Beadnell and Newton

Updated 17-8-2009

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Shoredive entry point photos.

The areas covered by this article are;

The reefs to the south of Newton.
The reefs around Football Hole, north of Newton - Snook Point.
The reefs in the centre of Beadnell bay - Burn Carrs.
The reefs immediately south of Beadnell point (also called Benthall Point).
Beadnell Point itself.
The reefs due east of the village - Nacker Hole and others.
The wreck of the Somali - 1 mile east of Beadnell village.
The wreck of the Acclivity - 1 mile east of Craster village (7 miles south of Beadnell).

Getting there.

Beadnell is about 4Km south of Seahouses on the B1340 - which is well signposted from the A1. When approaching Beadnell (heading towards the sea) ignore the first two signs for the village and continue until the road curves sharply to the left towards Seahouses with a junction on the right (south). Turn off here towards Beadnell harbour and beach, follow this road for about 500m until it veers right at another junction leading to the car park. Parking costs £4.40 per day (Seahouses is the same) or £2.40 for up to 3 hours and there are toilets and showers available adjacent to the car park. Beadnell beach access
There's now a privately operated tractor-assisted launch and retrieve facility for boat users that costs £20; manual self-launching costs £5. Private vehicles are NOT allowed on the beach and the local residents are policing this so don't assume the absence of council officials means you can use your 4X4 and get away with it!. Be warned that on neaps, the sand above the h.w. line is deep and soft!

For those wanting to launch at Seahouse the charge is £10.00 per boat which includes two persons; for each extra passenger, the price goes up by £1.50 per person. There's no assistance for launching at Seahouses, however vehicles are allowed on the concrete slip which is usable up to a couple of hours either side of low water, after this deep mud can be a serious problem; the slip closes at 5p.m.
The public toilets (no showers) are about 200m uphill from the harbour as is the council car park (£4 per day) where, if it's busy, you may have to park your trailer. Altervatively, parking is available on the jetty for the same price although you'll have to park trailers on the (very) small beach adjoining the slip.

General information.

The geology of the area is such that the majority of reefs run east to west, have a sheer north face and a top that slopes southwards to disappear into the sand - something like a saw-tooth in cross section. When approaching Beadnell harbour, take note of the shape of the main headland, it's a typical profile albeit larger than most. Usually the highest reef in a group is to the north and several smaller reefs parallel it to the south. Sometimes the most southerly reef of a group cannot be found depending on how the winter storms have moved the sand around. The north faces are riddled with crevices, some of which penetrate several metres. In previous years these held large populations of edible crustaceans but their numbers seem to have declined in recent years.

Lobster near Newton

The tops and backs of the reefs are covered in kelp, and once down among it many smaller terraces and gullies are to be found, however it's not really practical or safe to dive here as often one buddy has to follow the other amongst the kelp and as a result can't be seen by the leader - both having to contend with the kelp's attempts to dislodge regulators etc.

The areas between reefs is a mix of coarse and fine sand which tends to settle less quickly after a blow - a few days in summer or a week or more in early season.

The currents run parallel to the main coastline and are generally only a problem when out of the lee of the reefs on Beadnell and Snook Points and around Newton.
See the end of the Somali section for information on slack water times.

On most of this coastline, visibility can be well in excess of 8 metres, low tide however - especially during Springs - usually results in less than this.

Air to 220 Bar is available from Stan Hall's in the village. As you turn right off the B1340 take the first right again to the village - just before the telephone box. Stan's is about 100m along on the left - an A-flag sign is on the wall of his garden - the compressor is self-service and in the garage. Pay at the house when finished (£2.50 a fill).
Sovereign Diving at Seahouses (in the industrial estate) supply air to 300 Bar and the only Nitrox within 50 miles.

Some of the local charter boat operators are:

Lee/Stan Hall, Farne Diving Services, Beadnell, Tel: 01665 720615
Ian Douglas, Sovereign Diving, Seahouses, Tel: 01665 720059
William Shiel, Seahouses, Tel: 01665 721297
Colin Rutter, Seahouses, Tel: 01665 720892
Jonathon Dawson, Seahouses, Tel: 01665 720865
"Guide Me", Seahouses, Tel: 01665 721797

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The sites.

