The gorgeous town of Berwick Upon Tweed is the most northerly of Northumberland’s town and is just 3 miles from the border with Scotland. The pretty town has sandy beaches, lovely riverside walks and cycle paths and a plethora of nearby golf courses. The history of Berwick is turbulent – its location means that it changed hands – violently – between the English and the Scottish many times. The design of the town and the Elizabethan Walls were built to keep Scots from entering the town and now provide an excellent circuit on which to survey the market town. The town has had its share of famous visitors over the years – the stunning Grade I listed Royal Border Bridge is of Robert Stephenson design and the artist Lowry was a regular guest. There’s certainly lots of do in Berwick and her surrounds and so here are our recommendations for the best things do in Berwick Upon Tweed.
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The Best Things to do in Berwick Upon Tweed
The combination of the geography, history and culture of Berwick ensures that there’s plenty to do here and a good mix of attractions in Berwick to keep you occupied. Fans of the outdoors will definitely revel in golf courses, beaches, walking and cycle trails. History lovers will find museums and places of interest to satisfy curiosities and there are plenty of cafes and nooks and crannies in which to watch the world go by too.
Visit the Barracks and Main Guard at Berwick Upon Tweed
When the town of Berwick came under attack from the Scots in 1715 it led to the Berwick Barracks and Main Guard being built in an upgrade of the town’s defences. Berwick’s Barracks were the first of their kind to be built in England in 1721. There’s a series of exhibitions held in the buildings and you’ll need several hours to fully explore them all. The Barracks is managed by English Heritage – so members get in for free – join here now – and explore the Berwick Museum, the Berwick Gymnasium Gallery (currently closed) and the exhaustive Kings’ Own Scottish Borderers Regimental Museum (currently closed). The Barracks also hosts an exhibition detailing the history of Berwick – the Story of a Border Garrison Town and it’s well worth a visit.
- Berwick Barracks Address: Parade, Berwick-upon-Tweed, Northumberland TD15 1DF
- Berwick Barracks Entry Price: Adults £5.90, Children £3.50. Free for English Heritage Members.
- Berwick Upon Tweed Barracks Opening Times: Entry by pre-booked times only – book here.
Walk the Berwick Town Walls
The town walls of Berwick were fortified in 1558 when Mary I ordered the town to be secured against a Scottish attack. They were modified again against the Jacobite threat in 1715. Today the Berwick Town Walls provide an excellent circular walk of the town. You’ll get fabulous views of the coast, the town itself, the river and the Royal Border Bridge. It’s easiest to start in the Castlegate car park and the walk is easy and just 1.5 miles long.
Have a day at the beach in Berwick
There are several beaches at Berwick to choose from. The closest is the beach by the Golf Club where there’s also a play park for children – this is a pretty sheltered beach. Cocklawburn Beach is a few miles from the centre of town but has miles of golden sands and great rock pools to explore. You’ll likely find it deserted. Spittal is just south of the River Teed and has mainly shallow water at high tide.
If you do spend the day on the beach be sure to secure your valuables. We use and recommend portable travel safes – here’s our guide to the best travel safes.
Play Golf in Berwick Upon Tweed
The Magdalene Fields Golf Club is the closest to the town centre, being just to the north. It’s known as the most northerly Golf Course in England. Magdalene Fields Golf Course was just 9 holes until 1914 when it was extended to 18 holes. It’s great for superb views of the coast, Scotland to the North and Holy Island on clear days. Goswick Links Golf Course is 6 miles to the south of Berwick and is a championship course. North into Scotland you’ll also find Eyemouth Golf Club.
Follow the Lowry Trail in Berwick
L. S. Lowry is famous as one of Britain’s best-loved painters. He is most well known for this “matchstick-men paintings” of Manchester and the North West of England. He visited Berwick regularly and some of his most important paintings and sketches were completed here. The Lowry Trail around Berwick provides 18 interpretative signs and reproductions of his famous works around the town and identifies the sites of the best of his drawings and paintings of Berwick. The walk takes around 3 hours and you’ll find this Lowry Trail leaflet useful as you walk around.
Take a walk along the River Tweed in Berwick
The banks of the river are bordered with a fabulous wide and well-made track, perfect for walking or cycling. Take a fabulous walk along the banks of the river, and explore the bridges across it. You can look back up past the remains of Berwick Castle and to the railway station.
Explore Berwick Castle
The most northern of Northumberland’s Castles, Berwick was built in the 12th century by Scottish King David and has a turbulent history which you can read about in our guide to the castles of Northumberland. There’s little remains of the castle and it’s under the stewardship of English Heritage, but the entrance is free. Stones from the castle were used in the construction of the Holy Trinity Church in Berwick and the Great Hall was where Berwick Railway Station now is.
The part of the castle to see are the White Wall – and a set of steep stairs known as the Breakneck Stairs. Access from either the riverbank or the Railway Station.
Visit Berwick Railway Station to see an important place in Anglo/Scottish History
Part of Berwick Castle’s Great Hall was demolished to great the Railways Station, so its fitting that there is a plaque in the railway’s station denoting the location where King Edward took oaths of allegiance from Scottish nobles in 1296.
Watch a Unique Game of Football in Berwick Upon Tweed
Berwick might be in England, but its some measure of how close the border town is when their football team plays in the Scottish league! Berwick Rangers Football Club was founded in 1884 and play in the fifth tier of Scottish football. Until their relegation in 2019 they were the only English football team to play in the Scottish Professional Football league!
Go Fishing In Berwick
The River Tweed is renowned as an excellent fiver for fishing and is world-famous for salmon fishing. Fishing was one of the most important industries in the town for many years, Tweed fisheries have been famous since the 14th century. The best season for fishing the Tweed is autumn, with the season sometimes extending into November. Find out more about fishing the River Tweed here.
