Seahouses is a busy little port which grew up in the late 19th century when the harbour was built to serve the inland village of North Sunderland. Today potting boats share the harbour with holiday-makers and the village is given over to catering for visitors and passers-by.
Near the harbour are lime kilns dating from the 18th century, now used by local fishermen as a store for lobster pots. Excellent sandy beaches stretch south towards Beadnell amd Embleton Bay.
The Farne Islands, lie just off shore midway between Seahouses and Bamburgh. They are located at the most easterly point of the 'Great Whin Sill', an intrusion of volcanic rock which begins in Cumbria and gives a distinct and spectacular character to the north Northumberland coastline. There are betweeen 15 and 28 islands, depending upon the state of the tide. They are designated as a National Nature Reserve and Special Protection Area for their important seabird colonies, and as a Special Conservation Area for the grey seals which breed and rest there. The Islands are managed by The National Trust.
What can I do?
- The town of Seahouses has a pretty harbour. In the early 19th Century the harbour was mostly used for shipping lime all over the UK. Today it is still busy with fishing boats, diving boats and pleasure craft taking visitors to the Farne Islands. While you are there visit the RNLI lifeboat station (the lifeboat inside is called ‘Grace Darling’). Just south of the harbour look out for a curious stone hut 'The Pooder Hoose' – originally used for storing gunpowder.
- The fascinating history of Seahouses and North Sunderland can be discovered on three Heritage Walks. A leaflet explaing the walks can be picked up at the Tourist Information Centre.
- Look for traditional Fishermen’s Squares which consist of fishermen’s cottages around three sides of a courtyard (a sheltered area used for repairing nets and baiting lines).
- Go rockpooling on Seahouses Beach (just north of the town) – the beach is often deserted, even on sunny days and offers some of the best rockpooling in the region.Take our Seashore Guide with you
- Like fish? Seahouses is well known for its excellent fish and chips. The oldest working smokehouse in Northumberland can be found at 'Swallow Fish' where you can buy kippers and other smoked fish and seafood.
- Visit the Farne Islands - see the green box for more information.
- You can visit Longstone Island and Lighthouse - the home of Grace Darling
- Download a Journey Planner for trips around the AONB from Seahouses by bus
What do I need to know?
- You can only land on three of the Farne Islands - Staple Island, Inner Farne and Longstone. Check with the boat operators before you travel. Take a hat during the breeding season.
- Golden Gate are licenced to land on Longstone Island and can arrange tours of the lighthouse
- If you arrrive by car, allow plenty of time to park before your sailing.
- The Tourist Information Centre can be found in the main car park. Helpful staff are on-hand to provide advice and information.
Getting to Seahouses
Seahouses is served by an hourly daytime bus service between May and September, two-hourly between October and May.
The Arriva X18 Coast and Castles Service and the Travelsure 418 Service connect Seahouses to Belford to the north and Alnwick via the Coastal Villages to the south. The X18 continues to Berwick-upon-Tweed and Morpeth and Newcastle to the south.
Visiting the Farne Islands
To see the breeding seabirds, the best time to visit the Farne Islands is between May and late July when activity peaks as the birds are feeding their growing chicks.
During this time, two islands are open to the public for birdwatching:
Staple island is only open in the mornings and has high whinstone stacks, where nesting auks and kittiwakes jostle for space. There are also thousands of nesting puffins on Staple Island – but there aren’t any breeding terns on this island.
Inner Farne is open in the afternoon. As well as all of the birds that breed on Staple Island, there are also thousands of nesting Arctic, common and Sandwich terns. There are toilet facilities and a small National Trust shop on Inner Farne and St. Cuthbert’s Chapel is open to the public. If you are visiting during the breeding season, the Arctic terns will be defending their eggs and chicks and will dive-bomb passing humans – be sure to wear a hat!
Boats sail to the Farne Islands from Seahouses. Booking in advance is recommended, especially between May and August:
More information about visiting the Farne Islands including prices and opening times can be found on the National Trust website
Golden Gate are licenced to land on Longstone and can provide tours of the lighthouse