Scapa Flow is Scotland's diving Mecca. We had heard so much about the diving there it was like a pilgrimage - a milestone in our diving. It was also our first trip to Orkney. It is very easy to fall in love with the place!
Scapa Flow is the largest natural harbour in the UK and towards the end of the first world war it was home to both the British Grand Fleet and the German High Sea fleet under the armistice conditions. It is very difficult to imagine sleepy Orkney as it must have been then with so many vessels moored and over 10,000 service personnel bustling around them.
On 21st June 1919, Rear-Admiral Ludwig von Reuter, the commander of the German Fleet, fearing that the armistice was falling apart and that war would resume with his fleet in the hands of the allies, ordered the scuttling of all craft. I can't help feeling for him in making that very difficult decision - caught between courageous patriotism and heart breaking wastefulness but in doing so he created the United Kingdom's best diving playground. Although most of the vessels have been salvaged long ago what remains could fill endless log books.
Our trip was made all the more enjoyable by the company. Aine came with us as well as the usual suspects from our local dive shop (Mike, Pete, John, George). We also dived of the Invincible, which was luxury on a dive boat (drinks form the bar anyone?), expertly skippered by Ian. Andy kept us entertained all week with his little dramas.
We managed two dives a day with evenings spent investigating Orkney - both its heritage and nightlife!
Our favourite dives include the Köln, The Kronprinz, the block ship Tarbarka and the Atlantic trawler the James Barry. On one beautiful day our boat was surrounded by a pod of Dolphins for an hour - even the Flotta Oil Terminal can look beautiful in this scenery.
On a more sensitive note we were all reminded that diving can be a dangerous sport. During the week there was a diver death on another boat.