Exploring the undersea world around Skye


Scuba diving around Skye – woolly hats essential  (thanks to the Marine and Technical Sub Aqua Club for providing  the photo and the rib!)

The more observant of you may have noticed us sloping out of Otter Lodge on a school day; only to come back a few hours later looking a bit bedraggled and busying ourselves with buckets of wet gear. Ask us what we’ve been up to and the answer is a great passion of ours: scuba diving.

Diving is the ideal hobby when you run a B&B. Now, folk might think that once breakfast is served we’re free to spend the day watching TV until bedtime. If only this were true (sigh) but we’re normally kept occupied with a few things like cleaning, laundry and tattie scones. That’s the thing about lifestyle businesses – they keep you pretty busy.

Fortunately we’ve found a way of shoehorning extracurricular activities into our seven-day working weeks. Many exciting things are possible on the Isle of Skye, but some things are more suitable than others. Mountaineering is a bit risky, not so much due to dangerous rocks but because you don’t want to be still dangling at the end of a rope when the kids have to be picked up from school. Sea kayaking is also possible; but can aggravate a baker’s elbows.

You might be surprised to hear that scuba diving fits the bill. It works like this: Martin fills our cylinders with air when he has a free moment (!) and once we’ve done all the necessary cleaning and tidying we head off for the nearest beach. A dive will usually take no more than about hour (we’ve only got so much air) and we can be back in time for the ironing.

We’ve done a lot of dives recently: over one hundred and seventy in the last couple of years and nearly all of them around Skye. There’s huge variety in what you can see; one day you might be immersed in a waving forest of kelp, another might find you deep in the darkness of a sea loch. You can’t help but start to want to know more about the stuff you encounter.

As luck would have it, there’s a fantastic scheme called Seasearch that helps people who dive for a hobby develop the skills to survey undersea wildlife. Once qualified, you can record the species and environments you encounter and contribute to marine conservation. We qualified after hosting a course at Otter Lodge last year and it’s added a whole new dimension to our diving. Now we descend into the depths with our wee slates and scribble down all the cool things we find: pink spotted sea cucumbers, fireworks anemones, phosphorescent sea pens. It’s a weird and fascinating world down there…


Curled octopus, Eledone cirrhosa


Smallspotted catshark wearing a brittlestar hat, Scyliorhinus canicula & Ophiocomnia nigra


Horseman anemone, Urticina eques


Fireworks anemone, Pachycerianthus multiplicatus


Phosphorescent sea pen, Pennatula phosphorea


Pink-spotted sea cucumber, Psolus phantapus