Berwick upon Tweed

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Date of travel

April, 2017

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Travelled with

Adult family

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This is a lovely old town right on the coast in northern Northumberland. We arrived by car but if you’re on the train, there are direct links from London and Edinburgh. While we were staying in the area, we caught the train for day trips to Newcastle-upon-Tyne and Edinburgh. The train station has a small parking lot where you can park for £3.50 for the day though there are some spots for free for a half hour. However, when we spent the day in Berwick, we discovered that we could park a few minutes’ walk away from the station in the long term overflow parking in the Castlegate car park just outside the town walls. Continue on the A1167 from the station towards Marygate, turn right into the B&M parking lot and continue on to the long term overflow. After sitting on the train for an hour it was nice to have a walk before heading back to our cottage.

Although it was a blistery day that we spent in Berwick, we still enjoyed ourselves. For a bank holiday weekend, the roads and the town were surprisingly quiet, but apparently it never gets as packed on this coast as it does on the east coast. The wind was cool at times but at least the weather was dry as we spent it outside, walking the ramparts (built between 1558 and 1570) and the beach. We joined the ramparts at the Horse Parade and Barracks and walked along to Windmill Bastion and King’s Mount. From the ramparts you have good views of the town and, across the mouth of the River Tweed, Spittal Beach. Some cannon still remain and you can imagine the times when Berwick was the last defense at the border between England and Scotland. The ramparts do not completely surround the town as they ran out of money. From King’s Mount, Berwick’s medieval wall (circa 1296) is still in place along the river, rather than the newer ramparts, if you can call 1500s new! You can wander freely across the lawns on top of the ramparts but be careful, as there are sheer drops at the edges. There are plenty of benches along the way if you need to rest or just want some time to take in the views. When we started our walk in the morning, the tide was out. When we finished our walk later in the afternoon we could see the tide coming in from the North Sea and filling in the River Tweed.

We did consider stopping at the Chandlery Café for lunch (recommended on Silver Travel Advisor) but it was full – it is a small café. We headed back to the walls and went through the old Sally Port and into the streets of Berwick to find some sustenance. We ended up at Bon Appetit (see separate review). Fully fortified we ventured back into the streets and ended up in the Butter Market, just down the street. The building stands tall above the rest of the town when viewed from across the river. It has a very good selection of second hand books but we restrained ourselves and struck out again to explore. We went up the hill and turned left to cross the Royal Tweed Bridge (1928). As we had walked along the medieval walls, we saw three bridges across the River Tweed. One is obviously the train bridge as we saw Virgin trains headed south to Newcastle and beyond. We now headed across the middle bridge (The Royal Tweed) towards Spittal Beach. The bridge is a great vantage point for views of the bridges and back towards Berwick. It is a bit of a hike to Spittal Beach (we walked over 6 miles this day) but it was worth it to walk in the bracing wind along the Promenade and watch the surf crash up onto the beach. We’re glad we were well dressed with coats, hats and scarves, though. We walked through Spittal to the Promenade then doubled back along the Promenade and around the point to the first bridge (Bridge End) and back into Berwick. Bridge End is one way – from Berwick to Spittal – if you’re driving.

If you are a fan of the painter L S Lowry (1887 – 1976), you can follow in his footsteps on the Berwick Lowry Trail. He spent much time here after 1930 and there are storyboards around town (and on the ramparts) in the locations depicted in his paintings and drawings (for example, Football Match which is set in the moat of the Elizabethan Walls). There are 18 storyboards around Berwick and Spittal and they each also include a map showing where to find them.

Denise Bridge

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