The Duart wreck is a Historic Marine Protected Area under the Marine (Scotland) Act of 2010, and diving visits can be made at any time without a licence, provided nothing is disturbed or removed.
In 2014 Historic Scotland, recognising that visits would be frustrating if divers couldn’t find their way around the site, they commissioned the Nautical Archaeology Society to come up with a more attractive scheme.
Two visits were made to the wreck, and input from divers and maritime archaeologists was pooled and tested before the group came up with the scheme that was launched in November 2015 by Dr Colin Martin at the 2015 ScotSAC Conference.
The trail is laid out using a series of floating tags. Each feature has a small float attached to it by a length of cord which rises just above the kelp level. A number is attached to the float to identify the cannons, and a floating ‘A’ identifies the position of the anchor. All seven cannons and the anchor have been marked with these floating numbers, and a start point for the trail is accessed via a simple shore transit.
This enables divers to navigate their way around the marked positions, using the trail map as a guide to help them visualise the main features and layout of the wreck.
The trail map and accompanying notes can be downloaded here and laminated for use under water.
The next stage, still under consideration by Historic Environment Scotland will be to recruit interested divers to adopt the wreck so they can monitor it and report any changes or threats. The best way to preserve our historic wrecks, is to give the diving movement a positive stake in their protection, management, education and public enjoyment.
In 2016 we hope to see plenty of activity around this interesting and important part of Scotland’s rich shipwreck heritage. If this diver trail proves successful and the site respected, then Historic Enironment Scotland sees no reason why more access trails shouldn’t be opened on other Historic Marine Protected Areas in Scotland.
Mark Beattie-Edwards, Programme Director for the NAS said, “We believe that the best way to encourage a passion for our underwater heritage is help people to experience that heritage….what better way to encourage a love for historic shipwrecks than seeing and touching it for yourself.”
Take a look at video of the site and trail here: