A boat trip around the Farne Islands….

Well the day started with beautiful sunshine and calm, making me rethink my plan to stash my summer clothes and drag out my winter wear. It also seemed like the ideal day to take a boat trip out to the Farne Islands, so we set off walking from site into Seahouses. Now last time we did this walk we couldn’t see our hands in front of our faces but today…

The little strip of sand that runs opposite the site from Beadnell, maybe not a beach you would want to spend a summer’s day on, but great for walking (with or without dog) along to Seahouses. After about half a mile, the beach opens up to Annstead Links Beach (of Seahouses South Beach)….

Fortunately the tide was out far enough gor us to be able to hop over the stream that runs through the middle of the beach, though the next bit is very rocky so we followed the coastal path across the golf course into the village.

A quick look at the little beach just outside the harbour.

All the while I have to say, the day is clouding over and the wind picking up! No matter we get booked onto the 2.15 Serenity tour (catamaran hull – less choppy!) and head down to Seahouses North Beach for Poppydog to gave a goid runaround first.

And we’re off…

It was a tad cold, windy and choppy and Poppydog was not overly sure but the Skipper’s Mate got her a towel to sit on and she somewhat anxiously lay down and suffered the rest of the trip!

As became apparent most of the inhabitant birds have moved on for the Winter which is a shame as I would have loved to see the Puffins (we shall in some other place!) But here are some Shags keeping an eye on us….

Most of the islands – 28 in all at low tide, are not a lot more than large rocky outcrops with thousands of ledges and the memory of all the summer visiting birds in the form of white staining from lots of poo! Staple Island is where many of the 89 thousand Puffins summer…

They just lay their egg on the rocky ledge and it has a pointy end to prevent it from rolling off into the sea! Nature is really fascinating and the Skipper and his commentary was a great source of information – unfortunately though I can’t remember all the facts and which was which! Staple Island is inhabited by NT wardens for part of the year.

We went out to take a closer look at Longstone Lighthouse, once home to Grace Darling….

Well camouflaged amongst the lower rocks where hundreds of Grey Seals and it took awhile to get accustomed to spotting them…

Many of the resting seals are cows getting ready to pup – there was a bumper crop of 2602 pups last year! A few young pups could be seen but not close enough to be picked up on a photo.

The only sandy beach is a small little cove on Inner Farne with the little St Cuthbert’s Chapel (St Cuthbert spent his last years in retreat and died on the island) and original lighthouse (a bonfire on the flat roof of the tower) before the current lighthouse was built in 1825.

Well we are now chilled to the core and it is time to leave the islands in our wake…

Well worth the trip (£14) but would definitely be better from May – mid August when there are more seabirds around. Now a brisk 3 mile walk along the shore back a we try to warm up!

Two thoughts of the day:

Imagine have the job of counting Puffins or Seal pups?

We started the day basking in a warm summer sun and ended the day battling a blustery cold wind!

Day one on the Holy Island…

How lovely, the day dawned bright and sunny and stayed that way, nice and warm too! Today we are bound for The Holy Island, a tidal island a couple if miles off shore, linked by a causeway though cut off for 4.5 hours over each high tide. We had intended to walk across the causeway (a couple of miles) but were on it before finding somewhere to park the car. Instead we parked up on the Snook a section of dunes sitting above the high tide line, partway across the causeway.

From here we cut across the dunes onto – well miles and miles of sand – how amazing…

In the distance is Goswick Sands, but closer to us Snook Beach…

The odd person just visible in the distance but essentially all ours!

It was quite wonderful standing on this beach, looking around and the only things we could see were the dunes, sand and sea, the only sounds, the sea and birds a truly magical moment. Just look at this beach, the colours and patterns….

Oh and Poppydog has found her own little oasis….

Time to move on and so we wandered through the dunes, heading around the island clockwise (we like to do things in a clockwise direction), Poppydog still free as a bird as there doesn’t appear to be anyone about. Next stop the lovely beach of Coves Haven.

Beautiful white sand, though a bit rocky and weedy at the waters edge…

Over and around the dunes we went and here is another stunningly white bay, Sandown….

Either which way you look – simply beautiful….

Bearing in mind it is such a beautiful day where us everyone?

After another while scrambling over the dunes we reached the cairn on Emmanuel Head our final point for today.

As we must cross the Causeway before the tide gets too high we wandered back to the car through the dunes with a glimpse of the castle in the distance…

and left the Island behind with just 16 minutes to spare after a fabulous 7.5 mile walk.

Day two on the Holy Island….

Another absolutely stunning day for us today and we’re back off to the Holy Island. Today we are bound for the ‘Holy’ and inhabited bit of the Island and having decided that walking along the causeway would not infact be very pleasurable as surprisingly there is only a rough roadside path which is very (unsurprisingly) boggy in places and is about two miles long. So at great expense (ok so only £3.50) we parked in the official car park just at the end of the causeway and the edge of the village. Apparently there are about 200 people living on the Island and it is clearly well loved, with tidy little rows of cottages all bedecked with flowers.

We wandered around the outskirts and mmade for our first beach, a smallish sandy beach below an old lifeboat station – we shall call it Chapel Beach…

From there we crossed over to the little island with the ruins of a former Chapel from which a wooden Cross proudly stands, overlooking a thin strip of sea and the vast expanse of Holy Island Sands before the mainland.

