Manse Point, Loch Leven 01/07/17

Last weekend was a busy one with plenty of club members getting out diving. While Alistair, Torsten, Wojciech, and Kimon spent Sunday diving at the Lin of Dee, the day before a few of us travelled up to Loch Leven to dive at a site known as Manse Point.

Manse Point is just a little further west along the along the shore from the popular site The Slates but it is quite different and probably less frequently dived. The main feature of the site is a large rock headland that sticks out from the shore and carries on underwater down to beyond 40m. The rock face becomes larger as you go follow it down creating vertical and stepped walls which are home to thousands of brittlestars along with loads of other life.

Ken

Ken

Arriving early on Saturday morning we parked off the road and on the small track that leads right down to the shore, from here it was an easy short walk to the water. It didn’t take us long to get organised we were soon ready for our first dives, the buddy pairs were me and Les then Brian and Ken.

Reef Life

Reef Life

On our first dive Les and I followed the sand slope down to about 12m before turning left and finding the rock reef which then follows the slope down. Slowly following the rock walls deeper down we passed a large lions mane jellyfish at about 20m which was just hovering with it’s tentacles spread out for metres in every direction! Avoiding this we carried on down to about 25m where the brittlestars finally thin out and the rockface then becomes home to more sea squirts and sea loch anemones.

Lion's Mane Jellyfish

Lion’s Mane Jellyfish

We didn’t spend too long at the deepest point before turning around and making our way back up, taking our time just having a good look around at all the life on the rock on the way up (and keeping an eye out for the jellyfish). The visibility was easily around 7m and there was plenty of ambient light so it was easy to see the brittlestar covered wall stretching out in front of us. Once in about 12m we made our way back east over the sand and gradually up the slope towards the entry point, where we spotted a couple of juvenile thornback rays on the way. A really nice dive, Brian and Ken also had a nice first dive only going a little deeper and further around the wall, they also spotted a large short-spined scorpion fish near the beginning of the wall.

Common Brittlestar

Common Brittlestar

Common Dragonet

Common Dragonet

 

Unfortunately at the start of the second dive Ken had a leaky dump valve so Brian, Les, and I went in as a three. We had another good dive and followed basically the same profile again only this time stayed on top of the rock reef for more of the way back up. The jellyfish Les and I had seen on the first dive had made it’s way shallower and was now hanging around in about 12m, tentacles still everywhere! We spot a few different things on this dive, like the less frequently seen goosefoot starfish. Another nice dive in good visibility and toasty 11°C water.

Brian & Les

Brian & Les

A really good day’s diving at an interesting site, it was a shame Ken could only manage one dive but I’m sure we will be back to explore more of the site another time.

For more photos go to the gallery page or flickr.

 

Posted in Trip Reports | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Linn of Dee 02/07/2017

Every now and then in a diver’s career you need to do something a little bit different. So for a change, instead of hitting the west coast or the quarry, Torsten, Wojciech, Kimon and I took a wander inland to the Linn o’ Dee, near Braemar.

After picking up Kimon and Torsten, we met Wojciech at Ancrum, did some fills, sorted out paperwork and packed the gear, then we headed off. On the journey northwards we drove up past Glenshee, keeping a look out for red deer, ravens and listening out for the red grouse go-peck,go-pecking away. Once we arrived at Braemar we had a short break before following the narrow road along  to the Mar Lodge estate. The Dee looked relatively calm as we drove beside it, which augured well for some good diving.

The Linn is a turbulent series of cascades and pools which has cut through a shelf of hard rock creating a narrow, steep-sided gully though which the watercourse runs. As we carried the equipment down, there was a definite sense of anticipation at the thought of throwing ourselves into the rich, brown waters.

We got the kit organised and set up, tied the rope to a handy tree and had a briefing,  The water level was fairly low, and the river was more subdued than I’ve seen it previously, but it was still going to be interesting for the guys who hadn’t done it before.

Torsten  and I went in first. Trout dashed around us as we dropped down into the dark, peaty water.  I got settled on the bottom and checked my camera , as Torsten descended to join me. We OKed each other and then moved slowly upstream to the lip of the first pool. A dead salmon lay at the base,  presumably having exhausted itself trying to push its way further up the river. I carefully went up over the lip keeping close control of my buoyancy as the waters surged around me. A short series of passageways lead through the rocky gully, the walls displaying meandering layers of metamorphic rocks, such as gneiss, sparkling with slivers of quartzite and mica-slate.

As we pressed on to the next pool, a single salmon could be seen circling round and round in the bowl before it shot off into the gloom. Then on to the following pool, which is a little higher up and only a few metres deep, but plenty big enough to find a quiet spot to rest; and wait to see if any fish would swim past and  try to fight their way further on.

After a while we had a go at trying to clamber into the upper pool, through a narrow gap partially blocked by a large red boulder, but there was no way we could make any headway against the current. We had a couple of attempts each but kept being thrown back across the width of the pool by the force of the water.

After Torsten’s final attempt, we decided to drift back downstream and explored some of the nooks and crannies on the way, seeing several more salmon and a perhaps a dozen small trout. We lazily glided along with the  flow of the current, twisting occasionally to get through some of the windier gaps and finally came out in the shallows at the end of the gorge.

 

Kimon and Wojciech were there to help us get back up the slope, and then it was their turn. Wojciech managed to push his way through to the upper pool, before they both drifted back down to the shallows. After a few more dives each where we added eels and a rather ill-looking toad to the list, we had lunch and chatted to various passers-by who were fascinated by how deep the river was, “Were we looking for anything in particular?”, “Is it really cold?”.

Another dive for each of the buddy pairs which gave us a bit more time to take photographs and check for more salmon, and then we wrapped it up for the day. I did manage to check out a nice group of common spotted orchids near the exiting point before we left.  Thankfully minimal hassle from midges, only light rain showers, and pleasant temperatures all made for a great day’s diving.

 

 

Posted in Trip Reports | Tagged , , | 1 Comment