One of our resident UK advocates, Yo-Han Cha embarks on a weekend odyssey in search of quality diving.

Apparently, driving from Bristol to Lochaline just for a weekend of diving, is ‘dedicated’. The looks I was being given suggested that the members of Clifton SAC were being far too polite to say what was on their minds, that I had taken leave of my senses. No-one was suggesting that the Sound of Mull wasn’t worth diving, it was just that it was a long way to go for four dives. I was jumping on a private trip organised by my friend Deborah McNeill of South Queensferry SAC, and I was pretty sure I hadn’t lost my sense of priority.

It was a weekend on the Gaelic Rose, a liveaboard operating out of Lochaline in the Sound of Mull. I’d filled a space on the same trip last year and turned up having only known Deborah, but the group, mainly from South Queensferry SAC but also from a smattering of other clubs around Scotland, proved to be a friendly and welcoming bunch. So, the sell for my first dive trip of the year was a great diving location, great company and a great skipper and crew. Sold! I just had a lot of driving to do.

I love diving in not just the Sound of Mull but also the surrounding sea lochs, one of which came in handy as the fierce north westerly decided blow down the Sound on the Saturday. The weather was a bit mad that day. We’d tucked into Loch Linnhe, where there was glorious sunshine and shelter from the weather, but we could see a grey curtain of wind and rain ahead of us blowing through the Sound. So, despite Mother Nature’s best attempts to spoil our fun, we managed a successful day’s diving looking for nudibranchs and squat lobsters. 

No-one was suggesting that the Sound of Mull wasn’t worth diving, it was just that it was a long way to go for four dives

The wind died down on the Sunday, which meant that the wrecks in the Sound were available for us to dive. My first choice (and that of many others) is always the Hispania, but on learning that two other boats were also planning on diving it, we quickly agreed that it would be too crowded and decided to pivot and dive the Rondo instead. I gave my dive buddy, Lucy Rutherford of South Queensferry SAC, a quick guide to underwater modelling over breakfast and another lovely day of diving was had. 

The journey back definitely felt longer than on the way up and caffeine saturation was a necessity, but four successful dives were completed. Old friendships were renewed and new ones made. The geography of the West of Scotland meant that despite the weekend starting with horrendous weather, we were still able to tuck in somewhere and find beautiful dive sites. This is in comparison to the English South Coast where, at the time of writing, a mixture of strong south westerlies, hailstorms and thunderstorms have blown out my Plymouth Easter weekend trip with Reading BSAC. So, would I be up for another weekend dive trip to the Sound of Mull? Absolutely! 

Article ‘He would drive a thousand miles…’ by Yo-Han Cha first published in SCUBA magazine, Issue 146 June 2024.

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