First underwater dive trail launched

Skipper William Shiel with BSAC wreck champion Nic Faulks and Simon Smith, of BSAC club Tyneside 114, beside the Glad Tidings VII at Seahouses.
Skipper William Shiel with BSAC wreck champion Nic Faulks and Simon Smith, of BSAC club Tyneside 114, beside the Glad Tidings VII at Seahouses.

Scuba divers have launched the North East’s first underwater dive trail, in a move hailed a welcome boost to the region’s charter-boat industry.

Scuba divers from the British Sub-Aqua Club’s (BSAC) Gateshead-based club Tyneside 114 have joined forces with Seahouses-based charter-boat skipper William Shiel, to launch the historic Gun Rocks dive trail. It means divers from around the globe can now explore the marked Gun Rocks route, guiding them around 13 cannon dating back to the late 17th or early 18th centuries, submerged 10 metres deep off the Northumberland coast.

A member of the BSAC club Tyneside 114 diving the cannon and laying luminous guide rope at Gun Rocks. Picture by Nic Faulks

A member of the BSAC club Tyneside 114 diving the cannon and laying luminous guide rope at Gun Rocks. Picture by Nic Faulks

The Gun Rocks project was led by BSAC wreck champion and Tyneside 114 diving officer Nicola Faulks, from Chester-le-Street, and fellow members of her club, who have spent years researching the site, and have won BSAC’s Wreck Award.

The team secured almost £9,000 in grants and donations from the Heritage Lottery fund, Jubilee Trust and a public crowdfunding campaign, to enable the trail to be laid.

The project would not have been possible without the expert local knowledge and support of the crew of the Glad Tidings VII charter boat, operated by skipper William Shiel.

It comes as BSAC has launched a UK-wide Save Our Skippers campaign to support the charter-boat industry, after reports some are struggling for bookings.

And William said that, in just a few weeks since the dive trail opened, he has already received group bookings for more than a year in advance from divers wanting to explore Gun Rocks in 2019.

Gun Rocks lies south west of the outer Farnes and can only be reached by boat. It is now marked with a white buoy and can be dived on a slack or flood tide. For details, visit www.gunrocks.co.uk