Glencoe Sea Loch Trip: 26th - 29th May 2018
Glencoe is a village in western Scotland. It lies in the steep-sided Glencoe valley, in the Scottish Highlands. The area is known for waterfalls and trails that climb peaks such as Buachaille Etive Mor and Bidean nam Bian. We stayed at the Invercoe Caravan & Camping Park and I honestly cannot think of a single word that would sum up how absolutely stunning this place was. They have pitches for tents, campervans and caravans as well as small pods and large lodges. This makes it a great place to stay when going in a big group as it has something for everyone.
The First Night
Due to everyone arriving at different times and most of us with tents and camping gear to setup the first night was spent mostly setting things up, admiring the incredible view and trying out the local pub! This was also when the back of Neil’s camper van became the official meeting place!
View from our camping spot:
View from the lodges:
Day one was a day diving at 'The Slates'. This was a site that we visited last year and it is a site we will definitely be visiting again. Good, easy diving and only a 5 minute drive from the campsite. The Slates is a small slate peninsula that sticks out into Loch Leven (small enough to enter on one side and exit on the other).
The slate wall is covered in life and drops to around 50m so it is a great site for beginners and more experienced/technical divers alike. The conditions were fantastic and visibility was around 10-15m. The site is extremely simple to navigate due to the slate wall. Get in, keep the wall on your left or right (depending which side you get in), get out! simple!
During the dive you can expect to see a variety of crabs, wrasse, yarrells blenny, dragonet, pollock, dogfish and a whole host of sea stars. The Fuggles and Michael Kane had planned their second dive off to another site just to the right of the entry point and had even had the unexpected encounter of an Undulate Ray!
Two great dives then back to the campsite but before we could relax and enjoy a few cold beers, we had to drive the van over to Puffin Dive Centre in Oban for gas fills. Puffin is around one to one and a quarter hours each way from Glencoe so do make sure you factor this into your dive plans if diving in this area!
Don't worry... We had a few cold ones when we returned!
Day two we decided to try somewhere different. We headed off from the campsite at around 09:30 to a site named 'Picnic Site' at Loch Linnhe. The picnic site was another short drive from the campsite at no more than around 15 minutes. There was a height restriction barrier at the entrance to the site but we crossed our fingers, closed our eyes and thankfully made it under! Once again we were met with the most amazing scenery.
We had to park the van up in the carpark and cart the gear down to the beach. Also, as the tide was low this resulted in a short walk down the beach into the water once kitted up. This wasn’t really a problem but the scorching Scottish weather did make this more difficult!
The dive plan was to enter the water from the middle of the beach in our buddy teams. Heading straight out to our planned depth then head along the coast to the North East or the South West. The dive was to be turned on a third of our gas, returning to our entry point.
The entry point was covered in thick kelp. Once we passed this there was a thick carpet of brittle stars. There must have been hundreds of thousands of them. Nick Heaney and I had decided to head North East up the coast after dropping to around 24 metres. Again the visibility was good, somewhere between 10-15 metres. Swimming up the coast, the depth, topography and life was fairly consistent... thousands of brittle stars and a variety of crabs. We did see a few fish and small jellyfish which do put on an amazing light display when you shine your torch on them. Other than that, there wasn't too much else to write home about.
Diving done, we headed back to the campsite to relax once again in the glorious sunshine. You would not believe the the weather we had with three solid days of full sun and around 26-27 degrees Celsius!
The Last Night
As this was the last night we all headed to the local pub for a few drinks. On our way back to the campsite, just as the sun was setting, we were met by a wild stag and his doe. They were walking through the field in front of us, heading down towards the bank of Loch Leven. The stag, expecting us to be ready, stopped right in the middle of the valley, sun setting behind him and turned his head to look back at us. This was 'The Scottish Highlands' in a single scene. It was stunning.
We then continued back to the campsite, congregating around the back of the captains camper van. This seemed to be the meeting/chilling point for the weekend so it made sense to end it there.
The sun had set and the sky was clear. We could see thousands of stars above us. It turned out that the International Space Station was also due to make a visible passing. Neil had an app on his phone which allowed us to track it. Sure enough, we watched it glide through the sky above us. What a way to top off an already fantastic weekend.
Scotland's sea lochs offer some amazing diving. They offer up a huge amount of marine life encounters with great conditions and almost guaranteed diving. Glencoe is also a great location to base yourself from. It may be an hour each way for gas fills at Oban but the scenery is truly jaw dropping. This was a very popular trip this year and I am sure this will continue to be one of the most popular UK trips in the years to come.
Want to read a little bit more about where Nick, Neil and Josh disappeared to? Check out Nicks trip report below.
Glencoe 2018 - The Big Boys Club trip report