Divernet

To the left of the rocky entry point at St Abbs harbour, a wolf fish (Anarhichas lupus) holds court, still occupying the same crevice after three years in the limelight, having been photographed by all and sundry and starring in several television documentaries and photographic competitions.
The St Abbs wolf fish is now almost as famous as George - the legendary wolf fish of Eyemouth, who reigned for 10 years - and is just one of the attractions in an area offering quite possibly some of the best diving in the British Isles.
Its almost 15 years since David Bellamy threw himself into St Abbs harbour after declaring the St Abbs and Eyemouth Voluntary Marine Nature Reserve open, and this popular stretch of the Berwickshire coastline is still the only marine reserve in Scotland.
Everyone who dives here returns. The coastline is varied, dramatic and rugged, cut with caves, gullies, canyons and sheer cliffs. Diving through one of the many submarine tunnels and along the cliff faces is truly exhilarating.
The dives within the confines of the marine reserve range from easy, gently sloping shore dives to challenging drift dives in difficult tidal conditions.
The predominant feature of the shoreline is the rocky cliffs, extending under water to encompass a lush kelp forest, submarine reefs and offshore seamounts.

To the left of the rocky entry point at St Abbs harbour, a wolf fish (Anarhichas lupus) holds court, still occupying the same crevice after three years in the limelight, having been photographed by all and sundry and starring in several television documentaries and photographic competitions.
The St Abbs wolf fish is now almost as famous as George - the legendary wolf fish of Eyemouth, who reigned for 10 years - and is just one of the attractions in an area offering quite possibly some of the best diving in the British Isles.
Its almost 15 years since David Bellamy threw himself into St Abbs harbour after declaring the St Abbs and Eyemouth Voluntary Marine Nature Reserve open, and this popular stretch of the Berwickshire coastline is still the only marine reserve in Scotland.
Everyone who dives here returns. The coastline is varied, dramatic and rugged, cut with caves, gullies, canyons and sheer cliffs. Diving through one of the many submarine tunnels and along the cliff faces is truly exhilarating.
The dives within the confines of the marine reserve range from easy, gently sloping shore dives to challenging drift dives in difficult tidal conditions.
The predominant feature of the shoreline is the rocky cliffs, extending under water to encompass a lush kelp forest, submarine reefs and offshore seamounts.

A shore thing
The variety of shore diving is what makes the area unique, with legendary sites such as Cathedral Rock instantly recognisable by the massive archway and the smaller keyhole tunnel above. The sides are festooned with plumose anemones and mussels, and there is a large family of ballan wrasse that are well used to visiting divers.
It should be noted that unscrupulous divers and underwater photographers are killing sea urchins to feed to the wrasse. Please observe the conservation code and do not kill or molest any form of marine life just to enhance your photographs.
The shore entry at St Abbs Harbour for this dive is also the central staging point for the majority of all the shore diving in the area. It is the starting point for four other dive routes that meander through underwater gullies and canyons, into a natural amphitheatre and, of course, past Big Green Carr where the wolf fish can be found.

Broad Craig has a naturally sheltered area, ideal for training dives, yet its outer wall is suited to more experienced divers as it is easy to get lost in the maze of tunnels and boulders topped with a thick forest of kelp.
Further out to Little Green Carr, the deeper sections have delicate cup corals and rare arctic anemones that have a symbiotic relationship with a species of prawn.
Similar conditions are found off Eyemouth. In fact, some say that the shore diving off Eyemouth is better than St Abbs - not only are there fewer people diving there, but the area for shore diving off the caravan park at Eyemouth covers a much greater area, with more varied habitats.
Eyemouth is also the only location where you can night dive, as it is completely banned at St Abbs. Weasel Loch is the most popular shore entry, negotiated down 75 steps interspaced with passing places and bench seats.
Popular with everyone from trainees to experienced divers, this site is the start of several interesting routes around the next headland to underwater canyons such as the Cresta Run and Divers Hole.
With so many spectacular sites in this area, its not surprising that the marine reserve is now being expanded to cover much of the Northumberland coast - a designated Special Area of Conservation, recognised by the European Union.




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FACTFILE

GETTING THERE: The Marine Reserve is two miles from the A1. The closest station is Berwick upon Tweed, less than four hours from London.
DIVING DETAILS: The Marine Reserve Warden (018907 71273) can advise on access, weather conditions and dive sites. Air is available at St Abbs Air Compressor; Scoutscroft Diving Centre in Coldingham 018907 71338; Eyemouth Diving Centre 018907 51202. Several local fishermen hire their boats for dive groups on a daily basis. Double D Charters, mv Olympic Spirit from Eyemouth 018907 50924/50795; mv Guiding Star from St Abbs 018907 71681. Free boat launching from Eyemouth beach; 10 from St Abbs harbour. Parking is limited at St Abbs.
ACCOMMODATION: Caravans or tents at the nearby caravan parks are the most popular option: Scoutscroft Holiday Park 018907 71338; Coldingham Caravan Park 018907 71316; Eyemouth Holiday Park 018907 51050. For hotels and B&Bs, contact Eyemouth Tourist Information Centre 018907 50678.
FOR NON-DIVERS: Scenic walks, rockpool rambling with the Marine Reserve Warden, birdwatching.
HAZARDS: The water is cold, so bring proper thermal semi-dry or drysuits. On every dive, cold is the limiting factor. Wind chill must also be considered.
BEST TIME TO GO: May to October when the prevailing winds are from the west - at other times the east coast can be undiveable. For an up-to-date forecast, ring Marinecall 01891 500452 (shipping area Forth).
WATER TEMPERATURE: Average sea temperatures range from 7.5*C in February to 18*C in August.
DIVING SUITABLE FOR: All levels.
COST: B&Bs and hotels cost£15-20, self-catering accommodation from£5 per person. Boat dives range from£7 to£15 (hardboats to high-speed RIBs), with guided dives from£10-15.
PROS: Fantastic diversity of marine life, spectacular underwater scenery. Great opportunities for both shore diving and boat diving.
CONS: Winter storms can be particularly severe - though they rarely last longer than a few days - and when the sea calms down, the best visibility is encountered during the winter.