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Journeys Beneath the Earth
  • Journeys Beneath the Earth
  • Journeys Beneath the Earth
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Journeys Beneath the Earth


Journeys Beneath the Earth by David William Gill

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Journeys Beneath the Earth by David William Gill

The autobiography of a cave explorer

Dave Gill's caving adventures have taken him from the Peak District to Mulu via France, Spain, Mexico, China, Russia and Indonesia. As the book cover continues:

'He's one of Britain's most experienced cave explorers and in Journeys Beneath the Earth he talks candidly and with humour about his early caving experiences followed by 23 high-profile expeditions he's undertaken with other highly-experienced and competent cavers to remote parts of the world over a period of 25 years. David's caving exploits have led him deep underground, exploring, photographing and mapping previously unknown caves, often in the most challenging and dangerous conditions. An adventurous hobby paved the way for David's full-time work in the Gunung Mulu National Park in Sarawak, Malaysia, where he now lives.'

An early release in 2020 led to a revised and re-edited book; the offer here is for the fully revised, latest edition. Any caver interested in exploration, especially expedition pushing at the face and the sometimes extreme challenges overcome, will be fascinated by this autobiographical tale from a highly respected caver. Dave has frequently written for Descent and it is a pleasure to stock his book.

Please see under 'Product details' for further information about this book; remember, the price includes postage.

If copies are not assigned to your postal destination, please contact us and we will make the book available for your purchase (with apologies, the software is not flexible enough to do everything we would wish).

Dave's second volume of his autobiography is also available: More Journeys Beneath the Earth

Enjoy a free caving-related, laminated bookmark with your book order, while stocks last


VAT is not charged on UK publications. Orders to the EU are posted without tax paid: you are responsible for VAT and any other charges on delivery

Product Details
New product

Data sheet

No dustjacket issued when published
150mm x 226mm
New or used:
Book: new
37 colour & b&w photographs and surveys
Publication date:
May 2020
Stock no:
David William Gill

Journeys Beneath the Earth


1 In a Cardboard Box
2 Getting Hooked
3 Gouffre Berger expedition and a new depth record
4 The Caving Scene
5 Gouffre de la Pierre-Saint-Martin expedition, 1969
6 A Few Cave Rescues
7 Gouffre de la Pierre-Saint-Martin, 1971
8 The Deepest Hole in the World, 1972
9 Gouffre de la Pierre-Saint-Martin, 1973
10 Tatra Mountains Expedition, Poland 1974
11 Felix Trombe, France, 1975 and 1976
12 Sima GESM, Spain, 1981
13 Chiapas, Mexico, 1982 to 1983
14 V3 Tunnels, Hitler’s Terror Weapon, 1983
15 The Untamed River Expedition, New Britain, 1984-1985
16 Tulakan Karst, Java, British Combined Forces Expedition, 1986
17 Operation Paddington Bear, Peru Expedition, 1987
18 Guangxi Province, The China Caves Project, 1987-1988
19 Three Counties Expedition to China, 1989
20 Gunung Mulu Expedition, 1988
21 China Caves Project, Yunnan Province, 1990
22 Yunnan, China, 1991
23 High Trikora Expedition, Irian Jaya, Indonesia, 1990
24 To Russia with Love, 1990
25 Gunung Mulu Expedition, 1991
26 Bac Son Massif Vietnam, 1992
27 Caves of Thunder, Irian Jaya, Indonesia, 1992
28 10 years in the Borneo Rain Forest

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We regret that due to the volatility of Royal Mail postage charges, we have been forced to remove the option for two-year subscriptions. We have also been forced to remove the option for economy mail to the EU, given indications that Royal Mail intends to remove this service.

All international mail is now being despatched in paper wrapping using Royal Mail customs and address labels mandated by them. We also regret this means we can no longer indicate the last issue of your subscription on the mailing sheet or supply a reminder to renew with the final edition. Please track your own subscription ending or check with us at any time. Subscriptions begun since September 2021 have a comment added in your account (under the tab for the order) which records the final issue to be supplied.


On 1 July 2021 the EU removed all exemptions for tax and customs duty on low value items posted from the UK to the EU, meaning that although VAT is 0% on books and magazines in the UK, it is charged within the EU and the VAT (potentially plus a handling fee) now apply to all orders to the EU.

Ideally, the VAT should be paid at the point of posting, but doing so requires registration with an agent to handle the payments, and this is incredibly expensive and not financially viable. To be clear, all small publishers in the UK are in the same position and we are unable to post any items to the EU with VAT or other duties paid.

