Tuesday, 31 July 2018


Duns Market Square

Duns is a small market town in the Scottish Borders about 16 miles from Berwick-Upon-Tweed and about 7 miles from the small neighbouring town of Greenlaw. The town has a long and turbulent history dating back to the Iron Age. It was originally sited on Duns law where the remains of an Iron Age hill fort have been discovered. 

In the market square stands a statue of Wojtek the Bear. Wojtek was bought by Polish Soldiers during World War II and travelled with them helping to transport amunition. At the end of the war Wojtek accompanied the soldiers to their new base at Winfield Airfield on Sunwick Farm, near Hutton, not far from Duns. In 1947 Wojtek moved to Edinburgh Zoo where he lived peacefully until he died in 1963 at the age of 21.

Manderston House is only a short drive from the town.  This elegant house is a fascinating place to visit and the beautiful gardens are a tranquil retreat. The grounds of Duns Castle are open to the public and offer many peaceful walking routes. 

Duns dates back to at least the Iron Age where the remains of an Iron Age Hill Fort have been discovered on Duns Law. The original town was situated on the slopes Duns Law and did not move to its present location at the bottom of the hill until1588. Unfortunately during the 1300's the town suffered frequent attacks by the English during border raids en route to the Lothians.In 1377 during his invasion of Scotland, the Earl of Northumberland's troops camped at Duns but were routed by the townsmen in what became known as the Battle of Duns.

In 1490 Duns was created a Burgh of Barony by James IV. However, the town continued to suffer at the hands of English raiders and in the 1500's was burned to the ground three times in fourteen years. In 1588 the town moved from the top of the hill to a more settled position at the foot. The end of the Jacobite Rebellion in 1748 enable Duns to expand and flourish to become the town it is today. In 1903 it was announced the Duns was the county town of Berwickshire.

Wojtek Bear
Duns Castle
Duns Castle was originally a Peel tower built in 1320 and transformed into a Gothic castle between 1818 and 1822. It has been the family home of the Hay family since 1696 and the current owners still live in the castle today. The Duns Castle Nature Reserve is open to the public and many walking routes will take you through the grounds offering views of the castle. A 4 mile woodland walk starting from Hardens Hill above the golf course has stunning views  of the town and surrounding countryside ending in the grounds of the castle.

Manderson House
The elegant Manderston House is only about 1.7 miles from the town on the A6105. This beautiful Edwardian Country House was originally a Georgian Mansion built in the 1790's. It was purchased by Richard Miller in 1855 and has continued to remain in the family. It is currently owned by the 4th Lord Palmer. The beautiful house and gardens are open on Thursdays and Sundays from May to September. A visit is well recommended. 

Manderston House


Monday, 30 July 2018



Eyemouth is a small fishing town and seaside resort on the east coast of the Scottish Borders about 2 miles from the A1. About 8 miles to the South is the market town of Berwick-Upon-Tweed and a few miles to the north the small fishing village of St Abbs and the glorious sweeping sandy bay of Coldingham Sands. Eyemouth is on the Berwickshire Coastal Path and a walk along the picturesque cliffs is the perfect way to approach the sands.

The town's name comes from its location at the mouth of the Eye water where the River flows into the sea creating a natural harbour, which as been used as a fishing port since at least the 1200's. Eyemouth is also a seaside resort hosting the usual seaside attractions and is the ideal place to pursue actives such diving, fishing and walking.

The first record of Eyemouth is in a 12th century charter granting the prior and monks of Coldingham Priory two crofts of land at "Eiemuthe". However it is thought that as this was the only sheltered haven on this part part of the coast it is highly likely that settlements had existed before this time. In 1214 John Kingdom, a Harbour Master appeared in court at Ayton accused of overcharging for the anchorage of a ship at Eyemouth. 

In the 1540's the harbour was used by the English troops of Henry VIII, building an artillery fort on the east side of the Eye Water. Eyemouth remained under the ownership of Coldingham priory until the 17th century when it was based to the Home Family. 

