Town mouse goes to the border country

Why isn’t Berwick-upon-Tweed another Ludlow? Both are in glorious border country, and Berwick is easier to reach by train. After crossing the Tyne and sweeping past Durham Cathedral, I rejoiced to see Lindisfarne, shimmering in the spring sunshine. Because the Victorians thought that Berwick Castle was a good place to build a railway station, you alight onto the spot where Edward I decided the fate of the Scottish crown. And yet, although Ludlow thrives as a foodie heaven and smart retirement destination, Berwick languishes.

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How can this be? It has ramparts, a town hall (1754) with a spire, Palladian windows through which sailing boats can be watched in the estuary and Georgian façades behind which may well be Tudor bones. But the cockle shop has closed. Half the town seems to be for sale. We ate well-the young lady who served us was an advertisement for the fare, if not its slimming properties-but Berwick is far from being a gastronomic paradise. What of it? Within half an hour, we could reach Floors Castle, Abbotsford, Melrose, Dryburgh Abbey, Paxton House-even a chain bridge of 1820 (go quickly: it may close) across the River Tweed. I’m back in London now. I’ve left my heart behind.