Craggy Island Dreaming

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The thing about my job is, I meet all sorts of divers. Professional divers, semi-professional divers, journalists, instructors, divemasters, club divers, tekkies, student divers, pleasure divers, cocktail divers, wannabe professional divers, divers of all agencies from BSAC to SSI. All of these divers have their place. It’s an all-inclusive game. But, if there’s one thing that gets my goat, it’s divers who put down the diving they know nothing about.

I was working recently when someone came swaggering into the dive centre. He wanted a pair of fins for his girlfriend (who I presume was the apologetic looking girl with him). No problem – he’s in the right place. Having walked the girlfriend (who wasn’t, it appeared, allowed to speak for herself) through the various pro’s and con’s of the differing fins designs I asked what size she may need as, if buying to also fit on the boot of a drysuit, the fin would need to be sufficiently big to comfortably fit around a dry suit boot. With that our resident ‘expert’ (the boyfriend) said with no hint of irony “don’t be stupid, we’re not going to dive in the UK, we’re not idiots…”. In one sentence he’d managed to tell me everything about him as a diver and as a person. What a knob-jockey.

I’ve been lucky enough to dive from Australia in the South to Scapa Flow in the North and I’m here to tell you that some of the best diving experiences I’ve ever had have been in UK waters. And here’s exhibit A.

Lundy Island lies approximately 12-13 miles off the west coast of the county of Devon, near Ilfracombe. It’s a small island that always reminds me of Craggy Island from the TV Show Father Ted. A craggy piece of rock protruding out of the Bristol Channel. It has a population of about 30 people (give or take) and, at the time I was there, was a truly beautiful place to stay. On the island is a fill station, accommodation and camping areas, a pub (big box ticked for many reading this) and a shop selling a few supplies. That’s it. That’s all you need.

The island is less that 2 square miles in size but quite mountainous. This has some benefits; stunning views, shelter on the lee of the island meaning there is always somewhere to dive. And some drawbacks; it’s a pain in the a*se climbing up the hill every night to get to your accommodation or to the pub.

The best access for diving there is to actually live on the island and use one of the local charters to take you to the best places. The charter I used was Obsession Charters, who are based in Ilfracombe.

Our skippers were Lee and Stuart who, as well as having lots of local knowledge and advice, were super-helpful with finding the best dive sites to suit our divers and assist with any problems. The boat, Obsession II, was in excellent condition too with easy kitting up and the all important diver lift for those who struggle with ladders.

Skipper Lee in typically cheerful mood.

Skipper Lee in typically cheerful mood.

So what’s the diving like? Excellent. Lundy is a UK dive destination uniquely able to cater for divers of varying levels. Want a little current and to be 30m + down on a wreck with your twins? No problem. Have a chat with Lee and Stuart and they’ll find you somewhere. The Robert, for example, lies in about 25-30m of water and is an excellent wreck to spend some time on. It’s lying on it’s port side like a mini-Scapa wreck and is excellent to bimble around and, on my visit at least, we even had a visit from a cheeky seal!

Conversely, if you’re a dry-suit virgin, don’t worry! There’s lots of secluded bays where the boys can drop you in 5-6m of water to hone your skills away from currents and in the company of playful seals. The best of both worlds.

Me checking out the local Jellyfish

Me checking out the local Jellyfish

Diving there in mid-July the water was around 15c and the visibility >10m. The sea beds were crawling with life – crabs, anemones, rich kelp and playful seals. Colourful jellyfish. If you can spend a few days diving there and not get your fin tips nibbled by seals, you’re doing something wrong! And I can confirm, with my hand on my heart, that after an hour’s dive there in my drysuit I was warmer than an hours dive in the Indian Ocean in my 3mm shortie.

So next time some wet-behind-the-ears cocktail diver tries to tell you that UK diving is for idiots…tell him to go to Lundy.

Lundy Island Summary

Pro’s:

  • Great UK diving: rich kelp, seals, wrecks and gulleys.
  • Great boat and crew with Obsession Charters.
  • Beautiful island to spend the non-diving time on (take note Egypt).
  • Great local food and beers.
  • Island’s shape means if you’re ‘blown out’ one side you can normally still dive the other.

Con’s:

  • UK weather is always a roll of the dice!
  • Climbing the hill to the pub every night was hard work!

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One comment on “Craggy Island Dreaming

  1. Ahahahah! · venerdì, 14 dicembre 2012, 6:24 pmsaranno tutti BRUCIATI DA TORQUEMADA!!Volano i titoli della Beretta, di cui immagino sappiate il più importante azionista è lo Ior, dato che la fonte principale di guadagno dello Stato del Vaticano proviene dalla vendita di armi d’assalto.Rispondi ?????????????????Rispondi ?????????????????Rispondi ?????????????????Rispondi ?????????????????Rispondi ?????????????????Rispondi ?????????????????Rispondi ?????????????????Rispondi ?????????????????Rispondi ?????????????????Rispondi ?????????????????Rispondi ?????????????????Rispondi ?????????????????Rispondi ?????????????????Rispondi ?????????????????Rispondi ?????????????????AHAHAHAHAHAHAHAH!!!!!!!!!Rispondi ?????????????????Rispondi ?????????????????Rispondi ?????????????????Rispondi ?????????????????Rispondi ????????????????? ahahahahahaha!!!EVVIVA TO!!!EMADA!!R!!!!!!!!Q!!!!U!!!!!!!!evviva!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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