Our journey from there to here

Wild Places Publishing specialises in caving-related publications and was formed in 1997 with book publication in mind. The fledgling company's first book was Images Below by Chris Howes, this being a manual of cave photography that went on to win awards.

Chris was already editing the best known of caving magazines, Descent, and in 1998 its publication also came within the scope of Wild Places. The history of the magazine is of great interest, in that it became inherently associated with Wild Places through 34 years of editing and 25 years of being its publisher.

Descent was launched as a small-format magazine in January 1969, price 2/6 (12.5p). Its first editor and publisher was Bruce Bedford – you can read the story of those early years in Descent (210) – under various publishing names: Descent Publications, The Mendip Press and eventually Mendip Publishing. The magazine gained its ISSN of 0046-0036 with issue (35) in 1977 and moved to an A4 format with issue (40) in 1979.

In 1983 and with issue (55), Gloucester-based Ambit Publications took the reins as publisher. While Keith Creighton ran the publishing end of things, supported by Sue Dwyer who did the layout, Bruce remained as editor until issue (82) in 1988. Keith produced a single issue as interim editor, then Chris Howes began his tenure as a freelance editor with issue (84), from the beginning working alongside assistant editor Judith Calford.

In 1997 the publisher changed to Gloster Publications (named for the Second World War aircraft, not the company's home town of Gloucester). In fact, this was still Ambit Publications, renamed while restructuring, which in turn led to the sale of Descent in 1998. Thus, the magazine came to Wild Places Publishing which, as previously indicated, was only recently set up by Chris and Judith to produce Images Below and other caving book titles.

Things had therefore come full circle: Descent began as a caver-owned production, became independently published, and is now again totally associated with cavers from the written content, editing and production to publication. In 2009 Chris and Judith were honoured with the Tratman Award 'for their production of Descent, with continuing innovation taking it to its 200th edition and beyond, and in recognition of the magazine's contribution to speleology.'

With issue (215) in August 2010, Wild Places moved its production from Trafford Print in Doncaster (the company had printed Descent from the first issue under the Wild Places banner) to Cambrian Printers in Aberystwyth, and Descent began a new era as a full-colour publication – perhaps the first caving magazine in English to take this step. Cambrian was chosen both for the quality of its printing and for its environmental record: the paper used for Descent comes from a sustainable and certified source and the magazine is printed using vegetable-based inks.

In 2017 Cambrian became part of the Pensord Group, with printing transferred from Aberystwyth to Blackwood. Pensord's environmental credentials are equally impressive. Follow this link if you wish to learn more about both Cambrian and Pensord, as well as Wild Places' environmental stance that is based upon these statements that apply equally to our books.

There is virtually nothing that can be done or produced that does not impact the environment in some manner, but we try to minimise those effects. The servers that host this website, for example, are powered by 'green energy' – that is, electricity sourced from wind, water and sunlight – and if you order goods from us, don't be surprised if they turn up in reused packaging (it seems far better to recycle an old padded bag than put a new one in circulation!).

A momentous change came about on 1 October 2022 when Descent's production moved from Wild Places to Stalactite Publishing. After editing and publishing Descent for so long, and maintaining this website that until that date carried a great deal of Descent-related information that had taken weeks, months and years to collate and index, the change for Chris and Judith was extreme but they remained on call to help with any aspect of production while the transition took place.

For those bibliophiles who like to have the full data, the following table that we have put together summarises the changes in editor, publisher and town of publication (revealing several address and publisher name changes, but in reality only three editors and three publishing concerns up to issue 288, now being four of each with the introduction of Stalactite Publishing):

Issue Editor Publisher Place Date
1-22 Bruce Bedford No publisher name St Paul's Cray Jan 1969
23-30 Bruce Bedford No publisher name Wells April 1973
31-34 Bruce Bedford Descent Publications Wells May 1975
35-36 Bruce Bedford The Mendip Press Wells Jan 1977
37-45 Bruce Bedford Mendip Publishing Wells Dec 1977
46-54 Bruce Bedford Mendip Publishing Wedmore Sept 1980
55-82 Bruce Bedford Ambit Publications Gloucester Nov 1983
83 Keith Creighton Ambit Publications Gloucester Aug 1988
84-134 Chris Howes Ambit Publications Gloucester Oct 1988
135-142 Chris Howes Gloster Publications Gloucester April 1987
143-181 Chris Howes Wild Places Publishing Cardiff Aug 1988
182-288 Chris Howes Wild Places Publishing Abergavenny April 2005
289- Chris Scaife Stalactite Publishing Kendal Dec 2022

Please take a look at our books in detail. We take pride in only presenting top quality products and have won awards for our publications, so rest assured that you cannot find finer. Please take some time to explore our website, where you will also find details of other caving books, selected as being among the best in print. Let us know what you think; we look forward to hearing from you.