St Andrews Lake
We visited St Andrews Lake today to check it out for a possible site for Advanced Open Water. Overall, it was a really great experience. On arrival (look for the sign that says “St Andrews Lake” by the roundabout – currently building work taking place), which will be to your left as you approach from the motorway. Head down the road slowly and the lake is to your left. At the mini roundabout take a left and then follow the road round through the gate and down the hill. Park up, although bear in mind that you can drive up to the kitting up site and unpack. We didn’t, and it’s only about 15m or so to walk the kit, and all flat. If a group of divers are going they park the cars together which is helpful.
The site is still developing and there will soon be a compressor in place which is great news. Kent Diving is relatively close and it’s possible to fill up on a surface interval but we took two cylinders today. A café area is in development but there are hot drinks available for a donation and some lovely chocolate bars to replenish the calories and give a short sugar burst! My buddy planned ahead and brought sausage and coleslaw rolls which filled a gap nicely. There are changing rooms, and currently a portaloo, although again, this is all being developed.
Maps of the lake are being updated constantly and the staff on site are helpful in explaining possible routes (which are all lined off). The underwater attractions are increasing rapidly and are at depths that are usable for teaching. For Advanced Open Water it’s worth a double check of the depths as some of the attractions are just below 30m. The transit van (19m) is useful for the Wreck Dive and there is ample space for navigation. We didn’t venture out to all the attractions but we’ll have a look at some more the next time we visit. There is a lot of choice for routes for the Deep Speciality and for where we’re based this is a great option for running the course.
There is a sharp thermocline. We had approx. 17 degrees until we hit around 9m. It then dropped sharply, reaching around 7 degrees so bring gloves and a hood! We ventured off the lines and practised navigation in open water at 8m, using the thermocline as a natural warning to check depth. Visibility was approx. 3m today which suited our needs fine. It was dark at depth, but this suited us well as the aim was to build experience in different conditions.
Weekends are worth visiting as they often provide a BBQ and you can bring along some food and chuck it on and turn it into an even better day out. Worth calling, messaging or emailing ahead to find out if that’s on offer and having a club day to make the most of it. Overall, it was a good day. The development will enhance the venue and the staff are welcoming and accommodating. It’s easy to see where the development is heading, with work already started on all areas. I hope there will be good support from folks to keep a deep site going that is less than an hour away from us and we will definitely be back soon!