A timely break in conditions, but my it was a short window of opportunity!

With one thing and another I haven't really had a chance to get salty for a while, the reason being that the vis for shore diving on North East Coast gets very hit and miss come end of October

But arriving on the last day of 2022 it looked, ok, well maybe not 'ok' but dive-able, so what else to do than nail on my kit and dive from the South Side of Beadnell Point, why that site, well we were just off high water meaning Knacker Hole and Lady Hole are a chew on plus there was a nasty east/west swell meaning that the North Side of Beadnell Point was 'awkward', so South Side it was!

The vis, well, once in I was in but with a torch it was about 2m and without then a gloomy 1m despite the shallow depths!

I had thought that the swell would be acceptable going in and so it proved, although getting on my right fin whilst chest deep was a bit of a chew, as for getting out, well leaping forward half an hour the swell had really picked up, with waves around the 2m mark so I decided to time my exit and walk out backwards with fins on rather than risk losing them whilst doffing in the water.

It all went ok until I got the wave sets 'wrong' and a biggie lifted my fins and deposited me face first into a couple of feet of wave, nothing damaged apart from pride as there were no witnesses but a reminder that conditions can change whilst you are diving meaning you have to re-visit your exit plans!

We have had a few days of bad sea conditions so perhaps it wasn't too surprising that having reached the bottom of the bedrock slope and the boundary of the first lot of boulder fields that there were some big changes.

Change number one was that all of the sand has been stripped from the site exposing bare rock, no old and dead coralline growth, it was honest to goodness rock, that meant that I picked up a few weights that have been hidden in fissures that were sanded over, so not bad.

Change number two was that within a short distance I was rather disorientated as several large, double bed sized rocks, had been dumped on the slope. These are not there at the end of the dive season so there are two potential sources, they could have been in the boulder field and have been flung out and up onto the slope. Or another one of the mini-reefs has collapsed.

A reef collapsed I hear you say, how so? Well these mini-reefs generally comprise of lumps of doleritic limestone atop shale bedrock, its just the geology of the site that was a small part of a huge river delta before the volcanic activity covered everything up. Bamburgh Castle is atop a volcanic outlet and the Farne Islands are part of the same activity. So the top-rock is hard and the shale is soft, in summer dives you can clearly see that the shale is holes due to the action of burrowing bi-valves and breaks by hand quite easily. So with a big swell running there is sufficient 'sea-power' to cause piston type activity, which rapidly breaks the shale and ultimately the top stone either drops on to the shale pile or is 'flipped' either seaward, or more commonly towards the land.

Withe restricted vis it's almost impossible to report on moveable life, there was no fish-life that I could see, although there were anglers out in force on the stretch between Beadnell and Seahouses, but on the crustacea front I can admit to spotting some small velvet swimming crabs and lobsters deep under some of the larger boulders.

The remains of the ST Mistley have also been bashed around somewhat with lumps of iron/steel thrown over the slope, the wreck has been carefully picked at over the years so I doubt that there are any 'trinkets' to find but there is most certainly lead scupper pipe on the wreck, so hopefully a few lengths have been exposed!

The other word of caution to everyone out there looking at sea conditions is that the red seaweed that grows on intertidal rocks over the winter is back with vengeance making every step a world of worry until you get onto nice 'grippy' barnacles!

So there you go, was it worth it? Well on the first day of 2023 it was wiped out, as you would expect in the winter, so as I said a short window of opportunity. But the changes that I have seen with limited vis give me faith that my Southside dives of 2023 should be interesting and may throw up a few surprises!

Remember the damn weed when you are trying to get wet and please................

Dive safe


Weights picked up today - 3.6kg

Weights picked up for 2023 - 3.6kg (yeah alright it's early but I have done my sums for 2022 so didn't want to re-do them!

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