New Horizons Farnes Trip August 2015

The Farnes, a small group of islands start just over 1 mile offshore, from Seahouses in Northumberland; some 15 islands made up of mainly basaltic dolerite, and home to many sea birds and reputedly thousands of grey seals.


Tony Gilbert 2015 ©


This was our diving destination mid-August, and arriving Wednesday, the weather didn’t look promising. Suitably settled in Beadnell, the following morning saw us loading the amply-spaced Farne diver II Boat run by Lee Hall, and motoring out to a well known seal-spot of Big Harcar. Although there were many seals above, we only had brief encounters below. My buddy for the trip had specially travelled from Japan to be with the grey seals, and he wasn’t disappointed. The next dive, as the day brightened, was at the outlying island of the Megstone, my favourite, where a rock channel and cleft was the best place to be especially as we encountered inquisitive baby seals!

Scuba Diving in the Farnes

Tony Gilbert 2015 ©



The afternoon was spent exploring the local area, including Bamburgh and its castle. After a great evening at the Craster Arms we were back down for the second and already last day’s diving here! We started with a wonderful wall dive at North Wamses; this was a mixture of boulders, small bays, and verticals, providing great photographic opportunities particularly for edible crabs, some ballan wrasse, lots of static marine life including healthy cold-water corals, oh, and did I mention a few seals, that my buddy seemed to be attracting!

Scuba diving with seals in the Farnes

Tony Gilbert 2015 ©     Farnes-201508-MegStone2-3-BabySeal     Tony Gilbert 2015 ©


The ultimate dive was once more at Megstone, but this time we went the other way, we encountered scores of seals through the channels etched in the kelp beds. My buddy was thoroughly prepared having 2 cameras more than I, with pole and head-mounted video camera, plus his compact.

Scuba diving Farnes-DiversOverReef

Tony Gilbert 2015 ©

Scuba diving Farnes--TwoSeals

Tony Gilbert 2015 ©


After the diving was done, with warm summer sunshine, we rolled into Seahouses for the last time, the smell of freshly caught battered fish mixed with chunky salt & vinegar-covered chips wafting pier-side, fishing and pleasure boats moored, we disembarked with queues of people ready to embark on their seal watching adventures, but I think we had the better deal of real-encounters!