Admiralty Tug Char, Eday

Aorangie, Holm Sound


Bella Vista, Papa Westray

Boom Defence Vessel, The String.

Bore Röst, Mull Head, Papa Westray

Boy Graham


Cantick Head, Hoy

SS Charkow


Cotavia, Stronsay Firth





Endeavour, The String


Fair Dawn

Foul Craig, Papa Westray









































Kame of Hoy.

A natural arch above the water with depths dropping away from 5 metres to 15 metres. Rock gullies descend to 25 metres. Very scenic dive with lots of fish and rock faces covered with life.

Nipple Rock, west of Hoy

Excellent scenic dive. Rock pinnacle which slopes steeply from 32-35 metres up to 10 metres below sea level. Covered in marine life and fish. Excellent visibility.

Rora Head, Hoy.

Natural arches and columns. Rock gullies reported to depths of 11-13 metres. Looks as though it would make an excellent scenic dive, as yet not properly explored.

Cantick Head, Hoy.

This Headland lies at the south-east tip of South Walls. Excellent drift dive with depths up to 20 metres.

Stanger Head, Flotta.

One of our regular and most popular scenic dive sites. Cliff drops to 20 metres with a boulder slope running down to 30-40 metres. Cliff face festooned (good word) with deadmens fingers and anemones. Cuckoo wrasse, ling and cod found amongst the boulder slopes, along with the occasional octopus and spur dog. Can turn into a drift dive.

Island of Switha.

Excellent split-level drift dive. Strong tides means that this is for the experienced diver only.

HMS Hampshire.

10,850 ton 137 metre long armoured cruiser that sank having struck a mine south west from Marwick Head. She sank in 1916 with the loss of over 500 lives including that of Lord Kitchener. Although designated as a war grave, she has been illegally salvaged. Some articles illegally lifted were confiscated and now lie at Lyness. The wreck is upside down and the least depth over her is 50+ metres.

This is a designated war-grave, so although diving is allowed around her, she should be treated with respect and not tampered with.

North Shoal.

Shoal off Orkney’s west coast and about a 2-3 hour steam from Stromness. Shoal comes up to 6 metres at low tide, with deep gullies running down to 30 metres. Very little dived. Covered in marine life and wreckage (from unknown wrecks) can be seen in the gullies. Other wrecks are also rumoured to be in the area, only approximate positions have been recorded.

Halcro Head, South Ronaldsay.

Reported as being "reminiscent of St Kilda". Cave reputed to be in east facing cliff face with a sandy bottom at 20 metres. The life in the cave is limited although the outer walls are covered with deadmens fingers and sponges. The cave has a large buttress inside and light filters down from the upper entrance to the cave.

Aorangie, Holm Sound.

New Zealand Shipping Co. Liner. Date on prop 1896. Used as a blockship at Number 1 Barrier. Raised in 1922 in order to salvage her, but she broke loose and sank in her current position on a reef at Kirk Bay, Holm Sound. Lies in about 15 metres of water. Portholes were still coming off her in 1997. Boilers stand proud and almost break the surface.

Hastings County, Auskerry.

4178 ton, 116 metre long Norwegian vessel ran ashore on north west of Auskerry in 1926. The vessel broke in half and the bows sank. Wreckage spread over a wide area and only one of the two propellers have been found. Shaft and engine lie on beach, most wreckage lies submerged to the north of this.

Rerwick Head.

Excellent scenic dive. Storm gullies run down to sandy/maerl bottom. Abundant marine life. Tidal and best dived at slacks.

Tennessee, Deerness.

5,667 ton Norwegian vessel ran aground in 1940 carrying general cargo. Twin screw motor ship with 2,200 HP Burminster and Wain diesels. The wreck is well broken up and lies parallel to the shore in about 10 metres. Large rocks and clean sandy bottom. Best dived with west to south-west wind.

SS Loch Maddy.

