On Friday 20th May 2022 a group from Marlin Sub-Aqua club headed for Lundy Island, for a weekend of diving, planned by Pete, staying at the Royal Britannia Hotel in Ilfracombe.
The group consisted of Pete, Mike, Barry, Jake and James. The journey from Coventry in the West Midlands to Ilfracombe in North Devon took approximately 4 hours (with a stop in between).
Pete, Barry & James arrived at approximately 15:30. On arrival, we parked at the Ropery Car Park. This was a fantastic place to park, as it was close to the hotel and the harbour. We paid £16.80 for two days’ parking, which was very reasonable. Jake & Mike joined us later in the afternoon and evening.
Once we’d parked we sorted our kit out to take onto the boat, scouted the area for a place to eat, where to get cylinder fills and check where we would be setting off on Saturday for our first dive.
There is a Wetherspoon pub called The Admiral Collingwood which served amazing food at reasonable prices (wouldn’t expect anything less being a Wetherspoon) and was not far from the hotel. We decided to eat there for the weekend. We could get cylinder fills at Ilfracombe & North Devon BSAC Club (more to come on this later).
We would be setting off from Ilfracombe Harbour for the trip to Lundy Island the next day.
Saturday 21st May. This was Pete’s opportunity to finally achieve his BSAC Advanced Diver qualification, after a number of years delay, due to the pandemic, and he smashed it. Well done Pete!
Pete planned the dive with Obsession Boat Charter and we would be on the Barbara B boat for the weekend. The skipper for the weekend was Ben and the deck hand was Sam, both were very experienced and on each dive gave a good briefing of what to expect, with clear instructions.
After breakfast at the hotel and loading the boat up, we departed Ilfracombe Harbour at approximately 10:30 am, it took around 2 hours to get to Lundy Island, we kitted up and each took a DSMB and performed buddy checks, ready for our first dive.
The first dive was at Knoll Pins which is located on the Eastern Side of the Island, between Tibbetts Point and Brazen Ward, approximately 200 meters east of Three-quarter Wall Bay. The name refers to a pair of large rocks that dry out at low water. When the Knoll Pins are submerged in High water the kelp on top of the pins may be visible.
The dive started on the southern side of the outer pin, which we kept on our left-hand side during the descent and dive, there is a drop off to approximately 15 meters. The walls are covered in colourful jewel anemones, cup corals, pink sea fans and sponges, we also saw the occasional Spider Crab. The dive lasted approximately 45 minutes with a maximum depth of 13.5 meters and a temperature of 11.2°c. Visibility was good up to 6-7 meters.
On all of our dives over the weekend we were approached by countless Atlantic Grey Seals, many of which were extremely inquisitive and playful, which included nibbling our legs, fins and arms.
The second dive was at Brazen Ward which was a drift dive which is located on the Eastern Side of the Island, between Tibbetts Point and Gannets’ Rock. Dropping down to approximately 15 meters, the seabed is sandy-mud and many typical sand-dwelling creatures can be seen here. There weren’t many fish, however, we did see more Spider Crabs, Cup Coral and Yellow Sea Whip.
In shallower water, there were a series of smaller reefs, consisting of large square rocks, some of the larger exposed faces are covered in jewel anemones and large yellow sponges.
The dive lasted approximately 35 minutes with a maximum depth of 15.5 meters and a temperature of 11.0°c. Visibility was good up to 6-7 meters.
With the second dive complete we had a debrief, de-kitted and put our equipment into storage on the boat for the next day, whilst the skipper took us back to Ilfracombe Harbour.
We arrived back at approximately 18:00. James, Pete and Barry took their cylinders to the BSAC club for fills, met up with Mike & Jake and headed to The Admiral Collingwood for dinner, after which we collected the cylinders from the BSAC club. The BSAC club has the only compressor, which comes with a hefty charge, £20 for a 12l Twin-Set air fill or £23 for Nitrox. Jake and Mike brought a second Twin-Set, so didn’t require fills for the weekend. Safe to say we were not expecting such a high price for fills.
Sunday 22nd May. Following another marvellous breakfast at the hotel, we checked out of the hotel and packed our luggage into the cars and headed out to the Harbour, this time the skipper and Pete agreed to leave at 09:00. We arrived at Lundy at approximately 10:45 for our first dive of the day, we kitted up, again each of us taking a DSMB and completed our buddy checks.
The first dive was at Gannets’ Bay which is the largest bay on the northeastern side of the island and offers good protection from the prevailing westerly winds. The main part of this dive is the submerged cliff face on the southern side of Gannets’ Rock. The gap between the main cliff and Gannets’ Rock dries out at high water, but at other times water funnels through the gap and care should be taken whilst diving close to it.
The descent drops onto a mud seabed, where the mud ends, the seabed consists of large rounded granite boulders, this is the base of Gannets’ Rock. The boulders are home to sea cucumbers, spider crabs and wrasses.
Working slowly along the cliff allows the numerous nooks and crannies to be examined, jewel anemones are present towards the end of the rock face.
After passing the gap between Gannets’ Rock and Gannets’ Bay Cliff there is a kelp forest at around 8 meters depth, where the playful seals can be found again.
The dive lasted approximately 43 minutes with a maximum depth of 8.5 meters and a temperature of 11.0°c. Visibility was good up to 7-8 meters.
The second dive, which was the last dive of the weekend was at Gull Rock, this was a shallow dive of approximately 8 meters. Small reefs with yellow sponges and cup corals can be found here along with Spider Crabs, the granite boulders were home to sea cucumbers and wrasses. Again, seals were present for our final dive.
The dive lasted approximately 46 minutes with a maximum depth of 8.0 meters and a temperature of 11.2°c. Visibility was good up to 7-8 meters.
With the final dive of the weekend complete, we had a debrief, de-kitted and packed our equipment away. We arrived back at the harbour at approximately 16:30.
All in all, it was a fantastic weekend away and we would definitely make a second trip, just to see the seals!