Katrina’s Top Places to Visit

I was born & bred in & around Berwick, so the following are what I think are worth a visit but please let me know if you find anything new or worth a visit that I’ve not mentioned. If you would like any further information or details on these or places, please just ask. All the places below are within 20 miles of Allanton.

English side of the Border

Historic walls of Berwick-upon-Tweed

A circular walk around my birth town. Lots of nooks and crannies to explore (barracks & museum of Berwick, art galleys, Lowry Trail & lighthouse) and plenty to learn about Berwick’s turbulent history changing hands from Scotland to England’s rule several times. There are plenty of detours to find shops and cafes. Bridge Street the best for independent retailers. Lovely riverside walks/cycle paths. You can hire bikes from Berwick Cycles.

Chain Bridge & Chain Bridge Honey Farm, Nr Horncliffe

My dad went to school with Willie the Beekeeper and I went to school with Stephen his son. A very informative place to visit. Free entry and great buys such as soap, mustards, candles, lotions, and potions as well as honey of course! Many vintage motors and memorabilia scattered around the outbuildings and the London double decker bus café is a good pit stop for home baking. Beautiful walks along the Tweed and border crossing point on the historic Chain Bridge.

Norham

I grew up in this village on the English boundary of the border looking across the Tweed to Scotland. Most of my family still live there – watch out! For over hundreds of years (before my family moved into the village) there has been much fighting over the border, giving the village the title of ‘the most dangerous place in England’.  The castle is a ruin now but steeped in history of the battles between England and Scotland and a fascinating place to visit. There is a village butchers, bakers and grocery shop centred near the village green and they are still ran by the same families since I was a child! The historic Norham church sits behind the village green backing towards the river Tweed. The path along the Tweed towards Norham bridge (a border crossing point), Canny Island and the Boathouse are just beautiful and this is my favourite all time walk. We have a copy of the route in the bar plus a booklet about Norham.

The Holy Island of Lindisfarne

Check tide times – beautiful little historic island with a priory, castle, Lindisfarne Mead shop, beautiful beaches and fishing village, accessed by a tidal causeway so is cut off from the mainland for half the day. The Barn at Beal is just before the causeway and has amazing views of the island and is a good place to wait for the tide to pass. The island and the stunning surrounding coastline is used frequently for filming with the TV series like Vera being filmed here recently. A lovely place to be stranded for a few hours. A slight detour further south on the mainland is Cuthberts Cave (known also as Cuddys Cave). It is a lovely walk up to the cave and it part of the St Cuthberts Way route.

Etal & Ford Estates

Etal & Ford are pretty villages a mile apart. Etal has a ruined castle, thatched white washed pub and in the summer, a little steam train that runs to Heatherslaw Mill (a working flour mill & tea room). Ford has the Lady Waterford Hall (art gallery), tea room, plant nurseries & a castle also. Nearby is the Hay Farm Heavy Horse Museum, St Cuthbert’s Cave, & Duddo Standing Stones (Northumberland’s version of Stonehenge and are carbon dated at 4,200 years old. The stones are shrouded in mystery and exude a very special atmosphere). Nearby is the Battlefield of Flodden, where the armies of James IV of Scotland and the Earl of Surrey, met on 9th September 1513. The battle occurred somewhere in the fields to the south of Branxton on the slopes of Branxton Hill, starting late in the afternoon and lasting for 3 hours. By nightfall James, most of his nobles and perhaps 10,000 of his countrymen lay dead, including our local Lord & head of the clan Blackadder. Today the battlefield is marked by a granite cross, erected in 1910, and a battlefield trail created.

Chain Bridge Honey Farm, near Horncliffe

My dad went to school with Willie the Beekeeper and I went to school with Stephen his son. A very informative place to visit (check opening times). Free entry and great buys such as soap, mustards, candles, lotions and potions as well as honey of course! Many vintage motors and memorabilia scattered around the out buildings and the London double decker bus café is a good pit stop for home baking. Beautiful walks along the Tweed and border crossing point on the historic Chain Bridge.