In 1747 William Craw of Netherbyres built the "Old Pier" giving additional shelter and curing the build up of sand at the harbour entrance. Subsequently trade increased and Eyemouth became a rival port to Berwick. Unfortunately the old pier was destroyed by a great storm in 1767 and a 'New Pier" on the south side of the harbour was constructed. This was completed in 1773 and was incorporated into the new harbour development in 1999.

During the 1800's the entrance to the harbour was difficult in rough weather and it was only after the disaster on the 14th October 1881, known as 'Black Friday" when 189 local fishermen lost their lives that improvements were made. In 1887 work was completed with extensions to the harbour and the construction of middle pier. In 1999 work on the new harbour completed and a fish market opened in 2000.

Coldingham Sands

Coldingham Sands

Coldingham Sands is a beautiful stretch of sandy beach within Coldingham Bay. The sands are just south of the fishing village of St Abbs on the east coast and can be reached via the A1 and B6438. To the south is the small fishing town of Eyemouth and buses run from Berwick- Upon-Tweed. Coldingham Sands are part of the Berwickshire Coastal Path providing beautiful walks to both St Abbs and Eyemouth. Nearby is the historic village of Coldingham and the remains of Coldingham Priory.

The Sands are a  wonderful place to relax and enjoy the sun and sea on a summers day, or an exhilarating stroll on a cold blustery winters day. The beach side cafe provides much needed refreshments.



St Abb's Head

St Abb's Head
St Abb's Head is a series of rocky cliffs situated on the east coast of the Scottish Borders. It is about 17 miles from Paxton, about 26 minutes drive via the A1 and B6438. St Abb's Head can also be reached by bus from Berwick-Upon-Tweed. The stunning cliffs sit above the pretty fishing village of St Abbs and are a haven for birdlife. The cliffs form part of the Berwickshire Coastal Walk, however there are also a number of shorter walks around St Abb's Head. Parking in the car park near the National Trust Centre is a good place to start and will ensure that you end with a well earned stop at the cafe.

St Abb's Head is a National Nature Reserve, owned and run by the National Trust. The cliff are home to thousands of seabirds and colourful vegetation. Wild grasses and flowers grow in abundance on the rocky grasslands while the rocky reefs provide a home to a variety of plants and animals. To enjoy the beauty of the nature reserve a walk along the cliffs to the lighthouse is highly recommended. The dramatic beauty of St Abb's Head makes it a pleasure to visit in all seasons.

Just beyond the lighthouse is Mire Loch, a tranquil, man made freshwater Loch which is home to a variety of birds and freshwater pond life. After walking to the lighthouse head towards the Loch where you can stroll along its banks on your return journey.

St Ebbe
St Abb's Head was named after Ebbe (Aebbe), the daughter of Aethellfrith, the first King of Northumbria. From 643 to 680 Ebbe was abbess of a monastery on Kirk Hill. Both monks and nuns lived at the monastery, however a few years after Ebbe had died the monastery was accidentally burned down and never rebuilt. Ebbe was sainted for helping to spread Christianity and St Abb's Head was named after her.

St Abbs

St Abb's Head   
St Abb's Head

Mire Loch

St Abb's Head Lighthouse
Before the lighthouse was built in1862 a signal stationed been established on the cliffs. However in 1857 after the "The Martello" had sunk on the rocks the Northern Lighthouse Board  recommended the building of the lighthouse. The lighthouse was manned by three full-time keepers until 1994 when it became automated.

St Abb's Head Lighthouse.

Sunday, 29 July 2018

Arbroath Abbey

Arbroath Abbey

Arbroath Abbey, an impressive building of red sandstone is located in the town of Arbroath. It was founded in 1178 for a group of Tironensian monks by King William the Lion, who is buried in the church.  King William gave the abbey independence from its mother church and endowed it generously. It became the richest abbey in Scotland and the monks were given the freedom to run a market and build a harbour. King John of England allowed the monks free trade anywhere in England with the exception of London.

