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" The Farne Islands Boat Trips "

Date & Time: Thursday 24th September 2015.

Locations :  The north-east coast of England ... Northumberland.  ( NU 237 286)

Places visited : Two local walks and two boat trips out to the Farne Islands.

Accommodation : The Beach Court B&B, Beadnell, Northumberland, Uk.

Distance : Local walks, one on the Inner Farne.

With : Ann and myself and our dogs, Harry and Dylan.

Weather : Blue skies but a breezy north easterly, causing a slight swell between the islands.


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The forecast was for a lovely day again but with the possibility of the breeze continuing.

We had a different day from normal, with Ann and I taking turns to walk the dogs and enjoy a boat trip.

Harry was not a good sailor last time we took him out

on a small boat, so he was confined to shore duties today.



The boat in Carole and Russ's garden looked delightful

but that's the nearest he will get to being afloat today.

Dylan has a look into the boat too . . . but he'll stay ashore today as well . . . no need to complicate things.

While I drove the short distance to Seahouses for my morning boat trip to the Farne Islands,

Ann took the dogs along Beadnell beach in the distance and then back across to Ebb's Nook for another short walk.

Harry looks north from the headland . . .

to the distant islands that I was visiting.     'Tis better for your digestion that you stay here Harry !

Sit and enjoy the sunshine . . .

Perhaps find a good book to read for an hour or two ?

- - - o o o - - -

Meanwhile . . . some four miles further up the coast . . .

I parked the car (in a very reasonably priced car park), grabbed my National Trust card and headed down to the harbour.

Click here or on the photo above for a larger Loweswatercam annotated panorama

The lifeboat Memorial and the Lifeboat House at Seahouses Harbour

Roll up . . . Roll up . . . buy your tickets here for a trip round the islands.

Billy Shiel's Boats were offering a Grey Seals Cruise out to the Longships Light with time on the Inner Farne . . . that would do nicely.

[ The following photos are a combination of my morning trip and Ann's afternoon cruise.]

I boarded the motor boat " Glad Tidings " . . . the original of what is now a small fleet of Billy Sheil's boats.

At the helm . . . Mr Billy Shiel junior . . . otherwise known as William.

Leaving the inner harbour.

Once clear of the breakwaters and out at sea we could look around at the views on offer.

This was Bamburgh Castle a short way up the coast.

Inland, causing their own weather clouds, was the high ground of the Cheviot Hills.

The Inner Farne light . . . the boat trip would return here later in the cruise.

It was advertised as a Grey Seal Cruise . . . so here's my first grey seal of the day.

Don't forget me . . . I'm a grey seal too !

In fact when you look around there were a great number of seals who swim up to the boat to see what we were doing.

I'm not sure who come to look at who ?

The seals in the water were mainly the females

but there were few males who had hauled themselves out onto the rocks to rest and warm themselves in the sunshine.

Close up of two males on Knoxes Reef.

The main seabird colonies of the Farnes had left for the summer but the Shags are year-round residents.

They are smaller than their cousins the Cormorants, with slightly more green rather than purple sheen to their feathers.

Two Eider Ducks taking a leisurely swim.

A passing Herring Gull . . .
. . . and a large Gannet on the wing.

The Farne Islands are a popular place today with both diving trips and sea cruises on offer.

The calm waters by the reefs and the historic shipwrecks make this a popular spot to dive.

We pass the Pinnacle Rocks on the edge of Brownsman Island.

The white is the guano from the birds that normally sit or nest here.

On the outer edge of the main string of islands is the Longships Light made famous by Grace Darling and her family.

They were lighthouse keepers on the island and in 1838 set out in a small boat to rescue the survivors from the wreck of the Forfarshire.

The heroism of Grace and her father that night was a major inspiration in setting up the modern RNLI lifeboat system we have today.

The island lighthouse is currently being refurbished

so a temporary lightship is moored off the end of the reef until the main light is back in working order.

Time to turn and head back towards the Inner Farne once more.

[ Our skipper offered an interesting and pleasantly succinct commentary about the area, I presume Ann's skipper did the same.]