 

England & Scotland

The Chain Bridge

The Chain Bridge linking Scotland to England, is the oldest suspension bridge in the world at over 200 years old. A huge 3 year restoration project of the bridge is nearing completion in Spring 2023 (see the book in the bar for more details). The bridge is was completely removed and is being repaired to strengthen this vital link across the border.

 

Scottish Side of the Border

Paxton House

Just along the river from Honey Farm, you will find Paxton House. 18th century Palladian stately home with original interiors, Chippendale furniture, beautiful picture gallery, stables tea room, picturesque gardens& riverside walks with children’s trails & playground.

Duns & the Jim Clark Motorsport Museum

The old market town of Duns is centred around the town square with a life-size statue of Wojtek, the soldier bear, weighing almost 60kgs given to the people of Duns from its Polish twin town of Zagan (We have books telling the touching story of Wojtekavailable to borrow from the bar). There are some nice small, independent shops in the town, 18 hole golf course & a golf driving range nearby. Duns Castle is privately owned but there are some magnificent walks around the grounds of Duns Castle Estate. You can lose yourself in the miles of woodland that stretch out on to the Lammermuirs.

Just further outside Duns nestled in the Lammermuirs you can find Edin Hall Broch. The broch (or roundhouse) at Edin’s Hall is just one part of a complex site. The hillfort surrounding Edin Hall’s Brochpre-dates the broch itself – it was probably built between 2,000 and 2,500 years ago.

Jim Clark was a Formula One racing driver, World Champion and local hero whose home farm you can see from our beer garden. He is buried in Chirnside, but you will the Jim Clark Motorsport Museum on the street above the square in Duns.

Berwickshire Coast

The Berwickshire Coastal Path is a 30 mile walking route (often done in sections) following the south eastern coastline of Scotland to the Border at Berwick. The Coast takes in Cove, Siccar Point & Coldingham.

Cove is a beautiful hidden bay with a small natural harbour. You park at the tiny village (note the information boards about the area plus the Memorial Statue of the East Coast Fishing Disaster of 1881). Walk down the path with access to the bay unusually through a hand carved tunnel (note pick marks) in the sandstone cliffs or continue down the path to the harbour.

Siccar Point is a little further down the coast by car. From the car park it is a short walk to see the point which was made famous by James Hutton (who interestingly lived at Slighhouses Farm where we source all our pork) in the history of geology.

St Abbs is a quaint fishing village on the Berwickshire coast with stunning cliff top walks around St Abbs Head Nature Reserve (cared for by the National Trust) and a starting point for many diving trips. The lifeboat of St Abbs has recently been established as an independent station as the locals fought to keep the service to save lives on this treacherous bit of coastline.

Coldingham has a lovely cove beach complete with beach huts, a surf school, café (open in the summer months) and the remains of Coldingham Priory in the main village. The bay further on out the village and a short walk down from the car park outside the St Vegas Surf Shop. You can book surfing lessons/equipment or diving lessons from St Vedas Surf Shop.

Gunsgreen House & Harbour at Eyemouth

The harbour is a working harbour with fishing boats returning regularly. RIB Boat trips from Eyemouth are a fantastic way to see the coast (leaflets downstairs by ladies toilet). In the summer months you can buy fresh seafood from a stall and titbits to feed the seals. We can highly recommend Giacopazzis fish & chip and ice cream shop for refreshments. Gunsgreen House is on the other side of the harbour is full of the history of Eyemouth, smuggling and gin! There is an 18 hole championship golf course with the most amazing views out to sea above Eyemouth. Eat, Sleep, Ride is a social enterprise offering horse riding lessons, hacking& trekking near the coast at Eyemouth.