In 1320 Abbot Bernard is believed to have drafted the Declaration of Arbroath, a declaration of Scottish Independence in Arbroath Abbey. The last Abbot was Cardinal David Beaton and after the Scottish Reformation the abbey was left to fall into ruins. From 1590 until 1815 stones were taken from the abbey for use in the construction of buildings in the town. This ceased when efforts were made to preserve the ruins.

Although much of the abbey is now in ruins the remaining structures create an impressive and striking presence in the town. 



Arbroath is a small fishing town on the North Sea Coast in Angus. It is situated on the train line from Berwick-Upon-Tweed to Aberdeen with a journey time of about 2hrs 30 minutes. If you wish to drive the journey will take about 3hrs. The ruinous Arbroath Abbey, Signal Tower Museum and Bell Rock Lighthouse, not forgetting the famous Arbroath Smokie make Arbroath a fascinating place to visit.

Arbroath was originally known as "Aberbrothock", relating to its position at the mouth of the Brothock Burn. In the 17th century then town started to become known by its shortened name, Arbroath. 

Although most of Arbroath's history dates back to the 12th century there is evidence of an Iron Age settlement in the town area  and Bronze Age settlement in the surrounding area. It ia also thought that there was a Pictish settlement at the mouth of the river. 

Much of Arbroath's history is entwined with the now ruinous abbey. Arbroath Abbey was founded in 1178 by King William The Lion for Tironesian Monks from Kelso Abbey. In 1320 the Scottish Parliament met at the abbey and addressed to the Pope the Declaration of Arbroath. The Battle of Arbroath, between rival claimants to the post of Baillie of the regality took place in 1445. During the battle five hundred people from the town died. After the Reformation the abbey was abandoned and slowly fell into disrepair, but the town continued to thrive and In 1599 King James VI declared Arbroath a Royal Burgh.

During the Jacobite rising in 1745 Arbroath became a Jacobite town. Its coastal position meant that it was in a prime position to move men and supplies from France, becoming a principle port. During the Industrial Revolution the town town expanded and flourished. In addition to the production of shoes and lawnmowers Arboath become known for producing Jute and Sailcloth. 

Arbroath Harbour
The attractive harbour on the seafront is home to a mixture of pleasure boats and fishing vessels. The first harbour, known as the Abbot's harbour was built in 1394, but in 1706 it was destroyed in a gale. Replacements were built in 1734 and 1839.

Arbroath Harbour

Arbroath Abbey
Arbroath Abbey, which was the richest in Scotland, was founded in 1178 for a group of Tironensian monks by King William the Lion, who is buried in the church. The monks were allowed to run a market and build a harbour. During the Scottish War of Independence Abbot Bernard is believed to have drafted the Declaration of Arbroath.

After the reformation the abbey fell into ruin and from 1590 to 1815 the stones were raided for building in the town.

Arbroath Abbey

Arbroath Abbey
Bell Rock Lighthouse
The Bell Rock Lighthouse is situated in the North Sea about 11 miles off the coast of Arbroath. It was built by Robert Stevenson who completed it in 1810. The lamps and reflectors were replaced in 1843 and in 1988 the lighthouse was automated. The lighthouse operates in tandem with the Bell Rock Signal Tower near Arbroath harbour.

Bell Rock Signal Tower
The Bell Rock Signal Tower is situated at the mouth of Arbroath harbour. It was built in 1813 primarily to communicate with the keepers in the Bell Rock Lighthouse by signalling from the top of the tower. The signal tower housed the keepers families and shore staff until 1955.

The tower is now home to the Signal Tower Museum and houses a collection of fascinating and informative displays, including an excellent film depicting the construction of the lighthouse. The life of the lighthouse keeper and his family are also portrayed along with exhibits relating to fishing in Arbroath.

