Porth Ysgaden Dive Report

19 July 2013
I am starting to believe that the moon is playing a cruel trick on me, otherwise why else would the perfect tide time at any site I choose to dive always be in the early morning? Coincidence? More like conspiracy!

Ok now my usual lost lie in rant is out of the way we can move onto the actual dive report.

So here goes - 2.5 hours after setting off from ukdivesite.com HQ in Manchester we arrived at the village of Tudwieliog in North Wales which is home to the tiny picturesque cove of Porth Ysgaden.

From Tudweiliog village its a maize of narrow country lanes and rough dirt tracks to the cove itself and despite having visited this site 3x before we still had to rely on our own directions off the website in order to find it, but I guess that's why it's such a hidden gem!

We arrived at 10:00am which was just after mid tide and it gave us just enough time to kit up before optimal dive time. In truth you can dive this site any time after mid tide up to the next mid tide but its easier when the tide is on the flood so that you hit slack water mid dive.

Parking is at the top of the steep boat slip (Porth Ysgaden is a sunken cove surrounded by cliffs) and the view from here gives you a good sense of the place and a good idea of the visibility and conditions. It is a sad truth that Porth Ysgaden has highly unreliable visibility and on two of the four occasions I have now been here visibility has been very poor, but I am pleased to say that with the prior week of hot weather and calm seas viz was looking very good from the cliff top and it turned out to be so when in the water.

From the cliff top a number of boats could be seen launching from the beach and that swayed our decision to dive only the northern headland, sticking close into the rocks rather than carrying out a 'u' exploration of the whole cove which would mean crossing through the center of the bay and under the stream of propellers.

So with dive plan sorted we kitted up on the benches at the top of the slip and then headed down the slip onto the beach, which involved wading through knee deep water at the bottom.

From the beach we headed into the water and once fins were doffed we descended close to the rocks of the northern headland in 2m of water. I had once again completely forgotten the pain involved in diving without a hood and instead had concentrated too much on the fact that it was sunny. I was quickly reminded about the pain.

We headed out following the line of the northern headland. Initially the wall is pretty bare except for the barnacles and limpets that cling to it. By 3-5m the Kelp begins to decorate the wall, cascading down it to the sea bed. The kelp on this occasion being grazed upon by an army of white sea snails.

As we looked left with the wall on the right shoulder impressive forests of bootlace weed rose up from the sea floor to the surface (4m). Also in the water column to that side was an as yet unidentified jelly fish, blue in colour, tiny in scale, with long tentacles trailing and hood pulsating, very beautiful indeed, but a mystery. As we began exploring the Kelp fringed wall a few big Spider Crabs appeared, one of which was simply huge, the largest I have ever seen in fact (see below). Wrasse moved in and out of the Kelp and Bladder Wrack as did baby Pollack. Towards the end of the headland is where Porth Ysgaden's topography really comes into its own, nice overhangs, small caves, kelp covered pinnacles and channels all within the last 50 ft or so.

This area is the place to spend some time exploring; Tube Worms, more Wrasse, Crab, Squat Lobster, Light Bulb squirts and colorful Anenome all made an appearance here.

The pinnacle here is covered in kelp that catches the current and is a truly beautiful living structure. To the left there is a rock which appears to float 6 inches off the sea bed as there is a a huge gap underneath it, you have to get almost regulator to sea bed in order to see under it but there is usually an inhabitant peering back out.

At the end of the headland we sat in suspension looking out to open water for a few moments and we were duly rewarded as school of Pollack and Sand Eel sailed on by.

We carried on our exploration round to the other side of the headland and did a little more investigating before turning back and retracing our finstrokes, this time choosing to examine the shallower parts of the wall and it is here that Leopard Blennies sit on the many ledges.

We surfaced back at the beach after 53 minutes and a very nice dive.

After de-kitting we headed to the Lion Hotel for a cheeky apres dive pint - if you like your beer try the Dark Side of the Moose from the Purple Moose Brewery, we highly recommend it.

For more information on this dive site check out our Porth Ysgaden Dive Guide