The Firth of Clyde area in Scotland offers exceptional diving opportunities, particularly to experienced divers looking for challenging cold water dives. An abundance of wildlife, excellent wreck sites and clear waters all mean that diving the Clyde and west of Scotland really does merit the description 'world class diving'.
This is a complex area with several coastlines and several large islands. The Firth of Clyde extending from the Mull of Galloway to the Mull of Kintyre has a great attraction to divers due to it offering one of the greatest concentrations of shipwrecks in UK waters. The Clyde Estuary itself encompasses many sea lochs including Loch Fyne. There are also several islands the, Ailsa Craig, Arran, Little Cumbrae, Great Cumbrae, Bute, Millport, Inchmarnock, Holy Isle and Sands Island, Mull, Tiree, Coll, Colonsay, Gigha, Jura, Islay, all the islands in the Clyde estuary, Firth of Lorne, Loch Linnhe and many smaller islands too numerous to name, all of which only add to the diversity which can be found in this area of West Scotland.
The MRCC (Maritime Rescue Co-ordination Centre) Clyde is based at Greenock approximately 25 miles west of Glasgow. Clyde District has approximately 1,300 miles of coastline, including mainland and islands. The regional area of Clyde MRCC extends to 30 degrees (900 miles) West, an area of some 336,000 square nautical miles. The nearest central Hyperbaric chamber is on Millport Cumbrae and is a category three chamber.
Marine activity within the District covers a very wide spectrum. Clyde Port is an increasingly busy container terminal also catering for passenger cruise liners. Military operations are frequent with both submarine and surface vessels operating out of Faslane and Coulport. There are a few small fishing vessels operating in the area with most of the larger boats operating from Troon, Campbeltown, Tarbert and Mallaig with many others working out of some of the smaller harbours. During the summer months there are many pleasure craft, of all descriptions from canoes to large commercial sailing vessels, in the district. Most of the islands within the district are inhabited with regular ferry services to and from the mainland, most of which are operated by Caledonia MacBrayne. Due to the nature of the coast there are some 40 plus ferry route's in operation for most of the year carrying thousands of cars and passengers both local residents and increasing numbers of visitors each year.
The coastlines varies from rocky headlands to industrial foreshores with Glasgow being a major industrial complex for Scotland. Shallow scenic diving can be found in the sea lochs but this becomes poor in the upper Clyde near Glasgow. Loch Fyne boasts a good selection of sites down vertical walls. The Clyde holds in excess of 1,000 shipwrecks most of which can be found and are sheltered in deep water which leaves these wrecks in good condition, however due to depth the water can be dark.
Some of the best and most commonly dived wrecks include, the Europa, the Catalina ex flying boat, the Wallachia (sank 1895), look out for the beer cargo still intact, the Ovington, the Beagle at Great Cumbrae, the Kintyre, the Akka just off Dunoon, and the Greenock just north and east of Inverkip.
Equipment hire and cylinder filling is available at many places with dive shops and diving centres, local dive clubs and charter vessels at, around or near Largs, Ayr, Irvine, Troon and Glasgow.
Shore dives can be more rewarding than in other parts of the UK due to easy access to deeper water that is close to the shore in many places. There are various coastal and inland lochs allowing easy access to jewel anemones, sea squirts and sponges which can be found carpeting the gullies and walls all make the Firth of Clyde an incredably accessible area for excellent diving. Shore diving from various beaches and rocky headlands can be found where the depth shelves gently or in other cases drops steeply down vertical or overhanging underwater cliffs.
There is an abundance of marine life in the area and you will find many species of anenemones, sea squirts, sponges, nudibranches, fish species including haddock, whiting and flatfish to name but a few, as well as scallops, mussels, velvet crabs, hermit crabs, starfish, crayfish and lobster. There are many sites where you will find individuals or groups of seals and the Firth of Clyde is one of the best places in the world to catch sight of Basking sharks, both the second largest shark and second largest fish species on the planet, they gather in numbers and are sited mainly mid to late summer.
Water temperatures range from 4 celsius, January - March, to around 13 celsius, July - September. A dry suit is required for the majority of the year, although a thick semi dry may be adequate from late spring to autumn.
Tidal currents can be fairly strong so it is advisable to consult tide tables prior to diving. Visibility varies dependant on the time of year and weather, the west of Scotland generally has a reputation for better visibility than the East.
The Scenery in this part of the world is spectaular as Scotland truly is one of the most beautiful countries on Earth, it has a wealth of historical sites, things to do and places to see. The west of Scotland and Clyde area has plenty of things to see and do apart from diving, Sailing, watersports, Horseriding, Climbing, Hiking, Hillwalking, Skiing, Birdwatching, fantastic fishing and of course some of the best golf courses in the world.
There are a plethora of clubs, bars and budget to world class restaraunts, as well as accomodation to suit all budgets and price ranges, in the cities, towns and small coastal towns and villages that dot the area, if you are looking for something more lively then try Glasgow or some of the other larger towns and cities that are all within easy driving distance of the area.
The West of Scotland is accessable Worldwide with the closest airports being at Glasgow and Prestwick with excellent facillities for car hire, taxi, rail and bus services. All other international airports within Scotland are just a few hours drive away.
PADI AOW 0511E81747.