The National Trust is a charity that owns many historic houses and gardens as well as important industrial buildings such as mills.
It is also responsible for large parts of the British countryside including forests, woods, fens, beaches, farmland, downs, moorland and nature reserves with many of these places perfect for some bird watching.
The Farne Islands
The Farne Islands are a group of islands on the coast of Northumberland and home to one of the biggest seabird colonies in England hosting up to 23 species of breeding birds including 37,000 pairs of puffins.
Of the 20 or so islands just two are open to the public; Staple Island and Inner Farne, home to the National Trust rangers and the only residents of the islands. The other islands are off limits to protect wildlife.
Staple Island is open from May to June and, as well as the popular puffins, is inhabited by 1,000s of breeding birds including razorbills, kittiwakes, guillemots, shags, cormorants and eider ducks, known locally as Cuddy’s duck after St. Cuthbert who lived on the islands in the 7th century.
On the inner Farne Arctic terns nest close to the path and will attack anyone who comes too close to their chicks – visitors are advised to wear a hat!
The rocky islands are also home to England’s largest colony of Atlantic grey seals with 1,000 pups born every autumn.
Join The National Trust
National Trust membership starts from as little as £6 a month and for that you can visit hundreds of fantastic places in England, Wales & Northern Ireland as many times as you like.
You also get free car parking at most National Trust countryside, woodland and coastal car parks and The National Trust membership pack which contains:
Members’ Handbook – the essential guide to all the Trust’s properties, opening times and locations.
The National Trust Magazine – published three times a year with news, views, articles, features, gardening tips and letters.
Regional Newsletters – updates on the special events and activities in your area.
Car parking sticker – free parking at most National Trust car parks.
Map Guide – your guide to over 300 beautiful buildings and 200 glorious gardens.
Northey Island is an undisturbed island lying near the head of the Blackwater Estuary. The National Trust claims it is the closest you’ll get to true wilderness in Essex.
The island is a birdwatcher’s paradise and in the winter thousands of Brent geese arrive to graze Northey’s pastureland. You will also find shelducks, avocets, greenshanks, and golden and grey plovers visiting the large areas of unspoilt saltmarsh.
In the summer a number of birds breed on Northey including oystercatchers and shelducks and to hear the birds calls during midsummer sunsets is a breathtaking experience. Birds of prey including peregrine falcons, short-eared owls and the endangered hen harriers have also been spotted near the estuary.
Cut off at high tide, Northey Island is reached via a causeway that is most likely Roman in origin and to help preserve the environment please contact the National Trust to arrange a permit to visit.