CSCC Reports 2007: Northumberland Coast and Farne Islands - July 2007

Chris, Fi, Mark and I arrived in Beadnell on the Saturday after successfully dodging traffic on the M1 and A1. On the Sunday we had what was meant to be a "warm up" trip from Howdiemount to Beadnell (9.5 land miles), but by the end of it we were all looking fairly shattered. It was generally quite choppy and it got particularly tricky in the mini tidal race off the Dunstanburgh castle headland. I felt a bit nervous in my first outing in the black pearl. Mark looked dead cool, although Fi claimed it was just an act! We needed the group shelter, gordon, at lunchtime.

Bridget arrived in Northumberland on the Sunday night and was able to join Chris and me for a shorter paddle on day 2 from Nacker Hole (in Beadnell) to Seahouses and back (7 land miles). There was a fair bit of swell, but it was clean and the puffins were out in force, swimming and flying about, like comical sea-parrots, as chris put it. There were also lots of their fellow auks, guillemots, spectacular dive bombing arctic terns and the occasional gannet. That evening we picked up Beth from the railway station and we were all there at last.

On day 3 everyone drove to Lindisfarne for a semi-circumnavigation of the island (as far as Emmanuel Head, 5 land miles). Chaos ensued as we wandered around the island on foot, visiting the priory or brass rubbing while waiting for high tide. When we finally got on the water we discovered that the sea was much calmer than the previous days and it was becoming increasingly easy to take photos of all of our feathered friends.

By day 4 we were getting into our stride and we went for the big one - the trip out to Inner Farne (6.5 miles). It took less than an hour to make it there from the mainland, and we had plenty of time for looking around the island on foot. The island is a wildlife sanctuary and you can get seriously close to all of the birds, but you get harassed by scary terns. We spotted a puffin chick sticking its head out of its burrow - so cute. On returning to the water we paddled around the neighbouring island and saw quite a few seals. The seals seemed almost as interested in us as we were in them and gave us some hard stares and played with us, popping up on one side of our boats and then on the other.

Day 5 was our final paddling day and we ventured out to Coquet Island (6.5 miles). There were a lot more seals out there and they were even more friendly, although the seals on the land were making this slightly unnerving mooing noise. One seal, 'Sandy', escorted Fi almost to the harbour and tried to touch the toggle on the stern of her boat with its nose!

On our final day the remaining four of us (Bridge, Beth, Chris and I) took a rest from paddling and went for a visit to Alnwick Castle, barely resisting the temptation to dress up as knights of yore and Bridget obtaining information for me about Lady Katie Percy. We finished with a very pleasant stroll on the coastal path near Dunstanburgh castle.

Our cottage was excellent and we had a lovely fish feast cooked by Bridget one night and ate out at some splendid restaurants and pubs on the other nights. The weather was showery, but the winds mercifully light (crucial for sea kayaking of course).

A fantastic trip from beginning to end.


Day 1 (Howdiemont Sands to Beadnell)

Day 3 (Holy Island / Lindisfarne)

Day 4 (Inner Farne and the Wideopens)

Day 5 (Coquet Island)

The GPS tracks:

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