North East of England
North East of England consists of the counties of Northumberland (bordering Scotland), Tyne & Wear, Durham, and Teeside (bordering North Yorkshire) with coastline exposed to the North Sea. Offshore there are several wrecks but visibility is variable and, more often than not, poor. The area is heavily dived by local divers, notably Flamborough Head and Filey Brig.
Just off the Cumbrian Coast are the Farne Islands where diving is much better in clear water with depths of around 20m but beware of the strong tides!
As it is one of the most dangerous stretches of water around British waters, there are numerous wrecks to choose from and inquisitive grey seals come and say hello. (See the YouTube video here). Mostly consisting of 30 Islands and rocky outcrops, the Farne Islands are home to one of the largest colonies of grey seals. It is generally possible to dive at the Farnes regardless of wind direction. There is always shelter somewhere. Some dive locations even provide the opportunity to combine diving and bird watching, in particular the Pinacles, where Guillemots can be found fishing at safety stop depth.
As with all the British coastline, there are a fantastic number of wrecks and the choice of what to dive is a dilemma and the North East is no exception.
- The SS Somali - one of the most popular wrecks to dive. It was sunk on the 25th March, 1941 after taking a direct hit from a German Heinkel bomber, which caused a fire and whilst under tow exploded. You can rummage around this wreck and the following items have been found : cutlery, flm, fire extinguisher, bottles, ingots and lead soldiers.
- The Acclivity - (south near Craster village), the wreck of a small oil tanker that sank in 1952 lying on her port side on a relatively flat seabed. The hull is still pretty much intact although the plates are now starting to spring off in many places, so you can have a good look inside. An anchor is still in place at the bow and she still has her prop attached. Around the mid-ships section she is open on both sides so you can look around inside the hull amongst the pipework and still be only a few metres from open water. A very photogenic wreck in good conditions, like most offshore wrecks she is populated with bib, pollack, wrasse and the occasional lobster.
- Invariably dry suits are required, although a 7mm suit may be OK during the summer
- Check your prospective dive very carefully to be aware of any likely currents
- Check slack water times for your prospective dive
- For good info on diving in the North East take a look at this link.
- The Farne Islands are owned by the National Trust so there is a cost for visiting. Check the link below for current details.
- Not wholly related to diving but, when visiting the Farne Islands wear a hat to protect against the dive-bombing terns!