All Line Rover trip Day 6: Borders, Berwick & Hull

In September 2022, I travelled around Britain for a week and a half using an All Line Rover train ticket. This is the seventh of eleven special posts giving a day-by-day narration of my trip. I also wrote an introduction to the trip, discussing my plans and goals, before I left; and will follow up my day-by-day narration with standard posts about the nineteen individual map areas I visited on the trip which are new to the blog. [1]

Interactive map

Here’s an interactive map of my All Line Rover trip! By default, all 11 days of my trip are shown: press the icon in the top left to see the route for individual days of the trip only.

Key to colours: Purple = train, dark blue = metro/underground, pink = tram, green = bus, orange = walking, medium blue = ferry

Day 6: Borders, Berwick & Hull

Edinburgh, where I’d arrived the night before, was to be the northernmost point of my trip. I would very much like to explore Scotland’s rail (and indeed bus and ferry) network more – I’ve only really done Glasgow-Inverness and some of the Far North Line, and goodness knows there’s plenty more never done the West Highland Line or Kyle of Lochalsh Line, for a particularly notable couple of examples, and there’s plenty of smaller-scale stuff I’d be interested in too. However, it would be a little inefficient to use a lot of my All Line Rover on Scotland, since I could easily spend several days up here, but that can be done on the vastly cheaper Spirit of Scotland travelpass on another trip. The rather pricey All Line Rover is also at its best whne I can do several shorter hops in a day, taking advantage of its flexibility, which is less relevant on the long distances and infrequent timetables in the more isolated parts of Scotland.

I’ve been to Edinburgh several times before, so didn’t plan to stick around, lovely place that it is. I’d therefore be heading directly back south this morning, but planned to get across to Waverley station by taking a tram from Haymarket, where I was staying – thereby picking up my third tram system of the trip after Croydon, Birmingham and Manchester. However, arriving at Haymarket, I found the trams to be in a bit of a pickle that morning – none were running further into the city than Haymarket Sidings, just slightly further to the west. I therefore walked down to the sidings in the rain, and got on a tram just for one stop westwards, to Murrayfield Stadium, before getting a #30 bus from there over to Waverley station.

An Edinburgh tram at Murrayfield

At Waverley, I got on a ScotRail service down the the Borders Railway, one of the great new rail opening success stories of recent years. (Well, it was a reopening, but that aspect of openings always seems rather over-stressed – if somewhere needs a rail link and one is built, it doesn’t seem all that relevant to me whether it follows an old route or not.) We passed through some pleasant, rolling countryside, getting hillier as we got further south, but it was rather a grey day so far from the best views of the trip so far.

I got off one stop from the end of the line, at Galashiels, where I was really impressed with the Galashiels Transport Interchange: the rail station backs right on to a very nice bus station – spacious, light, with toilets, plenty of clear, helpful, up-to-date information displays, a little café and plenty more. If only more of our towns could have such like!

Inside Galashiels Transport Interchange

I’ve not been to Galashiels before, but have been to nearby Melrose as part of mine and my friends’ “Holy Island Trek” attempt to walk between Lindisfarne and Iona in summer 2016. I haven’t yet visited the area again since starting the blog to have written about our time in Melrose in a Previous Visits section – nor will I as a result of this new visit, since just changing transport modes doesn’t count as a visit under The Rules – but did write about the first half of the day when we walked to Melrose in my Cheviots post – search for “Day 7”!

It would’ve been nice to have a little look around Galashiels, but I had plenty more travelling planned for the day, so decided to get directly on a #60 bus across to Berwick-upon-Tweed.

The Eildon Hills – which I walked over to reach Melrose in 2016 – seen from my bus to Berwick

I’d tried, when considering my plans for this day, to work out a way to get to the area around Eyemouth, Coldingham and St Abbs Head, a little to the north of Berwick, as I’ve been wanting to visit for a while – the cliffs look spectacular, and I’d like to visit the ruins of Coldingham Priory. There is one bus a day, it seems, that goes from Galashiels to Berwick via Eyemouth, but it wasn’t at a convenient time, so I discarded the idea, as I wanted to get on southwards and bussing from Berwick out to Eyemouth and back again would take up too much time. Another trip, then!

The Royal Border Bridge in Berwick

Arriving in Berwick, I spent half an hour wandering around the town, which was nice – I’ve been to Berwick before for functional reasons on trips to the area, but never actually explored the town centre, which has plenty of interest.

As well as the impressive road and rail bridges over the River Tweed, there are of course the castle ruins – or at least the bits that the train station wasn’t built over – views out to sea, and the very impressive medieval and Elizabethan town walls and ramparts. Elizabethan defences aren’t something I’m very used to seeing – I feel like usually in England you just see medieval castles, and out by the sea maybe coastal forts and defences from the 18th century onwards, plus WWII things. But Berwick, of course, is a border town and needed defending even at times of relative peace in England itself.

