Sadly, it is looking increasingly unlikely that I will be leading any puffins & seabirds wildlife photography workshops on the Farne Islands this year, and possibly in future years.

The National Trust are looking to implement a new centralised booking system  for landing trips where bookings can only be made one week in advance. This means I can not guarantee availability in advance of workshop dates and it also makes it very difficult for workshop participants to arrange and confirm accommodation and travel plans.

Puffin, Inner Farne

Furthermore, the National Trust are proposing a system whereby the boats operators and skippers are required to make ‘bids’ for the business of transporting visitors by sea to the Islands. The proposed system is  absolutely unworkable from the point of view of the boat skippers. As a result, they are unable to land on Staple Island and Inner Farne as per previous years.

It’s a tough decision for the skippers, but I absolutely understand their reasons. Andrew, Toby and all of the team at Serenity, and also William and his Glad Tidings team have my full support. It’s a terrible decision by the National Trust. It will have a detrimental effect on the service industry in Seahouses which couldn’t come at a worse time as plans are being made to recover from the financial hardships caused by the global Coronavirus pandemic.

We live in a time when so many of us have a massive disconnection with our natural history and the need to understand, appreciate and conserve wildlife has never been greater. Organisations like the National Trust should be working to improve ethical access to wildlife, not implementing financially driven obstacles instead.


  1. Pauline March 18, 2021 at 9:19 pm - Reply

    So true and so sad. I’m afraid the NT is completely money driven which is why I will never join them again

  2. A Prescott March 19, 2021 at 11:20 am - Reply

    This is one of the many direct impacts on our economy from the NT policy. In other countries they manage footfall to Parks etc from 3rd party service providers – what is so different here that they want to limit access to one company presumably at the lowest tendred price. If Serenity , Glad Tidings et all stick together this will be a home goal for the NT and totally deserved as they wont have the resources to get to the Islands – there is a better way for everyone rather thatn the coffers of the NT and its over emphasis on southern provision (my only reason for membership was the Farne Islands)

    I have enjoyed Alans workshops and recomend them to all levels of photographer and I hope that whilst this will have an impact , his business will continue to grow. Good luck to the Seahouses community – I hope there is a way forward for you

    • Alan Hewitt March 20, 2021 at 5:45 pm - Reply

      Thakn you, there is so much bad feeling right now around this decision but it’s great that the boat skippers on Serenity and Glad Tidings are getting so much support.

  3. John Spence March 19, 2021 at 1:48 pm - Reply

    This decision by The National Trust is an absolute disgrace. The boats and the wonderful teams involved have been taking parties from Seahouses Harbour for generations experiences we will never forget. The amaizing staff and the educational commentary with incredibly friendlyness. This great service will never be match along with the excitement and anticipation of the trip will be lost.

  4. David March 22, 2021 at 1:54 am - Reply

    This seems very impracticable. Most people book thai trip on the day or perhaps a day before when the weather is (a bit) more predictable. Having to book a week in advance will put many off, as well as the casual day visitors who just turn up and make the trip. This will inevitably leave the NT with less income and visitors. Not sure if this change is COVID related but with limited numbers on the boats, there should be nonissue just like last summer. NT needs to rethink this – they should be encouraging people to enjoy natural habitats like this, not turning them away..

  5. Lynne Ratcliffe March 26, 2021 at 6:51 pm - Reply

    As a direct result of the National Trust decision with regard to the Farnes I will be cancelling my long held membership.
    After a most enjoyable photography trip with Alan in 2019 I had planned and was looking forward to returning this June.
    The NT has lost sight of it’s aims and membership. I hope they have shot themselves in the foot and reverse their decision when they realise that the boat owners will not be held to ransom.
    What a shame future visitors will not be able to experience the spectacle.

  6. Jackie hallam March 26, 2021 at 7:20 pm - Reply

    This is a very bad idea i had personally booked a trip with serenity this year and paid a deposit on accommodation now i have lost the trip £70 deposit and the chance to see the wonderful puffins and sea birds. My thoughts are with all involved who will loose business by this bad choice by the national trust I definitely will not join now and they deserve to loose membership because of this.

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