The original plan for last Sunday was to take club RHIB out to the Isle of May, unfortunately the weather had other ideas so a few of us opted to head over to the West coast for a dive instead. The site we decided on was the Kentallen Wall in Loch Linnhe as none of us had dived here before and after a bit research online (mainly the dive guide on Finstrokes) it looked like an interesting dive.
It was an early start in Dundee and luckily we didn’t pass through any major snow on the way over, it was quite windy going up the Glencoe road but Ken, Alistair and I still managed to arrive at the car park of the Holly Tree Hotel at about 09:30 as planned. There was still a strong (and cold) wind coming down Loch Linnhe but fortunately the surrounding hills were providing some shelter and the sea conditions still looked good with no real swell to speak of.
Soon enough Ken and I were off on the first dive, following the recommendations of the dive guide we headed out from the end of the pier on a bearing of 310° towards the top of the wall. The visibility was good, probably not far off 10m. The sea floor slopes down fairly quickly on the way out and is mainly sand/silt with small rocks dotted about. At about 15m we started to come across slender and phosphorescent sea pens (this is the first time I have seen these at <30m) along with a single fireworks anemone, after about 8 minutes we had reached 22m and the wall was just starting to appear on our left. We must have veered off course slightly and missed the start of the wall but we found it in the end, we followed the bottom of the wall down to 30m and here there was a large crevice which was home to a shoal of small fish (possibly juvenile cod). The wall itself was covered in peacock worms, various sea squirts, feather stars, sea urchins, and each little crack seemed to be occupied by squat lobster. We touched down to 35m briefly before ascending up to the top of the wall which consisted of huge glacial slabs of rock covered in small devonshire cup corals and the odd arctic cowrie, we then made our way back along the top to roughly were we joined it at the start before heading back over the sand slope towards the pier on a bearing of 130°. On the way back Ken drew my attention to a lovely thornback ray that I had somehow managed to swim right over! It didn’t seem too impressed with us hovering around and it soon moved on. We also noticed the ray had a leech attached to its left “wing”, possibly Pontobdella muricata.
Upon surfacing we soon remembered how cold the wind was, with a water temperature of 7°C it was noticeably warmer underwater! After some lunch and a suitable surface interval Alistair and I were on our way in for our dive, we followed a similar plan to the first dive but this time met with the wall a bit sooner at about 18m. We followed the wall down again and stopped for a couple of minutes while Alistair got some video of the fish in the crevice at 30m, due to the profile of my first dive we couldn’t stay here for long so it was soon time to ascend the wall and make our way back over the top then towards the pier. The life was much the same as the first dive although this time we came across a couple of impressive looking long-legged spider crabs on the sand slope as well as a sea lemon nudibranch (Doris pseudoargus) and a large Facelina bostoniensis nudibranch just near the bottom of the pier in about 8m. We surfaced after a total dive time of 45 minutes to find a rather cold looking Ken.
Alistair and Ken were due to dive next but a malfunctioning computer followed by a blown HP hose unfortunately put a stop to that plan.
Although we didn’t all manage to complete two dives each we did all agree that this was a site well worth visiting and that we would certainly be back at a later date. This would also be a great site for newly qualified divers as you can find life that would usually be found much deeper (phosphorescent sea pens/fireworks anemones) and there is still loads to see just going along the top of the wall at under 20m.