David H and I did a check-out dive at St Andrews Lakes in Kent today. It’s quite easy to get to, a one hour 40 minute drive (with no traffic) down the A12, M25 and M2 from Ipswich. The site is much better than last time I was there which was earlier this year.
There is now a large café (pic 2 background) selling food and soft drinks with an undercover seating area. The car parks are much more sensibly organised. There are more sunken objects to swim around and the lake management have laid out the lines/buoys connecting the sunken objects more sensibly.
The lake management team are also more safety focused, insisting on minimum air on surfacing to deter idiots! There are more ‘changing tables’ (pic 1) to help set up your gear and these is a 10m walk to the water (pic 1). The best bit is a new pontoon (pic 3) which allows easy entry and exit from deep water, avoiding divers stirring up the chalk at the edge of the lake.
This site is good for check-out dives and for SD, and up, training but not ideal for OD training as the lake drops down to ~15m quite quickly. There are sunken platforms at 6m and 10m to make it easier to practice skills.
We had about 5m viz at 15m+ but probably only 2m at the surface close to the shore. We were the first divers in the water and the site was quite quiet as far as divers were concerned. 12C at 15m+ (felt chilly).
If you have not had a check out dive this year then this is a good location to use.
Alan Beaumont, iDive DO