The Farne Islands have it all.....
Diving in and around the Farne Islands is a real feast for the senses. Numerous wrecks litter the seabed, and inquisitive grey seals come and say hello. Whether you prefer a shallow dive or are prepared to delve that little bit deeper, there's something to suit everyone out at the Farnes. The Farnes consist of almost 30 small islands and rock outcrops lying between 2 and 4 miles off the Northumberland coast. They are split into two main groups separated by a stretch of water known as Staple Sound. The islands are comprised primarily of a rock called whinstone, which is very prone to vertical weathering and faulting. This has produced a strange topography of steps and sheer faces above water that gives just a hint of the delights below. Most of the diving takes place at the outer Farnes. The visibility here is usually around 10 -15 metres and we should be able to experience some fantastic interaction with these inquisitive creatures. Just mind your fin tips.. they may be nibbled!!!
The Farne Islands are one of the most dangerous shipping areas in the British Isles and have claimed many victims over the years. As a result, there are many wreck dives, which include the 'Somali', 'Chris Christianson', ' Abyssinia ', 'San Andreas', Britannia' and 'Acklivety'. The best dive is reputed to be the 6810 ton Somali, a passenger-cargo steamer built in 1930 which was bound for Hong Kong via the Firth of Forth for convoy assembly, she was sunk in March 1941 after being bombed by a German Heinkel 111. The Somali sits upright in 30m of water near Beadnell. Much of the 450ft hull is intact and makes an impressive slack-water dive.
When diving the Farnes you need to become acquainted with the locals, the locals being a colony of 4-5 thousand grey seals out at the Farnes all year. An encounter with a mature bull seal is enough to get any heart racing. Weighing in at 300kg and clumsy on land, they demonstrate balletic movements under the water. The younger seals are even more inquisitive than the divers and often come in to take a closer look, even nibbling on fins! Other visual delights include a vast array of anemone, dead men's fingers and many different crustaceans. There are also several relatively unusual species that favour this cooler water - you may come across lumpsucker, Norwegian topknot, yarrel's blenny and the spectacular wolf fish. Another speciality is the huge, deep-water anemone, bolocera.
We will be staying in the Old School House and as it says it is...... an old School House converted into bed & Breakfast Accommodation. This is situated in the old fishing port of Seahouses about 50 miles north of Newcastle and 20 miles south of Berwick upon Tweed . SEE LOCAL MAP.
The trip is scheduled for the bank holiday weekend of 22nd 24th May 2009. The plans is to travel up on the Friday afternoon and accommodation has been booked for three nights with Diving booked for Saturday and Sunday. This will allow us to enjoy the diving over the weekend without worrying about a fairly long drive home on Sunday afternoon. This makes the whole weekend a much more relaxing trip
The Surrounding areas
Whilst offering superb opportunities for excellent diving, in some of the clearest water around the UK, there is so much more to the Farne Islands. The area is steeped in history -The county has more castles than any other in Britain.
In the 1st century AD St Aidan, one of the first Christians in Britain lived there. St Cuthbert, synonymous with Christianity and nearby Holy Island, also lived there.
There is a huge diversity of seabirds and wildlife on the islands, from Puffins to Razorbills, the rare Roseate Tern to common or garden Cormorants. There are even rabbits.
Longstone is famous for local heroine Grace Darling who, together with her father rescued the survivors of the shipwreck, Forfarshire. Itself a sober reminder to the respect the sea commands.
Most of all though, the islands offer fantastic opportunities to dive in crystal clear waters with the rarest seal species in the world, the grey seal. Other places of interest include:
- Grace Darling Museum
- Bamburgh Castle
- Alnwick Castle
- Alnwick Gardens
- Holy Island
A few pictures of the area
There are lots of links around to allow you to watch some video of the seals. You could try this one on You Tube