6 Pier Maltings enjoys a great location, both within the town, and for exploring the wider area. Although it is right on the waterfront and close to the beach, it is only a few minutes walk to the centre of town and all the amenities. For those who want to explore further afield, it is an excellent base for discovering this beautiful area. Fast mainline trains take you to the centre of Edinburgh or Newcastle in less than an hour. The following notes offer a brief guide to the local area.
Berwick is situated in the most northerly corner of England, and has always been a frontier town, fought over by Scots and English until the Union of the Crowns in the 17th century.
Now, Scottish, Northumbrian and Geordie accents can be heard on the streets, and its unique history makes Berwick a fascinating town to visit. It is encircled by the Elizabethan ramparts, and a walk around the walls is a must, with fantastic views down the coast to Holy Island and Bamburgh, and up the Tweed towards the Border towns and the Eildon Hills.
A busy market town, Berwick offers lots of good coffee houses, restaurants and pubs within easy walking distance of the house. While the main street has the usual chain stores, Bridge Street and Castlegate offer a range of interesting small shops and art stores. There is an excellent theatre / cinema with an ambitious programme, and a leisure centre with swimming pool, spa and gym.
‘Haven’t done a great deal, just relaxed,
but we have tried a number of cafes, Café Curio being our favourite.’
In Berwick, Little Beach is just a few minutes from the house, to the north of the pier and lighthouse. When the tide is low, you can clamber over the rocks round the headland to the next bay, Greenses Harbour. On the south side of the Tweed are the sands of Spittal beach, with its imposing Victorian promenade.
The coastline from Berwick south to Holy Island is classified as an AONB – Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Cocklawburn beach, just south of Berwick, offers miles of sandy beaches and rocky outcrops, with dunes full of wildflowers, stretching all the way to Holy Island.
‘Loved view from house, and thoroughly enjoyed time spent on
beautiful beaches with grandchildren. Altogether a perfect week.’
Holy Island itself is reached via a tidal causeway across the sands, and has wonderful wild beaches away from the busy village centre. This tiny island was a major centre of Christianity in the 7th and 8th centuries, and a replica of the famous Lindisfarne Gospels can be viewed in the Heritage Centre. There is a castle, a ruined priory, and lots of tea shops! In the summer, we recommend visiting ‘over tide’ – crossing the causeway just before it closes, when all the tourists leave, and staying for the five hours of the closure.
Bamburgh beach is spectacular – and very popular! There are miles of golden sand, with the enormous castle on the rock above, and the Farne Islands close to the shore. Tea at the Copper Kettle is a must.
‘We have enjoyed Holy Island, Bamburgh Castle and beaches,
and watching the sun rise from the bedroom.’
For boat trips to the Farne Islands, continue south to Seahouses, a busy coastal resort with a picturesque harbour. Most of the fishing boats carry visitors to the Farne Islands nowadays, but you can still buy local fish at Swallow Fish, hidden away down a back street.
North of Berwick, the coastline is more rugged, with dramatic sandstone cliffs. Keen walkers can walk from Berwick up to Burnmouth, a fishing village perched under a cliff.
Further north is Eyemouth, a busy fishing port with an interesting maritime museum, and St Abbs. From the village, there is a spectacular walk around St Abbs Head, and for diving enthusiasts, the harbour here is a diving centre.
‘Sea views to die for. Amazing trips out!
Places to visit – St Abbs and St Abbs Head, Cocklawburn beach.’
There is a great choice of links courses, with Berwick’s Magdalen Fields golf course
just behind the house! Other well-
‘Great location for exploring the coastline, the numerous golf courses
and a short train ride to Edinburgh – we went to the Fringe.’
There are public tennis courts immediately behind Pier Maltings which can be used at any time.
Other outdoor activities
Visit – this is a network with a range of providers offering everything from kayaking to horse riding, birdwatching to cycling, watersports to walking.
‘Enjoyed our stay, was lucky with the weather,
kayaked upstream, sea fished, crabbed, and flew kites.’
If you are fortunate enough to own kayaks or canoes, they can easily be launched outside into the harbour outside the house. Fishing trips can be arranged from Berwick, or further afield.
The Borders were heavily fortified, and there are lots of castles to visit, including Chillingham Castle with its herd of ancient white cattle, Bamburgh, Dunstanburgh, and Alnwick Castle of Harry Potter fame. Less dramatic, but typical of the fortifications that dotted the countryside, is the 14th century pele tower at Preston Tower, near Chathill.
As well as fortifications, the Borders had many fine abbeys and churches, and their remains can be seen at Jedburgh, Melrose, Kelso and Holy Island.
‘We went to Melrose Abbey, Peebles, Edinburgh, Stirling Castle, cycled to Holy Island,
drank tea in the Copper Kettle in Bamburgh and walked round the Elizabethan walls almost every night.’
In later centuries great country houses and gardens were established. Paxton House near Berwick has a fine art collection, and a lovely frontage on the river Tweed. Manderston, near Duns, was the location for the TV programme ‘The Edwardian Country House’. To the south, near Rothbury, is Cragside, the amazing house and garden created by the Victorian entrepreneur and inventor, Lord Armstrong.
The cities of Edinburgh, Newcastle and Durham are all easily reached by train from Berwick in less than an hour.
Things to do with the children
Ford and Etal, and the Heatherslaw railway. This delightful estate in beautiful countryside offers a working water mill, a railway, a ruined abbey and an excellent teashop! You can also hire bikes to cycle around the estate.
Just north of Berwick is Conundrum Farm, with a collection of rare breeds and farm animals. Children can feed the animals, and enjoy the farm. There is a good café there.
For a wet day, Pot-
The Swan Leisure Centre has a good swimming pool and flume, with holiday activities on offer.
The local area and its attractions