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Press release

Visitors to be welcomed back on the Farne Islands

A flock of seabirds fly past the Victorian lighthouse on Inner Farne
A flock of seabirds fly past the Victorian lighthouse on Inner Farne | © National Trust Images/Paul Harris

Inner Farne, one of the Farne Islands cared for by the National Trust, will re-open for visitor boat landings in the spring, after a period of closure due to Avian Influenza.

From 25 March, visitor boats will be able to land on the Farne Islands for the first time in two years, with bookings now open with boat trip operators.

The Farne Islands are a National Nature Reserve and are an internationally important home to approximately 200,000 seabirds, including the charismatic puffin, Arctic terns, and kittiwakes.

The birds return to the islands, just off the Northumberland coast at Seahouses, to breed each year from the end of March, departing once their chicks are fully fledged, at the end of the summer.  

The colony was hit hard by bird flu in 2022, with rangers collecting over 6,000 dead birds, and although the disease was also present last year, there was a reduction of 39%, with 3,647 birds collected by the ranger team, giving some hope that immunity is building within the colony.

Sophia Jackson, Area Ranger for the National Trust says: “We have been closely monitoring the impact of the disease on our breeding populations as part of international research into bird flu.

“This has shown that the disease has had devasting impacts on some species and at some UK sites making our conservation efforts all the more important.

“Like at other sites, it seems that the disease has declined in our birds, although we will continue to closely monitor them as the breeding season starts again.

"We continue to work closely with statutory agencies and other organisations, like the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) & Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB), to ensure we are across the latest research and updates so that we can put the right measures in place to look after the birds to the best of our abilities.”

With the islands due to re-open on 25 March, visitors will once again be able to book a landing trip with one of the boat companies that operate out of the harbour at Seahouses to get unparalleled close-up views of the incredible wildlife that inhabits the islands. On arrival on the harbour at Seahouses, visitors booked onto a boat trip are asked to visit the National Trust admissions point to purchase a landing ticket or to show their membership cards.

Laura Knowles, Visitor Operations and Experience Manager for the National Trust says: “We’re excited and delighted in equal measure to announce that Inner Farne will reopen for visitor landings on 25 March 2024.   

“We can’t wait to welcome visitors and to share the wonderful wildlife of the island up close once again. Sail around tours will also continue to be available for those visitors that want to experience the magic of the islands from the water.”

As well as the fascinating wildlife, visitors will also be able to get closer to the cultural history on the island, which has links with early Christianity and St Cuthbert, with access inside the beautiful St Cuthbert’s Chapel and exterior views of the Inner Farne lighthouse and the Pele Tower.  

Inner Farne will be the only island to open to visitor landings this year whilst National Trust trials limited opening.