One of the greatest wildlife experiences is just a boat ride away - the Farne islands lying off the coast of North Northumberland.
In summer the Farne Islands are 'home' for over 100,000 pairs of breeding seabirds, including 55,000+ pairs of puffins. Some 21-23 species nest here and are, almost without fail, incredibly tolerant of the human visitors.
Tolerant, however, may not be quite the right word for the Arctic Terns who dive-bomb unsuspecting folk as they pass through their nesting colonies - not something to be forgotten in a hurry! The photographic opportunities are endless.
When the birds leave in late summer the Farne Isles becomes the pupping grounds for the second largest colony of grey seals in England.
The Farne Islands are open from 1 April - 30 September with the best time to visit, for the breeding seabirds, being mid-April through to late July, when landing is possible on Inner Farne, Staple Island, and Longstone. The seal pups can be viewed from visitor boats from late October until mid-December.
There are two boat companies licensed to land on the Farne Islands and both have booking offices on Seahouses harbour - and websites where you can check out the various itineraries. Bear in mind that the weather can play havoc with plans - rough seas can prevent sailings even in the summer months!
Inner Farnes and Outer Farnes are divided by Staple Sound; 28 islands at low water, 15 at high. One of the finest seabird breeding colonies in Europe. Grey seals can also be seen there.
St. Aidan as Bishop of Lindisfarne often meditated here in the 7thC, followed by St. Cuthbert who laid down rules for care of nesting eider ducks. The chapel, built in 14th century, restored in 1845, commemorates St Cuthbert's death on Inner Farne in 687. The National Trust has administered the islands since 1925, except for Longstone Lighthouse.
Boats run, weather permitting, during the summer season from Seahouses.