Fyne Pioneer, Loch Fyne

Site Name: Glenhead - Kintyre Peninsula


This iron steamship was of the Clyde Puffer type, built by Scott & Sons of Bowling in 1887. She foundered and sank on 24th March 1890 after being struck on her port side by a large wave. She was on passage from Glasgow to Campbeltown with a cargo of 80 tons of coal. It has been suggested that when she began her voyage in fair weather, Capt McCulloch had left the hatches open as was common practice at the time. This meant she would be easily flooded when the weather worsened and large waves rolled over her on her final approach to the loch, and may have contributed to her sinking. It took only three minutes for her to sink after being struck by the wave. The crew of four only had time to jump into their boat and cut the painter to avoid going down with the ship. They were able to row ashore at Ardnacross Bay and make their way to Campbeltown.

Dive Site Info

The wreck of the Glenhead is almost completely intact and still looks very much like a ship. She is not a tall wreck, standing a maximum of 4 metres off the seabed at her highest point. She is orientated south-west on the mud and shingle seabed, sloping gently down towards her stern which lies in a maximum depth of 38 metres. Her beam measures 5.3 metres. The Glenhead would have measured just over 20 metres in length when fully intact. The visibility can be very good on this site but equally it can be dark and somewhat murky.


The foremost 3 metres of the Glenhead’s bow have broken off, probably on initial impact with the seabed. The broken off bow structure appears to have been lost or swept away. The winch can be found upright on the seabed approximately 1 metre forward of the break. Working aft from the winch, a large anchor about 2 metres tall rises up out of the now truncated bow. Immediately on the other side is the large central hold which is still full of coal, covered in a fine layer of silt and interspersed with hydroids. This hold, at 10 metres long, makes up a substantial part of the vessel. The cylindrical boiler and funnel stack rises 2 metres off the deck in front of the open bridge. The engine room and forecastle cabin are still present at the stern, and divers can insert their head and shoulders for a closer look but realistically these spaces are too small for penetration and silt has built up inside. The stern has begun to decay in recent years, with some plates collapsing. Her rudder and propeller are buried deep in the seabed and her wooden superstructure is not present. Some fittings can still be found on this site including earthenware pots and crockery just off the bow, perhaps from the galley.


The hull is not encrusted with colourful high energy life such as plumose anemones and soft corals, but this does allow much more of the structure to be seen. Numerous northern feather stars and common sea urchins perched around the top of the boiler and other metal ledges. Occasional Devonshire cup corals and dahlia anemones speckle the rusting hull. Squat lobsters now inhabit the engine room, and more squat lobsters and schooling fish can be found amongst the collapsed stern plates. Larger fish such as ling and conger eels hide in the gaps between plates and inside the boiler.


This site is not overly exposed to the tide and rarely, if ever, has more than a knot of current running over it. Because she is deep, the wreck is not exposed to the swell. The wreck is largely free from hazards except for some lines around the stern. There is minimal potential for penetration on this wreck. The seabed is quite silty so divers must come off the shot carefully in order to avoid kicking up the silt and spoiling the visibility before the dive has begun. If care is taken, visibility has the potential to be excellent on this site.

When to dive

Slightly tidal so best dived at slack, however can be dived at any state of the tide.

Glenhead - Kintyre Peninsula - Fyne Pioneer

© Simon Exley

Photomosaic of the port side of the Glenhead

Glenhead - Kintyre Peninsula - Fyne Pioneer

© Yo-Han Cha

A diver inspecting the funnel/boiler stack on the Glenhead, Easter 2015.

Glenhead - Kintyre Peninsula - Fyne Pioneer

© Simon Exley

A diver swimming near the boiler/funnel stack which stands upright from the deck.

Glenhead - Kintyre Peninsula - Fyne Pioneer

© Simon Exley

The winch of the Glenhead which has fallen onto the seabed.

Glenhead - Kintyre Peninsula - Fyne Pioneer

© Libby Anderson

An illustration of the Glenhead.