South of Newton Map of Newton

Max. depth: 12 mtrs
Minimum grade: Confident Novice
Currents: Avoid spring tides, slack preferred

There are three reefs parallel to each other running WSW to ENE, each about 80mtr apart. The most northerly of these forms the southern boundary of Newton Haven and is clearly visible at all states of tide, whilst it looks the most impressive on the surface - it isn't. The next two (often only indicated by waves breaking over them) offer better diving and seem to extend the furthest seawards. There are the remains of a vessel near the centre of the middle one (a boiler and various other stuff) probably from the Ballycotton. The most southerly reef is fairly small and the least impressive. Whilst unexceptional, these reefs can provide interesting second dives and almost always produce something to satisfy those whose primeval hunting instinct dictates whether they've had a good day's diving. Seals are often seen near Newton Haven, the reef being a popular hauling out station.

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Football Hole & Snook Point.

Max. depth: 18 mtrs in Football Hole, 15 mtrs on Snook Point
Minimum grade: Novice
Currents: Avoid spring tides, slack preferred

Football Hole is a small deep bay with reefs at its southern and northern ends. To shore dive it involves a 1Km yomp so it's not surprisingly regarded as a boat dive. The southern reef is smaller and doesn't extend far seawards although it is a picturesque dive. The depth to the bottom of the 3-4 mtr high reef is about 13 mtrs at its deepest. A boulder strewn bottom leads off into the deeper waters of The Hole where large shoals of saithe can often be seen in late summer. There is a small cannon and an anchor somewhere on the more southerly of these reefs, and brass/copper nails have been found here.

Snook Point is at the south of Beadnell Bay and forms the northern boundary of Football Hole, this reef extends a considerable distance seawards and the quality of the dive varies depending on which part you're diving.

At this site the north face of the reef is terraced and at the inshore end, the whiteness of the rock makes it very photogenic. The visibility here can sometimes be outstanding, but of course this is rare. The inshore and seaward ends are generally the most interesting with overhangs and tunnels, the central areas have lots of boulders on the terraces and it's sometimes difficult to identify the reef-face proper. It's one of only two places in the U.K. where I've seen cuttlefish and the only place on this coast where I've encountered a dogfish.

Currents off the seaward end can be extreme at mid-tide. A few hundred metres beyond the end of this reef there's an isolated outcrop which rises to within 6 mtrs of the surface. When last on it, it was heavily populated with crustaceans however I've never been able to re-locate it since that time.

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Burn Carrs.

Max. depth: 13 mtrs
Minimum grade: Confident Novice
Currents: Avoid spring tides

The reefs in the centre of the Bay (Burn Carrs) are accessible by boat, snorkelling out, as we did a few times many years ago - when owning a boat was just a dream - is not recommended, the number of boats using the bay (sometimes in excess of 70) posing too much of a hazard.

The highest part of the main reef is usually visible except at H.W. Springs and continues seawards for some 150 metres until it disappears into the sand. At its highest point the reef wall is some 3½ metres high and quite picturesque. It used to be heavily dived and at one time large crabs, lobsters and octopus' were seen on almost every dive. Most divers go further afield now, yet despite being less popular, the crustaceans seem reluctant to re-populate the reef.

Some 50 metres south lies another reef, not quite so impressive and only about half the length and 50 metres beyond that is a small reef which is sometimes partially covered with sand.

This area is less susceptible to currents although care should be exercised if diving the eastward ends on big tides.

One danger to be aware of is that of being run down by jet-skiers, many of whom seem to believe that the speed limit within the harbour area doesn't apply to them. I doubt if many would be deterred by SMBs in fact they may even consider them to be a target. My advice would be to surface only when close to the reefs.

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Beadnell Point - South Map of Beadnell

Max. depth: 13 mtrs
Minimum grade: Novice
Currents: Almost negligible but on a flood tide, there can be an east-running current along the reefs.

The reefs immediately south of Beadnell Point used to be very popular before boats were common amongst clubs. Access to the sloping rocky shore being by a brisk walk along the beach, up the side of the harbour wall and past the kilns. Alternatively use a car to ferry heavy kit to the telephone booth on the harbour road, leave someone to guard it while re-parking and walk back. Once onto the 'point it's worth walking a good few metres further east of the yacht club as it's quite shallow near the harbour. There are five reefs here, each about 30 metres apart; the first is little more than a ledge above the bedrock, the second and third are bigger, the fourth being quite impressive and the last is small and sometimes barely shows above the sand. To the east they follow the usual layout, lying E-W, with a steep north face, they all terminate due south of the low water mark at the point's eastern end. Near the yacht club however they're a bit jumbled-up with at least one place having a sheer southwest face.