4,995 tonne vessel was torpedoed and blown in two by a U-boat The stern section was towed into Inganess Bay where she now lies in 12 metres of water. Fairly well broken up. Cargo of wheat and Oregon pine. Much of the wood from this wreck has been used in the construction of the Bothy Bar in Kirkwall (which serves a very nice pint of beer).

The bow section has still not been located by divers, and is thought to be in deeper waters. Andy has some good clues about where to look.


Little dived. Has great potential for scenic diving. Exposed site with huge boulders and some possibly supersonic drift dives.

Endeavour, The String.

Wreck of trawler. Lies in water depths of approximately 30 metres. She sits upright on the seabed with a very slight list to starboard and resting on her bilge keels. Excellent visibility. Large propeller and rudder are still in place and sit proud of the seabed. Gangways, wheelhouse and holds are relatively intact and accessible. Covered in Alcyonium sp and cloaked with fish. The String has tidal currents of 3-4 knots so wreck can only be dived at slack water.

Boom Defence Vessel, The String.

Unknown boom defence vessel, discovered by accident in 1994 when divers were attempting to dive the Endeavour. She lies on her starboard side. Propeller and rudder are still in place with the engine room exposed. The wreck is unusual, in that she has a double catamaran like bow, which was used for laying and recovering the boom defence nets. The wheelhouse is missing. The bell is reputed to still not have been found. Covered in life and lobsters.

The String.

The inshore sections of the String also make a good drift dive: giant boulders and gullies with sandy bottoms, scallops and anemones. Water depths of 10-30 metres.

Morvina, Keli Holm, Egilsay.

Trawler which became stranded early in the morning of 13th May 1939. The ferry Earl Sigurd attempted to pull it off but she became too badly damaged and was abandoned. Wreckage broken up on ledges and in gullies. Lies in depths up to 15 metres.

SS St Rognavald, Stronsay.

486-ton vessel lost in 1900 when she hit the rocks in fog while travelling between Lerwick and Kirkwall. Engine and prop lie in about 6-8 metres of water at low tide. Good dive site, plenty of fish. Huge boulders. Wreck smashed; largest section about 40 metres long. Boiler stands proud. Pieces of brass and portholes still being found in 1997.

Noup Head Westray.

Excellent drop-off dive. Cliff vertical to 30+ metres with a large 10-15 metre deep sub-sea cave with a narrow entrance opening into a large room with no clear surface. Below 30 metres the cliff gives way to a bolder slope inhabited by ling, cod and lobster. The whole site is a playground for seals and encrusted in marine life.

Noup Head is home to Europe’s largest colony of guillemots with 250,000 birds resident in June-July. It is bird city above and below the water. It is quite strange to find yourself swimming alongside guillemots at 30 metres! As well as guillemots, large numbers of kittiwakes and Arctic terns can also be seen (in the air).

Tomalina, Noup Head, Westray.

130 ft Norwegian fish carrier sunk in 1989. Lies in 30 metres of water off Noup Head on a steep slope. Slope drops off to 50-60 metres. Very good visibility.

This is one of the most exposed sites in Orkney. The wreck lies between two pinnacles, which act as funnels to any surge or swell, making it potentially very dangerous, particularly in strong westerly swells.

As such, it has been protected from excessive diving, and in the right weather conditions some say it is the best dive site in Orkney's north isles. Well worth checking out. UPDATE

Red Head, Eday

There are reputed to be three wrecks here, none of which have yet been found. However, recent information obtained by Andy, suggest that all the searching to date has been in the wrong location. Well worth another look.

STOP PRESS: divers off the Jean Elaine found wreckage in 1998 including a couple of portholes.

Once again, an exposed site, which is weather and tide dependent.

Admiralty Tug Char, Eday.

32 m Admiralty tug lost in 1915 when she was rammed by a trawler. Lies in 14 metres of water east of Mill Bay, Eday. She is lying on her starboard side. Bow and stern sections relatively intact. Boiler and remains of wheelhouse can also be seen. Some tide on site but always diveable. Visibility good.

