AFTER ANDY TORBET LEFT the Army, he decided to tackle the difficult task of making a living by setting himself a series of physical challenges. With luck, he thought, these might be monetised through the media.
He had been a paratrooper, a bomb-disposal and maritime counter-terrorist officer and extreme reconnaissance expert, and he possessed not only a wide range of physical skills but the self-belief to see a project through, however painful, uncomfortable and downright scary it might become.
The result is that he is today that rare animal, a professional adventurer/explorer. “I realise that I am a soldier. I will always be a soldier and the weapons the Army equipped me with I still carry today,” he writes (I take it he is referring to his life-skills here rather than military hardware he forgot to return).
This book details some of the tasks he has set himself, and I found it very hard to put down.
The fact that this book isn’t exclusively about diving is part of the appeal. I passed it on to a friend whose passion is mountaineering, knowing that he would enjoy reading about Andy’s escapades in underwater environments in the same way that
I had relished his esoteric climbing, mountain-walking and kayaking adventures.
And the great thing is that every chapter is set in the British Isles, albeit often remote parts, illustrating that fresh challenges await those who want them, however close to home.
I have heard some of the stories before in Andy’s Dive Show presentations and on TV and he writes about them every bit as well as he tells them, straightforwardly and economically.
His approach is humorously self-deprecating and I like the way he comes clean when things go wrong, because for him learning from mistakes is all part of the process.
Underwater adventures include Scotland’s Cave of Skulls, where the image of his squeeze through the Letterbox constriction is etched on my brain; the initial Three Lakes Challenge with Monty Halls; some of his more extreme “Britain by Snorkel” ventures, including freediving on the Scylla and in the fast-flowing Linn of Dee;
the notorious “Blowhole Dive” in Pembrokeshire; exploration of a lost slate mine; a grey seal “mini-expedition” and identifying a deep mystery wreck off Cornwall.
People accuse Andy Torbet of taking unnecessary risks but his attitude is that it’s all about knowing your own capabilities, careful planning and hard work.
As he writes: “I’m still here.” Long may he go on sharing his experiences with less-ambitious adventurers.
Steve Weinman

Bantam Press
Hardback, 270pp, £18.99