Berwick-upon-Tweed Tourist Information

Berwick-upon-Tweed is rightly famous for a number of things. As a border town which has changed hands between the English and the Scots many times during its colourful and violent history, it is not surprising that some of its most notable architecture is based on fortifications - notably Berwick Castle and Berwick Barracks and the almost complete set of walls which ring this magnificent town. Berwick has been part of England since 1482, though there has been talk of a referendum as to whether it should re-join Scotland, as it has many Scottish ties. But, whichever country it’s in, it’s a really lovely market town, with bags of character.

As you enter Berwick, you’ll probably cross the Tweed on one of its three famous bridges. Train passengers come into Berwick over the Royal Border Bridge, which was built by Robert Stephenson and opened by Queen Victoria in 1850. Originally it served the York; Berwick and Newcastle  Railway Company, but now it’s part of Network Rail’s East Coast Main Line. A grand structure, it has 28 arches, made from brick and stone-faced. The piers are stone and rise to a height of approximately 125 feet (38 metres) above the Tweed.

Cars may cross the Tweed into Berwick via the Royal Tweed Bridge, which was opened in 1925 and it used to be the route of the A1 (Berwick was long since by-passed, so the A1 no longer goes through the town).

But the finest of Berwick’s bridges is known simply as Berwick Bridge or the Old Bridge and dates all the way back to 1611. It wasn’t, of course, built for modern traffic, but it still carries cars - although only in one direction, away from the town. It has 14 arches and is made from red sandstone which is one of the area’s distinctive building materials.

There’s plenty to see and do in and around Berwick. There’s a fine walk all around the town on the walls and ramparts, and if you walk down to the harbour, you can walk along the harbour wall on the concrete pier until you’re right out to sea. At the end of the pier there’s a lighthouse which sends out a white flash every five seconds.

The town has its own newspaper, the Berwick Advertiser, and a good range of shops, including several outdoor shops in and nearby. There are some very nice tearooms and cafés and some excellent restaurants.

Underneath the three bridges of Berwick flows one of the world’s best fly-fishing rivers, the Tweed, on its journey to the nearby North Sea, making for some delightful views and charming walks along the river banks. About five miles upstream a bridge crosses the river linking England with Scotland. The Union Chain Bridge dates back to 1820 and is believed to be the oldest surviving suspension bridge in the world. At the time it was built, it was the longest suspension bridge in the world. Although it can still carry vehicles, they’re only allowed on one at a time these days. It is now part of the Sustrans Cycle Network.

Berwick Parish Church is a very unusual model of its kind. It was one of only a handful of churches built during the reign of Oliver Cromwell and his son and was distinguished by not having a tower, chancel, altar, bells or organ. A chancel was added in 1855 some 203 years after it was built. An organ had been installed in the meantime in 1773. The church is still without a tower or bells, and so services are marked by the bells in the tower of the nearby town hall, which has led to some confusion as to whether or not the town hall is the church.

The painter LS Lowry holidayed in Berwick on a regular basis in the 1930s. It’s hardly surprising that he was tempted away from Lancashire to stay awhile in Berwick as the views in and around the town are stunning, and there’s now a Lowry trail for visitors to follow so they can stand and look at the same vistas as the artist when he painted some of his finest pictures of the town.

The beaches near Berwick are exceptional. They’re clean, sandy and a haven for wildlife. They’re just one of the many things that make Berwick such a special place for a holiday - whether you’re a walker, cyclist, scuba diver or someone who just likes to wander through old towns soaking history.

Interesting fact
Although Berwick is now in England, its football team (Berwick Rangers) plays in the Scottish League

Things to see and places to visit

Alnmouth
Alnmouth Golf Club
Bamburgh Castle