Contingency trips after Bell Rock cancellation

Unfortunately due to wind and swell the Bell Rock trip was cancelled. Great disappointment really as we are currently experiencing the best weather of the summer. Still the swell off the East coast would have been horrific and bouncing around in a boat for an hour and then getting the washing machine treatment at the rock would have been unpleasant if not outright dangerous. So a safety call was made by the boat skipper and the trip was cancelled and will hopefully be rearrange for later both weather and boat permitting.

So what did we do? Well the A-team went of to Oban and filled Alan’s boat and taking advantage of flat calm motored up the Sound of Mull and dived the Thesis. A good dive was reported. (If details emerge I’ll post them here later). Paul and I were still keen to get out regardless of boat space availability and decided that a bit of shore diving was the easy option. We made an early start to drive across to Loch Leven and visit the Slates for a bit of training and depth progression. Always an easy option and with the high light conditions promising to be full of interesting beasties to see.

For the first dive was off the Slates we got a wee bit of depth and explored the base of the slope, racking up a reasonable decompression penalty in the process. This also gave me the chance to get some use out of my twin set under Paul’s watchful gaze.

Several large dragonettes were scurrying along the bottom of the reef and off course the proverbial sealoch anenomies.

On the way up we came across this guy, the common ling, just a small chap but quite friendly.

For lunch we popped into Ballachulish and foraged for sandwiches which we ate slightly further along the road on the shore below Manse point which was our second dive. To access this site you pull off the road between a break in the crash barrier where very easy access down a landrover track leads to the water in 100 yards or so. This site is a series of small reefs, glaciated slabs, gently dropping down towards the middle of the loch. There are reports of currents if you stray to far out but we didn’t experience anything other than a gently eddy that brought us back to where we stated. With the incoming tide we had very good viz enabling Paul was doing his photography thing with some success.

There was some good life and a few small scallops to see on a sandy and rock bottom and on the numerous small reefs

further out brittlestars took over.

Brilliant navigation brought us back to the exact spot where we had entered. Not sure thought if this was skill or just pure luck (neither of us had a compass!)

The day was not over and the final dive of the day was a kit wash in the river Orchy. There are a couple of sites in the river, the one we chose was Easan Dubha and not the one more commonly dived site further down the glen at Eas Urchaidh.

An easy entry down slabs got us into a tail pool where the vis was initially good but with depth the light rapidly disappeared as we encountered the strong tea conditions of peat laden water.

The dive is linking four swirl holes with a maximum depths of 7m in the second hole. To join the holes you have to climb through the current before peering over the edge and dragging yourself down into the slack, dark water. Quite an experience but safe enough (honest). In the second pool we were circled by trout and salmon (no goody bags allowed!) an awesome sight. Getting into the third hole was perhaps the harder ‘climb’ but after that we swam easily up to the base of the waterfall where we could sit immediately below the water as if gushed into the pool (check out the video, it’s amazing).

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With not many bar left in the tanks it was time to surface and a last chance for fun, the drift, where you float back just in the current getting sucked over the pool junctions to be deposited back were we started far to quickly. An amazing dive and highly recommended in the appropriate water conditions, may be washing my kit more often now !

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