After the recent poor weather four of us from DSAC decided to make the most of the clear forecast and head over to “The Caves” Loch Long for a couple of dives. The weather was sunny and clear but pretty cold, there was quite a bit of ice on the surface of the loch at the Arrochar end which was a nice surprise as we arrived, luckily it didn’t reach as far south as the caves.
To get to the water’s edge at this site involves a climb under the road through a culvert then down over the rocks with the help of some concrete steps and rope that someone has kindly put there. As it was low tide it was quite a long climb down, you wouldn’t want to get all the way down there fully kitted up to find out you had forgotten something (like a mask!).
Despite the name there are no actual caves here, instead the site consists of a steep slope covered in large boulders (some very large) which create many overhangs, crevices, vertical rock faces, and pinnacles.
For the first dive both buddy pairs explored the slope to the left of the entry point, Ken and I descended the slope and quickly reached 28m before turning left following the boulder slope and slowly ascending to about 14m where we turned around and returned towards the entry point along the tops of the boulders. The visibility was reasonable with some ambient light reaching to about 15m but below this it was very dark, the usual freshwater layer was present and the temperature difference was certainly noticeable especially while watching your computer counting down the 3m safety stop!
There was a lot of life on this dive. Deeper down the rocks are covered in peacock worms, sea loch anemones, and various sea squirts while the shallower boulder tops are covered in plumose anemones, dead man’s fingers, and a couple of impressive dahlia anemones. We also encountered edible crabs, a common lobster, leopard spotted gobies, ballan wrasse, devonshire cup corals (which fluoresce under UV light when I remember I’ve got it with me), and a couple of Flabellina nudibranchs.
During the surface interval a couple of seals were spotted on the surface near the entry point but they quickly disappeared and weren’t seen again.
For the second dive Callum and I decided to explore to the right of the entry point so we descended down the slope to about 30m where it was starting to flatten out then turned right and headed up the loch slowly ascending as we went. Once we got up to about 15m we turned around back towards the entry point with the slope on our left.
It was mainly a gravel/shell slope going this way, there was still the occasional boulder/rocky outcrop but it is quite different to the dive to the south of the entry point. The life was similar to that of the first dive but we also came across a couple of large fireworks anemones which are always nice to see and a lot of squat lobsters near the bottom of the slope. We also found a large, heavily rusted, engine (possibly from a truck or large boat) on our way back along the slope at about 12m.
The Caves is a great site, well worth the climb down and despite the cold it was a really nice day with a couple of really enjoyable dives.
More photos can be viewed here