Between castles, countryside and coast, there’s lots to tempt you to Northumberland with children, however you shouldn’t miss taking one of many Farne Islands boat journeys whilst you’re exploring the county.
With the possibility to identify puffins and seals, in addition to an entire host of different fowl life, there are alternatives appropriate for various ages, whether or not your children simply need a glimpse or for older children who’re fascinated by wildlife.
You’ll be able to even select boat journeys to Farne Islands with children that go to Holy Island, if you wish to discover a few of Lindisfarne and with the excursions departing from Seahouses, it’s additionally a simple possibility to mix with a go to to Bamburgh Fortress, solely round a 10-minute drive up the coast.
Farne Islands boat journeys with children: have to know
There are between 15 and 20 islands making up the Farne Islands (relying on the tide!) which lie a few miles off the Northumberland coast, between Seahouses and Bamburgh.
Relying if you go to, you’ll be able to see as many as 23 completely different species of seabirds, together with round 43,000 pairs of puffins. April till late July is the very best time of yr to go to, though there’s nonetheless lots to see in late summer time.
Whereas the islands aren’t the one place to see these uncommon birds, they’re one of many best choices for households – as an alternative of prolonged boat rides to secluded nesting websites, it’s a comparatively brief cruise from Seahouses for an opportunity to see widlife up shut.
The islands are additionally residence to a colony of gray seals (also called Atlantic seals), with greater than 2,000 pups born right here each autumn and winter. Whale and dolphin recognizing cruises generally run in late summer time as nicely.
Boat journeys go away from Seahouses Harbour, with shorter journeys cruising across the islands and a number of the longer boat excursions docking at two of the islands. Staple island and Interior Farne island are each open to the general public, and managed by the Nationwide Belief: there are entrance charges to pay along with the boat tour, though it’s free to members.
Restrictions imply the islands might not all the time be accessible: in addition to closing throughout the pandemic, they could additionally shut to forestall the unfold of avian flu. In any other case rocky rugged Staple Island is open Could-July, whereas Interior Farne is open from April to October – the terrain right here is less complicated with youthful children as there’s additionally a boardwalk, although be careful for the dive-bombing terns!
Most of the boat excursions are dog-friendly too however you received’t be allowed to take them on the islands themselves aside from Lindisfarne.
Consider additional time to gather your tickets from the kiosks at Seahouses Harbour, normally at the least half-hour upfront, and be sure to get the right boat. There are lots of boat excursions departing, together with a number of boats from particular person corporations, so it may be straightforward to get confused.
In case you’re driving to Seahouses, you will discover a number of locations to park your automobile – the automobile park on the seafront is among the greatest choices, nevertheless it’s clever to get there early, particularly in peak season because it fills up quick. You need to use the Pay By Cellphone app.
Billy Shiels boat journeys
I’ve all the time liked puffins – these vibrant beaks, that cheeky cuteness – so a seabirds cruise to the Farne Islands was excessive by myself Northumberland wishlist.
With varied choices from Billy Shiels boat journeys, together with 90-minute gray seal excursions, I booked onto the two-hour puffin-spotting cruise, understanding there was a superb likelihood of recognizing the occasional seal as we went.
The restrictions in place on the time meant we couldn’t land on one of many islands, however with the solar shining, it was a good way to spend a few hours.
Regardless of being the top of the season earlier than the puffins head off in August, we additionally managed to see fairly a couple of bobbing round on the water, in addition to one swooping previous with a glint of silver fish in its beak.
The most effective time to identify them are Could, June and July: the breeding season sometimes begins in Could, with younger pufflings born from June (and isn’t puffling the cutest identify?). By late July, they begin heading out to sea, with the bulk flying off by August.
Alongside the way in which, we noticed large gulls, cormorants, guillemots, shags, Arctic terns in colonies shrieking and flapping on the rocks, in addition to gray seals and Bamburgh Fortress on the headland.
The rocks, by the way, look white from a distance however as you get nearer you realise they’ve been coated in guano (aka fowl poo) from 1000’s of birds – the scent hits you from fairly a means away! Whether or not your children discover that gruesomely pleasurable or stomach-churning depends upon the kid!
In addition to the wildlife, and quirky info resembling that Arctic terns fly 50-60,000 miles per yr, there’s additionally extra background concerning the space, together with an opportunity to see a number of the Farne Islands from the water, and to listen to the story of Grace Darling, the lighthouse keeper’s daughter well-known for serving to save survivors from the wreck of a paddlesteamer in 1838.
With a lot of households on board, they made an actual effort to make sure that passengers on each side of the boat may see, whereas all the time holding a wise distance from the wildlife.
The boats are comparatively massive, with a small coated part, however they’re in any other case open to the climate – when it’s sunny, there’ll be a breeze however be sure to have SPF/put on a hat, or carry layers/waterproofs for much less good climate, though if the situations are too unhealthy, all Farne Islands boat journeys get cancelled.
They’re additionally dog-friendly. Prebooking is suggested, and it’s essential gather your tickets from Billy Shiel’s Reserving workplace at Seahouses Harbour no later than half-hour earlier than crusing.
Different excursions embody a 4 1/2 hour journey to Lindisfarne, together with two hours ashore, in addition to journeys touchdown at Staple Island and Interior Farne.
Serenity Farne Island Excursions
One other nice firm to think about is Serenity Farne Islands Excursions, which additionally has a wide range of excursions together with a 90-minute ‘gray seal and seabird’ tour that’s very family-friendly should you’re reserving a Farne Island tour with children!
