I WAS MILDLY CRITICAL of Will Appleyard’s first book Discover UKDiving, because I felt it couldn’t live up to its title.
It was all about diving the English Channel, an important component of UK diving but only a part of the story.
I did however concede that it was a personal view designed to ease new divers into home waters – and the small sub-title Five Southern Counties was fair enough! Of course, the book went on to do very well (see the lists below).
With the author’s second title there is no ambiguity – Dorset Dives it says on the cover, and Dorset dives are what it’s all about.
This is an attractive book, a modern if much-simplified successor to the long-established but now out-of-print Dive Dorset. It covers generally well-known dives out of Swanage, Poole, Portland and Lyme Regis, either by hardboat or club RIB.
It is bright and colourful, thanks to the generous supply of photos, mainly by Will Appleyard and Rob Roslyn.
The topside shots are evocative of summer days in Dorset, while the underwater photographs are generally of good quality, though inevitably laced with a smattering of the green and backscattered.
The wrecks are illustrated by the original rough sketches John Liddiard made for DIVER’s Wreck Tours (which were used as the basis for the illustrations of Max Ellis) with minimal coloured backgrounds added.
The descriptions of the 50 sites, of which about 60% are wrecks, are breezy, economical outlines – this isn’t the place to find detailed wreck histories or routes.
They are accompanied by concise notes on location, access, depth, things to look for and what to do if the dive is blown out (a feature that could get quite a lot of use).
There are three helpful location maps at the start. This overview of Dorset dives has been well thought-out and produced, and is an easy read.
The only pity is that someone didn’t give it a final read-through to pick up those unnecessary literals that have no place in a book. A computer spell-check won’t pick up the fact that seabeds are barren rather than baron or that it’s a hangar rather than a hanger we’re penetrating, but it will notice compund engines and inconsistently spelt wreck names.
There aren’t enough of these errors to spoil the book, but they’re like those irritating stone-chips on your car – they don’t affect the drive, but you keep noticing them until they’re fixed.
This book seems to have hit the ground running in terms of sales, so when time comes for a reprint, I hope all the dings will be sorted out.
One other little thing, and it’s a production matter – the text is laid out too near the gutter, which will cause readers to bend the pages right back.
I hope what is likely to be a “working book” stands up to such treatment.
Mine did on the initial read-through but I’m sure I’ll be referring to this useful title again in the future.
Steve Weinman

Red Flannel Publishing
ISBN: 9780956134677
Softback, 248pp, £15