The Caves and Bistro, 16th Oct 2011

The grey autumn weather was almost enough to keep me in bed this weekend but after considering that I’ll be missing a few trips I though it would be worth a shot. 7:30am at the club hut seemed reasonable and having loaded tanks we were soon away to pick up the Crieff diving contingent and set off along Loch Earn to the West coast.

The plan today was to see if we could get a parking space at ‘The Caves’ which we duly did and were soon abseiling down the culvert to enter the water. With an early morning low tide the water level seemed low today but this gave access to sand on which to get the fins on before final buddy checks and away off down the steep gravel slope to reach a mud bottom in darkness. ‘The Caves’ is like that , often dark but with a variety of life that is assured to give an entertaining dive. I had wanted to revisit the Fireworks anenomies that we found here last time and sure enough they we there maybe half a dozen in one small area, with hearts of blue and green and tentacles curling to the touch. Stunning.

I’d have surfaced happy but todays we were blessed. Traversing the slope we started to see Nephrops and had we been so inclined, could have collected enough for a barbecue, but not today! As we were watching one such prawn my torch picked up a small cuttlefish swimming about a meter off the bottom, it’s curiosity matched only by our own. Three ‘uncommon’ sighting in ten minutes, amazing!

Continuing down the Loch we reached the boulders in 3-4m vis and watched Peacock Worms retract and sea squirts and anenomies shrink as our passage disturbed them. Taking care of the fishing line hanging off the rocks (a disgusting amounts) we reached the pinnacles before slowly finning back to the entry point, over plumose anenomies crowning the apex of the rocks and enormous crabs and numerous lobsters as well as several varieties of wrasse, cod and shinnies. Eventually we found the gravel slope again and slowly ascended doing our statutory 3 minute safety stop before surfacing at the entry point and hauling ourselves up the culvert.

Hamish was right of course, having forgotten to bring my camera on this dive we were assured a memorable one!

Now the serious business of the day was at hand. I’m not a great fan of multiple reversed depth profiles, reduced surface intervals and rapid decompression techniques using mixed gases. It’s all very complicated. Luckily this had nothing to do with finding lunch and we decided that the Bistro, while 30 minutes away was a good option, not only for the burger but also a second dive.

The Loch Fyne Tea rooms proved as convivial as ever and having had a drink and a bite we were ready to get back in the water. A new site for Bethan so she had the honour of demonstrating leading a dive and getting a skill signed off.

We entered at the fish farm boom and followed the reef clockwise into the bay taking a bearing to the car park as we turned the corner. Some excellent life today, a couple of really large congers towards the point and an equally admirable lobster which was left for future visitors to admire (and not take). Another cracking dive, this one in much better light.

A quick change and a visit to Inverary where a pleasant half hour was spent in the George.