Farne Islands

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The Farne Islands are situated off the coast of Northumberland lying between the small port of Seahouses & the historic Bamburgh Castle. The islands which are cared for by the National Trust are famous for the the important colony of grey seals & many varieties of seabirds including puffins, cormorants, fulmar petrels, eider, auks & five species of terns.

There are twenty-eight islands, the number visible according to the tide. Some consist of bare rock & can be seen only at low tide.

The islands can be reached by boat trips from Seahouses between April & September , with landing fees payable to the National Trust when alighting at Inner Farne or Staple Island. Tickets can be purchased at cabins dotted together on the harbour yards from the boat landings. A variety of trips include optional landings at either Inner Farne, Staple Island or Longstone Island. Sail only trips, fishing & diving trips can also be booked. Prices start at around £10 ,the landing fee for Inner Farne & Staple Island at around about £5-£6 extra is free for National Trust members. TIP;- Pick up a leaflet at the kiosk before booking. Often a discount voucher is included. The girls in the kiosk will not mention this so check first.

Embarking on the boats include walking down quite steep steps so people with disabilities may have problems. I noticed a blind traveller being led down without any major problem. Inner Farne has a walkway suitable for disabled visitors & also toilet facilities. Staple Island is not recommended for disabled visitors & landings can be difficult. The boat i was on had her own dog & one couple waiting for a boat also had a dog.

Once on board the friendly crew gave an overview of what wildlife can be expected, the story of St. Cuthbert who lived & died on Inner Farne & the famous heroine Grace Darling daughter of the Longstone lighthouse keeper who rescued sailors from the stricken ship Forfarshire in 1838.

The crew were always alert to any wildlife & quickly shouted out when any porpoise came close to the boat or when gannets flew overhead.

Landings are not compulsory, passengers having the choice either to stop on board or alight at the islands. The lenghth of cruise will be about an hour & a half plus an extra hour for passengers choosing to alight.

During the nesting season take a hard hat or similar protection if stopping at the bird colonies at Inner Farne as the terns will not hesitate to give a nasty peck on the head.

A great afternoon out. All happy faces. For bird watchers Inner Farne or Staple Island tremendous. If just looking to chill for an hour & take in the seals maybe Longstone Island is for you.

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