It’s been a couple of years (or more) since we had a group weekend away. School exams for kids, YHA ‘issues’ and other stuff has seemed to get in the way but this year we managed it.
I’ve been through Berwick many times on the train and it always looked like an interesting town to visit and so this weekend trip was one to look forward to. We arrived at the Berwick YHA at about 5pm and were immediately impressed by it. There’s a vibrancy and liveliness about it that is often lacking in other hostels we’ve been to. This is due in large part to the ground floor café that is open to the public and very welcoming. The staff are amazing!
The building itself is a stunner and well worth a look; an abandoned granary that has had a new skeleton built inside the extant walls and now provides three floors of excellent accommodation, a floor with a fantastic self-catering kitchen and diner as well as an arts space on another floor.
Our Saturday walk was a tricky affair; a linear walk along the beach that necessitated cars taken to the end point and drivers brought back again. A bit like one of those puzzles where you need to cross a river with a fox, a goose and a bag of corn.
We started out on the beach just south of Spittal on a bit of a bleak, overcast day with rain in the air. Nonetheless, our group of eleven hardy souls strode confidently southwards across the flat sandy beach as the tide continued to ebb.
The beach here is bounded by undulating grassy sand dunes so typical of the fabulous Northumberland coast and we made occasional forays into their grassy environs to avoid deep channels and large rock pools barring our way. Quite a few streams run directly into the sea on this stretch of coast and we did have to venture about a quarter of a mile inland at one point to cross a channel via a flood gate. We had lunch beside a collection of concrete cubes and we couldn’t decide whether they were tank barriers or [badly implemented] tidal protection.
Our walk continued south after lunch and the weather brightened, the rain eased off and we completed about 8 miles back to our cars at the excellent Barn at the Beal café. Highly recommended!
Our Sunday walk was much shorter but had much more content. We opted to walk the walls around the old town and mix in the Lowry Trail as well. The walls are fully intact and quite fantastic, a must-see if you’re in the town. A mix of walls and earthen embankments they protected the town from a whole host of ne’er-do-wells in days gone by; both from the sea and from land. There are old gun positions still visible and one or two replica guns in place to give you an idea of what it must have looked like. The Lowry Trail is an interesting view of what LS Lowry would have seen and what inspired his paintings. There are several information boards dotted across the town that explain his time here in greater detail
On our way along the walls at the harbour mouth we took a detour along the pier to the old lighthouse. It stands tall against the buffeting wind and is an impressive sight in itself. Unfortunately, you can’t go inside but when you look back at the town you get a fine view of the higgledy-piggledy layout.
Inside the old barracks gym was an exhibition consisting of a scale model of the old wooden pier which was mesmerising. Inside the old wooden building was sparse and bare, with the elegant tracery of the wooden pier dominating the void. I loved it.
After the walk we headed back to the hostel and they allowed us to eat our lunch in the unused conference space on floor 1 – what a lovely bunch.
We browsed the art display in a leisurely fashion before packing up and heading home after a great weekend.