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THE BEST WALL IN SCOTLAND probably has yet to be dived. This rugged and varied coastline is slow to give up her secrets. Some desolate stretch of coastline bathed by clear Atlantic waters is probably still providing stimulation only for the fish. So make allowance for mysterious undived locations. I havent dived St Kilda yet, either.
Everybody has personal favourites, so my choice of top 10 wall dives in Scotland is bound to be controversial. To reach my final countdown, I took the following factors into account:
1) Depth at which the wall starts and finishes.
2) Whether it is vertical, a slope or a series of steps (vertical with overhangs being best).
3) Marine life.
4) Average visibility.
5) Tidal adrenaline rush.
You can see the results on the chart on the next page.

10 Furnace Cliff, Loch Fyne
First off, its Loch Fyne and the big wall at Furnace Quarry, which scored 10.
The wall falls straight from the surface but initially as a 45 boulder slope, which is man-made. This slope ends at 30m in a gently sloping muddy sea floor, which itself then slopes to a depth of 36m. This is where the proper cliff starts, and it falls to 52m.
While this site scores poorly for the cliff itself, it fares better with the marine life on the wall. Atlantic water is forced up into Loch Fyne, and its not unusual to come across unexpected residents on the wall. I once noted a large stone crab here, and have found nudibranchs that I have never been able to identify in any field guide.
Viz on average is OK, 4 to 5m being the norm, but there is little water movement, so it can be a little silty.
Its hard work to get down to the natural wall, but it is worth it. The muddy area on the ascent is home to a variety of creatures, from squat lobsters and scallops to little flatties, but dont get disoriented, as you need to find the base of the boulder slope. This area is home to congers and pollack, and once youre in the shallows, small prawns and gobies will help you wile away the deco stops.
This site is best enjoyed when conditions are atrocious, and the sheltered deep waters of Loch Fyne can offer you an excellent dive. Its also an excellent site for build-up dives to 30m.

9 Seil Island, Loch Fyne
A few miles down the loch from Furnace Cliff is Seil Island. It scored 12 points. The wall starts immediately with a wicked little overhang, and the impressive face and overhang score highly. There is also a little tide here, however, and it can wash you off the face if you locate only the overhang rather than the main wall on your descent, so be aware.
Dropping down, the wall is vertical but comes to an unfortunate halt at only 42m - losing it valuable points. Down here are some little caves and undercuts, their roofs covered in peacock worms.
Once again, Atlantic waters abound and marine life is prolific. The wall is covered with crabs and starfish, and the caves at the bottom are home to some big cod. As the name of the site suggests, there are seals about. I have seen them at the surface, though never under water here. Viz averages 5m, with moderately good marine life.
Boats can be launched at a slipway at Minnard, and the wall is found on the south-east side of the southernmost islet.

8 Loch Sunart Wall
Sligneach Mor is a small rock that barely breaks the surface at low water. It is possible to stand on top of this wall in a little under 2m of water and take one pace forward to be in water 50m deep.
The wall falls straight from the surface, with large overhangs. It does not however fall to its full depth immediately, and a fin along the wall gradually sees it getting ever deeper past 50m, or so I am informed.
Marine life is very impressive, with splendid male cuckoo wrasse in blue and gold as well as Yarrells blennies, nudibranchs and big dahlia anemones. The viz was a poor 4m and very silty, proof that there is very little tide to keep this site clean. I did it as a second dive and restricted myself to just over 20m, so perhaps it does have more to offer.
This site won 12.5 points. Marine life was very good, but poor viz and minimal tidal movement made it a dark, gloomy dive. This is certainly one site I would like to revisit for further exploration.

7 Isle Martin Wall
Located near Ullapool in the North-west, this 13-point site is a cracker. Topside, the scenery is awesome, with huge cliffs rising out of the sea. Under water, the picture is very similar.
The wall starts immediately from the surface, with a handy little shelf at 6m, and doesnt stop again until it hits the 40m mark. It then turns into a gently sloping bed of clean coarse sand, eventually reaching 50m.
Marine life is prolific, with cuckoo wrasse, pollack and, on the sand at the bottom, we noted an anglerfish. Vertical cracks that run back up the wall are full of edible crabs and scorpionfish.
The kelp-fringed ledge at 6m was also home to nudibranchs and painted topshells. Visibility on our dive was fair at 10m, and the water was bright. We did not experience much tide but the site was clean and the vast numbers of plumose anemones indicate that there is some water movement. Its a great site if you get the chance to sample it.