Ordering any item from Wild Places, including a Descent subscription, requires that you accept responsibility of paying the VAT and any other local charges on delivery.

To be clear: Wild Places will NOT cover any charges levied by your country; it is your responsibility to accept these when placing an order.

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NOTE: Subscribers in Norway or Switzerland (which are outside the EU) should place your order on the Subscription International page or contact us first.

Journeys Beneath the Earth

David William Gill

Self-published. 2020. Revised edn, viii+288pp, 32 b&w and colour photographs, 5 maps and surveys. Softback, 150mm × 226mm. £34.93

ISBN 979-8-6175-4974-6

IT’S now becoming clear that the past fifty or sixty years have been a golden age of cave exploration in many parts of the globe. Some of that has been down to technology: the shift from carbide ‘stinkies’ to long-life, high-power LEDs; much better clothing; the move from ladders to ever-more-sophisticated techniques based on ever-lighter single ropes. Dave Gill has lived and caved though all these changes, and this account of his remarkable life makes clear another reason for the success cavers have enjoyed in this era – the determination and boundless ambition of explorers of his ilk.

The early chapters, describing Dave’s pushes into some of the more desperate bits of Derbyshire, are extraordinary. I had no idea how gnarly Giant’s Hole once was, before its entrance series was blasted out: just to reach Garlands Pot – now a few minutes’ stroll – was a struggle requiring total immersion. Yet Dave and his mates not only dealt with it, but pushed into new passage far beyond. Similar frolics were to be had in Lathkill Dale, and in the connection of Giant’s to Oxlow Caverns.

Gill thrived on the baptism such adventures provided and soon moved on to bigger challenges abroad – such as a diving trip to the bottom of the Gouffre Berger in 1967 under the tutelage of the infamous Dr Ken Pearce. ‘The sight of Big Black Pearce, as he was affectionately known,’ Dave writes, ‘was enough to strike terror into the heart of any budding caver. He was a huge, powerfully built man with an equally powerful personality, not a man to be trifled with.’ Yet Pearce emerges from these pages as oddly vulnerable – initially, as others have said, an authoritarian but, once challenged, a much milder character who realised he’d gone too far. He remained as keen as ever to achieve his objectives – which, by diving the Berger’s Sump 2, he did.

Of course, the Berger trip was on ladders, as were later forays in the seventies into the unexplored depths beyond the Salle de la Verna of what was then the world’s deepest cave – the réseau de la Pierre Saint-Martin in the Pyrenees. Soon enough, SRT beckoned, heralded by a few hair-raising near-death experiences – such as descending big pitches on hawser-laid polypropylene.

Arguably, Dave Gill’s biggest adventures have been in Asia and accounts of these trips provide the most gripping sections of this book – in Mulu, China and, above all, New Britain. There, over five months in 1984-5, he led the incredible Untamed River expedition to the Nare, a vast torrent that lies at the bottom of a vertical doline more than 300m deep. Just reaching the entrance was an epic that lasted six weeks: this was an expedition of the old school, involving flights, boats, porters and stone age people habitually clad, according to gender, only in penis gourds and grass skirts. The difficulty and danger were enormous, requiring a series of perilous river crossings and exposed traverses in a tunnel which, though mostly very big, was so filled with noise and spray that communication was almost impossible. Yet the team had to sleep inside the cave as well as explore it: when they tried to camp at the bottom of the doline, they discovered they were liable to be hit at any time by falling rocks. Progressing beyond the previous limit – dubbed by its French explorers Apocalypse Now – was a major achievement, and this section of the book alone is well worth the price of admission. After reaching Nare’s end, the expedition explored a series of further, major systems, which were almost as challenging.

Gill is also fascinating on the social history of his caving era: working class to his marrow, he made a living as an electrician, although nowadays he lives near his Mulu hunting ground with his partner and has made a huge contribution to the Mulu national park’s management, as well as successfully lobbying for its extension to include the northern Gunung Buda massif.

Special mention must be made of the efforts of Graham Mullan and Linda Wilson. Dave’s book was first issued in February, but it hadn’t been properly proof read. The pair very kindly did the job and improved the layout, which also contains a selection of superb photos. I know it was a lot of work and, in this revised format, all I can say is it was well worth it.

David Rose

This review was first published in
Descent (275), August 2020


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Journeys Beneath the Earth

Journeys Beneath the Earth by David William Gill

EU customers please read the notes under the Non-UK Orders tab

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