Whenever I talk to people about my diving they’re usual reaction to thinking about diving in the UK is some shade of dread. Diving at home in the UK has a bad image to the uninitiated, for lack of a better term, but some of my best dives of my career have been here in the UK.
As my friend Dave says “you have to work to dive in the UK” which is true, it isn’t as easy as diving in the tropics but it is definitely worth it and you get a greater sense of earning when you dive in the UK compared to abroad.
The main assumption that people have is ‘is there even anything down there to see?‘ Most people think that under the surface of the water is just mud, sand and stones but there is a plethora (my long word for the day) of underwater life, structures and of course shipwrecks to look at and we even have nudibranchs in our waters. The varied landscapes from rocky outcroppings to kelp forests hold another world of small to large creatures under the waves.
This is the main reason I enjoy British diving because there is so much to see and if you’re lucky enough you can find a playful seal or a beautiful shipwreck to explore. For most dives it isn’t even what you find in the water that is the best thing about the trip, it’s the people you meet and dive with that make the trip. You gain a second family of people you trust and go out with to share the underwater world.
‘Oh, ok’ they say, ‘but isn’t just green and murky?‘
Sometimes you can have poor vis yes but in most places you can get fine visibility, granted it’s not the Red Sea but it makes you focus on the smaller things and tests your navigation and buddy procedures to be a better diver.
‘Ah, but isn’t it cold?‘, they think they have you with this question
If you’re wearing the proper thermal protection then no, you should never be cold on a dive. I wear a drysuit all year round but you can wear a wetsuit for most of the diving season in the UK. I prefer drysuits as you remain dry underneath and it’s both quicker and easier to get dressed before and after the dive.
I also prefer diving in the colder months sometimes as the algae dies down improving the vis and there are fewer divers stirring things up.
If you can’t make it out to the coast then there are plenty of great inland dive sites around the country that aren’t affected by the weather as a back up plan and the popularity of these sites at times shows there are plenty of us willing to dive in the UK.
As I write this I realise the confliction inside me encouraging more people to dive in the serene, quiet British waters making it more crowded. But I want more people diving in general, as the more people diving mean that skippers and dive sites will be more accessible.
If you can’t find any inspiration or don’t know where to go in the UK then just Google it, or check out our Top 5 Dive Spots in the UK.