John Whittles Wildlife

The Farne Islands

The Farne Islands are situated between two and six miles off the coast of Northumberland in North-East England. Holy Island, or Lindisfarne, lies about 8 miles to the North. In 1838 the Islands became world famous when Grace Darling and her father rescued survivors of the wrecked ship “Forfarshire.”

The islands are owned by the National Trust and are uninhabited apart from a small number of bird wardens on the largest island, Inner Farne. They are maintained as a bird sanctuary for sea birds and nesting species include Puffins, Arctic Terns, Common Terns, Roseate Terns, Guillemots, Shags, Cormorants and Razor Bills. Seals can usually be seen on the rocks or swimming.

Landings can only be made on two islands, Inner Farne and Staple Island. Inner Farne is the easier as it has a jetty and boardwalk paths cross the island. These pass within feet of tern nests and puffin burrows. In one or two places there is access to the cliff tops and one can look down on birds nesting on the ledges.

National Trust wardens are on hand and are always willing to answer questions or
give advice.
Puffin with sand eels

Landings are also permitted on Staple Island but there is no jetty and the ground is rocky and rough underfoot.

Boats taking visitors to the islands, or on trips round the islands, leave from Seahouses. There are several boat companies operating from Seahouses, of which Billy Bishop’s is the oldest. Half day trips can be made to one island and full day trips to visit both. There are no refreshments available so take food and drink with

It is important to remember that landings are entirely dependent on the weather, and rough seas or mist, can rule out one or both islands. It is often possible to land on Inner Farne when Staple Island is inaccessible.

It’s a good idea to wear waterproofs and protect camera equipment as the boats are open and spray can, and does, come on board.

Don’t forget to wear a hat. Arctic Terns are very protective and will dive at visitors and peck at heads. Guano is another problem.

See the Links page for more sources of information.