My mom was here for three weeks in April and May and I really wanted her to have at least a little taste of seeing somewhere besides Aberdeen.
I love train travel, so I spent a little time trying to find places that we could get to relatively easily via train and towns that could be explored on foot once we arrived.
For our mini adventure, I settled upon three days in two towns.
The first one was the coastal town of Berwick-Upon-Tweed, which is about as far north as you can get in England before crossing the border into Scotland.
(The second town was York, which I’ll get to next week.)
Let’s talk about Berwick-Upon-Tweed.
The whole town can be walked in circular on these old city walls and battlements.
A perfect playground for young boys.
And a dreamy landscape for the mamas.
So much charm around every corner.
Ben about drove my mama crazy, dropping down into these hideouts and then climbing all the walls.
Berwick-Upon-Tweed is reached by three different bridges. Two are for cars and one is for trains. The bridges are striking in any weather, but we found them to be especially gorgeous in the morning mist.
The railroad bridge was made from the stones of the old castle, but you can still see where the castle used to be since some of the ruins remain.
After you walk the city walls, you can walk under the bridges and along the River Tweed for as long as you fancy. Berwick is a wonderful town for walking.
I wonder if this is not partly the reason it is featured prominently in the novel, The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry, which is one of my very favorite books I’ve read this year.
After a morning full of walking and playing, we went and found some lunch at this darling little restaurant, Audela.
The highlights of our meal were the Berwick Crab sandwiches.
The side streets of Berwick look like a movie set to me.
After lunch the sun came out, so we headed to the center of town for ice cream. We also hit the shops and scored new books from a bookstore.
We had a couple of hours to kill until our train left for York, so we took our new books to the beach to read. And we might have napped a little.
While we were in Berwick-Upon-Tweed, we stayed at the YHA (youth hostel).
We had one of the family rooms in the courtyard where these old boots were turned into planters.
I love how YHA often creatively repurposes old buildings. This one was the old town Granary and it now also houses an art gallery.
Ben always opts for full English breakfast when he can, and he ate every bite at our hostel.
Here’s the breakfast room + common room.
And our bunks! Our family room for four even had its own bathroom.
Here’s the warm welcoming desk at the Berwick-Upon-Tweed YHA. They stayed up late to check us in since our train did not come in until right at 10pm.
Our stay at the YHA Berwick was complimentary, and to be honest, I was a little nervous about taking my mama to stay in hostels, but she enjoyed our stays in Berwick and York and we all loved being in bunk rooms together. And the food of course! Everyone ate their fill!
Such a pretty town!! Lovely photos!!
Loved everything about this town including staying in the Bewick-Upon-Tweed YHA!!!
I kinda sorta may be pretending to take these journeys with you:)
I’ve been so curious about this place since I saw the name on the map. I can picture my son climbing those walls, as well. The grassy spots on top are my favorite. I can’t wait to visit, and the photos and hostel recommendation are very helpful.
[…] week I mentioned that I took my mama to Berwick-Upon-Tweed on a little train journey + YHA […]
I was trying to find an Ursuline Sister and arrived at your blog. I couldn’t leave without commenting, as it struck me that if I wanted a pictorial history of my haunts as a youth, it was all here.
The field behind your lad in the first pic is where I played football on a Sunday.
The 2nd is the Chad (pronounced shad), where my nephew and I spent whole mornings or afternoons finding as many adventures s the young can imagine up.
The 5th is the Lion’s house as we called it. It was derelict in my day and of course haunted. Why wouldn’t it be. The number of ghost’s and stories for them we invented would have peopled it three times over.
The 6th looks like the same garden gate and in the same old colour and state of repair that let Tim, who lived there, and me out of his long walled garden and onto ‘the Walls’ for more adventure.
14th on are taken from what we called the New Road. The path that took you along the side of the river, up through the plantation and to where I was born. My penniless courting days at least had a picturesque backdrop.
17th is the ‘brickienickie’s’ (the ‘break your necks’) as we called what was left of the castle walls. Reaching the top was a right of passage, as was the bloodied knees.
24th is West Street and my route home. In the winter it was also the best slide in town (the traffic at the bottom was less in those days). If I remember, your barrelling rate of descent could only be abated by grabbing a drainpipe or using the natural obstacle of a passing shopper.
Thanks for the memories.
Are you allowed to comment twice? I had to come back. I had to mention a little more about pic 1 and more importantly, something about pics 30-32.
