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St Abbs

st-abbs
Harbour – East
Max. depth: 16 mtrs
Minimum grade: Novice
Currents: Negligible near rocks

The most popular shore-dives are at the east side of the harbour which is reached by walking around the stone jetties, the first-timer here just needs to follow the crowd and queue up at the entry point. The best entry is off the rocks where the three sections of wall meet, at high water it’s a doddle but as the tide falls it becomes more tricky with the kelp posing particular problems at low water. The area around the entry point is gravel bottomed gullies which are easily followed depending on which route you’re undertaking.
The dives here generally consist of circumnavigating the rocky outcrops, Broad Craig, Big and Little Green Carrs and the renowned Cathedral Rock.
They can be dived separately or two or more can be combined which gives several permutations.

Once at the entry point, the big rock facing you is Broad Craig, this is an easy dive with no currents so long as you stay close to the rock, maximum depth about 10 metres. If circumnavigating this rock counter-clockwise, one of the first features is a very narrow gully near the entry point which has lots of kelp at the top, so it’s quite an eerie start to the dive for novices.

Beyond this rock, to the north, is Big Green Carr, this is subject to the main tidal stream on the seaward side, so it’s best to stay close to the rock face in which case the maximum depth will be 15 metres, although beyond the rock itself the seabed falls away to 18+ metres. Big pollack abound here and it’s not uncommon to see groups of them hovering in the current. This is a colourful dive in mid to late summer, especially early morning when the Amphitheatre (on the east side) is illuminated by direct sunlight.

A decent sized wolf-fish has taken up residence in a hole on the west side of this rock and is always ready to entertain visitors!

Cathedral Rock is to the south-east, so named by divers because of the arched tunnel through it (actually there are two tunnels, a much smaller one lies above the main arch). A group of semi-tame wrasse live around Cathedral and they’re unafraid of divers, often taking food from an outstretched hand. Quite often a current flows through the arch on the flood tide, but it isn’t serious, in fact it helps to keep the vis’ reasonable after the previous visitors have stirred it up.

On all the sites here, you’ll see dead-men’s-fingers and anemones adorning the quite impressive walls. Even if the vis is poor, there are so many smaller forms of life on the rocks, in crevices and on the weeds that you’ll not be disappointed, nudibranchs in particular are numerous and very colourful.

Another interesting area is around the rocks lining the harbour entrance. Few people venture here as the harbour master gets annoyed if anyone dives in the fairway so be sure to stay close to the rocks and not to surface in this area.

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