The drive north is always spectacular. The green fields of Lancashire give way to the mountain tops of the Lake District which in turn give way to the southern lowlands of Scotland and the Cairngorm National Park. The views from Inverness to Ullapool are equally stunning. A single track road with passing places takes us past Stac Pollaidh and on to our final destination, Port Beag Chalets, Altandhu.
The chalets overlooked a beautiful bay and The Summer Isles. They were well equipped, clean, spacious and above all warm. The downside was it was extremely windy and rather chilly.
We meet our skipper Andy in the pub and agreed to meet at The Old Dornie Pier at 9.30am.
This was the pattern for the rest of the week.
We loaded our kit onto the boat and prepared for our first dive. The vis was a decent 10-15m.
The shock was the water temperature, 8C. It just hadn’t warmed up. We dived every day despite the North westerly wind, squally showers and swell. This was purely down to our skipper, Andy’s skilful handling of his boat, The Lady Nicola. He did say that we were a hardy bunch and just to prove the point, Phil and Tim completed a scallop dive for him.
The diving was mainly a mixture of reefs, walls and boulder fields although for good measure we dived the wrecks of the Fairweather and the Boston Stirling. The Fairweather was a riot of colourful plumose anenomes. The marine life was varied—featherstars, hydroids, bryzoa, starfish, anemones, Devonshire Cup Coral, Ling, wrasse, edible crabs, and for good measure sea hares, nudibrancs, octopus and angler fish. Long clawed squat lobsters were under every boulder and in all the crevices.
We had a great week. With better weather we would have been able to dive the northern and western sides of the islands—a good excuse for a return visit.
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