Northumberland: Berwick-Upon-Tweed and the Holy Island
I first had this holiday booked last June, but then we were in lockdown and so I had to rebook for this year. As we crept ever closer to the week of our holiday, I just hoped that we wouldn’t end up going back into lockdown, and me having to cancel again. Thankfully we didn’t and so on the Monday I was up packing the car to bursting for the 3 hour drive north to Northumberland.
We arrived quite late in the day, and so resigned ourself to popping out for something to eat and then retiring to bed, ready for our first excursion to nearby Berwick-Upon-Tweed, the following day.
I had been to Berwick a few years back, before I had little Miss, but I couldn’t really remember a great deal about it. On driving in, I was first struck by the amazing Royal Border Bridge.
The listed railway viaduct, which is still in use today, was opened by Queen Victoria in 1850 and despite its name, doesn’t actually cross the England/Scotland border. Nonetheless, it’s quite a breathtaking feat of engineering, and is well worth a look.
We perused the town, which is a mix of historical and more modern buildings, taking time to stop off in a few charity shops and a fabulous little antique emporium where we picked up this gorgeous little picture of a border terrier because it reminded us a little bit of Bailey. It now takes pride of place on my living room wall.
After a lovely lunch in a pretty little tea room, we walked down to the river, stopping off at a yarn shop that I spotted for some impromptu additions to my wool stash, a handmade beret for Autumn, and some black wool for my next little planned knit. The sun was blazing down at the riverside, and it was nice just to sit peacefully for a while before walking back to up sit in the garden of a restaurant which had taken our eye on the way down.
Limoncello was not the sort of cosmopolitan place I was expecting to find in the middle of Berwick. The setting was just lovely, and we had a fabulous table right in the sunshine where, despite being slathered in factor 50, I still managed to burn my back and shoulders. We didn’t eat a meal there as we were full from the hearty lunch we’d eaten, but we did order desserts and a glass of wine and sat people watching in the sunshine. It was the perfect end to a lovely day out, before setting off for the evening.
The next day, we decided to keep it quiet. Usually when I go on holiday I run myself manic for the full duration of my time there, but now I have a toddler, I’m quite happy for a rest day along the way for all of us. We stayed in for much of the day, but, that evening we decided to take a trip to Lindisfarne. I had previously written off taking a trip to Lindisfarne since, unless you get across very early it means a good 5 hours waiting on the island for the tide to go out, revealing the causeway to the mainland.
My friends however had suggested a shortened trip to the island when the tide recedes in the evening, and I’m so glad they did.
Lindisfarne, also known as Holy Island is a rather spiritual place with its ruined monastery. The monastery had been founded around 634 by Saint Aidan, and subsequently the island became a base for Christianity in the North of England. The Vikings, raided the island in 793, however, destroying much of the Christian heritage of the island, capturing and murdering many of the monks and sending shockwaves through Christian England.
When we arrived, the tourists had mostly departed, the sun was started to set and the island felt incredibly atmospheric with it’s big skies and the wailing sound of seals drifting in from the nearby sandbanks. Down on the rocky beach, Little Miss was able to play with interesting stones and sea weed, and watch as tiny little crabs scarpered amongst the rocks.
Although we couldn’t access the priory ruins at that time, we could still see them well, as well as the statue of Saint Aidan. It was a balmy evening (we were blessed with the weather throughout our stay) so we sat in the garden of a pub and drank tea, looking out across the sea and listening to birdsong in the silence of the evening.
On the way back to the car I noticed a sign for the Holy Island distillery which was incorporated within a rather inviting looking pub. I’ve only recently taken to drinking gin, and only on occasion, but I thought a bottle of their beautiful pink gin would be a lovely thing to bring home to Yorkshire.