IT’S TRUE, as Chris Holden claims, that his diving beat North Wales taken as a whole doesn’t seem to get the attention it deserves as a destination.
Anglesey seems to soak up most of the limelight after Pembrokeshire in the south-west, but it’s only part of a bigger picture.
After 44 years of diving Chris still dives the region year-round, because documenting it has been his life’s work. So this publication falls firmly into the category of “labour of love”.
The first volume of the book on which this new digital version is based appeared in 2003 following 20 years of research, and it won a rave review in DIVER. Volume 2 followed four years later, the two books together guiding readers right round the coasts of Gwynedd, Anglesey, Conwy and Denbighshire from Barmouth to South Stack.
However, following a hiatus after the books had sold out, the author decided to revive them not in physical form but as an eBook.
This was partly on cost grounds but also because he wanted to be able to update it constantly as he went on discovering more about the dive-sites.
The result is this fine eBook, which although comprehensive as far as it goes takes us only as far clockwise around the coast from Barmouth as Trwyn Porth Dinllaen near Nefyn. Volume 2 is set to follow with the remaining sites, and updates are free.
The bulk of the book consists of shore and boat dive-site descriptions, generously augmented by guide charts (not for navigation), underwater and topside photos, icons to indicate the type of diving, grid references, GPS (updated to higher accuracy levels) and echo-sounder traces as appropriate.
Copious introductory notes cover aspects such as weather, tides, safety and GPS and the later sections detail launch sites, local diving services, diving with a purpose, good practice and legislation, further reading and also updates to Volume 2 (not that many yet).
I dipped into the book on an Android phone to check that it would be practical to use on location, and found it easy enough to navigate, zoom and search. In fact my only criticism is that the wide column-setting and long paragraphs make it harder to read than it might be,
and in digital format that could easily be improved.
The writing itself is crisp and descriptive, and Chris Holden does what all good dive-guide authors should, which is put himself in the mind of a visiting diver and provide everything they need to know, from car-parking to site characteristics.
He has done the dives enough times to be uniquely equipped to rate and compare them and to make his readers’ experience that much easier.
This highly recommended book is formatted for iPhone/iPad, Android and Microsoft Surface devices but not for Kindle.
Steve Weinman

Calgo Publications
eBook, 422pp, £11.99