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Part 6 - A Journey Along The Tweed

Updated: Sep 14, 2021


 


As the sea beckons, this final part of my journey along the Tweed is 10.5 miles on foot from Norham Church to the lighthouse at the end of Berwick-Upon-Tweed pier and for the final 2 miles of the route both banks of the river will be in England.



I took the path back down to the river and continued east passing the river gauging station which monitors the river flow. An informative display board there describes this.






Continuing, I reached the first of three turner display boards that are located within the village. This first display board is located where Turner enjoyed painting the castle which describes him as being ‘obsessed with Norham Castle, sketching and painting it repeatedly.’ Timothy Spall who initially found fame in the 80's hit tv series Auf Wiedersehen, Pet starred in the excellent 2014 movie Mr. Turner. Later in this blog Mr Spall will be mentioned in another artist based film.

 

The footpath to the east of the display board has eroded beyond use and a diversion is now in place via roads in the village.





After a short walk along Pedwell Way back into the village is a war memorial close to the church.






Now turning left along Castle Street and looking towards West Street are where many of the business are located within the village. Check out the Community Services page within this site to see what’s on offer. The second of the Turner display boards is located on the village green and slightly further along the street on the left is a plaque which is a stark reminder of where the flood of 1948 reached in the village. See a previous Border Line Blog for further information.

 

Turning left into the Jubilee field at the junction with North Lane is the community orchard which consists of 40 sponsored fruit trees. In the far corner of the field is a permissive footpath along the edge of the sewer works which connects to the footpath past the beginning of the diversion as mentioned at the first Turner display board.

 

A bridge crosses the Burn opposite Blount Island before entering a field with the new Pedwell fishing bothy located on the right edge of the field. There is a footpath which leads up to the prominently positioned Norham Castle and is also the location of the third and final display board of the Turner Trail. Now heading back towards the river the signpost indicated there is 3 mile walk to Horncliffe ahead.

 

The narrow path at the aptly named Castle stream salmon swim now climbs up which passes Norham Castle above. A special castle that will see it's 900th birthday in 2021! Click on the below for a audio tour of the castle on your next visit which can be downloaded to an iPod, mobile phone or mp3 player.


There is a new disc on with a Heron inset which is for the Lower Tweed Trail. A footbridge is over a burn just beyond the castle and the path now climbs up. You can take the path to the right which cuts off a corner at Hangman’s Land but I continued along the path close to the water edge. There is a set of steps which drop steeply back towards the river level. For the next mile or so the path is narrow and undulating along a tree lined section with views of the river.








This particular tree had grown which seemed to be supported by a rock.







Recently a tree has fallen partially blocking the path. There are various footbridges and eventually Holywell Shiel on the Scottish bank comes into view.







 


A stile is at the end of this narrow section of path which has a warning notice visible from the other side.






The path now drops to river level opposite Frockham Brae (steep bank) with various fishing beat markers along the way. Holywell will be familiar to members of the fishing club as we have a cup named after it. I then skirted around the Frock beat.





The footpath towards Under Greenhill Shiel is a well defined track and as the river bends to the right the OS maps indicate this is the NTL - normal tide limit of the river. Nature has always fascinated me and I think this fact is amazing,



"Sea trout are 'anadromous', meaning they migrate from freshwater to the marine environment to feed and grow. Whereas brown trout stay resident within the freshwater river their whole life. A proportion of any brown trout population migrates to sea, and thus become Sea Trout."

I therefore assume after this point east in the river no fresh water fish such as Brown trout reside here?

 

The track continues along the waters edge that is well maintained and there is a section which is part of the Environmental Stewardship Margin scheme that promotes increasing water quality, reducing soil erosion and promoting wildlife such as pollinators. See the below link from Wiki for further information.





The track ends once it has reached Wilford's Shiel and this is also the end of the fishing beat here as indicated in the photo on the left.







St. Thomas Island which is Scottish one is now on the left (photo on the right). There are two footbridges along this section of the path and there is also a Shiel on the island. Although marked on the map it is not named. Here is also the location Mean High Water Springs (MHWS).




