|LOCH FYNE : FYNE TIMES|
Loch Fyne is the second longest sea loch in Scotland (41 miles) and though it provides excellent diving on the Scottish west coast, it is often overlooked as people head for Oban and the delights of the Western Isles. The lack of facilities in the area compounds the problem, but it does mean the intrepid few enjoy some first class diving without any crowds.
The majority of the diving takes place on the western shores, south of Inveraray. Just to the north is Inveraray Castle, ancestral home to the Duke and Duchess of Argyll. Travelling south, the next township of any size is Furnace, which was at one time an iron smeltery. Beyond lies Minard, Lochgair, Lochgilphead, Ardishaig near the mouth of the Crinan Canal, and Tarbert, which lies at the mouth to Loch Fyne, with a number of smaller villages in between. On the eastern shore, the main settlement in the north is Cairndow, with St.Catherines and Strachur a little further south and then a further three or four small villages before you reach the southernmost tip of the Cowal Peninsula at Ardlamont Point.
Diving is possible all the year round due to the long and sheltered nature of the loch, which is actually a part of an ancient fault line which carries on into the Scottish Highlands. The shores of the loch on the east are in the most part steep sloping, with a fine mud and sandy substrate; the western shores are more steeply sloping and in many cases there is a vertical cliff at the shore line which drops dramatically to more than 20m.
Basking sharks frequent the lower stretches of the loch from June to August each year, but the chance of actually diving with one of these gentle giants is extremely remote.
One of the best dives is Kenmore Point, just south of
Inveraray. Access to this shore dive is along a private road and forestry
track for more than three miles and the privacy signs should be obeyed.
You may also be required to ask for permission. Entry is from either side
of the small village. There is a rough gravel slipway to the north and
a gravel beach to the south of the small headland, with its vertical cliffs
which drop to a mud slope at 25m. The slope shelves away rapidly and there
are scallops, dragonets, large whelks and edible crabs. On the cliff can
be found a very rare anemone called Protanthia simplex which I discovered
in 1975. When boat cover is required, or you wish to do the dive from
the seaward side, then launching points are available from Inveraray to
the north and Strachur on the opposite shore. The wall is the most interesting
part of the dive: starting at 2m, it drops vertically and is cut by several
narrow, horizontal fissures. Here you can find the squat lobster (Munida
rugosa) and large dahlia anemones (Urticna eques) as well as the rare
anemone previously mentioned. Large brilliantly-coloured sponges, sea
squirts, feather starfish and brittle starfish are everywhere.
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