Bella Vista, Papa Westray.

6,299-ton vessel was carrying iron ore when she was lost on Foal Craig, Papa Westray in 1948. Scattered wreckage. Cast iron propellers and boilers remain. Very scenic dive with chance of lobsters, crabs etc. Need to avoid spring tides and northerly or westerly swell.

Foul Craig, Papa Westray.

Largest arctic tern colony in Europe. Caves below water. A good shallow dive.

Llama, Westray Sound.

Esso oil tanker lost en-route from America. Wreck discovered by a group diving from the MV Jean Elaine in May 1997.

The wreck is lying tucked into the side of a skerry. 0n landing on the seabed, it takes a while to realise you have landed on top of the remains of the tankers hull. Swimming from midships to the stern, brass taps and portholes were clearly visible along the flattened hull. Three boilers stand 6 metres off the seabed towards the stern of the ship, with the wreck extending further aft (still needs to be investigated).

Running forward, the remains of what is thought to be the wheelhouse can be seen. The spare prop which was carried by many ships at this time, was spotted; and there are rumours of the bell having been seen (but not lifted!).

We have now managed to obtain copies of the plans of the Llama. She has only been dived once to date, and we are planning to explore her further in 1999.

Wreck thought to be the Cotavia, Stronsay Firth.

Wreck discovered in late 1996, and has only been little dived. Portholes and shells have been seen. The name of wreck has not been confirmed, but it is thought to be the Cotavia, a 4030-ton merchant ship carrying flax from Archangel, Russia to Dundee that hit a mine laid by submarine UC49 in July 1917.

Three very large boilers stand proud of the seabed. Stern (and gun?) has not yet been located. Wreck is flattened onto starboard side, superstructure and plates spread over a wide area.

Stronsay Firth has strong tides, and there is only a limited period of slack waters. The wreck lies in 40 metres of water, and this is one for experienced divers only.

Swiftsure, Shapinsay.

823 ton British vessel lost by mine in 1917 2.5 miles east of Hacksness, Shapinsay with the loss of one life. The depth is 19 metres and the chartered clearance 15 metres. This wreck was located by divers from the Jean Elaine in 1997.

Lamb Head, Stronsay

An inlet with a cave visible at the north side of the point. Gully entrance is rocky and drops to sand at 12 metres. The gully narrows and becomes sheer-sided as it penetrates to the south; it then becomes a cave, which penetrates about another 15 metres or so, until it narrows to less than 1 metres wide. Surge can create difficulties. Very rich in life.

Bore Röst, Mull Head, Papa Westray.

A röst is a Norse name for a whirlpool or area of dramatic tidal surges. There are a number around the northern isles of Orkney.

The Bore Röst is reputed to have high cliffs continuing underwater to beyond 36 metres. There are thought to be both underwater caves and scallops. The Röst can be very dramatic with big overfalls and very large standing waves. Sorry but not recommended as a dive.

Runnabrake Shoal.

Lies about 3 miles North of the Holms of Ire, Sanday. It is a rocky shoal reaching to within 5 metres of the surface from a seabed of 25-35 metres. Reputed to be an excellent scenic dive with lots of life typical of exposed shoals. Well worth exploring.

Start Point, Sanday.

A number of wrecks have been beached or lost on Start Point over the years, including the Wanja (captured and beached during WW2), the Aberdeen City (trawler lost in 1963) and Goldfinch (British destroyer wrecked in dense fog in 1915). Shallow dive, with reputed quantities of non-ferrous scrap littering the seabed.


1234 ton, 73 m long Norwegian vessel sunk by mine in 1917 3.5 miles west-north-west off Sacquoy Head, Rousay. Reputedly in about 60 metres of water.

SS Charkow.

This Danish vessel (1026 tons, 72 metres long) lies somewhere to the south-east of Shapinsay after being torpedoed by a U-boat in 1940.

