Scot­land

From the wrecks of Scapa Flow to top­side treks along the whiskey trail in the High­lands, Scot­land of­fers the quin­tes­sen­tial Euro dive ad­ven­ture

Sport Diver - - Dive Travel - BY TERRY WARD

1. SMS Karl­sruhe, Scapa Flow

The scut­tled Ger­man bat­tle­ships at Scapa Flow in the Orkney Is­lands date to 1919 and of­fer an eter­nity of dis­cov­ery for wreck fa­nat­ics with what’s con­sid­ered among Europe’s best div­ing. The most ac­ces­si­ble wreck here is the SMS Karl­sruhe, a 500-foot-long ship rest­ing to star­board in 80 feet of wa­ter.

2. His­pania, Sound of Mull

More world-class wreck div­ing awaits in the Sound of Mull on Scot­land’s west coast, where this Swedish mer­chant ship that hit a reef and sank in 1954 is the crown jewel. Try to visit in sum­mer, when the ship’s crust of ma­rine life is at its most lush, with anemones, crus­taceans and urchins car­pet­ing nearly every inch of the hull.

3. St. Kilda

For a break from Scot­land’s usual bot­tle-green waters, travel by live­aboard to the vol­canic ar­chi­pel­ago of St. Kilda. The wa­ter is a crys­tal-blue hue here, and the vis­i­bil­ity among the very best in Europe. Ex­otic seabirds, in­clud­ing puffins, dwell on the plung­ing cliffs. When you dive down, cliffs, caves and arches make for more fas­ci­nat­ing to­pog­ra­phy to ex­plore and pho­to­graph.

4. Ed­in­burgh Cas­tle

No trip is com­plete with­out a visit to the most fa­mous cas­tle in the land, the circa 11th-cen­tury Ed­in­burgh Cas­tle. It’s more than a hill­top fortress, with crown jew­els, a mil­i­tary mu­seum and a Ro­manesque chapel among the sights to ex­plore.

5. Falls of Lora

Ex­pe­ri­enced divers thrill with one of Europe’s most adrenalinein­duc­ing drift dives at Loch Etive near Oban, on Scot­land’s west coast. Rush along with the cur­rent as the kelp around you bends like palms in a hur­ri­cane and crabs scurry be­low. You’ll def­i­nitely want a guide for this one, and lo­cal shops can ease you into the ex­pe­ri­ence with lo­cal prepara­tory drift dives.

6. The Home of Golf

Just as Scapa Flow is a mecca for wreck divers, St. An­drews ful­fills every golf fan’s fan­tasies. The Old Course here is one of the — you guessed it — old­est in the world, with the first rounds said to have been played in the early 15th cen­tury.

7. Whiskey Tast­ing

So much sin­gle malt, so lit­tle time. If you feel the same, you’ll want to head straight for the Scot­tish High­lands and be­yond to taste some of the greats, straight from their dis­til­leries. In Spey­side, don’t miss the Ma­callan and Glen­livet.

8. Block­ship Tabarka, Scapa Flow

A shal­low wreck ac­ces­si­ble as a shore dive, this Dutch-built block­ship was sunk to im­pede ac­cess by en­emy subs to the en­trance of Scapa Flow. Be­cause it sits in an area of strong tidal cur­rents in Burra Sound, the ship’s nu­tri­ent-rich en­vi­ron­ment has blan­keted it with col­or­ful, sway­ing anemones that add a riot of life to the metal­lic feast.

9. Whales and Seals in Mo­ray Firth

Scot­land’s ma­rine life is im­pres­sive, but you’ll hardly see it all while div­ing. Head out on twohour boat trips from Cro­marty to spot res­i­dent dol­phins and scout for minke whales and com­mon and gray seals in the North Sea in­let at Mo­ray Firth.

10. Ben Ne­vis

Se­ri­ous hik­ers won’t want to miss the chance to bag Bri­tain’s high­est peak, Ben Ne­vis, which reaches 4,406 feet, near pretty Fort Wil­liam in the Grampian Moun­tains. It takes about eight hours to climb, and there’s a hut for con­vivial overnight­ing.

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