The Scottish borders is the area where I started walking seriously in 2000 so I always enjoy walking there. Berwick upon Tweed is a small walled town which has changed hands between the English and the Scots many times. Personally I think it belongs to Scotland more than England now with Edinburgh as it’s nearest city.
As the circuitous bus takes several hours from Newcastle to Berwick I opted for the 45 minute train journey which speeds up the coast. I also decided to stay at Berwick Youth Hostel in the converted granary there.
I had only planned two walks as it was the middle of November, the days were short and the ground was a bit waterlogged:
- Paxton to Berwick (10m linear)
- Berwick Elizabethan town walls (1.5m circular)
Paxton to Berwick upon Tweed (10m linear)
After a comfortable night in this boutique hostel with a restaurant and some high spec facilities, I set off on a short taxi ride to Paxton. The the first bus wasn’t until 11am and the days were getting short so I wanted to make a prompt start. The 10 mile linear river walk along the Tweed and the Whiteadder starts at the Cross Inn in the small border village of Paxton.
For the first few miles my route meandered around the Whiteadder before heading westwards along the Scottish side of the lovely River Tweed. The river forms the border between England and Scotland inland of Berwick.
I passed some dedicated fishermen at intervals along the river bank, which included a few slithery stretches after the rain. After a few miles I reached the bottom of the Paxton House estate which was still ablaze with autumn colour.
From here I followed the path close to the banks of the Tweed as far as the Chain Bridge by Horncliffe.
Here I crossed into England over the Tweed and turned eastwards along the river bank for a further 6 miles on broad grassy paths back towards Berwick. I knew that the sun set early so I ate my lunch as I walked to make sure I arrived back with some daylight to spare. After a brush with the busy ring road around the town, I followed the narrow path through the trees under the Royal Border bridge, and back over the Old Bridge into Berwick, arriving at the youth hostel by dusk.
Unfortunately the hostel didn’t have somewhere for walkers to wash and dry their boots, but I enjoyed a nice meal in the restaurant and watched a bit of TV in the lounge before heading to bed.
Berwick Town walls walk (1.5m circular)
I had just planned a short circuit of the town walls for the Sunday, as it is such a pleasant way to see the town which is crammed full of listed buildings. (See Pevsner’s Northumberland). Historians have apparently described the walls around Berwick are “the best-preserved example of town defences in Britain designed for post-medieval warfare” They are protected as a scheduled ancient monument.
After a nice cooked breakfast at the hostel I headed up onto the ramparts at Marygate and started walking towards the Quayside in the crisp November sunshine.
This section along the quayside has the loveliest and most eclectic selection of buildings of the whole walk.
The walk passes the old arsenal used to store barrels of gunpowder for the many cannons stationed along the ramparts which protect the entrance to the harbour on this strategic post on the English / Scottish border.
Holy Trinity Church built during Cromwell’s era has no spire because bell ringing was unpopular among the Cromwellians.
I finished the walk at Meg’s Mount back over Marygate just as I heard the strains of music from up the street. The band were striking up for the crowds gathering by the war memorial for Remembrance Sunday. After observing the two minute silence and listening to a speech by the vicar, I wound my way back to the station to catch my train.
The walk around the ramparts is filled with evidence of Berwick’s military past. This, together with the scene by the war memorial, reminded me that Berwick has been a barrack town for centuries, and occasions such as Remembrance Sunday strike a deep chord with the local people.
I apologize that I cannot do justice to the historical landmarks on the walls on this blog but I believe there are guides and walks available around the walls which give much more historical detail.