The Farne Islands lie two to three miles off the Northumberland coast midway between the fishing village of Seahouses and the magnificent Castle of Bamburgh. As well as being the most famous Sea Bird Sanctuary in the British Isles they also have a large colony of Atlantic or Grey Seals which is great for divers just after puping season.
The Farne islands trip is like an annual pilgrimage for Diving Unlimited and has been undertaken for the last 5-6 years. Staying in Seahouses we charter a boat and go out to the Farne islands to play with the Seals, who in October and November have just finished puping and are full of fun. Seahouses is around 350 miles from Kent so a number of us flew up from Stansted to Newcastle and then got a cab the 50 miles or so the rest of the way. Ray Drove the Van down with all the kit in it.
We arrived in Seahouses on the Friday and spent the day wondering around the small village and partaking in a couple of beverages in the Harbor Inn public house opposite our B & B lodgings. The B & B was clean and had a number of showers and toilets as well as a small annex / cottage which had a kitchen and living room with easy chairs for relaxing after a hard days diving.
Saturday morning we were at the harbor ready and rearing to go at 8:30, the Guide Me was moored at the steps so we loaded all our gear aboard and set sail for the Farne Islands. The Skipper Alan seemed to speak in another language and was a little difficult to understand at the best of times, but we did kind of get the gist of what he was saying eventually. We entered the water at Blue Caps and descended 18 meters to the stony bottom. The topology is rocky with lots of crevices and seaweed, we saw a number of Velvet crabs, sea urchins and starfish but no Seals.
The second dive was at the Big Hopper, but by now the tide had changed and the water was getting a little rougher, a number of people were sick and decided not to partake in this dive. We descended by the island and came face to face with a large grey seal who just sat there. Daniel put his hand out and the seal let him stroke it and then swam off. A couple of minutes latter the seal was back tugging on Daniel fins and then swimming away. We also saw a number of very friendly wrasse who didn’t care if were there of not. As we ascended the grey seal came back to watch us do our safety stop.
We headed back to harbor for a shower and then out for a meal and some liquid refreshment. Sunday mornings start was at 9:00am, we were all at the harbor although a number of people didn’t fancy diving after the roughness of the sea on Saturday. After about 30 minutes the skipper made the decision that the sea was too rough to dive in and canceled the days diving. Although disappointed at the skippers decision it was for the best and its better to be safe than sorry. As the day went on the sea was crashing all over the islands which would have been a nightmare if we were out there.
There is not that much to do in Seahouses in the winter months so to amuse ourselves we had a game of crazy golf and then went for a long walk along the beach. There are a number of chip shops, souvenir shops and pubs but that is about it. Another great trip from Phill but a little disappointing with the weather on the Sunday. But as they say you can’t control the British weather. .