11 of us, including 3 from MK club travelled up to Northumberland on Friday 18th August for a weekend trip diving on the Farne Islands – we have had several club trips over the years and it has always been a great trip: probably one of the best sites in the UK for marine life and seal encounters and it has never disappointed.
We were booked with Paul Walker of Farne Island Divers – Paul operates a 10m RIB which launches off Beadnell beach. While maybe not as comfortable as a hard boat, it is very exciting to ride out and back on the RIB and we got out before the other dive boats to get to the best site first!
We all met up for a drink in Bamburgh on the Friday night: a really pretty small village overshadowed by a huge castle which is right on the beach, a great location for those family members who weren’t diving. Saturday dawned sunny and a little windy, but it was offshore so no problems launching from the beach – once loaded and briefings completed, the boat is towed in by a tractor and the divers wade out and climb aboard by a ladder. The trip out was very bumpy and wet, which certainly added to the excitement – we felt we’d already been diving by the time we got there! Luckily it is only about a 15 minute ride to the islands, and we could get in the shelter of one of the biggest to avoid the windy conditions. After that we all wore hoods and masks for the rides out and back!
The brief was to go for relatively shallow dives with plenty of marine life, as we had several new or divers and some who had not dived for some time. Paul didn’t disappoint: over the next 2 days we had 4 amazing dives, with water temperatures about 13 degrees (warmer than Calvert!), viz of 10 – 12 metres, seals buzzing around us on every dive, and other amazing marine life. What I particularly like about the Farnes is that as you’re diving close into the islands, there are always crevices, swim throughs, small caves, and rock pillars to look for marine life: plenty of crabs, lobsters, squat lobsters and other creepy crawlies.
Sunday was also sunny, with less wind, so a calmer ride out and more great diving – the first site on the outer rocks by the big red and white lighthouse must have had 150 or more seals on the rocks when we arrived, and luckily some decided to join us in the water. With an 8.15am launch both days, we arrived back on the beach around 1pm which gave us time for relaxation and an early start back on the Sunday. A great weekend, good company, and fantastic diving!