Best Diving in Scotland

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Scapa Flow is in the Orkney Islands, and covers some of the Scotland’s best wreck diving sites.

During the armistice talks at the close of World War I, the German Navy was sent to Scapa Flow as a gesture of good faith. The ships were only allowed to have skeleton crews for basic maintenance.

At one point the German admiralty feared a British trick to overwhelm the skeleton crews and steal the whole fleet. Upon a prearranged signal, the skeleton crews scuttled their ships by opening the seacocks. The German fleet was later salvaged, with the exception of 7 ships which were too damaged to re-float. These seven World War I wrecks became the core attraction for an area with many excellent wrecks to dive.

Best Diving Destinations in Scotland

Diving at Scapa Flow provides a smorgasbord of wrecks upon which to dive, not just the German high fleet, but the blocking boats and other vessels that have sunk over the years in Scapa Flows natural lagoon. Among the more popular dive sites are the German light cruiser The Brummer, the battleships Kronprinz Wilhelm, Markgraf, Konig and cruisers Dresden, Koln and the World War II cruiser Karlsruhe. Several Wrecks in Scapa Flow are designated war graves and cannot be dived. Scapa Flow also offers the ability to dive with seals.

Typical marine life includes seals, plumrose anemones, cushion starfish, sand eels, brittle starfish, sea squirts, feather stars and sea urchins.

When to Visit Scotland

Year round although summer is much better as the sun is almost directly overhead, allowing for greatest penetration of light to deeper wrecks.

The average water temperature is 7.5°C (46°F) in Feb, 9°C (48°F) in May 18°C (65°F) in Aug and 10.5°C (51°F) in Nov.

The visibility is more favourable during the winter months (Dec-Mar). Entrance to Scapa Flow at Burra Sound averages 12-20m (39-66ft) during the summer, visibility on German Fleet reduced to 10m (20-33ft).

Location

Scapa Flow in Scotland is surrounded by the Orkney Islands. It has more ship wrecks in one single place than any other location in the world. Scapa Flow is part of the United Kingdom, English is the official language and Pounds Sterling the official currency. Scapa Flow has not always been part of the United Kingdom, but was part of Norway, and much of the influence of its Viking history still remains.

WWI History

The wrecks of Scapa Flow have a long naval history. After World War I the German high fleet was sunk by the Germans (scuttled) so they would not then become the property of Great Britain. Fifty two wrecks were originally sunk, but over the years salvage operations have removed many and now only eight wrecks from the German high fleet remain. During World War II several boats were purposefully sunk in the passages leading into Scapa Flow. These blocking boats were sunk in order to hinder the Germans from sneaking into Scapa Flow and attacking the British fleet.

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