Farne Islands October 2020
With most of our sporting activity curtailed and the introduction of ‘social distancing’ it is quite remarkable that this trip actually went ahead, but careful research and planning made it possible.
Accommodation was at The Hides in Seahouses, and although basic, was more than adequate for our expedition, comprising en-suite twin rooms and a shared kitchen/social area, a drying room, laundry, and kit wash down facility. All 5 couples were buddied up in their respective households, so no issues with buddy checks. Masks were worn whilst loading the boat, and whenever we were not diving or eating/drinking.
With conditions approved by our skipper, Billy Shiel, we set off for our first location, hoping to find some friendly inquisitive grey seals. Some good diving was had, with fair visibility, and some good interaction with seals. Whilst swimming through the kelp, there were a lot of urchins, dead men’s finger, crabs, and other crustaceans, although not too many fish. After a surface interval on the boat, a choice was offered for Dive 2: a deeper dive, or staying shallow for more seal interaction. Some opted for the deeper dive, which entailed a tiring swim into the current, with water temperature a cool 12°C.
The second day of diving got off to a good start with one of our group (ok, it was Graham) leaving one of his dive bags on the harbour! Dive 1 was a deeper dive (13-23m), but quite poor visibility. Lots of deeper gullies and kelp forests, with walls of dead men’s fingers both orange and white and the usual plethora of urchins, crabs and lobster. Dive 2 was the other side of the island from day 1, where there were lots seals on the rocks and in the water, but due to lower visibility, we mainly stayed on or near the surface watching them, watching us.
All in all it was an enjoyable trip in a picturesque part of the country, with plenty to do and see besides some good diving and a reasonable range of shops, pubs and restaurants. Thanks very much to Mark Jones for his excellent organisation under difficult and ever-changing circumstances!