Discover the Farne Islands

On the MV Golden Gate

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Join the Farne Island’s lighthouse keeper George on a tour of Europe’s largest offshore bird sanctuary.

George has been sailing around these islands since he was a young boy and knows every inch of this diverse habitat.  The islands lie off Northumberland’s heritage coast, between the villages of Bamburgh and Seahouses and at the heart of an area of outstanding natural beauty. There are 28 Farne islands at low water, 3 of which are open to the public. We are licensed to land on all of the National Trust islands  which include the bird sanctuaries. As lighthouse keeper, George is the only skipper who can take you on a guided tour inside Grace Darling’s Lighthouse, Longstone. The Golden Gate is a traditional Northumbrian boat, built of English oak and larch by Dawson, a local boat builder in Seahosues. She has a Gardiner engine and can hold 74 passengers


Things to See

The Farne islands are home to 120,000 pairs of breeding birds, half of which are Puffins (local name Tommy Noddy). In addition to Puffins there are Guillemots, Terns, Razor Bills, Cormorants, Shags, Fulmars, Eider Ducks, Kittiwakes and many more. The Farne Islands are a paradise for naturalists and photographers. During the breeding season, April to July, many of the birds nest on the cliff faces and weather permitting George, the skipper, will expertly manoeuvre the boat within feet of the nesting birds.

The Birds

Built in 1826, Longstone Lighthouse is famous for the heroic exploits of the Lighthouse Keeper’s daughter, Grace Darling. With her father, Grace rescued survivors from the Forfarshire, which ran aground during a violent storm in 1838. When sailing with George, the current lighthouse keeper, you can take an exclusive tour inside the lighthouse. Stand at the window where Grace Darling first sighted the wreck, tour the rooms where she lived and discover the history of Trinity House. Longstone Lighthouse is  the only offshore rock lighthouse open to the public and is still operational. Vital to shipping on the North East coast you can explore the control room, fog horn and lantern. After the lighthouse tour we follow the route Grace Darling took on her heroic rescue.


Grace Darling’s Lighthouse

Living alongside the birds in the waters around the Farne Islands are the Atlantic Grey Seals. There is a colony of between 4000-7000 seals. You will be able to see them basking lazily on the rocks at low tide. The Grey Seals have their pups in October, November and December. On all of our trips George plots a course to try and achieve the best vantage points possible, so you can see all the wildlife the Farne Islands have to offer.

The Seals

The islands have a special religious significance. It was here St Cuthbert died in 687 and there is a tiny chapel on Inner Farne which was built in his memory during the 14th century. Although it is St Cuthbert who is most famously connected with Iona, Lindisfarne and the Farnes Islands, Bishop Aidan was in fact the first of the early British Christians to retreat here for prayer and meditation. The Chapel is open to the public and Christians continue to hold services on special occasions.


The Saints

Published for an on behalf of The MV Golden Gate Boat Trip Company
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