10th April 2011

Where to go and dive somewhere different? With Brown’s Bay, St Mary’s island, Beadnel and St Abbs shore dive sites to choose from, we are quite fortunate in the range of good shore dive sites available to Tyneside 114 members.

Dunbar, a historic port town in the Borders has a reputation for good shore diving. Situated some 25 miles south of Edinbrough, Dunbar has not featured as a dive location for the club, not least because of all the other excellent dive sites offered by Seahouses and St Abbs that one passes enroute up the coast.

Still variety is said to be the spice of life so recently 5 Tyneside members headed up the coast to find out exactly what Dunbar has to offer the visiting diver. The party assembled across the small harbour bridge beside the old battery fort.

Kit was unloaded as Dive Manager Andy Hunt ventured forth to recce the entry and exit sites of the intended dive sites.

The decision was made to dive the harbour reef site. To reach this site we trekked along the outer harbour wall and down a rocky slope which has primitive steps cut out of the rock and corroding iron handles which aid access up and down onto Pebble beach. Here we established a base. Entry into the water is across this rocky beach… Access into the water is quite treacherous, as many of these rocks and stones are very slippery and covered in weed.

Once in the water we struggled across the kelp until we reached deeper water. Descending down we swam along the edge of the wall. Underwater visibility was only a metre or so. We ventured around towards the harbour entrance taking care to keep close to the wall in order to avoid any boat traffic above. Nevertheless we could all see that this site has good potential. Areas of the reef were covered in soft corals.

The highlight of this site is a blow hole through which water is fired into the air when a strong surge is running. On returning to the shore, it was Andy and Liz’s turn to experience the delights of the beach entry and harbour reef.

For the final dive of the day, Richard and Andy swam across to island. Descending down we explored around the walls of the small island known as the Gripes. On the seaward side, we came across some interesting gullies. Visibility was only marginally better than the earlier dive due to the incoming tide. Despite the limited visibility we could see that in the right conditions this site has the potential to offer excellent diving. Unfortunately despite bright blue skies and a relatively flat sea, the poor underwater visibility meant that we did not get to experience Dunbar ‘s shore diving at its best. Based on our experience we also suggest diving at high tide, as it makes water entry much easier. It is also quite a hike along the harbour wall and quite a scramble up and down onto the beach testing the fitness of all concerned.

After the dive, Dunbar also offers a range of fish and chips and the possibly the cleanest award winning public toilet that you are ever likely to encounter!

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