Alternative name: Twelve Steps, Loch Creran Steps
Type of Dive: Sheltered, shallow shore dive on a silty seabed with rock formations, areas of rocky reef and horse mussel beds.
Suggested experience: All diver grades, suitable for training if care is taken with silt reducing visibility and around the worm structures
Travel directions: To the south of the upper basin in Loch Creran; Follow the ‘local traffic’ road at the roundabout before the bridge Google
Parking directions: There is a large lay-by at the steps which can become full of divers at busy times. There is another lay-by just to the west which is easily walkable back to this site if needed
Distance from Glasgow: 102 Miles 2hrs 21mins 14 miles from Oban.
Lat & Long: 56.544319,-5.276679 Postcode PA35 1JT Google
Tides: Tide tables The site can be dived at any state of the tide and any range of springs but there can be a noticeable current if you swim far out while the tide is running at a high per cent springs. Even then it’s always easily possible to swim against.
Depth: The upper basin has a maximum charted depth of 35m. You will have to swim far and fast to get much past 25m.
Site entry/exit: Access is easy down the steps from the layby, entry is also easy on a gently sloping gravel beach. Utube
Underwater directions: See the map below. The normal approach is to follow the rock formation to the left, keeping the rock on your left as you swim out; this ends at about 12m and then heading off at 45 degrees to the right of the direction you followed the rock formation will bring you to another ledge which drops down a few more metres. If you are new to this site, bring a compass as it is possible to become disorientated when attempting this. All the rocky areas are covered in life and there is also a lot to see exploring the silty bay between the rock formations.
Air & Nitrox: The only option within a reasonable distance is Puffin Dive Centre in Oban, air fill £5 from the self-serve fill 24hrs.
Site Hazards: There are no hazards associated with this site; the only thing to beware of is the silty bottom which is prone to bad visibility if kicked up as is common with shore dives in Scotland. The site can be dived in any tidal and weather conditions every day of the year if you want to as it is so sheltered. Visibility is better when it has been calm for a few days though. This is a special area of conservation so respect the area and do not touch the Serpum Vermiscula,
Nearest Public phone: Creagan Inn
Mobile Network service: O2 Vodaphone T-mobile and Orange works
Accommodation: Seabank farmhouse Oban… Corran House SYHA
Other comments: Loch Creran is one of 2 locations in Scotland plus another in Ireland where the tube worm Serpula vermicularis grows in dense groups, forming small biogenic reefs. The worm itself isn’t rare but this reef-forming behaviour is known from very few areas. These reefs are fragile and clearly shouldn’t be disturbed - be careful with novice divers. There are far fewer aggregations at this site than there used to be (probably in part due to careless fin kicks) but you can go looking elsewhere within Loch Creran. You can also dive Cregan bridge 600m from here.
Pub: Creagan Inn is very close and has food. If staying in Oban there are plenty of options.is very close and has food.
Café: None close to here so take everything you need for the day or food at Creagan Inn.
Thanks To: Robbie Neilson for a rewrite of the guide.
Links: There is an interesting Loch Creran Guide by Terry Donovan.
Created by: Sarah Conner and Robbie Neilson
Surface Photos By Sarah Conner and Jane Wilkinson
U/Water Photos: By Sarah Conner
Dive Map: By Robbie Neilson
Dive Report: Jo Rawley Very nice fireworks anemones, usually plenty of dogfish and the remains of the ‘housing experiment’ are to be found too.
Dive Report: Comment in the box below.