For Yo-Han Cha, a yearning to dive in the winter months means a visit to one of the UK’s inland diving lakes.

I don’t usually dive in quarries. You’ll normally find me in the sea, but at this time of year, but this is probably the most likely time you’ll find me in fresh water. 

This is purely down to winter storms putting paid to any diving off the coast, along with my lower level of enthusiasm to go diving when it’s colder and darker than usual.

as much as I love diving in the sea, I’m happy to be able to jump in a quarry

When I lived in Manchester, this would be the time of year I would most regularly visit Capernwray. I’d be either helping out with training or pretending that I’m not addicted to diving by getting my fix in water that’s around three degrees Celsius. Then Easter would herald a new diving season and it would normally be around late autumn before I’d once again be ordering chilli burgers (with everything) from Sandy at the Capernwray café.

I’ve yet to find a preferred quarry since moving to Bristol, as lockdowns put paid to any winter diving, but as I munch my final turkey sandwich and wonder if the seasonal deluge of chocolate will mysteriously ‘shrink’ my drysuit, my thoughts return, inevitably, to diving.

Last year, I unexpectedly found myself back in Capernwray. It was nice to be back in familiar surroundings, greeting people I hadn’t seen for years. The first of my two dives confirmed that I still know my way around Capernwray and that I could expertly guide my buddy around the underwater attractions. My second dive proved that I still have a terrible sense of direction and I’m quite capable of swimming round in circles for an hour, completely lost – sorry Keri!

I’ve still to find my new ‘Capernwray’ down south. With NDAC now closed, my most likely candidates are Cromhall and Vobster. I’ve dived both once. On both occasions I was leading a less experienced diver to get some practice in. And in both quarries, I had a 50 per cent hit rate on my navigation. At least this established that getting lost isn’t just something I reserve for Capernwray. For the record, I’m happy to let someone else guide me! In the words of Obi-Wan Kenobi: “Who’s the more foolish? The fool or the fool who follows him?”  Future dive buddies, you have been warned not to forget your compass!

So, as much as I love diving in the sea, I’m happy to be able to jump in a quarry, especially during the winter as it allows me to carry on diving in the most uninviting conditions. Some of my work colleagues once provided feedback about how I start to get grumpy if I haven’t dived for a few weeks. So, for the sake of my colleagues and everyone else around me, I’ll just have to continue to visit Cromhall and Vobster throughout the winter. 

Article ‘The Three Degrees’ by Yo-Han Cha first published in SCUBA magazine, Issue 133 March 2023.

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