Welcome to the brilliant borderlands – Before it was finally anchored on the English side of the border with Scotland, Berwick-upon-Tweed changed hands no less than 13 times.
Some 530 or so years later, the good folk of Berwick still lean to the north – by a margin of 60-40% – if local polls are to be believed and its football team, Berwick Rangers, is the only English based team to play in the Scottish Divisions.
It’s a good example of how, over the centuries, the borderlands of England and Scotland have been inextricably intertwined and today share a unique and colourful heritage.
Once united as part of the Kingdom of Northumbria (circa 654-954), they have seen invasions, counter invasions and bitter rivalry as England and Scotland developed into nation states.
The first tramp of invading soldiers goes back to the Romans who left a superb (and still unfolding) legacy. The UNESCO World Heritage Site of the Roman Wall, stretches east to west across almost 100 miles of northern England, from The Solway Firth to the River Tyne: a route dotted with beautifully preserved Roman ruins, museums and visitor facilities (hadrianswallcountry.co.uk).
The borders have provided the passing points for Scotland’s Wars of Independence, led by William Wallace and Robert the Bruce, invading armies ordered north by Henry VIII and the setting for battles such as Flodden (1513) that have passed into local folklore.
Not surprisingly, the borderlands have the reputation as being the most fought over region anywhere in the UK and the Border Reivers did their bit to reinforce that reputation.
Against that historic backdrop, from the Roman Wall northwards to the Scottish Borders historic abbeys, it’s just a great place to visit.
On the English side sit Corbridge, Morpeth, Alnwick, Alnmouth, Seahouses, Bamburgh and Berwick, set against a breathtaking mix of Northumberland countryside and coastlines.
Across the border from Eyemouth to North Berwick are Scotland’s spectacular south east coastlines. Inland, rolling hills and valleys lead to the border towns of Jedburgh, Hawick, Selkirk, Melrose, Galashiels and Peebles, where the visitor will discover a keen sense of regional identity and a strong community spirit.
Its historic abbey towns of Jedburgh, Melrose and Kelso bear witness to the cruelty and senseless destruction brought about by war and political reprisals down the centuries.
Their abbeys, together with that of Dryburgh, are a reminder of the important role the Borders played in the spread of Christianity. The borderlands that was well populated by saints – among them St Cuthbert, St Aidan and St Boswell – as well as sinners.
If it’s an active break you are looking for the borderlands offer first class fishing, golfing, walking, riding, diving and biking, while the lovely seaside setting at Coldingham has a growing reputation for surfing.
The Scottish Borders and its towns have all have played their part in shaping Scotland’s history and some, such as Coldstream, have become household names in doing so. The Coldstream Guards lays claim to being the most famous regiment in the world and is the oldest regiment in continuous existence in the British Army.
It is a region, too, with a legendary sporting tradition. Melrose is internationally famous as the home of sevens rugby and the Scottish Borders is at the heart of Scottish International Rugby.
Duns and Hawick are famous for producing world champions on four wheels and two.
Duns was the home of Jim Clark, a local farmer who went on to become a world champion in Formula 1 racing. And Hawick produced not one but two international motorcycling champions Jimmy Guthrie and Steve Hislop. All three are commemorated in exhibitions at their home town museums.
The Borders is justifiably proud of its history, its people and its achievements and exploretheborders.com is proud to be telling its story.
Our site is presented a news magazine, a moveable feast of information served up by experienced writers and photographers, to help visitors plan ahead. Our features and news are backed up by useful links to more information to help you make the most of your visit.
In addition we are compiling comprehensive accommodation and good food sections at exploretheborders.com – more essential information for travellers.
When you visit you will discover a very special part of the world and wherever you go there’s a warm welcome guaranteed.
Vistors arriving via the border crossing at Carter Bar are recommended to pull in and take in the magnificent views northwards. Weather permitting, you’ll see the Scottish Borders laid out before you, a breathtaking experience that some say provided the inspiration for the Shire in JRR Tolkein’s The Hobbitt.
If you haven’t been before we hope exploretheborders.com will inspire you to set the Sat Nav for the brilliant borderlands – and if you are making a return journey exploretheborders.com will keep you up-to-date with all the latest news and developments on the tourism front.
And we would love to hear how you got on so drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org
Welcome to the brilliant borderlands.