Eat the Berwick Cockle
It’s not what you think. The Berwick Cockle is a white mint flavoured sweet with red stripes and it’s been made here since 1801. Cockles were traditionally sold loose, by weight in paper bags – you’d get “a quarter of cockles” – meaning a quarter of a pound. Berwick Cockles were made and sold by the Cowe Family here in Berwick in a building that now houses the Audela restaurant. The Cowe Family shop closed in 2010. You can still buy Berwick Cockles, but today they’re a crumbly mint, whereas they used to be a hard mint. Want more Northumberland treats? Check out our guide to the food and drink of Northumberland here.
How to Get to Berwick Upon Tweed
Berwick is very easy to get to and its located just off the main A1 – the main trunk road for the northeast of England. If you have a Northumberland parking disk there is free parking in the town. If you don’t have a parking disk you can buy them for £1 from a shop or machine in town. They just limit you to how long you can park for free.
Berwick is on the east coast mainline and the train station in Berwick is centrally located. Buses from the south are easy too – the X15 and the X18 come from Newcastle and towns across the North East of England.
Things to do near Berwick Upon Tweed
Berwick is a great place to base yourself to see the northern parts of Northumberland and also some of the borders region of Scotland. There are some excellent things to see and do near Berwick too – here’s our pick of the best of them
Visit Paxton House
This country house estate has stunning gardens, kids play parks and a variety of activities. The stately house is currently closed, but it’s stunning when it is open and their guided tours are superb. More information on Paxton House here. You can see a painting of the Union Chain Bridge here (f the house is open) painted before it was completed.
Visit the Chain Bridge Near Berwick Upon Tweed
When this bridge opened in 1820 it was the longest wrought iron suspension bridge in the world as well as being the first for vehicles in the UK. It has a span of 137 metres and it predates both the Menai Bridge and the Clifton Bridge, which are both of a similar design.
The Chain Bridge or Union Chain Bridge crosses the River Tweed between Fishwick in the Borders, Scotland and Horncliffe in Northumberland, England. It is open the vehicles today, although it is sized restricted (cars are ok but only one at a time). You’ll want to park and walk across, the views from the middle are rather lovely. Head to the Chain Bridge Honey Farm on the English side of the river to see an exhibition on Chain Suspension Bridges.
Chain Bridge Honey Farm
You’ll find the Chain Bridge Honey Farm in the village of Horncliffe on the English side of the River Tweed just after the Union Chain Bridge. Come here for a super little visitor centre on bees and the production of honey. There’s an observation hive where you can see the bees behind glass, buy all variety of honey products to take home or try in the café and also see their exhibition on chain bridges too! More info on opening times of the Chain Bridge Honey Farm here.
Take a trip to Bamburgh from Berwick Upon Tweed
The gorgeous Northumberland village of Bamburgh, with its imposing castle, gorgeous village green and links to the RNLI is just 30 minutes’ drive from Berwick. If you’re based in Berwick it makes for a great day trip – although make it a long day as a visit to Bamburgh Castle can take most of the day and you’ll want to make time to explore the RNLI museum and its overview of Victorian Heroine Grace Darling. More on what to do in Bamburgh in our guide here.
Visit Holy Island from Berwick
The Holy Island of Lindisfarne is just 20 minutes’ drive from Berwick upon Tweed – tides depending of course. This glorious island of sanctuary just off the coast of Northumberland is connected by a tidal causeway – so you’ll want to be very clear when the causeway is clear as the tides are dangerous here. Holy Island makes for a fabulous day trip from Berwick (longer stays are even more special!) with a ruined priory in the location where Christianity came to the North East, a glorious Castle and walled garden and some stunning walks around the island – read more about what to to do on Holy Island here.
Take a Free Visit to Norham Castle from Berwick Upon Tweed
Norham Castle was one of the most important border stronghold castles in years gone by and holds a commanding position above the River Tweed. Today the ruins are managed by English Heritage, but entry is free for all. It’s an atmospheric place to visit made all the more interesting by a free audio tour which you can download here.
Explore Etal Castle from Berwick
Another English Heritage managed favourite place to visit from Berwick Upon Tweed is Etal Castle. This former manor house was fortified in 1341 to create defences against the threat from Scotland and it’s the oldest part of the castle that remains today, the residential tower. It’s a peaceful little spot (you can read more about it in our guide to Northumberland Castles here ), and a fabulous place for a picnic. One of the reasons to come here is for the superb exhibition on the Battle of Flodden which we recommend if you’re going to take our next recommendation and head to the Flodden Battlefield site.
Walk Around the Site of the Battle of Flodden
The Battle of Flodden was one of the bloodiest battles in British history. A clash between the English and the Scots in 1513 in Northumberland it led to the death of 10,000 Scots and 4,000 English. The Scottish King, James IV was killed in the battle (the last British monarch to die in battle), along with pretty much all of his nobility. The English won.
There’s a brief overview of the Battle of Flodden here. Flodden is easily reached from Berwick, but we advise you to visit Etal Castle first and view the exhibition. Interpretive boards around the Flodden Battlefield Trail are a great accompaniment, and we recommend taking the walk around the field. It is a sobering walk and a beautiful place.
Final Words on the Top Things to do in Berwick Upon Tweed
The glorious Northumberland coast at Berwick provides for an excellent last hurrah before it becomes Scotland and Berwick is a fine example of a border town. There’s great history here, some of it violent, but these days it’s a friendly place to visit – find a sandy beach, cycle or walk along the River Tweed, or gaze in wonder at the Royal Border Bridge. Take some exercise on one of the four nearby golf courses or enjoy the most northerly micropub in England. Berwick is a great place to visit, there’s lots to do here and it’s a fabulous base to explore these most northerly reaches of Northumberland.
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