Hidden treasure: Scuba diving in the UK and Ireland
The United Kingdom is composed of islands that are located to the north western side of the European mainland. Ireland is on its own island which contains two distinct states; Northern Ireland and Republic of Ireland. The other island is split three ways between three countries; England, Scotland, Wales. Being islands these nations have about 24,000 kilometers of coastline between them. As a matter of fact, in the United Kingdom and Ireland you’ll never be more than 120 kilometers from the ocean at any point. This coastline is a mixture of the entire range of varied coastlines one can see; from rocky outcrops to sandy beaches and cliffs, the United Kingdom and Ireland have it all.
As would be expected this has bred a very healthy local diving population, so you will have local knowledge to guide you. Diving boats are also easily available and will provide adequate services for anyone and any type of equipment that they are carrying. For advanced divers it is useful to know that diver hoists for eased entry and exits have increasingly been used on these boats. These areas are located between latitude 50o and 58o north. This means that the water will always be cold or cool for most of the year. Divers are therefore advised to use exposure protection when diving at all times.
Why scuba dive in UK and Ireland?
While these nations may not be what come to mind when thinking of scuba diving, they will definitely surprise you with the wonderful destinations that they provide. As one of the first seafaring nations these waters have seen a lot of marine activity some of which is still holds at its bottom. There is a rich heritage of wrecks, an immense tidal range, and a beautiful wealth of flora and fauna for the diver to enjoy. The wealth of coast means that there are dive locations for all kinds of divers from novices to advanced divers. Scuba diving in the United Kingdom and Ireland provides a beautiful experience for any diver. Additionally, the range of different dives and dive difficulties means that even an experienced diver can learn from this area.
Hot Dive Spots in the UK and Ireland
The extensive coastline is not the only diving location available, there are multiple inland locations that divers may want to check out. Some of the most popular diving locations are:
– At the northern tip of Scotland there is a scuttled fleet of warships that dates back to the First World War
– Farne Islands at the northeastern side of England is a great location for seals
– Skomer island has a seal sanctuary; it is located to the southwest of Wales
– Western side of Ireland has a lot of bays that each have their predominant attraction; some have dolphins, others have anemones and other marine biota
– Southwestern side of England has warmer waters which is the perfect location to see basking sharks and seahorses
– The south and southeastern coasts of England have a rich wealth of wrecks and there are locations that offer drift diving for experienced divers.
Scapa Flow on the Orkney Islands
Off of Northern Scotland’s coast, in Scapa Flow on the Orkney Islands, there is a German fleet that was scuttled and sunk in 1919. There are a good number of the original sunken 52 ships that are still in this watery graveyard. This site is excellent for diving and provides a good window into naval technology at the turn of the century. There is a dive spot titled the big seven that everyone should see. It contains three battleships and four cruisers, all of German make. The Karlsruhe is a 6000 tonne cruiser that is shallow enough for novice divers while the Markgraf battleship is deep enough to make an excellent dive for advanced divers.
Expect to see
The diving sites in the UK and Ireland provide a wealth of marine sights for the diver to see. This is because there is a wealth of marine vessel wreck sites to visit. On the fauna side, there are basking sharks, seahorses, seals, dolphins, anemones, and more.
The period between June and September makes the best time for diving unless you are well trained an experienced in handling cold water.