Birks Bridge, River Duddon, UK
Scenic dive in a river gorge to look at rock formations and, if in season, wild salmon.
GPS: 54.38359350061423, -3.1805723630297615
Location: Near Coniston (Lake District),
Currents: Strong currents under the waterfalls
Type of bottom: Rocky
Interests: rock formations, salmon and trout mostly in late-spring/summer.
Water Temperature: ~ 6°C in November, reports say it is about the same also in summer
Dive Description: You can park at the bridge although there is a larger carpark a hundred meters up the road (which is also free). The easiest access is to cross the bridge and follow the path to the left, downstream of the bridge. Swim upstream towards the waterfall following the vertical walls of the gorge hiding from the current in the nooks. You will then reach a basin, which often has salmon and trout. In November, it is already quite late in the season and we saw 2 huge salmon. On the right side there is a swim-through a rock formation (under the boulder, then follow it to the left and up). If you do not like manoeuvring in tight spaces, then on the left you can just swim over the boulder on the left side. Here you are getting closer to the waterfalls. There are two more small basins before you turn back and let the current drift you back to the starting point. You can go slightly beyond it although it gets shallower and then it is a crawl along the bottom to get to the exit. It is a nice dive with stunning rock formations. The only drawback is that the stretch is really quite short (about 50m).
Devil's Bridge (GPS: 54.198448277162704, -2.590782574681773) on the River Lune in Kirkby Lonsdale is also another dive spot about an hour's drive. The water tends to be murkier but also has nice rock formations and the stretch of the river is slightly longer (about 100m). Here too salmon and trout can be found in the warmer months. Beware that diving here is restricted to Sundays and only from July to August and November to January. There is free parking and paid toilets at the bridge. Enter the water upstream of the pedestrian Devil's bridge, let the current take you and exit after Devil's bridge but before Stanley bridge, the traffic bridge (road A65). You will see a clear path from the water's edge back to the carpark.