Berwick upon Tweed

The van needed a service. A message about needing an oil change had been showing on the dash since I went up Ben Vorlich and so in it went for some TLC. That meant that I had a couple of hours to kill, and what better way to do that than to take a wander around town. I don’t usually cross the border into England for things like this but seeing that I’m not working just now I thought “Why not?”

Berwick, if you’ve never been, is a funny wee place. It’s a small town but because it is so far from anywhere big it has a character all of its own. I’ve never really spent much time looking around and so I set off on the Lowry Trail. And I’m glad that I did. Starting with my back to the Town Hall I found myself wandering through a number of back lanes, feeling a little as though I was invading private spaces, so intimate are some of the closes. Soon enough I was out on the town wall and completing a circuit of the town.

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There are a number of signposts dotted along the route that give some information about Lowry and his visits to Berwick, along with reproductions of some of his sketches and paintings. It’s a funny thing to find so much about him up here. He is rightly famous around Manchester and Salford with his depictions of industrial scenes, but these paintings and sketches of the seaside (strangely exaggerated in some cases) were all new to me.

After a couple of circuitous miles I crossed the old Berwick Bridge and headed towards the docks and the beach. I stopped in at a Newsagent and bought some Cola Cubes. I’ve not had any of them for years! I headed out onto the beach and wandered around to the Promenade at Spittal. There weren’t very many other people around and the flat grey light gave the place a mournful look. That faded Victorian grandeur thing that you see at a lot of seaside towns. I found an Ice Cream Van sitting on the Promenade. I bought a ’99’ and had a chat with the ice cream man. He scoffed when I said that I admired his optimism, sitting there with nobody around. Said he’d been doing this long enough to know when to be there. I wandered on, wondering whether the people he was waiting for would ever come.

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The route cut back inland and up onto a disused railway line. From here I had great views across the mouth of the Tweed back to Berwick. At which point my phone rang and the man at the garage told me that the van was ready to pick up so I put on a burst of speed and crossed back over the bridge, headed up onto Castlegate and back out to the very edge of town to pick up the van and head home for lunch.

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