Paddy Hinkley's Quarry

Paddy Hinkley's Quarry, January 1987

Diving under ice at Paddy Hinkley's Quarry, outside Edinburgh, January 1987

Geoff wandered across at the PGU last night and said "Fancy a dive under ice tomorrow?" I said yes, thinking of about four diffident divers forcing themselves to go on with it. Instead, a mega-operation involving about six cars and sixteen people. Fifteen divers each had 10 minutes under the surface, one at a time, in 3 hours (from 1.30pm to 4.30pm). That meant an average 2 minute turnaround.

The quarry was maybe 200m by 100m, at least 10m deep at one side, and looking much deeper at the inaccessible side. The ice was in two distinct layers, the lower layer 2½ inches thick and the upper layer 2 inches thick, probably partly-thawed and refrozen snow which sometimes took our weight, sometimes not.

Each diver was roped, the ropes being tied to a tree. The next diver was roped and kitted-up to act as a standby. Signals were:

  • 1 pull = OK
  • 2 = STOP
  • 3 = GOING AWAY

Watching the preceding divers disappear under the ice was weird. Everyone on shore went quiet when Crawford was down, but by the last divers people were pretty blasé about it all. First problem on the dive was finding some depth, being squeezed at first between the ice and the bottom. Found a muddy slope to past 8m but spent most of the dive at the surface. A weird and wonderful experience. Antarctic next; all that clear blue water.

Click here for the logbook entry