The Martyr of the Solway memorial at Kippford is (was) a small wooden figure with red fishing-net hair, chained to a post in the Urr estuary. It is (was) a memorial to the Wigtown Martyrs – two Covenanters, Margaret McLauchlan aged 63 and Margaret Wilson aged 18 (the young redhead represented in the painting “The Martyr of the Solway” by Everitt Millais.)
The women were tied to stakes in the river Bladnoch in Wigtown Bay and drowned by the incoming tide on May 11th 1685 for refusing to swear the Episcopalian Oath recognising James VII as head of the church. For Covenanters, God and Christ were head of the church.
When our group of eight “pilgrims” reached the site of the memorial by the narrow road between Kippford and the approach to Rough Island, we were disappointed to find it was no longer there. We had to content ourselves with the following advice, carved onto a slate slab nearby:-
“Some will love thee: some will hate thee: some will flatter thee. Cease from man and look above thee. Trust in God and do the right.”
Our walk had begun by the Solway Yacht Club in Kippford on a beautifully sunny and warm afternoon, perfect for our walk to Castle Point. The Jubilee Path took us to Rockcliffe, where we successfully dissuaded John Love from stopping at the ice cream van to buy one. Spoilsports! Along the shore to Nelson’s Grave, the Solway looked more like the Caribbean with white sand, vivid blue sea and sky, puffy white clouds and exotic shoreline plants.
Castle Point gave us fine views out over the Solway to St Bee’s Head and along the rocky coast and cliffs to Southerness lighthouse. To the west lay Heston Island and the Galloway coastline. We returned to Kippford past the coastguard cottages in the shadow of the Mote of Mark, crunching along the cockleshell beach. Tea and cakes at the Anchor Hotel did not disappoint and we all agreed that our walk had shown our own “Scottish Riviera” at its very best.
Our next Pilgrimage Walk will be in September, with a Heritage Walk through parts of Dumfries. Look out for the poster in the Simmons Hall nearer the time. D J