The Farne Islands: 90 years with the National Trust

Puffin puffins island of farne rock searching 37,000 national trust 90 years ninety
A lonesome Puffin searches for its 74,000 friends.

Sir David Attenborough calls it his favourite part of the UK to visit in spring – the wildlife haven of the Farne Islands off the Northumberland coast celebrates 90 years in the care of the National Trust this week…

Puffin puffins island of farne rock searching 37,000 national trust 90 years ninety
A puffin on the Farne Islands. The islands were previously owned by Lord Armstrong,  a Victorian industrialist, and the Rev CS Thorp, an Archdeacon of Durham Cathedral. Credit: Istock

The world-renowned Farne Islands, made up of 20 main islands, have been in the care of the National Trust for 90 years. Used for the breeding of 23 types of sea birds, this is one of the best places in Britain to get up close and personal with previously under-threat birds.

The year 1925 is fondly remembered as the year that the National Trust began to care for this cluster of islands off the Northumberland coast, taking over from the previous owner, the infamous Lord Armstrong, a Victorian industrialist. The public purchase of the historic islands led many people to call the Farne Islands, ‘England’s very own Galapagos Islands’.

The Farne Islands have become a brilliant natural conservation site for rare birds, including an impressive 37,000 pairs of puffins. National Trust rangers are the only humans to live alongside the various breeds of eider ducks and fulmars on the island.

Due to the Farne Islands’ high level of preservation, the archipelago has remained virtually unchanged for the last 90 years, despite having reached many milestones during this period, including becoming one of the first group of islands to be designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest in 1951, and then going on to become a national nature reserve in 1993.

Wildlife lovers can take boats from mainland England across to the islands, being careful to miss the tide-concealed, slightly smaller islands and swooping terns flying above.

The Farne Islands’ raw, untouched landscape proves a brilliant research source, and in the eyes of Sir David Attenborough and many other Brits, an all-time favourite part of the UK to experience extraordinary wildlife first hand.

seal farne island national trust uk autumn haven conservation atlantic seals
Not only are the Farne Islands home to a large number of sea birds, but the UK’s largest colony of Atlantic grey seals also resides here, with around 1,500 seal pups born every autumn. Credit: Istock

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