Here you have to trust the path markers and stiles as this is another instance where there is a discrepancy on the OS maps and what is reality. (My interpretation of map shows the path not inside the field at this point.)

There is another stile (inset in the photo) that you climb over.





Once over the stile there are steps which climb up to a memorial bench which overlooks the river as seen in the image below.




 





The path climbs up towards the trees near 'Peter's Nick'. The junction here is for the path mentioned earlier at Hangman's Land.





Steps drop down steeply before crossing a footbridge over the mouth of Horncliffemill Burn.









The path now drops towards the river and a Shiel can be seen at the edge of Green Knowes.








The OS map shows a green dotted line of a footpath continuing along the rivers edge. It's either completely overgrown or I missed it, so I took the obvious route up the steps into the village before taking a footpath in the village back towards the river.





Now back on track so to speak the path/track passes another Shiel on the edge of Horncliffe. Horncliffe incidentally is the most northerly village in England. Norham being the second most. Handy info just in case these questions come up in quiz!




 

The inset photo below is a small section of land at Green Knowes that is a part of England which is on the Scottish side of the river. Again, refer to a previous 'borderline' blog on this site mentioned earlier for more information.

 


Passing through the gate the path is on a embankment at Toft's Plantation and just before the bend in the river there is an unnamed derelict Shiel/Bothy.






You now enter a gate and walk along a path with trees obscuring Horncliffe House. A footbridge crosses over a Burn on the river bend.





 

In the distance on the left hand side of the image below, you can just about see the current repairs of the Chainbridge repairs that are due to be completed by the end of 2021.


A kissing gate before the path that leads up to the road that will soon once again cross the Union Bridge.

High up to the right is the Chainbridge Honey Farm. It's worth a visit. According to their website it is currently closed but check the link below for updates.



See the below link for update information and photos of the current renovation.

 



The path now continues along the waters edge which passes by 'The Boathouse' (not the one in Norham!)







There is a small unnamed island on the map just past the Boathouse and in the small channel of water next to the river bank there were lily pads, although I am not sure how they would cope with the river in spate.





The path continues towards 'The Start' as the river turns to the right and one of the buildings of the Paxton House estate in Scotland was visible at the waters edge.





Below are a selection of the photos as the river turns a corner and heads towards the sea and the section where both banks of the river will be in England.




 

The end of the Border!


The birds in the image above are roughly floating on the border but the ones in the right of the image are all in England. It reminded me of one of my old secondary school lessons that both banks of the Tweed are now 'double English.' The footpath continues along the edge of the river.

 

The bothy on the now English bank opposite is at Coroner's Meadow which I am not dying to visit and once I had passed a holiday cottage there was a gate which had a fence covered in seaweed which was clearly influenced by the tide. Perhaps I was imaging it but the air had a slight salty aroma. (below right image.)



The path on the next section until the A1 is particularly overgrown and is difficult underfoot due to the numerous hidden holes. To me it is was clearly little used. I then crossed a small footbridge and there were two long since abandoned and derelict buildings and the second one was Heugh Shiel.


The path is at the edge of a copse which was partly obstructed by fallen trees.


A footbridge crosses Canny Burn and two sets of steps climb a steep embankment.


 

Now at the top the path opens out at the edge of a field when you climb over a stile and the OS maps indicate there was once a 'Settlement' here and two mounds can clearly be seen in the photo below. To the right is the A 698 road and Inset in the photo are the remains of a bridge that would once crossed over the now dismantled railway. I would interpret that the section of the A 698 from the A1 roundabout up to the roundabout at the B 6354 is actually built on the old railway track.




The path continues along the field through a kissing gate and a stile in the distance.






In the image below Whittader Water joins the Tweed from the left at Whittadder Point.

The busy A1 bridge crossing the Tweed is now visible. There was even a HGV that are currently experiencing a shortage of drivers.



As I approached the stile at the A1 a small herd of deer were visible in the distance. The footpath sign indicated that it was 4 miles back to Horncliffe. The road was exceptionally busy even on a Sunday and as there is now pedestrian crossing here extreme caution is advised. During rush hour it must be horrendous.


