A New Experience – a trip to Vobster Quay
Despite being a member of the club for about 3 years now, I have not been down to Vobster Quay in Somerset. Well now I have!
I know a lot of you have been to Vobster, so the following may not be news, but for our newer members and those who have never been but like “no stress diving” you might appreciate this write up.
I know we have Wraysbury, the “muddy puddle down the road”, which is local and relatively cheap at £10 for entrance, but the facilities at Vobster and clear lake make the drive there (about 100 miles in 2.5 hours) well worth it. Indeed, a few of our members go regularly to Vobster and the club also uses it for Open Water training and for some of the BSAC Skill Development Courses which require deeper water.
Vobster quay is in the Somerset countryside approximately 5 miles from the market town of Frome and 4 miles from Radstock. The address is Upper Vobster, Mells, Somerset, BA3 5SD. Telephone 01373 814666 Email firstname.lastname@example.org. Website www.vobster.com
First impressions are deceiving, as when you turn off the road there is a track with two wooden huts, but you cannot see the facility itself. Here you register and are issued a yellow plastic tag with serial number, which everything is charged to and you pay when you leave. So you don’t even need to find cash for that in-between dive cup of tea.
The entrance fee of £16 may sound a lot, but with big car park (sufficient space for 300 cars), heated changing rooms with free hot showers, well equipped dive shop (equipment is available to hire), compressor offering air, nitrox and trimix to 300 bar and the mandatory food wagon it is well worth it. You can be a member for about £30 a year and each time you visit you get 10% off your bill and £5.00 off entry, so after six visits you break even. Members can also reserve a car park space in the lower car park, so less distance to lug your kit!
Driving down the hill from the wooden huts brings you to the lake (an old quarry) surrounded by trees. There is a well thought out kitting up area covered by a gazebo (providing shade from the sun, or more often in the UK protection from the rain!) with raised platforms to ease getting your gear on and tables for the after dive debrief. From here to the waters’ edge is only a couple of metres.
Vobster is an ideal training and diving lake. It has two training platforms at 6 metres and then others at 12, 20 and 36 metres. The lake descends from 2 metres down to a maximum depth of 40 meters (below the free diving platform) and has all sorts of underwater “attractions” from a toilet seat, to an armoured personal carrier, an aeroplane, the crushing works and even a small cabin cruiser boat, the Jacquin II.
There is also diver-friendly aquatic life; yes I did see some fish and on night dives (currently held on the first Thursday of the month ) you may see the “very rare white crayfish”.
By Barry Duplock