diving offfers mainly wreck diving.
These rugged islands just beyond the northern tip of scotland
mainland offers Scapa Flow, a sheltered expanse of water, in which
the remains of the one time famous German First World War Fleet
lie. Many individual islands form the Orkney islands and the many
miles of coastline create a lot of good diving opportunities.
Located on the edge of the Atlantic Gulf Stream Orkney gets clean
water that's rich in nutrients and which provides food for the
rich marine life.
Always dive according to your level of training.
Never enter the water without checking with the local dive center
for safety, additional information, level required for each dive
site and without being accompanied by a professional. All the
information provided is purely informative for our readers and
shouldn't be used as is to plan your immersion.
Average air temperature:4 °C (39 °F) - 12 °C
Average water surface temperature: 4°C (39°F)
in the month of April. 14°C (57°F) in September. In this light
a drysuit is recommended.
Coldest time:January, February and March
Best time to dive: June - September
Visibility average: 10 - 30 metres (30 - 100
Since the days of the vikings and through the
two world wars Scapa Flow has been used as an anchorage. It's
famous for the wrecks of the German fleet that were scuttled here
at the end of the first world war.
The wrecks count seven from the fleet and some
others that sunk under other circumstances. The size of the German
wrecks are impressive and give some really great diving. You can
see huge guns protruding from the wreckage. Marine life
here includes wrasse, sea urchins, sponges and starfish, brittle
stars and large jellysfish spotted in the nearby kelp forests.
A torch will come in handy because although
the visibility is excellent for UK water it can be dark
at depth. As most wrecks lie over 30 metres (98 feet), Scapa is
not suitable for novice divers.
Orkney Islands also has other diving apart from
wreck diving with rich marine life including seals, wrasse,
conger eels, jellysfish, crabs, sea urchins, brittle stars, starfish
Some dive sites on Orkney Islands:
F2 and YC21 barge wreck. The F2, a German escort
vessel of world war II sunk in December 1946. The wreck lies on
its port side and there's fairly good visibility.
Although much of the vessel has been broken up following salvage
operations, the fascinating bow, with it's gun (105mm) still in
place remains intact in 17 metres (56 feet) of water.
The YC21 situated close to the F2 is the wreck
of the big wooden barges that were used to carry parts away from
the site. It's said that the barge went down while carrying out
salvage operations on the F2 wreck in 1968. Encounters with with
lots of pollock, wrasse and conger eels hiding in the
wreckage are likely.
SMS Karlsruhe rests in 27 metres (88 feet) of
water. She isn't as intact as the other wrecks aroung here. This
is because she is at a shallower depth and hence more accesible
to salvagers. The Karlsruhe measures 150 metres (492 feet) and
has a capacity of 5'400 tonnes.
UB 116 was sunk by an electronically detonated
mine while on a delicate mission to enter the Flow and attack
Royal Navy vessels. All her crew, 34 members perished in this
operation and the site of the wreck was later destroyed further
by the Royal Navy divers who, to destroy the live torpedos still
on board, blew up the u-Boat. The wreckage, although destroyed
lies in 32 metres (104 feet) of water and still makes an interesting
dive. One can still make out large compressed air cylinders and
remains of bulk head doors among the debris site.
SMS Koln a light cruiser/mine layer of 5600 tons
and measuring 155 metres (508 feet), sunk in 919. She lies at
36 metres (118 feet) of water on her starboard side and is still
pretty intact. In fact some of her armaments are still in their
SMS Kronprinz Wilhelm is 177 metres (580 feet)
long and has a capacity of almost 26000 tons. She was intentionally
scuttled in 1919 and the the sheer weight of her guns and armoured
bridge caused her to turn upside down on sinking. Her superstructure
was deeply buried into the soft silt of the Flow bottom. It's
one of the three Konig Class Battleships
that survived the attempts of salvagers to raise them. The flat
keel of the vessel is at a shallow depth of 9 metres (29 feet).
You only get to the upturned deck area at a depth of approximately
35 metres (115 feet) which is complete with gun barrels. This
wreck dive leaves a great impression on the diver.
Steam Trawler Radiation, a large wooden built
trawler lies upright in about 23 metres (75 feet) of water and
is still pretty intact. Time and the salt water environment are
starting to wear out its wooden hull around her stern area. However
this dive is a great dive in relatively shallow waters but
beware, the wreck is covered in a thin layer of silt
which can easily be disturbed. Careful buoyancy control is required
MFV James Barrie wreck, sank in 1969 after running
aground on rocks. This was a large ocean ocean trawler made to
operate in the difficult Icelandic waters. This is a slack water
dive only. She lies on her port side and is intact. The
visibility is generally good and the wreck well worth
the dive but it's depth, about 42 metres (137 feet), and location
in strong tidal waters means that only very experienced divers
should attempt this dive.
Burra Sound has three main dives. The Tabarka
[2642 tonnes], Gobernador Bories [2332 tonnes] and the Doyle [1761
tonnes] and they all lie at a depth of 12-18metres (39-59 feet).
Burra Sound being very tidal means that dives can only be carried
out at slack water and the visibility is often excellent. The
Gobernador the most broken of the 3 wrecks attracts lots of marine
life.The Doyle is pretty intact and is a great dive. Other ships
also sunk in Burra sound but are very broken on the seabed today.
Although Orkney is known for its wreck diving
a large amount of scenic diving is available outside the Scapa
Flow and the many smaller islands that offer the best of Orkney's
scenic diving. There are popular dives at sites like
Inganess, the Old Man of Hoy, or the North Shoal.
The shallow waters offer excelent marine life but the
more experienced divers wishing to dive deeper have the
opportunity do so. Encounters with marine mammals like
common and grey seals, various types of whales, porpoises and
sometimes dolphins are common. Out of the water you may
also spot birds like puffins, skuas and guillemots who visit the
How to get there:
British Airways and Loganair fly scheduled services
to Kirkwall Airport Monday to Saturday from London, Birmingham,
Manchester, Glasgow, Edinburgh, Aberdeen, Inverness and
Wick P&O Ferries operate a daily car ferry from
Scrabster near Thurso and weekly from Aberdeen and Shetland to
Stromness If you're driving, go North through Scotland to the
A9. There is a car ferry from John O' Groats to St Margarets Hope