As a vegan, it can be hard to get up close and personal with the animals we love so much. Since we don’t visit zoos or farms, our opportunities to experience the animal kingdom can limited. Consequently, we were so excited to take a trip to the Farne Islands with the promise of seeing all sorts of wildlife in their natural habitat, including tens of thousands of sea birds and even sun-bathing seals.
The Boat Trip
Following a recommendation from a friend, we booked to go on Serenity Boat Tours from Seahouses on the Inner Farne tour. I’m not sure if you can book at the ticket office, so we reserved our places in advance. Tickets cost £18 for adults and £12 for kids, and the tour took 2.5-3 hours including 1 hour landing on Inner Farne.
Note that this price doesn’t include the cost of landing on the island, which is a National Trust site. This cost us £23 for a family ticket (two adults, one 10-year old). All in all, the trip was not cheap but 100% worth it, particularly given the beautiful weather and stunning views. Here’s a little round-up of our day out and some of the photos we took…
An Island Tour and Sun-bathing Seals
If you’re heading on a trip to the Farne Islands, I can’t emphasise this enough – dress for all weathers. Even though it was 20 degrees on land, the North Sea breeze was brisk. Luckily, we were wearing coats and jumpers, but not everyone on the boat was as forward thinking as us. We also wore walking boots – you’d probably do well to wear wellies the boat can get a little wet. Basically, don’t wear you Sunday best! I haven’t even mentioned the chances of bird poop yet….
The first hour and half of the trip is a tour around the islands. I expect that this is pretty ad hoc depending on several factors including weather, tide and wildlife. Some highlights of our trip include sailing past hundreds of basking seals taking advantage of the summer sun.
The skipper, Andrew, gave us a running commentary throughout the journey, and two staff are on the boat ready to answer any questions you may have. One of the most interesting things I learnt was that seal bulls are polyamorous, so there were very few male seals on the island, with the majority pups (babies) and cows (females). Another cool fact is that female seals are pregnant pretty much constantly, and once the babies learn how to swim, they are let go and head off to make their own lives just months old.
The most prominent wildlife on the islands is the huge bird population, which you cannot ignore from the moment you leave the harbour. From puffins to guillemots, seagulls to terns… the Farne Islands has them all.
And there are a lot of them! Andrew informed us that one pinnacle can be home to thousands of birds, with larger areas housing 15,000+ birds. Never in my life have I ever seen that many birds in one place, it was pretty spectacular.
Landing on Inner Farne was definitely worth it as we were getting peckish and the boat isn’t the easiest place to eat. It was glorious sunshine on the island, which has a dedicated picnic area. We decided to sit on the grass because the picnic area was full (it was bank hol!), and plus the grass was nearer to the birds.
This has to go down as one of the best spots I’ve ever had a picnic. I could have sat for hours watching the puffins, who were equally comical and adorable. We learnt that puffins mate for life, and life in little burrows in the ground – basically the bird version of me and Craig.
There’s a chapel on the island, which I understand to have once been home to St. Cuthbert, who lived on the island for many years. The National Trust team do a short talk in the chapel, which visitors can attend if they, but we were too hungry and only had an hour to make the most of this beautiful spot. Since it was such a clear day, there was an awesome view across to Bamburgh Castle and the beach beneath it.
The boat came and picked us back up from the island and took us straight back to the harbour, where we tucked into some chips and ice lollies to end the perfect day. All in all, I’d highly recommend this trip, especially with Serenity Boat Tours. It’s amazing what you can find on your doorstep when you look closely enough!
What’s your best place to see wildlife/see animals as a vegan? We’re keen to visit a farm sanctuary at some points… let us know in the comments below.