Islands of the Northeast: Farne Islands and Bass Rock

Sunday 30th June – Thursday 4th July 2019

Sorry this tour is now fully booked!


Sorry this tour is now full.
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We are heading to the bird-rich northeast of England to see wonderful birds in wild places; come and join our small friendly group in June 2019!

We are offering an exciting five-day all-inclusive trip to visit the famous Farne Islands off the beautiful Northumbrian coast. These magical islands will be teeming with birds and we will enjoy up-close-and-personal views of the breeding seabirds here.

Puffin head Hornoya 2015

Plenty of Puffin photo opportunities!

The Farnes are home to tens of thousands of Puffins and we will be right amongst them! If you have never experienced being in the middle of a seabird colony before, then come along and be amazed by the noise and spectacle of birds all around you; it is an unforgettable experience of a lifetime.

As well as the clown-faced Puffins, we will literally walk amongst nesting terns and Eider ducks as they play out their breeding season right in front of us. Arctic Terns dive-bomb us as we pass through their territories so make sure you wear an old hat! The views of the myriad of seabirds in such close proximity are unrivalled anywhere and for those with a camera, any camera, the photo opportunities are only limited by the size of your memory card! You cannot fail to be amazed by this spectacular place. The Farne Islands are only a short boat ride from the mainland and we land on two of the islands so we have plenty of time to enjoy this unique experience.

We may also pay a visit visit Holy Island, or Lindisfarne, just up the coast, another spectacular wild location that can produce exciting birds. Providing our timing fits with the tides, we can drive across the causeway on to the island to explore this beautiful wild place.

Like the border reivers of the past, we will also make a short foray across the border into Scotland on one day to pay a visit to the Scottish Seabird Centre, where, weather permitting, we take an exhilirating rib ride out to the Bass Rock to get up close and personal with thousands of Gannets on this busy breeding colony.

With three full days here to explore this wild area, we will also have time to visit some inland birding locations to add to the variety of species we enjoy during this special tour. These may well include grouse, raptors and breeding waders.

Guillemots arguing Hornoya 2015

Plenty of noise and action on the Farne Islands!


Day 1:

Our tour starts (and ends) in Llandudno, North Wales. We make an early start as we travel over to the east coast of England in time for lunch and our first birdwatching at RSPB Saltholme. Guests are welcome to travel over with us from Llandudno or we can arrange to collect you en route from mutually agreed pick-up points along the way. After spending time exploring this lovely reserve with its impressive visitor centre and cafe, we travel north to our superb base for the trip in Northumberland. Evening meal and overnight in our comfortable hotel (4 nights).

Day 2:

Weather permitting, we take a boat ride from Seahouses out to the Farne Islands. We will be able to disembark and spend most of the day visiting two separate islands (Staple Island and Inner Farne) to really get that up-close-and-personal seabird experience. These islands are managed by the National Trust and a warden is on hand to tell you more about the ecology of the islands. Each island has a very different feel to it and offers amazing encounters with different species. We will have the chance to spend around two hours on each island so plenty of time to explore and take lots of photographs – do bring your camera and a large memory card! The two main islands provide an important sanctuary for breeding seabirds and we have the chance look for up to 22 species of breeding seabirds during our day including Guillemots, Razorbills, Kittiwakes, Eider, four tern species: Arctic, Common, Sandwich and Roseate, and of course lots and lots of Puffins. This bird spectacle is unforgettable - after all, 70,000 Puffins can’t be wrong! We will take a picnic lunch with us to enjoy on the islands – don’t worry, there are bathroom facilities available on one of the islands too. The boat also sails round some of the further islands as well, so we can see more seabirds and seals too. Depending on the time of our return to the mainland, we will explore the coast around Seahouses before heading back to our comfortable hotel for a delicious evening meal and overnight.

Day 3:

We will drive north into Scotland to visit the Scottish Seabird Centre. From here, weather permitting, we will enjoy another exhilirating seabird experience as we take a boat ride around the Bass Rock to get a closer look at the amazing Gannet colony here . We will also get close to the islands of Craigleith and the Lamb to see the other seabirds that make these islands their home. In the evening we will have a delicious evening meal and overnight back at our comfortable hotel.

Lindisfarne Castle

Dramatic Lindisfarne Castle

Day 4:

For a change of scene, we will visit some of the forested and moorland areas that wild Northumberland has to offer. We will look for Red Grouse and with a good slice of luck we may encounter the much rarer Black Grouse. Breeding waders will also be high on our list to look for and could include Golden Plover, Common Snipe, Curlew and Common Redshank. We will also be keeping a sharp eye open for any raptors in this wild landscape. Of course, we will always be in touch with the latest bird news so we will have the opportunity to look for any special birds that may be the area. We will have lunch in a lovely café along the way. If tides permit, we may also be able to cross to the beautiful island of Lindisfarne to enjoy more waders and seaduck. In the evening we will have a delicious evening meal and overnight in our comfortable hotel.

Please note that that the itinerary on Days 2, 3 and 4 may be switched around depending on the weather and tide conditions to make sure that you have the best possible experience on the trip.

Day 5:

After breakfast, we head south towards RSPB Leighton Moss reserve in Lancashire where we will have time for some birdwatching and enjoy lunch in the excellent café here. Leighton Moss is a wonderful reserve with huge reedbeds and pools home to breeding Marsh Harriers, Bearded Tits and lots of warblers. The relatively new Tower Hide gives a commanding view across the reserve, ideal for watching graceful Marsh Harriers hunting over the reeds and just possibly a Bittern flying to or from its nest! The feeders at the reserve near the café are always alive with birds and make for another great photo opportunity. In the afternoon we continue our journey south to Llandudno where our tour ends. Of course, if we have picked you up from mutually-agreed meeting points on Day 1, we will drop you back there as we return!

