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Berwick-upon-Tweed Coast and Walls Trail

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Berwick-upon-Tweed Coast and Walls Trail
Author: clairesharpuk, Published: 29 Jun 2014 Walk rating : Rating:star1 Berwick-upon-Tweed Coast and Walls Trail Walking Guidestar1 Berwick-upon-Tweed Coast and Walls Trail Walking Guidestar1 Berwick-upon-Tweed Coast and Walls Trail Walking Guidestar1 Berwick-upon-Tweed Coast and Walls Trail Walking Guidestar1 Berwick-upon-Tweed Coast and Walls Trail Walking Guide
Northumberland, Berwick-upon-Tweed
Walk Type: Town or city
Berwick-upon-Tweed Coast and Walls Trail
Length: 3 miles,  Difficulty: boot Berwick-upon-Tweed Coast and Walls Trail Walking Guide
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A 3 mile circular walk from the northernmost town in England, Berwick-upon-Tweed. The walk takes in a short stretch of the beautiful coast before circling the town via the town walls and Elizabethan ramparts, some of the best remaining examples of their type in the country. There is an opportunity for a paddle on the sandy beaches plus chance to explore some of the galleries and museums within the town.

The majority of the walk follows paved paths, with just a short section along the grass coastal path. The route is relatively flat with just some short slopes and there are no steps or stiles, just a few simple gates, so it would be possible to complete with a pushchair. The coastal path follows the edge of a golf course so take care and keep your eyes peeled for any stray flying golf balls. Dogs are welcome on the town walls and bins are located along the way so that you can clear up after them. Approximate time 1.5 to 2 hours.

Berwick-upon-Tweed is located in Northumberland on the North Sea coast, just a couple of miles south of the Scottish border. The walk starts and finishes from the free Pier and Beach car park which is signed from the town. Make your way (with care) along the narrow road, Pier Road, towards the pier and then, just before the last house on the left (Pier House), swing left on the tarmac lane. Follow the lane all the way to the end where you will find the car park (alongside the cricket field and golf course). Approximate post code TD15 1JD.

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Walk Sections

Start to Club House
Start to Club House

Start point: 55.7691 lat, -1.9928 long
End point: 55.7749 lat, -1.9983 long

Leave the car park via the vehicle entrance and, after just a couple of paces, turn left onto the grass path which leads you onto the edge of the golf course. The path follows the right-hand edge of the course so take particular care here, allowing golfers to play their shots before you proceed and keeping your eyes peeled for any stray balls.

Follow the coast path with the grass cliffs and sandy beach to the right and the golf course on the left. Behind you, you will have a good view of the pier at the estuary entrance. The pier, actually a breakwater, protects the estuary against winds and currents, making it safer for vessels entering the river. Work began on the lighthouse in 1826. It is 13 metres tall and its conical roof consists of a single piece of stone. Grey seals are common in the area and you may also see terns fishing or gannets diving.

Stay on the path closets to the cliffs on the right and you will pass to the right of the Coast Watch tower. The tower was built in 1964 by HM Coastguard but today is manned by volunteers. A little way beyond this tower the path swings inland. Follow this for just a few paces (ignoring the gravel access path for the next tee) and then turn right onto the tarmac path between the grass mounds.

Follow this path which initially heads directly for the golf course club house visible ahead. Down to the right you will see another beautiful sandy bay. At the crossroads, with the car park and caravan park to the right, turn left and follow the tarmac lane past the club house.

Club House to Brass Bastion
Club House to Brass Bastion

Start point: 55.7749 lat, -1.9983 long
End point: 55.7729 lat, -2.001 long

Follow the tarmac lane which initially leads you directly towards the impressive grass-topped stone walls, the Elizabethan ramparts which you will be walking along shortly. To understand the significance of these it is worth knowing a little of the history of the town.

Situated at the mouth of the River Tweed near the border of the two kingdoms, the town of Berwick-upon-Tweed suffered centuries of conflict, as control of the town passed back and forward between England and Scotland until the late 17th century. Each crisis brought repairs and improvements to the town’s fortifications, culminating in the great artillery ramparts you see today. Begun in 1558 on the instruction of Mary I, they became known as the Elizabethan ramparts because Mary I died later that year and was succeeded by Elizabeth I. By 1568, when Mary, Queen of Scots, fled to England, the Scottish threat had subsided. It became clear that James VI of Scotland would succeed Elizabeth I as James I of England, so no further work was done to the defences. The ramparts survive largely intact and make Berwick one of the most important fortified towns of Europe.

The lane bends left and then right to lead you to an arch within the walls. Pass under this and, immediately afterwards, turn right through the black metal gate to enter the walls. Follow the tarmac slope uphill and on the left you will pass the town’s parish church, one of only a few built in England in Cromwellian times. For an historic parish church it is unusual, in that it has no steeple, tower or church bell.

Keep left along the top of the walls and at the corner you will reach the first of several bastions within the walls, Brass Bastion. Bastions are gun platforms enabling defenders to fire outwards across the ditch, or alternatively to repel an enemy attacking the walls to either side.

