benefits of people's fascination with the past.

Fiona McIlwraith reports.

"Absolutely everyone was involved" in smuggling

Smuggling was rife on the Solway Coast Credit: ITV News

Historian Frances Wilkins explains how smuggling was a community-wide phenomenon on the Solway Coast.

"Absolutely everybody was involved, it was impossible to get a fair trial in the area, because everyone would be in favour of the smugglers, after all they supplied them...

"Well, you can see the Isle of Man from the coast, so it was only a wee put across to get there, and until 1765 certainly the island was the great store house of everything the smugglers wanted, they could basically go shopping at the supermarket and bring it back here."

Smuggling history provides Solway business boost

The Old Smugglers Inn Credit: ITV News

Derek Struthers, owner of The Old Smugglers Inn, told ITV News about how the Solway Coast's smuggling history has been a real boost to his business.

"We believe a couple of hundred years ago that smugglers would have sat here, drinking their ale and hiding their brandy, so we get quite good fun with the tourists...

"A lot of them come in, in the first instance for just a quick pint, but then when they get to see the pub and the stuff around they start asking questions and it gets quite in depth sometimes and they leave knowing a great lot more than they came in knowing."

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Police step up crackdown on illegal cockle pickers

Constable Laurie Irving and Marine Compliance officers Kenny Merrilees and Jen Allan at Powfoot. Credit: Police Scotland

Marine Scotland Officers and Police Scotland officers have stepped up their patrols in relation to illegal cockle pickers on the Solway.

The crackdown is targeting people who are illegally harvesting cockles along specific areas of the Solway, where there are reports that poaching is taking place on a regular basis.

Constable Laurie Iriving, who has been patrolling the shores with Marine Scotland, said:

“The Solway has been a rich source of income for those who carry out illegal cockling and the force is keen to assist Marine Scotland to proactively patrol likely areas where the cockling occurs.

"We are also able to share information and intelligence about who is carrying out this type of activity, when they are doing it and where they are doing it.

"The public are a crucial part of this operation and we rely on their local information about what is going on in their communities.”

A Marine Scotland spokesman said:

“Marine Scotland Compliance now has a significant presence in the Solway area and is working closely with Police Scotland."

Solway cockling future discussed

A meeting to determine the best way of managing cockling on the Solway estuary will take place tonight (18 October).

Marine Scotland will meet with local fishermen, politicians and landowners in Dumfries to discuss the future of cockling in the area.

The cockle beds have been the source of illegal poachers in recent years and concerns have been raised about their safety, because of the treacherous flow of the estuary.

The beds have been closed since September last year to allow stocks to recover.

It's hoped that tonight's meeting will allow local people a bigger say in how cockling is policed.

" Without the views and interests of the local people, then they might as well leave the fisheries shut and just let the poachers get on with it. Without those views then the whole thing is a bust frankly.

"I really hope that the message that comes out of tonight's meeting is that the Government are willing to work very closely with stakeholders to bring about a local fishery for the benefit of the local economy, this is a about localism and that's as it should be. "

– Alex Fergusson MSP, Galloway and West Dumfries, Conservative
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