Mistress Agnes takes to the water

Another lovely day after a frosty start; the Northumbrian weather is certainly making up for that we experienced in the Lake District. Last on my list of things to do, is to visit the Farne Islands. We are not sure that trips run this late in the year but we are off to Seahouses to find out. A close sighting of some more deer on the way. We are fortunate, there are several trips to the Farnes today. We choose the 11am sailing on Glad Tidings VI, which allows us to land on one of the thirty islands. The mate on the Glad Tidings VI is a member of Chris’ fan club and he asks if he has seen Chris on television. Chris admits to having been televised; no one asks me about my starring role. I’ve been up the Franz Josef glacier, I know about dressing for weather conditions, so I am suitably attired for a trip on the North Sea, fleecy jumper, fleecy coat, waterproof coat, thermal gloves, woolly hat. I do rather resemble a Michelin person but I am certainly not cold.

We see a large colony of Atlantic grey seals at very close quarters. During the nesting season there are apparently over a thousand guillemots on four rocky stacks alone. The Farnes are also home to seventy thousand puffins, known locally as Tommy Noddies, sadly they have virtually all left for their winter quarters and we don’t see any. We pass the Longstone Lighthouse, built in 1826 and home of Grace Darling. We also see Harcar Island, which was the scene of her rescue in 1838. She and her father rescued nine crew members of the Forfarshire, although forty three perished.

Bamburgh Castle from Farne

We land on Inner Farne and one of the rangers tells us about their work there. They have no mains water and only solar electricity. Until this year there were no flushing toilets either. Mind you there warnings in the toilets, which use sea water, that the cisterns may take fifteen minutes to refill so ‘flushing’ may be a relative term. Let’s hope there isn’t a queue. We see St. Cuthbert’s Chapel with its C17th carving and the C15th pele tower that was erected as a defence against both the French and the Scots. We walk round the island and chat to the rangers. One of their tasks is to weed between the boardwalk panels, which seems to be a painting the Forth road bridge sort of a task. On the way home our skipper suddenly turns round and heads back towards the islands, what is going on? It seems there has been a sighting of a Minke whale. I have already played the how many photos of water where a whale was three seconds earlier can you take? game when in New Zealand but I can’t help but bow to peer pressure and join in.

We go on an affordable diesel hunt on the way home and this takes us back past the mega second hand bookshop. This time we both go in and I do buy a couple of books. It is such a great concept, every town should have one.


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