Northumbria and the Scottish Borders – Day Four

Today, we’re moving on to our next destination – North Berwick.

Wake up around 6am – I’m having lovely deep sleeps in this bed – tea, coffee and a book before we launch into our finely tuned “getting ready for the day” ritual. Feed the The Dog who turns her nose up at it, tidying, breakfast and finally making everything is secure before we set off. Like a well oiled machine, us.

We head north towards Beadnell, and keep on the smaller coastal roads, hugging the coast until we reach Bamburgh and its magnificent castle dominating the village. We find a car park that accommodates motorhomes (so many car parks have either height barriers or just no parking spaces for anything larger than a car). We feed the parking meter lots of money (the prices start at 3 hours and £3.50) and wander through a park alongside the castle, through sand dunes and onto one of the most beautiful, stunning beaches of Northumbria. Immensely wide and flat with golden, soft sand, it is wonderful scene with the Bamburgh Castle as the backdrop. The Dog has somehow found more energy and is excited for some ball throwing and chasing. We saunter up the beach, the wind brisk and the clouds low and threatening. It keeps spitting rain. We’re dressed in shorts and several layers of warm jumpers and raincoats. Don’t you just love the British weather?


We get to a point – you could walk on forever – and turn around as The Dog is starting to flag and we wander back to the park. We meet a group of ladies playing croquet on the lawn, under the looming presence of the Castle and watch fascinated. It looks a simple game, but apparently, as we were informed, a game of cunning and stealth, trying to block your opponent’s ball. It can become quite vicious and nasty apparently, said the lady with a wry smile on her face.

We walk into the pretty village and find a cafe – the seating outside is taken, so we venture inside for the first time in months. Tables spread out, lines and markers on the floor, sanitisers and visor wearing assistants. A strange new world. But it doesn’t stop us getting coffee and a large slab of cake while watching tentative Brits, warily stepping over the threshold with haunted looks, asking timidly if it’s okay to come in. Suitably refreshed, we wander the rest of the street, picking up some crab sandwiches for lunch and having a general poke around. It’s quite delightful even under heavy skies. I’ve always liked Bamburgh.  We pass the Grace Darling museum which is sadly closed and saunter back down the street back to the Van. We continue our journey.

After hugging the coast, we are briefly spat out onto the A1 – trying to get a 23 foot motorhome over two lanes of speeding traffic is no mean feat, as there is no more coastal road to follow at the moment. We pass a place called Haggerston, where years ago, when the kids were small, we took a cheap and cheerful caravan holiday. We were rudely awoken by them at some ungodly hour, shouting that “the ducks are swimming under our caravan”. Keen to show us, we were pulled to the window, where the ducks were swimming under our caravan. Heavy overnight rain had created a rather large moat around our tin home and we were effectively stranded in it. It was a week of incidents and accidents that we still talk about today with great clarity and detail.

So we waved at Haggerston as we shot past, and carried on to Berwick Upon Tweed, a pleasant little town on the coast.  We weren’t in the mood for wandering around a town and so continued on the A1, and crossed into Scotland a few miles from Berwick. We dropped into the little town of Eyemouth and gave it a quick tour – it looked quite nice, but the parking of our vehicle sort of put us off. (There’s pros and cons to this motorhoming lark).  We followed the road out again and decided to check out St.Abbs, a bit further north for some reason.  We actually ended up at The Mount and the cutest little bay.  We managed to wedge the Van into a car parking spot, and walked down the short hill, to find a little cafe, toilets and a little bay of sand with several delightfully painted beach huts set back, all surrounded by rock.  It was lovely and several other people thought so too, as it was quite busy with families playing on the sand.  We picked our way through and headed to a grassy headland and climbed up. Here there was a bench overlooking the bay and so we sat down to admire the view. What a lovely little place. We then carried on walking, clambering up to the summit of the headland, before following the path to the next cove. This one was a pebbly one, accessed by a wooden bridge. We stayed here quite a while, skimming stones and throwing a stick in the water for The Dog. Apart from a mum and her son, we were the only ones here. We cursed that we had left our crab sandwiches in the Van – we weren’t expecting such a perfect place for lunch.

