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River Nith

Coordinates: 55°00′N 3°36′W / 55.000°N 3.600°W / 55.000; -3.600
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River Nith
The estuary of the River Nith, opening into Solway Firth south of Dumfries
Physical characteristics
 • locationEnoch Hill
 • coordinates55°19′41″N 4°17′02″W / 55.328°N 4.284°W / 55.328; -4.284
 • location
Solway Firth
Length70 mi (110 km)
Basin size1,230 km2 (470 sq mi)[1]

The River Nith (Scottish Gaelic: Abhainn Nid; Common Brittonic: Nowios) is a river in south-west Scotland. The Nith rises in the Carsphairn hills of East Ayrshire, between Prickeny Hill and Enoch Hill, 4.4 miles (7.1 km) east of Dalmellington.[2] For the majority of its 70 miles (110 km) course[3] it flows in a south-easterly direction through Dumfries and Galloway and then into the Solway Firth at Airds Point.[2]

The territory through which the river flows is called Nithsdale (historically known as "Stranit" from Scottish Gaelic: Strath Nid, "valley of the Nith").


For estuaries the principle followed is that the river should be visible at all times. The measurement therefore follows the centre of the river at low tide and the mouth of the river is assumed to be at the coastal high tide mark. In Scotland this does not generally make a significant difference, except for rivers draining into shallow sloping sands of the Irish Sea and Solway Firth, notably the Nith. At low tide, the sea recedes to such an extent that the length of the Nith is extended by 13 km to 113.8 km (70.7 miles), making it Scotland's seventh longest river.[4]

Protected areas[edit]

The estuary of the River Nith is an internationally important winter feeding site for waders, geese and other wildfowl,[5] and is for this reason protected at an international level as part of the Upper Solway Flats and Marshes Ramsar site and Special Protection Area.[6][7] The SPA supports virtually the entire Svalbard population of barnacle geese during winter.[8]

The area also forms part of the Solway Firth Special Area of Conservation, which is protected due to the presence of several priority habitats, and as well as populations of sea lamprey and river lamprey.[9] At a national level, the area is a Site of Special Scientific Interest and is within the Caerlaverock National Nature Reserve.[10]

The Nith Estuary National Scenic Area recognises the scenic value of the area.[11] It is one of 40 such areas in Scotland, which are defined so as to identify areas of exceptional scenery and to ensure its protection from inappropriate development by restricting certain forms of development.[12] The Nith Estuary NSA covers 14,337 ha in total, consisting of 14,310 ha of land and intertidal sand and mudflats, as well as a further 28 ha that is below low water.[13] Management of the NSA is the responsibility of Dumfries and Galloway Council, who have produced a management strategy for the area.[14]


Upstream to downstream:


The Nith near Carron Bridge.
The Nith at Ellisland Farm.


See also[edit]


  1. ^ "The River Nith Catchment Management Plan" Scottish Environment Protection Agency Archived 2011-07-27 at the Wayback Machine
  2. ^ a b "Almanac of Scotland"
  3. ^ Clayton, Phil (2012). Headwaters: Walking to British River Sources (First ed.). London: Frances Lincoln Limited. p. 198. ISBN 9780711233638.
  4. ^ "River Nith (East Ayrshire)"
  5. ^ "The special qualities of the National Scenic Areas" (PDF). Scottish Natural Heritage. 2010. pp. 33–40. Retrieved 24 January 2018.
  6. ^ "Upper Solway Flats and Marshes Ramsar Site". NatureScot. Retrieved 1 October 2020.
  7. ^ "Upper Solway Flats and Marshes SPA". NatureScot. Retrieved 1 October 2020.
  8. ^ "Upper Solway Flats and Marshes SPA Citation". NatureScot. Retrieved 1 October 2020.
  9. ^ "Solway Firth SAC". NatureScot. Retrieved 1 October 2020.
  10. ^ "Caerlaverock NNR". NatureScot. Retrieved 1 October 2020.
  11. ^ "Nith Estuary National Scenic Area". Scotland’s Scenic Heritage. Countryside Commission for Scotland. 1978. Retrieved 16 April 2012.
  12. ^ "National Scenic Areas". NatureScot. Retrieved 1 October 2020.
  13. ^ "National Scenic Areas - Maps". SNH. 20 December 2010. Retrieved 14 May 2018.
  14. ^ "Nith Estuary NSA - Management Strategy" (PDF). Dumfries and Galloway Council. Retrieved 14 May 2018.

External links[edit]

55°00′N 3°36′W / 55.000°N 3.600°W / 55.000; -3.600