Drive, Trek, Camp and Dive – A Trip To Airplane Lake

UK based Freediving Club NoTanx has, at it’s core, an ideology of exploring and discovering the beauty of our surroundings.  Enjoyment is always the goal. This has lead to hundreds of trips since 2003, culminating in our annual week long camping and diving festival in Cornwall – Freefest (running since 2010) and regular trips to Snowdonia to name a couple.

Our exploration stepped up a notch in 2013 when members started training specifically for “extreme access” – caving skills were learnt and employed to dive in underground lakes by the NTX Phreatic Diving Team.

Next on the list : The “Extreme Location Freedive” team is learning to Paraglide in order to reach further of the beaten track.

Scouting for Sites

In 2015 when scouting for dive locations to take groups, the team discovered a deep lake in the Northern part of Wales, one of a pair gouged out at the end of the last Ice age leaving unique stocks of Arctic Char.

In November 1944 a Douglas C-47B twin prop air transport plane crashed into the cliffs behind Llyn Dulyn on a flight diversion due to bad weather.  Although some of the wreckage was removed in 1977, significant parts of the plane are still on site, giving an eery ambience to a location already steeped in mythology of black magic.

We were eager to dive in the lake, realizing the only way to access it’s remote location would be a long trek and an overnight camp, a prospect that caused Kiri to jokingly suggest a birthday trip to the lake.

But alas 2015 passed without the opportunity to dive. Roll on 14months, (4 days before Kiri’s birthday) a mid week window opened up. The weather that had not favored earlier attempts started to break, and we packed up and left in under 24h.

Underway

A 6 hour drive took us to the edge of the Carneddau mountains; bleak and beautiful. Broken clouds and sunshine greeted us as we left the car in a tiny car-park at the end of a rough lane.  We were traveling light, Kiri carrying the lightweight camping equipment myself the cold water freediving kit, but this still weighed heavy on our shoulders as we crossed the stile into the rough track leading up a steep hill.

We made surprisingly good time to the 1st lake, Llyn Melynllyn (the Yellow Lake) and had time to enjoy the view back down the valley of the Afon Dulyn river.  From here we had a steep climb down to the larger, darker Llyn Dulyn.  Approaching, only a small section of the lake can be seen as it is bound by the high cliff faces of Garnedd Uchaf and Foel Grach.

In 2015 this tantalizing glimpse filled us with excitement and awe, getting up close this time stirred emotions associated with completion and success.

The night was drawing in so we made camp close to the small, disused, industrial workings on the edge of the lake. Total seclusion and protection from the elements was afforded by the rocky outcrops that hide the lake from prying eyes and the warming sunshine.

Dive-In

In the morning the weather held, and we were finally able to kit up and dive. The “black” waters are said never to be visited by water fowl and The Red Altar – ‘Yr Allawr Goch’ a large red slab of rock sitting proud is said to have magic powers.

The water was certainly dark and the mossy weed that covered the floor was dark, dark brown adding to the low light atmosphere of the lake. Diving deep was not an option, as the cold and darkness not only took our breath away but our enthusiasm quickly dissipated along with the visibility.

On our way out of the lake, following the ancient underwater causeway, we found a propeller from the ill fated air transport 70 years ago and managed to get a photo before the light sediment was kicked up and destroyed the clarity.

Packing up and hiking out was surprisingly easy as the buzz from completing a 14month old project gave us a spring in our steps. Unfortunately the high did not last the length of the drive home, forcing a few unscheduled service station stops: a small price to pay for the trill of pushing our “Extreme Location Freediving” another step.