Balmacara House is a facility available for use by Adventurous Training divers that is located on the bank of the Kyle of Lochalsh near the Isle of Skye. It can accommodate and feed (including packed lunches) up to 22 personnel at a time so makes an ideal base for UK diving expeditions. The facilities provided include a chef, cleaning staff, bedding, storage facilities, laundry, drying room, briefing room and a classroom.
The diving on that part of the West Coast of Scotland is excellent with good underwater visibility and interesting local sites. The wreck of HMS Port Napier, a 150 m long minelayer sunk in WW2, is located a short distance away and with a maximum depth of 20 metres is a great dive for all experience/qualification levels. A short RIB journey away, there are also plenty of walls and drift dives.
There is a public slip in Kyle of Lochalsh and boats can be moored directly outside Balmacara House in most weather conditions. If conditions worsen then, subject to permission, MOD BUTEC may allow them to be moored alongside.
Although there is no gas available on site, there is 3 phase power which allows a portable compressor to be taken and used. This will need to comply with the regulations in BRD 2806(5) for gas testing.
The nearest recompression chamber is the one in Oban which is approximately 3 hrs drive away and there is an A&E department at Blackford on the Isle of Skye.
Balmacara House is booked through the Bidding and Allocation Management System (BAMS) which is the same system used for other MOD assets, such as training areas and ranges. This can be accessed on the Defence Intranet (not internet) at https://www.bamsonline.landmarc.r.mil.uk/. The BAMS Help Desk can be accessed on 0800 0223334
Additional information and more photos can be found:
- The presentation on Balmacara House delivered by Mick Stewart to the 2020 JS Diving Safety Conference.
- On the Landmarc website regarding Balmacara House
To summarise, this is an outstanding facility that provides a great base for JSAT diving expeditions.