Things to see and do on the Farne Islands

Visit us and discover the seals, puffins and over 100,000 nesting seabirds that call the Farne Islands home.

What are the Farne Islands?

The Farne Islands consist of 28 islands - many of which are submerged at high tide. The islands are divided into two groups, the Inner Farnes and the Outer Farnes. The main Inner islands are Inner Farne, Knoxes Reef and East and West Wideopen (which are all joined together at low tide) and Megstone; the main Outer islands are Staple, Brownsman, North and South Wamses, Big Harcar and Longstone. The National Trust looks after the Islands, and visitors can land on Inner Farne and Staple at certain times of year.

Where, how and how much?

The Farnes are two to three miles off the Northumberland Coast and can only be reached by boat. There are boat trips (weather permitting) all year, sailing round the Islands (not run by the National Trust and payment is made to the boat company) and some land on Inner Farne and Staple, when they are open to the public. There is a charge for non-National Trust members to land on the Islands: there is no charge for members.
For more information, see our Overview, Opening times, Prices, How to get there, and Facilities and access sections on our home page.
 

Staple Island

Open from 1 May to 31 July, Staple is home to puffins, shags, guillemots and many Atlantic grey seals.
 

Inner Farne

Open from 1 April to 30 October, Inner Farne is home to puffins, shags, guillemots, Arctic terns and many other birds. The National Trust rangers live on Inner Farne for nine months of the year and welcome the visitors arriving by boat.
 

Puffins galore

During the breeding season (May to July) the Farnes host up to 23 species of birds, including around 37,000 pairs of puffins. 
 

Grey seals and their pups

We play host to England's largest breeding population of Atlantic grey seals. These can be seen from the boats, as well as on Staple when it is open, including pups from October to December.
 

Arctic terns

When their chicks have hatched, beware of the Arctic terns: they protect their chicks if you walk too close by dive bombing!
A hat is advised.
 

Eider ducks

Eider ducks are known as Cuddy's duck after St Cuthbert, who died on the Inner Farne in 687.
 

What else to see

On Inner Farne, St Cuthbert's Chapel, built in the 14th century and heavily modified in the 19th, is open to the public. The other buildings, which are not open to the public but can be seen, include a medieval pele tower (which is home to the rangers) and a Georgian lighthouse. There is also a visitor centre with a small shop, and a toilet. 
 

Activities

A visit to the Farnes can be an awesome experience. Don't forget your camera and binoculars to help you make the most of the views, the birds and the wildlife.
 

Don't miss

  • View seabirds at unbelievably close range
  • 100,000 nesting seabirds and their chicks in the breeding season
  • Special inhabitants include puffins, terns, guillemots & eider ducks
  • Excellent photographic opportunities - don't forget your camera
  • Chapel of St Cuthbert, with fine stained-glass windows
  • Unrivalled views of the Northumberland coast and countryside

Things to do before you're 11¾

Look out for our rangers on the Islands, who sometimes have some rock pool creatures for you to have a look at. Then you could tick off number 37 - check out the crazy creatures in a rock pool - and if you're brave enough, number 30 - hold a scary beast!