6 Cuan Sound
This wall is spectacular. I peered over a kelp-fringed reef 10m down and whoosh, off we went in the tide, the wall falling vertically away below us. I drifted at 24m and the sea floor at some points came up to meet us, forming caves and overhangs. At other points it fell away below us out of sight, although the poor 4m viz restricted the view.
I suspect that the viz would normally be a lot better than this, as we dived the site on a dismal January morning. The early season may have accounted for a lack of fish life but the walls were covered in dead mens fingers and large sponges. Its certainly one I would do again.
This cliff starts late and finishes early and the life is less plentiful than on the other dives, but it makes up its 17 points on the adrenaline rush.

5 Lochaline Pier
Now were into the top five and real quality. Dont strap on your fins unless you are prepared to go deep, be blasted along that wall and spat back up to the surface! Wall dives dont come much bigger than Lochaline, which falls away from just under the surface at 9m and just keeps going down. Ive heard various depths put forward for the end of the wall but 80m appears to be correct.
This site comes with a reputation for vicious tidal streams and downcurrents, and slack tide is recommended for diving it. With this in mind, I was surprised by the lack of marine life.
A few dead mens fingers and a patch or two of plumose anemones gave the merest hint of any tidal movement, and otherwise all I saw were Devonshire cup corals and a solitary lesser spotted dogfish. Points were lost for this, and for the wall being flat and featureless.
The grey wall fell away unclothed into the depths. We did not experience any severe downcurrents but I did notice a difficulty in keeping to a precise depth, having to settle for plus or minus a metre. But its 18 points for Lochaline, a step up from previous dives and one that can be done as a shore dive. It gives a true sense of depth in stunning 15m viz.

4 Calve Island
A few miles over the Sound of Mull from Lochaline is Calve Island, and at its North-east point is a fantastic wall, once again in 15m visibility, that earned 20 points in my survey.
I descended a vertical wall but, unlike Lochalines, this one is tortured and scarred, providing varied accommodation for its residents. The wall teems with life - schools of fish, families of wrasse and another big dogfish. Smaller stuff was around in force as well, with nudibranchs and painted topshells common sights.
The wall fell away to 44m, where I stopped on a 4m-wide ledge. Peering over this into the depths, I was unable to see the sea floor. Tidal movement was very slight until the northern tip of the isle was neared, and the wall was covered in patches of plumose anemones.
Calve Island has the lot - depth, marine life, viz and an interesting wall structure. Only the excitement of a stiff tidal run was missing.

3 Bass Rock NE Face
Perhaps Im guilty of bias when I put this dive in third place, as its my local wall, but I think it deserves that extra point over Calve Island.
Three miles out of North Berwick stands the massive volcanic plug of the Bass Rock. On its north-east point, a cliff falls from the surface straight down to 46m. Marine life is fantastic and it offers different inhabitants from all the other walls, as this is the only site in my list to be found on the east coast of Scotland.
Octopus, wolf-fish and anglerfish are common sights here, and the resident colonies of grey seals are always spotted on the surface and sometimes under water. Viz averages 5m, although I most recently dived the site in around 10m on a sunny day and it was awesome.
The walls are tortured and there are caves and overhangs. Fault lines send crevices right up the face. Jutting slabs of rock also stick out at right angles to the wall, forming giant pillars of stone.
Tidal movement does affect this site, although generally its not too intense. Its just enough for a pleasant drift along the dense coverings of plumose anemones that confirm that on big tides the water does rip a little faster along the wall. It can certainly push the unwary diver off the wall onto beds of brittlestars on days when there are big tides.
Topside, too, its a stunning location, Its also a huge gannet colony. If this wall dropped for another 4m, it would be hard to beat.

