Wednesday, 24 June 2009

Farne Islands - 20th June 2009

North West Sea Kayakers trip to Northumberland, camping on the Farne Diving Services field in Beadnell.

12 paddlers launched just N of Bamburgh Castle (car park at NU179353) and paddled out to the NW side of Megstone. Tidal stream was flowing SE down the coast and was about 1-2 knots as we crossed, so we paddled on a more northerly bearing to keep on track.

After round Megstone the group split - the group of 6 I was with headed for the NW tip of North Wamses (small race on W side) then across calmer water to land on Longstone (small quay and inlet on NE side of lighthouse). Short stop as 3 of us then decided to head further out to see what was going on at the Knivestones. Tide was moving pretty fast as we headed out, fast smooth water then turbulent downstream of the rock features that were just below surface. At some points you could see the rocks below and realise that although paddling very hard, you were hardly moving. Flow must have been around 4kn. Small whirlpools and waves were traversed on the way back. This was just about 1hour before high tide.

After lunch we headed back on the SE side of the outer isles admiring the bird life and dodging the tourist boats. This was the first time I'd ever seen Puffins in the flesh, so was quite exciting. The various bird colonies consisted of Puffins, Razorbills, Guillemots, Cormorants, Shags, Terns plus other gulls...

We stopped on the NT owned island of Inner Farne (£5.80 landing fee!) and could witness the Puffins and other birds close up. The terns are very aggressive and peck your head - hat/umbrella/crash hat needed next time!

Finally paddled back to launch spot, small surf on beach. Very interesting paddle.

Wind was variable 3 or less, sea state was slightly choppy on way out with tidal features of small races. It was high tide just after setting off back, and sea was much calmer on the return.

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