The British coastline has thousands of historical shipwrecks to discover, you may encounter playful seals or experience beautiful drifts through glorious underwater scenery full of soft corals and plentiful marine life. Always go well prepared and do the research required. One of the biggest factors to take into consideration are the huge tidal variations. Visibility can be very good but it can also be fairly diabolical – like the weather we cannot control that element.
With so many sites to dive all around the country we have chosen some examples of what you might experience.
Scapa Flow, Orkney Islands, Scotland
Scapa Flow is a natural harbour providing shelter to the worse of the weather and one of the hotspots for UK diving. It is visited by divers from all over the world who want to explore the sunken World War 1 battleships of the German fleet – puposefully scuttled under command of the German admiralty in 1919 to avoid surrendering the ships to the British.
It was not only the German fleet that lost ships in Scapa Flow – there were successful German U Boat raids in World War II with the loss of many British lives and as a result the British also scuttled vessels to prevent further submarine attack. One example is the blockship Tabarka, a 2000t steamer built 1909 with boilers and reciprocating gear intact. It is covered inside with marine life, anemones, lobsters, starfish, urchins and wrasse. This is an easy penetration dive with the hull very open and many access points, light streams in and is a wonderful dive
The video below from Diverstime shows what wreck diving at Scapa Flow is like.
The Hispania, Sound of Mull, Scotland
There are many wrecks off Mull but it is perhaps the Hispania which is the most famous.
The Hispania was built in 1912 in Belgium and traded for 32 years until 1954. Whilst passing up the west coast of Scotland on a voyage from Liverpool to Gothenburg she attempted to navigate through the narrow stretch of treacherous water that separates the island of Mull from the mainland, the Sound of Mull. A fierce winter storm of driving wind, rain and sleet had reduced visibility practically to nil and in these atrocious conditions she ran onto a notorious reef, the Sgeir More or Big Rock where she stuck fast.
Strong currents provide excellent visibility and there is loads of life on every inch of the wreck. This is still a very intact wreck and the superstructure can be explored as though you’re walking down the corridors (assuming you and your rig are small enough). The Hispania had a weather deck so there are interesting overhangs in the holds and some swim throughs for the more confident diver.
Here is a quote from a divers recent experiences of the Hispania:
‘I’ve been diving for a few years in various parts of the world and if you don’t mind the cold then you could do much worse than dive the wrecks of the Sound of Mull on the west coast of Scotland. There are lots of dive operators and lots of dives for people of various experience. Lots of wrecks: The Hispania, Thesis, Shuna and Rondo just to name a few. The best part is even if you’re not into wreck penetration the life on the wrecks is just as worthwhile.’
The video from scubadooby shows the action from the Hispania
The Persier, Eddystone Reef, Plymouth, England
8m – 50m
Eddystone Reef lies several miles offshore from Plymouth and is a series of pinnacles, ledges and gullies. The viz here is usually over 15m and can be 25m. This area is covered in life with sea fans, jewel anemones, dead men’s fingers and plumose anemones and it was here that the Persier ran into some unwanted attention.
The Persier was a 5000 ton British merchantman, built in Newcastle in 1919 and then sold to Belgium shortly after. She traded all over the world, and even took part at Dunkirk in 1940. She nearly sank while on convoy duty from America to Britain in 1941. She remainded stranded off Iceland for over a year until she was towed back to Britain to be repaired. In 1945 she set off from Cardiff on convoy duty. Off Eddystone she met her nemesis from a couple of torpedoes from UB-1017.
From Plymouth you can also dive at Scylla and Hands Deeps Reef. The video from inspodiver shows a dive on the Persier.
The Farne Islands, Northumberland, England
Moving on to the north east coast of England you can find one of the best places to dive with friendly seals. The Farne Islands residents may not be quite the same as dolphins and the water may not be quite as blue or warm but it is an unforgettable experience as this lucky person recounted from a recent visit to Knivestone – the furthest of the Farne Island pinnacles
‘At the end of my right leg there was a plump young seal chewing thoughtfully on my lime green Mares Planar’.
The video from carlrachelboslem shows the action.
Amazing and exhilarating no doubt – we shall continue with this theme of where to go diving – perhaps its time for some warmer waters!