After a winter of pool training, the early-season trips of most diving clubs are directed towards getting the new crop of divers into the water and building some basic experience.
Then we get further into the season and the emphasis moves more towards the experienced divers. The new and up-and-coming divers may join the trips, but training is no longer the primary objective. So what are some of our favourite locations, once the training phase is complete

Scapa Flow  
Members of Ashford Dive Club from Kent made their first trip to Scapa Flow last year.
The group that went are a bit of a wreck-keen offshoot from the club and Scapa is rated as the place to go if youre a UK wreck-diving fanatic, says club member Simon Powell. We dived from John Thorntons boat mv Karin. Accommodation was a bit of a shock at first when compared to the luxury of a Red Sea liveaboard - a bit basic, but functional.
The weather was overcast but calm, so the diving conditions were perfect, says Simon. Everything we did was excellent. My most memorable dives were the Kronprinz Wilhelm for its sheer size, the James Barrie for its intactness and the Tabarka for its cavernous interior and exciting currents on ascent!
Scapa Scuba also deserves a mention, he insists as an aside. It fixed a busted neck seal overnight with remarkable speed and effort. Excellent service.
We would all love to go again and I expect we will, but nothing is planned as yet.
  • Ashford Dive Club, www.ashforddiveclub.com
  • mv Karin, www.scapaflow.com

  • Scapa Flow Dives  
    Kronprinz Wilhelm: König-class battleship of 25,388 tons. Scuttled with the interred German High Seas Fleet on 21 June, 1919, the wreck lies inverted on a 38m seabed, the keel rising as shallow as 13m. The deck is tilted a few degrees to starboard, so the port side offers the best opportunity to see 5.9in secondary guns, or to get underneath to the main turrets with 12in guns.
    James Barrie: This steam trawler of 666 tons ran aground in the Pentland Firth on 27 March, 1969. She subsequently floated loose and was under tow by Kirkwall lifeboat towards Stromness when she sank in Hoxa Sound. Lies capsized and intact in 43m, port side rising 10m from the seabed.
    Tabarka: 2624 ton steamship originally sunk as a block ship in Kirk Sound in 1941, then raised and moved to Burra Sound in July, 1944. The wreck lies inverted in 12m.

    The main 12in gun turret on the Kronprinz Wilhelm
    Simon Powell and friends from Ashford Dive Club
    inside the hold of the James Barrie
    secondary 5.9in gun turret on the Kronprinz Wilhelm
    and the wheelhouse of the James Barrie