One of the UK's best 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. When the birds leave in late summer the Islands become the pupping grounds for the second largest colony of grey seals in England.
Then there is the human story with St Cuthbert and Grace Darling taking centre stage, whilst the view from the Farne Islands back towards Bamburgh Castle rival any seen from the mainland.
The Farne Islands are open to visitors from 28th March to the 1st Nov.
The best time to visit, for the breeding seabirds that is, 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.
Car parking available
In Seahouses - Pay and Display, non National Trust
Film / TV location
Lovely boat ride with plenty seal and sea birds
Took my 5 year old daughter, she loved the fact we went out to sea. We saw plenty of seals, puffins, and other sea birds. The only downside is its a bit of a free for all getting on the boat and this is a bit disorganised + you have to go down some steep stairs to get on, so it may not be accessible for all.
A great trip
Brenda B, Cambridge, United Kingdom
We went out to the Farne Islands with Billy Shiels and saw the cormorants, guillemots and kittiwakes and the seals. There were no puffins this late in the year but we had a great time and also landed on Inner Farne for a stroll around and to see the little church.We will definitely be back next year in May / June / July to see the puffins and we will use the Billy Shiels boat again as it was very good. Note that the boats go from the harbour and not from the address given on the website.
Suffice to say that we will be back next year during the breeding season.
BlaydonBlunderer, Blaydon on Tyne
We knew that we had just missed the breeding season, so we were prepared to see only any straddlers that had been left behind. So the highlights were few and far between but we were really glad that we visited Inner Farne. Suffice to say that we will be back next year during the breeding season.
Nice little trip if you like to see seals and seabirds
Comfortable boat and you do get to be close to the seals (who are not afraid of humans). One has to pay a lot to the National Trust to set foot on the islands (which everybody does) but there are interesting things to see. I suppose the money helps to keep a permanent presence on the island to keep an eye on the numbers of birds and seals. Make sure that you know when the talks are carried out - we missed it. St. Cuthbert was a hermit for a while on these wild islands - he must have been pretty hardy (though the climate was warmer in those times they say).
A Unique and Wonderful Place
We visit Northumberland every year (staying at the brilliant Seafields site in Seahouses) and never miss the opportunity to sail out to the Farnes. This year we didn't disembark as the seabirds' nesting season was virtually over but sailed around the islands on Serenity III simply to take in the splendour of the cliffs and to view the remaining seabirds at their precipitous nesting sites. The boat owner took us up incredibly close to the birds on the cliffs, manoeuvres he must have done countless times to do with such confidence! It made for an awesome spectacle. The only slight' disappointment' was we didn't have a pod of dolphins accompany our boat during the crossing, as we had seen them swimming alongside this boat the previous day from onshore, but nature doesn't perform for anyone. It's impossible to detract from any visit to this unique island group. If you've never been out to sea from Seahouses get down to the harbour and book a trip. You won't be disappointed.