Much like the tour I booked, you’ll see a variety of wildlife together with puffins, seabirds and seals, whereas a educated information provides you a full run-down of the islands’ historical past.
The shorter size cruise can also be supreme should you’re visiting with youthful children, though it’s appropriate for youngsters of all ages.
Prebooking is required, and also you’ll want to gather your boarding go half-hour earlier than departure at Seahouses Harbour.
Boat tour of Interior Farne
In case you’d want a extra in-depth tour of the Farne Islands along with your children, think about reserving a tour of Interior Farne to stand up shut and private with 1000’s of seabirds.
A must-see for wildlife lovers and budding photographers, it’s nice for older children however seeing so many birds out within the wild is thrilling for youthful ones too!
The three-hour tour takes you on a crusing journey across the Farne Islands earlier than stopping on Interior Frane for an hour of exploring, good should you fancy a extra adventurous day trip.
Staple Island boat tour
The cruise to Staple Island is one other well-liked selection; in addition to nice views, this Farne Island boat tour is known for its fowl sightings and it’s unmissable for followers of puffins.
There are tens of 1000’s of puffins nesting on Staple Island, so should you go to on the proper time of yr, it’s the best location to identify this well-liked fowl.
One level to bear in mind although is that this tour isn’t appropriate for younger youngsters due to the uneven floor (or infants, except you propose to make use of a provider). And do carry appropriate footwear.
In the meanwhile, landings on this tour are being restricted as a result of dangers of avian flu, though the restrictions are beneath overview.
Golden Gate Farne Islands boat journeys
The third primary firm should you’re reserving a ship journey to the Farne Islands with children is Golden Gate. They run a number of completely different tour choices that are family-friendly and welcome canine too.
The excursions do embody a full-day tour lasting as much as six hours, however this isn’t the most suitable choice for households, particularly with youthful children.
Gather boat journey tickets from the kiosk at Seahouses harbour 45-60 minutes earlier than departure, the place you additionally have to validate Nationwide Belief membership or pay for touchdown charges for journeys stopping on the islands.
Longstone Island tour
And so they’re the one firm which is allowed to land on Longstone island, or to tour Longstone Lighthouse, as a part of their two-hour Longstone Island tour.
Throughout this journey, you’ll see what was as soon as the house of Grace Darling, so in case your children are fascinated by her heroic story, it’s the right possibility. This tour will even take you to the gray seal colony and to see seabirds.
Interior Farne boat tour with children
Golden Gate additionally runs an extended tour across the fowl sanctuary at Interior Farne, with a cease on the gray seal colony in your method to the island touchdown level.
Alongside the way in which you’ll sail by way of the Farne Islands recognizing nesting seabirds, together with something from puffins, fulmars and kittiwakes. The journey takes round 2.5-3 hours.
Farne Islands sail round boat journey
For a shorter introduction to the Farne Islands with children, the 90-minute sail round tour visits the seal colony and seabird nesting posts, in addition to following the route of Grace Darling’s well-known rescue, as she set out together with her father to the shipwrecked survivors.
Ideas for taking Farne Island boat journeys with children
In case you’re seeking to take a ship journey with children to the Farne Islands, it’s value contemplating which goes to fit your household greatest.
Choose the best tour
With a wide range of excursions on provide, you received’t be in need of family-friendly choices, so it’s nicely value selecting these corporations should you’ve received youthful children.
Secondly, think about the size of the tour and whether or not or not your children are more likely to change into just a little stressed – should you suppose they may get bored after an hour or two, go for one of many shorter choices on provide.
For excursions which land on one of many islands, do ensure your children know what to anticipate: scared youngsters – and scared birds – aren’t a recipe for a superb day trip.
Add some additional enjoyable
An effective way to make the Farne Island boat journey extra thrilling in your children is to hold some binoculars – this pair are highly effective however light-weight.
Whereas they’re not important, it’s a great way to maintain them extra engaged as they will try the wildlife in additional element.
You would additionally pack a fowl recognizing guidelines: I Spy birds is an effective begin and has loads of choices away from the water, or create your personal with a number of the wildlife you’re more likely to see.
And in case your children are more likely to lose curiosity after a short time on board, preserve one thing else to entertain them available so you’ll be able to absorb all of the seabird views.
Do be ready to take some necessities with you. For starters, the climate can change immediately in north east England, so it’s essential to pack layers, waterproofs and suncream relying on what time of yr you’re planning your Farne Islands boat journeys.
In case you’re visiting the Farne Islands in June, you also needs to carry hats. It’s because some birds on the islands can get just a little bothered should you get too near their nests, prompting them to warn you off with pecks.
Snacks and drinks are additionally a good suggestion, and there are rest room amenities at Seahouses harbour. Interior Farne additionally has bogs, however not Staple Island, and never all boats have bogs on board.
Have a Plan B
It’s essential to keep in mind that climate situations might name the excursions off at any time – as anybody who’s holidayed within the UK is aware of, summer time doesn’t assure solar!
Whereas the excursions go forward whether or not potential, if situations are too unhealthy, you wouldn’t wish to be out at sea with children anyway. However it’s value having an alternate exercise lined up in case your boat journey to the Farne Islands does get referred to as off.
Take a look at my recommendations on the very best issues to do in Northumberland with children for extra inspiration
Puffin picture courtesy of Depositphotos, all different copyright MummyTravels