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  • Writer's picturePaul Andrews

Visitors Welcomed Back On The Farne Islands

Inner Farne, one of the Farne Islands cared for by the National Trust, has reopened for visitor boat landings, after a period of closure due to Avian Influenza. Visitor boats will be able to land on the Farne Islands for the first time in two years, with bookings now open with boat trip operators.

The Farne Islands are a National Nature Reserve and are an internationally important home to approximately 200,000 seabirds, including the charismatic puffin, Arctic terns, and kittiwakes.

The first migrating seabirds are beginning to return to the islands, just off the Northumberland coast at Seahouses, to breed. They’ll depart once their chicks are fully fledged, at the end of the summer.

The colony was hit hard by bird flu in 2022, with rangers collecting over 6,000 dead birds, and although the disease was also present last year, there was a reduction of 39%, with 3,647 birds collected by the ranger team, giving some hope that immunity is building within the colony.

Sophia Jackson, Area Ranger for the National Trust says: “We are really looking forward to welcoming people back to the islands today. The seabirds that return here each year are just so special, and the memories visitors take away with them, stay with them forever."

“The last two years have been really tough, but we are keeping everything crossed that the birds are starting to build natural resilience to bird flu. We will continue to closely monitor the birds for signs of the disease over the coming weeks, in the hope that we can remain open for the whole season. But the health of our precious seabirds has to be our priority, so we do have a ‘closure plan’ that we’ll implement, should bird flu return.”

The National Trust team will also continue to work closely with statutory agencies and other organisations, like the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) & Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB), to keep across the latest research and updates so that we can put the right measures in place to look after the birds to the best of our abilities.

With the islands reopening, visitors will once again be able to book a landing trip with one of the boat companies that operate out of the harbour at Seahouses to get unparalleled close-up views of the incredible wildlife that inhabits the islands.

On arrival on the harbour at Seahouses, visitors booked onto a boat trip are asked to visit the National Trust admissions point to purchase a landing ticket or to show their membership cards.

Laura Knowles, Visitor Operations and Experience Manager for the National Trust says: “We have been waiting a long time for this moment and we’re delighted to welcome visitors back onto Inner Farne and to share the wonderful wildlife of the island up close once again. The nature experience that this place has to offer really is exceptional. Sail-around tours will also continue to be available for those visitors that want to experience the magic of the islands from the water.”

As well as the fascinating wildlife, visitors will also be able to get closer to the cultural history on the island, which has links with early Christianity and St Cuthbert, with access inside the beautiful St Cuthbert’s Chapel and exterior views of the Inner Farne lighthouse and the Pele Tower.

Inner Farne is the only island to open to visitor landings this year whilst National Trust trials limited opening.


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