|Site 1: Hodge Close Quarry|
How to get here
Follow A593. A small sign just over 1 mile north of Coniston states: "Hodge Close only". It's a rough ride on a single track road. Let's face it, this is a road to what was once a working quarry where a four by four might be a better solution and what Devil's Bridge near Appleby in Cumbria is to Motor Bikers and Divers - Hodge Close is the equivalent for Rock Climbers and Divers.
There are two routes you could use to reach Hodge Close. 1 takes you to the Top of the Quarry and into the large car park. The other is up a single track road called Smithy Brow, but his 2nd route leaves little room for parking a single car and into possible conflict with the residents. Switch to see Sat Imagery opposite > and note the worn paths into this quarry. Note: You cannot see the tunnel entrances from the aerial view for obvious reason these are underground.
Please try hard not to upset any of the locals, they live here, we don't. Don't park where your car may get in their way and please just park as sensibly as possible. There is a main public car park above the Quarry.
Parking by the site entrance down on the left from the public parking area is private property. Please see the owners of the house that has an uphill driveway on the left side of the house. Cost was £6 per car.
Maximum depth is 32 metres in this quarry.
She is a slate quarry, so expect "obviously" huge chunks of slate everywhere. The car park at the top of your long climb up here (photo a) is all built from slate spoil, with the Hodge Close dive site being a flooded quarry works - cars park on the left side. On your right is the dive site with sheer cliffs. The challenge, as you stand there looking down, how the heck do we get down there? Yell down to the divers already there and your answer will be "the flipping hard way bud".
Finding the way in is a serious headache if this is your very first time, because you simply cannot see how to get in. Assuming you parked in the top car park to view the dive site from high above, drive further along this car park area until you see the road heading down a small mound and towards some houses. As you approach those houses, look immediately to the left and a road can be seen sweeping around to your left. Get onto this slate covered road and follow it until you reach a small car park. Ensure you can drive out again without to much hassle. You are now looking for a hole in the shrubbery and slate surrounding you (photo b). I'm not kidding! It's the only one where light can be seen at the end of a flooded tunnel (photo d) - there are several tunnels, so note my description carefully, although you have to crouch down to see it (see photos in drop down menu above). Ok, that's your way in! kit up and enter, but keep your head and cylinder low.
Entry is either from the slate shore line by the metal rail tracks if you arrived the steep way, down on right. (Follow the sign "car" down, and note the red rails). If you used the flooded tunnel you would come out on the bushy left side of the quarry, and will have had to climb down a ladder. (watch video). The other shallow dive is along the path towards the red rails where a long tunnel is entered and at it's end is another ladder taking you to what is known as the "Sump". A 6 metre dive with a little light coming in from the far side of this dark dive. Torches are required here and water is as clear as tap water unless someone has got there before you.
Things to look for while diving are the Van and car parts strewn around the bottom, and for the rare newts that are very common in this quarry.
Visibility is very clear like fresh air for most of the season, but very cold and quite deep at 32 metres. It is normally very clear, but on occasions algae can grow and restrict viz to 10 / 15 metres which in any event is still excellent for freshwater. The temperature here is very cold (even in mid to late summer when lakes have reached their maximum temperature of 15 to 16 degrees Celsius) expect 5 or 6, at best 9. Over the years, vehicles (photo e) have been pushed in from the high cliffs that totally encompass the site. Submerged, there were tunnel workings that could be penetrated but these are not safe any more. Read the plaques above the entrance's if still there from when I last dived this site.
There used to be two tunnels leading into a cavern below the rail tracks although one has collapsed, the other I could not locate back in Oct 1st 2000, therefore now presumed buried.
You may also have Rock Climbers and Zip wire riders making dramatic and unexpected entries above you - they get out just as quickly (photo d). Everyone will have fun at this site. But if you think the quarry is a bit of a "knacks yard" don't worry, this quarry will pay you back for the that thought when you finally drag that gear back up with you - enjoy!
Hazards to Divers
Pyschological hazard ? http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2071084/Make-bones-Britain-s-scariest-cave-Photographer-captures-eerie-skull-rock-face-remote-diving-spot.html
An Altitude dive at 562 feet (150 metres) so don't forget to set your computer, or if on tables, add one quarter to your depth to compensate for this.
The site is used for training where air share training routines shared on one DV can turn into the real thing due to the demand on one DV and the very cold water here
Diving Hodge Close by Freshwaterdiver
Hodge Close: Tilberthwaite: Presentation & credits to http://www.icicledivers.co.uk/
Hodge Close presentation from YouTube's Seagull1236 aka Johny Boy on Yorkshire Divers forum
Map for Diving Hodge Close by Freshwaterdiver