I was thinking of writing about the river Tyne as part of what seems to be becoming a series about rivers but I’ve done it before. In 2016, as a matter of fact. The Tyne, of course, runs from the foothills of the Lammermuirs to the sea at Belhaven. It’s not to be confused with the one in England which runs along Hadrian’s Wall through Newcastle. Instead I was thinking about the Tweed, the river which for much of its length covers the border between Scotland and England before reaching the North Sea at Berwick. I am advised that there are two Tweeds in the UK, the other in Leicestershire, but I’ve never been to that one. What I didn’t know until just now is that the Tweed rises very close to where the Clyde starts, which is quite a nice fact. When I think of the Tweed I think of the bridges at Berwick, plus Dryburgh Abbey, Melrose and Peebles. By far my favourite bridge is the Royal Border Bridge, the one with the trains, which leads from Berwick station towards Tweedmouth. Berwick Castle was largely pulled down to make way for the railway and the Great Hall is where the platforms are. If going south, it’s worth looking left to the other bridges and out to sea. Eventually the breakwater and the lighthouse comes into view, which is probably one of my favourite places on the earth. I like a walk around the walls in Berwick, the Elizabethan ramparts which give the best view of the town and of course out to sea and back to Scotland. Northumbrian castles at Bamburgh and Lindisfarne are also visible on a good day. The scenery inspired LS Lowry and I always contend that his seascapes are better than the matchstalk men and matchstalk cats and dogs he’s more famous for.
The Tweed is still the border at Coldstream. I was there a couple of summers ago to watch the Hibs on a lovely summer’s day. There’s a plaque on the bridge in the middle of the river about Robert Burns, who it is hard to escape in Scotland, even when on the border.
Further west, the border is further south than the Tweed. Dryburgh Abbey is by the Tweed and I would love a visit there right about now, just to watch the river, read and cherish my surroundings. Melrose is near the Tweed too and when I was at Abbotsford a few years ago, I walked to Melrose by the Tweed, which was braw on another summer’s day.
My last visit to Peebles was to go to Dawyck Botanic Garden, which is near the Tweed too. Dawyck is a glorious garden in most weathers, very alpine and usually rather wet since it’s on a hill in the Borders. The Tweed is particularly nice round there, windy and surrounded by fields and trees. In fact the Tweed is beautiful for nearly all of its length, regardless of when it’s just a river or a fiercely fought for frontier, surrounded by castles, abbeys and so much history.