Scuba Diving in the UK

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Scuba Diving Locations - Scuba Diving in the UK
Sunday, 04 April 2010 02:32
When people generally think about wonderful scuba diving opportunities, they do not usually think of the waters of the UK as containing the optimum diving conditions. However, they would be wrong in this assumption. One thing you may not know about the waters off the British shore is that they contain more shipwrecks than any other single area on the globe. These wrecks offer divers the chance to travel through the layers of time as they dive through the waters to look at the sunken bulkhead of a ship that has lain undisturbed on the ocean floor for years.

There is also a large variety of these wrecks as they go the course of everything from older ships that sank due to weather conditions or collisions as well as a number of those (estimates range upward of seven thousand) that were sank during World War One and World War Two. The dark beauty of many of these wrecks is enhanced tremendously by the large variety of marine life that has manifested on the ships remains over the years.

Even if shipwrecks are not particularly the thing you most enjoy about scuba diving, then you at least need to try diving in the UK simply to explore their vast numbers of cavern systems that can be found in these mysterious waters. There are also a number of rocky chimneys, cold water reefs, and deep wall dives that can also be enjoyed by divers who are looking for something different and spectacular.

Divers do need to realise, however, that when they choose to scuba dive in the UK, they will be doing so in cold waters. Many times people overlook this simple consideration, but it can truly make all the difference when you are putting together your diving information. You will need to make sure that your equipment is intended for cold water dives and that it is capable of insulating your body properly. There is also a psychological factor that can affect a good dive so you'll need to make sure that you are up for the challenge and that you understand cold water dives can affect your perception of the dive if you are at all uncomfortable. Also, hypothermia is a very real factor so make sure that your dive team is well trained in knowing how to recognise and deal with the dangers of hypothermia.

Shipwrecks in the UK

There are a great many different shipwrecks that you can explore in the UK region. Among these is the Ardlough, which sank in 1988 off North Wales. The Ardlough was a cargo ship and has a plentiful bounty of fish activity and interesting diving.

Branksome Chine sank in Sussex in 1915 and is now nestled in a sandy bed. There are some pottery artefacts that can be found with the wreck as well.

The Cairnross is a steamship that can be found in Liverpool Bay and sank in 1940 when she hit a mine just outside of the bay. The wreckage is spread out over a large area, but much of it is buried in sand. However, the boiler engines are still visible and it makes for an interesting piece of history.

Another wreck in Liverpool Bay that is interesting to swim through is the Calcium. This ship sank in 1940 also after striking a mine. The ship's hull is upside down, but there is a hole in the side which allows you access to swim through if you so choose.

The Hellopes was a steamship which sank in Cornwall in 1911. The wreck can be found on its side lying on a bed of shells and is in relatively good condition with little break up and that makes for an interesting dive.

Loanda sank in 1908 in Kent after colliding with the Junona. There are some bottles of champagne, gin and rum lying around the wreck, but if you happen to take one then you should take care not to try and drink any of the contents as they are not suitable for drinking.

MV Murree sank in the English Channel in 1989 due to weather conditions. The dive is supposed to be a good one is there are a lot of interesting finds around the wreckage as well as some larger fish, but be careful as you should probably only dive when the sea is completely calm. You also have to be careful and use a diver's flag as the ship is lying in the middle of heavy cargo traffic.

Best Times to Dive in the UK

The best time of the year to go diving in the UK varies depending on what you are looking for. There are some divers that will venture into the waters all year long. They can do this by utilising many of the inland diving sites, but it is not recommended. The best time of year to dive in the UK is in the summer months, from May to October. The main reason for doing a dive during this time of year is the fact that the waters are extraordinarily cold in the winter and can lead to even further complications that might exist because of hypothermia.

Notable Dive Spots in the UK

There are several notable dive sites in the UK, and they range in both type and location. One of these that are well known for its list of underwater attractions for divers is the Overhead Quarry in Lancashire. The main problem that many divers have in the quarry is that it is it can be quite murky, but there are many on site aides that can assist you in the dive. If you want another excellent diving location without many of the services or safety equipment then you should look into Dorothea Quarry. For a quarry dive that is a little bit more difficult to get to but has crystal clear water then you should look into Hodge Close Quarry.

Perhaps one of the best known dive locations that are located inland is the Stoney Cove in Leicester. This site has just about everything that you could want to assist you in attaining the perfect dive and state of the art diving luxuries, including changing rooms that are heated so that you don't have to be uncomfortable while you get in and out of your suit.

If you're looking to get out on the coast, then scuba diving in Cornwall might be for you. Warmed by the Gulf Stream, Cornwall enjoys some of the warmest coastal waters on the UK mainland and boasts visibility between 15m-30m. In Cornwall you can also see Dolphins, Turtles, Seals and Ocean Sunfish.

Marine Life in the UK

Despite what you may have been told about marine life in cold water diving, there are still quite a few excellent specimens that you should be able to see while diving in the UK. These include the snakelock and plumrose anemone, spider crabs, velvet swimming crabs, sunstars, starfish, cuckoo wrasse, ballan wrasse, dead men's fingers, conger eels, and even lesser spotted dogfish.

UK Diving Fact Sheet

Average Air Temperature: 9C - 14C

Average Water Temperature: 0C - 10C

Recommended Exposure Protection: You will need a dry suit in order to make sure that you can withstand the temperature lows. If you're brave you can use a semi-dry suit in the warmer months of the summer, but it is not recommended otherwise.

Average Visibility: The visibility in the UK diving spots is not as wide as it is in many of the major diving areas of the Mediterranean and the Caribbean and one can generally only see about two to twenty five meters.

Coldest Times: November - March

Warmest Times: June - October

Best Times to Dive: The best months to dive in the UK are June and July as the water is at its warmest during this time and it is at the beginning of the diving season, so the crowds aren't likely to be as big as they will be around August.

Worst Times to Dive: The winter months from the end of October up until the beginning of March are very hard on inexperienced cold water divers.