Berwick-Upon-Tweed Things to Do

  • Ramparts, estuary and bridge
    Ramparts, estuary and bridge
    by leics
  • Cannon over the estuary
    Cannon over the estuary
    by leics
  • Berwick-Upon-Tweed Barracks & Main Guards
    Berwick-Upon-Tweed Barracks & Main...
    by spidermiss

Most Recent Things to Do in Berwick-Upon-Tweed

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    Berwick on Tweed

    by Drever Written Mar 30, 2014

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    Marygate viewed from the town wall
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    The visitor to Berwick on Tweed may believing it to be a Scottish town, as it stands on the northern bank of the River Tweed, a Scottish river. The local football team even plays in the Scottish Football League.

    Berwick however began as an English settlement. It provided a jumping off point for invasions by the English into Scotland but an eastern port and gateway into England if held by the Scots. Therefore the town changed hands many times. In 1018 the Scots took control of Berwick. Under their rule Berwick was one of the most prosperous merchant towns in Britain and was worth to Scotland an annual customs value of £2,190, which equalled about one quarter of the customs of all England.

    In the fourteenth century Berwick became again an English town. In taking it with his army in the tens of thousands Edward I slaughtered around 17,000 people. The Scots were a mild-mannered wouldn’t hurt a fly nation in comparison despite their bloody history. Edward ensured he kept the town by throwing a wall around it against Scottish attack. Part of his walls is still visible in the north end of the town. Today’s walls, unique in England, date from 1558 and are intact. Based on an Italian design they have projecting bastions, similar to blunt arrowheads, built of stone and filled with earth, and joined by a strong curtain wall. Designed to protect the Old Town against gunfire they form a stark reminder of the town’s turbulent past.

    A treaty signed by Henry VII of England and James IV of Scotland in 1502 recognised Berwick as ‘of but not within the Kingdom of England’ – in other words an independent state in the middle. When Great Britain entered the Crimean War it declared it in the name of Great Britain, Ireland and Berwick on Tweed. The town became officially merged into England in 1974.

    Berwick is one of the most picturesque towns on the region's coast. It keeps an old-world charm with several elegant Georgian streets. The 17th century Berwick Bridge, which spans the River Tweed, dates from 1611. Built of red sandstone it has fourteen arches. Until the nineteenth century it was the main crossing point of the Tweed at Berwick.

    Berwick has many historic buildings and monuments, which reflect its turbulent past and military importance. It contains Britain's earliest barracks. They housed 600 men, which shows how seriously England feared attacks by the Scots. These barracks now house two museums, one of which includes an exhibition of British Infantry history.

    Near the barracks is the Berwick parish church, Holy Trinity. Built between 1650 and 1652 it is of a distinctive Puritan design. For a historic parish church it is unusual, in that it has no steeple, tower or church bell. Instead a bell in the 18th century Guildhall summons people to the church services. The Guildhall, often mistaken as a church, stands in the square on Marygate, the main shopping street. Built in Classical style, the latter has a portico of four Tuscan columns and a 150 feet spire. The top floor of the building was originally the Town Gaol but now contains a Museum.

    Unfortunately visiting in late September we found the barrack museum closed and the one in the Guildhall closed because of an inquiry into an unexpected death. We did do the 80-minute walk around the town walls - slightly over one mile. Along the way a series of noticeboards tell the visitor of the history of archways piercing the walls, gun-sites and buildings. From the wall there are good views over the countryside, town and river.

    Berwick has stirred different emotions in different people over the centuries. Mine was that it ought to be Scottish for it’s on our side of the River Tweed. Here are two contrasting verses:

    "Berwick is an ancient town
    A church without a steeple
    A pretty girl at every door
    And very generous people."

    OR ?

    "A bridge without a middle arch
    A church without a steeple
    A midden heap in every street
    And damned conceited people."

    Some believe the less complimentary verse came from the pen of Robbie Burns, Scotland’s national poet.

