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Sea Kayaking in the Northeast of England

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Page Contents :- Introduction . . Access . . Tidal Info . . Emergency Info . . Natural History . .
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"Drifting on a glassy sea we ate freshly picked strawberries as we watched the sun low on the horizon even though it was nearly 10pm.
A selkie rolled beneath us, her liquid eyes studying us curiously, before she surfaced and nosed the bow of my kayak.
Peace was everywhere."
Farne Islands, summer 2003.

This site is written to assist paddlers plan sea kayaking trips along the Northumberland and Berwickshire coastline in the north east of England. Some areas that it covers are trips around the Farne Islands, Holy Island, St Abbs Head, Coquet Island and out of Amble, Seahouses, Craster and Berwick-upon-tweed.

For further help or information on sea kayaking in this area please contact Ollie Jay, British Canoe Union Northern Region Sea Officer. e-mail - [ ollie@active4seasons.co.uk ] website - www.active4seasons.co.uk


A multitude of paddling trips along a shoreline with an endless variety of towering cliffs, rugged headlands, sea caves, long sandy bays, offshore islands, seals and sea birds. Together with the numerous castles, tiny picturesque fishing villages, and friendly people. These are some of the things that make the Northumberland and Berwickshire coastline deserving of it's Special Area of Conservation status.

The Area Covered by this Guide This area has a long tradition of over 50 years association with sea kayaking and has such classic paddles as :-

  • St Abbs Head.
  • Berwick Caves.
  • Circumnavigation of Holy Island.
  • The Farne Islands.
  • Beadnell to Boulmer.
  • Boulmer to Amble.
  • Coquet Island.

    As always care should be taken as although the tidal flows are relatively weak - usually less than 2kn apart from amongst the Farne Islands - the sea is generally shallow and with a little wind can change from being placid to a short steep sea very quickly. Be aware, enjoy your trips but be prepared for the worst.

    This website has been created as a BRIEF aid to planning of trips in this area, and is not intended as a guide to the theory of sea kayaking. It is assumed that if you are planning a trip you have an understanding of tides, navigation, safety and emergency equipment and procedures, and the ability to stand on the beach on the day and assess the sea and weather conditions against your own and the parties abilities.

    That's the preaching over with :-)

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    Generally there are no problems with access in the area, however due to pressure of visitors there are restrictions for trips to the Farnes and to Holy Island.
    Details of any restrictions will be found on the pages describing that particular trip.

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    Tidal Info

    Tidal flows are relatively weak along this coastline - usually less than 2kn however between the Farne Islands and around St. Abbes Head local flows can reach 6kn.
    Basic the tidal flow runs south on the flood and north on the ebb.
    Details of tidal flows will be found on the pages describing that particular trip.

    Tidal Prediction

    Weather Forecasts
    Met Office homepage
    Met Office inshore forecast
    Met Office offshore forecast
    Metcheck - an excellent site

    BBC weather forecast - Berwick-upon-Tweed
    BBC weather coastwise site - Excellent resource

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    Emergency Info

    Always carry flares somewhere easily accessible and know how and when to use them.

    I am assuming that if you are carrying a VHF radio you know how to use it and who to call!
    To summon assistance by phone dial 999 and ask for the Coastguard. 

    RAF rescue helicopters are stationed at RAF Boulmer

    Lifeboats are stationed at :-

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    Natural History

    53,000 pairs of breeding birds of 17 different species nesting from mid-April to end July. Typical species are :- Eiders, Guillemots, Razorbills, Puffins, Shags, Cormorants, Arctic Terns, Kittiwakes.
    160 species of migrant birds in the spring and autumn.
    Many friendly seals, mainly Greys but some Common. Be aware that pups are born early Sept to mid Oct.
    Common Dolphins
    Basking sharks
    Orcas and Minki Whales in the Autumn


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    For problems with this site please contact - [ john_rae@dsl.pipex.com ].

    This page was last updated on March 4th, 2016.