SS Ruby.

A 234-ton British cargo vessel which struck a mine and was lost in 1917. Reports give two possible locations: either 400 metres off Tor Ness, Stronsay in about 14 metres of water; or 3.5 miles east of Mull Head in 48 metres of water. Needs some library work.

Boy Graham.

A 44 ton, 22 metre long British fishing vessel lost in 1981 about 1 miles west of Rothiesholm Head, Stronsay in 31 metres of water with a clearance of 16 metres. A burst pipe in the engine room allowed the vessel to flood and sink.

The wreck is reputed to be still moving around, and has been seen drifting past a local clam diver!!


A 3072 ton vessel lying about 0.6 miles west of Skea Skerries in Westray Sound. The wreck is reputed to be in a depth of 13 metres on a reef about 200 metres wide with the wreck in the centre.


Wrecked in 1811 off the Holm of Papa, Papa Westray.

Island Lass.

Mailboat lost in 1962 about 6 miles north-east from Mull Head, Papa Westray in about 60 metres of water.

Fair Dawn.

British MFV that went ashore in 1974 at Start Point, Westray. Position given is about 0.7 miles offshore in 30 metres of water.


485 ton British vessel lost in 1957 when it struck the Reef Dyke south of North Ronaldsay.

Mim and Hansi.

Within one week in 1939, two Norwegian vessels shipwrecked in North Ronaldsay: MS Mim and SS Hansi.

The German built, Tönsberg (Norway) registered MS Mim was sailing from Freemantle carrying wheat bound for Norway.

A British frigate near Orkney stopped her, and the crew believing she was German put a British officer onboard and ordered her to Scapa Flow. The owners of the Mim then claimed it was bad British navigation, which sent the Mim onto Reef Dyke, North Ronaldsay on the morning of Wednesday November 1st 1939. The Stromness lifeboat was launched in heavy seas, arriving at the Mim on Thursday morning. By this time 10 of the crew had made it to shore by launching a tender. The remaining 22 were taken off by lifeboat and taken to Kirkwall. Three days later only the funnels remained visible. One bronze prop has been recovered; the other is still missing.

SS Hansi, was a Bergen registered vessel, built in 1921 in Boizenburg in Germany. 1540 ton with a 158 HP engine.

She was carrying pulp from Hommelsvik (Norway) to Ellesmere Port. On the morning of November 7th 1939, people on Sanday saw a ship with a strong list drifting northwards and Stromness lifeboat was informed. Listing so badly she looked as if she might capsize, she grounded on Scottigar Taing off North Ronaldsay in heavy weather. The ship’s crews managed to put lifeboats in the water, and were guided to safety away from the Dennis Röst by islanders. The crew remained in North Ronaldsay with the hope of salvage, but left after a few days.

The wreck broke away from Scottigar Taing and is now reputed to lie in the north of Linklet Bay, North Ronaldsay.

Because of the treacherous reefs in the area, it is recommended that this area be searched from a rib.

Unknown wreck off Deerness.

A small cargo ship left Kirkwall carrying empty shell cases for reloading. It was reputedly lost "off Deerness".

SS Svinta.

A 1267-ton Norwegian vessel torpedoed by submarine, 4 miles east off Mull Head, Deerness in 1940. Reputed to be lying in approximately 55 metres..


A 279 ton British yacht that struck a mine and sunk in 1917 one mile north west of Mull Head. Reputed to lie in 35 metres with a clearance of 24 metres.


A 10,517 ton, 150 metres long Danish tanker torpedoed in 1940. She sank in Inganess Bay, one mile south-west of Yinstay Head 9 days after she was torpedoed. The vessel has been completely dispersed and lies in approximately 11 metres of water. We now know that this wreck has been removed (Zoe, 1998).


Unknown wreck lies 1.5 miles north west of Breck Ness. Thought to be the Ilene that was damaged when she struck a submerged object. Seabed in the area is approximately 60 metres.