Freshly Dived: Llyn Padarn & Llyn Gwynant

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Photo by Seamus

Another week out of the way, and with Saturday reserved for a visit to the Dive Show, the last dives of October would land on Sunday the 28th.

The dive show was a great day out as usual. I wasn’t there to buy anything this year but there were a few bargains to be had by those looking (especially the RK3’s for £49 – if you don’t mind wearing white fins). I ended up leaving with nothing more than a free T-shirt, some rather nice Christmas cards and stickers from about 98% of the stalls that had them on offer – now I just need a kit box to put them on.

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Before Saturday was through I confirmed with Seamus that he’d pick me up at 07:00. This would be the new 07:00 mind, as we’d all be getting an extra hour in bed courtesy of DST. We headed off, after packing the car in the crisp morning air, to meet Dave and Scott at Llyn Padarn next to Llanberis. Having recently qualified as an Ocean Diver, Scott was fairly new to diving, so we thought it best to choose a site in which he could gain some valuable experience up to his max depth of 20m, and practice skills such as using an SMB (Surface Marker Buoy) and compass navigation.

Since me and Seamus had stopped to pick up breakfast and lunch on the way, we’d ended up arriving later than the others so we started assembling our kit while Dave walked through the SMB skills with Scott. There are some really handy benches dotted around near the edge of Llyn Padarn which are great for putting together equipment.

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Going over skills
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Handy Benches

Together, we discussed the plan and decided that Seamus and I would lead the way as a pair, and the other two would follow. We all made it in alright but it wasn’t long before me and Seamus had lost Dave and Scott. We looked around a little but quickly gave up in the dark silty water and continue on, as per the plan. Seamus flawlessly sent up a DSMB to mark our position on the water, as there were a few sail boats around. He later remarked that had been being watched by an instructor he would have completely fumbled it.

As we swam on towards the centre of the lake, and the depths approaching 20m, the water got even darker. The two of us passed over what looked like large oddly shaped, white boulders. There were loads of them spanning between a meter across and up to 5 or so meters. When I gave one a poke my hand sunk in and the chalky silt making it up billowed out. Not sure what caused these formations but they were rather odd.

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Weird formations
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Underwater selfie

We started to head back and around the 54 minute mark popped up to see where we were. I spotted Dave on the surface and although we weren’t quite where we’d thought, it was close enough to surface swim across.

As soon as we got out there was a hurry to get the woolly hats on. The 4 of us chatted while munching on whatever food we’d brought, hot coffee and various chocolate that Dave and Seamus had offered. The search and rescue helicopter was hovering around above, presumably doing some sort of training operation.

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Chilling out
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Photo op

After packing away the kit, we headed through the Llanberis Pass towards Llyn Gwynant. It was an excellently clear day and the views of Mt. Snowdon and the surrounding hills were stunning.

We parked up next to Llyn Gwynant and got prepared again. This time, Scott would be leading the group in the water, following a compass bearing towards Elephant Rock, a well-known landmark on the other side of the lake.

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Llyn Gwynant panorama

The four of us dipped down below the water and followed Scott and Dave’s lead. Scott, who was focused completely on his compass, thundered through the water at an epic pace. I was struggling to keep pace at some points.

We continued down the shallow slope of the lake to around 15m until we reach a steeper slope re-ascending to the surface. We popped up right next to Elephant Rock! Scott’s compass work was spot on! From where we’d surfaced we could see right down the lake to the ends of the valley which looked fantastic.

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Say hello
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Don’t forget to bring a torch

After but a minute, Scott and Dave descended again so me and Seamus followed and started the long swim back to the shore. Throughout the entire dive I barely saw anything other than silt, although Scott apparently saw a substantial unidentified fish.

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Information for canoeists
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Elephant rock – can you see it?

As usual we took our time getting out and sorting the kit, occasionally snacking on Morrison’s finest cornflake clusters – cheers, Dave. Once they were depleted, it was time to head home! We’d had a good day but winter is no doubt upon us, Bring on the cold dark dives of the coming months.

~Cal

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