Dunes of white polythene cover bulk cargo on the Ardlough in Anglesey.

The main spots for diving holidays in Wales are the two outside corners. Pembrokeshire in the south-west and Anglesey in the north-west, though the areas are generally referred to as West Wales and North Wales.
Members of Dover Sub Aqua Club obviously have a wreck-filled stretch of the English Channel on their doorstep. Nevertheless, each summer they like to get away for a club holiday.
Last July we went to Pembrokeshire for a week says Brian Stockwell, We had seen it mentioned in DIVER and thought the wrecks sounded good, so we decided to give it a go.
They booked a week with Steve Lewis and Pembrokeshire Dive Charters. Steve was a fantastic skipper. The wrecks he put us on more than met our expectations, all without rushing but comfortably on slack water, says Brian.
With a mixed group of single divers and couples, they booked two six-berth caravans, with some of the couples renting cottages. There were 16 divers in all, including a couple of father-son teams, says Brian. From that, 12 of us would dive from the boat each day while others went sightseeing or enjoyed a shore dive. The weather and diving was so good that by the end of the week we were thoroughly dived out.
We did so many wrecks in the 30m range, its hard to pick out a favourite. The tank landing craft in the approaches to Milford Haven was memorable; our sort of wreck. The deepest wreck was the Lucy which was absolutely fantastic.
Pembrokeshire is also noted for the marine life. We all had a great time with the seals on the Smalls he says. Its a long way offshore and out of radio range, so Steve arranged to be out there at the same time as a fishing boat so they could cover for each other.
We loved it so much, weve booked again for this July, says Brian. As a club we like a good variety of holidays so we wont always be in Pembrokeshire, but its definitely a location well continue with.
Paul Hasset from Leeds clearly likes the diving from Anglesey. Since 2000 he has done 18 weeks with skipper Scott Waterman and Quest Diving. Were not a club, just a group of like-minded friends, explains Paul.
The youngest is 20 and the oldest 65. The group changes from one trip to the next and Scott helps us fill any spare places. Some of these divers have since become regulars in our group.
Its something special when were offshore and see a basking shark or sunfish, says Paul. Inshore I do the occasional drift, reef or shallow potter, but overall my preference is for wrecks, and the more intact and untouched tend to be further offshore and deeper.
Its really something when you first dive a virgin wreck. I enjoy the older steamship wrecks most. Modern wrecks like the container ship Ardlough are a bit too new for me.
I prefer wrecks like the Fostimore, a small steamship wrecked in 1898. Its only about 120ft long and 20ft wide, but there were still gauges on the boiler. I could read the numbers on them. Its at 55m, so best dived on trimix.
To the north of Anglesey in 47m, the WW2 wreck of the Vigsnes and WW1 wreck of the Cork are close together. Both are steamships, upright and reasonably intact. Theyre both nice dives, but the Cork is better, says Paul, predictably. Its an older generation of ship, more ornate and more scenic.
How does Paul compare Anglesey to an overseas diving holiday Its cheaper, more adventurous and has a better social side. We stay at a local B&B in Menai Bridge and eat in pubs and restaurants.
Paul was most recently in Anglesey between Christmas and New Year.
It was only a couple of days rather than a weeks holiday, but we had some enjoyable dives in the Menai. One of the things I like about Anglesey is that there is always somewhere to dive whatever the weather, so a trip is never wasted.
In 2003 Scott replaced his 10m Lochin boat with Endeavour, a 12m boat from the same builder. Paul comments: The diver lift is excellent when you have heavy kit in a rough sea. But now Ive been spoiled. When I dive from boats without a lift, Ive almost forgotten how to climb a ladder. Its very seaworthy and we make good use of it to dive wrecks further afield.
This can extend as far as the Isle of Man, where Scott runs longer excursions, staying at a B&B in Port St Mary.
The wreck of the Liverpool is fantastic, but the Ringwall is better says Paul, leading us nicely onto our next Great British diving holiday destination.

  • Dover Sub Aqua Club BSAC (www.dover-subaqua-club.co.uk); Pembrokeshire Dive Charters (www.gopdc.co.uk); Quest Diving www.questdiving.co.uk


  • Peek-a-boo
    Peek-a-boo with a seal in the Menai Straits
    Paul
    Paul Hasset (fourth from left) from Leeds and friends cant get enough of Anglesey.