Berwick on Tweed is a long way from London. It took a 4 hour train trip to get here and it’s worth it.
Us Londoners don’t venture out of the City that often and we should do it more often. There are so many interesting places to explore around the UK.
Our weekend was to explore the area and find some interesting places to eat on the way too.
We kicked off in Kelso as we were staying in a B&B on an Aberdeen Angus farm nearby. The lovely B&B had log fires in the living room and even though it was mid summer, we had to put the fire on as it’s not that warm up north.
There are a lot of alternative accommodation in the area, just check with their tourist office. Kelso has a farmers market in the town square every Saturday. The stallholders are all local food producers with amazing produce that we don’t get down South like local heather honey, grass fed Aberdeen Angus beef, local cheese and local pastries, etc.
The Kelso Farmers Market opens every fourth Saturday from 9.30 to 1.30 pm.
Kelso is a really old town and there are a few things to see like the 12 Century Kelso Abbey and the nearby Floors Castle which is largest inhabited castle in Scotland. We didn’t have much time so didn’t stop for long. Definitely need another trip to explore this area a bit more.
We then drove to the coast to look for lunch. We chose to stop at a little fishing port called Seahouses which is also the gateway to the Farne Islands. There is one pub, The Ship Inn, in this square on the corner which serves delicious fresh crab sandwiches and local kippers. They seem to also have an enormous list of local beers. You can’t help but wonder how many people have spent hours sheltering from stormy seas in this pub. It has recently been renovated and updated but it still has its quirkiness with all sorts of paraphernalia hanging from the ceiling. Even the Prince of Wales had a pint here when he visited the area. This town is a favourite for people on holiday and renting a cottage is not that cheap, surprisingly.
This was mid summer and everyone was dressed in fleeces and wind cheaters. I guess this is summer in Northumberland. The wind is bitingly cold. The beach beckoned after lunch. This gorgeous beach stretches all the way down the coast towards Craster. On a nice day, you can walk down and explore the old fort along the beach.There were a lot of forts along this coastline I discovered.
From the beach you can see Holy Island Lindisfarne off in the distance. You can visit Holy Island by driving over when the tide is low. This has been a pilgrimage centre since the 6th Century. No time on this trip but definitely on the list for the next.
The blue skies suddenly disappeared and started raining. The wind was blowing us sideways. Suddenly, we get very wet and cold. Be warned, when you visit be prepared for all weather conditions.A quick job back to the car and we drove off to our next destination.
Craster and Smoked Kippers
Could not be in the area and not stop to buy some of the famous Craster kippers that we just had for lunch. They sell all sorts of other smoked fish too.
On the drive back towards Berwick, there is a town called Alnwick where there is a famous book shop called Barter Books housed the old Alnwick railway station building. It is famous as this the place that invented the “Keep Calm and Carry On” posters that we see all over the place now.They have a cafe in the shop and you can spend hours browsing as they have thousands of books.
Of course Alnwick is also home to the Alnwick Castle that they based Hogwarts on and they filmed here too. We could only see it from a distance.
The other famous castle not to miss in the area is Bamburgh Castle which has recently been updated and restored. Bamburgh is built on top of some rocks and was an important fort in the 5th Century. It has been conquered and changed hands several times over the centuries and has seen a lot of action. You can see that its prominent location allowed them to monitor any enemy ships approaching the shores. It is now the most important Anglo-Saxon archeological site in the world. They are open to visitors but check opening times as it’s not obvious.
A visit to Northumberland is not complete unless you include a visit to Berwick-upon-Tweed which has so much history that it would have taken us more than a weekend to see it all. Berwick is the northern most town in the North East of England and being a border town it has been the subject of border was between Scotland and England for over 400 years until England claimed it in 1482.
One of the last remaining pieces of historical architecture here are the rampart walls built at great expense during the Elizabethan times.
Berwick has been a garrison town since medieval times.
From the Middle Ages to the 1960s, Berwick was a garrison town. Cromwell’s soldiers occupied it during the Civil Wars in the 17th century, Jacobites threatened it in 1715 and 1745, and the town’s fortifications were again upgraded to ward off possible French assaults in the late 18th and early 19th centuries.
In 1882, Berwick Barracks became the depot of the King’s Own Scottish Borderers, who still have their Headquarters there, though the Regiment has been barracked near Edinburgh since the mid-1960s. All around the town are reminders of Berwick’s history as a Border fortress town, from the ruins of its medieval castle and town walls, its unique Elizabethan fortifications, the 18th century barracks, gunpowder magazine and guard-houses, to the emplacements for guns that defended Berwick during two World Wars.
Now Berwick is at peace and its fortifications afford a wonderful walk with superb views of the town, and along the Northumberland Coast and the Tweed Valley.
More info at http://www.exploreberwick.co.uk/
If you are a history buff, there is so much to explore in and around Berwick Upon Tweed.
Our short trip to the Northumberland coast was fully packed with history, food and a long list of places to visit on our return trip.
To get more information on Northumberland, check out their tourist information site.