The Farnes

A visit to the Farne Islands is always a little special - with every visit I am struck by the beaches here, perfect wide sands washed by the surf...
There was little surf this day however, most of the waves reaching a very gentle 1ft, though periodically a set of three or four waves would roll in at around 2.5ft - enough for a little fun before heading due east from Harkness Rocks to the Inner Farne.
The cliffs here are deceptive in appearance, seeming larger from the mainland than they are when you arrive - drifting by, I watched as large numbers of this year's gannets flew by, heading north, perhaps to Bass Rock for one last time this year before heading off shore for the winter.
Large numbers of grey seals were hauled out both here amongst the inner islands and further out, particularly around the Northern Hares. One, left high and dry in a tidal pool below the lighthouse was clearly sick. Not wanting to scare her, we sat quietly some distance away for our lunch - this is the only landing that is officially permitted amongst these islands.
Moments later a tour boat arrived, disgorging day trippers who who were entertained by the skipper, feeding the seal. The seal had clearly become accustomed to this, showing little sign of distress - in fact the skipper admitted there were several who were now partly 'tame'. Given the ongoing tension between many of the operators of wildlife trips such as these and sea kayakers, this all seemed rather wrong. 
The presence of sea kayaks can / does disturb seals. That they are inquisitive and will play with a kayak's toggles is true - I do not think this represents disturbance. That they will take fright and abandon their rocky ledges at the sight of an approaching kayak is also true - I fail to see how this can not be viewed as disturbance.
I suspect the actual effect, harmful or otherwise of that disturbance, depends on a variety of factors. I also suspect the presence of tour boats in many instances, offends some sea kayakers more than it does the seals. Either way, feeding sick, wild animals, in the manner observed, is something that goes against every instinct. Both parties have vested interests - as individuals, many I think should be a little more concerned and honest about their impact, benign or otherwise, in such places.
Leaving the lighthouse and Longstone, we paddled north-east again...
...to pass around the eastern side of Knivestone. Stronger tidal flows, reefs and just a little more swell provided some confused water here and it was clear to see how difficult the seas here would become in more challenging conditions.
We returned to the Northern Hares, crossing directly to Megstone and from there to Harkness Rocks once more having covered around 20km.

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