The Valhalla lies in 35 metres of water around 6 miles ENE of the Isle of Whithorn. As with the nearby S.S. Riverside, the wreckage of the Valhalla is on a bare silty seabed subject to strong tidal streams which have made it an oasis for fish life and have resulted in an extensive covering of Plumose Anemones. These tidal streams, which flood NE and ebb SW, run at 4 knots on springs and 2 knots on neaps and mean that the wreck is best dived at low water slack so as to give a reasonable amount of time on the wreck. Slack begins about an hour before stated high and low water.
The wreck lies with its bow pointing to 110 degrees on a silty seabed which means that careful finning is required to preserve the visibility. It is easily shotted as the outline of the wreck is quite distinct on the fish finder.
On descending to the wreck the first thing that you notice is the ghostly white covering of Plumose Anemones which seem to be attached to every exposed surface. The vessel lies tilted to its port side with the ribs and plates of this port side having peeled away and fallen to the seabed. The bow (1) is distinctive with a curved stem and a domed weather coaming. Trawl masts lie broken and fallen over to both port and starboard sides.
As you swim to the stern along the starboard gunwhale the trawl winch (2) and fish hold opening are clearly visible below you. Soon the superstructure of the bridge (3) and cabin appear on your right. All that remains are the steel structures as the wooden upper bridge from waist level up has rotted away. This area is well worth exploring as the old fashioned ships wheel and what looks like the compass binnacle are still in situ, along with other items on the bridge floor.
The ‘lower’ rear part of the cabin still remains and this is now the highest point on the wreck (4). A small circular opening is on the front side which would have opened into the bridge. On the rearward side to port is the narrow door. Access here is tight and no attempt has been made to get down to the engine room which lies under this structure. Outside on the port side of the cabin is a protruding metal frame (5) which looks like the mounting for an old fashioned cork lifebelt.
Behind this superstructure is the small rear deck (6) which is covered by a tangle of hawsers and cables and tyre fenders. Here two trawling booms and various mast structures have also fallen over to the port side (7). The rounded, arch shaped, stern is clearly visible, identifying the vessel as a trawler, but unfortunately the propeller is now buried in the silty bottom
The wreck has obviously been little dived since it sank. A few of the original members of our club dived it in the early nineties when it was virtually intact, but because it was deep and dark it was forgotten until we rediscovered it last year. The rumour was that it had been virtually destroyed when a gas pipeline was laid right through it. Happily though, this is not the case. For a small 20 metre long motor fishing vessel this is an interesting dive as it remains an untouched time capsule of the time it sunk. The wreck is deteriorating badly however and care needs to be taken when diving it as many of the plates and ribs are fragile and liable to collapse.
To find out more about this wreck, have a look at it’s wreck history page.