News: Descent 253 Now Available

Descent (253), December 2016

The latest edition of Descent is now available and comes packed with an extra eight pages of articles and caving news from around the world.

The latest Newsdesk spread contains such fascinating snippets such as the fact speleothems could possibly contain records of ancient fires, and that palaeolithic cave art provides a possible clue to the hybridisation that might have resulted in the breeding of the European bison. At home, the BCA has now produced its Education Strategy for the Conservation of Caves and stresses the value of conservation monitoring schemes, route marking, signage and the use of conservation wardens. The BCA documents and others related to conservation can be found on the Wild Places website. The British Caving Audio Archive has been extended and updated, including interviews with leading cavers and cave divers Andy Eavis, Derek Ford, Jason Mallinson and Rick Stanton.

In news from around the regions, the section on the North brings news of the recent discovery of Perilous Pot, on Gragareth and the recent cleaning and bolting of FOUL Pot on Fountains Fell, as well as the launch of the Council of Northern Caving Clubs’ new conservation section on its website. There are also photos of the Kendal Caving Club’s sixtieth birthday celebrations. In news from the Peak District, the boulder choke in the roof of Doom’s Retreat in Peak Cavern has finally been breached after 16 years of digging efforts. In addition, Rake Head Mine on Bradwell Moor has been re-explored and surveyed, progress has been made in the Transition Tube dig in Speedwell Cavern, and the sump in P8 has  been extended. There is also a tribute to caver Doug Nash who died recently at the age of 94. Mendip news brings a one page article on new discoveries in the Wigmore streamway, as well as advances in Grebe Swallet and an update on the digs in Wookey Hole. The news from Wales is somewhat less heartening, with reports of vandalism in Llygad Llwchwr 2 and pollution in Little Neath, but the Forest of Dean fared better with progress in the Green Moss Pot dig, although there has also been vandalism to the entrance of Westbury Brook Iron Mine.

A six page spread on Boreham cave in Littondale is illustrated with excellent photographs including a double page spread of a wealth of stunning straws. The article takes a look at the history of exploration in the cave and brings the story up to date with the latest discoveries, survey and photographic work. There’s a two page article on caving in Israel, which highlights just how easy we have it in this country with access in comparison to many places abroad! But despite the difficulties of gaining legal access to caves there is a thriving caving community in Israel. For those who headed to the Dales over summer – and those who didn’t – you can revel in the descriptions of EuroSpeleo and even attempt to spot yourself in the photos! There’s also a round-up of the results of all the awards and competitions.

The Cave Science section gives details of entomological investigations in Spain’s Cantabrian karst, and area with a fascinating and complex biological heritage. The project aims to gather together the current literature and bring it up to date with fresh studies into invertebrate communities in the caves. Write it Down, and occasional series presenting short caving stories and anecdotes returns with Dave Gill in the hot seat describing his adventuress in Mexico in the early ’80s. Descent’s own Chris Howes takes a look at the life of American caver Charles Waldack, an accomplished cave photographer from the 1860s, and a new book about the images he produced, which gives an insight into the difficulties that faced the pioneers of cave photography.

In addition, tributes are paid to caver Paul Dold, who died at the age of 43 whilst sea-diving. His friends remember his many caving exploits.

Wildplaces Publishing have produced another high-quality publication packed with news and views. Copies can be obtained from them here. If you’re still thinking of Christmas presents, why not treat someone to a year’s subscription!