Alternative Names: Johnstones hole, The gripes
Type of Dive: Shore dive
Suggested Experience: Open Water and up
Travel directions: Drive along A1 and take turnoff for Dunbar. Follow signs to Harbour.
Parking directions:Parking in and around harbour, best over the harbour bridge, with less of a walk
From Edinburgh: It’s 32 miles 45 minutes from the end of the M8 at Edinburgh if there is no traffic on the by-pass Google
From Glasgow: 76 miles 1 Hr 30 minutes Google
Lat & Long: N56.0062N W-2.5177W Post code EH42 1HX
Site entry/exit There are three ways into the water here we have tried. A shore entry off the rocks at the East side of the main harbour to the North into the sea. Fairly shallow slope into the sea, which can make entry a bit tricky when slippy. Second entry is at the West side of the harbour, down the back of the wall to the North and into the sea at “ Pebble Beach ”. There are no pebbles here, just large kelp covered rocks. Mainly used it for exit as the premier entry is via a giant stride entry off the harbour wall at the harbour exit/entry. There is a big sign saying specifically to divers not to block the harbour entry, however it is not too specific, and we have done this a few times, at lower tides, when there have been no boats around. Once in the water move in to the harbour wall and descend down so you are out of the way quickly. The drop is a good 10ft or so, with enough water underneath at fairly low tides – however you should make your own judgement and I can not pay for any broken legs. The further round you go the clearer you are from the actual harbour entry, but the rougher the terrain is. Also, I’d go for a good clear stride out!
Before the barrier Now you have to walk round the barrier.
At the entry point to Johnson's hole there are metal holds attached to the wall to aid descent to the beach. At high tide, the entry is easy, but due to the boulders a bit awkward at lower tide.
Underwater directions: To the north of the harbour wall is a “lagoon” of protected water with barrier rocks out to the open sea. From the entry at the East you can swim out to the north towards the rocks and return by the same route, we have aimed at the Yettes, but haven’t made it that far and back, but other reports I have seen say it is possible. Depth out at the Yettes it is reported to be 15-18m. From the harbour wall jump you should follow the wall round to the north and back east into the lagoon. If you continue hugging the wall you will return back into Pebble Beach for a shore exit. This route isn’t long enough for a full dive and there are various options for swimming around including round Johnstones Hole to one of the deeper points, but only around 11-13m depending on tide. Alternatively or additionally you can carry on east past Pebble Beach. Probably possible to carry on down to the east entry/exit point, but only tried this once and got too caught up in looking around and ended up surfacing only half way down – not a great idea as you then have to surface swim one way or other – exit up over the harbour wall would only be feasible for SAS types and probably only if you left your dive kit! Certainly possible to swim from east to west entry exit or other way in one dive When we have dived here we have found the visibility pretty clear compared to the surrounding areas – however that just may be luck rather than local conditions – although we have put it down to being fairly sheltered. There is normally a fair amount of life here, lots of crustaceans and a fair amount of small fishes, again probably attracted by the shelter. All in all, this is a very nice dive site, a good selection of sea life to be found, with a theme park level entry. It is not a difficult dive site, but exit can be hard work
Site Hazards: The entry from Pebble Beach can be very slippy, particularly if the tide is out and entry / exits through large slippy kelp covered boulders. and ensure sufficient depth – although it has always looked okay when we have been there. Make sure to step out far enough! Both entry / exit at the West involve a fair walk in full kit from parking area. Haven’t come over major underwater hazards myself, but have seen very rough wave conditions here in the winter when it is clearly impossible to enter and exit. Again haven’t experiences major currents underwater, but clearly the tides are affecting the Forth around Dunbar and will be worse if further exposed to the more open sea. The entry at the East side is okay, but can be slippy with some waves coming in there. If you enter by the harbour wall beware of boats.
Nearest Public phone: At harbour
Mobile Network service: Fine
Other comments: Toilets
Pub: Black bull, Dolphin, Eagle.
Café Probably on Dunbar high street and certainly take aways there open till at least 11pm
Thanks To: Geoff Tervet for pics and additional info and Maximilian Ruffert for the excellent dive charts
Created by: PeterM
Date: 2 May 2007
U/Water Photos: By Chris Holland
Divesite map: By John Nicolson
Divesite Charts:By Maximilian Ruffert Press "control +" to see them in more detail.
Dive Report: 7/7/00 PeterM Jennifer and I had a nice 50 minute dive along the back of the harbour wall from the east corner. Viz was quite cloudy, lots of kelp and various crustacean. One big lobster decided that it wasn't having us stick a torch in it's hole and came back out again. However, making up for not managing the Farnes trip this year, the last 25 minutes of the dive had one curious seal swimming around, over and behind us, including the mandatory fin nibble. She watched up for another couple of minutes as we got out the water too.