Loch Long, Scotland - 24th -27th May 2024 - Whit Bank Holiday

The plan was for a long weekend of camping and shore diving on Loch Long. We stayed at Glenloin House Caravan And Camping Site in Arrochar at the head of Loch Long. A mere 270 miles from Macclesfield. Everyone made their own way there on Friday at various times, with Sue coming down after doing some of the Scotland North Coast 500. The weekend team was comprised of Clemmie, Dave M, Alison, Loz, Craig, Sue, Dave L, Helen, Vladimir and Ian joining on Saturday, with Bell, Rosie and Quincy making up the canine part of the team.

Saturday the 25th of May

Ian set off from Macclesfield at sunrise and managed to join the team for the second wave of the first dive!

Dive 1: Twin Piers

This site is a demolished pier on the northwest shore of the loch, easily located by the tall remains of the piers standing well above the waterline at all states of tide. The site was easily entered by steps down from the road and across the rocky beach into the water. Entering the water, the remnants of wrecked pier legs were full of life: crabs, starfish and mussels, great for both the divers and Sue, snorkelling above us. On descent down to about 15m and heading NE we swam over the wreck of an old boat, barely visible but what was left was covered in Peacock worms and dead mans fingers. Further exploring on the same heading found a rocky reef, with edible crabs and congers eels (but none for Ian). There was even mention of a catshark being spotted by one pair.

Dive 2: Conger Alley

Just a couple of hundred meters down the road was our second site. Ian being desperate to see a conger eel had this high on the list of dives to do… Dropping in and descending down to a max of 30m found a silty seabed and then a slow zigzag ascent up the slope located the reef. Here we found wrasse, crabs, a lobster or two and loads of other small creatures.

The evening was then spent in the sun with BBQs, pizza, and loads of tanks to fill using Phil’s portable compressor, without which this the trip wouldn’t have been possible.

In an effort to escape the midges at the campsite we enjoyed the great outdoors… indoors. Phil’s fantastic midge-proof shelter provided relief on the Saturday evening, but by Sunday morning the devious little creatures had managed to invade our small haven!

Sunday the 26th of May

The original plan was to dive the Caves on the road to the Finnart Oil terminal. This was abandoned due to the challenge of parking at the site and the copious midges. We didn’t want to be under the trees anymore!

Dive 1 and 2: Finnart Oil terminal/A-frames

Parking was easy at this site, with a good-sized layby off the road. Easy access to the sea and then a gentle swim down the slope through the seaweed to a demolished pier spread over the seabed. Hunting around the remains of the pier structure and area turned up hundreds of squat lobsters and crabs. Craig found a huge conger in a hole as well as a few good sized pollack swimming around. The site was good, big, and easy to access (also, no midges!) so we stayed here for a second dive.

 As the rain was now coming down in true Scottish fashion, we packed up our dive kit and warmed up with the best hot chocolate in all of Scotland at Cù Mara Bistro! They had a great little takeaway window, perfect for divers and snorkelers in an array of wet gear and our doggy companions.  We decided to abandon the muddy campsite and book our evening meal at the Loch Long Hotel, a haven from rain, mud & midges and a fun evening with some bagpipes too!!

Monday the 27th of May

Dive 1: Twin Piers

Having packed up our tents & camping gear, we decided to revisit the first dive of the weekend as this was a good easy dive. Further exploration here turned up yet more conger eels as well as a couple of huge edible crabs, with everyone making the most of the max dive time (in a frosty 7 degrees – we’re a hardy bunch of divers!) for their final dive of the weekend.

Overall, this was a great weekend of camping and diving. Huge thanks to Phil for help and advice while planning as well as lending us the portable compressor and midge shelter. Also, thanks to Helen for being willing to put the compressor in her truck, without which the trip wouldn’t have been possible. Helen managed to squeeze it – and herself, a tent and dive kit! – into the back of her car.

Camping and diving, whilst being a bit more challenging, is absolutely worth it and allows us to access these sites that would be perfect for any level of diver. Even with the rain and the midges we all had a great time and the dogs enjoyed it too!

Thanks to the dive buddies: Dave & Clemmie, Helen & Vladimir, Alison & Loz, Ian & Craig; brave snorkeler Sue and Dave L (with Rosy) for providing surface cover!

Underwater photos taken by Craig.

Ian H