Ever keen to return to the beautiful Northumberland coast after our first trip in June, we found a rental house in Spittal, chosen mainly due to its close proximity to the many local beaches. Spittal runs into Berwick upon Tweed – a town we had only previously viewed from the warmth of a train on the East Coast mainline – and on a fine sunny day we decided to explore the town a little more to test out how dog-friendly it is.
Parking is easy and often free, and it wasn’t long before we were trotting down the high street towards Berwick Barracks (our English Heritage membership giving us free access). It has several fascinating and well-put together exhibitions, designed to educate in a gentle fashion with pictures, artefacts, history boards and re-creations of life of a soldier before, during and after wars. As with many English Heritage sites, the dog was welcome in all the exhibition halls – and only baulked at the loud bangs coming from one room with a recreation of life in the trenches.
Coming out of the Barracks, we headed up onto the Ramparts where you can walk round half of the town (the other half of the walls were never completed). Wide grassy verges mean that there is plenty of room for dogs to pass without incident (always a possibility with our unpredictable collie-cross!) and although there are some steep drops, keeping the dog on lead means they are quite safe. Information boards line the walk, including the Lowry Trail – who knew that LS Lowry painted so many pictures around Berwick? A good wide grassy area by the harbour was perfect to let Macy off the lead for a run before heading back to the other end of the Ramparts near where we had parked the car. Coming down, we found ourselves outside a tea & gift shop called Fantoosh and treated ourselves to a delicious savoury scone platter with coffee for lunch – delighted that Macy was made welcome and we were not shuffled off to a dark corner at the back.
The next day, slightly further afield, we enjoyed the little steam railway at Heatherslaw and the Castle at Etal (another English Heritage site) as well as a fine lunch of sandwiches and delicious home-made coleslaw and salad at the recently refurbished Black Bull where again Macy was most welcome, and then a walk along the river with pleasant views.
On our last day, we headed over the border to Melrose and found beautiful walks around the gardens of Abbotsford (home of Sir Walter Scott) and along the banks of the River Tweed in the estate, where the trees provided a backdrop of stunning autumn colours.
Every day we also found a beach - the best being the stunning Cocklawburn Beach just a mile from our holiday house where Macy was able to run around in glorious solitude, paddling and chasing her ball, for an hour. She would have stayed longer but we needed a rest!