Thousands of tourists visit Scotland every year and are entranced by its gorgeous scenery and unique wildlife. But there’s a completely different aspect of Scotland that’s waiting to be explored – one that most tourists never get to see and perhaps hardly spare a thought for.
The waters off Scotland’s coasts not only teem with wildlife but are the final resting place of many ships, and even aircraft, which have been lost in both peace and war around the deceptively peaceful watery fringes of this lovely country.
Wreck diving is, of course, not an activity to be undertaken lightly and even the most straightforward dives require careful planning, the right equipment from a specialist supplier such as http://www.wetsuitoutlet.co.uk/ who can provide other accessories such as torches, and a degree of expertise which requires knowledge, experience and, in many cases, expert local guidance.
While the wrecks scattered around Scotland’s coast are too numerous to list, let alone describe in detail, here are three examples which give a flavour of the wonders to be found only a few metres below the surface.
The tanker San Tiburcio was lost in the Moray Firth in 1940 after striking a mine and sinking in around 30 metres of water. Despite some naval salvage work, the wreck is largely recognisable with some details such as the bath in the captain’s cabin miraculously well preserved. Visibility in the area is generally very good at around 10 metres and wildlife is abundant with seals and even dolphins not uncommon. Due to its size and detail, San Tiburcio is best explored in two stages and would make an excellent excursion for a diving group or club.
Fairweather V was a modern stern trawler which was left Ullapool in February 1991 for a routine fishing run, when she hit rocks at the mouth of Loch Broom. The crew were rescued in the nick of time with the skipper last to leave as his ship sank from under him. The wreck lies in around 20 metres and is virtually intact with many personal effects and details still visible. With no strong currents, clear visibility and the main body of the wreck at a depth which requires little decompression, this is a dive even novices can enjoy, with suitable expert guidance. As a bonus, the wreck of the Innisjura which, exactly 70 years earlier, hit the same rocks which claimed Fairweather lies nearby.
The jewel in the crown for Scottish wreck sites has to be Scapa Flow. Most famously the graveyard of the German WWI battlefleet, but with other lesser known wrecks in the area too, Scapa has been a mecca for experienced divers for many years. Some wrecks are remarkably accessible – the cruiser Karlsruhe lies at a minimum depth of 12 metres, for example, and while she is quite broken apart, this gives access to the internals of the ship which make for a really interesting dive. For these chilly northern waters, many experienced divers prefer to use drysuits rather than wetsuits for better thermal protection.
Wreck diving is, of course, a skilled activity but with the right equipment, experience and local guidance, a wetsuit or drysuit can open up a fascinating alternative view on the scenic possibilities Scotland has to offer.