With the winter approaching and the weather getting worse we decided that it might be time to see what one of the inland sites was like. Having been regular visitors to Stoney cove we decided that it was time for a change, which would save us some money and add a little bit of variety to our diving. We opted for Buckland Lakes which is in Cliffe, Kent and only 20 minutes away from our respective house. To dive Buckland you have to pre book as there is a limit of 40 divers per day, the booking process was easy and was just a phone call and numbers of divers.
On arrival at Buckland we parked in the car park, collected a trolley, loaded our kit and wandered down to the quayside. Buckland is run by Polaris Scuba and they were on hand to give us an overview and explain what was what. I must say that the operation is well set up with all the facilities that you would need and very friendly people. The dive area has a number of stations for kitting up at, we were told that this would be changing and a specific station peg would be allocated on arrival in future. We were lucky in that there were only 3 other divers diving whilst we were there.
We kitted up and entered the water via the platform moored next to the quayside, there are steps but we opted for a giant stride entry. All the attractions are buoyed so we swam out to the furthest one to the left hand side (The Port Rose) and descended. The Port Rose is quite a large river boat which is pretty intact with access to penetrate via the stern. All the attractions are also roped to each other so this makes life a whole lot easier. We followed the rope to the Engineers platform and then on to the Scaffold Platform, from here we headed SW and followed the rope past the Speed Boat and the Lady Di to the Lorry platform. From the Lorry platform we headed SW again to the tail of the Sigma plane. The Sigma sits between 4 – 6 meters and is pretty much intact, the entire interior has been cleared out and there are two access points to enable penetration. We entered via the left hand door and swam into the cockpit then back through the fuselage to the other access point by the tail. Taking the Sigma on our left hand side we swam to the nose and picked up the line again to continue our dive to the SW. Following the rope we cam to what looked like holes into the ground; on further inspection we found it to be the Pump House. There are a number of access points, an entrance in the roof or a set of stairs, we entered via the stairs and found ourselves in a room with a number of pipes going into the ground and through to another room. We exited via the roof and swam S to find another entry point, this took us into another room with a very deep well with a pipe leading down into it, there was also a line leading back to the room we just exited. We had a look around then followed the line back to the other room and exited via the stairs. We went back to the rope then followed it NW to the Cattlin another river boat. From here we took the line to NE which took us back to the Sigma tail then the rope E back to the lorry platform, from here we took the line back past the Lady Di and Speed boat to the Scaffold Platform then took a bearing North to the entry platform. We exited via the steps and de kitted with a nice cup of tea.
The site has its own compressor so we were able to get our fills whilst we relaxed with our tea!. The second dive we decided that we would brave it and try to find the un buoyed attractions (The shark and the Gnome garden). Again we entered with a giant stride entry and swam to the nearest buoy (the Engineers Platform), from here we took a heading S and went in search of the Shark. Unfortunately we couldn’t find it, we took a heading back and found the Port Rose, thinking that maybe we had hit a current we headed back along the line to the Engineers Platform and took another S heading but were still unable to find the Shark (on exiting we found that we were going the right way but should have been on the Scaffold platform..Doah!) We headed back along the line to past the speed boat and the Lady Di then across the Lorry Platform back to the Sigma tail. We entered the Sigma again from the same entry point and exited via the rear. We then took the rope N W to the Cattlin then took a heading N to find the Gnome garden, again we had no joy so we headed back to the Cattlin then S along the rope to the Pump House. This time we went down the stairs into the first room, then followed the line to the second room then down the well to around 13 meters. It was pretty dark and the vis started to get bad, we ascended out of the well and back through the rooms and exited the pump house via the stairs. We then followed the rope back to the Sigma then across the lorry platform and back to the entry point.
I must say the site was really good, the vis was around 3-4 meters and the max depth was 15 meters but most of the attractions are between 4 – 7 meters. I would defiantly go back and dive there again.