A Slow Walk: Berwick-Upon-Tweed

Berwick-Upon-Tweed Minimap. See more: www.superminimaps.com

Berwick-upon-Tweed is a historic town that once was prized and fought over fiercely (it changed ownership between England and Scotland 13 times) and now seems to have settled into a retirement place that people don’t fight over anymore but love and wonder where it’s going. A little like aging where one is slowing down gracefully and you find little parts that were missed but you’ll let them be anyway because they have come this far. This town is for slow walkers who love old towns, forts with canons, art, history, the North Sea and sometimes a sudden fog where you can’t see your hand in front of you and trip over a dog, but slowly.


Edited by Khin Tye and illustrated by Cecilia Guevara.

Berwick-upon-Tweed   (Berwick for short) is as its name says – on the banks of the River Tweed and now sits on the England side. (don’t confuse this town with North Berwick which is in Scotland, by the North Sea). Berwick is about 3 hours 40 minutes by train from London, or 40 minutes from Edinburgh. If you are ever on the East Coast Train Line and want a change of pace, stop by Berwick. Don’t miss the view on either side of the train as the train (from London) pulls into Berwick. The train approaches the station on the Border Railway Bridge with scenic views of the River Tweed and the ruins of a castle.

 

I want to share my favourite slow walk around Berwick on the Defence walls where many battles were fought. The town is said to have one of the most complete Elizabethan fortress walls in England and Scotland. Sometimes to startle the dogs and dog-walkers, I like to run around on the Walls fast, in about 15 minutes.   The walk around the Walls is about 1.2 miles, but I’ve extended the walk to the pier with a quaint lighthouse, and also a park with a special view. For all its serene and old charm, the town is quirky for the little things you can discover about its history!

 

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Walk: From the train station, skip going straight to the town centre. Instead make a little loop around the back of the train station to my first favourite first stop, Coronation Park.

 

1. Coronation Park.

The view from Coronation Park is to me, the most beautiful of the River Tweed.   This river used to be fished for the salmon swimming upstream from the North Sea to spawn.   From this view, savour the land and river and wonder about the views of others who were not as fortunate as you. The poignancy is that this park used to be a place where people were hanged on the gallows. There is a plaque of a woman who might have been unjustly hanged – the view you have is the last view of those as they drew their last breath. Quirky?!

Walk: Take the river path by following the path in Coronation Park to the bottom of the park, and along the river in the direction of the town. To get to favourite place #2, when you pass under the modern concrete road bridge, double-back to walk uphill to the Loovre Ice cream Parlour.

 

2. The Loovre. Ice Cream Parlour.

Homemade Fudge Chunk, Heather Honey, Apple & Cinnamon, Double Ginger, Newcastle Brown Ale, Alnwick Rum Truffle, Roman Britain… how would you like these for your ice-cream? “Full cream milk, double cream, sugar, egg yolks and real flavours” by a local dairy farm, Doddington. This ice-cream has replaced my former favourite ice-cream from Cornwall. And the ice-cream is sold in an ex-public lavatory. Quirky?!

Chat to The Loovre’s founder Dave Blackburn (see photo) about how he had converted this former Victorian ladies lavatory to this quaint ice-cream parlour. The parlour is painted in the original Victorian colours. Meet his dog Jack who is a natural slow walker.

 

3. View of the Main Street from the Wall. While you are enjoying your ice-cream, walk on the Defence Wall away from the river. The walk is to circumambulate the town.   Pause on the bridge that overlooks the Main Street of Berwick. You’ll see the Town Hall of Berwick. There is a plaque that shows a painting by Lowry, a famous painter who loved to visit Berwick and paint scenes of the town. You can also follow the Lowry Trail that highlights the parts of Berwick that Lowry painted. Another slow walk to do another day.

 

4. On the Defence Walls. What I love about the Defence Walls is that they are green! Those grass verges that you are walking on are on the roof of the bunkers and ramparts. From point 4, you can have a view of the North Sea. Another part I love is that the walk on the Walls is unprotected. Even with today’s craze for OTT health and safety these pathways have not been roped off to protect walkers. You can see the steep drop from the Defence walls. It adds to the thrill of slow walking.

Walk: From the Defence wall, look out for the pier as you descend from the Defence Wall at the mouth of the river. Walk along Pier Road to the pier.

 

5. The Pier. Walk along the pier to the quaint red-and-white lighthouse at the end of the pier. If you are lucky, you might see a ship sail by the pier, on its way to the Tweed Docks for repair works. The lighthouse has always been locked, but the view of the sea and the town from the pier is beautiful.

Walk back along the pier to the Defence walls again.

Just after the end (or head) of the pier on Pier Road, there is a stone cottage with a Celtic design above its front door and lots of stone lying around. This is the home of a local stone mason. His house used to be a public lavatory. Quirky?! And you wonder why I’m fascinated by transformed ex-public lavatories.

Walk: Keep walking on the Defense Walls, this time with the river on your left. You’ll pass houses on the Quay Walls on your right. Stop on the Old Bridge.

 

6. The Old Bridge. Here, on this platform, you can enjoy the Old Bridge and see the river, the swans and perhaps the otter that swims by occasionally. You are standing on top of the Lookout, yet another ex-public lavatory! Quirky?! Again my fascination with ex-lavatories.

If you are lucky, the ex-public lavatory , called the Watchout might be open. Its privately owned by Susie who keeps an open house for those who want to pop in to learn to make handicrafts and have a cuppa. The view of the river from the Watchout is lovely and you can even touch the cool green moss on a wall of the Watchout which is actually the bridge itself. The Watchout is not always open so it’s your synchronicity with Susie if she’s in.

After a long slow walk, its time for a cuppa. Off the Old Bridge, and walk to Bridge Street – my favourite little street for its quirkiness.

 

7. Bridge Street. Bridge Street is a quirky street with unique shops to explore. Here are my suggestions for stopovers. Do stop for lunch at Audela for the delicious local crab sandwich; pop-in the Green Shop for a huge variety of organic food and ethical environmental products; browse in the Bridge Bazaar for vintage and retro furnishing and stuff that you wish your grandmother had kept; and finish off with a pint in Berwick’s microbrewery. You can also send your loved ones a gift hamper of local products from Jones & Jones. Explore and see if you can find the old alleys and old shops now closed. What are Berwick Cockles that used to be sold in that shuttered store?! I’ll let you find out. Ask a local Berwicker. Enjoy your slow browsing and slow eating.

Finally, if you want to stay a little longer in Berwick, there are many B&Bs in town. My favourite is 11 Quay Walls because they are my neighbours. The rooms have a view of the river, and are good value for their price. My friend recommends their breakfast, especially smoked salmon but not the porridge. Book fast though as the place has only three rooms, all ensuite.

Enjoy your Slow Walk in Berwick-upon-Tweed and slowly download your minimap here.

Berwick Photos. See more: superminimaps.com

Photos:

1. Train Bridge. Photo: Khin Tye.

2. Dave Blackburn. Photo: Khin Tye.

3 Lighthouse. Photo: Billy Rosendale via Flickr.

4. View of River. Photo: Khin Tye.

Cover photo: Quay Walls by John Lord.

 

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