Family Outings: Dive Scylla, Plymouth

There's a new captain on this ship - but he's got fins and a tail

The venue

Last March the frigate HMS Scylla was packed with explosive and sent to the bottom. The result: an artificial diving reef, the first of its kind in the UK.

It has two purposes - to provide a venue for leisure diving and a centre for education and research. Now the hulk of the redundant warship, which was built in 1968, is home to hundreds of species of marine life, thanks to the National Marine Aquarium in Plymouth, which bought her last year. Scylla can be visited by aqualung at the actual site in Whitesand Bay, Plymouth, or via webcams installed on the ship which relay images to the aquarium.

Something for children

The aquarium's Dive Scylla exhibition allows children to view live images of reef life and an accompanying display explains something about the creatures they are watching and how the Scylla reef was created.

Something for adults

As above. Otherwise, diving to the reef can be arranged via local clubs. Taster sessions cost about £75 through Looe Divers (01503 262727) or Plymouth Sound Diving (01752 519047). For further information on learning to dive visit www.padi.com

Refreshments

The Ocean View Café at the National Marine Aquarium offers a stunning vista of Plymouth's busy working harbour. Hot and cold food, including a children's menu, snacks and drinks are all available.

Souvenirs

Dive Scylla souvenirs are available from the aquarium gift shop, including squeezy sharks, toy submarines, shark-grippers, vintage boat models and pens and pencils from as little as £1.

Admission and access

Open daily, 10am-6pm April-October, 10am-5pm November-March. Closed Christmas Day. Adults £8.75, children aged 4 to 15 years £5.25. Family ticket (two adults, two children) £25. Concessions. Full disabled access and free admission for a carer. Wheelchairs can be borrowed, free, on arrival.

How to get there

The National Marine Aquarium, Rope Walk, Coxside, Plymouth

(01752 600301; www.national-aquarium.co.uk or www.visitsouthwest.co.uk). By car: take the A38 to Marsh Mills, then the A374 Embankment Road following brown-and-white fish signs. There is a multi-storey car park by the aquarium. By public transport: Plymouth mainline station (08457-48 49 50; www.nationalrail.co.uk) is just over a mile from the aquarium. National Express (www.nationalexpress.co.uk) coaches call at Plymouth's Brentonside Bus Station, from where it is a 10-minute walk to the aquarium. Follow the signs to the Barbican. The aquarium is on the water's edge, accessible by a footbridge.

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