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Introducing Farne Islands

One of England’s most incredible sea-bird conventions is to be found on a rocky archipelago of islands about three miles offshore from the undistinguished fishing village of Seahouses. There’s a tourist office (01655-720884; Seafield Rd; 10am-5pm Apr-Oct) near the harbour in Seahouses and a National Trust Shop (01665-721099; 16 Main St; 10am-5pm Apr-Oct) for all island-specific information.

The best time to visit the Farne Islands (NT; 01665-720651; admission £5.20, £4.20 Apr & Aug-Sep; 10.30am-6pm Apr & Aug-Sep, Inner Farne also 1.30-5pm May-Jul, Staple also 10.30am-1.30pm May-Jul) is during breeding season (roughly May to July), when you can see feeding chicks of 20 species of sea bird, including puffin, kittiwake, Arctic tern, eider duck, cormorant and gull. This is a quite extraordinary experience, for there are few places in the world where you can get so close to nesting sea birds. The islands are also home to England’s only colony of grey seals.

To protect the islands from environmental damage, only two are accessible to the public: Inner Farne and Staple Island. Inner Farne is the more interesting of the two, as it is also the site of a tiny chapel (1370, restored 1848) to the memory of St Cuthbert, who lived here for a spell and died here in 687.