Brass Bastion to Royal Tweed Bridge
Brass Bastion to Royal Tweed Bridge

Start point: 55.7729 lat, -2.001 long
End point: 55.7696 lat, -2.0068 long

Stay on the tarmac path that swings left across the north side of the city. On the right you will pass Cumberland Bastion, the best preserved of the town’s five bastions. The Elizabethan ramparts were modified in the 17th century and the alarm caused by the second Jacobite rising in 1745-6 ensured that they were kept in good order in the 18th century. In 1837, the pedestrian walkway was created along the ramparts.

Further along, the path will lead you along the stone bridge of Scot’s Gate. To the left you will see Marygate, Berwick’s main commercial street and the impressive town hall with its distinctive tower. Built in 1754, its bell is used to summon people to church services at the nearby parish church. This view of the town hall is one captured in oil on canvas by LS Lowry who regularly took holidays in Berwick.

Keep ahead and follow the path as it swings downhill, passing the steps up to Meg’s Mound on the right. On the left you will pass a half timbered hut. This once housed ladies public conveniences but today is home to a small coffee bar. On the right you will pass the 1908 sculpture of a lady with two dogs. This is Annie Lady Jerningham, the wife of a former Member of Parliament for the borough.

Take the right hand fork of the lane which leads you down underneath the main road bridge across the River Tweed.

Royal Tweed Bridge to Shore Gate
Royal Tweed Bridge to Shore Gate

Start point: 55.7696 lat, -2.0068 long
End point: 55.7671 lat, -2.0037 long

At the bottom of the slope bear right, signed for The Chandlery and Town Walls, and follow this narrow cobbled lane with the stone wall immediately on the right.

Take a moment to look across the river. To the right you will see the main road bridge, the Royal Tweed Bridge, as well as the impressive rail viaduct, the Royal Border Bridge. To the left you will see the smaller road bridge, the Old Bridge.

The Royal Border Bridge, opened by Queen Victoria in 1850, was designed and built under the supervision of Robert Stephenson. It is a 660m long railway viaduct with 28 arches and carries the East Coast Main Line 40m above the River Tweed. The Old Bridge, 15-span sandstone arch bridge was built between 1610 and 1624.

As you draw level with Old Bridge, you will see a choice of two paths ahead. Take the left-hand of these, Quay Walls, the level path with the stone wall still running on the right. The path will lead you past The Granary art gallery on the left and then over Shore Gate, the old entrance from the Town Quay. The quay was once home to a thriving salmon industry, with coopers constructing barrels to transport the fish to the London markets.

Shore Gate to Park
Shore Gate to Park

Start point: 55.7671 lat, -2.0037 long
End point: 55.7719 lat, -1.999 long

Keep ahead on the Quay Walls passing the old Custom House on the left. You will emerge out to an open green area with the Main Guard to the left. The Georgian guardhouse was moved to its present site in 1815. Now containing an exhibition on the history of Berwick, it once had a soldiers’ room, an officers’ room, and a prison cell for the detention of drunken soldiers, deserters, petty criminals and vagrants.

Follow this next section of stone walls with the impressive frontage of Wellington Terrace on the left and the gun placements directed into the estuary on the right. As the path swings left you will pass the Bulwark in the Sands, a modified medieval round tower. Soon you will pass another gun platform, this time with a canon in place along with two raised benches which provide great views across the estuary should you wish to rest a while.

Stay with the path closest to the stone wall on the right and, as you draw level with the lighthouse over to the right, pass through the black metal gate to continue along the walls. Follow the tarmac ahead onto the grass embankments, once again part of the Elizabethan ramparts. The path climbs steadily and then levels out.

Ignore the first path off to the left. On the corner here you will see the Powder Magazine, a gunpowder store surrounded by its own walled enclosure and built in 1749-50.

Continue along the walls. You can walk on either the lower or higher of the two tarmac paths, the higher one giving views out to sea. The two paths merge to pass another raised bastion on the right. As they fork again, stay on the lower path. You will see the tall buildings of the Berwick Barracks on the left. The barracks were built between 1717 and 1721 to protect the town during the Jacobite risings.

Fork left down the tarmac slope (passing the Gymnasium Gallery on the left) and pass out though the gate. Should you wish to visit the barracks, you will find the entrance to the museum on the left (managed by English Heritage, dogs welcome on leads). Otherwise, turn right and right again to pass under the arch within the walls (the way you entered the town earlier). Immediately afterwards, turn right through the metal gate to enter the park.

Park to End
Park to End

Start point: 55.7719 lat, -1.999 long
End point: 55.7692 lat, -1.9929 long

From this path you can really appreciate the scale of the stone walls that form the front of the Elizabethan defences. The walls, faced in grey limestone, stand about 6 metres high. Above the walls the rampart earthwork rises a further 5 metres. The deep ditch in which you are walking would once have been a moat.

On the right you will pass a pretty walled garden which was created in 2012 for the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II. The path swings steadily left and reaches a staggered T-junction. Keep left and follow the path through the grass mounds. The path leads you to the end of a row of terraced cottages.

Keep ahead passing the cottages on the right and tennis courts on the left. At the end of the properties on the right, bear left along the edge of the cricket field and you will reach the car park where the walk began.

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