Freshly Dived: Y Fron

(Luck of the Irish) – Thanks to Seamus for a great dive and for agreeing to model in many of the days photos!

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Taking it all in

With the weekend looming, and a few of my usual dive buddies off on a trip to the Farne Islands with the Chester Sub-Aqua Club (CSAC), I was on the lookout for someone to dive with at the weekend.

Having popped into CSAC’s club night on Wednesday, I got chatting to Seamus, a friend of mine at the club who hadn’t had a chance to go diving in a while. As usual I asked if Seamus was planning to get out any time soon and to my surprise he’d been granted the Sunday off to go diving and asked if I knew of any dives going on. This was my chance so I got in quick and said: “Yes! Where do you want to go?”

Sunday rolled along and after picking me up, Seamus and I headed west. On the way we settled on Y Fron slate quarry as our site of choice. I’d dived it once before but Seamus hadn’t, and being that it was an interesting place to dive I thought it would be a great candidate and a place worth showing him. Once we got near the quarry we jumped out of the car to go and pear over the edge, before driving around to the parking spot.

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A quick look out over the quarry
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Fog starting to roll in

Seamus seemed happy with what he saw so we parked up further round the quarry and walked down to the waters edge. I thought it would be a good Idea to make sure nothing had shifted around too much and that we could still get in and out comfortably.

All looked good so we set to ferrying the kit down. As is often the case with these more awkward dive sites, taking things down in a couple of trips makes life a lot easier and is much safer. Without any ropes to aid us, we carefully manoeuvred our way into the quarry. Seamus, being a much smarter man than I, had opted for far more appropriate footwear and seemed to traverse the rocks with ease.

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Watch your feet
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Making it look easy

The water looked great! nice and clear, but as we were getting ready to enter, the fog in the air suddenly thickened. It was so thick in fact the we could no longer see to the other side of the quarry and while climbing down from the edge it appeared as though we were venturing out into an empty void. This gave the place an even more eerie and atmospheric feel, which is one of the reasons I love diving and exploring the quarries around North Wales.

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The abyss awaits
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Not much to see up here

After donning kit and doing a quick buddy check, we started our decent to the bottom of the quarry, which at it’s deepest point is roughly 38m. We aimed to hit 35m and cross the bottom, before ascending a little on the other side following the quarry walls around until we returned to our exit point. The way down was quick, fairly steep and the visibility was good, roughly 10-15m. I’d love to be showing off some underwater photos at this point but as I’m currently having trouble with both cameras housings sealing up nicely it’ll have to wait until next time. 🙁

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Dive profile – Via Suunto DM5

Once we reached our max. depth we encountered a dirty layer of water obscuring our view of the bottom. We passed over it making sure we hadn’t lost each other and came across one of the small slate huts, which one at a time we poked our heads into to have a look. Unfortunately given the poor visibility, not much else could be seen from where we were so we started to zig-zag our way up the slate walls and piles of rubble that fill the edge of the quarry. At 34m the water became lovely and clear again. We passed some more huts and a decently sized rail cart used to pull slate from the quarry, some nice plateaus and a few interesting ridges sticking out from the cliffs.

There are also some cars in the quarry and some impressive ladders – I’m going to have to edit the page for Fron because it’s much more interesting than my description gives it credit for.

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Removing fins is never gracious
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Disassembling kit

We had a great dive! I was getting 5°C at some points but above 14m the water was a toasty 11°C. Spirits were high and we were looking forward to exploring more of the quarry on the second dive. For now it was time to swap over the cylinders, have a hot coffee, eat some chocolate and relax during our surface interval before re-entering the water. It’s always nice to have a breather during the interval!

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cupán caife
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Great views to be had

About an hour had passed and having been stood in the misty rain, still wearing his drysuit, Seamus decided to pop his arms out in an effort to get his hands dry and warmed up. I could see on his face he wasn’t sure if he should bother or not, but alas he chose the former. Disaster struck! In one clean motion he pulled his neck seal over his head and the rest of the suit stayed firmly where it was. A large chuck of the neck seal had broken away and I couldn’t help but feel sorry for Seamus but as annoyed as he may have been, he dealt with it far better than I would have had and appeared to see the funny side in it.

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The casualty
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What could have been

Unfortunately, that was the end of our diving in Fron. I wish I’d gotten a photo of the suit because there was absolutely no way we were going to be able to patch up, tape over or otherwise fix it.

Being that there was plenty more to see in the quarry, Seamus seemed adamant that he’d join me again in the near future – so he must have had an alright dive, but now it was time to head home.

~Cal

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