Book review: Wild and Temperate Seas

This is the book we’ve all been waiting for

Author: Pat
23rd December 2020

Wild and Temperate Seas

People who dive in UK waters know first-hand we have some of the best diving in the world. A new guide book ‘Wild and Temperate Seas’ is the proof.

You have to admire the ambition behind this latest from Dived Up Publications, who have been busy of late with a series of impressive books on a variety of underwater topics.

Cold water or not, the colourful nature of the book exudes warmth

No-one could accuse the publisher of hiding the conditions British divers face. As an island nation there can’t be many people unaware of just how ‘wild’ the sea can be around the UK, and ask a layman about diving here and they’ll likely respond “But isn’t is a bit cold?” (ie temperate.) Perhaps focus groups decided the synonyms ‘Challenging and bracing’ or ‘Remote and freezing’ held less appeal.

Wild and Temperate Seas - Llyn Peninsula

Cold or not, the colourful nature of the book exudes warmth and the contributors take it in turns to provide some of the finest oh-so-lush pictures. My non-diving partner remarked that she hadn’t realised how colourful our waters were.

Author Will Appleyard already has two books published under his name, Discover UK Diving and Dorset Dives. Despite the more general name of his third, Wild and Temperate Seas is set exclusively around the UK, taking in his choice of 50 of the best. A handy map shows the west country and Scotland disproportionately represented, which is a fair reflection of many of the most popular UK sites rather than bias on the part of the author. In producing the book Will has had help from a range of well-known underwater photographers including Stuart Philpott, Jason Brown, and Kirstie Andrews, all adding to the sum of immensely rich images that leap off every page.

Wild and Temperate Seas - Plymouth

Wide angle is notoriously difficult to shoot in low vis waters, although you wouldn’t know it: Wild and Temperate Seas includes some stunning shots of divers on wrecks, seal encounters and more, with plenty of macro close-ups and drone scene-setting shots thrown in for good measure too.

We’re taken on a circuitous tour of the coast, beginning in Dorset’s well-known sites at Swanage, Chesil and Lyme Bay. Some of these sites you’ll either have dived, or know by repute: the Kyarra, James Eagan Layne, Eddystone, Manacles… Every entry is seemingly a classic of the genre, with chapters given a summary introduction outlining the history, geography or notable backstory unique to that area. The tour takes the reader around Cornwall, to Lundy and the west coast of Wales, around Scotland with St Abbs and the Farnes Islands, before concluding the journey in (where else -) Scapa flow.

Guide books often struggle to decide whether to be a technical reference or enjoyable bedtime reading, and I think Wild and Temperate Seas has got the balance correct. If you were planning an expedition somewhere new and far-flung there’s undoubtedly more info you’d want to check in advance, but this book contains plenty to get started. There are details of charter boats, tides, local outfits and the authors point out the unmissable features of each dive site.

Wild and Temperate Seas - St Abbs

For me, the only thing missing was more of the same – which says more about the sheer quantity of fabulous diving we have on our doorstep than any failings on the part of the publisher. Wild and Temperate Seas could easily turn into 50-site volumes 1-10, and it’d still be missing some cracking dives no doubt. In truth, this could only ever hope to scratch the surface (excuse pun), rather than be the definitive bible of UK diving.

Let’s just hope the authors are able to produce the remaining nine volumes in timely fashion, and in equally glorious technicolour. In the meantime, these 50 dives are a good place to start.


Release date 25 November 2020 | Paperback & ebook | RRP £17.95 | ISBN 978-1-909455-31-3 | 176 photo-packed pages | 234 x 156 mm | Available now from, Amazon, online and from retailers

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