Wednesday 19th September 2007
Belford to Berwick upon Tweed
It is a glorious day when we look out of the window this morning. There is hardly a cloud in the sky as we travel north west parallel with the A1 overlooking the Northumberland coast and out to Holy Island. We cross the A1 just north of Fenwick and make our way down to the causeway that leads to the island. When I made the arrangements for the holiday the last thing I thought about was whether the tide would be suitable for crossing to the island - it was the last thing on my mind. As it turned out, I couldn't have selected a better day as the causeway is open from 10am to 7pm, and as it is now 10.15 as we approach, we find that the water is well clear. On the far side of the causeway we are flagged down by a cyclist coming in the other direction - "have you got a puncture repair kit?" 15 minutes later we are on our way again with one satisfied customer waving bye-bye in the opposite direction.
The first port of call on the island had to be a tea stop of course. Thirst satisfied we then make our way to the Priory. The monastery was founded by St Aidan around AD635 and as you will remember is where St Cuthbert became a monk and later the Abbot. The Priory was built in the 11th Century and lasted until King Henry VIIIth fell out with the Pope in about 1536. In the grounds of the priory is a statue to "St Cuthbert of Farne" again created by the artist Fenwick Lawson. There are good views from the Priory to the castle in the distance and also lovely shapes and shadows within the grounds made by the ruins and by the weathering of the stonework. For more information look at the islands own website.
Time for lunch which we eat on the village green, and then we make our way to the castle. It was built in the 1550s after the dissolution of the monasteries using stone from the Priory. In 1901 it was bought from the Crown by Edward Hudson and he employed Sir Edwin Lutyens to do a make-over, converting it into an Edwardian country house. Gertrude Jekyll was brought in to change the walled vegetable garden into something more suitable! It stands on a rocky ourcrop on the corner of the island and commands magnificent views in all directions.
Time to make a move again. One thing we had learnt from the cyclist we helped, was that there is a new section of cycle track leading northwards towards Berwick. It is a good job that he told us where to look as initially we missed the signs and it certainly isn't shown on our map. The track commences close to the end of the causeway running alongside the road to Beal for about half a mile before veering to the north and crossing the South Low estuary at a sluice gate. After this the track deteriorates somewhat into a grassy track, but we are still able to ride the tandem by avoiding the worst of the ruts. At Goswick we are back on a metalled road, which leads us past a golf course and into the village of Cheswick. Here we pick up the original route 1 which takes us along the coast to Berwick. The state of this track varies considerably - some sections being tarmac, other sections being not much more than footpaths through fields. We find that we can ride for the majority of the route but there are sections (usually loose gravel) where it is just too risky with a fully laden tandem. Along the way we take advantage of the magnificent views and sit on the sand-dunes just watching the sea, munching an apple, and relaxing in the sun. Eventually we reach Berwick with its three grand bridges crossing the Tweed. The old road bridge is in the foreground, next the new road bridge and finally the railway viaduct - The Royal Border Bridge - which is half a mile long and has 28 arches and was opened by Queen Victoria in 1850.
We track down our B&B for the night, which is in the centre of the town. Although we booked in advance it is obvious that we are not expected and the room is not up to expectations. We move to another room, which is an improvement, and given half a chance we would move to another B&B - however two places that we enquire at are both full. As it is just for the one night we decide to accept what we have. We struggle again to find a suitable place to eat in the evening and end up with another Chinese meal. We can't say that we would recommend Berwick as somewhere to stay!
Mileage today 28.6 miles Total mileage so far 704.1 miles