Still revisiting old dive sites.....

What with diving around the islands no good to an old hand who doesn't 'do' grovelling in grot anymore it was time for another all of our yesterdays.......

And today all of our yesterdays was on the South bank of Ullswater at the Pooley Bridge end of the lake! Many moons ago this was a common pre-season and off season dive for Bishop Auckland club as it was nice and safe, the trouble is that it's quite a drag over the Penines and the more adventurous discovered Hodge Close and the quarry at Cowshill so this safe dive was scrubbed out of the list of sites, a bit of a shame really.

It must be around 35 years since I have dived here and waaaay back it was a field used by campers next to a farm with a derelict steamer hauled out at the Pooley Bridge end of the site.......today the camp site is much more regimented but it is still a working farm and still a good place to go looking for old bottles and of course 'tourist trash'.

Talking with the old boy from the farm when I was kitting up he was telling me how they used to load up a little row boat with all of the old bottles and 'rubbish', row out into the lake and deposit the whole lot overboard, which is what happened and why there are so many 'good' bottles and pot jars in the area, his family had been there generations and it was the norm so I guess if you go deep enough in the silt you will find some really, really old stuff but in general the stuff close to the surface of thick silt tends to be around the 80 years old mark (and younger) that is not to say that it isn't very interesting anmd worth picking up! From memory and so it turned out, the great thing about this area is that the bottom is a little firmer with quite a bit of sand mixed in, meaning that most bits and pieces that are ditched into the lake stay 'obvious' for quite some time......

I went in the water at the site of the old jetty, which is now a line of stumps sticking out of the water and as per on this lake you go 'out' maybe ten yards and there is a slope of maybe forty five degrees, but because of the geography here it very quickly 'eased' to a gentle downward slope which is not steep enough to keep bottles and the like rolling down into the depths where it is cold, dark and horrible.

I took a decision to work towards Pooley Bridge at around the 6m deep mark, just far enough away from the crook where the angle of the bottom changed so that I could see it and you know what the visibility was very good, probably around 8m in the shallow water although in the slightly deeper areas there was a reduction due to a bit of peat staining which you are always going to get in Englands lake district.

It wasn't long before I reached the first lost boat, a rowing boat which had been made of glass-fibre and was upside down, looking at it the reason for its loss was obvious she was stoved in along the port side, I guess that she had been moored too close to some rocks and poor weather meant that she stoved in her bottom in poor weather and then was ditched in the deeper water to simply 'get rid'........a little further along and a little deeper was a speed-boat, I really couldn't say if she was 'scuttled' or lost but she had certainly been salvaged as there was no engine fitted, I suspect salvaged as her mooring buoy and associated rope was still attached to the bow cleat. Here we go, there was a rather exreme weather event as Storm Desmond wreaked havoc in 2015, I know as we were stuck in a hotel as the water level on Ullswater went up by around ten feet on normal winter level, I guess that as the water level went up if the ropes were strong enough the boats were submerged and lost, certainly we saw quite a few 'yachts in fields' that week as they had  a greater displacement than the capacity of their moorings and simply snapped the ropes.

Despite the winter conditions I was pleasantly surprised to see a significant number of fish, sure most were small trout in the ten to fifteen centimeter range but there was also what I would swear was a small shoal of gudgeon, now these are not native and I guess that they must have been introduced as lost livebait by fishermen who were hoping to catch large perch or more probably some of the larger trout that do inhabit this lake.

As is common with any site close to human leisure activities there were huge amounts of 'lost' plastic shoes and sandals, it was embarrasing how many people who must have either thrown them into the lake or gone swimming and lost their foot-wear, I suppose that I should head back with some sacks to pick up the crap, maybe next time. There was also a couple of more interesting lumps, a camera which I guess was lost overboard from a boat, I am sure that the camera is u/s but the memory card may yield some holiday snaps and also a aluminium 'beer barrel' which I will lift next time I am up and then recycle as a planting container for Beadnell, the barrel will be very easy to lift if armed with a lift bag...slip it through the handles add a bit of air and up she'll go!

I headed back towards the entry point at a slightly deeper contour and added to the half dozen bottles which I had picked up along with some dog frisbees, all of the bottles were old 60's and 70's milk bottles and whilst it's a bit 'vanilla' I always think that it is a bit of a social history to see where the tourists came from as all of the seperate dairies had their own bottles, this batch included both Glasgow and Gateshead, obviously the tourists simply trashed the bottle rather than take back as an empty.

Earlier I had touched on the amount of fish and there was obviously a popular spot as in one small area the bottom was covered in lost tackle, unfortunately it wasn't the big lumps of lead that I pick up in the sea, rather swim-feeders and whilst I left alone when I return to rubbish pick I will shove them in the bag!

So there you go, I am sure that you will guess that I will be back, it was a nice site and ok I paid £3 to park but compare that to some of the 'plastic' inland commercial sites and you will see it was major value for money without the posturing PADI instructors that infest the lakes commonly used for diver training!

Dive safe



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