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The English Borders includes all of Northumberland and Newcastle, and parts of Cumbria around Carlisle. The northern boundary of the area is formed by the Scottish Border, and its southern boundary lies along the corridor of the A69 between Carlisle and Newcastle. For accommodation in the area see the links in the menu on the right. See the map below for an outline of the area and links to neighbouring areas.
Why does a website called "Undiscovered Scotland" include parts of the northern end of England? There are three main reasons. Firstly in response to feedback from visitors and businesses that it would make sense to stick less rigidly to the national boundary in order to include areas passed through by most people going to and from Scotland. Secondly because we had already found ourselves being drawn over the border in a small way into the area around Berwick-upon-Tweed and it made sense to formalise what was likely to become an increasingly porous southern edge to our coverage. And thirdly because there is a vast amount to see and do in the area, and we want to get to know it better and set out the results of our explorations for visitors to the site.
We have set the southern edge of our coverage as the corridor of the A69 because that seems to make sense geographically, and because it ensures that the many wonderful sites along the line of Hadrian's Wall, the Roman's most enduring northern limit of empire, are included. From Wallsend, the wall passed through what is now Newcastle itself before clearing the conurbation at Heddon on the Wall and heading off west close to the line of what is now the B6138 as far as Gilsland in the far west of Northumberland. Important Roman sites along the line of the wall, or to its rear, include Corbridge Roman Town, and Chesters, Housesteads, Vindolanda and Birdoswald Forts. Settlements along the route include Prudhoe, Corbridge, Wall, Hexham, Haydon Bridge, Haltwhistle, Greenhead, Gilsland and Brampton. Smaller features on the Wall currently included on the site are Poltross Burn Milecastle, Willowford Wall, Turrets and Bridge, Temple of Mithras, Pipersike & Leahill Turrets, Brunton Turret and Banks East Turret. Hexham is home to the spectacular Hexham Abbey, and Corbridge to the ancient St Andrew's Church, while Aydon Castle is only a short distance away. Near Prudhoe is Prudhoe Castle. Meanwhile, Lanercost Priory is home to a fine set of remains and a functioning parish church.
Newcastle upon Tyne is the largest settlement in the area and forms the focal point of a large conurbation. To its south is County Durham. Just over the border into Durham is Beamish, The Living Museum of the North: a magnificent attraction and a superb day out. On the north side of the mouth of the River Tyne is Tynemouth. This attractive seaside town is home to a magnificent headland on which you find the remains of Tynemouth Priory and Castle. Overlooking the actual mouth of the River Tyne is the imposing Collingwood Monument.
The eastern side of the English Borders comprises the beautiful Northumberland coast, and the many significant settlements that you cans see signposted from the A1 as it makes its way north. Whitley Bay, Blyth and Newbiggin-by-the-Sea give way to the more rural surroundings. Thereafter a series of attractive towns and villages along the coast include Amble, Warkworth, Alnmouth, Craster, Embleton, Beadnell, Seahouses Bamburgh, and, finally, Berwick-upon-Tweed.
Warkworth is especially attractive and comes complete with a history that dates back to the Dark Ages and possibly further. Warkworth Castle guards the neck of the promontory on which it stands, while the medieval Warkworth Bridge across the River Coquet is the only fortified bridge to have survived in England. St Lawrence Church has a history which extends back for at least thirteen centuries. Embleton is home to the historic Embleton Church, while nearby is the majestic Dunstanburgh Castle on its rocky promontory. Beadnell has as its centre St Ebba's Church. Bamburgh is best known for the magnificent Bamburgh Castle, but is also home to the Grace Darling Museum and to the historic St Aidan's Church.
Other highlights to be found in the coastal strip of Northumberland include Bamburgh Castle, the Farne Islands, and perhaps the gem of the coast, the tidal Holy Island of Lindisfarne. Lindisfarne, or Holy Island, is special for a number of reasons, not the least of which is that access is via a tidal causeway. Amongst other attractions, Holy Island is home Lindisfarne Priory, Osborne's Fort, the Lindisfarne Heritage Centre and St Mary's Parish Church. In the south east corner of the island are Lindisfarne Castle, the Gertrude Jekyll Garden, and Holy Island Lime Kilns.
Away from the coast are towns such as Morpeth, Rothbury, Alnwick, Belford and Wooler. Morpeth has the sites or remains of two castles set within Carlisle Park. Some eight miles to the south west is Belsay Hall, Castle and Gardens, a truly amazing place you can think of as an architectural theme park of unparalleled scale.
Alnwick is home to Alnwick Castle, one of the largest inhabited castles in Europe, and to the spectacular Alnwick Garden. It is overlooked by the Percy Tenantry Column, also known as "The Farmers' Folly". Five miles south west of Alnwick is the tiny hamlet of Edlingham, where you find the intriguing Edlingham Castle and the Norman Church of St John the Baptist.
Rothbury is a very attractive town, whose All Saints Church has a long history. To the south east is Brinkburn Priory, one of the real gems of Northumberland, while on the A697 nearby is the ex-mining village of Longframlington, complete with another very old church, St Mary's.
At the north end of the area, Berwick-upon-Tweed is well worth exploring. It has one of the most complete sets of town defences anywhere in Britain, and Berwick Barracks is home to no fewer than three museums. Inland from Berwick-upon-Tweed is Paxton House and the nearby Union Chain Bridge. while on the English side of the border is Norham Castle, where many key moments in Anglo-Scottish history were played out.
Some ten miles south west of Berwick-upon-Tweed is one of the most significant places in Scottish History. Near the tiny village of Branxton is the site of the Battle of Flodden. It was here on 9 September 1513 that a Scottish invasion in support of the French, under attack at home by Henry VIII, ended in utter disaster. King James IV of Scotland and a large proportion of the Scottish nobility were among up to 10,000 Scots killed in a pointless and unnecessary adventure that some believe led inevitably to Scotland's later loss of independence. Close by is the picture postcard pretty village of Etal, whose single main street concludes at Etal Castle. The village is also home to the Chapel of St Mary the Virgin.
Other main routes through the area include the A68, linking Darlington with Edinburgh via a fascinating road that in places is distinctly upland in character, and the A697, which takes an intermediate route between the hills and the sea as it makes its way north via Wooler to the Scottish Border at Coldstream. The site of the Battle of Otterburn is an interesting place to visit, while the lovely village of Elsdon should not be missed, with its medieval St Cuthbert's Church.
The western side of Northumberland is fairly sparsely populated north of the A69 corridor. Significant settlements include the attractive village of Wark and the bustling small town of Bellingham, capital of North Tynedale and home to St Cuthbert's Church.
In the west, the City of Carlisle is the county town of Cumbria and has been an important point of focus for communities on both sides of the border for the better part of two millennia. The city has a great deal going for it and is home to the magnificent Carlisle Castle, and within it to Cumbria's Military Museum, and to the extremely nice Carlisle Cathedral. On the River Eden four miles east of Carlisle is the attractive village of Wetheral, complete with Holy Trinity Church and Wetheral Priory Gatehouse.
To the north west of Carlisle the M6, which becomes the A74(M) at the border, provides the main road link to west central Scotland, and Glasgow in particular, while a more scenic option is offered by the A7, which heads generally north through Longtown en route to the border and eventually to Edinburgh.