Trail One – Silloth to Carlisle | Solway Military Trail

Trail One – Silloth to Carlisle

Our first trail starts at the wide open expanses of the Solway coast at Silloth, and takes you through north Cumbria and the many airfields surrounding the city of Carlisle. From the nature reserve at Great Orton to the cockpit of a Vulcan bomber at Solway Aviation Museum, it’s a trail full of contrasts.

Whilst following this trail, be sure to make time to have a walk around Silloth, and visit the some of the attractions Carlisle has to offer. There’s plenty of time to go exploring so make the most of this spectacular area.

  1. Solway Coast Discovery Centre
  2. RAF Silloth
  3. RAF Kirkbride
  4. RNAS Anthorn
  5. RAF Great Orton
  6. Cumbria’s Museum of Military Life
  7. RAF Kingstown
  8. RAF Carlisle (14 MU)
  9. RAF Crosby on Eden (Carlisle Lake District Airport)
  10. Solway Aviation Museum
  11. RAF Longtown
  12. CAD Longtown




Solway Coast Discovery Centre

The Solway Coast Discovery Centre is a free exhibition detailing over 10000 years of Solway Coast Heritage. It showcases the Solway Coast, describing its wildlife, heritage, landscape, communities and outlines historic and future perspectives.

RAF Silloth

Opened in 1939, RAF Silloth was a large grass expansion-era airfield initially used solely by No 22 Maintenance Unit for the maintenance and repair of a variety of training aircraft in the RAF inventory, mainly Avro Ansons, Airspeed Oxfords and Blackburn Bothas.

RAF Kirkbride

Construction of the airfield began in 1937, when the MoD began acquiring lands for the airfield. RAF Kirkbride opened as 12 Maintenance Unit (12MU) in June 1939. At the time the airfield had only a single grass runway and 15 hangars

RNAS Anthorn

The airfield was built in February 1918 as a Fleet Air Arm (FAA) airfield. It was abandoned after World War I ended, however the RAF reinstated the airfield at the beginning of World War II as an emergency landing ground for nearby RAF Silloth.

RAF Great Orton

The airfield (known locally as Wiggonby airfield) was opened in June 1943, but did not become operational until that October. Today the airfield is known as Watchtree Nature Reserve.

Cumbria’s Museum of Military Life

Located within the walls of historic Carlisle Castle, Cumbria’s Museum of Military Life tells the story of the county’s Regimental history from 1702, through two World Wars, to present day.

RAF Kingstown

The airfield was opened in the 1930s by Carlisle County Borough Council and known as Kingstown Municipal Airport. It was built in open countryside to the north of Carlisle, although today the site has been encircled by modern developments

RAF Carlisle (14 MU)

During the 1950s, part of the former RAF Kingstown was re-activated and re-designated as RAF Carlisle, becoming home to No 14 Maintenance Unit, the RAF’s most northerly storage facility in England.

RAF Crosby on Eden (Carlisle Lake District Airport)

Opened in 1941, RAF Crosby on Eden was originally home to No. 59 Operational Training Unit RAF (OTU), part of Fighter Command. It provided conversion training for Hawker Hurricane pilots.

Solway Aviation Museum

Solway Aviation Museum is home to a collection of aircraft, aviation artefacts and displays reflecting Britain’s position as a world leader in aircraft design and innovation at the dawn of the jet age.

RAF Longtown

RAF Longtown opened in July 1941 as a satellite to RAF Crosby-on Eden, and to begin with was used by Hurricanes from Crosby’s own units, but it soon became home to a succession of training units for much heavier aircraft.

CAD Longtown

In the 1930’s, with the increasing likelihood of an impending war with Germany, Britain finally began to re-arm herself. As part of this process, new Central Ammunition Depots were required to keep all of the bombs and bullets safe and away from possible attack. Longtown was chosen as the most northern of these stores.




More Trails

Trail Two - Eastriggs to Moffat

Our shortest trail, but through some of our most scenic countryside. Start the day with a visit to The Devil’s Porridge Museum to learn about the huge munitions factories here, then pass the former RAF Annan on the way to Moffat.

Trail Three – Dumfries to Kirkcudbright

This trail takes you from the aviation museum at Dumfries with its Battle of Britain Spitfire along the scenic Solway coast road of Dumfries and Galloway. It is a trail with lots of history, but also stunning scenery and is full of towns, villages and beaches which beg to be explored on foot.

Trail Four – Wigtown to Stranraer

This trail takes you on a journey through ‘Bonnie Galloway’, and includes Top Secret D-Day preparations and the place where a fleet of German U-boats tied up in a military harbour!

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