Back on the Island we clambered up the small hill on which stands the starkly modern Coastguard Lookout Station.

This mound gave us great views down onto the Abbey….

And out across to the sandy Islands of Lindisfarne Nature Reserve….

And the twin towers on Guile Point of Old Law Dunes (a place we are very much looking forward to exploring)…

Not forgetting this fab view of Lindisfarne Castle through a little window in a ruined hut…

From here we walked back down to Harbour Beach, clearly also a busy working harbour, though most of the fishing boats were anchored on the seaward side of the harbour wall, I guess using smaller craft to ferry crew backwards and forwards when the tides are out.

Next stop the castle, though we were not able to visit the castle itself as it isn’t dog friendly.

A 16th century castle, marking the much fought over border between England and Scotland (though the current border is about 10 miles further north), it was notably renovated into a holiday home for Edward Hudson, founder of the Country Life magazine and is now in the care of the National Trust. I could have left Poppydog in the care of the NT at the gate but figured it would not have been a quiet and patient wait! So instead we went to look at the small walled garden.

Enjoying our view of the castle from there.

This is one of those photos I had to share….

From the castle we wandered around the top end of the island, where access to the shore is difficult and if you do get down to it, it is stony and craggy, with not much of it sitting above the tide. We then returned across the island for a mooch around the village, a further look around the Abbey….

A dip into St Mary’s Parish Church….

And a look at the sculpture, depicting the removal of St Cuthbert’s body (from raging Vikings)….

Wow – what a day and what a beautiful place! Still our day is not over yet, I wanted to see the tide covering the Causeway, so we made our way back to the mainland with a good half hour to spare and found safe (dry!) roadside parking and we watched the tide creep in. From this…

To this…..

As the sun went down behind us – absolutely stunning, though I can’t help ffeeling a little bit disappointed that some smart Alec didn’t risk a last minute dash!!!

From Aberlady to Gosford Sands….

A mostly grey day for us and still that rather irritating wind! Ah well, onwards! Aiming to pick up where we left off yesterday we drove to the outskirts of Aberlady, intending to continue our beach walk – however…

What wasn’t apparent when we were on Aberlady Beach yesterday was that the inner part of the bay is largely a sandy mud inlet with the Peffer Burn running across and along the high tide line, making it difficult to get out onto the beach proper.

Though we did get there by walking along past Kilspindie Golf Club to Aberlady Point, where we managed to cross the burn onto the sand.

There was absolutely no one about so Poppydog was soon a little dot in the distance, leaving a cross cross of footsteps as she went.

The sand is not as nice as it was on the other side of the bay, coarser and a bit muddy in places and the wind was battering us head on.

We stuck with it, walking around Craigelaw Point and were rewarded with the magical sight of about 15 seals basking in the sunshine on the beach, we didn’t go any closer and I made sure Poppydog was entertained chasing balls well away from them – but how magical?

And then we found our own little island – Green Craig From where I could keep an eye on the seals…

And Poppydog could just run herself ragged as again this beach (Craig Beach?) is empty!

We pressed on a bit further and onto Gosford Sands.

Another large expanse of sand though again a bit muddy in places. By now, however I have had enough of this wind and so we walked back inland and completed our 5.5 mile walk along the John Muir Trail.

Two thoughts of the day:

So many beaches here are unnamed so I am using a little poetic license in naming them based on what they are near!

Our little island was only about 10m by 2m and surrounded by sand but it did feel like a little adventure!

A stunning walk along the shore to Gullane….

At last the wind seems to be letting up and a mostly sunny day was in store for us. With the sun on our faces we wandered down to Broad Sands, looking breathtakingly beautiful at low tide…..

Today we turned left and soon popped around the headland to Longskelly Beach which was again deserted.

At the end of this beach we ventured up onto the dunes to get around the Weaklaw Rocks and clambered down (the last few metres with the assistance of a rope!) onto this amazing expanse of sand….

Eyebroughy Beach, backed by a small bank of pebbles and dunes and a golf course beyond that was completely empty.

Poppydog had an absolute ball!

And I am completely blown away by the absolute beauty and the fact that no one else is on it?

Part way along the beach is this magnificent cairn…

Though quite what it marks with its propellor on the seaward side, remains a mystery as there was no accompanying plaque.

If we had been a bit earlier the tide goes out far enough to allow you to walk to Eyeboughy Island briefly so maybe another day.

Though Fidra clearly always remains an island!

Around the next corner lies yet another long sandy beach – Muirfield Beach (as it is backed by part of Muirfield Golf Course!) with what looks like some pretty ominous clouds just beyond!

A stunning beach.

We press on (regardless) towards the black clouds, dipping down onto one of the smaller coves at Black Rocks.

And then the black clouds gave up their burden as we looked across at Gullane Bay – ah well we will come back another day to see it properly!

At this point we made our way inland to follow the John Muir Way to complete this 8.5 mile walk back to site and the rain kept us company most of the way – how sweet!

Two thoughts of the day:

Steam drying in the sunshine could be a new trend?

This area is certainly on my list of beautiful places – these beaches are quite incredible.