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Five diving spots in the UK

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Whether you are a seasoned diving pro or have just got your certificate, you will undoubtedly be tempted to jet off to the warm, clear waters of faraway lands for an awesome diving experience.

Don’t discount the UK however, just for its lack of sunny weather. All you need is a warm wet suit and some of the world’s best diving spots can be found. Hiring a car in the UK is one of the best ways to get to these remote sites. Here are some of the best dive sites the UK has to offer.

1. First on the list has to be the Farne Islands, a small group of uninhabited islands off the Northumberland coast offering all manner of extraordinary diving opportunities.

The area is famed for its Atlantic Seal population and as the site has increased in popularity, these little aquatic mammals have shaken off their fears of humans and frequently come to say hello to divers. With a population of around 5,000 year round, the chances of a close encounter with a seal are high and while it certainly isn’t diving with dolphins, it is an experience you will never forget.

Aside from the local wildlife, the Farnes are famed as one of the most dangerous shipping areas in Britain and as a result the wrecks of some amazing ships lie on the seabed. The best is the ‘Somali’, a 6810-tonne passenger and cargo steamer that was sunk in March 1941 and now sits upright at a depth of about 30m near Beadnell.

2. Forming the boundary between the mountains of North Wales and the rolling countryside of the Isle of Anglesey, the Menai Strait offers plenty of highlights for the novice and experienced diver alike.

For the novice diver, an easy shore dive from the beach to the east of the suspension bridge follows the lines of the undersea cables, going from one shore to the other. Look out for the lush beds of dahlia anemones and sponges as well as plenty of butterfish, velvet swimming crabs and spider crabs.

3. The area around Plymouth Sound is rich in diverse and exciting diving opportunities. The wrecks of the Egan Layne and HMS Scylla are incredible dives for more experienced sub-aquarists and the area around Fort Bovisand has plenty of excellent shore and boat diving opportunities.

The sea around Fort Bovisand is a voluntary marine conservation area and as such offers plenty of wildlife, from crabs, nudibrachts and small fish to dogfish, wrasse and varieties of flat fish. You might also come across some coins and military paraphernalia such as cannon balls.

Away from Fort Bovisand and further out from the Sound there are a number of impressive reefs to explore too. With huge fan corals and a multitude of fish, one of the best has to be around the Mewstone Ridges, so named because of the underwater canyons that can be found harbouring many varieties of marine life.

4. The unique formation of rocks on the North Sea coast at St. Abbs creates a swell of tidal water that carves great tunnels, gullies and archways out of the rocks below the surface, making this an amazing place to explore from a boat or shore dive.

From the harbour of St. Abbs at low tide you can just about see the top of a fairly ordinary-seeming piece of rock sticking out of the water. This is actually the top of Cathedral Rock, a massive arch that rises from the sea bed and is home to thousands of species of encrusting marine life and the little fish that prey on them.

Elsewhere around the dive site, the unique mix of Atlantic waters from the northern tip of Scotland mixed with the colder Arctic waters make for an interesting and diverse array of marine life. Go with a local dive guide to find the best tunnels and caves and to get the most from your visit.

5. If you prefer wrecks to reefs, then Scapa Flow is the dive site for you. A natural harbour surrounded by five of the Orkney Islands, it offers some of the best wreck diving in the world. Experienced divers will be spoilt for choice with hundreds of well-preserved wrecks to explore.

Possibly the most exciting groups of wrecks to see here belong to a fleet of 74 German warships, which were ordered to sink themselves after WWI to stop them falling into enemy hands. 22 were rescued but the other 52 lie on the seabed, waiting to be explored by intrepid divers today.

If this is the type of dive that excites you but you prefer something a bit easier, then the area around Burra Sound has a number of First and Second World War ships lying in a more accessible 10-15 metres of water.

Something you may never have thought true of the UK, not only the obvious attractions of staying in the capital, but experiencing the many diving opportunities available in the country.

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