In lovely rural Lancashire, in northwest England, is Capernwray Quarry, flooded for divers’ and snorkelers’ enjoyment. The quarry has become famous throughout the United Kingdom for its pristine waters and unusual variety of life. With a myriad of sunken crafts, such as a twin-engine jet aircraft and a WWII minesweeper, the maximum depth of the quarry is 70 feet (22 m). There are also various platforms at different depths for training.
Diving Capernwray Quarry
Opening times and days vary during the season, but the quarry is typically open Tuesdays through Sundays. Visitors can easily obtain ‘membership’ from the well-equipped shop on site, which they’ll need to dive the quarry. Onsite amenities include toilets, hot showers, equipment rentals (with a range of mixed gases and compressed air), a restaurant and equipment servicing.
Waterside facilities include a concrete slipway and two piers for easy access. There’s also a fast RIB onsite for any necessary water rescues.
Because it’s in England, Capernwray Quarry waters are obviously cold. In the winter, water temps can fall to a frigid (41 F) 5 C. In the summer, waters can reach a pleasant 63 F (17 C) or higher. Divers usually wear drysuits year-round, however, since they can stay underwater for longer periods of time. Visibility is seasonally consistent at 45 to 65 feet (15 to 20), some of the best of any inland dive site in the U.K.
What will you see?
The freshwater environment is home to many trout that shoal around the divers in the shallows. These impressive fish can easily exceed two feet long, yet the real draws of the Capernwray Quarry are the resident sturgeon that lurk in the deeper waters. These larger fish, known for their caviar, are rare in British waters, which makes for a truly unique sighting for the lucky few.
Divers most often spot the sturgeon around the Hawker Siddeley 748, the newest addition to the quarry floor. Divers can penetrate the 90-foot (27 m) passenger plane through the fuselage, offering fantastic photographic opportunities and a chance to see through the windows and the cockpit.
- Maximum depth: 70 feet (22 m)
- Water temperature average: 66 F (18 C)
- Maximum visibility: 65 feet (20 m)
- Six-month diving membership: £10 ($13)
- Lifetime membership: £25 ($32)
- Entry fee: £12 ($16)