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<font color='#0000FF'>Now here’s a question for you……

What’s 1+1?

Nah, only kidding! Four hours of travel, would you do it for a dive site? No? How about for a long four day weekend? Maybe?

Well, consider this. I recently made the utmost sacrifice and drove all the way from Edinburgh to Ullapool (NW and into the Highlands) for four days of Easter diving, promising more excitement than £500 could get me in one night……..

Ahem…. I’m married y’know.

Well seriously, my target was the Summer Isles which to all accounts has some of the clearest, most spectacular diving imaginable to the human brain….. “Well, I’m well travelled and been to …. Lala la la lala la…” Who cares? This is on the bloody doorstep and less than an eight hour flight away… (yeah, so I’m green still but…)

Back to the point. Arriving at Glendhu (http://www.glendhu.co.uk) we were greeted by Iris, the owner of our B&B (in my case, Beer & Bed) facilities, only to find out we were the only ones there so far. A few quick calls and I’m ready for a bite to eat and a quick beer.

Now living in a lovely, lively cosmopolitan city such as Edinburgh has lead my expectancy of several things to be the norm for the world – cash machines everywhere, three HMV’s within walking distance and pubs open at 3am. So imagine my dismay at 22:30 finding that the only restaurant open is an Indian and the pubs close in 30 minutes…….

Strangely enough, I’m nicely refreshed for my first days diving.

After a hearty breakfast, we set about the task of getting the club RIB into the water – not an easy job as the boat and trailer are almost as wide as the road and the “car” being used is slightly sizeable. So feeling fully energised after the morn’s feast, four of us decide to unhook the trailer and move the lot by hand…..

Now, has anyone tried to hold a runaway trailer with a 10 grand RIB, your only transport for the weekend, as it fast heads down a slope towards a parked boat? No? Well, all I can say is that I am now so glad that the tide has a tendency to deposit rubbish, debris and in this case, about a foot thick pile of seaweed at the high tide…

So one close call later and we are steaming out of Ullapool towards our first target – Priest Island. 17m down we’ve got a good 10-12m of viz, my best for the year so far. We head out over the rocks and around large boulders to follow a series of pleasant gullies, coated in corals, anemonies and urchins. Abbs has a rival…..

After mooring up on what seemed like our own personal island for lunch, we set out for target number two – the Boston Stirling. Now I don’t know much about the wreck other than it’s easy to find at high tide, but safer at low tide as the bow sticks out of the water. Well, we moor up a little way off and, feeling cocky, drop in and compass over. 100m later I arrive bang on amidships. The viz wasn’t the best (5-8m) but this small wreck can be easily lapped  due to it’s small size.

The wreck lies on its starboard side with the bow +4m to zero and the stern at 10m. Passing down the deck there’s a mast rising diagonally upwards, home to dead mens fingers and plumose anemonies. Ropes still dangle down to provide another habitat. Reaching the stern there’s the rudder and amazingly, the large prop is still in position if half buried. Following down the keel you can look through the odd hole but there’s not much to see. As the seabed changes from coarse sand to rock you can see the indentations and scars from running aground. This also provides a perfect hiding place for crabs and lobbies.

The lower section of the bow is ripped wide open and you can see into the ship. The same is true for the forward hold but it’s not penetration territory due to lots of sharp twisted metal, hanging lines and cables.

Day two brings the most anticipated dive of the trip, the ex-fishing vessel Fairweather V (have you seen and downloaded the petition yet?). I think it was the late 80’s the boat went down after striking the mainland due to a faulty navigation computer. A buoy attached to the bow mast marks the wreck.

Descending down the shot line I’m initially disappointed due to the fact everything is green and it looks like we can see nothing – this soon changes as a dark shape looms out against the green light. After a quick OK check we head over the handrail down the side of the ship to the seabed at 29.3m. Here the red anti-fouling paint is still very much in existence and there’s little to see other than the odd rope hanging down from above. There is however the massive rudder and four-blade variable pitch prop that is well worth a look for the sheer serenic beauty.

We head up the stern to about half way up and continue the lap. This is the area of the ship which would have been above the waterline and is far more densely colonised. Passing back to the starboard side I spy a doorway into the ship (I’m later reliably informed that this is a wreck penetrators dream as you enter here, can look in the toilet and squeeze all the way through to the fish factory and out at the bow) but don’t go in. The stern still shows all the paraphernalia associated with a fishing vessel including winches and netting.

Next up comes the wheelhouse. It’s in an amazing condition and you can enter through an open door. There’s so little silt its unbelievable, you can even see which way one of the open junction boxes is wired up! Forward of this we investigate a hatch leading down to the fish factory (this is where you come out) and I spy a massive ballan wrasse idly passing by – a subtle irony that a fishing vessel is now home to so many fish! Oh if only I had more time……

We head off to Horse Island for dive four of the weekend for a bit of scallop hunting – a good test of buoyancy skills! Twenty minutes of intense concentration, changes of direction and maintaining buoyancy soon test your dive skills, The hunt is fairly unsuccessful and our prey are returned to the sea.

Day three lands us at Fox Point and I discover what it’s like to dive with an enthusiastic camera fan. We head along a series of small rocky reefs hunting nudibranch, edible crabs, prawns (!!) and even the odd whelk. After 20 minutes of hardly moving I’m getting cold and considering setting up a charitable fund for the Prevention of Incurred Blindness in Aquatic Lifeforms. Another 20 minutes pass uneventfully and I give up and bag off (best not say that one in Hull, you might get funny looks) and head up, swearing never to dive if there’s a camera in sight…..

Sorry Fi.

The next dive is the famous Conservation (also called Cathedral) Cave. It’s an amazing site and would be a marine biologists dream due to the entire inner surface being coated in jewel and dahlia anemonies of all shapes sizes and colours. We’d slightly misjudged the tide and there’s a fair about of surge. At one point I’m looking straight at my buddy and the world goes sideways! We decide to head out rather that damage this amazing site.

The final day consists of another dip on the Fairweather V. This time the follow up is Cuckoo Point – an amazing wall dive where you can choose any depth from 6-55m and not be disappointed. The entire wall face is covered in shelves and cracks were you can find wrasse, Pollock, lobsters, crabs and more.

After four days, I want to stay for a week and explore as we’ve hardly scratched the surface and it seems impossible to get a bad dive….

YD trip anyone?

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<font color='#8D38C9'>Kev,

No worries. And the good thing is that some of the liveaboards will pick up from the Clyde and steam up overnight.

As for diving, you could speak nicely to the ScotSAC there....

If not, one of the guys on the trip lives in Inverness - I'll get in touch and see what/who/when he recommends and fire out the info - Hell, I'd go back already!
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