**info — after publishing this post the army put a exclusion zone around the loch(much to the disgust of the local fishing club and farmer) but thankfully sent a dive team to investigate very quicky .. the mortars were declared safe due to age and the loch opened to the public again … sorry **
I am intent on getting my diving skills back up to scratch again for various reasons so most of my spare time seems to be spent on … you guessed it !! DIVING! so heres another diving post 😀 …… with a twist 😉
Since the early 1900’s Stobs Camp has been a huge part of Hawick and indeed the Borders history. Originally a training ground for soldiers, then a prisoner of war camp , a Polish refugee camp and even a territorial army stomping ground until it was decommissioned in late 1950’s. Above the camp was a series of lochs created to supply the water, some of the dams were blown up but the largest one remains and is now used for fishing by the local angling club. I use it regularly with friends for wild swimming so I thought it might be a great micro-adventure to explore beneath the surface. Stories abound as to what lies on the bottom, from Sherman tanks to Sten guns I have heard it all. So I enlisted the help of Undersea Wullie and we headed to the Barnes loch as it is correctly known.
You need a four-wheel drive to access the Barnes loch, so we were in luck. Otherwise a 2 mile walk in diving gear would certainly have put us off 🙂 we unloaded and geared up .. the water was sub-10 degrees and had a visibility of about 2-3 metres. As we dropped to the bottom I lost sight of Wullie quickly so we surfaced again , swam closer to each other and descended again before setting out exploring the bottom. It was stoney at first but as we finned away from the beach it became obvious there was a deep layer of silt . I put my hand in and it disappeared up to the elbow .. scary . It’s the kind of place you could hide a body in. Hmmm!! I shit myself as the thoughts of Jason Vorhees in Friday the 13th set in. Slowly we zig-zagged and cross sectioned our way up the loch , finding only an old tyre and several cans with naked women on the side 😛 … every cloud has a silver lining 😉
But then finally we hit pay dirt as what appeared to be a mortar bomb loomed out of the murky depths just above the silt line … Aha !! it was indeed , an old bomb from a bygone era , but was it dead? I resisted the urge to touch it , even photographing it I felt a little nervous. It’s not every day and unexploded bomb is 6 inches from your nose. I moved on and subsequently found 5 separate mortar shells PIATS is what we think they are … I thought of the times I have swum over the top of these, scary ! and I bet the fisherman would get a shock if they landed one of these babies 😀
I don’t really know how dangerous these are, they are obviously wet and have been on the bottom for 80 years at least, better to beware all the same .. I have heard stories of someone finding one in Alemoor and taking it home and defusing it in his sink , sounds a right nutter by all accounts !!!! 😉
We changed our wild swimming course to avoid crossing them, wet or not you never know !! I certainly do not need to be getting blown out the water , I have enough injuries already!