In 2007 Jean and I signed up with Shepherds Walks for their very first Hadrian’s Wall walk with 17 of our active friends. To celebrate our 10th anniversary of that walk (in addition to our 50th wedding anniversary) - we signed up for the 2 1/2-day Berwickshire Coastal path walk. Two other couples, Lynn and Phil and Ruth and Scott, who were part of the original Hadrian’s Wall Walk joined us.
After a great weekend of wedding anniversary celebration at the Tillmouth Park Country estate, we made our way to our first overnight stop in Berwick on Tweed - the Walls B&B.
This is luxurious 5-star accommodation on the historic walls of Berwick on Tweed. Stephan and Louise Scott were wonderful hosts, allowing us to store our luggage from our early arrival until check-in time. They even allowed us to store our heavy luggage while we went on the 2 ½ day hike along the coast taking only our hiking gear. The bedrooms were large and well equipped with a fantastic clean hot shower. Breakfast was superb served on a large table accommodating the three couples – the cooked Northumbrian breakfast even including locally sourced haggis even though we were “south of the border”! We had safe free parking nearby (where I parked my car for three days while we hiked) and we could walk to our recommended dinner location, The Queens Head, in two minutes. You cannot miss the place – 2 lavender-colored doors and 4 lovingly-kept hanging baskets say “welcome”.
We were honored to have the world-famous shepherd himself and owner of Shepherds Walks, Jon Monks, drive from his office in Rothbury and give us the trip briefing and reminisce about old times. Our shuttle driver arrived at 9:30 and drove us into Scotland to the village of Cockburnspath (pronounced Coburnspath or even Copath) and we set off on our 30 mile 2 1/2 day hike along the cliffs of the county of Berwickshire in Scotland. The shuttle driver then took our luggage to our second night’s accommodation in Coldingham.
Scott was our navigator and he was in charge of the GPS we had borrowed from Shepherds Walks to help us with our hike. As we passed under the electrified main railway line from Edinburgh to London, the GPS went wild and we clocked up about 8 miles in a couple of minutes!! We were initially excited to see the Tor Ness nuclear power station to our north but then it seemed to be on our horizon forever. Our first adventure was to find a young ram with its baby horns stuck through a wire mesh fence. We carefully released it and continued on our way.
Our first stop for a snack was at Pease Bay holiday camp where we stocked up with energy bars and water. It was after this break that Scott suggested we needed to “pick up the pace” as we had dinner reservations in Coldingham at 7 pm and because of the glitch in the GPS, it was quite difficult to predict when we would actually get there! We passed magnificent cliff scenery and fascinating geological rock formations and carefully walked through farmers’ fields. Part of the Coastal Path also includes Siccar Point, between Pease Bay and St Abbs.
Quote from Bill Gray, Geological Society of Glasgow:
Siccar Point on the Berwickshire coast is one of the most famous geological sites in the world. It is the site of Hutton's Unconformity, where almost vertical beds of marine Lower Silurian greywackes are overlain by gently sloping beds of non-marine Upper Devonian conglomerates. The unconformity was discovered during a boat journey made in 1788 by the founder of modern geology James Hutton, the scientist and mathematician John Playfair and the geologist James Hall. The Silurian beds are approximately 435 million years old, while the overlying Devonian beds are approximately 375 million years old. The unconformity, therefore, bridges a time gap of around 60 million years.
The unconformity provided one of several pieces of evidence that Hutton produced in support of his theory that the Earth was much older than was widely believed in the eighteenth century. Although he did not know the ages of the Silurian and Devonian rocks at Siccar Point, he recognised that long periods of time would have been necessary for the Silurian rocks to have been tilted and eroded, and for the Devonian sediments to have been laid down on top of them.
Eventually, we reached a fork in the trail, to the left was St Abb’s head and to the right was Lumsdaine Farm and Coldingham. It didn’t take us long to reach a consensus to take the shortcut to our home for the night - Priory View in Coldingham. As we walked into the village we had another downpour of rain which was a great excuse to duck into the nearest pub to shelter and have our first beer of the day! A welcome reward for our first day of hiking. It was only about 1/2 mile to our B&B where we settled in for a bit of relaxation before walking to our dinner reservation at the New Inn in Coldingham. This was not the nice “cutesy” pub I was hoping for but we had an adequate pub dinner there. We obviously did not need dinner reservations!!
Today we were up early, and our host catered a good full British breakfast. He told us the way to get back to the Coastal Path through the old Coldingham priory and we soon reached the beach at Coldingham Sands. We rejoined the cliff walk and the next rest stop was the town of Eyemouth where we stopped for a welcome coffee at Giacoppazzi’s on the harbor. We continued the walk and decided to skip the visit to Burnmouth village so avoided the descent and ascent into and out of the village.
Our overnight accommodation tonight was Marshall Meadows, which we reached at about 3:30 after crossing the border into England. - well marked on our coastal path. We checked in and immediately went to the bar to celebrate the end of our second day of hiking. We also took advantage of the complimentary cup of tea or coffee and shortbread.
The hotel is quite old fashioned, was built in 1787 and we believe we got one of the original beds!! It creaked at every move and was a terrible mattress. All of the many fire doors and our bedroom door creaked like from a scene in a Hitchcock movie. Dinner at night was reasonable.
We had an excellent breakfast at our hotel and set off for the 6-mile hike along the cliffs (Marshall Meadows is only 3 miles from Berwick along the main road), following the mainline railway track for some of the way. We were welcomed to Berwick by the huge holiday camp on the outskirts, walked past Magdalene Fields Golf Club and ended up near the pier at the mouth of the Tweed.
We stopped for an early lunch at Lowry’s at the Chandlery on the Quay Walls within sight of The Walls B&B where we started our journey. We retrieved our luggage from the Walls B&B and our traveling companions caught the fast train to Edinburgh while we headed south for a nostalgic tour of Yorkshire.
The scenery was beautiful. My wife Jean grew up in Berwick and knew of many of the places on our itinerary but had never actually walked the cliffs. She even encountered a couple of distant relatives as we were walking!!