IT’S ALL TOO EASY to dismiss inland dive-sites as big holes in the ground with a few pike and the odd aircraft, but at their best they can offer some of the best diving in the UK. There are more of them than you think, too, and Dosthill in Tamworth is a hidden gem.
I pulled up at 1pm, the earliest you can get into the water on a Thursday or Friday, although there are longer opening hours over the weekend.
Known as Dozzi by its regulars, the location features beautiful cliffs and woodland overlooking the lake, with a pair of kestrels nesting on the cliff-face.
I had never dived the site before, so wasn’t sure what to expect. What struck me initially was the small size of the venue compared to other inland sites I had dived. It covers only three acres, though of course size isn’t everything.
Dozzi is the oldest inland dive-site in the UK, having operated since 1958, and it’s almost 30 years since it was taken over by current owner Ian Forster, who also owns Gildenburgh dive-centre in Peterborough.
Dosthill is well-equipped for tank refills and offers kit-hire and sales, changing spaces, hot food and drink and toilets. Staff had even been setting up a hot tub when I arrived.
Since the 2012 Olympics, a surge in interest in outdoor swimming has apparently been sustained, and swimmers often use the middle of the lake to do lengths.
Access is very easy, just kit up and in you go.
Parking is close to the entry-point, so it’s easy to carry kit to the water’s edge and set up. It was June and the sun was shining brightly, which always makes a difference. I set up my D500 on one of the many benches provided near the water’s edge and started to kit up.
My weapons of choice were an Ikelite housing, Tokina 10-17mm lens and strobe plus a GoPro Hero5 to record some extra video. This was a new set-up, and I was keen to explore the possibilities offered by strobe lighting, because for the past five years I had pretty much used only natural light. The day’s dive was intended to be learning curve.
Access in and out of the water is easy, with steps and stairs located at various entry-points. The clarity of the water struck me – there was a good 6m visibility closer to the surface, and a quick temperature reading showed the water to be at 18°C.
My dive-buddy for the day was wildlife and fish artist David Miller, who was keen to take pictures of pike for an upcoming painting, while I was hoping to find some of the larger roach, which hang around the entry point following divers and picking up scraps that are stirred up.
A large golden orfe was also swimming around the platforms, although it was a bit camera-shy.