The Farne Islands are to reopen after having been closed for over 18 months due to the pandemic.
From Monday June 21 visitors will be able to take boat trips from the harbour at Seahouses and land on Inner Farne to spend time close to thousands of seabirds..
The islands, off the Northumberland coast, closed at the end of the 2019 visitor season and no visits were possible throughout 2020.
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The National Trust team is looking forward to welcoming people back once again although spaces will be limited initially to ensure safe social distancing and monitor the impact on wildlife.
The birds on the Islands have remained undisturbed for over a year and the return of visitors will be closely monitored to assess the impact during the breeding season.
Simon Lee, general manager for the National Trust on the Northumberland Coast, said: “We have been working hard to find a way of reopening whilst keeping everyone safe which is our top priority.
“Opportunities to land on the Islands will be limited in the first instance to allow the wildlife on the Farnes time to adjust to having visitors again. However, there are many great ways to see the islands including sail around and sunset tours offered by the boat companies we work with.”
Four of the boats that offer tours from Seahouses harbour will land on Inner Farne each afternoon and are bookable direct with the boat companies.
Visitors will spend time touring the islands before landing to see the wildlife up close.
National Trust rangers will give an insight into the wildlife including grey seals and endangered seabirds.
Simon said: “We know the role attractions like this play in contributing to the tourist economy. We’re pleased to be playing our part, working with our partners to re-open this popular destination.”
During the pandemic, the ranger team who work on the islands continued to visit to carry our essential conservation work.
As well as clearing vegetation from nesting areas, they have begun their annual bird count.
Gwen Potter, countryside manager for the Farne Islands, said: “Our day as rangers is split into two parts, looking after the islands and welcoming people to see just how special this place is.
Until August our top priority in the mornings will be to count nests and observe the wildlife. We’re looking to see how many birds have returned to breed and the results of that breeding.
“We already know there’s been a displacement of Arctic terns from Inner Farne and are keen to fully monitor nesting sites at other locations. We have already seen a far greater number of tern nests on Staple Island than in previous years and more nesting at the Long Nanny site near Beadnell.”
During the breeding season from May to July, the Farnes host up to 23 species of birds including around 45,000 pairs of puffins.
Gwen said: “We are always mindful of the delicate balance between sharing this amazing place with people and wildlife conservation. This year we need to be more cautious than ever as the birds have remained undisturbed for over a year now.
“We will be closely monitoring the impact of visitors during the breeding season and using that information to help us work with specialists such as Natural England and the boat operators to increase access in the future when it’s safe to do so.”