Diver's guide to Wraysbury
Wraysbury Dive Centre is located between junctions 13 and 14 of the M25, close to the M3 and M4 motorways, which means it is quick and easy to get to from almost every conceivable direction. A former gravel pit that was flooded, Wraysbury’s 15 acres of water started being used for the sole purpose of diving 12 years ago, when Richard Major and Jo White set up Wraysbury Dive Centre.
In the time they have owned the site, they have done a sterling job to get it up to the level they wanted. The car park is covered in gravel – no dirty kit here – and there is a large grassy area in front of the main shop/bar/restaurant/classroom with plenty of picnic tables for relaxing before and after dives. All the buildings are temporary units, but Richard and Jo have done a great job ensuring they are fitted out to an impressive standard. The wet and dry restaurant area has room for lots of divers, the compact shop boasts loads of shiny kit to tempt you to start spending, and the licensed bar is great for an après-dive beer.
There is a neat changing room and toilet block behind the main unit, a cylinder-filling station offering air, nitrox and trimix, and a snack hatch for those all-important bacon sarnies. Wraysbury Dive Centre also has an on-site dive school which has PADI five-star status and offers training from Discover Scuba right up to Divemaster and various Specialties. There are three entry/exit points which deliver you right into the middle of the various underwater attractions, and there is even a purpose-built ‘confined water’ area right on the edge of the lake. Perch, tench, carp and pike are prolific and, in the case of the latter fish, will allow you to approach very closely. Being so close to Heathrow airport, you get huge airplanes flying overhead every 30 seconds or so, but amazingly, once you’ve had 20 or 30 fly past, it fails to make much of an impression.
Commer van This old van sits upright in 7m and has a thick coating of algae growth.
Half US taxi The front half of a US taxi, as seen in the blockbuster movie Die Hard, sitting in 7m. As Richard says: “The only underwater attraction that’s had Bruce Willis’ backside in it!”
Dive boat Old dive boat sitting upright in 7m, which can be penetrated with care.
Day boat Small cabin cruiser upright in 5m
Listing Sharon This cabin cruiser was the first thing Richard and Jo sank. It sits in 7m.
UK black cab This UK black cab – which is now more yellow than black! – is fully intact on the bottom.
Milk float A milk float all the way from Pinewood Studio. It sits in 6m.
VW camper van This iconic camper sits upright, near the main platforms in the middle of the lake, in 5-6m.
Bus This single-decker bus lies a short distance from the confined water area. It is a popular haunt for large pike, which will hover motionless inside.
Cargo containers There are three containers sat in the site, two in 9-10m, and one in 7m. They are open for swim-throughs and overhead environment training.
Dragon boat This dragon boat is sitting on its stern, with the bow pointing vertically to the surface. It is covered in a fine layer of algae and at first its positioning can make it difficult to work out what it is, but look for the distinctive head.
Lifeboat The largest attraction in the lake, the RNLI lifeboat Elizabeth Austin was sunk three years ago and has an intriguing history. It was built in 1905 and was originally a rowing lifeboat, before having an engine fitted in later years. It was launched 16 times, saving 23 lives, and was awarded the bronze medal in 1919, before being retired in 1932.
Training platforms There are a variety of training platforms throughout the site.
Thorpe Park oddities Throughout Wraysbury you will find a selection of weird-and-wonderful creations from the nearby Thorpe Park theme park that are not marked on the map. So when you are swimming around, keep an eye out for the Thorpe Park Rangers and who knows what else!
Sport Diver verdict
Wraysbury has one of the most pleasant above-water settings of all UK inland sites, and the waters are stocked with plenty of attractions to keep visiting divers interested
Diving at Wraysbury costs £8 per diver per day.
FACILITIES • Large car park • Dive shop • Fully licensed bar • Snack bar • Toilets and changing rooms • Multiple entry/exit points • Several underwater platforms • Various sunken attractions • Full range of PADI, NAUI, TDI courses • Classroom with modern visual aids • Full equipment rental
OPENING TIMES Monday 9am-6pm Tuesday 9am-6pm Wednesday 9am-10pm Thursday 9am-6pm Friday 9am-6pm Saturday 9am-6pm Sunday 9am-6pm
CONTACT DETAILS Wraysbury Dive Centre, Station Road, Wraysbury Middlesex, TW19 5ND Tel: 01784 488007 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Web: wraysbury.ws