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My husband and I are learning to Scuba dive this year with a friend. We're doing the SSI courses, which require a large number of dives to progress through each qualification. Open Water through to Advanced Open Water requires a minimum of 24 total non-pool dives.

We will be doing our open water dives at Vobster Quay and I know that you can dive inland at Stoney Cove, but it gets really busy. It would be nice to gain experience in more than just two inland locations. Are there any other common inland locations for Scuba diving in the UK?

I also know Vobster goes down to roughly 36m, so that would cover Advanced specialisations, knowing other depths would be great too.

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  • 1
    My brother scuba dives a lot at Guernsey, though not easy to get to I know...He does live there.
    – user2766
    Feb 15 '16 at 9:45
  • @Liam oh awesome, I assume then Jersey is good too - but coastal :) I'll bare in mind for holidays! :)
    – Aravona
    Feb 15 '16 at 9:48
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    @Liam inland scuba diving at Guernsey?!
    – gerrit
    Feb 15 '16 at 11:07
  • Oh, I misread that. No, not inland. Plenty of sheltered coves though.
    – user2766
    Feb 15 '16 at 11:19
  • Have you seen Finstrokes they have hundreds of dive guides for the UK and Ireland. Jul 14 '18 at 18:42
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Using Google, I found several lists of inland dive sites in the UK. Here are a few of the more extensive ones.

These websites provide varying amount of information about the dive sites, but all seem to have at least enough detail for you to feed into further web searches, and many have quite extensive descriptions. Since the UK Diving list is the most extensive, I've reproduced it below (without the links to the individual pages and discussion threads).

  • East Anglia: Horstead Mill, Gildenburgh, Alton Water, Hellesdon Mill.
  • Midlands: The Rez, Stoney Cove, Dosthill, Swithland Wood Quary, Charnwood Forest, Hill-Hole / Marshfield.
  • North England: Holme Bank Chert Mine, Eccleston Delph, Hodge Close, Astbury Water Park, Devils Bridge, Capernwray Quarry, Wast Water, Coniston Water, Armstrong Quarry.
  • North Scotland: Etive River.
  • Northern Ireland: Belfast / Strangford Lough.
  • South East: Lakeside, Horsea Island, Northam Pit, Bewl Water, Crystal Waters, Leybourne lake, Dinton Pastures, Littleton Lane Pit, Blue Lagoon, Bletchley, Wraysbury, Blue Lagoon, Arlesey.
  • South Scotland: St Abbs, Kelso River.
  • South West: Vobster Quay Somerset, Barrow Tanks, National Diving & Activity Centre Chepstow, Waterlip.
  • Wales: Fron, Llyn Cwm Llwch, Dorothea Quarry, Bala Lake, Llyn y Fan Fach, Brin Hall, Llyn y Fan Fawr, Vivian Quarry, Upper Lilw Reservoir, Deiniolen Quarry.

Note that the UK Diving list includes some sites (e.g. Astbury Water Park, Armstrong Quarry) which are no longer diveable, but in this case the description and/or comments for the site should make it clear that it's defunct.

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In the south of England, the main three centres are

  • Vobster Quay in Summerset: lots of attractions to play on and a tunnel to swim though (at an angle, so a good buoyancy test). Max depth circa 35m. Vis is good in the winter, less so in the summer when the schools are busy. Has a burger van for sustenance. Well stocked shop with plenty of tech kit.
  • Stoney Cove in Leicestershire: has a 35m pit with the "Hydrobox" and some other things to see. Most of the attractions (Stanegarth tug, bus, cars, other boats) are at 18m. Yellow "Nemo" submarine at 6m. It's a good place to practice navigation as the bottom's quite featureless. Some life including little crayfish. Nice restaurant / cafe which does not allow soggy divers to use. Hatch for cups of tea and bacon sarnies. Large well-stocked shop.
  • NDAC -- National Diving and Activity Centre in Chepstow. This has a deep pit of about 75metres, but most of the "attractions" (planes, buses, helicopters tanks, containers, etc.) are above 28 metres with many around 12 metres. Of the three, NDAC's visibility is the best. Nice 'wet' restaurant to warm up in. Lots of other attractions; zip-wire, giant swing, offroad Segways. Used by a lot of more serious divers in the winter - my personal favourite.

There's a bunch of shallower lakes/quarries in the south-east, all max 10 metres and generally poor visibility and very cold in winter.

  • Wraysbury next to Heathrow. Silty, very popular with schools in the summer, vis can be awful. Food's OK. Cheap £15. Good for navigation practice due to the vis. Don't arrive much before 0900 or you'll be sent away!
  • St Andrews near Rochester. 33m/110' chalk pit with some attractions. Cold water, visibility frequently poor. Drinks/food available.

Edit: Holborough and Buckland lakes have now closed.

When not in the winter practice period, sea diving is far more interesting than quarries & lakes. For novices, look at:

  • Swanage Pier - the place where many people learned to dive. 6ish metres and easy access under the pier. Lots of boats go from there to the many local wrecks and drift dives. Highly recommended. Valentine Tanks is a nice 12ish metre dive on two WW2 tanks. The house wreck is the Kyarra; big with lots of life.
  • Portland / Weymouth - Portland Harbour has lots of wrecks to explore in less than 20 metres of water and is good when it's too rough to go to sea. Lots of other wrecks available outside to suit all skill levels. Can also dive off of Chesil Beach if you want some exercise walking up the shingle with your kit on.
  • Plymouth - some fantastic diving there. Lots of wrecks to explore for all skill levels which includes the Scylla (deliberately sunk for divers to play on), James Egan Lane, and many great drift dives. There's loads of boats and dive shops there who would buddy you up. One of the UK's premier dive locations.
  • Brighton & Eastbourne - several dive boats going out from there exploring the hundreds of wrecks off the Sussex coast, all levels of diving down to 65m/215'
  • Dover - some superb wrecks of all types; wartime, submarines, 19th century and earlier. The strong tidal currents tend to restrict the dive times to an hour or so. There are some beginner-level dives too.

A little further afield, but some of the greatest experience you'll ever have underwater:

  • diving with seals in the Farne Islands north of Newcastle. This is shallow diving at its best with granite rocks, kelp, and playing with those cute and playful seals. One for your diving bucket list.
  • Eyemouth and St Abbs Head; excellent wreck and scenic diving.
  • West coast of Scotland; really good diving around the lochs and islands, the Isle of Mull for example on the wreck of the Rondo at 60 degrees with the bow at the bottom in 50 metres and the rudder at 5 metres - a wreck for everyone to enjoy.
  • Scapa flow where much of the German fleet was skuttled; diving on the remaining four battleships and three cruisers is world-class. Their size is amazing. Depths vary from shallow to a maximum of 42m.

The sea on the south coast gets up to about 18C in the summer (July though October), and down to 7C in the winter. Visibility can be difficult in spring ("the May rot") and also after storms. The northern temperatures get up to about 12C, so drysuits are pretty much the tool for the job.

If you like wrecks, UK diving really is some of the best diving there is.

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