12. Flying over the track of the SJR

Between November 2016 and March 2017, James flew his drones along the length of the track of the Solway Junction Railway from the River Wampool to the stub of the viaduct at Bowness – and beyond, right across to the Annan side. Some of the ‘still’ images in the various chapters are taken from his ‘Phantom’ drone, but the video – to which you can link, below – is from the DJI Inspire drone (see Acknowledgments & Technical Details).

James tells the story of the sometimes nerve-wracking flights:

“The video of Bowness Moss and the old trackbed of the Solway Junction Railway had to be made with the DJI Inspire Mk 2 camera drone in sight at all times to comply with CAA regulations. This involved flying the drone from several different flights and locations on various days in March 2017. The help of a observer was required on a couple of occasions to keep the drone in sight whilst I concentrated on using the camera.

It was very important to carefully monitor battery levels throughout each flight, especially the battery capacity required to return the drone to its take-off (home) point. Careful consideration had to be made as to whether a return flight of the drone to its home point required it to fly against the wind therefore requiring more power. A misjudgement of available remaining flight time requiring a forced landing in the bog or the Solway would have been disastrous!

Light levels change continuously and are very noticeable in aerial photography, and therefore camera settings were set at “manual” throughout the filming. A neutral density ND8 lens filter was also used to control light levels.”

The video ‘flight’ takes you over Bowness Common along the track of the Solway Junction Railway, starting at the saltmarshes along the River Wampool by Whitrigg Station, and heading North to Bowness Moss – and finally, across the Solway Firth to Annan.

Some points of interest which have been mentioned in the previous Chapters, are noted below, with their time-markers.

So – click HERE to watch James Smith’s video that provides such a striking overview of what the Solway Junction Railway has meant, and will continue to mean, to the raised mire of Bowness Common.

video home page

0’57”: a flight around Rogersceugh (pr. Roger-scuff) farm and drumlin – note the bunds retaining run-off around the edges of the fields.

1’40”: Rogersceugh Crossing, where the line of the railway crosses the (Landrover) track; rectangles of Fisons’ drained peat-cut area on the right; approaching the southern dams.

1’50”: bricks and blocks of former building beside the railway; molehills and bunds on the North side of the drumlin’s fields

2’40”: view swings back South to see the South dams, Fisons’ peat-cut area, and the distant Lakeland fells

3’40”: heading North again, towards the central ‘bog woodland’; lines of the longitudinal ditches just visible each side of the railway track

4’00”: Central dams just South of the ‘mineral island’/railway cutting

4’10”: heading over the North dams towards Bowness station and the Firth

5’30”: is the twisting channel on the right (East) of the embankment a relic of one of the former outflows from the longitudinal drainage ditches?

6’25”: the embankment at Annan, and  a ‘fixed engine’ for catching salmon