Looking down past the castle ruins to the River Tweed

From Berwick, I’d be travelling a fair distance southwards to Hull: first on an LNER service down the East Coast Main Line to York, and then over to Hull from there. On that first LNER service, I ticked something else off my list for this trip, and bought an upgrade to first class!

My meal in LNER first class from Berwick to York

It took a little while to accomplish, them having to send down to the other end of the train for the person with the ticket machine, but I was given my upgrade (£30). As ever, I got a nice spacious individual seat, and unlike my previous LNER first-class experience, the catering was fully working: I got to order after Newcastle, and received a a very nice, if rather small, butternut squash tortellini! I also managed to get in an orange juice, a bottle of water, and a cup of tea and some biscuits on my hour-and-a-forty-minute journey, but unfortunately wasn’t on quite long enough to be offered dessert – there was a lemon posset on the menu that I was looking forward to, that being one of my very favourite desserts! Still, it was a very nice journey. First class isn’t cheap enough that I’d use it very often, but on the nicer trains like these, it is defintely something I’d do from time to time!

Arriving in York, my upgrade also entitled me to use the LNER lounge for my forty-minute wait before my train to Hull, which was very welcome. After an uneventful second leg of my trip, predominantly on arrow-straight railway lines through pancake-flat East Yorkshire, I reached Hull.

I have to say, Hull – or at least the city centre, which is all I saw – was very nice, and does not at all deserve its bad reputation. In my experience, for some reason Hull doesn’t just have a normal level of bad reputation – such that when you think of the place, you might expect it to be a bit grim, like Middlesbrough, say, or Blackburn. No, for some reason it seems to, along with its southern peer Slough, be the stereotypical grim place, fitting well in phrases like “well, at least it’s not Hull” – or indeed in this excellent Blackadder moment. But no, it was positively pleasant!

The bus gates at Hull Paragon Interchange

I arrived at Hull Paragon Interchange, my second great transport interchange of the day, which is both the city’s main bus and train station, with an area under the main historic roof that I assume once held more train platforms having now been adapted to contain a row of bus gates. It was a little dingy, with lots of empty space that could be more productively and pleasantly used, but still, I was impressed.

From there, I spent an enjoyable hour or so wandering around the city centre. Hull has been an important port since high medieval times, diminishing in importance only in the 20th century, but is still a substantial regional centre. There were bustling modern shopping streets, imposing Georgian and Victorian squares, and quiet cobbled medieval lanes in the Old Town.

One of Hull’s unique white phone boxes, the legacy of the independent phone system the city retained long past the rest of the country

The museums in the Old Town’s museums quarter, mostly focussed on local history, looked rather inviting, but unfortunately had closed at 5pm, just before I was exploring. Walking along a street nearby, I saw an intruiguing old-fashioned sign featuring a hand proudly holding aloft a carrot, for Hitchcocks Vegetarian Restaurant. I went onto its website, and I have to say, it sounds pretty amazing – it’s desribed as “a confusion of rooms situated on several levels creating natural havens and hideaways“, with an “atmosphere created by a mixture of eclectic and eccentric styles mixed in with a quirky collection of thrift store curiosities. […] The menu for the evening is chosen by the first person to book for that night and is usually based on the cuisine of a particular country“.

I feel like vegetarian restaurants tend to always have a modern/cool vibe, so it’s refreshing finding one so different, and indeed with such a history. I also didn’t quite manage to puzzle out why on one side of the sign the carrot had the green bit at the top, and on the other it was missing. How mysterious! Regrettably, I needed to travel onwards that evening, so didn’t go in, but it’s absolutely on my list to come back and try Hitchcock’s one day! I can go to some of the museums too.

Some architects working on Hull have clearly enjoyed thinking big – the guildhall is enormous, and the Wilberforce Monument joins Nelson’s Column in the category of “statue on a pillar so ridiculously high you have no chance of making out what the statue is”.

After my wander around town, I got myself a McDonalds plant burger and Subway cheese salad to eat in the train station for dinner, before catching my final train of the day, which took me the forty-five minutes or so over to Bridlington on the Yorkshire coast. There, I admired the overflowing floral displays in the station ticket hall, before heading straight to my hotel room for the night. I’d have a look around the town in the morning.

Bridlington station’s ticket hall

Another full and very enjoyable day!


[1] The individual map area posts will duplicate the contents of the special trip posts, but unlike the latter they won’t form a continuous narrative, since they’ll skip things I did in map areas I’ve already posted about. They will, though, newly contain narration of anything I did on previous visits there – since some of these are areas which are new to the blog, but which I visited before starting my blog in 2017.

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