We arrived Friday night at Inverary Youth Hostel, checked in and set off to find the rest of the group. Some were already installed in the George, sampling the local food and ale, others arrived through the evening.
Aaargh! Simon woke up the whole youth hostel by trying to cook breakfast and settting off the fire alarm. To be fair, he had hardly got the grill hot before it went off, it seems you can't actually cook anything in the kitchen at all. Of course it may have been a ploy to get everyone out of bed on time, in which case it worked wonderfully.
Paddy, Teresa and I dived with Simon's group at Kenmore point. It was a long way down a very rough track, but quite a pleasant site at the end of it. Two pebble beaches either side of a rocky promotory out into the loch, surmounted by a monument to a local poet. There were a few houses and we were almost walking through someone's garden to get down to the sea. We said hello and they didn't seem to mind though.
After a pebbly, kelpy start the dive revealed a series of 4 or 5 metres high stone ledges stepping down in to the loch, cut with deep cracks and full of squat lobsters. There was no current to speak of and we descended to about 30m then made our way gradually back up the ledges and round the point until the rock petered out into a more sandy slope and we knew we had reached our exit point. On the way we passed a scrapyard of old washing machines all covered in anemones and tube worms, very pretty. (At this point we will try to forget the 'naughty gnome' which has left some members of the party mentally scarred...... no you will have to go and see for yourself what we are talking about!) Water about 9C, although the fresh water running off the sides of the loch was much colder and made safety stops pretty chilly.
In the afternoon Teresa sat out, Paddy and I dived back round the point in the other direction and returned to our first entry point, picking a different level to swim along and spotting a big conger in amongst the rocks, although he was rather startled and vanished into a hole before I could get a good picture.
For our evening meal we had a big table booked at the George in Inverary and we ate well, although serving 16 simultaneously stressed the kitchen a bit, they were very good about it. There was more live music in the pub (wonderfully smoke free) and we all stayed up rather too late.
It rained, good grief how it rained :-).
Our planned dive site at Para Handy's was too crowded, (which was a shame as it had a good car park and a cafe with nice cakes) so we drove back up the loch a little way to Furnace Quarry. The wind was starting to blow and the loch looked a bit choppy, but we decided it couldn't be any colder in the water then out.
The bay (which seems at least partly artificial, due to the quarry workings?) was steep and quickly became dark as the three of us descended. We reached 30m on the sloping sand and were relieved to find a sunstar, which at least proved there was some life around. Swimming along we found the promised boulder field and the dive improved a lot, with loads of little fish, crabs, squatties, anemones and tube worms to see. I took some very bad photographs and on the way back up, a very friendly wrasse followed us about for 10minutes, posing for a couple of close ups.
On the surface, the forecast storm had arrived and horizontal stinging rain reminded us this was Scotland in March. We got soaked in the space of a minute while de-kitting and putting everything in the car. Diving done, we sat and steamed for a few mintues while the A/C heated up, said farewell to the guys & girls from LUSAC and headed home, soggy but happy.