The Coast Road To Edinburgh

photo of ramparts at Berwick upon Tweed
Ramparts At Berwick Upon Tweed

Heading north, Berwick Upon Tweed is the last English town before the border with Scotland.

The town is just three miles from the Scottish border and a few hundred yards from the North Sea. On its seaward side there are these high earth ramparts built in the late 1500s, during the reigns of Mary I and Elizabeth I.

The ramparts are sheer, as tall as a tree and fifty feet wide, and were designed to protect the town from an invasion by Scotland.

The people you can see in the photograph above are walking along the top of the ramparts and the sea is to the left out of the frame.

photo of iron basket for a medieval beacon at Berwick Upon Tweed
Beacon Basket At Berwick Upon Tweed

The invasion never came. If it had, then fires lit in iron baskets like this one would have warned of the approach of the invasion fleet.

Meanwhile, On The South Coast Of England

It was beacons like this along the south coast of England that warned of the approach of the Spanish Armada in 1588.

The scene was set with the Spanish invasion fleet anchored off the Dutch coast, ready to sail across the North Sea. However, the English didn’t wait for the invasion but instead sent fire ships among the Spanish galleons.

The Armada escaped north along the east coast of England and managed to sail around Scotland. But the heavy galleons of the Spanish fleet were blown off course by a storm, and many ships were wrecked off the coast of Ireland.

And that was the end of Spanish invasion plans in the undeclared Anglo-Spanish War that dragged on until 1604.

So it is interesting to think that the Armada would have sailed past the ramparts of Berwick Upon Tweed in 1588 as it attempted to regroup.

The Scottish Coast Road

Continuing north from the border with England, the main road runs along near the coast towards Edinburgh.

From time to time the sea can be seen from the main road, but there is another much smaller road even nearer the coast that is worth the detour.

It runs past the villages of Burnouth, Eyemouth, St. Abbs, and others. Each village has a harbour reached down steep side roads, with the sounds of fishermen calling to one another as they work on their tiny boats.

Looking out to sea it really does feel a world away from the south of England, with the hills behind and the lichen-encrusted rocks adding splashes of color.

photo of the shore at Burnmouth in Scotland with cottages behind
The Shore At Burnmouth
rocks on the coast south of Edinburgh
The Rocks Trail Out To The Sea

The Fields Behind

At this time of year in the rolling fields near the coast, the wheat straw is bundled in these huge circular bales that have become the new visual poetry of the agricultural landscape.

photo of bales of wheat straw
Bales Of Wheat Straw


  1. John Herridge says

    Such an evocative account of your journey! The words and pictures are so good and I think I might want to visit that part of the world now!

    Yes, the Armada connection is hard to imagine now. What trials they went through – so long at sea.

    • David Bennett says

      Thank you for your kind words about the article. And thanks for commenting – I appreciate it.

      I can’t imagine what the sailors of the time went through, either.

      I can’t imagine what life generally was like then. I have images of ribald goings on in the cities of England (a pastiche of Monty Python) and terrifying, dark goings on in Spain (from too many horror films) – probably all wrong.

      One perennial thought I have is that the ‘common man’ probably just wanted everyone (the Church, politics) to get off his back so he could make a life for himself.

  2. Esther Hecht says

    The photo of the field with the circular bales showed me how one might capture this vast expanse. We passed similar fields with stacks of square bales as we drove north toward Salt Lake City. I didn’t realize how much the contrasting green could add to the picture.

    • David Bennett says

      I took some photos that day with a Panasonic that a 40mm equivalent lens on it and with a Nikon that had a 75mm equivalent lens on it, so neither lens is wide angle.

      I have photographed bales like these in fields before, but the photographs never seemed right.

      I think what made the scene here appealing to me is that the field rises towards the back.

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