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Sunday, 9 September 2012

Walk 77 Berwick upon Tweed to the border with Scotland

Walk 77          Berwick upon Tweed to the border with Scotland

 (First leg of English coastal walk – Broadstairs in Kent to Berwick at the border with Scotland).

 Map: L/R 75

Distance: 5 miles or 8 km (the return can be straight down the A1 and into Berwick on the main road if walking back).
Difficulty:  Fairly easy
Terrain: footpaths and pavement
Access: Parking at Berwick and on the A1 near the border.
Public transport: Buses run from Berwick to and fro and use the A1 where there are various bus stops.

Start in the centre of Berwick. If you get a chance it is well worth a visit to Berwick Town Hall where a guide (a halberdier when I visited) provides a very interesting tour of this building. A potted history of the town is brought to life and is reflected in the history of the town hall. Highly recommended – go to the tourist information office for tour times.

Information boards provide details of the paintings of Berwick by L S Lowry. Vantage points near the river give you a chance to admire the Grade 1 listed viaduct built in 1850. It was designed by Robert Stephenson, son of George and opened by Queen Victoria. The east coast rail line still crosses it.  

Take a walk towards the river and town wall – you may well pass The Kings Arms where Charles Dickens gave one of his famous readings. There are several remaining fortifications on the wall reflecting the fact that the town changed hands between Scotland and England several times. These are reputed to be the best surviving medieval walls in Europe. They are 1.5 miles long and approx.7 metres high and were completed by 1560 during the reign of Elizabeth 1st. The architectural historian Nicholas Pevsner loved Berwick describing it as one of the most exciting towns in the country.

Follow the wall then road towards the estuary. Look out for Fishers Fort designed for 6 cannons in the 1770s. The one on display is Russian and kept as a trophy after its capture at the siege of Sevastopol in 1855 during the Crimean War. There is a bulwark (defensive point) overlooking the river and an 18th century guard house called the Main Guard now cared for by English heritage.

The path passes alongside the river edge then climbs the cliff and passes near a caravan site. The coastal path goes along the cliff to the border. However, heavy rain was falling when I tried it and it was impassable so I had to go back to the A1, walk along the road then cut back in at Marshall Meadows. About half a mile north of this point is the border; the path goes inland for a short distance - Scotland and England are clearly marked alongside the railway line.   
Pictures show: the Main Guard; Fishers Fort; caravan site between Berwick and the border; the railway line and border marker.

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