Friday, 2 October 2015

Berwick Walk and the Sinners Cafe

Berwick on Tweed.


The sun is out but in the town there's a freshness, a hint of sharp sea air. I'm going to find a coffee before I start walking. Going past an arched entranceway I see a sign for Sinners Café, which claims to have the best coffee in town. I haven't seen it before. I go through the alley into the small courtyard where people are sitting at the outside tables and chairs, enjoying the sunshine. Then I go into the café itself and order my cappuccino to go. The people are very friendly. I mention the sign that claims they have the best coffee in town. Yes she says, it is, it's strong and fresh. I don't say I'm going to rate it in my mythical book of Travellers' Guide to Good Coffee Around the World. Because if I mention this I might feel obliged to do it.

There are several factors to be considered, in this Good Coffee Experience Guide. One is the friendliness of the people. Other factors are – whether or not the sun shines.. where one is. If one is truly happy to be there, if one is in some foreign place that it has taken time and effort to reach and one feels expansive – well then, that will all benefit one's coffee experience.

The coffee is good if a little too milky for my taste. Another thing I should have mentioned in the above factors is that – one has one's own individual preferences, and if you don't spell them out, you could be disappointed. If you do, or if I do anyway, I fear being judged as someone whose pernickityness verges on the pathological. I should have said that as well as not wanting too much water I don't, either, like too much milk. Still, it is good, and I'm glad I found this café and I would definitely recommend it.

I walk up the hill following the map to small roads or a trail that heads inland. The sun stays out. A view over the town, the sea just visible. A couple of cyclists pass.


The path sidles up to the main road. I think it's going to end but no, there's a small alleyway, marked with a wooden signpost, and bounded by a trim high beech hedge, separating me from the road. Then the hedge ends and the path comes out onto a pavement beside the road. A few metres further on, a marked crossing. I cross this busy road walk along the other side for a few more metres then turn off onto a cycle path. One way leads to a minor road, which I take. There's still a pedestrian path but it's overgrown and there's some litter casually tossed I imagine from passing cars. About a mile or so further on there's a dotted line on the map. And it turns out to be marked as a public right of way. So I follow it. It's a track that goes past a house and outbuilding. Someone sits in front of a big barn, tapping something with a hammer.


Through another gate and now it's the edge of a field, nothing to suggest it's an actual path. The last part however goes steeply down a few metres and it's overgrown – full of nettles thorny brambles, tall thistles. I'm only wearing sandals. I hesitate. But it isn't far now, to the next small road. So I cling to the fence and a few centimes of grassy tussocked earth, almost slipping down into the seething cauldron of nettles and thistles below.

Then the 'path' turns right away from the fence. I have no choice but to descend into the stinging, thorny way. It seems that no-one has been this way since the Prince fought his way through the mass of brambles grown up around the dwelling of the sleeping Beauty. This allegory of the soul's awakening sustains me. I'm nearly there. I'm not going to give in, so close to my goal. And for the last few metres, someone clearly made an attempt earlier in the summer to clear the path.


 The nettles and grass are shorter, though much longer ones lean over from both sides. I turn the corner and there's the lichen-encrusted wooden signpost and the road, a quiet minor one. A few cyclists pass.


From the map I see another path further on, that will take me back to the cycle path near the crossing over the main road. It's all downhill from there, with a view over fields, some crops still uncut, some already harvested – and a few distant hills.


 Back over the road and along the beech hedge alley. Instead of going back the way I came, I take a path with a freshly made wooden signpost erected by the Berwick Ramblers Association and the path leads down to the river estuary, the riverside walk and the bridges of Berwick.


The Solitary Walker said...

You pernickety psychopath, you..! A good cup of coffee, then a walk worthy of Teresa of Avila. Excellent!

Forest Dream Weaver said...

I always look for birds in sky shots and I see two in the first....possibly crows! I don't fancy walking the thorny path in sandals but that would have been the footwear of many ancient monks and pilgrims. Easier to negotiate than the Slough of Despond no doubt! Glad you had a clear and pleasurable end to your journey.

I'm making the most of the good weather.....gardening while the sun shines!

dritanje said...

Solitary Walker - I am moved to be mentioned in the same sentence as Teresa of Avila. My father used to say 'I'm not fussy, I just know what I like.' Just possibly he may have passed this on to me....

Ruby - I'm so glad you spotted the birds! Yes I think they were crows. I did feel a bit like a pilgrim, enduring stings and scratches (one has to have some hardship after all, to appreciate reaching the goal!) But every Way, as we've talked about, can be a Pilgrim Way....