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Wildlife Watching Boat Trip Around The Farne Islands.

Updated on April 6, 2018
GALAXY 59 profile image

Galaxy is an experienced traveller and nature lover with a deep love of the ocean. She enjoys all forms of travel, but she likes boats best.

The Farne Islands Seals and pups.

Seals in the water off the Farne Islands
Seals in the water off the Farne Islands | Source

The Northumberland Coast.

If you are ever lucky enough to visit the Northumberland coast of England make sure not to miss out on a boat trip to the beautiful Farne Islands. Wonderful to visit at any time of the year, the seabirds are always a huge draw in the summer months, but of particular interest to animal lovers are the Atlantic grey seal pups born in the area in the autumn.

The weather-beaten rocks are literally covered in fluffy white baby seal pups and the sea boils with adults seeking food in the chilly water.

As many as a thousand pups are born here each year in late October and November. So you are pretty much guaranteed to see at least some pups probably dozens of them.

The Farne Islands. Northumberland.

Our Boat for the Trip - The Glad Tidings.

The Glad Tidings Boat
The Glad Tidings Boat | Source
There are a variety of different companies offering trips to the islands - we chose Billy Shiel.
There are a variety of different companies offering trips to the islands - we chose Billy Shiel. | Source

Chose Comfort and Safety.

There are many different types of boats offering trips out to the islands from the nearby town of Seahouses but if you are looking for comfort then pick a boat with cover and onboard toilet facilities, a two-hour trip can seem a lot longer if it rains or you need the loo!

The larger boats have better stabilisers which are a great help if the sea turns rough - as it often does.

The boats do all sail from the end of the harbour wall and the steps down to them are quite steep and can be wet and slippery, so take care. Good shoes are essential as are warm clothes and a good waterproof jacket. The deck can get quite slippery so stay safe with the right footwear and cold weather gear.The weather on the northeast coast can be very unpredictable at any time of year and it is always colder out at sea than on land.

A Comfortable Boat With Toilet Facilities and Plenty of Indoor Seating.

Seal watching in the Farne Islands
Seal watching in the Farne Islands | Source

Anti-seasickness pills.

Don't forget to take an anti-seasickness pill before you go. The sea can be very rough.

Essential Items.

The sea can be a bit choppy so maybe think about taking an anti-seasickness pill before setting off, it's better to be safe than sorry and you don't want to spoil your trip.

Don't forget your camera of course and a pair of binoculars if you have them. We bought a cheap little folding pair of binoculars before we went on our trip and were really glad we did, they were invaluable. Wildlife abounds in the area and you really won't know where to look next.

A good tip for getting a clear picture on a moving boat is to steady your camera arm on the edge of the boat and breath in just before you take the picture.

A good little pair of binoculars.

Bushnell Powerview 12x25 Compact Folding Roof Prism Binocular (Black)
Bushnell Powerview 12x25 Compact Folding Roof Prism Binocular (Black)

These are the binoculars we got especially for our trip to the Farne Islands. They are really good as they fold and easily fit in a small bag or pocket. They are very reasonably priced but are sturdy enough to stand being dropped. I know because I dropped them and they were fine!

 

Essential items.

Don't forget to bring your camera and a good pair of binoculars. You don't want to miss anything.

The Seals on the Rocks.

Seals on the Farne Island rocks.
Seals on the Farne Island rocks. | Source
Seals basking in the sunshine in the Farne Islands.
Seals basking in the sunshine in the Farne Islands. | Source

Dolphins, Sharks and Whales.

If you are really lucky you might catch sight of a pod of dolphins that are occasional visitors to the islands and in 2007 a pair of huge basking sharks were also spotted near the Farne islands.

Locals believe that the increase in seal numbers will result in the return of the killer whales that used to hunt in these waters. Our boatman informed us that he had last seen a killer whale in the seventies but in his opinion, it is only a matter of time before they return.

The House Where the Wardens Live When They are Working on the Islands.

Isolated wardens house on the Farne Islands
Isolated wardens house on the Farne Islands | Source

The National Trust.

A small group of dedicated National Trust wardens live and work on the islands, they mark the newborn seal pups on a daily basis to help them keep track of numbers, a different colour for each day.

This method means that they can easily count the seal pups and identify the ones that have been born overnight or earlier that day. They can also identify any injured or abandoned seal pups and take appropriate action.

The National Trust Wardens Checking for Newborn Seal Pups.

The sea churns as the seals take to the water as the wardens approach.
The sea churns as the seals take to the water as the wardens approach. | Source
Snow white seal pups on the beach
Snow white seal pups on the beach | Source
When they find a pup they mark them with spray paint.
When they find a pup they mark them with spray paint. | Source
Seal pup on a pebble beach
Seal pup on a pebble beach | Source

If you Look Closely you can see at Least two Seal Pups Marked with red Paint in This Picture.

Newborn seal pups
Newborn seal pups | Source

Plenty to see.

Even without the seals and the pups the Farne Islands are a beautiful place to visit, and you can land on one of the National Trust islands and walk around, the ground is very uneven and it is quite hard to get on and off the boat here, so it is not for anyone with mobility problems. There is a landing fee of around six pounds depending on the time of year you visit but it is free to members of the trust. As a general rule, there are no toilet facilities on the islands but there is a disabled loo on Inner Farne.

Landing on the islands is dependant on the weather conditions and at the discretion of the boat captain. Safety has to come first, for the passengers and the wildlife.

The Longstone Lighthouse With Seals in the Foreground.

Once home to the famous Grace Darling the Lonstone lighthouse can be seen for miles.
Once home to the famous Grace Darling the Lonstone lighthouse can be seen for miles. | Source
A local fishing boa in the Farne Islands.
A local fishing boa in the Farne Islands. | Source
Seals basking on the rocks.
Seals basking on the rocks. | Source
Seals
Seals | Source
One of the Farne Islands.
One of the Farne Islands. | Source
Inshore lifeboat.
Inshore lifeboat. | Source

Your Enjoyment Helps Protect the Wildlife.

Remember your tourism money helps to keep the Farne Islands protected and the wildlife safe. Why not consider joining the National Trust.

Continued Protection.

The Farne Islands are a must see if you do get the chance to visit them. Northumberland is a beautiful county with some outstanding wildlife and the people are very open and friendly too. I hope that the seals continue to enjoy the protection given to them and that the Islands remain in the hands of the National Trust and remain an asset for everyone to enjoy.

Please take the time to answer this quick poll.

Do you think that the seals should continue to be protected?

See results

© 2013 Galaxy Harvey

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