The Yewglen's propeller

Odd bits of wreckage are occasionally uncovered in the sand near the sailing club, some people say it's from the Yewglen others say it's the Mistley, but don't expect a wreck site, it's strictly a fishes 'n flowers dive.

On some occasions a mild westerly current sweeps these reefs which, while not dangerous can make life difficult.

As well as the threat from jet-skiers, there is the risk of being run down by either RIBs returning to the beach (fortunately we can hear them underwater) or sailing dinghies (silent), also, there's a small sewer pipe about 100 metres east of the yacht club which is still in use!

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Beadnell Point - North

Max. depth: 14 mtrs
Minimum grade: Confident and fit Novice
Currents: Negligible except on surface at seaward end.

The north side of the point is reached in the same way as above, however it does involve a much longer walk to the end of the point. Especially at low water !

This is a good dive, as shore dives go, and if you're after a replacement knife or weightbelt this is the place to find it. Some of the local clubs and PADI schools use it for open water training and someone always loses something so keep your eyes open.

The submerged reef extends at least 150 metres seawards, curving slightly northwards, and in places the vertical face is five metres high. Being in the main current stream means that it's covered in life - anemones and alcyonium etc.; it's a pleasant swim over the full length and to finish off your air the wreckage of the Yewglen is less than twenty metres from the entry point, although being shallow, it's often a challenge for novice's buoyancy control.

Although you're sheltered from the current while below the top of the reef, if you have to ascend you could be swept north or south depending on the tide, this can be frightening, especially at mid-tide, however the current diminishes rapidly as the water deepens - the safest place is underwater so stay there!

Probably one of the greatest dangers is stumbling on the rocks while walking fully kitted.

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Nacker Hole

Max. depth: 13 mtrs
Minimum grade: Novice
Currents: Negligible

There are numerous east-west running reefs scattered from Beadnell all the way up to Seahouses. Some are merely ledges of rock whilst others are quite impressive "second" boat-dives. Generally, the ones closest to Seahouses are the least dived and as a result can often produce pleasant surprises, cuttlefish, octopus, dogfish and of course large lobsters and crabs are very often the norm.

Nacker Hole is one of the small bays at Beadnell - adjacent to the road junction where you continue straight on to the harbour or veer right for the car park. It's possible to park on the roadside and at high tide the waters' edge is mere metres away, ideal for night dives or training. Understandably the local residents get a bit fed up with divers stripping off in front of their lounge windows, so please, exercise a little diplomacy and modesty.

For day dives or near low-water, it's best to walk along the rocks on the south side avoiding the weed coated rocks (slippery) and enter into deeper water (stay on the rocks, don't walk across the garden of the big white house).

The walls here aren't as impressive as those at Beadnell Point but there are more terraces to explore. The further seaward you go the better they become with overhangs and small caves. Not too much kelp, and plenty of flat sandy expanses for ocassional dogfish and flatfish with a maximum depth of 13 metres if you venture far enough. Heading north takes you across a narrow sandy/shale area onto the kelp infested southern slope of another reef. This is quite a wide expanse of kelp and is often subject to heavy swell. Entry/exit off the small beach at low tide used to involve crossing a mixture of smelly silt and mud but the last time I was here there was only firm sand - this may now be the easiest option.

No dangers other than the owner of the big white house.

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The Somali Plan of Somali site

Max. depth: 29 mtrs
Minimum grade: Sports Diver
Currents: Severe. Dive at slack-water only

The Somali lies about 1800 metres offshore, due east of Beadnell village. The seabed is sand/shale with small reefs. The vessel is well broken, the engine and boilers being the biggest identifiable parts. These show up well on an echo-sounder, types with a wide-beam sensor make location easier. The G.P.S. co-ordinates are: 55 34.066N, 01 35.997W. She is usually buoyed but this only surfaces at or close to slack water - often too late to get two waves of divers in. If you're (un)fortunate enough to be the first or only ones on site, the best tactic is to drop a buoyed shot at the G.P.S. position and do a circular search with the 'sounder around this until you get a trace then drop anchor there.

She lies approximately N-S, the stern being to the north.

