The border of Berwick and grief

On my way home from visiting my late husband’s grave, I stopped off in Berwick-Upon-Tweed for some adventuring. I thought that it would be a good way to shake off the tears and to make a few happy memories for myself.

The English town of Berwick sits on the border between England and Scotland. For me, this border location is key for my visit. You see, this is where Paul and I would stay when driving back from England to Scotland. It allowed us to arrive in Berwick for a meal and a good night’s sleep before making the drive to Scotland in the morning. And whilst my journey to and from England was by train this time, I felt that, on the 10th anniversary of Paul’s death, I wanted to enjoy the memories of our travels together.

I arrived in Berwick at 7.20 in the evening, after spending the day with some of my in-laws visiting Paul’s grave. I then made my way to the hotel just across the road; a hotel that was chosen because it’s where Paul and I stayed anytime we were passing through. As there was still a bit of daylight remaining, I decided to head straight out to explore a bit. That led me back towards the train station where I followed the path towards Berwick Castle.

Berwick Castle was started in the 1100s by a Scottish king before being passed back and forth between Scottish and English rulers in the years before the Acts of Union – as did the town itself. Built just outside of the medieval town walls, the castle was left to fall to ruins after the Elizabethan walls fortified the town making the castle redundant from a strategical position. Much of the castle’s stonework was used for the new walls and bastions, and even more, was demolished to make way for the Berwick-upon-Tweed railway station. All that remains today are a couple of crumbling walls and some of the lower castle rooms.

The light was just right for a short wander along the River Tweed. It was quiet and quite lovely as the sky began to dim with the fading sun. I wanted to get back to the hotel before the darkness though, so left the twilight sky and returned to the hotel (by way of the hotel pub for a quick pint before bed).

The next morning, I woke up early and went downstairs for a big breakfast before checking out of the hotel and starting my adventure. The sun was out and the weather was nice, which helped to provide a positive attitude for the day ahead!

I began my adventure by walking towards the town centre so that I could walk along the Elizabethan town walls (built in the mid-1500s). This set of walls completely wraps around the old town centre forming large stone-and-earthen ramparts and ditches with several artillery emplacements and stone bastions along the way. Today, the grassy-topped walls act as a lovely walkway with benches and space for children to play.

When I got to the old Berwick Barracks, I climbed down from the wall to check out the military regalia held in the barrack’s museum space. It was the first time that I made it to the building during opening hours, so I really couldn’t miss it!

After visiting the barracks, I climbed back up the walls and walked towards the pier. Then it was off the walls again to walk along the half-mile-long stone-and-concrete pier towards the lighthouse which was completed in 1826. The lighthouse and pier are fairly simple, but when you consider that they’re nearly 200 years old and still fit for purpose, you realise the engineering skills that went into it all.

I spent a fair amount of time taking in the views across the Berwick Harbour, watching the waves lap against the shoreline before heading back towards the town walls once again.

After I completed the circuit around the Elizabethan walls, I headed back in the direction of the hotel to visit a bit of the original medieval walls from the 1300s. (Much of this older wall was replaced by the Elizabethan ramparts.) Along this section of the medieval town wall is an old bell tower that was built in 1577 out of stone from the old walls.

A short distance from the tower, I visited the Lord’s Mount, a gunning tower built by King Henry VIII in 1522. The circular building was originally two stories tall and had six gun positions. But today only the walls from the first floor remain. By the time I finished exploring Lord’s Mount, my legs were done exploring the town. So from there I made the short walk to the train station and made my way back to Edinburgh.

Throughout my visit, I reflected on the time I spent there with Paul and how to this day he remains my favourite adventure partner. We shared a love for history, adventures, and geeky stuff in just the right combination that meant we truly enjoyed exploring new places together – without one of us being left bored! I don’t know if I’ll ever find another adventure partner who shares the same passion and ethos for exploration as I do, but as I find more and more confidence in living solo that seems to matter less and less.

I don’t know where my next mini-adventure will take me, but I’ve got a list of places to see this summer so stay tuned to find out!

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