The trip should be undertaken using high tide. Setting off from Spittal about an hour before high tide would bring the paddler nicely up to West Ord at slack tide, the ebb can then be used to turn back to Spittal. The river is tidal for about a mile above your inland destination, ending at Union Bridge near to Horncliffe. Your trip will all be in England, the Scottish northern bank commencing at West Ord.
Leaving Spittal gives a great view of the layout of Berwick as a town, the red pantile roofs being obvious. This was as a result of the considerable Dutch and German trade with the east coast of both England and Scotland, and the tiles being imported in exchange for other goods.
On the left bank, Tweedmouth is a bit industrial, but it does not last long. As you will be on the water at near to high tide, keep an eye out for ships coming in or out.
You pass under the original old road bridge, then the more modern one, the river narrows and turns to the left, and after the railway bridge are sand or mud banks on both sides, so keep to the centre of the river, and do not proceed up the channel on your left, Yarrow Slake, which is a dead end!
The town is left behind, the river continues to bend to the left, and the new A1 bridge comes into sight looking like many a modern motorway bridge.
Immediately after the bridge, the Whiteadder water (pronounced ‘Whitadder’) joins on the right (north) side. This is a lovely little whitewater river further up its length, tumbling down from Border hills, and a delight in high water. Continue on the River Tweed.
Houses and farms are on both banks, in summer this is a very green and rich farming area, and very quiet. On the right side a couple of long islands signal the end of the trip. West Ord house is high on the left bank, but will be hidden in summer by trees. A lone cottage on the left bank, at near to river level, will tell you that the parking place is coming into sight on the left bank, but you might have to see your vehicle to ascertain the exact spot – it is all low and green!
The end of the trip is likely to be one amongst many sheep, but no people – a nice quiet end to the expedition. It is possible to paddle a bit further up to Paxton House on the north bank, and walk through the grounds to a café, but no egress by vehicle here. If returning back to Spittal, merely retrace your paddle strokes
The start point is reached by crossing to the south side of the town via the oldest bridge, turning left, and carrying on heading outwards until reaching a parking sign for Spittal Point down Sandstell Road. Launching is on to sand immediately from the car park. The conditions of the river and sea here will inform you about the trip – in high winds, waves will be driving in from the open sea. There are two other possible launch points, each with problems – further inland at Tweedmouth is launching off seaweed-covered rocks, and below the Berwick town walls at the seaward end, is a sea level road, but again mud makes life difficult. ( Tidal Tides +0348 Dover, Standard Port North Shields)
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Berwick's town walls are its most famous piece of architecture and still stand strong today, hundreds of years after they were built by Queen Elizabeth to keep out the invading Scots.
A Town Hall has stood on this site since at least the 16th century. Begun in 1750, this building stands majestically at the south end of Marygate.
Berwick Barracks, among the first in England to be purpose-built, were begun in 1717 to the design of the distinguished architect Nicholas Hawksmoor. Today the Barracks houses three museums.
The museum is housed in the historic Berwick Barracks and contains historical town artefacts and part of Sir William Burrel's art collection.