I may have given the impression that playing football at the Stanks (as it was called) was an organised affair. It wasn’t. You turned up and hung around, sizing up who else was turning up and hoping enough would for a game. And particularly, someone would turn up with a football. Yes, it was a hit and miss affair. Oddly enough, the guy with the football was always the last to turn up and by then there was probably enough kids around to have two games (we were the baby-boomers). Once the football had turned up (for that was his purpose in life) a long drawn out argument would commence about who was going to play on which side, can you really play with 13 on a team etc… until eventually someone would call a halt, two Captains would be chosen and they would take turns at picking a side. This in itself would cause arguments, bring up old disputes from previous games, people swapping, changing allegiances depending on who you were related to, which housing estate you came from, age, ability and general deportment. So, I said we played football on the field behind where your lad is. I should have said we played football… eventually.
Pics 30-32 is what we called Berwick Beach. There was the Little Beach, Spittal Beach, Berwick Beach and The Ponds. All golden sanded, all shallow drifts of water. My god we were blessed. Berwick Beach butt’s up against the Pier. In that angle of land is where I collected cockles to sell. I don’t know if you remember me mentioning my penniless courting days making girls wear a furrow in the New Road when I just new I could treat them better if only I was a millionaire. Well, it was short-lived. I decided if I was going to make any kind of in-roads, I needed money to buy things – ice-creams, keep-sakes, going to the movies. So my entrepreneurial life commenced. Picking cockles, which I would collect in a hessian sack, throw across my bicycle and push up hill to the guy who bought them up at The Parade. Paper rounds which prematurely aged me, poaching, sorry…. catching salmon and trout and selling around the neighbourhood, collecting scrap metal and taking to the merchants, and a strange one that I often look back on and wonder at. Selling ‘A’ line skirts at the markets for £3 a shot. All ‘A’ line, all £3. This niche selling was an absolute boon for a by then 12 year old and his female clientele. One day I’m going to have to look up what ‘A’ line actually means. [Joke], by 12 and three quarters I was advising my sisters on whether they would be best with a bias cut. My poor sisters. They were all older than me, 5 of them and a brother, but I had by then money. They got paid on a Friday, as the whole world seem to, but by Wednesday they were broke. I turned into a little money-lender (or did they turn me into one?) for a while and I would tide them over until pay day on an interest rate that would embarrass Wonga… as they’ve never stopped reminding me. By 16 I was gone, returning intermittently, by 19 I’d never live in Berwick again. I still call it home.
Thanks for letting me comment.. again.
Thanks so much for sharing your memories from this beautiful town!! I’ve been a couple of times now, once with my sister after walking St Cuthbert’s Way and then this trip with my mom and boys. I find it absolutely enchanting! 🙂
Here’s a link to my google photo album from this month if you want to download any of the photos, you’d be most welcome! 🙂 Best wishes!
Thanks for the link. I’ll have a good old rummage. I do call on Berwick from time to time, probably once a year these days, but it’s always for family business and inevitably door-to-door. A mistake I’ll have to rectify, as your photographs, seen through the eyes of the young, if that’s not too presumptuous, has reminded me. I need to get some sand amongst my toes the next time I’m down.
Your mention of St Cuthbert’s Way prompted a memory of a dinner conversation far too long ago. A restaurant dining table in Newcastle around which were friends trying to catch up. A friend of a friend mentioned that she was working on an idea to create a borders walk that followed the old pilgrim route (as we knew it) from Holy Island (called Lindisfarne) up to the abbey at Melrose. Getting traction (no pun intended) and inspiration was proving slow and I think it was directed at a friend sitting next to me who had just given up a very lucrative life at Proctor and Gamble to help get something else (to become Bede’s World) wiping its own face. I hope it’s worth the walk, it’s a beautiful place to be.
Somehow I missed replying to this last comment! SO FUN that the Borders walk was created! It was absolutely gorgeous! We did it in May when there were gorgeous flowers and trees in bloom. Lots of mud but sooooo pretty!! SUCH a lovely part of the world. I do hope you get a proper wander in the area the next time you’re “home.” 🙂
I read your blog on the walk. I was so hoping the next day would be a beautiful clear sunny one for the both of you, as I read along, as it usually pushes the many wet days you get down there to the back of your memory. But it wasn’t to be. It’s a different place in good weather. As I read along I actually started thinking of of Bill and Katz, from Bill Bryson’s ‘A walk in the Woods’ and was awaiting a giant blow-out where you raged at the glowering skies, rucksacks were heaved into the nearest copse, never to be seen again, and a bee-line was made for a taxi to Holy Island and a few days of R’n’R. Good on you sticking to the plan.
Aww!! Thanks so much!! We were determined to walk the whole thing but there was definitely some moaning in there!! 🙂
I do so love that Bill Bryson book!!
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