Wednesday, 25 June 2008

The Farne Islands.

It was a fabulous day on Monday. The one break in a rainy period. The gale had dropped, the sun was shining, the sky was full of dramatic clouds. The sea was reducing, allowing landings on the Islands.

So, G, daughter(C) and boy-friend (M) and I, drove up the road to Seahouses. We found The Old Ship for a bar meal. It is fascinating, with masses of tiny rooms with 2, 3 or 4 tables and claims to have the smallest bar in England. The sandwiches were fab - I had crab, caught off Seahouses, so split fresh. I never go up the coast without having crab, it is so good.

The harbour wall was a great place to lean and chat while waiting for the departure of our boat to the Farne Islands. We looked up the coast to Bambrough Castle

On our way to the Farnes, we were privileged to see a flight of gannets, on passage up the coast, on their way to the Bass Rock, where they breed.

After a while we reached the first island and the Stacks - vertical rocks covered in Guillemots. The young were already jumping off and they will all soon have left for the winter. The one in the picture was very low down but some of the nests were very high and a terrible drop for the youngsters. They are the first to leave. We sailed up and down, close to the rocks, so that everyone could have a good view of the masses of birds.

We sailed on to the outermost island, with the Longstone Light. This was where the Darling family lived and we saw the window from which Grace saw the Forfarshire's lights as she hit the rocks. She persuaded her Father to row with her, in the dark and the storm, to rescue any survivors. They saved 9 men, but there was a large loss of life. Grace was about 25 at the time and she died 2 years later of tuberculosis and is buried in Bambrough Churchyard. On this island we saw Grey Atlantic Seals - large animals which looked to me more like sea-lions! Many of them were sunbathing on the rocks, but gradually they were washed off as the tide came in.

After that we went back, via the place where the Forfarshire sank, to the Inner Farne. This, like most of the Islands, belongs to the National Trust, so you have to pay if you are not a member. It is beautifully cared for. The Trust keeps someone on the island for about 9 months of the year, observing the birds. There is a track made of slats and wire netting which visitors must not leave. Even there you have to take care because Tern chicks can be found on it. As they are well camouflaged, they are easy to step on.

The top of the Island is covered in holes, made by puffins. These are such fun little birds and it is impossible to describe their comical behaviour. They are also very colourful.

We followed the track to the old lighthouse where I found this. She clattered her beak at me to warn me off.

Further on we came to the Shags

After this back to the boat and so back to Seahouses
and the drive home. (This is Cheviot from the sea)