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    Berwick Walls

    by spidermiss Updated Oct 16, 2012
    Main Guard (1815), Berwick Upon Tweed
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    Berwick walls were once part of a defence project commissioned for Queen Elizabeth I. The purpose of the walls was to keep the town safe from the Scots and French. The Scots and English fought many times, approximately 14 times, over the town.

    It's great to walk on the walls a view the town and the sea from up above. I walked them when I did the Lowry Trail. You also past the Barracks which is opened seasonally where visitors can learn about Berwick's military history.

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    Spittal Beach

    by spidermiss Updated Oct 16, 2012
    Spittal Beach
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    Spittal is a lovely seaside resort near Berwick Upon Tweed and was voted as one of the best beaches in Northumberland. It's a popular spot in summer by visitors and also by L.S. Lowry who spent his holidays in Berwick.

    I visited Spittal whilst doing the Lowry Trail and noted the sites where he painted. The walk on Spittal promenade was wonderful and the weather was nice. Seeing the North Sea blue and surrounding sights in fine weather was magical! It's a 20-30 walk from Berwick town centre. Spittal forms part of Berwick Upon Tweed and also has a small village including a community school.

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    The Bridges

    by spidermiss Updated Oct 16, 2012
    The Old Bridge, Berwick Upon Tweed
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    Royal Border Bridge

    The Royal Border Bridge was designed by engineers, Robert Stephenson (1803-1859), Thomas Elliott Harrison (1808-1888) and George Barclay Bone (1821-1906). The bridge was completed in 1850. The bridge has 28 arches spanning over 695 metres. It cost 253, 000 gbp (1850) including the approaches and nearly 3000 workmen were employed with 150 horses. Queen Victoria opened the Royal Border when she visited the North East of England. Major maintenance to the bridge took place in the 1960s.

    Royal Tweed Bridge

    The Royal Tweed Bridge was opened by Edward Prince of Wales in 1928 and main road into the town centre was diverted to the town from the Old Bridge.

    Old Bridge Bridge

    This Grade 1 structure spans across the River Tweed and built between 1611 and 1624. This was the fifth bridge which the previous ones were destroyed by floods and attacks during the previous centuries. The bridge linked on the former road from London to Edinburgh and James I (Also known as James VI of Scotland) crossed this bridge (not the current one) in 1603 on his way down to London for his coronation. The bridge links from Berwick to Tweedmouth and Spittal and operates a one way system.

    You can read more about the River Tweed Bridges by clicking onto this link.

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    Lowry Links in Berwick

    by spidermiss Updated Oct 15, 2012

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    Lowry Signage on the Trail
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    The painter, L S Lowry (1887-1976), used to visit Berwick Upon Tweed for his Summer Holidays until the year of his death in 1976. To him visiting Berwick and seeing the sea was a escape from industrialised Salford and Manchester!

    He did a lot of paintings and drawings in Berwick. He stayed in the Castle Hotel and once considered buying the property, The Lions, in the town because of the possibility of being attracted to the sea views from the windows.

    You can learn more about the artist via this link.

    Today visitors can do the Lowry trail in the town centre and it takes up to 3.5-4 hours and covers 5 to 6 miles. I had fun doing the trail and I got to appreciate more the town and it's surrounding villages from sights where Lowry painted (Please see my travelogues 1, 2, 3 and 4 ). You can either obtain a trail leaflet from the Berwick Tourist Information Centre.

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    Tweedmouth

    by spidermiss Updated Oct 15, 2012

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    Berwick from Tweedmouth
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    I visited Tweedmouth when I did the Lowry Trail and which is part of Berwick Upon Tweed. As well as a village there is a Berwick Harbour and also noted the sites where Lowry painted.

    There are great views of the river, the sea and Berwick Town Centre from Tweedmouth and the village is accessed from crossing the Old Bridge.

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    Berwick Town Hall

    by spidermiss Updated Oct 13, 2012
    Berwick Upon Tweed Town Hall
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    The town hall, know as the Guidhall then, was designed and built in the 1750s in a classical design by the Guild of Berwick. The spire's bells rung for the local church service as well as the town's curfew. The town's prison was part of the building and prisoners used to visit the balcony round the roof for fresh air.