 

Now safely over the A1 the path continues along a green wire fence and right next to a busy road was possibly a Russula Emetica, 'The sickener' growing? Certainly not edible! A Peacock butterfly had also landed on a a display board of local nature of which there was an image of one.



Although I have walked this section before it is easy to think that it would be urban the other side of the trees, in fact Berwick is another 2 miles away along rural footpaths of which some sections are overgrown.





A short section of path is in woodland before it opens out at the rivers edge.



A footbridge goes over a small Burn and he path then continues along the edge of a field.


The footpath passes the edge of the sewage works near Yarrow Hough.






There is a particularly overgrown section here and I cant imagine anyone actually using this picnic table!






The Gunnera here were impressive in size as the ones in Norham.

 

Royal Border Bridge!


As I approached the magnificent Grade 1 Royal Border Bridge over the River Tweed which was opened by Queen Victoria when it was completed after three year of construction in 1850 and designed by Robert Stephenson I managed to take a short video below of a modern day Azuma train crossing the bridge.





Underneath the bridge heading towards Berwick Town and the two other bridges across the Tweed.






The impressive building of the B.A.R.C ( Berwick Amateur Rowing Club) which was founded in 1869 is on the north bank of the river which is England's most Northerly Rowing Club and when tides and weather conditions permit they row up to 10,000 metres up (6.2 miles) upstream to Horncliffe.

Another sporting/trivia fact is that Berwick Rangers formed in 1881 are the only English team to play in the Scottish football league system.





The main vehicular bridge across the Tweed and the oldest bridge are now visible.






Berwick Bridge also known as the Old Bridge is a Grade 1 stone structure that was constructed between 1611 and 1624. At the time is cost about £17,000 to build which is about £4.7 million in todays money. Prior to this stone bridge wooden bridges existed. In June of this year the bridge reopened after a period of closure for a £900,000 renovation.

 

On the day of my walk the forecast was incorrect and it was hot and sunny in Berwick rather than the cool overcast one that was predicted. A large group of Bewick Swans were be monitored by a large seagull. They is something rather 'coastal' when you hear the sound of seagulls. They are an extremely clever and adaptable bird that can live for up to 20 years. Centuries ago it would have been less likely to see them inland as the once near extinct Red Kite would have been the main scavenger inland. There were successfully reintroduced in the south of the country several decades ago and are a magnificent sight with a wingspan of almost 6 feet. There is an emerging population in the south of the county.




A gull having a rest on top of a memorial and an image of a Tommy soldier statue like the one here in Norham.





 

I now crossed the river on the Old Bridge to continue east on the north bank to reach the lighthouse at the end of the pier. The town was exceptionally busy.



 

"And he painted matchstalk men and matchstalk cats and dogs......."



In Norham we have the Turner Trail and in Berwick there is the Lowry trail. Lowry was famous for painting scenes of life in industrial areas in the north of England. Another mention of Timothy Spall who depicted in him in the splendid 2019 film Mrs Lowry & Son. I can remember the 1978 number one song by Brian & Michael which today has had over a million plays on Spotify which is a tribute to the artist. Below is a link for a Lowry trail leaflet.

 
Sea At Last!

Bearing in mind it was busy I had to wait a few minutes to take this photo without people in it. Due to the sand bank at Sandstell Point in Spittal this was the first clear view of the sea on my journey. Although I visit the coast on average several times a week, because I was so focused on my Tweed journey it actually felt like seeing the sea for the first time.

As I walked underneath the archway which is part of the Berwick Walls the end of my journey was visible in the distance. Berwick's Elizabethan Walls are the only example of bastioned town walls in the United Kingdom and one of the best examples in Europe and are well worth a visit.




This photo was on the corner of the pier as it heads towards the lighthouse. The post has lights which are for the purpose of navigation for shipping.




 

A seal popped his head up close to the pier wall. There were numerous people rod fishing for Mackerel and were rewarded with a good catch.