Conservation Bay: Beautiful dive site location past the town with a pebble beach and scenic views of the rocky Cuillins on the Isle of Skype. It was definitely clear the impact conserving this bay was having on the environment. We headed left and followed a wall round until we reached the memorial placks. We were uneasy on this dive because even though the current was little we were swimming with it, not against it, so were very aware we had to turn round in plenty of time. The crabs were huge!! And the fish were very inquisitive. If this is promise for the rest of the weekends diving I cannot wait for tomorrow.
Applecross Peninsula in Wester Ross sounds like somewhere in Game of Thrones. Bealach na Bà, is the name of the historic mountain pass to Applecross which compasses tremendously steep terrain and tight hairpin bends on a single track road. It is the third highest road in Scotland and not to be missed. We left around 4pm and headed to Loch Torridon via the Applecross route which had beautiful wild scenery and not as bad as everyone makes out (although these people were on motorbikes or in a campervan). It climbs 800m up a mountain, which is perhaps not what we should have done after a dive but deemed it Ok after our shallow dive and long surface interval at the seafood restaurant.
The ridge of the Cullin mountains – Isle of Skye
Loch Torridon was obviously the first rainy patch we hit all day but the weather did clear up in time for a beautiful sunset over the loch surrounded by limestone mountains. We sat and watched it in Ferroch Guest House, midge-free, with a bottle of red Malbec wine. Chef Andy was on the case, making us the biggest pot of spicy, green olive spaghetti.
The dive site on Loch Torridon is a gem hidden away with another beautiful mountain pass which may actually be steeper than Bealach na Bá. We actually managed to complete 2 dive sites: Lower Diabaig Wall and Lower Diabaig Pier. We started of on a gradual slope of bright green seaweed. When we reached ~10m the slope dropped of steeply and we ventured down to 34m. We realised that there probably wasn’t anything different deeper so slowly ascended back up the slope. This was my favourite dive of the weekend because of the diversity of life in the shallow water near the pier of this bay. THREE dogfish, countless lobsters and the biggest edible crabs you have ever seen. The only other dogfish I had seen in Scotland was in Dunstaffnage Bay on the National Facility for Scientific Diving course. These dogfish were not scared in the slightest and I managed to get some amazing GoPro footage, especially amongst the shallow kelp.
We had a seafood lunch and post-dive-beer at Gille Brighde Cafe & Restaurant which was superb. Food for thought: If more of us valued food and cheer above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world. J.R.R Tolkien (1892 – 1973)
On the way home we stopped by Loch Carron and went for a dive called North Strome. Andy and I were a little nervous for this dive because of the vivid description on Finstrokes about the current rushing through the narrows like a steam train and today the flood was over 5m high on a spring tide. But the flattened kelp was definitely evidence for this action. We went in just after 1605, which was Low Tide and headed west of the pier. There was only a slight current heading east at this time. We ventured over the kelp and found a sloping sand patch realising we had reached the beach just down from the castle (another possible point of entry). At this point we headed left and over more kelp and reached a wall beautifully, ridden with deadmans fingers, anemones and cushion stars. We even found a lost nephrops on the wall which we laughed afterwards imagining he had ended up there in the intense current and wondered what on earth had happened. The visibility was great but not as good as the dive in conservation bay. After 40 mins we headed back over the kelp and found a very large piece of kelp that felt like wood – Saccorhiza polyschides common name Furbellow. At the end of the dive I was in my happy place sitting on the edge of the pier watching an otter in the middle of the loch catching a fish.
Eilean Donan Castle by Kyle of Lochalsh from the 13th century.
History: The first fortified structure was not built on the island until the early 13th century as a defensive measure, protecting the lands of Kintail against the Vikings who raided, settled and controlled much of the North of Scotland and the Western Isles between 800 and 1266. From the mid 13th century, this area was the quite separate “Sea Kingdom” of the Lord of the Isles where the sea was the main highway and the power of feuding clan chiefs was counted by the number of men and galleys or “birlinns” at their disposal. Eilean Donan offered the perfect defensive position.
On the road snaps!