Bell Rock Signal Tower

Arbroath Smokie
The Arbroath Smokie is a type of smoked haddock originating from the small fishing village of Auchmithie, about 3 miles north east of Arbroath. Smokies are available in most restaurants or  purchased freshly from the numerous smoke houses near the harbour.

Arbroath Smokie

Bamburgh Castle

Bamburgh Castle

Bamburgh Castle is a magnificent castle on the Northumberland coast. It was built by the Normans, replacing the original Celtic Brittonic Fort known as Din Guarie. The castle perches on a rocky outcrop directly above glorious sandy beaches looking towards Holy Island and The Farne Islands. It is situated in the coastal village of Bamburgh about 5 miles from the A1 on the B1432. Parking is available in the castle grounds or in the large free public car park directly opposite.  To appreciate the magnificence of this great castle and its idyllic setting head to the wonderful sandy beaches. 

The first written reference to the old fort was in 547, passing between the Anglo-Saxons and Britons several times until in 590 it was under complete Anglo-Saxon control. In 993 the fort was destroyed by the Vikings to be replaced by a new castle built by the Normans, which in 1095 became the property of the English monarch. By 1164 the keep had been built and the castle was complete. 

In 1191 Sir John Forster was appointed by Richard I as the first Governor of Bamburgh Castle. The Forster family continued as governors of the castle until 1600 when a later Sir John Forster was granted ownership. In 1704, Sir William Forster, who had died in 1700 was posthumously declared bankrupt and all his estates, which included the castle were sold to his bother in law, Lord Crew, Bishop of Durham. The castle was placed into the hands of a board of trustees chaired by Thomas Sharp, the Archdeacon of Northumberland. After Thomas had died leadership of the board passed to his son John who proceeded to refurbish the castle keep and court rooms, in addition to establishing a hospital on the site. 

In 1894 William Armstrong, a Victorian industrialist purchased the castle and completed the restoration. The castle is still owned by the Armstrong family who remain in residence.

The castle and grounds are steeped in centuries of history, from the medieval kitchen, the historic keep and the huge cannons pointing to the sea to the splendour of the elegant King's Hall and the State Rooms. In addition, children's activities, audio guides and the clock tower cafeteria ensure a fantastic day out for all the family.

Bamburgh Beach

Bamburgh Beach

Bamburgh Castle From The Sea





The King's Hall

The King's Hall


Friday, 27 July 2018

Chain Bridge Honey Farm

The Chain Bridge Honey Farm is located just outside the village of Horncliffe and close to the Union Chain BridgeThe visitor centre has many displays providing an insight into the life and work of bees. Observing the bees at work is one of the most popular displays. The adjoining shop sells a variety of excellent honey and beeswax products. Outside is a display of vintage vehicles and the very popular bus cafe.

A trip to the honey farm is well worth the visit.


Thursday, 26 July 2018

Union Chain Bridge

Union Chain Bridge

The Union Chain Bridge is a suspension bridge crossing the River Tweed between Fishwick in Scotland to Horncliffe in England.  From Paxton take the B6461 towards Kelso and turn left towards the Chain Bridge Honey Farm and Horncliffe. The road takes you over the bridge and into England.

When the bridge was opened in 1820 it was the longest wrought iron suspension bridge in the world and was the first bridge of this type in the United Kingdom to carry vehicles. Today it remains the oldest suspension bridge still carrying road traffic. The opening of the bridge attracted a crowd of about 700 spectators who crossed the river via the bridge. Initially tolls were charged for crossing the bridge but this ceased in 1885. In 1902 cables were added and since then the bridge has been refurbished and strengthened many times.

It is a delightful bridge with outstanding views across the tranquil River Tweed. A relaxing walk along the river bank from the bridge to Horncliife or to Paxton House is a great way to enjoy wonderful views of the river and bridge.

Travel over the bridge from Scotland and up the hill on the opposite side near Horncliffe and you will be rewarded with a fabulous view of the bridge. A visit to the Chain Bridge
Honey Farm is recommended.

Near Fishwick

Near Horncliffe

River Tweed