Arranmore North West Donegal 18th - 25th September 2021
We travelled overnight on the Liverpool to Belfast ferry and then drove to Burtonport, to catch the local ferry to Arranmore. We had booked 3 self-catering houses at The Holiday Village. As the island only has one small shop, we took all food with us. Our skipper Jim Muldowney came down on Saturday evening to meet us.
We arrived at the pier on Sunday morning at 10am to load the boat and set up our kit. Jim then took us to the Northwest tip of the island to see if the Atlantic coastline was safe to dive. With a 2/3-metre swell and significant surge the Wild Atlantic Way lived up to its name. We admired the scenery, saw endless dive sites for calm flat seas and returned to the leeside of the island.
The first two days diving was spectacular with 15/20m viz and 17C water. The water clarity gave us a kelp line of 20m. We explored walls, caves, and a stunning gully at 33m. The marine life was plentiful and diverse from nudibranchs to mature crayfish, Dragonets to large Pollock. We spotted lobster, edible crab, Catshark, Butterfish, Tompot Blennies, Cuckoo and Ballan Wrasse, plus a variety of starfish .Walls and boulders were covered with elegant and jewel anemones, Deadmens Fingers, large Boring sponges, hydroids and Ross Coral.
On Tuesday north-westerly winds, swell and surge dropped the viz to around 1m and made diving conditions a challenge. We called the afternoon dive and opted for a history tour by boat of the many small islands in the channel. The days of the herring industry were long gone. The buildings and piers are now holiday homes and private moorings. We swopped to Jim’s minibus to tour the island, alighting to take photographs and walk the cliff path near the light house. The brave opted to walk down the steps used by the lighthouse keepers to bring in supplies. We looked out across the Atlantic to the horizon realising that the next sighting of land for those who emigrated from Arranmore was Nova Scotia.
We dived Wed and Thursday on the leeside, exploring large boulder slopes, rocky ledges, cobbles, and pebbles Viz was still around 8/10 metres. Jim called it on Friday as the swell and surge had increased. Anna ,Loz and Alison decided to go for a wild water swim.
A fabulous trip. Selection of photographs from the many taken. [thanks, Mark, for Catshark, Scenic Boulders and Immortal jellyfish (we think)]
Pat & Phil.
NB: anyone thinking of diving the Atlantic coast of Ireland or Scotland— September’s weather often picks up the tail end of the hurricane season in the U.S.A.