Beach view

Beautiful unspoiled Bamburgh Beach

We will be looking for the following birds:

Great Crested Grebe, Little Grebe, Fulmar, Gannet, Cormorant, Shag, Little Egret, Grey Heron, Shelduck, Gadwall, Teal, Pochard, Tufted Duck, Eider, Common Scoter, Red-breasted Merganser, Goosander, Marsh Harrier, Sparrowhawk, Common Buzzard, Kestrel, Hobby, Peregrine, Red Grouse, Black Grouse, Oystercatcher, Avocet, Little Ringed Plover, Golden Plover, Lapwing, Common Snipe, Black-tailed Godwit, Curlew, Common Redshank, Common Sandpiper, Turnstone, Mediterranean Gull, Kittiwake, Sandwich Tern, Common Tern, Arctic Tern, Roseate Tern, Common Guillemot, Razorbill, Atlantic Puffin, Cuckoo, Barn Owl, Little Owl, Tawny Owl, Short-eared Owl, Kingfisher, Green Woodpecker, Skylark, Tree Pipit, Rock Pipit, Yellow Wagtail, Dipper, Common Redstart, Whinchat, Stonechat, Wheatear, Cetti’s Warbler, Grasshopper Warbler, Sedge Warbler, Reed Warbler, Lesser Whitethroat, Common Whitethroat, Garden Warbler, Blackcap, Wood Warbler, Goldcrest, Spotted Flycatcher, Bearded Tit, Marsh Tit, Raven, Tree Sparrow, Linnet, Lesser Redpoll, Common Crossbill, Bullfinch, Yellowhammer, and more including any rare or scarce birds that might be in the area at that time. Expect to see over 100 species!

Kittiwake on cliff 1

Eye-to-eye views of Kittiwakes on the cliffs

What is included:

  • Five days’ guided birdwatching with two guides, Alan and Ruth
  • Four nights’ accommodation in comfortable ensuite twin or double rooms in our lovely hotel. Sorry but we do have to pass on a single room supplement
  • All meals including breakfast, lunch and delicious evening meal from lunch on Day 1 through to Lunch on Day 5, ie four breakfasts, five lunches and four two-course evening meals
  • All soft drinks and tea/coffee with meals
  • Sweets and snacks will be available at all times for those ‘in-between meal’ moments
  • ‘All Day Birdwatch’ boat trip to visit two of the Farne Islands offered by Billy Shiels Boat Trips. This includes the boat fee per person plus the separate landing fee per person for non-National Trust members and is included in your tour
  • Visit to the Scottish Seabird Centre and the 'Three Islands Seafari'. This includes the boat fee per person for the rib ride around Bass Rock, Craigleith and the Lamb, as well as the entrance fee to the Scottish Seabird Centre and is included in your tour
  • Entrance fees to all nature reserves
  • Use of our field guides throughout the trip
  • Use of our two top-of-the-range Leica telescopes throughout the trip
  • Free loan of our top-of-the-range Leica binoculars throughout the trip – please let us know in advance if you would like to borrow a pair
  • Individual checklist of the birds we will be looking for.

What is not included:

  • Transport to/from Llandudno, North Wales or our mutually agreed pick-up points
  • Alcoholic drinks and additional drinks/snacks not mentioned above
  • Any additional excursions not mentioned above that you may wish to take
  • Travel and medical insurance
  • Items of a personal nature

Sedge Warbler

Sedge Warbler poses for the camera

We are offering this special holiday for a maximum of just six guests with both Alan and Ruth as guides to ensure the best possible experience for each person. Birdwatching in small groups provides a much better chance of seeing all the birds possible and gives everyone a higher degree of individual attention than larger groups.

The price of this special birdwatching trip to Northumberland is £TBC per person sharing a twin or double ensuite room. Sorry but we do have to pass on a supplement of £TBC for anyone requiring a single room.

If you would like to join us on this wonderful five-day birdwatching trip, please send us an email to for more details or to book your place. We look forward to hearing from you and sharing lots of birds with you!

General Tour Information:


Easy to moderate. Walks are on trails and footpaths which may have an uneven surface. You should be able to walk unaided at least a mile on rough or uneven surfaces. You will need to be able to get in and out of small boats to access the Farne Islands. We will be taking a RIB ride around Bass Rock; while appropriate sailing gear and flotation aids are provided, this ride is not recommended for anyone with a back condition. Please contact us if you have any concerns over your participation.


Payment can be made by cheque or electronic bank transfer. We ask for 20% deposit upon booking with the balance due by 70 days before travel. Full details are provided on our Booking Form. Please ensure you also see our Terms and Conditions and Booking Confirmation Statement. We are compliant with the Packaged Travel Regulations 2018 and have Financial Failure Insurance in place to give you and your money the fullest possible protection.


Transport will be in a comfortable air-conditioned minibus


Accommodation will be in a very comfortable inn, all bedrooms are ensuite. There is no lift in this historic building.


This tour will run with a minimum and a maximum of six guests. The tour will go ahead provided at six guests have booked by 70 days before the start of the tour.


Please see our the Terms and Conditions on our website. Full cancellation details are on our booking form. Please ask us if you would like us to send you a copy.

Travel and medical Insurance:

Please make sure you have the correct insurance cover in place for this tour before the start of the trip.

Terms and Conditions

Contact us

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