We finally sauntered back to the Van as our stomachs were starting to grumble and did the very thing that we always take the mickey out of every time we see it. Many a time, we have spotted people sitting by a busy dual carriageway with juggernauts hurtling by, in a layby next door to a pile of discarded rock salt, eating sandwiches and tea off a picnic table, facing either their car or some tatty wall and wonder why, when just up the road, there’s a beautiful scenic view point/picnic area. Sadly, we were those very same people as we pulled out our chairs and sat next door to the Van, in a scrubby little car park, surrounded by vehicles coming in and out as we munched our crab sandwiches and crisps, too lazy to walk back down to the beach …………….

We managed to get the Van out of the car park and drove on. We followed the road until it threw us back on the A1, through undulating farmland and pasture. Here, the A1 is just an ordinary two way road rather than a dual carriageway and was quite pleasant.  The road dropped down and opened up to a panoramic view.  There was a convenient lay-by where we stopped and cursed – a lovely place for lunch! If only we had known! You could see for miles – across the Firth of Forth to Fife, the little islands dotted in the sea, rolling countryside, fields and farms and then a dominating nuclear power plant on the coast and beyond that, a belching factory. Spoilt the view slightly, that, but it was certainly an interesting and varied landscape! There were ships far out to sea and with the sun poking its nose out of the clouds and brightening up the scene, it was quite a vista. We stayed for about 10 minutes, peering through our binoculars, until a car parked in front of us and blocked the view.  We then headed towards Dunbar, a charming little town lined with brownstone buildings. We tried to park, but it wasn’t easy, so we decided to give Dunbar a miss. There seemed to be a coastal path through the rocks, but just after finishing walking in St Abbs, we weren’t too bothered. Also it’s threatening to rain.

We drove to our next campsite at North Berwick – Tantallon Camping site. Just on the outskirts of town, we find the site rather pleasant. A mixture of static homes, tents, caravans and motorhomes, we are allocated a spot towards the back of the site which is perfect, as it all gently slopes towards the Firth of Forth, giving us a lovely view to the west and north. We overlook the islands of Craigleith and Bass Rock, home to thousands of seabirds and behind us, the The Law, a huge conical towering hill, that looks like it’s been droped there. It looks so out of place from the rolling countryside around it.  This area was very volcanic and there’s plenty of clues here, hence The Law.

Geologically, the law is a volcanic plug of hard phonolitic trachyte rock of Carboniferous (Dinantian) age. It has survived the scraping glaciers of the ice age. It is a crag and tail with a prominent tail extending eastwards.

The weather is being very trying today and now cloud has come in – it’s like being in a plastic box.  I wander to the camp shop for biscuits and something for the Van.  Now we are in Scotland, we need to wear face coverings when we enter shops, so I spend a little time fighting with the damn thing to stay on my ears.  I walk in to be greeted by a similarly facially attired human, his eyes peering at me.  The shop isn’t exactly stocked well and end up with two pieces of flapjack wrapped in plastic and two chocolate bars.  I try to pay with my phone, but with my mask on, my phone doesn’t recognise my face! Panic as I try and remember my password! I have enough trouble with technology without added distractions.  I accomplish my mission and head back to the Van for a well earned cuppa. Shopping is becoming quite a traumatic exercise!

We decide to stretch our legs with a tour (well, more like a nosey) of the campsite and wander to the beach. Yet another golf course to negotiate with busy golfers (the coast here is named the Golf Coast) and we watch out for any badly hit balls flying towards us. We stop at a small car park just outside the golf course, full of motorhomes that are “wild camping” despite notices declaring “No Overnight Parking”. To our right, is another grassy headland heading up and over, to our left, a wide sandy beach leading towards North Berwick itself. This needs checking out, but it will be tomorrow now. We saunter back to the Van.

It’s too cold to sit outside – there’s a stiff cool breeze whipping across.  We have a simple supper.  The Dog, instead of eating her bowl of food, spends many minutes trying to bury it with her nose (always does this when we’re away on holiday) and has actually scraped her nose as there’s a blob of blood on it.  Stupid hound. I add cheese to her bowl, noticing that it’s starting to drizzle.  We put the heating on and huddle under blankets to keep warm. The weather apps on the phones are telling us it’s 18 degrees and sunny.  Mmmm.

Let’s hope it improves tomorrow.

Author: apathtosomewhere

Come with me and my dog on my meanderings around northern England and further afield, encountering all walks of life and everything in between!

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