A couple of weeks ago I was diving at the National Diving Activity Centre (NDAC), when a friend mentioned this new diving lake in Kent. On getting home, I did a bit of research and found what he was on about, and set out on my first free weekend to scout it out.
The website was not overly informative, and a phone call the night before answered a few questions. Firstly no compressor, so bring full cylinders,
We turned in off the round about with grand signs, saying St Andrews Lake (Coming soon), we took this and at the end of the road, found a locked gate, a little worrying, but a small sign lets you know its open and to let yourself in.
At the shop we met the gentleman in charge, and he let us know the layout and we filled out the usual paperwork. The site has benches for equipment and ample parking, both hard standing and on the chalk. There is changing rooms at the rear of the reception and a portable toilet. All basic, but it does the job, my only gripe would be hand sanitizer, as there is no running water.
We were here for a buoyancy/weight and a skills review/check dive so we would be ready for the dive season to come. So we did not see the deeper trail that the centre has roped together, a truck and truck bed, yacht, speedboat and post box. This was a quarry and has steep sides, and lots of plain rock and chalk, which I think, gives the lake its colour. So there is enough to see, although this is mostly in the 30m ranges, that said it does give me an excuse to come back one day.
We did a weight check in the shallows and then swam to buoyed platforms at 4 and 6 metres. Here we did some skills and drills, removing regulators and mask clearance and removals as these were the skills Jess wanted to work on, and it’s fair to say that by the end of the session lots of progress had been made.
We then followed the wall/rope to the shallow attractions of the speedboat and letterbox (12m), then we went deeper to 20m and hand railed the wall until we came to the truck body (19m). We then made our way slowly to the surface, via a safety stop. When we exited we had a cup of tea on the house, which was kind and packed our stuff away as we had achieved our goals in the single dive. Visibility was great, clear to 5m and still plenty of range beyond that. The general location and lake itself is idyllic.
On Speaking to the guy in charge, we found that the lake has some grand plans; more platforms, more underground attractions, lining of the shallow area to prevent silting and a lot more on top of this. The grand plan topside is to have a fully functional building with shop, changing, café with veranda etc. It all sounds impressive, and I’m super keen to see the finished product, as the scope for this site is pretty amazing! Hopefully, they can find a way to improve the attractions in the shallow range, to help entice divers of all levels and local diving clubs and schools.
The cost of entry was £17, so not cheap for what is at the moment a small operation. However, I think there is enough for a dive or two, and space to explore further. We hired a cylinder for £10, as we couldn’t fill our empty, a compressor would be a major boost to this site. The website is https://www.standrewsdiving.co.uk, and has more information such as address and contact information.
I will be diving here again; it is perfectly located for me, and for anyone in the south/south east of the UK. The team onsite were very welcoming and informative. I really hope this place takes off, as I said before it has potential beyond what I expected.
After a good days diving, here’s to looking forward to next week, another dive booked, hopefully better weather than all my cancelled sea dives so far this year!!!