Situated in a hidden corner of a disused gravel pit, and now used by the local civil service sailing club and anglers association, the lake is a hidden treasure for snorkellers and divers alike.
“The lake” as it is known to the initiated, is a sectioned off area of a much larger lake in Littleton Shepperton. Fortunately for snorkellers and divers, the area is blocked off from sailors due to a wide sandbar blocking it from the rest fo the lake. For this reason it is an ideal location for new students to train in the protected area of water it provides.
The site has been in use for over forty years and for the older of us (basically Nick and his Dad and a handful of others), there are some who remember having to park on the busy main road, and running across to the lake in full kit to slide down into the water.
Thankfully however the site has been developed, in part thanks to the Sailing Club and Anglers association, as well as former local Dive shop, Runnymede Dive (now sadly no longer trading), and a much safer more secure set up has been provided.
Gone are the days of risking your life jumping across the road carrying lots of heavy equipment. Now there is a small car park inside the grounds of the sailing club, where members can set up, get changed and make their way to the water along a short path.
For a site where there is no direct management company, like in many dive sites nowadays, the lake itself is well set up. In addition to the car park area, there is a concrete pontoon at the waters edge, with safety ladder for easy access and egress. A sturdy kit table for stowage, and safety signage.
In the water there are a number of features which have been placed for student divers to explore. Admittedly, many are now very rusted and slowly suffering the ravages of time, but they are still exciting to locate and examine. Below the waters you will find numerous cars, a custom built suken training platform scaffold, and even a small cabin cruiser boat. All these things are within easy reach of a snorkel diver, with the platform found at approx 3m down, and the boat at 7m. All are marked with bouys and a map at the pontoon directs you to each location with either a compass bearing or visible pilotage.
Now you will find some who will complain about the visibillity… and admittedly sometimes the algae bloom can be a little bad. However, this is only for a couple of months a year, and frequently the bottom can be seen with ease. Besides, who wants to be able to see it all before you get there?
For the ecological members there is also an abundance of life. The water is full of fish of various sizes, from sprats to large pike and bream. There is also a large quantity of fresh water muscles living on much of the added infrastructure. Above the water, a small island to the right of the pontoon is a dsignated wildlife reserve. There are numerous ducks and wild fowl found there, and you frequently see baby ducks floating by behind their mum. There are also numerous insects and dragoflies to find.
It is basically a secret idyll in the midst of the busy town.
Many students have completed their first open water dive here, and I hope many to come will continue to do so. It has provided much needed opportunity and experience to many a student, and Im sure many will go on to remember the location fondly.