There are lots of things to see and do near the Chain Bridge, on both sides of the England-Scotland border.
– Intriguing visitor attractions
– Fun activities
– Welcoming places to eat and drink
– Distinctive accommodation
Paxton House is an 18th century John Adam mansion set in an 80‑acre estate with beautiful gardens, an adventure playground and grounds running down to the Tweed. The house itself is magnificent, and its contents include Chippendale furniture, an extensive costume collection and the largest private art gallery of any house in Scotland.
Originally founded in the 12th century, Norham Castle was besieged at least 13 times, once for a whole year by the King of Scots, Robert Bruce. Its ruins are now in the care of English Heritage and well worth a visit.
Directly over the Tweed from Norham Castle is Ladykirk Parish Church, which dates back to 1513. Legend has it that King James IV fell off his horse while crossing the river into Scotland at this point, and he built the church in gratitude to the Virgin Mary for saving him. The church was made completely of stone, including the roof and the pews inside, so that it could not burn. These days, you can safely cross the Tweed by taking the Ladykirk and Norham Bridge, which was built in the late 1880s.
The Chain Bridge is set in beautiful countryside, surrounded by well-tended farmland and wilder areas just waiting to be explored. Outdoor activities suitable for all ages and levels of fitness are available in the immediate area, many of these centring on the River Tweed itself. For example, you can fish, walk, cycle, take a boat ride and go bird- and wildlife-watching.
There’s plenty to do indoors too, on a rainy day or if you want to take life at a slower pace. As well as guided tours, Paxton House offers activities for children and hosts art exhibitions in the Hayloft Gallery, theatrical events and musical performances. The Chain Bridge Honey Farm is a family-run business which specialises in natural honey products. You can buy everything from honeycombs to beeswax candles, and spend time in the visitor centre, which includes a living colony of bees behind glass, discovering the extraordinary tale of bees and honey. Both attractions also have excellent cafes: Paxton House’s is in a converted stable block while the Honey Farm’s is in a converted double-decker bus!
One of the best ways to appreciate the Scottish Borders and Northumberland is to walk, and the area around the Chain Bridge is perfect for this. Whatever the season, there’s always something to see as you stroll along the banks of the Tweed, so don’t forget your binoculars and camera. Established walking routes such as St Cuthbert’s Way [http://stcuthbertsway.info/] and the Southern Uplands Way [http://www.southernuplandway.gov.uk/cms/] are also nearby.
The River Tweed is deservedly famous for its salmon fishing, with anglers visiting from all over the world. The season runs from February to November, and you can also fish for brown trout and sea trout.
Paxton House has an original boathouse which has been restored as a fishing museum. Time your visit right and you can watch fish being caught using the centuries-old method of netting with a traditional coble or small boat.
Quiet roads travelling through picturesque countryside make this area extremely popular with cyclists. You can go your own way or maybe follow an established cycle route. The Chain Bridge is on Routes 1 and 68 of the National Cycle Network [http://www.sustrans.org.uk/ncn/map/national-cycle-network] and on shorter, circular routes.
The Chain Bridge is less than half an hour’s drive from several golf courses, including Berwick, Duns and Eyemouth.
Eat and drink
Cafes and pubs a short distance from the Chain Bridge offer everything from tea and cakes to three-course meals, often using fresh, local produce:
Places to stay near the Chain Bridge are small and distinctive, offering their visitors high levels of personal service and a warm welcome.
- Chain Bridge House Bed and Breakfast
- The Old Church Bed and Breakfast, Horncliffe
- Allanton Inn
- Paxton House also offers a small caravan park and The Garden Apartment, which sleeps 2-4 people
- Chainbridge Camping & Caravan Park, Horncliffe
The most northerly town in England, Berwick-upon-Tweed, is just a short drive away from the Chain Bridge, on the Northumberland coast. As well as its stunning buildings and historic fortifications, Berwick offers visitors museums, galleries, a wide range of shops, a theatre and an extensive choice of restaurants, pubs and accommodation.
Information thanks to Janet O’Kane.