8 Fun Things to Do in Berwick-upon-Tweed in a Day

Berwick-upon-Tweed has been shaped by centuries of conflict.

Situated on the northeast coast of England, four kilometres from the Scottish border, it was at the centre of a tug-of-war between these two nations for 300 years. It changed hands between England and Scotland a staggering 13 times before the future King Richard III finally claimed it for England in 1482.

Today’s Berwick is quieter and has a thriving arts scene, but it is also a town that wears its battle scars proudly. From Elizabethan ramparts to riverside walks, explore the best things to do in Berwick-upon-Tweed in a day.

kayaking on river tweed is one of the best things to do in berwick upon tweed

1. Walk the Town Ramparts

Start your day in Berwick-upon-Tweed with a walk along its Elizabethan ramparts. This provides the best perspective of the town and allows you to bookmark places to explore later.

old buildings along the ramparts of berwick upon tweed
Ramparts Walk, Berwick-upon-Tweed

Known locally as ‘the Walls’, these grey limestone ramparts were built between 1558 and 1570 to keep the invading Scots at bay, effectively turning Berwick into a fortress. The Walls are the most intact defensive walls in the UK and are just over a mile long.

You can hop onto the Walls at any point and walking them should take less than one hour. However, I suggest you take more time than this, coming down from the ramparts to explore places of interest.

three bridges across rover
Berwick’s three bridges

2. Stroll Along the Riverside to View an Iconic Bridge

As its name suggests, Berwick sits on the shores of the River Tweed, offering ample opportunity for gentle riverside strolls.

I recommend dropping down to the river at the quayside and pausing for a cream tea – a must-try English food experience – at the Lookout Café.

english cream tea with pot of tea scone jam and clotted cream on a tray
Cream Tea, Lookout Cafe, Berwick-upon-Tweed

Then walk off your newly acquired calories by continuing to the Royal Border Bridge.

berwick royal border bridge
Royal Border Bridge, Berwick-upon-Tweed

Completed in 1850, this iconic Grade I listed railway viaduct has 28 graceful, semi-circular arches and spans a length of over 650 meters. It was designed by Robert Stephenson and was the last link in the railway line linking London to Edinburgh.

You’ll notice more than a few silent swans on the river. Berwick is home to the second-largest mute swan colony in Britain.

From this point on the River Tweed, a steep wall – the White Wall – climbs to Berwick Castle. Once one of the most important strongholds in Britain, the White Wall is the only main surviving part of the castle.

ruins of castle on grassy mound
White Wall & Berwick Castle

Construction of the ramparts made Berwick Castle obsolete and it fell into decline. The arrival of the railway sounded the final death knell when much of what remained was demolished to make way for the station.

3. Visit Berwick’s Parks

Close to what remains of Berwick Castle are two lovely landscaped parks overlooking the River Tweed: Castle Vale Park and Coronation Park. The Castle Parks Trail will take you on a circular scenic route through these riverside parks, both of which were created in the 1930s.

pathway in park leading to river in  Berwick-upon-Tweed
Coronation Park, Berwick-upon-Tweed

4. Follow the Lowry Trail

Berwick-Upon-Tweed was where LS Lowry went to escape from it all.

Over the space of forty years, he immortalised the town on canvas and today you can follow in his footsteps on an easy six-mile walk, one of the best things to do in Berwick-upon-Tweed. The Lowry Trail is waymarked by 18 information boards displaying the Lowry painting of that location and providing background information.

Download or pick up a free Lowry Trail leaflet from the Berwick Visitor Centre or Visit Berwick Tourist Information Centre. It should take you around three hours to complete the trail.

5. Visit Berwick Barracks

Due to its strategic position on the England-Scotland border, for centuries Berwick was a garrison town.

Designed by Nicholas Hawksmoor in the 18th Century, Berwick Barracks were among the first purpose-built barracks in England. At the time, they were a huge hit with the townspeople who no longer had to house the soldiers.

exterior berwick-barracks and courtyard
Berwick Barracks

The barracks were in use for over 200 years, finally closing their doors in 1963. Today, Berwick Barracks hosts ‘By Beat of Drum’, an exhibition depicting the life of a British infantryman. Also on site are The King’s Own Scottish Borderers Regimental Museum and the Berwick Museum and Art Gallery.

Berwick Barracks are open daily from April to October.

6. Stroll to Berwick Lighthouse

Berwick has a lighthouse at the mouth of the River Tweed, reached by a ten-minute walk along the pier. I loved this walk which serves up sweeping views along the coast. There’s also a chance that you’ll spot seals or even a school of dolphins.

red and white lighthouse
Berwick Lighthouse

7. Take to the Water with Berwick Boat Trips

If you don’t manage to spot seals or dolphins on your walk to Berwick Lighthouse, why not try your luck on a boat trip?

Berwick Boat Trips depart from the pontoon on the harbour and there is a menu of options, from a one-hour river trip to a two-hour sea safari.

8. Take a Day Trip to the Holy Island of Lindisfarne

Ironically, one of the best things to do in Berwick is to get out of Berwick for the day. And I don’t mean that unkindly.

Berwick is the best base for visiting the Holy Island of Lindisfarne, especially if, like me, you don’t have a car.

Lindisfarne Castle
Lindisfarne Castle

To get to Holy Island from Berwick, take the 477 bus service from Berwick run by Borders Buses. The journey takes around 35 minutes.

The times of this infrequent bus service are scheduled to tie in with safe tide times. As this is a seasonal bus service, doing a day trip to Holy Island by bus is limited to the summer months.

Examine the bus timetable carefully. Due to the safe tide times, your time on the island could be as little as two hours or as much as eight hours.

How to Get to Berwick-upon-Tweed

I travelled to Berwick-Upon-Tweed by train. It is on the East Coast mainline – an excellent day trip from Edinburgh – and the train station is close to the town centre. From Newcastle, the journey takes just over 40 minutes.

Alternatively,  the X18 and X15 buses run between Berwick and Newcastle.

By car, keep going up the A1 and you’ll hit Berwick. Parking in most of the car parks in the town centre is free with a Northumberland parking disc, available from ticket machines or designated shops for £1.

narrow walkway and lamp post by the side of a river in berwick upon tweed
row of cream and yellow houses

Thank you for reading my guide describing what to do during a day in Berwick-Upon-Tweed

Whether it is part of a Northumbria itinerary or a stopping-off place on the way to Scotland, Berwick-Upon-Tweed is 100% worth visiting. This underrated town bowled me over with its rich history, easy-going and friendly vibe and sensational scenery.

If you have found this article helpful and are exploring more of the region, take a look at my guide to spending a weekend in Newcastle.

bridget coleman the flashpacker 2

About Bridget

Bridget Coleman has been a passionate traveller for more than 30 years. She has visited 70+ countries, most as a solo traveller.

Articles on this site reflect her first-hand experiences.

To get in touch, email her at hello@theflashpacker.net or follow her on social media.