    Tours are available seasonally (usually from East to end of September). This includes the Guild Hall, the courtroom and Old Gaol Cell Block. I missed out by one day because of visiting Berwick at the beginning of October. Following the Hall's restoration there is now a cafe and shop at the colonnaded rear of the building (known as the Butter Market).

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    Out and About in Berwick

    by spidermiss Updated Oct 13, 2012
    Berwick-Upon-Tweed Barracks & Main Guards
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    In picture 1 I saw the Berwick-Upon-Tweed Barracks & Main Guards. The attraction is only opened seasonally from Easter to the end of September. It was closed when I visited Berwick at the beginning of October 2012. Please click onto the link for further information about the attraction and prices.

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  • Birds of Prey Delight!

    by zoepope Written May 20, 2011

    I was on holiday very recently with my husband and 6 children, we all love animals but couldnt find anywhere thats was close to our Haven site that was good old fashioned value for money! After lots of phone calls we stumbled by accident across a birds of prey centre. It was THE best decision of the holiday to visit. It was amazing value for money, all the children including our 2 yr olds got to handle the birds and we were given the warmest welcome. I would suggest you are definately missing out if you dont visit while in the area! They are called Birds at Beal and they can be found at The Barn at Beal. I couldnt find them anywhere on the internet but The Barn at Beal can be so it can easily be found with a satnav. x

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    Walk the walls

    by leics Updated Nov 7, 2009
    Ramparts, estuary and bridge
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    Even if you are not in the least bit interested in their history (there are are information boards dotted along their one and a half mile circuit).

    Because they give such truly superb views of the town, the river, the estuary......

    Consider how they were built too.....such a massive undertaking, with so little technology (remember they date back to the mid 1500s). Stunningly impressive.

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    Royal Border Railway Viaduct

    by stevezero Written May 20, 2006

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    Royal Border Railway Viaduct
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    The Royal Border Railway Viaduct was built in 1850 to bridge the River Tweed and carry the railway into town.
    The bridge still provides an important link between England and Scotland and provides a good vantage point from which to see the town if you are travelling by rail.

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    Quay Wall

    by stevezero Written May 20, 2006

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    Quay Wall

    Quay Wall as the name suggests is a fortified wall built on the banks of the River Tweed to protect the town from attack from the river.
    Nearby on the Quayside is a new development which contains shops and eating establishments.

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    Old Bridge

    by stevezero Written May 20, 2006

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    Old Bridge
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    The old bridge was built by James I (James VI of Scotland) to link his two kingdoms after the Union of the Crowns.
    The bridge was built in 1634 and was the main highway of its time into Scotland.
    The bridge has since been superceded by a modern road bridge over the Tweed, but the old bridge is stil open to traffic in one direction.

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    Berwick Castle

    by stevezero Updated May 20, 2006

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    Berwick Castle

    Very little remains of what was once the most important of all the border castles. Begun in the 12th century, few castles can have seen as much military action and changed hands as frequently as Berwick. Over the centuries that England and Scotland were in conflict, the castle was a key objective for the armies of both nations. From 1296 when Edward I of England successfully besieged the Scottish castle at Berwick through until the end of hostilities between the two countries, ownership of the castle changed frequently.

    In later years the castle ruins were used as a quarry, providing stone for the adjacent Royal Border Bridge and the town barracks, and a large part, including the Great Hall, was cleared to make space for the railway station. The main surviving remnant is the White Wall that descends from the railway to the banks of the River Tweed. Built in 1297, it guards a steep flight of steps known as 'Breakneck Stairs'.

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    Russian Gun

    by stevezero Written May 20, 2006

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    Russian Gun

    Until the end of the Napoleonic Wars, Berwick's walls bristled with artillery. The one cannon remaining on the riverside fortifications is a souvenir of the Crimean War.
    This Russian gun is a link with the story that Berwick is still at war with Russia today! The tradition has its origins in the fact that the town used to be mentioned separately on documents and international treaties. It is said that Berwick was included in the declaration of war with Russia in 1854, but was accidentally omitted from the peace treaty two years later.

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