That sinking feeling…

The recent news about the Swedish navy searching for an unidentified but presumed Russian submarine in its waters takes me back to the one and only time I took a ride in a submersible to the uncharted bottom of Windermere, in the English Lake District. While the submersible, the Mergo, had dived at locations all over the world, it had spent the previous summer in Loch Ness (guess what they were looking for!), and they decided to bring her to Windermere.

Apart from offering people the thrill of going where no man has gone before, they knew that some Sunderland flying boats had been sunk intact in the lake at the end of World War Two, and the hope was that we might find one of them. So it was that I found myself in a multi-tasking role on board – commissioned to write a feature and take photographs for the Express on Sunday, while also recording a radio feature for “Travelscene”, the local radio travel programme I produced in partnership with Ed Lacy.

It was a fascinating ride 100 feet into the Stygian blackness at the bottom of the lake, and while we didn’t see anything, the moment where we got stuck as the submersible settled into several feet of mud was quite entertaining. At the end of the trip, my film was packaged up and put on a train to London. Unfortunately none of my photographs appeared in the paper. I’d exposed the film a couple of stops above the nominal in order to be able to shoot in the low light inside the Mergo’s cabin, but despite putting a note to that effect with the film, the darkroom boys at the Express processed the film at its normal ISO rating and ruined all the shots!

The radio feature came together well – you can listen to it here. The Express feature appeared the following weekend after my trip (minus photos). It’s one of the many entertaining travel stories in my Kindle book “One of our Balloons is Missing”.

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