Passing Brownsman Island once more . . . the tower once had a brazier-style open fire at night until the adjacent house was built.

That held a paraffin lamp in a tower that used to be on the right hand end of the building.

A trust warden lives on the island during the summer to maintain and monitor the bird reserve.

The first pups of the year have been born but they are early and rather premature so apparently stand little chance of survival.

The seals around these island should give birth about a month later than those on the west coast of Britain.

The staff expect the main season to start here in a couple of weeks time.

Across the shallow seas back towards Inner Farne.

This is the largest of the Farne Islands and has several large stone buildings including a church and a substantial tower.

Our boat lands and we have half an hour or so on the island . . . time to walk around and see the sights.

The island was inhabited by St Cuthbert who lived here in a simple stone and turf monastic cell for nine years from 676 to 685.

The present St Mary's Church dates from 1370 when it was built alongside an earlier ruined church dedicated to St Cuthbert.

The biggest surprise of the day was the inside the church.

St Mary's was renovated in the 1840's by Archdeacon Thorp and furnished with old furniture from York Cathedral.

Inside the information centre . . .
. . . there was plenty to read and to look at.

These islands are a major bird sanctuary on the east coast of England and home to nearly 40,000 puffins and 53,000 Guillemots in the breeding season.

The list above gives some idea of how important the area is.  The island is home to seasonal RSPB staff but thy don't feature on the list !

Their work involves protecting the birds and maintaining the habitat to encourage them back each year

Here they were clearing undergrowth and weeds to enable more space for the birds next year.

In the courtyard, a pile of colourful stones . . .

painted and placed to identify nest sites and make their task of counting that much easier.

All but the year-round resident birds have flown now so the island is virtually deserted.

The tower, dating from 1500 and now home to the RSPB staff, has a fresh water well inside plus an old abandoned garden.

We stroll around the boardwalks . . . the paths are well defined so as to separate the visitors and the birds,

important in the height of the breeding season when the ground is covered with so many nests and young.

The cliffs are deserted too, the only birds about being the Shags we saw earlier.

The Inner Farne light.

The wardens themselves will be leaving soon but were quite willing to stop the weeding to chat about the islands.

The path leads us back to the small jetty . . . next time we visit we'll pick a different time of year .

There will be more birds or young seals about but I don't suppose the weather will be better than it is today.

The mooring ropes are slipped and we leave the island to the wardens . . . time to be heading home.

Back at Seahouses after an interesting island cruise.

- - - o o o - - -

In the afternoon, as Ann's boat leaves the harbour on her trip, I take the dogs a little further up the coast for a second walk.

Through the sand dunes to Bamburgh Beach.

The castle dominates this part of the coastline.

Offshore the lighthouse and tower of the Inner Farne island dominate the seascape.

The breeze is up causing white horses on the water.

Across the bay is the famous castle of Lindisfarne, along with its old Priory and more coastal limekilns.

The dogs and I take a stroll along the beach.

Old wartime defences have been turned into art . . . at the roll of a dice.

The top end of the beach has a small coastal light to aid navigation.

The castle at Lindisfarne can just be seen in the distance.

Time to make tracks back to the car . . .
. . . some of these will be ours from the way up.

Bamburgh Castle . . . ancient and restored . . . it is open to day visitors and for weddings and corporate functions.

It has been the backdrop to many a feature film over the years too.

Harry enjoying the beach.

Dylan, more intent on running and playing.


Can't stay all day . . . time to be back to Seahouses to collect Ann after her boat trip.

Beadnell beach offers us another lovely sunset at the end of a busy day.

- - - o o o - - -


Technical note: Pictures taken with either Ann's Canon Sureshot SX220, or my Canon 1100D Digital SLR.

Resized in Photoshop, and built up on a Dreamweaver web builder.

This site best viewed with . . . a good forecast for a boat trip on the open sea.

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 2. Ebb's Nook

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Previous walk - 23rd September 2015 - Dunstanburgh from Craster

A previous time up here - Photos from our previous island visit are unfortunately pre-digital.

Next walk - 24th September 2015 - Beadnell & South