Friday 29 May 2015
Berwick, England to Coldingham, Scotland
Dunlaverock Guest House
A great start to the day as Yvonne cooked me a Craster kipper, which I had missed out on in Craster. Delicious. She also made me a packed lunch. I could have stayed chatting all day but I had to get walking. Only 3 miles to the Scottish Border. I really liked Berwick and could see why Clive and Yvonne have decided to move from London to retire there. Somewhere else I’d like to come back to.
Clive walked me through the town and along the walls to set me off without getting lost and then I was on the headland and heading for the border. I reached the “welcome to Scotland” sign (there’s no “welcome to England” sign of I’d been coming the other way) just as a cloud came over and, as I took a photo of me at the border, it started raining. I hope that’s not a portent for the Scottish part of my trip! Fortunately after about 10 minutes the rain stopped and then it was sunny for the rest of the day.
This stretch of coastline, from Berwick North, is all headland and rocky coves, most of them inaccessible. So beautiful. The sea was a deep blue and very clear. Every headland I walked around I had an intake of breath as I saw another cove that, rather impossibly, looked more beautiful than the last (I’m sure I would have felt exactly the same if I’d been walking the other direction!). Stunning; and so tempting for a swim. I saw plenty of fulmars that were nesting on the cliffs.
Once in Scotland there seemed to be more flies and of course the coast path signs changed and were more consistent. I passed a ruin of an old smuggler’s bothy on the cliff and then the path veered a field away from the cliff edge and next to the railway line.
Suddenly the path signs sent me almost back on myself and headed for the cliff top. I almost tried to cut the corner and head across the field but I’m glad I didn’t as the path did actually go over the cliff (it didn’t look possible from 20 metres away) and suddenly there was a settlement on the sea shore below the cliff. Almost unbelievable. This was Burnmouth and a good place to stop and eat my packed lunch next to the shore.
I walked through this tiny lower section of the town with its old harbour for fishing boats and up the ridiculously steep road to get out and head to Eyemouth.
This area has a strong fishing tradition and both Burnmouth and Eyemouth had memorials to the 189 men who died in the great storm of 1881. There is also a smuggling heritage and the large and imposing Gunsgreen House in Eyemouth was the home of the wealthy and pseudo-respectable smuggler John Nisbet.
I stopped for coffee and cake and headed on to Coldingham. More stunning coves and then a beautiful little beach with Coldingham dribbling down onto it. This beach was the first I’d seen with lifeguards and swimming flags. Either the Scots are hardier or it provides more employment. My guest house was overlooking the beach and so it seemed natural to dump my stuff, do some quick handwashing, and then take a dip in the beautiful sea. It was cold. Lovely though. I managed 5 minutes and then had to come out because a crow was emptying my towel and clothes from the plastic bag they were in. Not far up the beach to a hot shower.
I had dinner in the local St Vedas hotel that only does restaurant meals at the weekend. I was lucky to get a table as it is full with locals because the chef is very good. I had a lovely chat with a local couple over dinner and I treated myself to celebrate a great day, scallops and then an award winning scotch pie. Delicious.