A 4 inch gun is still visible at the stern, - although now lying on its side among the debris on the west side of the wreckage; its partner seems to have disappeared or is now buried under plates, no doubt the result of salvage work on the cargo which occurs from time to time. The engine is home to large pollack and bib and stands about 35 metres away across piles of girders, pipes, gas cylinders, plates and what seems to be a cement bag reef (cargo). The areas east, and south of the engine are good for rummaging - producing assorted bottles (medicine?), cosmetics jars, film, cutlery, wine bottles and ceramic electrical fittings. Part of the cargo must have been vehicle batteries and tyres as there seems to be rather a lot of them around. Rumour has it that a microscope was found here some years ago. South & west of the engine are the five huge boilers - still intact, beyond these the wreckage is well scattered and less piled-up, it's easy to swim off the wreck and loose it in this area if the vis is poor so don't venture too far. The wreck is home to large pollack, cod, bib and shoals of saithe during the summer. As a result it's popular with anglers so beware of discarded line and hooks.

Theoretically, slack water occurs about one hour after the tide turns at Blyth/Tynemouth, so during the summer simply add two hours to the GMT table times for Blyth/Tyne and that'll give you a close enough time for slack at Beadnell, Newton and The Somali in BST.
If you're using Seahouses (North Sunderland) tables, the tides are about 40 minutes earlier, so you only need to add about 80 minutes.

Always aim to arrive on site with plenty of time to spare, the theoretical times can sometimes be up to 30 minutes early or even more late depending on wind direction and conditions elsewhere.
IMPORTANT: The above times are for the "centre" of the slack "window", REMEMBER: this is the time when your first wave of divers should exit and the second wave should commence their dives, so you should aim to be on-site with the first wave ready to dive at least 40 minutes before this.
Her position is:
(From last time I dived her from a RIB) 55 34.066N 01 35.997W

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The Acclivity

Max. depth: 32 mtrs
Minimum grade: Experienced Sports Diver
Currents: Severe. Dive at slack-water only

This small wreck lies more than a mile east-southeast of Craster and about 7 miles south of Beadnell. The Seahouses charter boats only rarely visit this site - perhaps a couple of times a year each and it takes them well in excess of an hour to reach it, the only regular visitors are RIBs.
Be warned; do not try to launch boats at Craster, it's a private harbour and they loathe divers! The closest suitable RIB launch sites are Amble (tidal) or Beadnell. There used to be beach access at Newton-by-the-sea but as I remember it was a dog-legged ramp onto the beach followed by a wide expanse of soft sand.
If using small inflatables, the really adventurous can try launching from the beach just north of Longhoughton Steel a little to the south of Howick and about two miles from the wreck - it's not something I'd like to try but I have seen inflatables launched there.

The Acclivity was a small oil tanker that sank in 1952 and is one of the few shallow(-ish) wrecks on this coast that still resembles a ship. Lying on her port side on a relatively flat seabed (the surrounding reefs are all less than half a metre high), she is easily found with an echo-sounder; she lies approximately NE/SW (I think, I never trust my compass on a wreck!)
The hull is still pretty much intact although the plates are now starting to spring off in many places so you can have a good peer inside. An anchor is still in place at the bow and she still has her prop' attached. Around the mid-ships section she is open on both sides so you can mooch around inside the hull amongst the pipework and still be only a few metres from open water. A very photogenic wreck in good conditions, like most offshore wrecks she is populated with bib, pollack, saithe wrasse and of course the occasional lobster.

One of the main drawbacks with this site is that the seabed between reefs is a silty sand that's easily disturbed and takes quite a while to settle after any sort of bad weather (or careless divers).
Being a slack-water dive and some distance from the Farnes, if you should attempt to dive here and find the conditions are so bad that you decide to abort and dive elsewhere, you're almost certainly going to miss slack if you try to get back to dive the Somali or among the Farnes. As a result, you're going to be stuck with a shallowish dive close to shore out of the tidal stream and that means you'll probably have even worse vis!
That said, despite her small dimensions if you can get here it's certainly worth a visit. Two RIB-fulls of divers should be considered the absolute maximum otherwise the visiblity will non-existant for the last divers in.
Her position is:
My co-ordinates from the last time I dived her: 55 28.09N 01 32.79W
Graeme Bruce's co-ordinates ("Dive" magazine July 2002): 55 28.13N 01 32.79W

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