Staple Island

Sea stacks on the approach to Staple Island

Sea stacks on the approach to Staple Island – one of the skerries that make up the Farne Islands, Northumberland


Hard to believe its been 8 years since our last visit to Northumberland and the Farne Islands. With the forecast set fair we dropped Jake off at Tollfield Farm Kennels and made our way down to Seahouses “Gateway to the Farnes.” Upon arrival at the harbour there was a choice of 3 different companies all offering slightly different options of sea trips and landings. The 6hr “All Day Birdwatch” offered by Billy Shiel’s Boats complete with landing on Staple Island and Inner Farne appeared to be a good option. 9.30am and we departed on board MV Glad Tidings.

Atlantic Grey Seals close to Staple Island

Atlantic Grey Seals close to Staple Island


30 minutes later and we’re approaching Grey Seals basking in the sunshine close to Staple Island. With a population of several thousand adults and at the last count 1876 pups the Farne Islands Seal Colony is the largest in England. As the boat slowed down to allow everyone to have a good look several of the more inquisitive seals took to the water to have a closer view of 50 Homo sapiens floating around on a piece of wood.


As we manoeuvred around the sea stacks and cliffs it was difficult not to be overwhelmed by the sheer number of birds. Thousands upon thousands of Guillemots, Razorbills, Puffins, Shags and Kittiwakes with each guano covered stack glistening white like a snow capped peak.


Puffin on Staple Island


Upon arrival at the small quay we had approximately 2 hours to explore the island. Geologically the Farnes are typical rocky skerries. With the majority of the weaker rock eroded away the islands are now little more than the heavily fissured remains of ancient volcanic outcrops. This does make walking about on Staple Island quite tricky. Not a problem for the islands Puffins.


Guillemot, the ones with the white eyeline are the less common bridled form.


Being approximately 15m above sea level there was plenty of opportunity to enjoy close up views of the thousands of birds breeding along the top of the various stacks.


Angel of the North…………..


2 hours later we climbed on board MV Glad Tidings and set off across Staple Sound towards Inner Farne

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