Kelso

The abbey & market town of Kelso, to me feels like the heart of the Borders and is the central crossroads to the rest of the Borders. It sits on the River Tweed at the Junction Pool, which is the most expensive salmon fishing beat on the Tweed. The town is also famous for its Race Course, ruined historic Abbey, Floors Castle (stately home of the Duke of Roxburgh) with grounds & garden centre, Ice Rink, Show ground & market square. I have spent many hours in this town as a child as my grandfather retired here and now my uncles lives here. As kids we were regular visitors to Kelso Country Show, the rugby club or the ice rink when my parents curled! Latterly, I have spent more time pitch side with our own boys regularly playing rugby against Kelso. There are lots of options in the town to eat & drink. But just a few miles outside the town is the Roxburgh Hotel which has just been recently renovated by the Schloss Group to include a spa & new brasserie extension. You can purchase 4 hours day passes to the spa. The Hotel also offers outdoors activities such as Clay pigeon shooting and has an 18 hole championship golf course.

Bag a Big House

The Borders is well known for its stately homes & castles. Eleven of our regions’ historic & fine ststately homesmake up the Big House Group. Three I’ve already listed above (Gunsgreen house, Floors Castle& Paxton house).
Other local ones include:

Manderston House

Hme of the Palmer Family. An Edwardian style house has the World’s only silver staircase and the World’s largest collection of biscuit tins (Huntley & Palmer)! The stately home has been used in several period dramason television.We are looking forward to seeing the launch of the new event space in the converted Georgian Style Stables at the estate from Spring onwards. We are curious to see how the space has been updated with the vison for The Stables being high end and Ralph-Lauren inspired, while maintaining the original characteristics of the equestrian past. Private tours of house can be arranged.

Mellarstain House, near Gordon

Home to the Earl of Haddington, a Robert Adam masterpiece & one of his top architectural glories. The house is set in acres of park land with stunning interior decoration & period furnishing such as original wallpapers, silk wall coverings, display of costumes, embroideries & documents. Please check website for opening times.

I would also highly recommend visits to others including, Abbotsford House (former home of Sir Walter Scott), Thirlestane Castle, Traquair House & Bowhill House & Estate.

Not part of the Big House Group but another of Berwickshire stately homes that has seen huge renovations recently, is the Palladian mansion Marchmont House, built in 1750. I remember the house as a Sue Ryder care home from my days as a Brownie but the owners have completed out a six year extensive restoration of Marchmont, maintaining the original features. As well as a stately home, Marchmont now offers guided tours & special events, many of which are craft & design led, inspired by the layers of history & appreciation of the house. Check the website for details.

I have plenty more places I recommend visiting such as Bamburgh with its Grace Darling Museum, Castle & beaches, boat trips from Seahouses out to the Farne Islands and the other Abbey towns of Jedburgh & Melrose (voted the best town to live in in Scotland!).

Other family favourites for a trip out are East Links Family Park, Foxlake near Dunbar, Vogie Country Park and Alnwick Castle & Gardens (with a new children’sfantasy village playground about to be launched – the World largest playpark apparently!).

Edinburgh and Newcastle are great places for day trips being just over an hour drive or less on the train from Berwick or from the new station at Reston. Both are vibrant and fascinating cities that we love and where we can give you plenty of suggestions of places to visit.

Closer to home of course, you could just step out our front door and take a stroll down along the Whiteadder River and surrounding area. The Blackadder Walk which is a fabulous 6km walk around the old estate grounds of what was Blackadder House. I have written up all the local history for you to study & enjoy while walking around the former Blackadder Estate. It takes you back in time an you can imagine what our village would have felt like 150-200 years ago.

We have some Ordinance Survey maps for loan for any serious walkers.

Have a look at the Scotland Starts Here website which can give you further inspiration for things to see & do in the Scottish Borders & South of Scotland, as does the Lonely Planet, which recommends the South of Scotland as a destination for 2023.

Happy travels!

Best Eating Experience 2023 Winner

Best Eating Expierce 2023 Winner

The Allanton Inn has won, and retained, numerous different awards, mostly recently being honoured with a Visit Scotland Scottish Thistle Award for Best Eating Experince in the South of Scotland, October 2023.

Scottish Borders Business Excellence Awards - Highly Commended

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