Anglesey has been on my diving bucket list for quite a while. It’s not too far from the Midlands, has good road links and plenty of shore diving sites on opposite sides of the island. The opportunity just had never come up… until now.
I’d completed a Seasearch Observer course in 2020 during lockdown but had never managed to get my schedule matched up with any of the Seasearch dives. When the dates came up to join Seasearch on a dive AND it was in Anglesey I jumped at the chance. Could I find a buddy to join me?
One of the great things about being in an active BSAC club is that when you find something you want to do, there is usually someone else eager to join you. I sent an email to the club and Mike W was keen to do both the Seasearch course and the diving. A plan was created.
What is Seasearch?
If you’re a recreational diver or snorkeller looking for a new challenge, Seasearch offers an exciting way to learn about marine life while doing your bit to protect and restore our ocean. By collecting information about the habitats, plants and animals that you see underwater, you’ll be helping us track the health of our marine environments.
We drove up to Anglesey on Friday afternoon. A popular tourist destination, we were staying in Trearddur Bay. If you are thinking of eating out in the pubs here then it’s best to book well in advance, as Mike and I found out to our disappointment. Happily, the local chinese takeaway is pretty good.
We used Friday evening to walk around the bay and take a look at a local dive site at Porth Castell that had been recommended to us. Noting down the entry and exit points as well as assessing the suitability of the site for diving later.
We were up early and arrived at the meeting point for Seasearch at Port Dafarch. The conditions looked perfect and the site has great facilities. As we waited for the rest of the Seasearch team to arrive, the swell in the bay started to increase. By the time everyone had assembled, the conditions had got worse and getting in through the waves was now looking unsafe. The decision was made to try a quiet site on the opposite side of the island that should be sheltered from a southerly wind.
We arrived at Cemlyn Bay about 25 minutes later to find it flat, calm and looking amazing. We conducted a risk assessment, drew up a dive plan and prepared to go in.
It was a shallow bay, maximum depth reached was 3.3m with the neap tide, but we were busy exploring for over 61 minutes trying to note down as much of the dive as we could on our slates. We both took cameras to collect photos of anything we saw to help identification later.
After a long dive we got out and set to work filling in the Seasearch forms while the information was fresh in our minds. By the time we had talked over the forms, the tide was reaching a low point and a second dive here wasn’t going to be possible. There are also no facilities here so hanging around for the next high tide wasn’t an option.
The details we had for Newry Beach in Holyhead were that it was possible to dive at any state of the tide so we packed up our stuff and headed off. A little pointer from the Seasearch coordinator had us on the lookout for sea pens while we were there.
We arrived at Newry beach and found parking just above the beach for restaurant customers only. So we reserved a table for an hour’s time so we were ‘customers’ and got our gear together! There is parking further up the hill but we needed somewhere to eat so this seemed like a good opportunity.
Using the information we had on the sea pen location, we headed out and followed our compass on a planned route. Success! We found the sea pens exactly where they were supposed to be. We also found the alien looking sand brittlestars and as a bonus I spotted a little squid swimming amongst them.
The visibility wasn’t great and after a 25 minute dive to a max depth of 7.7m we became separated from each other. As agreed before, we searched for 1 minute and then both ascended under the SMB’s we were using. A free flow on Mike’s reg when filling the DSMB had used a lot of gas so we decided to call it a day. It was a short surface swim back to the beach and there was just enough time to pack all our stuff away before heading in for our meal.
The southerly wind had continued overnight and the weather in the morning was still poor. We headed over to Porth Castell to have a look at the conditions. We decided that it was too rough to circumnavigate the rocks but diving in the bay and the channel would be safe. We dropped our kit on the beach and I got ready while Mike parked the car further up the road.
We kitted up on the beach and entered the water towards the left side of the bay. We had a nice dive around the bay and part way into the swim through between the rocks where it was sheltered. Although it was very shallow 2.6m it was a nice dive with no time limit for us to explore all around the bay before we surfaced back at the beach.
It was now low tide and with the wind picking up we decided to head back and stop at Llyn Padarn on the way home.
We had read about Llyn Padarn in the dive guides, it was described as dark with very little life. They aren’t wrong. The yellowish colour of the water combined with the dark slate rock absorbs even the brightest torch light. We parked in the water sports free carpark that is right on the shore of the lake. The access to the water is shallow and very easy although you do need to take care of the surface traffic and use a SMB at all times. Having assessed the site we made a plan to swim out to the middle of the lake and then head back on a reciprocal bearing. As we descended we found a gully cut into the rock that we followed out, explored the collection of wellies along the way (???). We reached a maximum depth of 12.9m and having not found much we decided to return. On the way back we then stumbled upon a car lying on its roof. We must have missed on the way out by only a couple of metres.
I can’t say it was a great dive but having visited Llanberis many times to climb Yr Wyddfa (Snowdon as it was known, my Welsh is really coming along well!) it is nice to say I have dived in the lake too.
We enjoyed a nice drive back though the Welsh mountains (after checking our transfer tables!) and arrived home in time for tea.
The diving was easy, fun and entertaining. We learnt a lot about the sites and tides while we were there and will be able to use the information to plan many more trips in the future.
As a bonus for making it to the end of the report. Here is a short video I threw together from my first outing with a GoPro.