Divers: Alex Bourla & Neil Love, Freedivers: Anya Keatley & Michael Waterworth
Ordinarily I’m not sure whether a single evening shore dive would justify its own trip report but with this one ending up being hands down the best UK shore dive I’ve ever done I felt it deserved one!
This trip got off to a bit of a shaky start with our plans changing pretty drastically on the day! Originally there were 3 of us, 2 divers and Neil who was going to come along but not dive. Unfortunately the second diver pulled out and it looked like we were going to have to call off the trip – a bit of a shame given the favourable weather conditions and recent reports of 10m+ vis! Neil decided that rather than call off the trip he’d be up for diving himself instead however Neil was at work in Weston Super-mare but his kit in his room in Bristol. In our wisdom it was decided that the best thing to do would be for me to drive from Bristol to Weston, pick Neil up, drive back to Bristol, get Neil’s kit and then drive 2 hours down to Thurlestone – all for a single shore dive!
The fairly mammoth journey went well, I picked Neil up took him back to Bristol to get his kit. It was here that we picked up Anya and Michael. They were originally planning to go caving but tempted by the diving decided to come along – without filled tanks etc they decided they’d just free dive around the wreck instead (it only lies at around 7m or so).
We got to Thurlestone at about 7pm greeted by idyllic surface conditions – not a cloud in the sky or even as much as a ripple on the surface. Keen to get in the water we got kitted up and ready to go.
After the not-so-short surface swim we descended directly onto the wreck (think I’ll put that down to skill rather than luck!), vis was about 6m+ and pretty much from the word go life on the wreck was quite prolific! There were more types of fish than I could identify all in big groups all over the wreck – I’m pretty sure I saw almost every kind of fish I’d ever seen in UK waters! We saw a lot of really big lobsters, one particularly massive one was hiding in a pipe near the boilers when Neil managed to coax it all the way out with the power of his rotating torchlight – impressive Dr Dolittle-esque stuff! We also saw the usual mix of other wildlife, different types of crabs etc.
Being quite shallow we had plenty of time on the wreck and managed to do a couple of laps of the whole thing seeing bits we’d both never seen before. Considering it’s depth (little over 7 or 8 m) there are some pretty impressively large sections still remaining.
Towards the end of the dive we were heading back to the boilers when I spotted something in one of the holes – it looked like the bottom half of a Conger Eel. I beckoned Neil to investigate and when Neil went to look in an adjacent hole just a bit further up he was greeted by an up-close encounter with the face of the largest Conger Eel either of us had ever seen!
When we eventually headed back to the surface (75 minutes later!) we surfaced to the sight of a pretty impressive sunset over the headland – a fitting end to a spectacular dive!
We were both absolutely buzzing and never could have believed to have seen such a prolific show of life in only 7m of water off the coast of Devon! We didn’t make it back to Bristol till near 1am and had ended up driving over 350 miles just for a single UK shore dive but I can’t tell you how worth it is was worth it. Having dived it a few times now the Louis Shied has genuinely never disappointed, for those looking for a nice easy shore dive I can’t recommend it enough!