We arrived in Berwick Upon Tweed in the mid afternoon after a short train ride from Edinburgh were we landed after a long flight. Three nights were ahead of us in a town we had never really heard anything about in a part of the UK that we had never been to before. Even with the headliners of London, and Paris also on this trip, Berwick was the most enjoyable stop and I highly recommend seeing this part of the country if you can work it into your itinerary. Be sure to stop by and see the pictures of beautiful Berwick-Upon-Tweed.
Arriving in Berwick Upon Tweed
The train station in Berwick is actually built on the site of the old castle. There are a few mentions of the castle in the station, and you can easily get to the ruins with a quick walk down the hill. The train station is fairly small, only having two tracks, but it remains busy with cab and city bus connections right outside. The town is very kind to being on foot, so you can also just walk to your next destination depending on how close.
Not having any idea where to stay in town I used Google maps to explore and find some options. There are a few larger hotels in town, but staying at a bed and breakfast in such a small town really helps to get a feel for the town. The downside to the bed and breakfast is they may have limited availability and may not have a swanky website to book your stay. Since the planning for this trip was almost a year in the making, availability was not an issue and even a point of humor with the hosts because we were booking so far in advance.
The Bed and Breakfast we reserved was the Tweed View House. It is so close to the train station that you can see it when you come out of the station. The parking lot and train tracks are far enough away that you are not disturbed by any of the station or train noise throughout the day or night. The owners, Liz and Graham Thompson were absolutely fantastic. Upon our arrival Liz was very welcoming when showing us around the house, and also had loads of information on the town and things to do. The room was extremely comfortable, and the traditional breakfast every morning from local foods was fantastic. We also looked forward to afternoon tea after a long day of exploring. Liz or Graham were great about seeing what we were up to on our way out or in and would check to see if we needed anything. Great folks, we really enjoyed our stay. Check out their website for booking information, you will be happy you stayed at the Tweed View House.
Food and Drink
While I was not a big fan of the English Style tap I still tried one, or more, everywhere we went. In Berwick we went to various places for food and drinking. The bar at the Castle Hotel which was right next door to the Tweed View House was a good place to get a hamburger and a pint. It was fairly busy, but not to the point were it was loud. The location right on the corner with great windows lets you watch traffic go by and also has cozy seating to sit and people watch on the inside. The staff were very busy, but very prompt and friendly. I could have definitely spent some time downing multiple pints at the place as it felt welcoming, but there was more of the city to explore.
If a nice sit down meal is more your desire Foxton’s across from the Kings Arms hotel was a good meal and a reasonable price. They label themselves as a wine bar so the selection of wines was robust with a varied menu. Definitely try the local salmon, it was amazing. One night we had Chinese food at Royal Garden, which is tucked away on the second floor of a building. It was by far the best Chinese food I have ever eaten. It was a nice surprise, and also a good break from the traditional English Fare.
Rounding out our Food experience we also tried out the Leaping Salmon, which was very crowded, slow, but got the job done for a meal. The Brewers Arms was also an okay adventure, the fish and chips were good, but the atmosphere was kind of loud.
Things to Do
The location of Berwick right on the coast makes for great scenery with walks along the river or shore line. We took the guided tour of Berwick given by a local guide who was great. He was able to teach us all about the history of Berwick while walking around the city walls. I highly recommend taking the tour early in the trip so that you can get a good base of history before going out on your own. Be sure to check the website and maybe email to confirm tour times. We almost missed it, but the guide was nice enough to come back pick us up. The tour takes less than half a day and shows you all around town.
Lindisfarne Castle on Holy Island is fairly close to Berwick. The Perryman‘s Bus service runs a scheduled service to Holy Island, but it depends on the tides for the schedule of the service. It was very foggy on the day we went to Holy Island which was actually pretty neat as a backdrop. Due to the time crunch of the tide schedule we elected to just explore the island and not go in the castle.
There is plenty of open land around the castle to explore and take in the views of the North Sea and also see the sheep that are roaming around the castle. There are also old monastery ruins from medieval times to explore as well. You can get around on foot for all of the island, but they do offer a shuttle service up to the castle, for a fee, from where the Bus drops you off. I cannot remember exactly how much the bus costs round trip from Berwick to Holy Island, but they did make change and was very resonable. Well worth the trip that took most of the day.
Spittal beach is right across the river from Berwick. It was a nice walk over to the beach, which is on the Lowry trail that goes all around Berwick which you can follow to see scenes that the artist used in his paintings. The trail is a nice way to see many parts of Berwick and Spittal. There are public restrooms over by the beach, but we could not find a whole lot of food or drink options in this area. It was very relaxing to just walk out in the fog on the beach and listen to the waves. There is another beach on the east side of the golf course in Berwick that was more active due to its location. There are more cliffs, and rougher water to see crashing against the scenic cliffs near the Berwick beach area. Also a must do is strolling along the rivers edge which has a path that will take you down to the castle ruins. A park sits near the ruins that provides great views of the sunset. It is amazing how much the tide fluctuates in the river so be sure to catch it during all phases of the tide.
We loved our time in Berwick. It was the perfect combination of English food, customs, and beautiful scenery. If you want to take in the English way of life without all the hustle and bustle of a big town, Berwick-Upon-Tweed is the place to go. There is also a lot of Scottish influence since it is right on the border. A very relaxing and beautiful town, I highly recommend you put this on your list of places to see. It is extremely easy to get to Berwick by train either from Edinburgh, which is less than an hour, or from London which is about a four hour ride on Virgin East Coast Trains. Be sure to check out some of our tips about riding the train if you have never done it before.