The Farne Islands
On a grey, grey day we boarded a boat and headed out to the Farne Islands, a seabird and seal colony a few miles off the Northumberland coast. Inner Farne, our destination, is the largest of the islands and was once the home of St Cuthbert. Today, in the summer months, it is populated primarily by thousands of nesting seabirds, including puffins, guillemots, terns, cormorants and eider ducks. Visitors have the opportunity to get surprisingly close to the birds, perhaps a little close for comfort at times – the arctic terns protect their nests by dive-bombing anyone they consider is getting too near, so hats are a must!
Despite the overcast skies and choppy boat ride, it was a fascinating experience and one that I would be happy to repeat again some time.
On a clear day, the views are rather more impressive. On the day of our visit, grey was the dominant colour!
Whilst on the boat, we toured around all the Farne islands, pausing from time to time so that we could photograph the birds and seals. There are many boat trips out to the islands. The sunset one sounds particularly appealing, though the idea of being stuck on a boat for up to two hours less so!
The birds are, of course, the main attraction and visitors are encouraged to bring their cameras. I spent a good few minutes trying to capture the flight of the terns as they came in to land, but they were too quick for me and in the end I had to settle for photos of them either as they settled or from a distance, as they circled above me. The puffins, though, were my favourites.
We saw several lighthouses, including Longstone Lighthouse, made famous by Grace Darling and her father, who risked their own lives to rescue survivors of a shipwreck in September 1838. The lighthouse visible in these photos, which may in fact be Longstone Lighthouse, caught my eye because of its white light, which came on every twenty seconds.