Diving Britain – The North and Scotland

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The northern reaches of Great Britain are home to a fascinating variety of dive locations including offshore islands, the World Heritage site of St Kilda and the Isle of Man. For world-class diving and wildlife experiences for all ages including seals, birdlife and basking sharks look no further.

The average water temperature is 4 °C in April and 14 °C in September. The main diving season is March to October and a drysuit with thermal undersuit are highly recommended. Average dive visibility is 10-30 metres. We recommend divers always carry as DSMB and torch and consider tide tables and local conditions before planning a dive.

Here are some of our top dive sites:

Isle of Man (self-governing)

The Isle of Man is a self-governing island in the Irish Sea with golden beaches, excellent diving and plentiful marine life including seals and basking sharks. There are estimated to be over 1500 shipwrecks in the Isle of Man’s territorial waters and the best diving is found on the south side of the island, including at the Calf of Man Marine Nature Reserve. The Burroo is a popular site at the Calf and lies below a sheer cliff that is home to guillemots and razorbills. This dive site offers a variety of crustaceans, nudibranchs and shoals of pollack. Resident grey seals can also be found at the surface. The tidal range at the island can be up to 8m, making some dives suitable for experienced divers only. However, a highlight of any dive trip during May to July is a day spent with the basking sharks and this is suitable for all abilities.  Try Isle of Man Diving Holidays and Discover Diving.

Farne Islands

The Farne Islands are split into two outcrops lying off the Northumberland coast and are renowned for their shipwrecks and populations of nesting seabirds; including puffins and terns. There are a number of dive sites to explore and a population of 4000-5000 grey seals are resident all year. The Somali, a 6810 tonne passenger-cargo steamer, was sunk in March 1941 after being bombed by a German Heinkel 111 and she is one of the more popular dive sites at 30m depth. There are a variety of wreck, scenic and shore dives for all abilities and also seal diving safaris. Try Farne Islands and Seal Diving Farne Islands.

Sound of Mull   

The Sound of Mull has in excess of 30 shipwrecks to dive, at depths of less than 10m through to 50m depth and beyond. The SS Hispania is a well-known wreck and she is a Swedish merchant vessel that sank in 1954 and remains mostly intact. This is a slack water dive and best explored during the summer months when the Hispania’s variety of marine life is at its peak. There are also underwater cliffs, wall and drift dives on offer at Mull and marine life including pipefish, anemones and nudibranchs. As with the Isle of Man, basking shark trips are offered summer the summer months – during which other Scottish wildlife such as eagles and whales can be seen. Try Lochaline Dive Centre.

St. Kilda

St. Kilda is an archipelago of islands situated 40 miles offshore from the Outer Hebrides and has been awarded World Heritage Status. The water surrounding the islands is known to be exceptionally clear and can be reached by liveaboard boat. St Kilda’s cave and tunnel dive sites are some of the best in Europe and are suitable for experienced divers only. Seals and puffins can be seen diving in the water and Sgarbhstac is a well-known dive site to visit. Try Northern Light or Uist Outdoor Centre.

Scapa Flow

The waters of Scapa at Orkney are surrounded by islands, making it a natural harbour and the former chief base of the Royal Navy. At the end of World War I, the German High Seas Fleet was held at Skapa and was scuttled by the German commander who feared the vessels would be divided up amongst the allies. 52 of the 74 vessels sank and remain there today. These wrecks attract divers from around the world and dive sites are at various depths, making them suitable for novice divers and also more experienced divers looking for deeper dives. The clearest water is during December to March and there are numerous dive operators in the area. For a full list visit Scapa Flow Wrecks.

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About Author

Kathryn has lived in the UK, Egypt, South Africa and New Zealand and is a trained scuba diving instructor and Great White shark safari guide. She is the author of No Damage (December 2014), the Managing Editor of The Scuba News New Zealand, a freelance writer, public speaker and co-founder of the marine conservation cause Friends for Sharks (August 2014). In 2015 she organised and completed a 10-month global speaking tour in aid of shark conservation: 87 events, 8 countries, 7000 people. Learn more about Kathryn’s book, No Damage at: http://www.kathrynhodgsonauthor.com/books/no-damage/

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