2 Bo Fascadale Pinnacle
This infamous site has nothing to mark its presence apart from a standing wall of water, or perhaps a confused area in an otherwise calm sea.
All the action is under water, as this pinnacle reaches to just under 6m from the surface. Its big wall drops from just over 10m straight to around 40m, where a steep boulder slope takes over and trundles off to around 60m.
Not that deep for the main wall, then, but this dive is on such a high-energy site that the marine life is exceptional. Fantastically coloured anemones provide decoration, and further inspection of the crevices identifies jewel anemones glowing in the recesses. Dead mens fingers carpet the walls and schools of fish swarm along them.
Viz generally averages an awesome 15m. On my last visit, even after terrible storms, it was a very respectable 8m. The wall is heavily faulted, and spires and pillars rise out of the main face, complementing the deep scars which provide homes for all those creatures.
On my last dive the deco stop was entertaining, as I was surrounded by a vast school of sand-eels in mid water. So there is always a chance of sighting whatever big animals eat the sand eels.
The main wall stops a bit early at 40m, robbing Bo Fascadale of maximum points by just one, but everything else is world class. Its an exciting dive in the middle of nowhere and not to be missed.

1 Bo Fascadale Pinnacle
So we come to the dive that relegates all others to warm-up status. Some of the previous sites have been fairly impressive above the surface, but this little site keeps all its points of interest down below.
Only two tiny islets about 50m across in total show above the surface, and then only if youre lucky.
When we arrived, our charter boat was being spun on her axis by the tidal vortices at the site. Were we going to dive Too right!
As this site was new to everybody, we entered at the bay at the extreme edge of the islet, which comprised a boulder slope down to 20m. Dont worry, when the wall forms it starts at just below the surface.
Large schools of big pollack cruised along the top of the drop-off and a fantastically coloured blue and gold male cuckoo wrasse flirted in front of my lens. He was so hard to shoot that I left him and went over to the lip of the cliff to get some shots of the pollack.
I discarded that intention as soon as I arrived, however, because I was literally sucked over the edge and had been blasted down the wall to 46m before I got enough air in my suit to stop the rush.
Down here it was darker, or was it just that my eyes didnt have time to adjust to the dim light Hexagonal basalt columns ran up and down the face, which was covered in Devonshire cup corals.
I was now being firmly pushed along the wall at a couple of knots, which was great, but even the excellent handholds offered by the basalt columns were not enough to stop my progress for longer than it took to take a snapshot.
I glanced down, and in the dark 10m viz could see only the wall continuing out of sight. My progress along the wall stopped and I was spat back up towards the surface. I put the brakes on at 24m and enjoyed being pushed by the tide - but this time in the opposite direction.
Marine life was wild up here, ledges and buttresses providing homes for dead mens fingers, plumose anemones and jewel anemones in the crevices. Fish schooled about everywhere and a huge conger came out of its hole, displaying its tonsils for my camera.
Slightly shallower, the kelp started to take over, but this was home to nudibranchs and topshells as well as big lions mane jellyfish with small whiting nestling in their tendrils.
After the initial terror subsided, this was an unbeatable wall dive. The wall is perfect and I dont know where it stops - certainly not in the air-diving realm. Marine life is industrial-strength and viz excellent, if a little dark at depth.
This dive was hard work but I was rewarded afterwards while relaxing on the surface in the setting sun, as wave after wave of puffins, their beaks full of sand-eels, flew overhead.
Magic! If you are dive-fit and in the area, you have to try this site.
I hope I have whetted your appetite, but if you disagree with my choice and know of a better Scottish wall site than these - take me there!

 DepthSlopeLifeVizRushPoints
10 Loch Fyne Furnace Cliff2232110
9 Seil Island Loch Fyne2332212
8 Loch Sunart Wall333.52112.5
7 Isle Martin Wall3333113
6 Cuan Sound5533117
5 Lochaline Pier5523318
4 Calve Island4444420
3 Bass Rock NE Face4554321
2 Bo Fascadale Pinnacle4555524
1 An t-lasgair North Skye5555525
A
A Loch Fyne wall scallop
One
One of its nudibranchs
A
A diver on Cuan Sound Wall
Lesser
Lesser spotted dogfish at Calve Island
Shallower
Shallower marine life on An t-Iasgair
Going
Going over the edge at that site
Male
Male cuckoo wrasse chooses our top wall
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