Scenic diving in this part of the West Coast of Scotland reveals a world of reefs, seamounts (pinnacles) and gullies, like an underwater mountain range. The variety of marine life in the accessible Firth of Lorn Special Area of Conservation is second only to St. Kilda. Some of the diving highlights are detailed below.
Eagle’s Wall is so-called because a family of Golden Eagles are often seen in this area. The wall drops vertically from the surface to some 20 metres, and has a profuse covering of Allaria, kelp and anemones. Shoals of pollock are to be seen ghosting their way through the kelp. Below this first wall you come to a rich boulder slope where unusually large numbers of curious Cuckoo, Ballan and Goldsinny Wrasse can be seen. Sometimes Angler fish and Ling are found amongst the boulders. Below this is a sheer drop from around 30 to 40 metres. In places, huge chunks are falling out of the wall, forming narrow gullies, which it is possible to swim through with care.
At ‘The Slippers’ there is an impressive vertical wall, overhung in places to 40 metres plus. Hitting the water you encounter a forest of kelp. Below this are jewel anemones, deed mans fingers and a variety of hydroids and sponges. At around 28 metres, on the underside of overhangs, the very rare, pink soft coral, Alcyonium hibernicum is found. At around 40 metres and deeper the wall is undercut. Lobsters, ling and a whole variety of life are to be found in these impressive cracks.
Jeannies Reef, an offshore pinnacle, is a dive that involves descending a shot-line to around 17 metres. You then come to a sheer wall, with big patches of the very colourful ‘red man’s fingers’. There is an unusual range of species found on this site, and it is a great place for underwater photography. The site must be dived at slack water.
DF1 is another offshore sea-mount with a shallow top covered in healthy kelp. As you descend through fields of plumose and jewel anemones growing on the edges of rocks, it is not unusual to encounter shoals of pollock, mackerel and sand eels. Most of these pinnacles need to be dived at slack water, and this is no exception. It is a feature of the tides in this area that slack water on sites quite close to one another may be as much as two or three hours apart.
The Torran Rocks are situated at the south-west end of the Isle of Mull. Due to their remote location it is a difficult area for most boats to access, but in the right conditions diving here is superb. It is partly because of the Torrans that we decided to invest in the most powerful charter boat in Scotland, based on the very stable Revenge hull. Revenge’s have earned a reputation as very seaworthy boats, working around the Torrans as fishing boats. The area is exposed to the full force of the Atlantic swells, and for this reason is only diveable in settled weather. Because of this degree of exposure the area is exceptionally rich in species such as hydroids and jewel anemones. The water clarity can be such that we have been able to see the surface from nearly 40 metres depth. The reefs in this area are often rounded, but are latticed with gullies. The fish life on these sea mounts is exceptional.
One of the most infamous dives in Britain is the Corryvreckan Pinnacle. Much of the water which flows in and out of the Sound of Jura flows the through the Corryvreckan. This narrow channel is over 200 metres deep. Running from the shore of Scarba, on the north side of the channel is a ridge of rock which comes out around 270 metres from the shore. Its top is in about 30 metres. The force of water pouring over and around the end of this pinnacle, and falling in to the 200 metre deep hole creates an impressive area of overfalls; one of the largest whirlpools in the world. Slack water in the area is at best a fleeting affair, and within minutes powerful downcurrents are found on all sides of the pinnacle. This is a dive that should only be considered by those divers who have a great deal of experience in this type of diving, and are exceptionally fit and dived up. It is the type of dive that requires a rigorous programme of training before even considering its undertaking. A few years ago there was a television programme featuring a dive on the Corryvreckan pinnacle, called Maelstrom. It has since renamed Twister for the American market and is still shown occasionally on the Discovery channel. David filmed the underwater footage for this programme.
To see details of some of our dive sites, click on the links below.