My folks moved to Berwick-Upon-Tweed 12 years ago and since then we’ve spent lots of time exploring the northernmost town in England. It has the perfect mix of seaside charm, natural beauty and interesting places to visit. From spotting dolphins at Spittal Beach to quirky museums – we’re still finding things to do.
Berwick is full of history and has passed between English and Scots hands at least 13 times. When you walk around the Elizabethan ramparts (built to repel the Scots) that encircle the town you get a real sense of that history. There are wonderful views over the Tweed Estuary and you can detour along to the lighthouse for views along the coastline. The ramparts can be high in some parts so don’t let wee ones wander off too far. There is also a great inland stroll along the River Tweed – a Scottish river flowing through an English town. Discover the brilliant boat (pirate or Viking depending on your kids’ imagination) made out of driftwood. Just follow the path inland from the oldest bridge – this is what our kids refer to as the ‘wee bridge’ which was built in 1634. It is now dwarfed by both the Royal Tweed Bridge and the Royal Border Railway Bridge – a Robert Stevenson viaduct. Back in the town itself the Granary Gallery is a free gallery and youth hostel right on the ramparts. Their current exhibition is ‘Spirited’ a celebration of British Woman artists featuring works by Barbara Hepworth and Laura Knight, it’s well worth a visit. From there you can take a wander along Bridge St which has a handful of interesting gift and craft shops and a brilliant second-hand bookshop, Slightly Foxed, the back of the shop is a real delight with a huge mural our kids love and couch to snuggle down in with a book. It also has a large display of L.S Lowry prints, the artist spent a lot of time in Berwick and you can take a Lowry trail through the town.
After sampling all the fish and chips on offer over the years, our firm favourite is Castlegate Fish & Chips (20 Castlegate). Sit-in if you can for a proper old-school fish and chip experience. Served with tea and bread and butter their chips are perfection and everything is made to order, always worth the wait. Another great spot to eat is the café in The Maltings Theatre. It’s perched above the distinctive red rooftops of the town and its Eyemouth haddock fishcakes are yum.
This summer we visited Berwick’s 18th-Century Barracks. Run by English Heritage the Barracks contains the brilliantly eclectic Berwick Museum. It has a lovely room full of gems from the Burrell Collection upstairs, next door is a huge dragon through which the kids can race, you can also do brass rubbings and indulge in a spot of medieval dress-up. Downstairs is an olde-world recreation of Berwick’s streets, a working telephone exchange, and a great range of exhibits on Berwick’s history. We tried our hand at the ‘Herring Challenge’ game, back in the day Herring Lassies could fill one barrel with 1,200 fish every 10 minutes. That’s 2 fish every second! Our two had a laugh trying to match that rate of work. There are also crafts over the summer, you can make your own fruity pom-pom ice cream and find out a bit about the history of ice-cream making in Berwick. With an old-school German table football and various other hands-on exhibits this is a great wee museum. There’s also the King’s Own Scottish Borderers Museum in the Barracks which is a journey through military history. Over the summer English Heritage are running special classes on how to be a Redcoat. Our two learned invaluable life-skills such as how to load and fire a cannon at sea. The sword skills class was particularly great, wooden swords are provided and are also on sale in the shop – good luck making it out without having to purchase one..
Next weekend the Barracks hosts the annual Berwick Food & Beer Festival which is a brilliant end-of-summer event. It opens with a family-friendly Ceilidh at 6pm on 31st August before the main festival on 1st & 2nd September. There’s piles for kids to do during the festival, including face painting, a Kids’ Kitchen which runs free cookery classes for 3-10yr olds as well as dancers and live music. The cobblestones of the Barracks are filled with stalls during the festival – selling everything from shellfish to honey, marshmallows to Alpaca-wool cardigans (the Alpacas come along too). Yummy food trucks park up for the weekend, our favourites are the wood-fired pizza truck, the burgers from Well Hung & Tender and the gorgeous Greek Street food. For the adults there are free cookery demonstrations, award-winning foodie films and a beer marquee filled with craft brewers keen to have a chat and let you sample their ale. There’s also live music throughout the weekend and the Dad Dancing competition is obviously not to be missed. The museums in the Barracks are free with your festival ticket and kids under twelve get free entry. All the details are on https://www.berwickfoodandbeerfestival.co.uk
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