Last Friday, my dad took myself and my brother along to Seahouses in order that we could ride the waves across to the Farne Islands inhabited by tens of thousands of sea birds such as puffins and Arctic terns, as well as shags and cormorants. These islands also play host to a pretty impressive seal colony with the occasional curious seal head popping up in the water to say hello!
We arrived in Seahouses with minutes to spare as the next 2.5 hour tour of the Farne Islands was leaving in 10 minutes; just enough time to park the car and check in with the National Trust. A brisk walk down the harbour wall, and a few slippery steps later and we’d boarded the Serenity. As it was a little late in the season there were only about 15 of us on board so there was no fear to be had of being squished! The captain took us on a tour of the smaller islands where all the seals could be found making a bit of racket. We then ventured towards the cliffs where hundreds of seagulls made there nests. From there, we ploughed on through the waves chasing the hoards of puffins heading toward the main Inner Farne- with beaks bursting with sand eels- exactly where we headed to next!
On this main island you can find a small chapel, a little information hut and some public toilets on one end and the lighthouse on the other, as well as multiple rabbit burrows inhabited by the puffins. There are boardwalks that take you around the island, right to the cliffs and some picnic benches. One particular thing to look for are the adolescent puffins waddling across the boardwalks or this coming back from fishing flying low right in front of you. Although you can see seagulls most anywhere, one of my favourite photographs of the day were those of the two lovebirds…literally.
The island is now owned by the National Trust and the history of the islands include the story of Grace Darling and the part she played in the rescue of a shipwreck one stormy night. Grace Darling died very young and she is buried nearby in Bamburgh, another coastal town on the Northumberland coast. From the open water you can see Bamburgh castle and Lindisfarne castle; resting place of St. Oswald. Other castles down the Northumberland coast include Dunstanburgh and Warkworth.
One thing you have to be careful about if you’re exploring the Inner Farne are the Arctic terns which are prone to dive-bombing to protect their chicks. You are encouraged to wear some sort of hat or carry an umbrella so here you see me modelling my old air cadets hat passed down to me from my older brother.
If you’re interested in visiting the Farne Islands I’d recommend going June-July but there’s plenty to see if you’re there a little earlier in the year. I’ve previously been there as early as April but there were only a few puffins as about 70,000 of them had gone off fishing further afield. However there was great entertainment provided by a young seal sun-bathing by the little port, he wasn’t at all deterred by all of the tourists and he just lay there on his back smiling and enjoying the sunshine.
I hope you enjoyed this blog post on the Farne Islands.
I’m currently listening to Come And Get Your Love by Redbone.
Until next time,