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Outer Hebrides, UK

August 2013

The diving is relatively easy with stunning scenic dives with clear water and rich in wildlife. There are some wrecks for the metal junkies and for non-divers the islands offer a lot of options for other outdoor activities.

This was a joint trip between Imperial College Underwater Club and Manchester University SAC. Initially we were to be joined by another club and have a convoy of ribs head out to St. Kilda. Last minute one club had to pull out and our ribs vetoed against the trip: every day they decided to play up and require some TLCing. This made the crossing unsafe so we moved to plan B: dive the Flannan Isles. These are a set of islands dense with wildlife and mystery (three lighthouse keepers dissappeared in 1900 without leaving a trace). Unfortunately the weather turned against us so we didn't manage to dive those islands either.

 

Although not as adventurous as initially planned, we dived around the Isle of Lewis which offers some stunning dives. Luckily there are lots of inlets where to dive and hide from the battering Atlantic. There are only a few slipways on the islands getting to them is an adventure through tiny country roads with a boat on tow. Once the boat is launched the fun is far from having ended. The distances between the slipways and the divesites are not short and the Atlantic waves make the ride slow and bouncy. Once in the calm inlets and underwater you find nice reefs breaming with life such as congers, octopus, dogfish and lots of scallops! There are a few wrecks around the islands as well. 

There a lots of seals around the islands. One particular chap around the Stornoway slipway kept on trying to scramble onto our rib (digging his sharp nails in the tubes). He is used to getting fish scraps from the local fishermen so he is more after food then cuddles.

One day we got blown out and went exploring to end up at an amazing beach (Reef Beach), a tiny distillery and the Callanish Stones.The beach has fine white sand with a very emerald water which looked like a postcard of a tropical island but it definitely felt more like the north pole when we jumped in! I definitely suggest spending a couple of days post-dive wandering on the islands.