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Exploring the Farne Islands

May 18, 2014

Northumberland 149A bright and sunny day as we set sail from Seahouses in Billy Shiel’s boat “Glad Tidings” to visit Inner Farne and sail round the Farne Islands, off the coast of Northumberland 168Northumberland. It was pleasantly choppy as we crossed the Inner Sound and then cross Staple Sound to the Inner Farne group.

Our first sight of the famous Puffins was at sea, swimming and diving amidst the swelling waves, where they competed for our attention with the seals which bobbed up from time to time to eye these strange humans in their water world. Northumberland 184

As you approach the islands, the rocks are crammed with birds and white with guano – and yes, you can smell it.

Approaching the Longstone lighthouse, all thoughts were of Grace Darling and her father as they participated in the rescue of crew and passengers from the Forfarshire, which had struck on the rocks of Big Horcar on that wild night in 1838, propelling her to international fame.Northumberland 188

Having circumnavigated the outer islands, we returned to Inner Farne, where we were put ashore, to walk amid the birds and see the place where St Cuthbert lived and died a solitary life of religious meditation – even now the National Trust rangers stay here only from March to December, with a day off once a week!

A great many birds around and the air of Inner Farne filled with their noise: Puffins, Eiders, Kittiwakes, Shags, Arctic Terns, and lots of Oystercatchers – a privilege to see them at such close quarters.

I was sad to see the Farne Islands recede into the distance as we sailed away.Northumberland 137Northumberland 195

If you plan only one trip in the next month or so the make it to the Farne Islands.  This is a particularly good time to go to see the birds at their best.

It will live in my memory. It reminded me of some of the later scenes in John Buchan’s novel “The Island of Sheep”.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. May 18, 2014 1:06 pm

    I would love to visit the Farne Islands so thanks for this interesting post

  2. May 21, 2014 9:11 am

    Well worth the visit.

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