My first visit to Lochaline, and indeed to Scotland, was in August 2011. The drive to Lochaline puts you in holiday mood even before the diving commences! With my club (BSAC Slough 491) we dived a variety of wrecks including Shuna, Rondo, Thesis, Breda, Meldon, Hispania, and Swan. We also included a scallop dive and other scenic dives.
From the start it was apparent that Scottish diving was going to be rather special. I found a beautiful nudibranch (janolus), the first of many.
Other fauna is plentiful and varied. The wrecks are suitable for all grades of diver, ranging from about 15- 30m.
My second visit was in August 2013. On this occasion we had the use of the super fast Fyne Pioneer RIB which gave us access to more distant sites, whilst being able to return to base between dives.
The undisputed highlight of this trip was when basking sharks were sighted enroute to the Tapti wreck near the island of Coll. We slipped into the water with mask, snorkels and fins. Within a few minutes there were 14 huge sharks around us, jaws gaping!
All thoughts of wrecks disappeared, as we enjoyed a truly magical experience.
One very special dive happened as a result of personal misfortune. My drysuit zip failed after the morning dive, so I missed the afternoon dive. I had a spare drysuit with me, so our skipper Simon invited me to do an evening dive with him on the wall by the Lochaline Hotel. We entered at 10pm in almost complete darkness and descended to about 18m. The wall was alive with squat lobsters, nudibranchs and other hunting creatures. It was inky black, but a fabulous dive – thanks Simon!
Authour and photographer: Paul Barfoot