|LOCH FYNE : FYNE TIMES|
There are few islands in the loch and the most spectacular are located where Loch Fyne narrows near Castle Lachlan. They are called An Oiter (The Shallows); Sgeir an Eirionnaich, which has a shipping buoy on it; Brideagan, which is a small cluster of rocks in shallow water; Eilean Aaghainn, which is the largest of the two main islands, and Eilean Fraoch, which is more a cluster of overlapping volcanic rock rather than an island, but is by far the mostspectacular for diving. Collectively they are known as The Minards.
This is serious boat diving territory, being only a short ride from Stallion Rock and Kenmore Point. The closest launch point is located conveniently next to the telephone kiosk just before you drive into the village of Minard. There is a small natural slipway on to the beach which is gently sloping but strewn with small stones and rocks which makes things difficult at low tide. This area of Loch Fyne is known as Auchgoyle Bay and a small stream flows on to the beach next to the launch site. The Minards are situated where Loch Fyne narrows, so you can imagine how strong the tidal race can be when the flooding and ebbing water rushes through and around these islands. Loch Fyne is typical of west coast sea loch diving, which generally tends to be silty, peaty water with lots of sea squirts, tube worms, squat lobsters and brittle stars.
The Minards, being situated in the middle of Loch Fyne, where there is the most movement of water, tend to have better visability and the animal life appears to be that little bit more colourful and brighter.
The diving is best on the eastern edge of the two islands. To the north of Eilean Aaghainn, the first boulder slope drop is to 7m then slopes off to the south-east. The sea-bed here is gravelly mud with large dahlia anemones, scallops, large amounts of the black brittle starfish, and under every rock can be found the long-clawed squat lobster. As you dive towards the south, off Eilean Fraoch, the seabed falls away dramatically until you get to the bottom east corner of the island. Here, in six to seven metre steps, there is a vertical cliff which descends to 43m. These cliff walls are scrubbed clean of silt and the marine life is superb. Seals are often found lazing around the rocks, but they are too timid to approach noisy divers.
Further south from Kenmore Point is Stallion Rock, which is similar in profile, but is in fact a single rock which rises from the muddy seabed 30m below. This vertical and overhanging rock is profusely covered in sponges, sea squirts and anemones and is rated as one of the top dives in Loch Fyne.
To the north of Kenmore, in Inveraray, the old pier is excellent at
night. The old wooden supports are well encrusted in marine life and
being only eight metres deep, it is perfect for exploration and nudibranch
hunting. Care, as always, should be taken when diving near a pier, not
only with the possibility of running into boat traffic, but also for
submerged obstructions which have been thrown overboard and may snag
your diving equipment.
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