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)


snailbeachshepherdess said...

can hardly wait ...lovely pictures Withy

WesterWitch/Headmistress said...

Brilliant Withy . . . I have complete island and bird envy now.

Exmoorjane said...

Oh huge nostalgia reading this. We had hoped to come back to Northumberland this summer but - sigh - builders/mothers/what do you do? See exactly what you mean about the chicks - it took me a while to catch that one on the pathway. We didn't get off the boat and walk around the islands - so that's a must for another time...

Inthemud said...

Wonderful Photos! I love puffins, but all birds are beautiful.

Thanks for sharing your visit with us.

Never been to Farne Islands, but would love to.

KittyB said...

Brilliant pics - we simply must get there this year, we really have no excuse other than we are foiled by the weather forecast every time we are about to set out!

Bollinger Byrd said...

What wonderful photographs.
I always wondered whether Grace Darling had been a real person or just a story from my childhood, thank you for clearing that up for me.

Anonymous said...

Absolutely beautiful pictures and a great description of a wonderful environment. Amy went to the Grace Darling Museum in Bamburgh on Friday and had a very enjoyable time. She learnt a lot about the wonderful heroine.

Thank you sharing these, Withy.

CJ xx

Angel said...

What a beautiful blog Withy!

I am going up with the boys to Northumberland end July and intend going to Farne Islands with them!

I can't wait now. Have to organise the trip and boat etc.

Lovely stuff!

warm wishes

Sally's Chateau said...

What a lovely relaxing blog that was and terrific to see the birds so close up.

blogthatmama said...

Only two hours away for us, we visited Lindisfarne last year but really must make time to visit the Farne Islands this summer. The photos are stunning.

Frances said...

Wow, what lovely pictures and comments, too. I cannot imagine being able to actually visit such a place.


Pondside said...

I could almost smell the salt air from those wonderful photos, Withy. What a lovely day you must have had - the perfect blend of history and nature.

Cait O'Connor said...

Great pics, hope we can get there one day.

Cowgirl said...

Withy, I have tagged you to tell us 6 random things about you!

CAMILLA said...

Really lovely pictures Withy. I just adore the Puffins they are such fun to watch, but of course I love all the birds.

I would so enjoy going to the Farne Islands, did see it on TV recently.

Thank you for sharing with us Withy.