• Hello From Descent

    The publication date for issue 289 is the 10th of December, meaning subscribers should receive their copies during the week leading up to that date. It is also available from caving suppliers such as Inglesport and Starless River, or from our new website

    New Descent board here:

New book looking in on the hidden world of caving

The BCA may be surprised to read in a new book (Britannia Obscura: Mapping Hidden Britain) that the author's research, backed up by discussions with Chris Jewell, Dave Nixon, Andy Walsh, and Tarquin Wilton-Jones, has revealed that "the British Caving Association exists to negotiate on behalf of cavers for access to Britain's underground landscape". She also tells us grandly that it "maintains the National Cave Registry" and reassures potential explorers that "in many caves you will find rope ladders in place". The author is Joanne Parker, a Senior Lecturer at the University of Exeter, but you have to do some research yourself to find that her 'discipline' is English, although the generally writing style might have led to the conclusion that she is no scientist, nor even a historian - she ascribes the interesting history of Pen Park Hole (from first survey in 1669 to an accidental death in 1775 [ref. Mullan]) to the nineteenth century Victorian era...

The book has an interesting Introduction and Afterword, chapters on Caves, Megaliths, Canals, Ley Lines, and Air Traffic Corridors, and the  authoritative-looking addition of Notes, Selected Bibliography, and an Index.

It looks a good lightish read, and the text seems to have been well proof read (if not fact-checked). The same cannot be said of the notes where (just focussing on the caving chapter) the correct url for the UBSS website (given in another note as the non-existent www.ubss.ac.uk) is said to relate to the (non-existent) University of Leeds Speleological Society. An interesting taster for those new to caving, perhaps, but you can spend a lot longer, probably more profitably, immersed in the first-hand stories told in the British Caving Audio Archive [http://caving-library.org.uk/audio/] or following links in the catalogue [http://caving-library.org.uk/catalogue/catalogue.shtml]...